Peloton rival Echelon’s new connected bike is ready for the club

While Peloton is the most well-known name in connected fitness, Echelon’s bikes are probably the ones you’ve seen before without realizing it. Echelon’s bikes are among the first to appear when you Google “cheaper alternative to the Peloton,” and it’s also the company behind Walmart’s $ 497 connected bike. (You might also remember that from the Amazon Prime Bike debacle last year.) Well, now one of Peloton’s biggest rivals is back with a new top-of-the-line bike – the EX-8S, and he’s extremely extra.

For starters, the bike sports a 24-inch 1080p curved touchscreen. Echelon says this is to create a more immersive experience and that the screen itself also opens 180 degrees for off-bike workouts. It also has not one but two illuminated steering wheels that can be personalized by color and lighting pattern thanks to 15 LED lights – just in case you want to recreate all that ‘I cycle in a club’ feeling from SoulCycle and ‘other cycling studios shops. During a briefing, a spokesperson for Echelon confirmed that you can see the lighting while you’re on the bike itself and that it is also possible to sync them to your training metrics. The company also claims that the two-wheel design gives the bike better stability.

If it looks like an Illuminated Platoon, it is no coincidence. Echelon says the bike was designed by Eric Villency, who designed the original Peloton bike and the SoulCycle bike. The bike also has 32 levels of motorized magnetic resistance. While most bikes rely on a resistance knob to adjust difficulty levels, the EX-8S also has a patent-pending digital resistance controller built into the handlebars. According to Echelon, this is how riders can easily adjust resistance in third position (pedaling while standing). The bike itself weighs 125 lbs and can support riders up to 300 lbs. As for connectivity, the EX-8S also supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It is also compatible with SPD pedals.

Like Peloton’s Bike Plus, the EX-8S screen spins
Image: Echelon

That said, connected fitness also relies heavily on its content, and Echelon’s library of content hasn’t always been as polished as its competition. On that front, Echelon says it will add new fitness programs and challenges in 2022, as well as “more immersive multimedia experiences” like music videos, performances and artist spotlights. This apparently includes former NFL athletes joining on rides, spotlight artists like Lady Gaga and Norah Jones, as well as Broadway shows like The Phantom of the Opera and Dear Evan Hansen.

Is the bike itself a little silly? Yes. It’s unclear who exactly is in the Venn diagram of LED bike enthusiasts and Dear Evan Hansen. However, Peloton has experienced a rocky area and the competition for connected fitness is intensifying. Echelon launching a high-end bike just ahead of CES 2022 also hints that the company may hope to cause a stir at the show.

The EX-8S is not yet available but will cost $ 2,399 with a monthly subscription of $ 34.99 to Echelon digital content. It’s much more expensive than Echelon’s other bikes, especially its $ 497 Walmart exclusive bike – although it only has a tablet holder. Echelon’s other connected bikes cost between $ 899.99 and $ 1,599.99. The company says presales through Jan. 15 will get a reduced price of $ 1,999.

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