Peloton Bike+ review: Pedal power! - MrLiambi's blog

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Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Peloton Bike+ review: Pedal power!

There are some things in life that are difficult to understand or appreciate until you've experienced them first hand. Peloton is one such thing.

It's very easy to question why people spend the - let's be real - obscene amount of money the Peloton Bike and Bike+ cost, not just for the spin bikes themselves, but for the monthly membership they then require. It's also easy to say, "just buy a cheap exercise bike, get an iPad stand and use the Peloton app or alternative app to run cycling workouts". Both completely fair statements.

However, having experienced the Peloton Bike+ for several months, we now get it. We unequivocally understand why Peloton has the user base it has and why, despite the Bike+ costing a lot more than many other exercise bikes out there, it delivers above and beyond what many competitors offer. Here's why it's worth every penny for the right kind of buyer.

Premium design

  • Dimensions: 1200 x 600mm footprint / Weight: 63kg
  • Sport series saddle with ergonomic channel
  • 360-degree rotating 23.8-inch touchscreen
  • Welded steel, ED and powder coated frame
  • Poly V power transmission belt drive

The Peloton Bike+ is a beautiful bit of equipment. Although we have a dedicated gym and office in our garden, we would have no problem putting it on display in our home either. We're sure you've seen the various Peloton memes of it positioned in luxury apartments, but it'll fit into lesser surroundings no problems either.

It's surprisingly compact too, so while you need some space around it to use it to its full potential, it doesn't require a huge amount of space on a basic level - no more than a standard exercise mat. The only difference, of course, is that you won't be rolling up the Bike+ when you finish your workout, so that needs to be factored in.

The welded steel frame is slim, premium and it looks fantastic. There are wheels at the front of the base to help you move it - which are handy as it's not light - while a signature red resistance knob sits in the centre, making a visual statement against the matte black finish.

Even the pedals offer a premium finish, while the whisper-quiet wheels - which are protected by a shield - have a flash of red, keeping things interesting, but remaining subtle enough that the Bike+ will blend as much as possible with most decors.

collection: Peloton Bike+ close up shots

In the centre, just below the handlebars, is where you will find a 3.5mm headphone jack - this has moved from behind the screen on the original Bike - while the large and all-encompassing 23.5-inch screen sits behind the handlebars.

The screen is one of the things that sets the Peloton Bike and Bike+ apart from standard exercise bikes, but the overall build quality is also one of the defining features. With the Bike+, the screen - which is not only responsive but delivers rich and vibrant colours - rotates 360-degrees to wherever you want it positioned.

It's a feature that those who want to do other workouts beyond just cycling - as Peloton offers a bunch - will appreciate more than those just interested in spin classes.

Could you live without the screen turning? Yes, you could, and those with the original Peloton Bike would likely say they cope just fine, but we'd be lying if we said it wasn't useful, especially for taking advantage of all those other Peloton classes, such as a weights or yoga class.

Setting up the Peloton Bike+ 

  • Delivery, assembly and setup performed by Peloton ambassador staff
  • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac - 2.4GHz and 5GHz
  • Qualcomm QCS605, 4GB RAM
  • Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity
  • Power required

With the premium design - and the price you pay for that - comes a premium service. Peloton will deliver the Bike+ to you and fully assemble it wherever you wish to have it in your home.

The Peloton ambassador will then take you through some of the basics on how it all works and help you adjust the Bike+ to make sure everything is the right height and on the right setting for you. You'll need to make sure you have power nearby, as well as a good Wi-Fi connection.

There are plenty of things that can be adjusted to make sure you're comfortable, such as the saddle height and distance to the handlebars. As with any bike, we were told you should be able to line your elbow up with the end of the saddle and the tip of your middle finger just reaches the handlebars. You can also just the height of the handlebars too, while the cleats - i.e. what fixes you into the pedals - can also be adjusted if they are too tight.

Although everything is setup for you, there are videos you can refer back to on the Peloton's screen that will help you get the best settings if there is more than one person using the Bike - up to six people can be under one All Access Membership.

Once you have found your ideal settings, we recommend writing them down somewhere to make it quicker to adjust everything when you come to do a ride. Everything is easily adjusted and easy to figure out, though, so we are talking a matter of seconds to get everything back in the right position.

How Peloton Bike+ works

  • Live classes and thousands On Demand
  • Individual profiles for household access
  • In-workout metrics: power, cadence, resistance and heart rate
  • Leaderboard to workout alongside other Members

Probably the best thing about Peloton - and why so many have a lot of love for the Bike+ - is the no-fuss approach. Warm-ups are incorporated into rides and although there are separate recommended cooldowns and workouts you can choose to do after a ride, if you want to do a 30-minute ride, you can do just that and it will take you 30-minutes - not 40-minutes, or 45-minutes.

The beauty about the Peloton Bike+ is that it's so easy to just get on the saddle, clip in, and turn that huge screen on. You're instantly greeted with a plethora of workouts - tailored to your preferences - and you can get going in seconds, meaning there is barely any time to make a good enough excuse not to 'do a Peloton', even on the days you aren't feeling it.

There are thousands of On Demand classes, as well as Live classes, and you can choose to Just Ride or do one of the Scenic Routes too, depending on what you fancy. We didn't enjoy the Scenic Routes - they made us feel a little ill, you might be better with Zwift for that kind of thing - but the On Demand and Live Classes are excellent. 

We also like the Auto-Follow resistance feature offered on the Bike+, which automatically adjusts the resistance within the range set by the instructor and allows you to focus on the intervals and challenge yourself even more than when you leave it in your own hands (as there's manual adjustment too). This feature can be a little glitchy, sometimes taking a few seconds to kick in, or reduce at the end of an interval, which can result in a longer burn, but we love that it's automatic and that we could still adjust it manually if we needed to knock off a few points.

We took to some of the instructors more than others - Alex Toussaint is great for us - but everyone is different and everyone loves different classes, which Peloton has realised and absolutely nailed in its offering. While the Bike+ is a spin bike, the classes offered range from cycling with some arm work in the middle, to yoga and meditation. 

You'll also notice how quickly you improve. Classes that we tried and struggled to keep up with the recommended resistance or cadence ranges when we first started on the Bike+ are now some of our go-to classes for challenging us but not so much that we can't enjoy them. The Peloton community is also great for motivation and there are some brilliant features - like the leaderboard, challenges and the ability to video chat friends - that will keep you interested.

You'll find more detail on everything Peloton offers in our Bike and Bike+ tips and tricks feature, including how to high-five members, create Workout Stacks, and see all your workout history. Overall the Bike+'s interface is very simple to use and quick to get to grips with.

collection: Peloton software shots

Along with the Auto Follow resistance option, the Bike+ comes with Apple's GymKit integration, which allows you to use your Apple Watch as a heart rate monitor. We love this feature, although it would have been nice to see it work with more workouts - it doesn't work for Bike Bootcamp workouts, for example, and there can be some connection issues - read our separate feature on sorting those. 

Of course, you can always connect an external heart rate monitor to the Bike+ using Bluetooth, allowing you to see your heart rate and get a Strive Score - again more on that in our tips and tricks.

Cost and subscription

  • All Access Membership required -$/£39 per month
  • Bike+ starts at £2295

So what's the catch with the Peloton Bike+? The price. There are a number of packages available that include various pieces of extra equipment - like Peloton weights, heart rate monitor, water bottle, shoes - and the packages can all be financed, if approved. 

It doesn't stop there though. Once you have bought the Bike+ and whatever equipment you feel like you will use enough to warrant the extra cash, you then have to consider the monthly All Access subscription cost, which enables you to, well, actually use the Bike+.

In terms of equipment you need, we found the Peloton shoes very comfortable, though would recommend going half a size up from your normal shoe size. It's also worth noting that the cleats are compatible with all Delta three-screw shoes, so you might find cheaper options elsewhere or already have your own.

We used the light weights a lot, because we love the Arms and Intervals rides, and we use the medium weights for some of the Strength workouts too, but if you're not into that then you don't need these as such, and certainly not Peloton branded ones (even though the light ones do fit nicely in the holders at the back of the Bike+).

Ultimately, the package - and therefore overall cost of the Bike+ - you choose will be based on what will best suit you and your needs, as well as what you might already have. As a minimum for the best experience, we'd say you need a heart rate monitor (Peloton or a different brand) and compatible shoes.

The All Access subscription costs £39 per month in the UK and $39 a month in the US. There is no getting away from this. However, you can cancel at anytime, but it effectively would make the Bike+ near enough redundant. Peloton is a long-term investment - and a continuous one. The All-Access membership does give you access to the Peloton mobile app too though, so if you go on holiday, you can do workouts from there to keep you going.

And, really, if you live in London then all this is cheaper than a gym membership and you have no excuse to not commute to your workout. Plus no queues for your turn, eh?

Is the Peloton Bike+ worth it?

  • 2.2 Channel front-facing stereo speakers with 26 watts of total power, 2.2 rear-facing woofers
  • 8MP front-facing camera with privacy cover for video chats with friends
  • Built-in 4 digital array microphone
  • USB-C charging port for devices

Our quick answer to whether the Peloton Bike+ is worth it? Yes! In terms of performance, it is excellent, exceptionally quiet in operation, has great features, good sound output, and just a brilliant overall experience.

There are definitely a few things to consider before you hit buy though.

Firstly, make sure you have the space for it in your home and you're happy for it to be on display if you don't have a separate room in which to keep it.

Secondly, decide whether cycling indoors on a stationary bike is something that you will enjoy and continue to enjoy. While you can play around with the cadence and resistance on the Peloton Bike+, it doesn't wobble or sway - it's very sturdy - so you won't be able to replicate some of the factors you have to consider when riding outdoors. If you want more authentic motion then you'll want a turbo trainer on a proper bike frame, like the Tacx Neo 2T Smart, as one example.

Thirdly, you need to be prepared to pay the monthly subscription cost for the foreseeable future. You need to be invested in the Bike+ being something you can see yourself enjoying month after month, even once that 'initial honeymoon period' is over. It's an excellent bit of kit but it can't force you to get on, you have to do that yourself. We've been doing so for months though, without quibble, so it's passed our litmus time test.

Lastly, consider whether the Auto-Follow, Apple GymKit and 360-degree rotating screen are all features you will make use of. If the answer is that you like the idea of one of them but perhaps not all of them, then consider whether the original Peloton Bike might allow you to save some cash but not hinder your experience or expectations.



Source : https://www.pocket-lint.com/fitness-trackers/reviews/peloton/158705-peloton-bike-plus-review

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