Why are Indoor Bikes So Expensive?

woman on spin bike in a class

Of course, it depends what you're looking for.

Indoor bikes vary in price from basic set-ups costing around one hundred dollars to the more advanced models costing thousands. People also tend to lump together the different types of stationary bike. You have an upright bike resembling the more traditional static bike; indoor cycling bikes which 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. But why are they so expensive?

Build Quality and Design

As with most things, you're paying for build quality and brand reputation. Sometimes the additional cost is justified by design specs and additional features. For example, if a bike has a heavier flywheel or if it has 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, and the larger the flywheel the smoother the ride will be. More expensive bikes tend to have more resistance levels which gives greater variety during workouts.

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 you'd expect or you can buy a bike with all the bells and whistles. Bikes that come with heart rate monitors, LCD screens, automatic resistance control, a speaker system or that include accessories like shoes, 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 give a huge amount of data points to improve technique and form and which will far surpass what the average user will need.

Peloton Regret

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.

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.

You may find that Peloton competitors offer a more suitable alternative for your fitness goals. You can also buy other exercise bikes like Peloton that fulfill a similar function but don't come with some of the extra features like LCD screen or live-class functionality.

Indoor bikes can seem expensive because this latest generation of smart-technology is turning them into something more than just a flywheel, handlebar and a pair of 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.

If you're pedaling 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.

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, Energym has released its energy generating indoor bike. 

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