My wife decided to get into the indoor cycling craze with the purchase of a Peloton bike. I was leary on my use of it. The only draw to me was the fact that former professional cyclists, like Christian Van der Velde and George Hincapie, lead some classes. So, of course, my first ride was with George Hincapie. If you are unfamiliar with Peloton (besides the never-ending commercials), I will give an overview and my thoughts as a road cyclist versus that of using a typical trainer or smart trainer.
Delivered and set up by Peloton, the two men were in and out in no time. The bike itself is solid, weighs a lot and has two front, “tilt up” rollers to move from place to place if needed. Sizing for each rider of the household can be set up quickly with measurement marks on the seat post and guide rails of the saddle; so with the use of my wife and me, it does not take but a quick second to slide to proper areas, once we set our numbers. Speaking of the saddle, it is very comfortable with or without bike shorts, being that most classes are not above an hour long. The pedals are “Look” type pedals and work like they are suppose to work. The drivetrain is belt. Yes, it is incredibly quiet and smooth, but strange to feel in my pedal stroke. Although nothing noticeable for my wife, but my only other bother with the bike was the handlebars. They are kind of a time trial handlebar. I miss having drops when digging. The tension or resistance knob is on the downtube, but more on that in a moment. The touch screen monitor on the bike is very big and easy to use. The volume button is on the side, but screen can also be paired to Bluetooth headphones.
Turning on the screen, multiple users can choose the appropriate account. The screen needs no tutoring session. Most of everything on the screen is self explanatory and is generally reviewed with an instructor before class begins. After a one-time setup of a rider’s target power and heart rate, all of the zones show up on the screen during a workout. Any ANT+ heart rate monitor pairs up in a second. The tension knob is not like the days of old. The percentage of tension placed on the flywheel is displayed on the screen, so that the rider has exactly what instructor wants. Cadence, power and tension are displayed at the bottom of the screen during workouts, but can be swiped away if the rider wishes. Just above the cadence meter and tension display is a target zone to where the instructor wants the rider to be and will change color if above or below the suggested range.
Live classes are available throughout the day, streamed from New York with different instructors on different workouts like metrics, hills, intervals, low impact, etc. If a person is not quite able to jump into a live class, the session is recorded and available to the rider on demand from a drop down screen. Choosing from the length of the session to a specific instructor to what type of workout a person wants to target is very seamless. If a rider does not have a Functional Threshold Power range, there is a workout for that. Power is monitored in the drivetrain already, so no hassle there. When the ride is over, everything automatically syncs with a rider’s Strava account . . . because we all know that if it is not on Strava it did not happen.
Want to just ride on a day not hearing someone barking orders about cadence or when to sit or stand? There are scenic rides also! This is one of my favorite things on a low-power, spin day. Choose from beautiful parks in America to mountains in Italy or France. It is a cool visual with accompanying music, but note one thing: it is NOT virtual reality, meaning that it does not speed up with an increase in the rider’s speed or stop when the rider stops. The videos are gorgeous though and worth having as an option. As a bit of a side note, whether in a live class or any other class, there is a list of streaming riders who are currently doing or have done that particular workout and ranks you globally in real-time. It can be swiped away if distracting, but sometimes I catch myself working harder to climb the list of all-time best.
Another good feature is what is available after a ride. Stretching classes, yoga, core training, and light weights are some of the things available. I generally always pick to ride with a former professional because of their approach to what I want out of the class, and they will put just about anyone through the wringer. After I am finished “chasing down a breakaway” with Christian, I simply choose a stretching class and drop to a roll out mat beside the bike. It is great way to cool down and something that is quite often overlooked by cyclists in general.
Does this bike give you the same ride feel as a typical trainer with Zwift? Honestly, no. You are not on a road bike. It is an indoor cycling spin bike. There is a quite of bit of difference in hand placement and pedal stroke. That being said, is it a good tool? Yes. In relation to where I live, I do not have but maybe a month of actual cold weather. This places me in the position of having to only use an indoor machine every once in a while. Having a Peloton in the house gives me a great advantage to having a good workout if I am time-crunched with family or weather or just want to throw an extra workout into my schedule.
- Convenience: A+
- Quality: A+
- Instructors: A
- Design: B
- Comfort: B+
- Streaming: A-