Freebeat vs. Echelon vs. Bowflex: My Thoughts After Testing

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Screenshot 2022 05 17 at 3.12.25 PM
By Katie Pierson CPT

Certified Spinning® Instructor & CPT

If you are looking for a new indoor cycling bike, consider selecting a model from Freebeat, Echelon, or Bowflex. Although all three brands offer fantastic construction quality, the riding experience and design elements differ. I have experience with Bowflex and Freebeat, as the C6 has been my primary bike for the last two years, and I tested the Freebeat Lit bike for over thirty days. I will explain my experience to help you choose the best option.

Read on to learn about six fantastic cycling models that are available on the market today.

bowflex c6 vs freebeat bike e1681647719731
Katie Pierson, Testing the Bowflex C6 & the Freebeat Lit Bikes

Key Differences Between Freebeat, Echelon, and Bowflex Bikes

While all three brands offer quality cycles, their features are quite different. When you look at these bikes, you can instantly tell that one bike is unlike the others. The Echelon design of the EX-5s-10 and EX-5s-22 that I will be reviewing today are designed with the flywheel in the back of the cycle instead of the front. Due to this flywheel placement, the flywheel weight is much lighter than models with a front flywheel. 

Another significant difference between these models is the app options that they include. Out of six models, only one Bowflex option allows you to select the app you use with the bike. The others require you to use the specific app that came with the bike.

App RequiredYesYesNot all models
Flywheel PlacementFrontBackFront

Freebeat Bikes Review

Freebeat cycles offer riders a unique gamification riding experience through their Smart Saddle Detection+ and video game-style graphics. These affordable cycles are shaking up the cycling market, competing with other more expensive models available today. Currently, Freebeat offers the Lit and Boom bikes

Freebeat Lit Bike profile

Although these two models offer the same great features, such as automatic resistance, a personal trainer algorithm, and Smart Saddle Detection+ technology, the design of these two bikes does vary. The Lit bike resembles your typical high-end commercial-grade indoor cycling bike with a heavier flywheel and performance design. In contrast, the Boom bike is a little more compact and has lights that illuminate below the cycle, providing more of a specialty studio riding experience. 

Pros & Cons of Freebeat Bikes


  • Gamified riding experience
  • Price point
  • Automatic resistance 
  • Personal trainer algorithm
  • Smart Saddle Detection+
  • Leaderboard available


  • Clips pedals not available
  • App not available

Comparison of Freabeat Lit vs. Boom Bikes

Freebeat LitFreebeat Boom
PriceStarting at $1,199Starting at $649
User Height Range4’11” – 6’4”4’11” – 6’4”
User Weight Maximum300 lbs.300 lbs.
Screen Size21.5” diagonal15.6″ diagonal
Dimensions49.3” L x 58.8” H x 22.6” W51.5″ L × 51.5″ H × 24.7″ W
Flywheel Weight28.6 lbs.15.4 lbs.
Bike Weight113 lbs.79 lbs.
Comparison of the Freebeat Lit versus Boom Bikes

Echelon Bikes Review

The Echelon EX 5s series offers a premium cycle at an affordable price. The 5s 10 and 22 indoor cycling bikes include 32 levels of magnetic resistance and a wider ergonomic saddle compared to similar bikes on the market. 

Pros & Cons of Echelon’s EX-5s-10 & EX-5s-22 Bikes


  • Dual-sided pedals
  • Weights positioned behind the saddle
  • Magnetic resistance
  • Affordable models
  • Fit app available
  • Accommodates a wide height range


  • 1-year warranty
  • Many riders prefer the flywheel in the front

Comparison of Echelon’s EX-5s-10 vs EX-5s-22 Bikes

User Height Range4’11-6’4”4’11-6’4”
User Weight Maximum300 lbs.300 lbs.
Screen Size10”22”
Dimensions58” L x 22” W x 61” H 58” L x 22” W x 61” H
Flywheel Weight29 lbs.29 lbs.
Bike Weight124 lbs.124 lbs.

Bowflex Bikes Review

Nautilus is the manufacturer of the Bowflex C6 and VeloCore bikes. These two cycles offer excellent designs and craftsmanship. Positioned at two different price points, these bikes provide two tiers of features. 

bowflex c6 overview
My Bowflex C6

The C6 offers a more simplistic design since it does not offer a monitor but a smaller console with a USB port and tablet rest. Since this bike does not include a monitor, there are no requirements for app usage. I have owned this bike for about two years and have no complaints. The VeloCore has a few shared features with the C6, such as 100 levels of magnetic resistance, dual-sided pedals, and a belt drive. However, the VeloCore takes cycling to a new level with its patented Lean Mode, miming riding on the open road. You can also select to ride upright, giving much versatility to the riding experience. This bike also allows you to watch your favorite streaming networks when you are not using Bowflex’s JRNY app. 

Pros & Cons of Bowflex’s C6 & VeloCore


  • Dual-sided pedals available for both models
  • Lean Mode available with VeloCore
  • Magnetic resistance
  • Affordable models
  • JRNY app available
  • Accommodates a wide height range


  • Weights located under handlebars

Comparison of Bowflex’s C6 & VeloCore

User Height Range4’6″ – 6’6″5’1”-6’5”
User Weight Maximum330 lbs.325 lbs.
Screen Sizen/a16″ or 22″
Dimensions54.6″ L x 30.7″ W x 51.8″ H59.8″ L x 25.5″ W x 52.5″ H
Flywheel Weight40 lbs.33 lbs.
Bike Weight112 lbs. (with dumbbells)158.3 lbs.

Detailed Comparison of Freebeat, Echelon, & Bowflex Bikes

Riding Experience

Since the riding experience is undoubtedly one of the biggest reasons for purchasing a specific bike, let’s break down what makes some of these models so fantastic.


While the C6 offers a smooth ride, the VeloCore takes the experience to a whole new level with the introduction of Lean Mode. You can click the frame out of the locked position and mimic riding on the open road with one simple click. Not only does this feature change the indoor cycling experience, but it also helps engage muscles better for a more efficient workout. The Lean Mode feature earned the VeloCore the CES 2021 Innovation Award. The VeloCore is also compatible with many streaming apps, such as HBOMax, Hulu, and Netflix. The JRNY app is $19.99 per month.

These models also have access to the JRNY app, which offers a wide range of live and on-demand classes. Although a membership is needed to access all the features of the VeloCore, the C6 is different. Nothing will be impacted if you do not use the JRNY app. I use the Peloton app with my C6. 


Like a video game, Freebeat’s gamified riding experience allows you to earn points and climb the leaderboard. This bike is all about riding to the beat of the music, and points are awarded for how many times in a row you can hit the beat consecutively. The Freebeat platform can only be used while using the bike as an app is not currently available, and many of the bike features can only be used by purchasing a Freebeat membership for $39 per month.


The Echelon’s EX-5s-10 and EX-5s-22 bikes offer a straightforward riding experience on a quality-designed cycle. The Echelon Fit platform is available for $39.99 monthly, including 40 live and thousands of on-demand classes daily. The unique flip design of the monitor makes working out off your bike simple. The Echelon app integrates with Strava, Zwift, Apple Health, FitBit, and Spotify.


While the frame material from these three cycling powerhouses is all steel, the designs differ. The black matte powder coating on the Echelon and Bowflex cycles provides a sleek design and non-slip, sweat-proof protection for the frame. If you are looking for a bike style that fits more of your unique style, the Freebeat’s shiny powder-coated frame comes in multiple colors. *I selected the pink Lit bike, and the shade did not disappoint!

I found that I needed to be more careful with the coating on the Freebeat as I accidentally chipped it when I was tightening the screws compared to my C6. 


The models from Freebeat and Bowflex include a flywheel in the front position of the bike. This is still the most common placement seen for a flywheel on the market, and the flywheels in this position also tend to be heavier than those in the rear position. Ideally, a flywheel with a weight close to 25-40 pounds in the front position will provide the smoothest riding experience. *I always try for 30-40 pounds personally.

Flywheels located in the rear position of the cycle, such as that from Echelon, tend to be slightly lighter but rotate faster than those in the front. Below, you can see how the different models compare by their flywheel weights.

Bowflex: C6Bowflex: VeloCoreFreebeat:
Flywheel Weight40 lbs.33 lbs.29 lbs.29 lbs.28.6 lbs.15.4 lbs.


While all three brands offer magnetic resistance, the levels of magnetic resistance do vary. Echelon’s E5 models offer only 32 levels of magnetic resistance. However, the C6 and VeloCore from Bowflex and Freebeat’s Boom and Lit bikes include 100 levels of magnetic resistance. 

I have had the pleasure of riding the C6 and Lit bikes, and while adding the 100 levels of resistance manually might feel similar during a class, what sets these bikes apart is the automatic resistance offered by Freebeat. You can turn the automatic resistance feature on or off while riding the Lit or Boom bike. This feature is unique because it works with the personal trainer algorithm, studies the rider, and then adjusts the resistance during class to follow the instructor’s cues. What I loved so much about this feature was that rather than changing to a straight resistance number like other auto-resistance bikes on the market, this bike continued to push me as I could handle more resistance. It pushed me harder than I would have given the option to adjust the resistance on my own. It was like the personal trainer I needed telling me that I could complete those last three reps that I didn’t feel I could.


All three of these bikes offer a competitive style saddle design. However, the Freebeat includes Smart Saddle+ technology. This technology senses when you are riding in and out of the saddle. I loved how this technology enabled me to earn extra points and climb the leaderboard faster than when riding in the saddle. The Smart Saddle Technology is integral to Freebeat’s gamified riding experience. 


While only the Bowflex C6 includes a console instead of a monitor, the other models offer a wide range of size options. Please look at the table below to see how these models compare.

Bowflex: VeloCoreFreebeat:
Size16” or 22”21.5”15.6”10”22”
RotatesNo180 Degrees180 DegreesNo-flips 180 degreesNo-flips180 degrees


While both Echelon and Bowflex models include a dual-sided pedal, the freebeat only offers a toe cage option. For injury prevention and a better riding experience, I always prefer riding in a cycling shoe and a dual-sided pedal for indoor cycling.

Note: Pedals can be switched out for the one you prefer, so don’t let a factory pedal option stop you from getting the bike you genuinely desire.

Additional Commercial Grade Spin Bike Alternatives

Schwinn IC4

The Schwinn IC4 is also created by Natulis, just like the Bowflex C6. What is unique is that while the IC4 has the exact model specifications as the C6, the only real difference is the slight design element differences. The IC4 costs the same as the C6 at $999.

BODi Bike

Since Beachbody backs the BODi Bike’s platform, the content available on this model is fantastic. Not only is there a sizeable on-demand library and selection of live classes to choose from, but the BODi Bike also includes the BODcast technology. This feature allows you to be seen in real-time by the instructor and even be featured on the board during live classes. It is priced at $1,399.

NordicTrack S22i

If you want to bring the sensation of riding outdoors inside, the NordicTrack S22i automatically adjusts the incline and decline of the bike to do just that. This model is priced at $1,599 and includes a one-year warranty.

Who Should Purchase

  • A Freebeat Bike?

If you are a rider who enjoys riding to the rhythm and prefers a more gamified riding experience that focuses on earning points, then the Freebeat might be the right choice for you.

  • An Echelon Bike?

People who should purchase the Echelon EX-5s-10 & EX-5s-22 are riders looking for an affordable model that still offers a higher-end riding experience. 

  • A Bowflex Bike?

If you desire a great ride on an affordable bike, then the C6 is ideal. However, if you want to take your ride to the next level, the VeloCore offers something that can’t be found anywhere else on the market with its lean mode feature. You really can’t go wrong with Bowflex.

Bottom Line

Echelon and Bowflex are trusted names in the cycling industry, and while Freebeat may be newer on the scene, it is making a name for itself. These three brands offer unique riding experiences and models at various prices to accommodate a wide range of budgets. 

Katie Pierson CPT

Katie has been a certified fitness professional for twenty years and holds ten fitness certifications, including Spinning Elite and Personal Training. She has shared her expert knowledge in many fitness outlets like Bicycling & Verywellfit.

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