If you are looking for a Peloton bike alternative, the Schwinn IC4 is a perfect pick. Affiliate links used in this post. April 26 Target Deal: Buy the Schwinn IC4 for 50% off! This is a STEAL. Click here to order.
This post contains affiliate links.
In summer 2020, I began heavily researching bike options. I was inspired by so many friends who had seen success at home riding on bikes, especially the Peloton. But the price tag for the bike + monthly membership was not appealing to me. I thoroughly researched many options before landing on the Schwinn IC4. This post outlines what I considered, why I selected a Schwinn IC4 vs. a Peloton and why I like the bike.
Alternative bikes to the Peloton
I considered the following bikes in my research
I quickly decided that I did NOT need a Peloton. The unique selling points of a Peloton are the screen, accessing classes live and engaging with the community (via the leaderboard) who is riding at the same time as you. Frankly, I didn’t care about these features. You can still see who is live in the app and I am not someone that the coaches are ever going to shout out to.
I also read hundreds of reviews and comments in Facebook groups that the experience was just fine using another screen that wasn’t the mounted Peloton screen. I also read some suggestions that buying a bike with a screen attached is riskier because it is a big piece of technology that could fail at some point — and likely ahead of the bike itself. (This Peloton digital app users Facebook group has been incredibly helpful — both in researching bikes and afterward.)
Cost is also a huge factor. If you buy a Peloton, the monthly fee to access the classes is $49 (unlimited users). If you just use the app, it is $12.99 per user (that's nearly $600 a year vs $156 a year for one user). This is a costly difference that, again, I just don’t feel is worth it – especially since right now only two people in my house use the bike.
The MYX Fitness and Echelon both have screens and their own classes. Like the Peloton, these are more costly, and I decided it was not what I wanted in my bike.
I narrowly focused in on the Echelon EX-3 (no screen, $1,039), Sunny ($300-$500) and Schwinn IC4 ($899).
All three bikes had solid reviews. The Sunny required a lot of add ons to be competitive with the Peloton and that overwhelmed me, so I decided to eliminate that from my list. (You can find plenty of articles about the Sunny and how to customize it.)
Ultimately, it was the height minimums that were the deciding factor for me. I’m a petite 5’0” and the Schwinn IC4 is made for people 4’6” and taller, so that sealed it for me. I liked that my middle schooler could also ride the bike. (The Echelon recommends 4’11” and the Sunny recommends 5’2”.)
Check out this helpful article comparing Peloton and the Schwinn IC4 for more on specs and similarities/differences between the two bikes.
How to do cycling classes on the Schwinn IC4
The Schwinn IC4 includes a mount for a screen, like an phone or tablet. I have mostly used my iphone to watch classes, which has been totally sufficient. I just got an iPad, so am sure I will enjoy the larger screen as soon as I set it up.
My bike is located in a place where a tv screen is not feasible, though I have read that many people enjoy riding with a tv.
You do need to convert resistance (how heavy the wheel is). I didn't know this at first and it is soooo important. I recommend buying this handy chart, though you could easily make something yourself. Also be sure that your bike is set to miles instead of km. You do this by holding the up and down arrows for 3 seconds, changing to miles, then pushing any other key to lock it.
What metrics are available on the Schwinn IC4?
The bike includes a display that shows heart rate, speed, time, distance, resistance, calories and RPM. The bike's bluetooth syncs with the Peloton app and shows cadence. You can also use the Kinetic app along with the Peloton app for more comprehensive data. My understanding is that the Peloton app works best with ISO devices, though I have no experience with an android device.
Do you need bike shoes for a Schwinn IC4?
You can ride with sneakers or bike shoes. After several months, I just decided to invest in bike shoes, which are supposed to give you better stability and a smoother ride. The Schwinn IC4 comes with attachments for your bike shoes to lock into the wheel. I really like my bike shoes, which are Shimano. I recommend getting fitted at a bike store to make sure you get the right ones for your feet.
Is there a long wait for the Schwinn IC4?
Bikes are super popular right now. I had to wait about six weeks to get mine in the fall of 2020. I have had readers report getting theirs within two weeks. I recommend buying directly from Schwinn because if something went wrong, I think the customer service would be better/easier. Shipping is also free when you buy direct.
We found the bike easy to assemble and I did not pay the extra to have someone assemble the bike for us. I think it took about an hour to put together. I did get this mat to put beneath the bike, and added this cushioned seat pad to the seat. Right now Schwinn is offering a free mat with purchase.
Is financing available?
Yes, when you buy through Schwinn, you can get 18-months interest-free financing.
I couldn’t be happier with my Schwinn IC4 and think it is an excellent alternative to buying a Peloton.
Let me know if you have questions and I will do my best to answer them in the comments.