What is Peleton? Well continue reading to find out!
Lets start first things first !The basic startup costs:
- $1,995 for the bike (supposedly sold at cost, according to a 2015 Bloomberg Businessweek article), not including sales tax, which in New York adds nearly $200.
- $250 delivery and setup fee
- $125 for Peloton cycling shoes
- $468 for membership ($39 a month), required for the first year. If you pay up front for one year, a thirteenth month is included, and for two years, three extra months are added.
Other nice-to-have extras include:
- $60 for a bike mat (recommended to protect hardwood floors)
- $50 for the ANT+ heart-rate monitor
- $25 for a pair of 1-, 2-, or 3-pound dumbbells for the upper-body exercises
Peloton also sells an array of headphones, both corded and Bluetooth, but as we haven’t tested those, we recommend that you choose one of our wireless exercise headphone picks, if you prefer not to listen to classes out loud through the speaker.
Finally, the included limited warranty covers the tablet, mechanics, parts, and service from issues related to normal wear and tear for one year (and five years for the bike frame). If you want an additional year, it’s $175, and if you want to be covered for the full 39-month financing term, it’s $230, which you can add at any time before the first year is up.
If you don’t want to spend a small fortune on classes or on a Peloton, you may wonder if you can MacGyver your own similar setup for less cash. A popular blog post tells how one woman rigged a less expensive bike with a tablet holder to stream the Peloton app (she already owned an iPad), an add-on cadence sensor and second app to record stats, and a few other accessories for about $550. While this is impressive in concept, her solution lacks the competitive, community aspect that most Peloton riders thrive on.
The other big flaw and potential dealbreaker: Without that $39 monthly membership, the bike’s functionality is seriously limited. That library of 7,000 classes is reduced to just three 45-minute ones. You also get a basic “ride” mode (sans the scenic vistas) that allows you to pedal and adjust resistance at your own whim. And while you do see real-time stats during your rides, neither the classes nor the free-ride option includes a leaderboard or even your own personal best to compete against, and there’s no way to save a record of your ride beyond, say, snapping a smartphone photo of the screen the moment you complete it. The company does allow a membership freeze of up to three months in your first year, say, if you get injured or pregnant or go on an extended vacation, and you may freeze it for as long as you like after the first year. You just don’t get much from the bike if you do so.
And since the tablet is a connected device, there’s nothing stopping Peloton from pushing a software update that even further limits the bike’s offline usability at any point in the future. It’s tempting to think of devices like the Peloton as appliances. But when they are hooked to a network and reliant on software updates, you have no guarantee they will function forever as they do now (consider this example of Logitech remotely bricking customers’ universal remote hubs after seven years).
Another potential annoyance is that you can’t pause any of the rides, either live or on-demand—if you have to get up, they keep running without you. One of the reasons to even have an expensive spin bike at home is that if something comes up—the phone rings, the baby cries, the dog gets too close to your flywheel for comfort, there’s a knock at the door—you should be able to jump off for a minute or two and come back to pick up where you left off. Instead, your ride continues regardless. You can rejoin it in progress, or (with on-demand rides) you have the option to start over again from the top. Other large expensive gym equipment offers at least a short pause function. This regularly shows up as a requested feature in the unofficial Reddit forum.
A few additional quibbles
One criticism, raised in particular by The Verge’s reviewer, is the issue of privacy regarding what amounts to a treasure trove of fitness data, including heart-rate data if you use a strap. Further, you can’t make your profile fully private, but you can set it up so that the user name and location don’t contain any identifying characteristics. You also don’t have to enter your age, weight, or gender. In addition to the expansive database of ride stats, the tablet is equipped with a camera and a microphone, designed for video chats among Peloton riders. Not many people use this function, from what I can tell—I tried it with a friend who owns a bike, and it was buggy, to say the least—but you can turn it off in the settings.
The current bike ships with the second generation of the tablet, which upgraded several specs from the first generation. After the Thanksgiving 2017 ride, original adopters complained that their tablets suffered streaming issues; a Facebook group member pondered whether Peloton’s new tablets (valued by Peloton at $750, though not for sale directly) will be necessary upgrades, much as you have to replace your smartphone every few years to keep up with the technology. For the moment, Peloton’s PR assured us, the company is still supporting the first-generation tablet.
Speaking of the tablet, several of our testers marked its built-in speakers as their number one problem—tinny in general and distorted at higher volumes, and sometimes the instructor’s voice was indistinct from the music. Using a quality headset solves that issue, but sometimes you don’t want to exercise with something in or on your ears, particularly if you’re the only person around.
While the system calculates the number of calories you’ve burned using your body size, age, sex, and heart rate, the percentage of resistance is standardized by the bike, not based on body weight or sex. As a result, the leaderboard does not control for those factors, giving heavier men an advantage. Two of our test riders and I struggled with even making the flywheel turn without standing on the pedals at resistances above 50 or 60 percent, let alone at the instructor’s suggested cadence. I’m the first to admit I’m not in top cycling shape, and it’s certainly possible for someone on the smaller side and women in general to build the leg strength to conquer that and much more.
Our shorter test riders, at 5′2″ and 5′3″, couldn’t adjust the seat as far forward as the instructions suggested, with the seat-to-handlebar distance being the length of the forearm from elbow to fingertip. They were still comfortable, but shorter people may not find a fit.
Unlike many studio bikes, the home Peloton bike accepts Look Delta–compatible cycling shoes only, not Shimano SPD-SL, the other common attachment type for road-bike pedals. If you already own the latter or another type, you need to buy adapters, new pedals, or new shoes. Two of my test riders brought their own shoes. One managed to ride with his SPD-SL shoes, though they slid around quite a bit. The other, whose shoes were SPD, not SPD-SL, luckily could wear my Peloton shoes, which were slightly too large for her but workable.
The bike itself is nearly silent, but my Peloton shoes squeaked a lot when I pedaled while standing. Also, the rubber button-sized bumper on the ball of the right shoe, which I assume exists so the cleat doesn’t directly pound your floor while you’re walking in the shoes, fell out pretty early on, and I couldn’t get it to wedge back into place. This problem didn’t affect the function of the shoes overall, but it was annoying to have to pick the piece up all the time when it fell out again, lest my dog get a new chew toy.
The handlebar height is tough to adjust for different riders, as the tablet is very heavy. That said, handlebar height is more of a preference than an adjustment need for fit, so you may be able to get away with one height for all the riders who use your bike.
In one of the classes I took, the class timer never started, which I didn’t realize meant that I didn’t get credit for the ride. I restarted the class after it was over, and the timer began as expected, so here’s hoping this was a rare glitch.