Road Cycling

Peloton Bike review: Is Peloton worth it, or is the cost of this indoor bike just too high? – CNET

Editors’ note, Dec. 12: Peloton has been in the news for releasing a controversial ad depicting what critics have said are negative body images and unhealthy views of marriage. The ad has since been removed from television, but Peloton’s share price has plummeted by $1.6 billion since it aired. Our review of the product, originally published in January, is unchanged.

Fans of spinning, rejoice — the Peloton Bike is seriously awesome. From its sturdy steel frame to its HD touchscreen display and whisper-quiet wheels, this thing really won me over as a worthy indoor counterpart to road biking.The major downside is the price. It costs $2,245 and there’s a $39 monthly fee to participate in studio classes from home. (It’s £1,895, plus £39 per month in the UK. It’s not yet available in Australia.) You don’t have to pay the $39 or take the classes, but then you have an expensive spin bike with a fancy touchscreen that can’t do anything. And, really, the classes are the reason to buy this thing — it’s perfect for folks who want or need a little extra motivation while training at home. 

If you are a spinning devotee — or want to get more into it — and believe you would use this thing enough to justify its upfront and monthly cost, you really can’t go wrong with Peloton’s well-made high-tech bike. 

Peloton Bike: The basics

The base price for this bike is actually $1,995, but Peloton adds in a flat fee of $250 for delivery and installation “anywhere in the contiguous US” for a total of $2,245. It’s available in the UK too, and costs £1,990 with a £39 monthly fee for classes. 

This bike clocks in at 135 pounds, but two small wheels on the front make it pretty easy for one person to roll it from place to place — assuming you don’t have to go up or down steps or over any uneven transitions. In that case, I’d enlist help from at least one other person to move it. 

It has a welded steel frame, aluminum pedals, space in the back to store two hand weights (not included with the bike), a 21.5-inch 1080p HD display and two plastic water bottle holders in the front. The bottle holders work fine, but they’re flimsier than the rest of the bike. 

You can adjust the height of the handlebars and the seat, as well as the seat’s lateral position in case you’re too close to (or too far away from) the handlebars. The handlebars extend forward so you can easily move your hands as you switch from the saddle to a hover and back again. 

And, like on other spin bikes out there, a resistance knob in the front of the bike controls how difficult it is to ride. Turn it clockwise to make it harder and back to the left to make it easier. Press down on the center of the knob to stop the pedals quickly.

The resistance knob controls how hard it is to pedal. Turn it clockwise to make it harder — counter-clockwise to make it easier.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The one thing that threw me off about this bike was its pedals. I’ve been spinning and riding outside for years and have standard SPD (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) shoes and cleats. Those work as well on my road bike as they do in indoor spin classes, from SoulCycle to CycleBar and literally every other place I’ve ever taken a studio class. 

But the Peloton Bike comes with Look Delta-compatible pedals (these aren’t unique to Peloton, but they are less common than SPD), which meant I had to invest in another pair of clip shoes and cleats. You can buy the right shoes (with the cleats already installed) through Peloton for $125 or find them in your local bike shop (where the shoes and cleats are typically sold separately). The only ones in my local bike shop in my size that were compatible with the Peloton pedals ended up costing $200, not including an extra $15 for the cleats. Ouch.

My bike shoes with SPD cleats (left) next to the new shoes I had to buy to spin on the Peloton.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Peloton Bike: Getting started

Once everything is installed, plug in the bike’s power adapter and press the red power button on the top of the display to get started. The touchscreen display is your main point of access with the bike. Follow the steps on the screen to make a profile and to sign up for classes. It’s very simple.

Peloton offers both live and on-demand classes. Regardless of the class you select, you get access to your stats in real time. This includes your cadence or revolutions per minute — typically shortened to rpms — your output in watts, your resistance and a variety of other useful things. You can also see the instructors and follow along with them as they take you through seated sprints to standing hill climbs and everything in between.