By Katie Pierson, Certified Spinning® Instructor & Personal Trainer
The new technology that is being created today for indoor cycling bikes is incredible. The industry is revamping the rider experience making it more fascinating and interactive with added bike features and capabilities. The Bowflex C6 and Peloton models are incredibly similar with their sleek design, belt-driven flywheels, magnetic resistance systems, and red and black color scheme. While these two bikes include many similarities, they also have significant differences.
When I recently decided to purchase a new indoor cycling bike, I thoroughly vetted each option to find which one was right for me. Although, in the end, I bought the Bowflex C6, we will examine what makes both of these cycles exceptional to help identify which model is suitable for you.
The Peloton at a Glance
- Height: 53″
- Width: 23”
- Length: 59″
- Item weight: 135 pounds
- User maximum weight: 297 pounds
- User maximum height: 6’5”
Peloton Main Features
The original Peloton Bike offers a whisper-quiet ride originating from its 30-pound flywheel that is belt-driven. This bike is fully integrated with the Peloton membership. It also provides 100 levels of magnetic resistance.
The original Peloton bike has reduced in price to $1,895 after the recent introduction of Peloton’s newest version, the Bike+. Its sleek design makes this bike ideal for smaller fitness spaces. It includes 3-pound weights and a 22” HD Touchscreen. This bike requires a Delta clip cycling shoe that can be purchased through Peloton.
This bike’s captivating component is the Peloton membership fully incorporated into the bike’s design and technology. The community created through this membership has an almost cult-like following due to the inspiring instructors and collection of class formats. Users describe the community with words such as fun, encouraging, and fabulous. One participant exclaimed, “I’m addicted!” I can relate to those that enjoy the Peloton instructors as I love classes from Kendall Toole and Olivia Amato!
Peloton Pros & Cons
The Bowflex C6 at a Glance
- User height range: 4’ 6”- 6’6”
- Height: 51.8″
- Width: 21.2″
- Length: 48.7″
- Item weight: 106 pounds
- User weight maximum: 330 pounds
Bowflex C6 Main Features
The Bowflex C6 is a belt-driven cycle that includes a 40-pound flywheel. This cycle, created by Nautilus, offers 100 magnetic resistance levels and includes a backlit LCD metric console. This bike is designed with commercial-grade materials and is available at an affordable price. One purchaser commented, “Great, just like Peloton but 1/3 the cost and no extra $40 a month membership.” The 40-pound flywheel offers an exceptionally smooth ride that is practically silent due to the belt system.
I can easily ride this bike when my house is sleeping, and nobody knows I am working out. This purchase includes 3-pound weights and a Bluetooth heart rate monitor that connects to the LCD monitor. The LCD monitor displays metrics such as cadence, distance, MPH, calories, and heart rate. The C6 also works seamlessly with streaming services such as Peloton, Zwift, FulGaz, and Sufferfest.
The handlebars offer four-way adjustability, therefore accommodating a more comprehensive range of participants. As a 5’4” rider, four-way adjustability for handlebars is an absolute must in any bike purchase that I make. I have been highly impressed with the customer service. I currently have an issue with my pedals not holding my SPD clips tight enough. The customer service agent not only spent time with me while they walked me through tightening bolts to troubleshoot what I was experiencing but quickly ordered new pedals to be delivered to rectify the issue after the troubleshooting was unsuccessful.
Bowflex C6 Pros & Cons
Detailed Comparison of Peloton & Bowflex C6
Below we will examine the differences and similarities for the Peloton and Bowflex C6 bikes.
Both cycles offer a belt drive system. This system allows for an extremely quiet riding experience. This type of driven system also requires less maintenance.
Each bike option includes a weighted flywheel that is located in the front of the cycle. The Bowflex C6 offers a forty-pound flywheel, while the Peloton only uses a thirty-pound flywheel. Flywheels with a higher weight are often associated with a smoother ride.
Each cycle option includes 100 levels of resistance. However, it is essential to note that the resistance levels do vary. Please refer to the conversion chart at the end of this article.
Handlebar and Seat Adjustability
C6 offers greater riding position customization than that of the Peloton. The C6 provides four-way adjustability for the seat and the handlebars. This means that the seat and handlebars can move up/down and front/back. Adjusting the handlebars in multiple directions is crucial for shorter riders as the handlebars’ ability to move closer to the bike center is essential.
The limitation of adjusting the Peloton’s handlebars was one of the most important differences that I found between the two cycles. As a rider that is only 5’4”, the Bowflex C6 provided a much more comfortable ride than the Peloton.
Katie Pierson, Certified Spinning® Instructor
The Peloton handlebars only can move up and down due to the static positioning of the touchscreen. The saddle does have the capability of four-way adjustability.
Both bikes include adjustable levelers to decrease potential side-to-side rocking during a workout.
The Bowflex C6 offers dual pedals that include SPD clips and toe cages. SPD clips are often used within indoor cycling classes, so other shoes are not required. The Peloton bike only uses specific Delta pedals, and therefore specific shoes are required from Peloton.
While the Bowflex connects to various cycling applications, including the Peloton digital app, the Peloton is unmatched with its integration of the bike technology with the Peloton membership.
The Bowflex C6 is currently priced at $999, while the Peloton was recently reduced to $1,895.
The Peloton and Bowflex C6 offer a remarkably similar ride due to the weighted flywheel placement, magnetic resistance, and belt drive system.
What Type of Rider is Best for Each Bike
Using the Peloton App with the Bowflex C6
The ability to use the Peloton digital application with the Bowflex C6 is effortless and affordable. I currently use the digital app with my C6. Below we will examine the app’s characteristics, how to link it to your C6, limitations to the digital application, and resistance conversion.
What is the Digital Peloton App?
The Peloton digital application costs $12.95 per month. This app is compliant with Apple devices and Android devices using a 6.0 or higher operating system.
The application not only allows customization of selecting rides based on music, class format, workout length, and instructor preference, but the app also provides a plethora of different class types that include more than just cycling.
Why Should You Pair the Device with the C6?
If you do not have a bike that pairs with the Peloton application, it is still possible to use the digital application. Before I purchased the Bowflex C6, my past indoor cycling bike was older and did not have this capability. The features that I now have access to that I didn’t before are live tracking of my cadence and heart rate on the actual application. It is also fun to be able to see other riders in the class and high-five them.
Connect Your C6 with the Peloton in 8 Easy Steps
There are only eight steps required for a successful connection between your C6 and your device.
Digital Application Limitations
One of the most outstanding features of the Peloton application is the virtual Leaderboard. The Leaderboard features all of the riders actively taking the class and ranks them based on their output. Output is calculated by taking the average output, multiplying that number by the total number of seconds in the class, and dividing it by 1,000.
Unfortunately, although a C6 owner can see their cadence and heart rate displayed, the Leaderboard is not a feature they have access to using. If you do not have a currently included device in their operating system requirements, showing cadence and heart rate in the app is also not available. Unfortunately for me, my current phone doesn’t fit the operating system requirements, so I must use a different device to enjoy the maximum number of features.
Bowflex C6 vs. Peloton Resistance Conversion
When I first purchased the bike, it did not even cross my mind that the resistance numbers would vary so vastly between the Bowflex C6 and Peloton since both bikes include 100 levels of resistance. When I tried to complete my first digital Peloton workout on my C6, cranking my resistance to whatever the instructor told me, I barely made it through my 45-minute workout. I did not know at the time that a level 5 on a C6 was a level 25 on a Peloton. Below you will find a conversion chart not to make the same mistake I did when riding the C6.
If you are not interested in spending $2,500 in addition to a $39 monthly subscription, the Bowflex C6 is a fantastic choice. The C6 offers a quality ride for a fraction of the price of a Peloton.