As a cyclist, few things make me cringe more than a Peloton. I’ve seen the billboards, the TV commercials, and I just feel so let down when I see their ads. Like most other home exercise machines that gets aggressively marketed, I see it as an overpriced, heavy piece of equipment that will take up space in your house and every time you see it, you will feel guilt for not using it, because you spent a pretty penny on it and gosh darn it you’d better use it to get your money’s worth. Now, of course, there are exceptions. Perhaps you are senior or unable to get around easily, and having equipment at home is simply the most convenient option for you. Perhaps you’ve been using this piece of equipment at your local gym for a while and you really do need to have the same thing at home so in the event you can’t make it to the gym, or if you want to save on membership fees, you’d rather have it at home. Even if any of those things are true, please don’t give into the marketing and buy a Peloton – at least without reading this post first.
I don’t want to completely dismiss the idea of spin classes as a good form of exercise. For many people, the idea of sitting on a stationary bike and zoning out or watching a movie while pedaling is the easiest way to stay active. And heck, if that’s what’s going to get you off the couch, then all the power to you. I do it too sometimes! It’s just – I can’t resist saying it – there are so many better ways to do it.
First of all, let’s take a look at the price tag. It’s $2,000. Two thousand bucks!! They give you an option of a payment plan because it’s so expensive, and if you sign up for that, it nearly doubles the price. For comparison, my beloved Specialized Dolce Sport road bike – out the door – was less than $1,000. I’ve ridden several thousand miles since I bought it in 2016 – enough to pay off the cost of the bike in terms of train tickets saved and less gas mileage on my car. A real bike can get you places – and if you’re willing to fork out a couple thousand bucks, why not get a really really nice real bike? You could even get a carbon frame for that kind of money and it could be a bike that weighs less than 20 pounds! Then you can join the cycling community in your town and go on group rides or take your bike to a cool place like Portland and go on a cycling adventure!
Alright, I get it. You live in a city where biking infrastructure isn’t up to par, or it’s winter and you’re faced with icy streets and sub-zero temperatures on a daily basis. You know a solution for that? Buy a trainer and attach it to your awesome road bike. The Wahoo Kickr Power trainer runs $1,200 brand new and will measure your power output, or you could buy a Kickr Snap for $600. With a subscription to Zwift, which puts you in a virtual world with other cyclists, you get to ride with a smaller and lighter piece of equipment that you can detach from a real bike. Zwift runs $15 per month and the Peloton is over twice as expensive at $39 per month for its exercise videos. $39 per month is $468 per year. If you’re riding for 5 years, that’s $2,340!! Zwift is also not even the only option – you can also use TrainerRoad and CycleOps, if you buy one of their trainers, has their own virtual training app as well.
Then, when summer rolls around, detach your trainer and you can start riding around town with the muscles you were honing on the trainer. You’re getting basically whatever the Peloton is giving you, but you also have a real bike. With the Peloton, you’re locked in and committed to the system with hardly any flexibility for customization. It’s a money pit disguised as a fancy high end fitness product.
If spinning is your lifeblood and you want that spin class experience at home, then…after considering the long term costs, go for the Peloton or an equivalent system. I just wanted to make sure you’re also aware that there is this whole other world out there of real bikes that can get you outside breathing fresher air, get you moving – literally, and if you want, have the option to train indoors and measure the same metrics for less money and more flexibility.