By Robbie Ferri, Cyclist, Personal Trainer, and Group Exercise Instructor.
Spinning has come a long way in the last five years, and we’re seeing technology that we never thought we would do. No longer are we hitting the local gym in the evening to fight for a bike without even knowing what instructor we might get. We now literally just jump on our bike at home and are transported to a virtual studio where we call the shots.
What makes a good Indoor Bike with a Built-in Screen?
I have been a spinning instructor for many years and have had a lot of experience with indoor cycling from an interactive standpoint. What I feel makes an excellent indoor bike and gives you the best value for money is;
Connectivity to applications
Multiple Workouts, not just cycling
If the screen can turn for the user
Size and Quality of the Screen
The look and design of the bike
Is it good internally
We need all of these things to make the bike exceptionally, in my opinion. It will not only give you a great experience of cycling and a reliable workout tool, but also you will get a lot more from the bike such as other workouts, and with that, there’s much last chance of it becoming a clothes stand. Let’s get talking about some fantastic bikes now.
Tip: Bikes with a screen are typically quite expensive, and if you are looking for a similar experience on a much smaller budget and having options of other applications to use, you can buy a bike without a screen and add your own tablet, check out this article here for all you need to know.
Our Top 7 Exercise Bikes with Built-in Screens
Best Overall: BowFlex Velocore
The legendary Bowflex Velocore is something very special and can do something no other spinning bike can do. It looks the part, and it also rides it.
The Bowflex Velocore is a great bike, and let’s start by talking about the main specifications. The 325lbs weight limit is above what the average bike holds by 25lbs. The bike itself is very large, and this is due to the lean feature. This might not be the bike for you if you’re short of space. The screen is huge and is a 22” HD touch screen; you feel like you’re in a cinema. Unfortunately, it doesn’t swivel for the off the bike classes. What also is nice is it is set a little bit more forward than other bikes, so less taxing in the eyes. The lean feature is impressive and can be switched on and off. It lets you work your core and swing side to side. Internally the bike is excellent, with a magnetic resistance system and belt drive.
It is connected with the JRNY application, which is excellent and one of the cheaper applications on the market, coming in at $19.99 a month. It is nearly half the price of other applications, but with the Velocore, it comes with a free year trial currently. It offers not just spinning but full-body workout classes, yoga classes, and many others. You can also use Netflix and other applications such as Disney plus if you don’t fancy a class to ride to.
Best Immersive Bike: Freebeat Lit Bike
The freebeat bike offers a fun and exciting riding experience that will appeal to many riders.
Offers a smooth riding experience with excellent resistance and adjustable features for different heights. It has a music-based app with gaming elements, and the construction is sturdy and durable. Comes with a 22" HD Touchscreen, Auto Resistance System, and more.
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For riders that need a little more when strapping in to ride, the freebeat is an excellent solution with its incredible beats, the game-style riding platform and graphics it boasts, and the competitive atmosphere it embodies. Who doesn’t like seeing their name at the top of the leaderboard and also having the possibility to earn fabulous prizes EVERY single month?
Main Specs & Features of the Spin Bike
21.5″ HD touchscreen
Bike Footprint: 49.3” L x 22.6” W x 58.8” H
Welded Steel Construction
Maximum Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
Bike Weight: 113.3 pounds
Flywheel Weight: 28.6 pounds
Height Range: 4’11” – 6’4”
Freebeat’s Lit bike has been compared to the Peloton and touted as a new concept for in-home cycling. Who doesn’t want the chance to win prizes, earn money, and have a great time every time they ride?
That is why the team at Girl Bike Love gladly accepted the challenge to demo the freebeat Lit bike and see how it stacked against other bikes in the market. We have demoed this bike for the past thirty days through countless rides, and here is our detailed freebeat bike review!
Best Value: MYX II
The MYX II bike is pretty new to the market, and it is great to see that we have new companies still competing with the bigger brands such as Peloton and Echelon. Have they done enough?
The MYX II bike is very nice to look at and offers an incredible max weight limit of 350lbs. This is a great feature on a bike of such a small size. They really have taken the time to make sure the design is right. It has a 21.5” swivel screen, which is excellent quality and works well. The bike‘s internals are solid, but unlike any other bike on this list isn’t a frictionless system. It works with a brake pad instead of magnetic resistance. It will still work great but will be a bit noisier only by a very little.
They have two applications you can use on this bike, MYX and Openfit. They are both excellent and offer a huge variety of classes, not just spinning. You get boot camps, Yoga, Pilates, and other full-body workout classes. What is remarkable about this bike is the screen has a camera on, and the instructor can give you feedback on form and what you are doing. It is excellent to make sure you’re getting the workout right. They create a great community feel, and I like what they have done. The application cost is $29 a month, cheaper than the Peloton by $10.
Best Budget Peloton Alternative: Echelon EX5S
The EX5S Smart bike, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated interactive spinning bikes ever and was completely overshadowed by the Peloton.
New and improved stabilization handles and seat post adjustments including a competition seat with 6' lever-style adjustment, and a precision resistance motor are just a few of the exciting new features you only get with the EX5-S.
I am a massive fan of the Echelon EX5S, and it definitely is the best looking out of all interactive bikes, in my opinion. The rear facing flywheel makes this bike look amazing. The max weight limit is 300lbs which is about average, and as far as sizing goes, it actually is quite a small bike. The screen is a fantastic HD Touch screen and has full swivel ability. Internally they use a frictionless resistance system and a belt drive. The bike is extremely quiet, and if you’re worried about noise and your neighbors, don’t be.
The bike is locked to the Echelon Application, which is one of the best. It’s not the cheapest coming in at $39 a month, but it does have some incredible classes when it comes to spinning and many other styles of workouts such as HIIT, Boot camp, Pilates, and many more. The quality of classes is next level compared to some of the other applications, in my opinion. The Echelon is just an excellent all round bike and, as a company, has just focused on the important stuff.
Best Outdoor Simulation: Nordictrack S22i and S15i
Nordictrack has made a fantastic bike when it comes to the S22i and the S15i. They have a considerable amount to offer, and the technology is incredible, especially with the incline and decline feature.
Max Weight Limit 350lbs
Size 55” x 29” x 56”
Screen Size 22” or 15”
Fan on the Screen
Incline, Decline Feature
Nordictrack is known for making pretty good bikes, but I feel here they all sat down and said, let’s make something outstanding to make a Peloton look basic. The bike itself has a huge weight limit of 350lbs, and the size is a little bigger than some other bikes, but not by much. We mention two models here, the S22i and the S15i. These are both practically the same. The only difference is the screen size and two levels of resistance. Internally they are magnetic and belt drive and super quiet. They have a fantastic incline and decline feature, so when you are riding, the instructor can change not only your resistance but the front level of the bike to replicate going up and down hills.
You use the iFit application for the Nordictrack bikes. You have two prices, $180 annually for the individual membership and $396 for the family plan. The application itself is very good and warrants the price. It has live and on-demand classes and plenty of other things to do, such as yoga, HIIT, and many more. You also have google maps integration, so you can drop yourself on nearly any road in the world and cycle using the street view technology. I love the fan on the screen. It keeps you cool and makes a huge difference for such a minor feature. The Nordictrack S22i and S15i are incredible bikes but are not the cheapest.
Best Money No Object: Peloton Bike and Bike +
The legendary Peloton bikes had to be on this list and are an incredible addition to anyone’s home. Are they still keeping up with the competition?
Max Weight Limit 297lbs
Size 60” x 24” x 48”
Screen Size 21.5” or 23.8”
Big Difference between Bike and Bike plus
If you ask anyone about interactive home spinning bikes, they will always say, is it a Peloton? That’s because they make a good bike, and they have marketed their product very well. The weight limit is about average, and the size of the bike is mid-range. They both have Bluetooth technology and as far as internals go are both magnetic and belt drive. Something I have always really liked about the Peloton is how quiet it is. Before we go any further, it’s worth mentioning the difference between the Peloton Bike and the Bike Plus.
The Bike Plus has three main features that make it well worth the extra money:
Automatic resistance control, so the instructor can change the resistance for you,
A swivel screen for those off the bike classes, and finally,
it has a bigger screen of 23.8” instead of 21.5,” and the bigger screen has uprated speakers.
The Peloton application itself is $39 a month, and well, it’s excellent. The screen is locked to this, but it will be everything you need. It has incredible live classes with leaderboards so that you can face up to other spinners. The off the bike classes are incredible, and the instructors are just outstanding. I think what I rate very highly about Peloton is the community around it, they have so many supporters, and online groups have such healthy discussions about the bikes. For me, that adds a nice social element to it compared to other bikes.
Best with Android: Stryde Bike
Relatively new to the market, the Stryde bike has a lot to offer but is it enough to keep up with the big bikes.
Max Weight Limit 350lbs
Size 50” x 24”
Screen Size 21.5”
Tablet can go on multiple applications
High resistance feels stompy
The Stryde bike is very different from the other bikes on this list, and it’s going to give you a slightly different experience from other bikes on this list. Firstly the weight limit is outstanding at 350lbs, and the size of the bike is relatively small compared to others. It does look like something out of Tron, and because of this, it gets extra points in my eyes. The Screen is a 21.5” screen with Andriod Technology, and the internals are a magnetic system with a belt drive that gives you a complete 100 levels of resistance. In the later levels, it can feel a little stompy for super high power, but unless you are riding the Tour de France, you won’t notice. It’s incredibly quiet and perfect if you live in an apartment.
The screen is an Android screen, and unlike many screens on this list, it is not locked to their application. It can be used as a tablet, and you can use any application you can download off the Andriod marketplace while still tracking your cycling metrics. So you can have Netflix on while literally watching your cycling stats, or you could even have the Peloton application on. It’s totally up to you, the user. This opens you up to so much more than any other bike on this list. Suppose you go down the route of their own application though, you will only get cycling classes, and it’s $30 a month. The classes are live and on-demand, and they are good but not Peloton level good, in my opinion. It’s a different experience. It offers a lot more options for the user, and because of this, I rate it so highly.
Best Premium Build Bike: Soulcycle at Home Bike
Soulcycle is an amazing company that has been in spinning in studios for a very long time, now they have come to your home too.
Max Weight Limit 350lbs
Size 62” x 22” x 54”
Screen Size 21.5”
Great looking bike
A much more dance experience
Netflix and Disney +
No Auto Resistance
Without Soulcycle, we might not have many other spin bike brands like Peloton, Echelon, and Nordictrack. Soulcycle was at the forefront of spinning studios for years, and they converted so many people to indoor cycling over the years. You might have heard of their studios you can still go to now. So they brought out a bike, the Soulcycle at home. Surprise, it’s pretty good. It’s a large bike with a 21.5” HD Screen. It’s magnetic resistance and belt drive and is very sturdy to ride.
The application is a bit different from others like Peloton and Echelon. I say this because it’s very focused on the dance kind of spin, and it still offers a great experience which many would prefer, but it’s a little different from others. The Soulcycle application costs $40 per month and has many other unique classes such as meditation and yoga. This is great as the screen does rotate for you and something I really liked about this is you can use Netflix and Disney+ on their screen, so although limited, you have some other entertainments options. I feel like Soulcycle is a bit late to the game, but they have brought out a great bike. It’s not the cheapest though.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Interactive Bikes
Interactive bikes are incredible, but they do come with certain advantages and disadvantages that I feel it is important to speak about. It is easy to get pulled in by the advert when the reality is having an interactive bike can be different from what they advertise.
Your own personal bike with your settings
No more trips to the gym
You can always do the workouts you want
Health benefits are amazing
As you can see, there are a lot of benefits to owning an interactive spin bike, the greatest probably being the benefit of your improved health and fitness. A lot of people don’t understand how far a little bit of exercise can go each day. It can add years to your life and drastically improve the quality of your life.
One major study found that many people don’t work out due to time, and many people said it was the trips to the gym and all the fussing about prior and after that made it difficult. With a spinning bike at home, you don’t get that, and finding the time to work out is much easier.
Cost of the bike
Cost of subscription
You will have to use it
There are disadvantages to having an interactive spinning bike, the cost probably being the main one. The bikes are typically more than a regular spinning bike, and not only do you have to outlay this, you also have to think about the cost of the subscription. Companies such as Peloton and Echelon don’t generally make a massive amount of profit on the bike and delivery. It’s the subscription where they make the most profit, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were to sell some bikes at a loss.
The screen on these bikes is usually locked to the supplier’s applications.
What to look for when Buying an Exercise Bike with a Screen
If none of these bikes takes your fancy and you look at other bikes on the market, what should you be looking for? I tend to find that brands are a bit particular when it comes to how much information they give, and it can be challenging if you find a cheap bike that is half the price and states it does everything, usually it’s too good to be true. So enjoy our foolproof guide.
If there’s a very good bit of advice I can give you to start you off, it is to get a bike you like the look of. For me personally, I have found if I think a bike looks cheap or it doesn’t appeal to my gym set up, then subconsciously, I have very little interest in riding it. You want to get a bike that suits you and looks the part.
Always look at the size of the screen first, as you want to make sure that it is at least 15” on a bike with a built in screen. Then you want to look at the resolution. I’d expect at least 720p, but realistically, 1080p is what you want. The ideal is high definition.
At this price, typically, you’re going to want a frictionless belt drive system. They are practically maintenance free, super quiet, and feel much better ride than any friction system or chain driven bike. At this price though, you would expect that, in my opinion, the only exception I am going to make is the MYXBike.
Many of these companies, such as Peloton and Echelon, tend to make the majority of their money on subscriptions and not on the sale of the bike. The first thing I recommend doing is checking what applications they run. They are generally locked to one, which is deliberate for companies to do. Check the application out and see if it’s what you want and offers you what you need. Also, take a look at the price and the bike‘s capability without the application, as sometimes spending $40 doesn’t have to be done.
It’s worth mentioning the connectivity. Whatever bike you go for, make sure it has either Ant+ or Bluetooth, and Id recommend Bluetooth over Ant+. Having connectivity means you can add headphones and heart rate monitors and even link up to other applications on tablets. Bikes with no connectivity are usually in a much smaller price range than what we have been looking at today.
Although this won’t apply to everyone, I would highly recommend looking at the height restrictions if you are less than 5ft or above 6ft 3”. Many companies are pretty good with having an excellent range. Still, the more bikes we see come out on the market, the more we see thing range start to shrink down.
Sometimes a basic bike can be extraordinary due to its extra features. A good example is the Peloton, the original bike, and the Bike+ on the surface, look the same, but the Bike+ has auto resistance, better speakers, and a bigger screen. These extra features are well worth the money. When looking at bikes, make sure to look at the additional features they might have or not have.
All these bikes on this list are excellent, and you will get so much value from them. I think a lot of it comes down to personal preference. We are seeing technology advance quickly, but I feel for a few years, we’re not going to see too much advancement.
Robbie Ferri CPT
A Personal Trainer and Ultra Cyclist living in King's Lynn in Norfolk, UK. From Ultra Cycling World Records to Bikepacking Races and a huge amount of time on the gym floor training myself and clients my experience when it comes to Health and Fitness is vast.