Back in December of 2017, the Peloton Bike was extremely popular and I really wanted one. I tried to convince myself we could make it work but my husband, fortunately, talked some sense into me. As a DIYer, I’m used to finding a way to get something similar to what I want for less money. So, I started my research. What did I need for my Peloton Bike Alternative? The app, the bike, and a way to measure the metrics needed to successfully follow along on a ride.
The only way to access the Peloton app back in 2017/2018 without owning a bike was to have an Apple device. Yeah, we’re not Apple people. But, I made an exception, bought a cheap, used, iPad Air off of eBay, and set up a subscription for the Peloton app.
For $13/month, my husband and I have access to their entire library of workouts. So the bike is not only cheaper, so is the monthly subscription. And now that they’ve expanded their offerings and accessibility, even the kids join in for the Peloton family cardio workouts streamed right on our TV.
The Peloton Bike is not just a spin bike with a tablet attached. The bike itself is very high quality and you can see it just from looking at pictures.
What I found out is the bike is constructed from thick welded steel that can take a beating, including from larger folks like my husband and I. The resistance is magnetic – much more resilient (and low maintenance) than the contact resistance type that uses felt or leather pads which need to be replaced. And the Peloton has a belt drive. These were the three things I was looking for in my search for a cheaper option.
I ended up finding the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B1714 Evolution Pro Magnetic Belt Drive Indoor Cycling Bike right when it was being released. It had all 3 things I was looking for:
☑ Heavy-duty and high durability steel frame construction with up to 330 lb user weight limit
☑ Magnetic resistance
☑ Belt drive
I went for it, received the bike in January 2018, and have been extremely happy since.
There’s definitely more to the Peloton Bike Alternative set-up though. To get as close to the Peloton experience as possible, there are some additional purchases that need to be made.
First, you’ll need to know your cadence in order to follow along with the rides on the app. Cadence is the rate at which someone is cycling. It measures the number of revolutions of the crank per minute.
I ordered the Wahoo RPM Speed and Cadence sensors to attach to my bike and help me track cadence along with a cell phone holder to display the data where I can see it while I ride. The Speed sensor isn’t necessary but I purchased it so I can have that data pulled into my Strava app and then from there, into FitBit. I’ll try to follow up this post with an explanation of why that’s necessary, but long story short – FitBit doesn’t accurately collect cycling data.
I also purchased a holder for the iPad, new pedals I could clip into (trust me, an absolute necessity for Peloton rides), SPD cleats for the New Balance cycling shoes I bought, a padded mat to protect the floor, and an extra-large, extra padded replacement seat. I started with just padding on the original seat but longer rides were torture for my rear.
One More Thing
The last thing I needed to know before I rode was how to determine resistance. The instructors regularly call out resistance and cadence for their rides. I found a random discussion about this very topic specific to my bike – I wish I had saved it. But basically, one FULL rotation of the knob was equal to 10 resistance. We’ve used this every time we ride with no issues.
Are Peloton’s amazing and worthy of our envy? Absolutely. Are there benefits we’re missing out on? Yup. Have you seen the resistance knob with Auto Follow on the Peloton Bike+? Or the freaking huge screen? Or in-workout metrics like power, cadence, resistance and heart rate AND the leaderboard?
But my Peloton Bike Alternative with accessories cost me just over $800 – and to me, that’s worth it.
To make it easy to grab the same setup, below are all the products we used – including the Wahoo Cadence sensor alone if you decide to skip the Speed sensor. Have fun!