While Peloton is the most familiar name in connected fitness, Echelon’s bikes are probably the ones you’ve seen before without noticing. Echelon’s bikes are among the first that pop up when you google “cheaper Peloton alternative,” and it’s also the company behind Walmart’s $497 connected bike. (You might also remember them from last year’s Amazon Prime Bike debacle.) Well, now one of Peloton’s biggest rivals is back with a new premium bike — the EX-8S, and it is extremely extra.
For starters, the bike sports a 24-inch 1080p curved touchscreen. Echelon says that’s to create a more immersive experience and that the screen itself also flips open 180-degrees for off-bike workouts. It’s also got not one but two light-up flywheels that can be customized by color and lighting pattern thanks to 15 LED lights — just in case you want to recreate that whole “I’m biking in a club” feeling from SoulCycle and other boutique cycling studios. During a briefing, an Echelon spokesperson confirmed you can see the lighting while you’re on the bike itself and that it’s also possible to sync them to your workout metrics. The company also claims that the two-flywheel design gives the bike better stability.
If it looks like a light-up Peloton, that’s not a coincidence. Echelon says the bike was designed by Eric Villency, who designed the original Peloton bike and the SoulCycle bike. The bike also features 32 levels of motorized magnetic resistance. While most bikes rely on a resistance knob to tweak difficulty levels, the EX-8S also has a patent-pending digital resistance controller built into the handlebar. According to Echelon, this is so riders can easily adjust resistance while in third position (pedaling while standing). The bike itself weighs 125lbs and can support riders up to 300lbs. As for connectivity, the EX-8S also supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It’s also compatible with SPD pedals.
That said, connected fitness also heavily leans on its content, and Echelon’s content library hasn’t always been as polished as its competitors. On that front, Echelon says it’s adding new fitness programs and challenges in 2022, along with “more immersive multimedia experiences” like music videos, performances, and artist spotlights. That apparently includes former NFL athletes joining rides, spotlights from artists like Lady Gaga and Norah Jones, as well as Broadway shows like Phantom of the Opera and Dear Evan Hansen.
Is the bike itself a tad ridiculous? Yes. It’s unclear who exactly sits in the Venn diagram of LED bike lovers and Dear Evan Hansen. However, Peloton’s had a rocky quarter, and the competition in connected fitness is amping up. Echelon releasing a premium bike just ahead of CES 2022 also hints the company might be hoping to make a big splash at the show.
The EX-8S isn’t available just yet but will retail at $2,399 along with a $34.99 monthly subscription to Echelon’s digital content. That’s a good deal more expensive than Echelon’s other bikes, especially its $497 Walmart-exclusive bike — though that only has a tablet holder. Echelon’s other connected bikes cost between $899.99 and $1,599.99. The company says pre-sales through January 15 will get a discounted price of $1,999.