Of course, it depends what you're looking for. You don't expect a Tesla to cost the same amount as a Nissan Micra.
Indoor bikes are the same. Ranging from basic set-ups costing less than one hundred pounds to more advanced models costing several thousand.
Upright bikes resemble the more traditional static bike. Indoor cycling bikes tend to have a heavier flywheel and share some characteristics with a road bike, You can also buy a road bike and attach a turbo trainer to replicate the road biking experience in your home. There's also the recumbent bike where the indoor cyclist sits with his or her legs out in front.
But why are indoor bikes so expensive?
Build Quality and Design
As with most things, you're paying for build quality and brand reputation in many cases. Sometimes the additional cost is justified by design specs and additional features. For example, if a bike has a heavier flywheel or a belt-drive rather than a chain-drive. A heavier flywheel, for example, gives a more realistic peddling experience and allows for a more constant cadence. Generally speaking, the larger the flywheel the smoother the ride will be. More expensive bikes also tend to have more resistance levels which gives greater variety during workouts. Bikes may also come with additional software or tech, many include more data points to monitor performance and progress.
Bikes with Added Tech
In many cases, it will depend on what you want from your bike.
You can buy a belts-and-braces unit which will perform all the basic functions or you can opt for a bike with all the bells and whistles. Bikes that come with heart rate monitors, tablet screens, automatic resistance control, a speaker system or that include accessories like shoes, weights, water bottles, etc will cost more. If you're buying a smart-tech bike to complement your road biking skills, then you can buy trainers that provide a huge amount of data points to improve technique and form, far surpassing what an average user will need.
It's easy to get carried away and blow the budget. Peloton regret is real and it tends to emerge in the gap between ordering the bike and it being delivered. You'll find numerous posts on Reddit about Peloton remorse where customers are reaching out to the community questioning whether or not they've made the right decision to buy. It's common with any big purchase and isn't specific to indoor cycling bikes.
Peloton's biggest selling point is its live classes which allow riders to interact with and compete against one another in real-time.
But there are Peloton alternatives that may be more suitable.
The WattBike Atom which has been designed to replicate the road biking experience. Using precision data, it's a bike designed for professional and hardcore road bikers and wouldn't be suitable for beginners.
The Energym RE:GEN captures the energy generated during a workout and converts it into useable electricity. The power is stored inside a portable battery unit that works like a portable power bank. Alongside this, the Energym app provides AI built workouts to maximise the time a user has to exercise as well as Zwift-compatibility, digital resistance and pre-recorded classes. Similar to Peloton and WattBike, the RE:GEN is a smart bike and, therefore, costs more money to buy.
There are other smart fitness bikes available that don't have all these features, and users can expect to pay less for them.
Indoor bikes can appear expensive because this latest generation of smarter bikes takes the design beyond just a flywheel, handlebar and pedals.
High Expectations Make a High Price
But sometimes price is also about perception.
Peloton is a good example of this. One reason why its bikes are more expensive than others is because many of its buyers associate quality with a higher price point. When Peloton increased the price of its bike (without making any improvements or adding any extra features), it sold more units.
People were happier to pay more money even though the bike was exactly the same. It's human nature, and it's where brands build loyalty by creating demand and community.
If you're pedaling (ha) a quality product, it can pay to push the price up because people often associate higher prices with higher quality. And if you're buying a Peloton bike, you're also paying a premium to align with the company's aspirational branding because Peloton sells lifestyle products as much as fitness ones. Apple does something similar. Often, too, you'll see communities springing up around the technology with people not only investing their money into new releases but also becoming fiercely loyal to that brand. There's nothing wrong with aligning with a brand, but it will make you an easier target for their marketing.
Using Peloton as an example, its target market is 35 to 65 years olds with little or no time for the gym and earning over $50,000 a year. They're pursuing a customer base that's more affluent and it's a strategy that's clearly working so far. Whilst it's unlikely they'll ever release a budget bike option, Peloton recently did reduce the price of its basic package and it dropped the price of the app for anyone without one of its bikes.
Bikes for Convenience
And to those of us who use at-home bikes regularly, the next generation of technology offers a flexible way of working out in real-time against others but from the comfort of the home. It's about competing against other people under the supervision and encouragement of an instructor, racing up the leaderboard and engaging with a community. Indoor cycling can be dull if you're used to the atmosphere of an indoor cycling class. Exercising in isolation can be mitigated with technology whether it's being part of a live-stream or using an LCD screen to watch Netflix but extras like this will come at an additional cost. You may find that having purchased the bike you then have to pay a monthly subscription for an app to access live-classes.
Expense is always going to be relative. For some people, spending $500 or £500 on a bike is expensive but others won't think anything of spending thousands. It's important to consider what you want from your bike before buying. You may not need all the additional features or you might find that the social and competitive edge of some of the more premium brands works for you.
If you're looking for a Peloton alternative, find out more about the RE:GEN. It's an energy-generating indoor cycling bike for the home.