Last Updated On September 10th, 2020
In this Echelon bike review, we’ll talk through the features of the Echelon EX3 bike such as the cost, physical features, and the Echelon app. With full disclosure that the writer of this review has had a first-hand experience of the Echelon bike only, we’ll also compare and contrast some key differences between the Echelon bike and top brand competitor, Peloton, where it is possible to do so.
Cost: How Much is the Echelon Bike?
The Echelon smart connect bike is packed full of features that make it a direct competitor to the Peloton bike, however, at just over £1200, it comes with a little less of the up-front price tag. Echelon also offer payment plans for the exercise bike via their website; if you prefer spreading the cost, this might be a welcome option.
As a spinning at home bike, the Echelon connect offers more than a regular exercise bike due to its smart features; that is, the ability to connect via an app to live and on-demand workouts and rides. The cost of the various membership tiers within the Echelon connect app are pretty well identical to Peloton, which may or may not include monthly repayments of the bikes themselves. Currently, an unlimited, all-access subscription to the Echelon app only, or like for like with Peloton, will set you back £39.99 per month, with options to pay yearly or even 2 yearly fees which work out with a smaller monthly fee altogether.
Let’s get into more detail with this Echelon bike review and take a look at the physical build of the bike, as well as the features of the app, to see what you can expect to get for your money with Echelon.
Build Features: What Do You Get Out of the Box?
The Echelon bike itself is made of good quality materials and, although it is designed to be lightweight, the bike is nonetheless sturdy. The simple design of black metal with flecks of red also gives the bike the impression of a serious bit of kit. There is some assembly required upon arrival but the bike is delivered with all the tools etc. included to set it all up in around 45 minutes.
Echelon has designed the flywheel to be ultra-quiet, even at fast speeds or higher resistance. This could really make a difference depending on where you plan to set up your bike, or if you wanted to immerse yourself in the classes or your ride without having distracting background noises.
The echelon EX3 is fitted with a competition bike seat. Personally, I did find the seat to be quite uncomfortable in my first few rides and needed to purchase cycling leggings (for extra padding in some key areas!) This may not be an issue for every user, however, and there is also the option to change the provided Echelon seat to one of your choosing. This may also be useful if you happen to have a preferred style of seat, or if you wanted to use one you have already worn in. The seat can be adjusted for multiple riders with the levers. The lever style adjustment can make for a fiddly process, however, which you may wish to consider if you need to save time between bike users or are planning on changing users frequently.
The Echelon Connect bike gives you the option to use clip-in pedals or cage-style pedals upon set-up. This may be handy, particularly if you’re a beginner, as you don’t need to buy cycling shoes to ride. Echelon has also designed a smart way for ease of transition between the two; it is simply a matter of using one or other side of the pedal. This could be more convenient to save time between multiple users. It may also be a good option for you if you were at a stage where you wanted to try using clip-ins some time in the future but were not ready to commit from the start. Some added extras are the water bottle and dumbbell holders; this could be a really great feature for those who like to include dumbbells in their workout. This also provides a handy area to store gym equipment needed for other workouts, aside from the spin classes, that can be accessed when you connect to the app (see below for more information).
The resistance adjustment wheel is well located for ease of access to twist to adjust tension during a ride. With the ratchet-style adjustment, it feels satisfying to feel the wheel smoothly clicking through the resistance levels as you twist. This may be a welcome feature for those who want to immerse themselves in their workout without necessarily having to keep checking the level on the screen each time.
What Are the Main Physical Differences Between the Peloton and the Echelon?
The two main physical differences between the Peloton and Echelon EX3, when you look at them side by side, are the position of the flywheel (Echelon’s wheel is at the back) and the built-in display.
Although it does not include a built-in display, the lack of this feature on the Echelon bike is reflected well in the upfront cost. The adjustable tablet holder is designed to make the workaround a simple matter of firing up the app on your tablet or phone, placing it snuggly into the stand and then you’re ready to ride.
As mentioned above, the Echelon bike is more lightweight than the Peloton. For some, this may reflect negatively when it comes to the feel of the overall quality of the bike. Alternatively, this could be a desirable feature, depending on the size or specifications of your indoor space. For instance, a more lightweight bike could be more practical if you are looking to set the bike up in an upstairs room/apartment or if you plan to store your bike and bring it out for space-saving reasons.
A Digital Exercise Experience
There are many reasons for opting for an indoor bike that allows you to access live spin classes or exercise classes from the comfort of your own home. Whether it be for saving time or personal preference, it can certainly be far less time consuming to fire up an app on a tablet or other smart device and join some folks in a live spin class.
On days where you may not fancy joining a live class, there are also plenty of on-demand classes or scenic rides to choose from; this can be a good option to have perhaps where you have had less time to commit to a full class or if you’re simply feeling like some ‘me-time’. The classes and rides are rated as beginner, intermediate or advanced; a particularly handy and smart feature for a beginner, such as myself, but this might also be helpful to manage your sessions whatever your cycling experience.
With FitPass, you also have the option to access various exercise classes, separate to bikes and rides, on your tablet or smart device. These classes are available for you to work on strength, muscle and core as well as stretching and warming up/cooling down before or after a ride. As with the spin classes, there are both live and on-demand workouts to choose from.
The app was easy to download and set up on both my Android phone and tablet and it is also supported by Apple if that is your preferred platform.
Pros and Cons of the Echelon App:
I found the instructors within the live spin classes to be motivating yet friendly and there is something about sharing this experience in real-time with others that really pushes you to get your heart rate going! Personally, I found there to be a healthy sense of competition where needed as you can keep an eye on the leader board at the side of the screen. There are also lots of much-appreciated words of encouragement from the instructors as you power on through your workout. When you sign up for a live class, you can opt-in for this to be connected to your calendar on your phone or smart device. Being a fairly forgetful person, this was a particularly beneficial feature for me personally. It also helped to have a pre-planned workout to wake up to or to look forward to throughout the day.
Unfortunately, many of the on-demand scenic rides that I experienced from Echelon had been rendered using computer graphics. As the movement through these digital environments does not react to changes in cycling (i.e. speeding up or slowing down), it felt all the more synthetic. This meant that the rides were not as immersive or as motivating as I was hoping for; in fact, the experience was somewhat jarring at times.
Of course, Peloton’s app also provides users with live and on-demand classes and other smart features; it is rated very highly by Peloton users. No doubt, Peloton has had years to develop their app and fill it with great content from a vast pool of elite instructors, updating their features based on this experience as they go. Echelon is new to the game though and every journey needs a beginning; their website states that Echelon app continues to develop with more features, classes and instructors.
Does the Echelon Bike Work Without Subscription?
The echelon EX3 comes with a 30 day free trial of their services; when this runs out though, you’ll find access to be severely reduced. Without a subscription, the app features a very basic freestyle ride screen, ability to log your workouts (all whilst allowing a tantalising look into what you’re missing out on) and that is it. It does not allow you to sample any live services, scenic rides or even watch a tutorial on how to set up the bike without a trial subscription. Certainly, the very point of high-end spin bikes for homes, such as either the Echelon or Peloton bike, is to be able to connect to services via a smart app. I can understand why a subscription may be necessary to get the most out of your bike. However, the Echelon bike leaves you with no option but to tie yourself into a subscription to get little more than you would with a more basic (and less-costly) exercise bike.
Which Is Better, Echelon VS Peloton?
As we have outlined in this Echelon connect bike review, the Echelon model shares many features with the Peloton bike. Both spinner bikes are made of good, sturdy materials and both connect to apps packed full of smart features, that you won’t find from regular indoor exercise bikes.
The Echelon does have a cheaper upfront cost, but this is largely due to the need to use a tablet or other smart device instead of an LCD screen. Either way, this is a welcome compromise that is largely down to preference.
With a smaller and lighter frame, this may be more suitable for your indoor space, particularly if you have a smaller room to work with or may be concerned about the weight load on your floor.
The echelon may be more suitable for beginners due to upfront cost and the fact that, although it is an option, you don’t need clip-in cycling shoes to ride. The Echelon smart connect bike feels more like a typical indoor spin bike, whereas Peloton users have reported that their bikes feel more like a typical road bike. Again, another feature that can be left to personal preference.
The elephant in the room, of course, is that Peloton is the leading brand with these types of bikes. Certainly, taking even a cursory glance at Reddit peloton posts, it’s clear that Peloton users are happy with their bikes and the smart services. Peloton bikes, although heavier, are said to be safer and sturdier for it. Peloton’s app has been around longer and, therefore, has had more time to develop and respond to user experience within that time.
Final Thoughts on the Echelon Smart Connect Bike
As we have outlined in our Echelon bike review, Echelon offers an at-home spin bike with all the features you may need to connect to live classes from the comfort of your own home. All this, for less of the up-front cost of other more high-end bikes. Although slightly more than your average gym membership, the cost of subscription (which may include monthly payment of the bike) may be a viable option for you if you prefer to exercise at home. With the option to join in with classes that are not focused on riding the bike, the smart features could allow you to fulfil many, if not most, of your workout needs to keep fit all year round. There are some features that may fall short of the mark for you, most notably quality of some of the on-demand rides. Saying this, it may still be a good option for those who need a more lightweight and beginner-friendly bike than others. With at-home fitness becoming more the norm (especially in recent times) Echelon could offer you an affordable way to continue your exercise goals, whilst still enjoying a connection to live classes and other people sharing in your workout.