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We can track the evolution of the exercise bike all the way back to the 18th century. A man by the name of Francis Lowndes patented a device that was called the Gymnasticon. It looked more like a bicycle turned sideways and stuffed inside of a wooden box. It never became a huge hit.
Luckily, today, we have far more efficient and advanced options available to us.
Stationary bike workouts are among the most popular form of cardio fitness in the country. It’s a great way to get the heart pumping, burn fat, and to strengthen the legs. Many people participate in instructor-led workout courses referred to as a spin class. But how do we enjoy these high-intensity group workout sessions when the COVID-19 virus is forcing us to stay indoors and stay apart? We bring the class home with us.
We’re not talking about hosting an entire spin class in your basement. That would defeat the entire purpose of social distancing. Instead, you can rely on “connected” exercise equipment like the smart exercise bikes sold by Echelon, Schwinn, and a handful of other big brands. These workout machines are capable of connecting to live instructor-led courses that are displayed on a monitor attached to the bike.
Connected workout equipment has created a powerful solution to our global predicament. You can enjoy all of the benefits of an instructor-led spin class without ever leaving your bedroom. Some of these devices even contain connected social features that allow you to compare your fitness metrics and results with other students in the class. They may have leaderboards, achievements, and other ways of staying connected with one another while staying safe.
There are two connected exercise bikes that stand out from the competition. These are the Echelon Smart Connect Bike series and the Schwinn IC series Both of these bikes are durable, advanced, and surprisingly affordable. The margin of difference between them is small enough that a newcomer might have a difficult time choosing between the two.
We’re going to highlight some of the key differences between these two models so that if you are a newcomer you will be able to make a smarter purchase for your home gym.
Features Comparison: Is Schwinn IC4 or Echelon Higher Quality?
The Echelon and Schwinn bikes both come in a series with multiple models. As with most tech products, each higher tier model is going to cost more and include an extra feature or two. The major problem with the Schwinn IC series is that only the IC4 is a “connected” device. The IC2 and the IC3 are both very standard and simple stationary cycles. For the sake of this comparison, we will only consider the connected IC4 model.
Schwinn IC4 Features
- Magnetic resistance that supports 100 different micro-adjustment levels.
- Smooth and quiet 40-pound drive.
- Connectivity with the Peloton fitness app.
You may have noticed that this device does not come with a monitor. There is a small LCD screen that will display your metrics, but you need to use a tablet mounted on the front of the device to stream your live classes. The lack of a monitor is likely why this is a very affordable option for a smart connected Bike of this quality. Unfortunately, there is no Schwinn IC5 or IC6 that comes with the monitor included.
The closest model to compare with from the Echelon series is the EX1. It’s their most affordable option and it also lacks an attached monitor. There are three additional models in the EX series; the EX3, EX5, and EX5S.
It’s not until the EX5 that Echelon begins to include a monitor with the device. It simply wouldn’t be fair to compare the more expensive and more advanced EX5 to the IC4. Instead, let us look at the similarly priced EX1 bike.
Echelon Bike Features
- Connectivity with the Echelon Fit app.
- High-precision resistance motor.
- Adjustable console with a full 180 degrees of motion.
- Bluetooth capabilities.
These two devices are very similar in terms of features as long as you are comparing the entry-level EX bike with the most advanced Schwinn IC series bike. Once you step up to the EX3 or the EX5 with its 21.5-inch HD touchscreen the differences become far more noticeable.
Both bikes are “connected” and thus have access to live and on-demand cycling classes. Echelon has been taking the “connected movement” very seriously. They have their own trainers, host their own classes, and use their own fitness app. Everything is designed and operated and thus it all meshes together perfectly. This results in a complete and well-rounded workout experience.
Schwinn may be a supporter of the “connected movement”, but they aren’t nearly as invested in it. They don’t need to be because they’ve been around a long time and their business is bikes. That’s why they manufacturer the exercise cycle but have no fitness app that goes with. They don’t have their own trainers or host their own classes. Instead, they rely on the Peloton fitness app.
Schwinn is following in the footsteps of other brands that sell home fitness equipment and want to cash in on the “connected movement”. We suggest sticking with the Echelon series if you want a bike that is designed for connected workouts with its own compatible fitness app.
Price: Which Bike is Cheaper?
The IC4 and the EX1 are very similarly priced. The IC4 will cost around $800 with a monthly subscription of $39 for access to the Peloton app. The lower-end models like the IC2 and IC3 cost only half as much but, of course, lack the connected features that we so desperately want.
The EX1 is only slightly higher at around $900, though they have multiple pricing points available depending on your subscription to their monthly service.
The standard rate for the Echelon Fit app is also $39/month. The price does increase up to $1,639 if you are interested in the most advanced Echelon Smart Connect EX5S.
Summary: The Better All-Around Bike is?
The Schwinn IC4 and the Echelon EX1 are both high-quality, affordable workout bikes that can connect to a massive library of live and on-demand exercise classes. Echelon hosts at least 17 live classes every day for spinning, yoga, and a few other workout options.
Overall, we believe the Echelon EX1 to be a more effective and complete workout bike.