Biking How Tos + DIY Running

Best Bike to Use With Peloton App: My DIY Peloton Alternative!

April 9, 2020

Last Updated:

TL;DR – I got this spin bike for $299 and use the Peloton $13/mo app plan. The spin bike is currently $140!, but there are others in the $200-350 range. We’ve all heard of Peloton bikes by now. The sleek at home spin bikes that make you feel like you’re in a live spin class. I’ve gone down the path of curiosity a few times! Could I make it work from a “price per use” perspective? Would I get super fit because I wanted to get use out of it?! But any way I calculate it, I can’t justify the huge expense of a $2,000+ spin bike. And to be clear, I’m not anti-Peloton. I think they’re an amazing company that came out with a product combo (app experience and spin bike) that no one was doing for spinning at home. If I had unlimited funds, I would probably splurge! But here’s my DIY peloton bike alternative – the best spin bike to use with Peloton app in 2021!

Most Peloton bike reviews I’ve come across start out like this: “I got a Peloton bike last month and I LOOOVE it!” So, as a counter-balance… I got a generic spin bike a few months ago and use the Peloton app, and I LOOOOVE it!” :) And after spending a lot more time at home because of COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021, I’m pretty lucky to have snagged a spin bike in February before it all started. In this post, I’ll compare the Peloton bike pricing, list out my setup and bike add-ons. Plus, how I picked my bike, using the Peloton app, and my current schedule.

Spinning at home, DIY peloton bike setup

Spinning at Home Using the Peloton App

You can use the Peloton digital app membership without purchasing the Peloton bike. The app also has a variety of workouts like strength training, yoga, cardio, meditation, running etc.

One of the things I still don’t understand about the Peloton app is that the pricing is the exact opposite of what you would expect. If you invest in a Peloton bike, they don’t reward you with a discounted app experience. Yes, your bike is all connected and smart, but Peloton is also charging you $39/month instead of $12.99/month.

As for the Peloton app and spin classes. They do a great job with on demand classes. I don’t do live classes, but they’ve usually been filmed that day or previous. I just open the app, usually filter by time length I have, and then I quickly check for a style (recovery, climbing etc) and playlist to make sure it’s what I want. The Peloton instructors are very chipper and love throwing out cliche “rah rah” phrases. Which is fine to me, it makes me laugh, and occasionally roll my eyes from the comfort of my own home. But it’s a great workout and I definitely wouldn’t put in as much effort if I was watching a Netflix show, Apple TV or listening to a podcast. I also like that it’s a set time length with warm up and cool down, so I don’t have the issue of not being motivated to just do my own thing.

Peloton Bike vs DIY Peloton Pricing

Update: Peloton Bike Basics Package is $1,445 (was $1,895!) and the Peloton Bike+ starts at $2495. And it now looks like they’re not charging for delivery, which before was like $250 extra. And the app is $44/mo or $468 a year.

Spreading the Cost of your Peloton over 1 year: $163 per month
Over 2 years: $101/mo
Over 3 years: $80/mo

Sunny Belt Drive Spin Bike is $299. Peloton is also doing 90 days free trial. So the $12.99/mo doesn’t kick in until start of Month 4. This puts your first year app price as $116.91.

Spreading the Cost of your DIY over 1 year: $34.66 per month
Over 2 years: $23.82/mo
Over 3 years: $20.21/mo

As you can see, financially, if you can afford and justify a Peloton purchase, congrats! Enjoy your lovely bike and the full Peloton experience. For the rest of, let’s get going on a DIY setup!

In the price above I’m not including any extra upgrades for either bike. Like different pedals, bike shoes, weights, water bottle holder upgrades, mat for underneath the bike, or other tracking gear (like heart rate monitors etc).

Best Bike to Use With Peloton App: Price Comparison

Here are the most popular current alternatives to Peloton from budget to high-end studio style cycling bikes.

  • Sunny Pro Chain drive: $299 – a great bike for the lowest price
  • Sunny Belt drive with 49lb flywheel: $327 (this is the bike I have, the main difference is the heavier flywheel and quieter belt drive) (SALE $197!)
  • Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX3 $999 (Black Friday sale $799!)
  • Bowflex C6 $999 or Bowflex C7$899
  • Schwinn ic4 indoor cycling bike$999 (Black Friday sale $800!)
  • Sole Bike SB900$899
  • The MYX fitness bike $1,399
  • One Peloton Bike Basics: $1,445
  • Bowflex VeloCore bike$1,799
  • Kaiser M3 Indoor Cycle: $1,795
  • Nordictrack S22i Studio cycle$1,999 (Black Friday sale $1500!)
  • Peloton Bike+$2,145

Spin Bikes Specs Comparison

Spin BikePriceFlywheelDriveResistanceWeightWeight Limit
Sunny Pro SF-B901$29940 poundsChainFriction97 pounds275 pounds
Sunny Belt SF-B1002$32749 poundsBeltFriction113 pounds275 pounds
Echelon EX3$99930 poundsBeltMagnetic120 pounds300 pounds
Blowflex C6$99940 poundsBeltMagnetic112 pounds330 pounds
Schwinn ic4$99940 poundsBeltMagnetic106 pounds330 pounds
Sole SB900$89948 poundsBeltMagnetic160 pounds300 pounds
MYX II$1,39941 poundsBeltFriction150 pounds350 pounds
Peloton Bike Basics$1,44530 poundsBeltMagnetic135 pounds297 pounds
Bowflex VeloCore$1,79933 poundsBeltMagnetic158 pounds325 pounds
Kaiser M3$1,79510 poundsBeltMagnetic85 pounds300 pounds
Nordictrack S22i$1,99932 poundsBeltMagnetic203 pounds350 pounds
Peloton Bike+$2,14530 poundsBeltMagnetic140 pounds297 pounds

Choosing your home spin bike

Finding the right budget indoor bike is still key. You’ve probably tried riding old stationary bikes before at a gym. And thought “uhhhh. this is a waste of time”. Spin bikes have come a long way in the last decade though and there are some great Peloton bike alternatives. I ultimately chose the Sunny Belt drive bike and I think it’s the best bike to use with Peloton app on a budget. It’s a best-seller on Amazon. (Although you can go down a rabbit hole with even just the Sunny brand indoor cycling bikes available!)

Flywheel Weight:

Flywheel weight is part of resistance. It matters if the bike uses friction vs magnetic resistance. For example, Peloton and Bowflex $1500+ bikes have lighter flywheels (30 pounds), but it doesn’t impact the ride in the same way that a bike using friction for resistance needs to have a heavier flywheel to get that same feel of resistance.

Drive Type: Chain vs Belt

Most modern spin bikes use belt drive. But you can still find some budget bikes using chain drive. Chain drive feels and sounds more like a bike. Belt drive is smoother and quieter.

Resistance: Magnetic vs Friction

Most budget bikes use friction for resistance. While most over the $500 mark use magnetic resistance. Magnetic resistance has fixed levels (100 etc), while friction resistance has no exact levels you just turn the knob to increase and decrease.

So is a Peloton bike worth it? Not for me. A spin bike in general. Yes, here’s why:

CONVENIENCE. Once you get into a routine with either the Peloton or a Peloton alternative bike – the convenience factor of a home workout will be the same. You don’t have to have a branded Peloton bike in your home to justify that it’s super convenient to workout at home with indoor exercise bikes. We got our spin bike before all the COVID-19 coronavirus health crisis. And I feel like now more than ever we’re super lucky to have a spin bike at our house. We got it for a few reasons.

First, it was winter time. If you live in the North, you know, it gets dark at 4pm. So it’s just not possible for us to squeeze in an outdoor workout on weekdays. Second, as parents it’s hard to find time to exercise. As a current “stay/work at home” mom, I have the free time some days to do a workout during naptime. But spoiler alert: I can’t leave the house! Likewise, on some weekday evenings and weekends, if I’m out of the house, my partner can’t leave. Third, if you’re training for a long ride, it can be hard to put in the extra training miles. Especially adding in the previous two reasons of daylight hours and being a parent. My husband was biking to work during most weekdays and doing one long weekend training ride. But he needed a few endurance and strength building workouts during the week.

The other convenience factor is that you don’t have to drive to a class and find parking. Plus get there early enough to get a bike you want, set up, get changed, do the class, drive home. Which can turn most 60 minute classes into at least 1.5 hours. For example, for barre class, I leave at 8:15 for an 8:30 class. 10 min drive, 5 min get in/set up, 60 min working out and 15 min to get out and home.

So those were our main reasons for buying a spin bike for the house. Daylight hours in winter, being a parent, and training for a century ride. Now I’d add a fourth reason in – COVID19. And being unable to attend studio workout classes – like barre or spin, with a gym membership.

WHERE TO PUT A SPIN BIKE. This spin bike isn’t huge. But we also didn’t want it out in the open with a toddler in the house. We live in two bedroom house. There is also a third “go through” type room full of doors. It’s home office/guest room/cat room/cardboard mountain storage room in our house. That is where the spin bike lives and I’m fine with it.

QUALITY OF BIKE. When I was in the researching phase for the best spin bikes, I came across different reviews where people mentioned some bikes are not sturdy or stable. They generally also listed their size (weight or height). So I really searched for reviews that matched my body type and made a decision from there. I’m a smaller person and I’m not going to have the same need of a super heavy spin bike. For example: a 250 pound 6’3″ man might need to do more research on a bike. But I did need to make sure the seat could be lowered enough for someone my size! So search the reviews text for things like your height or weight and see if anyone mentions pros or cons, adjustable seat experience etc. The best exercise bikes for each type of person are different!

My Home Spin Bike Setup:

  • Peloton Alternative: Sunny Health & Fitness 49 Lb Chromed Flywheel, Silent Belt Drive Indoor Cycle Bike with Leather Resistance Pad – $299 (update: looks like it’s currently priced at $370)
  • Roam Universal Bike Mount – $17 – We attached this to the spin bike to mount iPhone to watch Peloton app spin classes. My husband also uses this on his road bike for long rides. If you prefer a larger screen, you could use an iPad instead with a tablet holder.
  • Wahoo RPM Cycling Cadence Sensor – $40 – This bluetooth sensor lets you see what your cadence is through the Wahoo app on your phone. It’s not required to use the spin bike and the Peloton app. But I’ve found it useful to know what my cadence is. Which means the only “missing piece” from not having a Peloton bike is knowing better resistance level #s. This could be fixed with a heart rate monitor, but I’m good for now.
  • EVA Foam Mat 1/2″ Thick, 24 Sq Ft – $20 – We use this mat under the spin bike. But for the first few months, we just put it on the existing rug that was in that room and it worked fine! Great for small spaces, since you can can choose how many squares to use.
  • Shimano Clipless Pedals – $35 – The Sunny bike comes with toe cages pedals, and I had intended to replace them. It’s not an urgent need, so I’ll probably be waiting a bit now.
  • Cycling shoes – I have cycling shoes from ten years ago that no longer fit! At some point I would like to get new ones to use on the spin bike! I’m using some low profile zero-drop running shoes instead.
  • Apple Watch – heart rate sensors aren’t required to use the Peloton app, but if you already have an Apple Watch, it’s an easy way to use Peloton’s Power Zone classes with onscreen color-coded heart rate levels! Even the basic Apple Watch Series 3 works for this!
  • 3 lb Dumbbells – Peloton bikes come with 2 lb dumbbells that hang behind the seat. Not every class needs these, so I just grab my 3 lb hand weights if I’m going to do an Intervals and Arms Ride.
Peloton on-screen heart rate metrics with Apple Watch

My Peloton Indoor Workout Schedule (Winter/Spring):

  • Monday: HIIT workout 30 min
  • Tuesday: 30 min Peloton ride
  • Wednesday: 20-30 min Peloton ride
  • Thursday: 2-3 mile run
  • Friday: Rest day
  • Saturday: Barre3 class or Peloton class
  • Sunday: Run or hike day – 3 miles

2.5 Year Update: Almost three years in, and I’m still loving my cheaper alternative to the Peloton bike! Living in the rainy Pacific Northwest, it’s been amazing to have this indoor workout option in winter and spring. And I’ve found that I almost don’t even touch the spin bike from about June to September, because I’m out biking, running, or hiking around Portland. But the good news is, since this bike was so affordable I don’t feel guilty about it going unused during the summer months! Last year, I just paused my Peloton app $13 monthly subscription during the summer, and resumed in fall!

And that’s everything I know about setting up an at home spin bike! I hope this has helped you decide on a bike from all of the best Peloton alternatives. Let me know if you have any questions!

Have you thought about getting a home spin bike?

peloton alternative, at home spin bike set up home gym

Note: Updated pricing October 2022.