Our Bike arrived right at the end of February. I’ve ridden it between five and six times a week ever since. In that time, I’ve gained muscle I didn’t know I had, energy I didn’t know existed, and confidence I never experienced before. With seven months under my belt (or perhaps lengthening my belt), I believe the Bike is probably the best tech purchase we’ve made in the last five years.
Last September/October were pretty dire here in Manitoba. The Third Wave began its torrent across the province. It became clear to Jaclyn and I we’d need to find a way to stay active in the winter at home.
We ordered our Peloton mid-October 2020. An expected shipping date in December slid right by without even a phone call from Peloton notifying us of the delay. The ship date pushed back to February 2021 and we took delivery on a -40C day in the dead of winter.
Assembly and sign-up was pretty simple. The Bike has wheels for tilting and rolling it into position. After some cleat tweaking and seat adjustments, I took my first ride.
It was an interesting first ride. I recommend taking a Beginner ride or two before diving into HIIT or other ride types. You need to understand “Cadence” and “Resistance” properly before pushing yourself to the top of either scale.
Since then, I’ve skewed heavily towards music-first rides. I don’t have a ton of time in my schedule, so 20-minute Rock rides, 20-minute Pop rides, and 20-minute EDM rides have become my go-to. When it’s time to prepare for a summer of baseball and golf, HIIT classes seem like a go-to. 20-minute Country rides are awesome as well. Yeehaw!
There’s the payment for the Bike, of course ($2,495 CAD when we bought, but only about $1,800 CAD right now), which you can do through the likes of Affirm. I know many folks who spend north of $200 CAD per month on fitness, so an Affirm Peloton payment plus a membership payment still comes in less.
That membership — $50/month — gets a few eyebrow raises. It’s not cheap, I suppose. But then, in the context of workout regiments, it’s a steal.
Especially given the Peloton coaching staff. These are world class athletes and coaches. They get on the Bike, look into the camera, and seemingly peer into your soul. COVID-19 has eliminated the studio group workouts, leaving only the coach and the camera. In many ways, it feels like pure one-on-one time with a world class trainer.
I have more than a few favourite coaches at this time:
- Alex Touissant is a high speed, exhilarating coach with a bit more of a hard-ass approach. Touissant has kicked me in the butt more than a few times and I like the hard approach under certain situations.
- Matt Wilpers — a (former?) CPA — takes long warmups, but ensures you appropriately stretch your body to get the most out of the ride. Wilpers feels the most “coach-like” of these instructors. I haven’t had much success setting personal bests with Wilpers due to the long warmup sessions, but my body always feels best after a Wilpers ride.
- Jenn Sherman is my guilty pleasure. Sherman’s rides have the best music — many of her rides showcase ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s rock and classic rock — and her rides have a more relaxed pace to them. I appreciate Sherman’s attitude. I appreciate how normal she is. I appreciate how her rides are built.
- Olivia Amato is the most ridiculously difficult instructor in the Peloton studio. She provides high cadence, high resistance rides with the shortest breaks between pushes. Her rides are backbreaking. But if I want to set a personal best, I throw on an Olivia ride and let her kick my butt.
- Denis Morton is a lot like Jenn Sherman, in that he provides a good number of rock and classic rock rides. However, Morton tends toward higher cadence spin-ups, which I’m not fond of. I prefer Sherman’s heavier resistance workouts to Morton’s high cadence workouts.
I don’t have loads of time each day to ride the bike. This is why we bought the Peloton after all! We researched the Peloton class library ahead of time and found loads of options that we could fit into our day. In under 25 minutes, I can change, clip in, ride, and stretch enough to feel good about the workout. I bet I would spend almost 25 minutes driving to and from the local gym.
This simple 20-minute ride has become life-altering. Seriously. No hyperbole. Here’s some stats to prove it:
- March 4th, 2021 — This was my first official non-beginner ride after spending a few days learning the bike. Total output on a 20-minute ride: 146 kj.
- April 5th, 2021 — One month into the new swing. Total output on a 20-minute ride: 235 kj.
- May 5th, 2021 — Three months with the Bike. Total output on a 20-minute ride: 270 kj.
- June 14th, 2021 — The first time I eclipsed 300 kj. total output on a 20-minute ride.
- September 26th, 2021 — My latest personal best was set at 326 kj. on a 20-minute ride.
What even is a kilojoule? I have no idea. It doesn’t much matter — it’s a consistent number I can track to see how my body is changing and improving.
Back in March, I’d get off the Bike and starfish on the floor, sucking air for dear life.
After my September 26th 326 kj.-ride, I walked upstairs, made myself a cold glass of iced tea, and answered a few work emails immediately after.
The Peloton has increased my body’s output from 146 kj. to 326 kj. in 7 months — an increase of 123.29%!
There’s no way I could do that on a wheeled bike. I likely could do it on a regular, non-Peloton bike, but I doubt it. Twenty minutes a day. Five days a week. An increase of 123% in output.
That doesn’t mention the other physical benefits of a proper workout.
Update: Reader Questions
Since publishing this quick review, I've received some reader questions which are worthy of sharing here.
Q: How easy is it to change between riders? Say you have two members in the household, with one 10-inches shorter than the other, and they want to alternate every other day. Is changing the adjustments for multiple riders fast?
A: Jaclyn is almost 10-inches shorter than me, so I hope it correlates. There are three dials/knobs on the bike for adjusting the height of the handlebars (travels north-south), the height of the seat (travels north-south), and the distance the seat sits from the handle bars (travels east-west). We set the height of the handlebars in February and haven’t changed it once. Jaclyn has her own seat height and seat depth, as do I. They are denoted by numbers etched into the side of the seat. So I quickly undo the two dials after her ride, move it to E-23, and I’m good. This takes about 15 seconds total to have the Bike ready to go for me or for her.
Q: What are your thoughts on the shoes? It looks like you can ride the Bike with regular shoes, but it looks like Peloton definitely tries to send you towards their cleats.
A: I was curious about this before we purchased the Bike, but went with what Peloton recommended. Now, riding a bike in normal shoes feels very weird. I would fully recommend cycling shoes with cleats of some sort. Peloton’s are pretty inexpensive and reasonably good quality. If you order with an affiliate code, I believe you get the shoes for free. They latch tight to the top of your foot, allowing your ankle some maneuverability. The big advantage to them is that they allow you to pull up on each pedal revolution as well as push down on each revolution. This gives certain muscles in your leg a short rest each revolution. I could not imagine riding the Bike without clip-in cleats. The only question is whether I’d upgrade my shoes to a different/better brand.
Q: There's now a Bike+ model for an extra $1,000 USD. A brief look leaves me feeling there's not that much worth upgrading for, but again: thoughts?
A: I don’t have the exact specs in front of me, but I think there are three major differences with the Bike+.
One, resistance is handled through magnets rather than physical disks, and resistance can be synced to the video. So you never have to touch the resistance knob if you don’t want to.
Two, the screen swivels left and right so you can view the class while you’re stretching or lifting weights off the bike.
Three, there are forward-firing speakers.
And I think the rest of the Bike+ is made with a little higher quality materials than the regular Bike.
After seven months with the Bike, I’d legitimately consider buying the Bike+ and selling my regular Bike. Two of three major upgrades listed above would pertain to me — I’d love to be able to swivel the screen to the side for lifting weights. The more cycling classes you take, the easier it is to want to take Peloton’s other strength and stretching classes. And the more I’d like a swiveling screen.
Forward-firing speakers sound overrated, but the speakers on the Bike are truly terrible. I generally ride with AirPods Pro, but there are times when the girls are playing downstairs and I choose to listen through the screen instead. The Bike's speaker sound is like listening to music through a tin can — it’s awful.
It’s been a wild seven months. Through the thick and thin of tax season, studying, and changing homes, the Peloton has been my safe space in the basement. When I clip in, that’s my 20 minutes. I throw on my favourite music. I listen to the coaches amp me up. I dig deep into my lungs. I push that Bike to my max.
And then I’m done. I clean up, shower, and prepare for the other 23 2/3 hours of the day.
The Peloton Bike is the single best technology investment my wife and I have made in our life together.