Is the Peloton indoor exercise bike and app worth it?
The Peloton indoor exercise bike and app has taken the fitness world by storm, but is it any good for training for proper cyclists? We look at the pros and cons
It's touted as the main alternative to Zwift - and it's easy to see why.
Peloton's fitness classes are incredibly popular outside the cycling sphere - so what is all of the fuss about? Why hasn't the cycling world embraced it fully?
Motivating tunes and instructor-led classes are available to cyclists on Peloton’s exercise bike and digital app, which can be used separately or together.
Cycling, yoga, stretching, HIIT cardio and strength workouts are all available on the app, as both live or previously recorded classes in their library.
>>> What is Peloton and how does it work?
We go through how Peloton's spin style bike and the accompanying app can boost your workouts, and whether it is worth the investment for cyclists looking to complete specific training.
Peloton exercise bike
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Peloton's exercise bike costs £1990 for the basic package, or for £2129 you can get the essentials package which includes a pair of cycling shoes, weights and headphones. There is also the option to pay monthly, at £52/mo and £55/mo respectively.
The bike records and shows readings for cadence, resistance and power on its large screen. However, the power data is a calculation based on cadence and resistance, so not as true a reading as you'd get from a dedicated power meter such as a hub or crank.
Gears don't exist spin bike; instead, a knob between the handlebars can be twisted to gradually adjust the resistance.
One useful aspect of the exercise bike is that it can be easily shared amongst your household; the handlebars and saddle can be adjusted with ease, and colour coded tape can mark each person's riding position. The pedals supplied are compatible with Look Keo cleats, but can be easily swapped for your own, as can the saddle.
By using a specific indoor bike, the components on your road bike will be saved from any wear, which is one consequence of hooking up a road bike to a turbo trainer. For these reasons, the Peloton exercise bike can be a good value option.
However, sharing a bike does mean you won't be able to do sessions alongside those you live with. But given that you'll have the virtual community in the live classes, you won't be alone when suffering through some efforts.
If you have an uneven floor, the legs on the bike can be adjusted to provide a stable riding experience. The bike can also be unobtrusive in your living space, as manoeuvring it around is easy enough thanks to wheels on the front.
Read more: Peloton indoor training bike review
Peloton digital app
Live classes, as well as a back catalogue of previous classes, are available on Peloton's digital app. With the extensive library of over 12,000 workouts to choose from, there’s no need to worry if a live session does not fit your training schedule.
The workouts on offer are essentially gym classes, but you get to complete them in the privacy of your home. What Peloton really delivers on is the variety of classes on the app that cover all aspects of fitness. You really aren't limited to just cycling workouts.
By following Peloton's yoga, strength and stretching classes alongside your cycling training, you'll witness significant improvements in other areas of your riding.
Regularly participating in yoga practise can result in a stronger and more aerodynamic riding position thanks to increased flexibility.
What is more, the variety of classes can help keep your mind fit and fresh as well as your body. It's important not to neglect the mental side of training.
>>> Zwift vs. Peloton: Which is best for your at-home workouts?
It's not all 10/10 reviews though. Peloton’s cycling workouts lack sufficient detail about intervals and focus for most of the sessions.
Some are slightly more specific than others, with the most detailed being called something such as 'HIIT and Hills ride'. But the length and the number of each effort remain an unknown.
If you are able to push yourself deeper when you don’t know about the pain that lies ahead, this can be great. However, for most riders looking to target specific areas of fitness it is impossible to scroll through and find a session that is perfectly suitable.
That’s not saying they don’t exist on the platform, it’s just that Peloton’s user interface is lacking.
>>> All you need to know about indoor training
Peloton differentiates the classes on offer by music theme and the instructor who is leading the workout. Essentially, Peloton gives more focus to the atmosphere of the workouts and how to motivate you to excel.
By categorising the classes by who is leading them, you’ll quickly find yourself having favourite instructors and leaning towards joining certain classes. Who is coaching you is important to development and this is something Peloton clearly recognise.
The cycling workouts themselves resemble traditional spin classes. This means a considerable amount of the workout is spent out of the saddle. While this is certainly taxing and will develop great core strength, some of the demands of outdoor riding are neglected.
Blaring music and an overly enthusiastic coach could be exactly what you need to get in the zone or it could be jarring and put you off entirely. There's not really an inbetween when it comes to getting on with this style of coaching.
Peloton's offerings can be very beneficial for giving you all-round fitness improvements—it’s a great choice for those who prefer to train on feel as the workouts are designed to motivate you to achieve your best. Plus, the integration of Peloton's exercise bike with the digital app makes the whole setup very simple and easy to use.
For riders who don't already have an indoor training setup, investing in an dediciated indoor exercise bike is a sensible choice as it will ensure your other bike's components remain in good condition.
With the option to also share the bike amongst your household members with ease, Peloton provide a convenient and reasonably priced option.
However, for riders who care about data and really like to delve into the content of a workout, the Peloton bike and digital app simply won't give you sufficient metrics or the detail you are after.
Other fitness platforms including Zwift and The Sufferfest deliver these aspects and can also be cheap to set up.
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I’ve been hooked on bikes ever since the age of 12 and my first lap of the Hillingdon Cycle Circuit in the bright yellow kit of the Hillingdon Slipstreamers. For a time, my cycling life centred around racing road and track.
But that’s since broadened to include multiday two-wheeled, one-sleeping-bag adventures over whatever terrain I happen to meet - with a two-week bikepacking trip from Budapest into the mountains of Slovakia being just the latest.
I still enjoy lining up on a start line, though, racing the British Gravel Championships and finding myself on the podium at the enduro-style gravel event, Gritfest in 2022.
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