While Peloton is the most well-known name in connected fitness, Echelon’s bikes are probably the ones you’ve seen before without noticing. Echelon’s bikes are one of the first to 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 the Amazon Prime Bike debacle of last year.) Well, one of Peloton’s biggest rivals is back with a new premium bike – the EX-8S, and it’s extraordinarily extra.
For starters, the bike has a 24-inch 1080p curved touchscreen. Echelon says this is to create a more immersive experience, and the screen itself also flips open 180 degrees for off-bike workouts. It also has not one but two light up flywheels that can be customized for color and lighting pattern thanks to 15 LED lights – just in case you want to recreate that whole “I bike in a club” feeling from SoulCycle and other boutique bike studios. During a briefing, an Echelon spokesperson confirmed that you can see the lights while on the bike itself and that it is also possible to sync them with your training stats. The company also claims that the dual flywheel design gives the bike better stability.
If it looks like a glowing Platoon, it’s 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 the difficulty, the EX-8S also has a patent-pending digital resistance controller built into the handlebars. According to Echelon, this is so riders can easily adjust resistance while in third position (peddling while standing). The bike itself weighs 125 lbs and can support riders up to 300 lbs. In terms of connectivity, the EX-8S also supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It is also compatible with SPD pedals.
That said, connected fitness also relies heavily on its content, and Echelon’s content library hasn’t always been as polished as its competitors. On that note, Echelon says it will add new fitness programs and challenges in 2022, along with “more immersive multimedia experiences” such as music videos, performances and artist spotlights. That apparently includes former NFL athletes participating in rides, spotlights from artists like Lady Gaga and Norah Jones, as well as Broadway shows like ghost of the opera and Dear Evan Hansen.
Is the bike itself a bit ridiculous? Yes. It is unclear who exactly is in the Venn diagram of LED cycling enthusiasts and Dear Evan Hansen. However, Peloton’s had a rocky neighborhood and competition in connected fitness is on the rise. Echelon releasing a premium bike just before CES 2022 also hints that the company may be hoping to make a big splash at the show.
The EX-8S is not yet available, but will retail for $2,399 along with a $34.99 monthly subscription to Echelon’s digital content. That’s quite a bit more expensive than Echelon’s other bikes, especially the $497 Walmart-exclusive bike, although it only has a tablet mount. Echelon’s other affiliate bikes cost between $899.99 and $1,599.99. The company says presale until January 15 will get a discounted price of $1,999.