I’ve owned a Peloton for almost two years—is the pricey bike really worth it?
Investing in Peloton isn't for everyone—but it could be a game-changer for you.
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Editor's note: This is a review of the original Peloton Bike, which is now available for $1,895. We recently reviewed the newer Bike+ ($2,495), which has a pivoting display, a larger screen, and more connectivity capabilities, which you can read about in our Best Exercise Bike roundup.
But Peloton is not just a bike. It’s a fitness company and community. Some would argue it’s a lifestyle—those people are just really good about using their exercise equipment and then telling everyone about it in the highly active 246,000+ member Peloton Facebook group.
For nearly two years, my husband and I have owned one of these bikes. ‘Owned’ is not entirely accurate, because we are still paying off the $2,245 equipment cost, plus the $39 a month for the classes subscription. However, we wouldn’t be able to have it at all if not for the no-interest payment plan of $58 per month over 39 months. Overall, Peloton knocks it out of the park for both of us. The classes are challenging and rewarding. The metrics and leaderboard provide healthy competition and motivation. The community is inspiring. And having the bike at home—and not having to travel anywhere to take a class—is the most convenient thing for fitting fitness into our busy lives.
Is it worth it for you to invest in one of these bikes, too? That’s something only you can answer. But you may wonder about how the stationary bike works, how riding alone in your living room compares to spinning in a studio, and if people ever get sick of their equipment and stop using it after a while. Those questions I can help answer.
What is a Peloton bike and how much does it cost?
The Peloton bike is an indoor-cycling bike with a fancy touchscreen tablet attached to it. It’s a lot like a spin bike you would ride at a boutique fitness studio, but much nicer—and all yours. The pedals allow you to clip your shoes in, meaning you need special shoes with cleats, and the seat and handlebars have settings that you can adjust according to your height and arm length. Like every other spinning bike I’ve been on, it can be uncomfortable to sit on at first, but you get used to it. Overall, it's a great piece of equipment, and it looks nice at home—even though, for me, it takes up a decent amount of floor space in my 730-square-foot apartment.
I bought the bike for $2,245—or $58 per month with no money down or interest for 39 months. The membership, which provides access to the instruction, is separate and an additional $39 a month. When you purchase the bike, either in a lump sum or by agreeing to the payment plan, this includes the $250 delivery and setup free. In addition to the bike, you may purchase accessories a la carte or in a package for a slight discount. My husband and I bought Peloton shoes with cleats ($125 each), one pair of three-pound weights ($25), and a bike mat ($59) to protect the floor. I cannot speak to whether the other accessories are worth it, but you can also get Peloton-branded items like a glass water bottle ($25), heart rate monitor ($59), earbuds ($29 to $119), a workout mat ($69) for the off-bike exercises and floor workouts the membership also includes. You don’t have to buy the brand's shoes; you just need indoor cycling shoes with a three-hole cleat design outfitted with Look Delta cleats.
How does the Peloton membership work? Do I have to have it?
To take classes and participate in the leaderboard, you will need to pay the $39 monthly fee for the subscription. As a member, you get access to much more than just cycling. There are thousands of other fitness classes available to take, including strength, toning, yoga, running, and walking, which you can cue up on the bike’s tablet to work out alongside it (floorspace permitting), cast to your TV, or download the Peloton app to your phone or tablet to use on the go.
When you want to exercise on the bike, you may take a live class at a preset time or pick one whenever you want from the on-demand library, which holds thousands of prerecorded rides. New ones are always being added, as there are more than 90 live classes each week, which are archived to the library right after. The classes range in length from 5 to 60 minutes, class type (beginner, low impact, climb, HIIT, and more), music genre (they got ‘em all), and instructor (there are 19 of them). If you don’t feel like being coached, you may take a scenic ride, where you can explore the world from the comfort of your own home while pedaling to your own beat.
Non-equipment owners can also buy the app for $12.99 a month with the first month free, so if you want to try out the instruction first (sans leaderboard) on your iPhone or Android device, that’s an option.
You can also get creative, as some budget-conscious people have. Jessica from Westchester, New York, a working mom of two, uses a Peloton membership for cycling but does not own the brand's bike. She says: “I was really interested in the Peloton bike but not the price. Instead, I purchased the Schwinn IC3 Indoor Cycling Bike on Amazon for $499.99, and I take Peloton classes using the app on my iPad. I can now do the workout I love from my basement when the kids are napping or sleeping. The classes are great and I love that they offer various length classes. Some days, 15 minutes is all I have!”
While this is a less expensive alternative, without the Peloton bike, you won’t have the ability to track your metrics and keep tabs on your performance via the leaderboard. Your bike may be able to tell you your speed and resistance, but it will not connect to the app and you will not be given any stats for your ride. This means you won’t be able to compete against others or yourself moving forward, to gauge improvement.
On the other hand, as a bike owner, if you stop paying for the membership, your bike’s usability is seriously limited to just a few cycling classes, no leaderboard, and free pedaling on your own—the tension knob will still work, at least.
How does the Peloton bike compare to SoulCycle and Flywheel studio classes?
The biggest hesitation I had when it came to buying the Peloton bike was leaving the in-studio experience of cycling behind. I swore by my SoulCycle classes because of the motivation that came from riding in unison with everyone around me, and I adored my instructor (his name is James L. and he has a legitimate cult following). I worried that without the nearby energy of all those people (or James’s coaching), I wouldn’t try as hard because there would be no one around to judge me for not keeping up with the desired speed and resistance metrics. However, what I found when I started using the Peloton was the exact opposite.
I work way harder during Peloton classes than I ever did at SoulCycle!
Although you're technically riding alone at home, you aren't really riding alone when you’re taking a Peloton class. In addition to streaming the instruction, the touchscreen attached to the bike shows your metrics and provides a leaderboard, where you can monitor your performance compared to everyone taking a live class at that moment, or everyone who has ever taken an on-demand class. You earn a score according to your overall output number, which is a calculation of your cadence (rotations per minute of your feet on the pedals) combined with resistance (how much you crank up the red knob), showing how much energy your performance is generating. During class, you can watch yourself move up and down the leaderboard, competing with way more people than you ever would in a physical studio. You can also change the leaderboard to display only participants in your demographic (age and gender) to see how you rate.
Because I am an extremely competitive person, I am way more invested in hitting faster speeds and higher resistance levels during my Peloton rides than I ever was during SoulCycle classes, which, to be frank, are not exactly about competition anyway. (Though I’d probably be just as competitive in a class at a studio that shows you your metrics against those of the rest of the class on a leaderboard, like Flywheel.)
Another cool aspect of Peloton is the community. As on a social media network, your account is branded with a username of your choosing, and other riders can follow you to see all of the classes you’ve taken, when you’ve taken them, and how you performed during them. (You can set privacy limits, of course.) This lets people see your progress, which has provided me with motivation outside of class to get on the bike and ride. I don’t want my followers to think I’m slacking off!
Are the Peloton classes good?
After taking my first few Peloton cycling classes, I realized that all the SoulCycle rides I thought were amazing workouts were really just fun dance parties on a bike in a room with a limited amount of air. I left every SoulCycle class drenched in sweat due to the temperature in the room, but I sweat way more at home from working hard during Peloton classes even with the AC blasting. I’ve even had to go sit or lie down after rides for a half hour until I stop feeling like I might throw up. Part of this is because I often push myself way too hard to beat my personal records each class. But it’s also because the classes are just that good.
That’s not to say every class is equally good. With such a wide range of rides you can take—some long, some short, some low impact, some high intensity—you’re inevitably going to have some classes you like and some you don’t like as much. I will say I’ve never taken a class I hated. And every class has the option to mute the volume entirely if you want, because you can follow along on the screen for the workout guidance of when to increase or decrease your resistance or effort.
I am extremely picky about the music I listen to while working out, so I appreciate that you can preview the songs played in most on-demand classes. It often ends up taking me 10 to 20 minutes to decide on a class because I scan every class playlist first. For live classes, you can’t view the song list beforehand, but you sacrifice this knowledge for the thrill of potentially getting your username shouted out by the instructor (or, at least, I do). My husband thinks I am nuts when it comes to the music and he has loved all the playlists he’s encountered, especially because some of the instructors are also DJs.
Like the playlists, the classes and instructors you enjoy most will depend on your own personal preference. I gravitate towards classes taught by Cody Rigsby, Robin Arzon, and Emma Lovewell. I tend to like their playlists best, but I also love their personalities and teaching styles. I have taken and enjoyed classes with many of the other instructors, too, but there have been times where I wasn’t as into it. And that’s okay. Sometimes you just don’t vibe with an instructor. Some of my favorite classes have been all of Robin’s hip hop rides, Cody’s Backstreet Boys ride, and the epic Lizzo ride taught by Robin, which is the brand's most popular cycling class with over 102,000 solid ratings!
As for class length, I find myself doing 30-minute classes most of the time. I have taken 45-minute classes before and, honestly, they are a lot. The times I’ve done them I’ve felt like I took two 45-minute SoulCycle classes in one. Even the 20-minute classes are a solid workout. My husband is great about doing 15- or 20-minute rides on busy days before or after work just to get exercise in, and that has been a major perk to owning the bike for him. Everyone has a few extra minutes in their days—why not use them to work out in the comfort of your own home, with no wasted time spent traveling to and from a studio?
Will the Peloton get boring after a while and start collecting dust and cobwebs?
After years of owning basic treadmills and ellipticals, many people tend to get sick of their equipment and leave it behind. But this bike is not just a piece of equipment. It comes with a built-in motivational community and hundreds of new classes to take each month. However, you still have to be realistic with yourself and your own track record: If you foresee yourself getting sick of the workouts (or cycling in general) after a while, it’s probably not worth investing in.
As for me, I do not use my bike as much as I did in the beginning. Part of that is because I have some serious neck, shoulder, and back issues that often prevent me from doing high-impact workouts (if you watch the documentary "Cheer" on Netflix, you can learn why!), and I take barre classes at a nearby studio, which helps keep the issues at bay. Even though it shouldn’t be hard to use fitness equipment at home, it has been a challenge for me to go to barre class and take cycling classes. After all, there’s only so many hours in the day, and right now, barre is my priority.
My husband, on the other hand, uses the bike just about every day—and sometimes even twice a day. He quit his pricey gym membership a few months ago to go all in on the Peloton. Now, in addition to riding the bike regularly (and running outside, which he was already doing before), he takes non-cycling classes on the app. So even though I might not be using it as much right now, our bike is getting used. And that’s another point: If you’re considering sharing the bike or subscription with your household, you may get more of your money’s worth—you can register an unlimited number of people on the same account to use the same bike.
Can you try the Peloton bike before committing to buying it?
If you are on the fence about whether or not Peloton is right for you, the company offers a 30-day home trial, where they will pick up the bike and refund your entire order—including delivery—if you decide within a month that you don’t want to keep it. (The home trial does not apply to those living in remote areas including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or the U.S Virgin Islands.)
Another way to experience Peloton is by heading to one of the brand's 98 stores, which they call “Showrooms.” Currently there are 77 Showrooms in the U.S. across 29 states. The rest are spread out across Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany. And the company is still growing, so if there’s not a location near you right now, there could be soon.
Then, of course, there are the famed studios where all of the classes are filmed live.
Riders in New York City can pay $32 per class (there are discounted rates for first time riders and for class packs) to spin at Peloton’s flagship Chelsea studio, or they can ride at the new studio across the pond in London. To sign up for a class, you must first create a studio account. Many at-home riders attend studio sessions when traveling for the experience of taking live classes and meeting their favorite instructors.
And hey—if cycling is not for you, perhaps consider one of the Peloton Treads instead. The treadmills are equally as pricey (or pricier than) the bike, though. Retail prices start at $2,495 or $64 a month for the Tread and $4,295 or $111 a month for 39 months for the Tread+ (plus that $39 monthly membership fee).
Is the Peloton bike worth the money?
Because my husband and I financed the bike, we pay a total of $97 each month—$58 for the bike plus $39 for the membership. Split between the two of us, that comes out to $48.50 each. After 39 months when the bike is paid off, it will just be the $39 for the membership. So as long as Peloton stays in business and we can maintain access to all of the live and on-demand classes, we should be good.
Compared to what we were spending on the gym and classes prior to purchasing our bike, we are actually saving money. The monthly cost of Peloton is much less than the $84-per-month gym membership my husband cancelled—and it’s also much less than what I was paying for SoulCycle when I was going around eight times per month, which came out to $264 ($30 for the class and $3 for shoes each time).
For us, owning a Peloton reduced our fitness costs, but that may not be the case for you. The bike is an investment, and depending on how much money you have to spend, how much money you’re already spending on fitness, and how likely you (and your family members) are to use the bike long-term, it may or may not make sense for you.
Even though I haven't continued to use the Peloton as much as I thought I would, my husband’s commitment to it makes the monthly price we pay worth it. I also plan to use it much more moving forward, especially when we eventually move and I am no longer in walking distance of a barre studio, making it great to have in the years to come. That being said, I 110%, without a doubt, recommend getting a Peloton bike if you have the money (and space!) for it. But you’re the only one who will know for sure if riding at home is right for you.