How to Use the Peloton App Without a Peloton Bike - Real Food Whole Life

How to Use the Peloton App Without a Peloton Bike

January 31, 2020 (Updated on September 22, 2021)

spin bike shown against white wall with post title text

If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide for how to use the Peloton App without a Peloton bike, you’re in the right place! Read on for everything you need to know to DIY your own Peloton bike, including the best cycling bike to use with the Peloton App, the best cadence sensor, how to gauge resistance, as well as an easy tutorial for setting it all up.

spin bike shown against white wall with post title text

Disclosure: This post is not affiliated or sponsored by Peloton–I wrote it because I spent hours researching options and wanted to save you the time. The Peloton App links are not affiliate. The Amazon links are affiliate, which means if you decide to purchase via any of the links in this post I’ll receive a small kickback at no cost to you, which helps me continue to bring you quality content.

How to Use the Peloton App Without a Peloton Bike

My workout philosophy is simple: keep it time-efficient, effective, streamlined, and most importantly, keep it fun!

Also? Preferably done at home.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sweaty studio session, but most days my schedule simply doesn’t allow time for an hour-long class, nor the time commuting to and from a gym.

I do love a good indoor cycle class, however, so when I first heard about the Peloton Bike I was intrigued.

Here was a piece of home workout equipment that mimics a studio experience, without the commute or time commitment.

When I checked out the price of the Peloton Bike, however, I took a pause.

Currently priced (at the time of this writing) at $2,245, the bike and recurring membership fee represent a considerable investment.

To be clear, it’s not that I don’t think the bike is worth the investment–rather it’s that I couldn’t be completely sure I would be able to develop a consistent home workout habit that would justify the cost of the bike over time.

Enter the Peloton App Digital Membership.

After researching the digital membership, I realized that it is very possible to use the Peloton App with any bike.

The next challenge, then, was to find an at-home exercise bike comparable to Peloton, but for a lower cost.

After countless hours of online research, I’m excited to share that I found both a Peloton bike alternative, and a handful of relatively inexpensive accessories, that together mimic the Peloton experience all at a fraction of the cost.

What’s more, after using the system as part of my daily 20-minute home workout routine for about 9 months, I can confidently, enthusiastically recommend it.

Of course, at some point I may decide to upgrade to the real deal Peloton Bike, but for now, I’m happy with my at-home Peloton hack, and thrilled to share all the details with you.

Read on for how to use the Peloton App without a Peloton Bike.

How to Use the Peloton App Without a Peloton Bike: The Best Spin Bike, Cadence Sensor, Clip-In Pedals & Gear

1. The Best Spin Bike to Use with the Peloton App

 Sunny Magnetic Belt Drive Indoor Cycling Bike (what I use)

or

Sunny Silent Belt Drive Indoor Cycling Bike

2. The Peloton App

Peloton App

3. Cadence Sensor (optional)

Wahoo RPM Speed and Cadence Sensor

4. Fitness Mat (optional)

Fitness Mat

5. Clip-In Pedals

SPD Compatible Clip-In Petals  (optional) 

I use these clip-in SPD spin shoes along with the pedals.

6. Resistance Gauge

Resistance Gauge for Sunny Indoor Cycling Bike SF-B1805 and SF-B1913

A Step-By-Step Guide to DIY a Peloton Bike

1. Decide on the Best Spin Bike to Use with the Peloton App

Sunny Magnetic Belt Drive Indoor Cycling Bike

Cost: $599 (via Amazon at time of writing)

I chose the Sunny Magnetic Belt Drive Indoor Cycling bike because of the higher weighted wheel, and magnetic resistance, which requires virtually no maintenance and allows for micro-adjustable resistance.

The bike comes in one heavy box, and requires some assembly.

You can pay to have the bike pre-assembled.

We (my husband and I) were able to assemble it ourselves in under an hour.

Note: It’s a pretty heavy box, so if you have stairs you might need two people to carry it. 

Otherwise, I think one person can assemble it alone, though it will likely take a bit longer and more effort.

Sunny Silent Belt Drive Indoor Cycling Bike

Cost: $299 (via Amazon at time of writing)

A lower cost alternative to the magnetic belt drive, the Sunny Silent Belt Drive doesn’t use magnetic resistance and has a slightly less weighted wheel so it doesn’t approximate the experience of the real Peloton quite as well.

However, at under $300, it’s a relatively affordable alternative that still works well with the Peloton App.

2. Set up a Peloton Account

Cost: $12.99 per month (via Peloton website at time of writing)

Set Up a The Peloton App Digital Membership

You can trial the Peloton App for free for 30 days before signing up for the membership.

Tip: I personally recommend creating an account on a desktop, then downloading the app and logging in from there.

I’ve found managing an account directly through a company’s website rather than through the App Store seems to work better, however you can also go straight through the App Store.

If you decide to sign up for an App Digital Membership it’s $12.99 per month, as of this writing.

That’s less than the $39 monthly Peloton Membership because there are fewer features included.

With the Digital Membership, you get access to Peloton classes (no Peloton equipment necessary).

One profile per Membership includes:

  • 20+ live classes daily and thousands on-demand
  • Curated training programs
  • One account
  • Limited workout metrics
  • Basic Leaderboard

Note that the app has additional class options beyond cycling included in the monthly fee, which I use frequently. Check out my 12-month Peloton App review at the end of this post for more my experience with the App.

3. Download the Peloton App to a iOS phone or tablet.

I recommend viewing the app on a tablet if possible, just for size purposes, but a phone also works.

As of this writing, the cadence sensor seems to work best on iPhones and iPads.

Once you’re ready to ride, pick a workout live or on-demand, place your phone or tablet on the bike handlebars, and start riding.

That’s it!

Note, the Sunny Magnetic Belt Drive Indoor Cycling Bike comes with a tablet holder built into the handle bars, so no need to purchase a separate holder.

4. Secure the Cadence Sensor to the Pedal of Your Spin Bike

Wahoo RPM Speed and Cadence Sensor

Cost: $39.99 (via Amazon at time of writing)

While a cadence sensor isn’t required, it will help you follow along with the Peloton instructor cues, and provide you with feedback related to speed and cadence.

You’ll need to install the sensor to the pedal of the bike, and then you can wirelessly connect to it via the Peloton App each time you ride.

If you have questions about syncing the cadence sensor with the Peloton App, or about how App features differ from the full Peloton experience, check out the FAQs at the end of this post.

5. Set Up the Resistance Gauge

Recently several readers have alerted me to the fact that there’s an Etsy shop offering a resistance gauge designed to help you follow along with the exact resistance prompts given in Peloton classes.

If you pick up the resistance gauge and the cadence sensor you’ll have everything you need to follow along with Peloton rides when it comes to both speed (cadence) and resistance. So cool!

Resistance Gauge for Sunny Indoor Cycling Bike SF-B1805 and SF-B1913

6. Get a Fitness Mat

Fitness Mat

Cost: $29.99 (via Amazon at time of writing)

Also not required, if you want to protect the floor under the bike, a sturdy fitness mat will do the trick. 

7. Switch out the Standard Pedals for Clip-In Petals

SPD Compatible Clip-In Petals 

Cost: $52 (via Amazon at time of writing)

Again, not required, but if you already have clip-in cycling shoes, you might want to switch out the Sunny pedals for a clip-in compatible option.

Tip: make sure to select an option with a Thread size of 9/16″.

I use these SPD cycling shoes that work with the pedals. Again, the pedals and shoes are definitely not required to get started with using the bike.

In short, I’ve found this home set-up to be incredibly effective and much more affordable than purchasing a Peloton Bike + Membership.

As I work from home, this DIY Peloton hack has saved my sanity–I really can’t recommend it enough!

Full disclosure: This post is in no way affiliated or sponsored by Peloton, I simply wrote it because I wanted to save you the time researching all the options and simplify your home workout.

The Peloton App links are not an affiliate–though Peloton, if you’re listening, I’m ready when you are. 🙂

All Amazon links are affiliate, which means if you decide to purchase via any of the links I’ll receive a small commission at no cost to you–we appreciate the support!

If you have questions leave them in the comments–I continue to update this post regularly, and you’ll likely find an answer to your question is already there.

Here’s to quick, efficient home workouts. Cheers!

My 12-Month Peloton App Review & Using the App with My Own DIY Cycling Bike

UPDATE: I’ve now been using the Peloton App and with my own cycling bike for over a year–here’s an honest review of the experience. 

First, here’s what I’ve loved about the Peloton App and using your own bike:

  • The cost per month! All told, averaging the cost of the spin bike, cadence sensor, app subscription, and clip in petals, the total setup comes out to about $70 a month for the first year. Going forward, the cost is essentially only the membership, which is $12.99 a month. I’ve personally found this to be an amazing value for the cost per month.
  • Ease of use. Because the bike is in my house, I can jump on it anytime I have a few spare minutes. With all that’s happened in the past year, including having my daughter home for virtual school, I’ve found this setup to be invaluable. The ease of use has allowed me to use the bike consistently for over a year now, and I have no plans of stopping anytime soon.
  • Variety of instructors, class types, and class lengths. I’ve really loved the variety within the app, including how many different class styles there are. Personally I’ve found most consistency with 20 and 30 minute rides, which I typically do about 5 per week.
  • Other fitness offerings within the app. While I still use the Peloton app mostly for cycling, I’ve been having fun trying the multiple other offerings, including strength and yoga classes.

The downside of using the Peloton App with your own cycling bike:

  • No access to the leaderboard. While you can use the cadence sensor to follow along with instructor prompts and to track your own progress, the biggest downside of not investing in the full Peloton experience is a lack of access to the leaderboard. Meaning, you can’t “compete” directly with others in live classes, and you can’t see your combined output of cadence + resistance. This personally doesn’t bother me, but if competing with others in live classes or seeing your output (as a combo of cadence + resistance) in real time, and over time, is a big motivator to you, you might want to consider investing in the “real” thing.
  • Less access to the rider community. While you can still ride with friends using the app, give out “high fives,” and follow hashtags, there is slightly less community access with the app, for example with competing, as described above. However, you can still follow friends, and can “see” them in the app during both live and streaming rides. 

Overall, I think my DIY Peloton set up is one of the best purchase I’ve made in years. Especially in the times that we’re living in, having a home setup has been a game changer and sanity saver. So far I plan to stick with my cycle bike + cadence sensor + Peloton app setup, and don’t plan to upgrade to the “real” thing anytime soon, but if that changes I will add that to this review as well!

If you have a question, check out the comments below for a very comprehensive Q&A. Feel free to ask any questions you might still have and I’ll do my best to respond as soon as I can. Here’s to feeling good!

Check Out These Resources for Wellness at Home

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129 comments to " How to Use the Peloton App Without a Peloton Bike "

  • Kristina Proffitt

    Thank you so much for writing this and sharing what you are doing! Loved it and appreciate it so much!!

  • Karen McHenry

    Great information, as always! Thanks Robyn!

    • Robyn Downs

      You’re so welcome Karen!

      • Jessica

        Thanks for this advice. I set up my off-brand bike and downloaded the app to my Kindle. So far so good. But how do you follow the leader board or high five in a live class? I don’t see those options on my screen.

        • Robyn Downs

          I Jessica, that’s one of the drawbacks of going the off-brand route, you will not have access to the leaderboard. That’s a feature only available (as of this writing) on the Peloton bike itself. You can, however, give high fives, at least on the iPad app (I can’t speak for Kindle). Just tap on the side of the screen to see who else is riding with you, then tap their icons to give a high five. Hope this helps!

    • Chris

      Does the Sunny bike use the same dial tensions? My challenge is when the peloton instructors tell you to change resistances, how can I relate to the bike I’m using?

      • Robyn Downs

        Chris, resistance is definitely the trickiest part to figure out without the “real deal” Peloton, especially if you haven’t taken many live spin classes. I’ve found having the cadence sensor helps. Start by getting your cadence to the range the instructor indicates, then adjust the resistance as high as possible while maintaining the target cadence. If you can’t maintain the cadence you know you need to turn the resistance down, but if your find you start exceeding the cadence, turn the resistance up. This works well for me, but if you feel like you need/want the exact dial tension I’d suggest investing in the Peloton. Hope this helps!

        • George Lai

          Do you know if you can use the peloton app to ride with your friends at the same time?

          • Robyn Downs

            Hi George, yes, you can follow friends and then you will be able to see them (and give them a high five) during rides. Beyond that, though, you wont’ be able to compete as you would with the full Peloton experience.

      • Terry J

        I have a Joroto X2 as a Peloton Alternative.
        The Resistance Conversion to Peloton
        – 1.5 full turns = 10 in resistance
        – 3 full turns = 20 in resistance
        – 4.5 full turns = 30 in resistance
        – 6 full turns = 40 in resistance and so on….

    • Bobbi-Lee

      This was incredibly informative! Thank you so much for taking the time to research and visit back with your update.

    • Carly

      You have totally convinced me that I can go down this route rather than the much more
      expensive option. Thank you 🙏

  • Kaitlin Mueller

    How long have you owned your bike? Have you had any issues with it? I am thinking about placing an order for one this week!!

    • Robyn Downs

      Kaitlin, I’ve had it for about 6 months now and love it! Hoping on for a 20 minute ride has been so helpful in my daily routine, especially right now!

      • Kaitlin Mueller

        Thanks Robyn for the quick response! So glad you still love it. I just put my order in and it’s temporarily out of stock but hoping they re-stock soon! Thanks so much for this honest review, it really helped me make a decision and I am excited to start getting in daily rides.

      • Leslie Deamer

        How are you still liking your setup? Are you still using it regularly? Any tweaks or changes you would make? Still love the bike 6 months later? I ask because I’m considering your ad hoc approach as well. Thanks!

        • Robyn Downs

          Hi Leslie, I’ve had the bike now for close to a year and I have to say I love and use it more than ever! I actually purchased it pre-pandemic and it worked great as an at-home option to alternate with studio classes. These days I dropped all my studio membership and just do the bike and other streaming classes through Peloton and couldn’t be happier! I use it every weekday morning for a 20 minute on-demand class (I rarely join live), plus an occasional longer ride on weekends when I can’t get outside. It’s just so darn convenient to hop on, ride, hop off and get back to my day. Hands down my favorite purchase in the last year!

  • Maria D

    thank you so much for sharing! just to clarify, if we do it the way your suggesting, does this allow you to be on the leader board for live classes?

    • Robyn Downs

      Maria, great question! No, as of this writing the only way to show up on the leaderboard and compete with others in the live class is with the actual Peloton bike and membership. Hope this helps!

  • Tammy

    I am not understanding how any of these apps work (the one you suggest or any of them) if you aren’t going through wifi. I don’t care about heart rate, distance etc. I just want to be able to get the sensation of riding through the trails, mountains, etc. So my question is: If my bike is in no way hooked up to the app, via wires, bluetooth of any other apparatus, can I still use these apps? Thank you.

    • Robyn Downs

      Tammy, is your question about resistance on the bike? In the case of the real Peloton bike or using another type of spin bike with an app, you control the bike resistance yourself–so you manually turn the resistance knob to make it feel like you’re on a hill. The Peloton instructor will give a prompt like “turn up resistance up to 40” and you turn it up yourself.

  • Tammy

    I have heard the iPad is far better and more compatible than an Android so I ordered an iPad. Once I have my iPad and I’m on the Peloton digital app will my iPad connect with the app automatically as long as I have bluetooth on so that I can see data and what data will I be able to see on the iPad screen? I do have the Wahoo Cadence and speed devices attached to my bike but so far no heart rate monitor. Thank you

    • Robyn Downs

      Tammy, each time you start riding you’ll need to tap the bluetooth icon on the right of the screen, then tap “cadence” under selected devices. You’ll then be able to see your cadence in the upper left corner of the screen as long as you’re peddling. Right now it looks like Peloton only allows you to only select one bluetooth device at a time, so either cadence or heart rate. I do cadence so I can follow along with the instructor cues, then use my watch for heart rate. Hope this helps!

  • Nancy

    Hi I really appreciate this post! What type of cycling shoes do I need to have if I choose to clip in? Thank you!

    • Robyn Downs

      Hi Nancy, you just need a cycling shoe that has SPD compatible cleats so that they’ll work the petals, if you decide to switch out the petals that come with the bike. I have these!

  • Jade Szymanski

    Thanks for this post. It prompted me to buy a comparable bike to yours as well as the Wahoo cadence sensor to see if indoor cycling is something I would like (I bought the Peloton tread and it’s 3 months behind in delivery). My question is about the Resistance. I have a hard time understanding how to follow along with the numbers the instructors throw out (my bike has a “+” and “-“ knob like yours). How do you follow along in the classes With this type of knob? I can guess but I’m really not sure what the numbers mean in turns of difficulty.

    • Robyn Downs

      Hi Jade, resistance is definitely the trickiest part to figure out without the “real deal” Peloton, especially if you haven’t taken many live spin classes. I’ve found having the cadence sensor helps. Start by getting your cadence to the range the instructor indicates, then adjust the resistance as high as possible while maintaining the target cadence. If you can’t maintain the cadence you know you need to turn the resistance down, but if your find you start exceeding the cadence, turn the resistance up. Hope this helps!

    • Kelly

      Hi Nancy, not fully understanding the apps answers. I’m motivated to do the setup for my friend and I. We want to know since we can give high fives, can we see each other and compete with each other. Not only give high 5s.

      • Robyn Downs

        Hi Kelly, Robyn here. You can only see and compete with friends if you have the official Peloton bike and membership. With the Peloton app you can just see who else is riding and give high fives. Hope this helps!

        • Kelly

          Thanks Robyn. My apologies, I read Nancy’s question, lol. I really appreciate. Your answer made it very clear.

  • Meghan Lockhart

    Hi Robyn, thanks so much for this post and all of the helpful information! I have typically been a barre studio + outdoor walk/jog type of gal but with the current covid situation I am looking into getting a bike for more in-home workouts. I am trying to get a sense for the limitations of using the Peloton app with a non-Peloton bike – 1/ I am hoping to join friends in classes on the Peloton, do I read the above correctly that I can’t actually join the leaderboard/class with them unless I am on a Peloton bike? 2/Do you think you get as good of a workout in without clip in shoes? I always have had a tough time with clips in spin classes. 3/Great to hear that you and your husband set up the bike – do you think it was relatively user friendly/failproof to do so, or does it require someone to be handy with tools? Thank you!!

    • Robyn Downs

      Hi Meghan, you are correct, without the Peloton you can’t join the leaderboard. You can still follow people and see who else is in the class live and on demand, but you can’t compete or cheer each other on. And yes, you can absolutely get a great workout without clip-ins! The petals come with the basket for your foot, so you can still get the pull-up motion and benefit with your foot. Finally, I don’t think it takes much tool experience to set up. It helps to have 2 people just to hold the parts up, but it’s pretty straightforward to set up. Hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

      • Shannon

        Hi Robyn!

        This has been so helpful. I really appreciate the time you took to answer everyone’s questions, I ordered a sunny bike and have peloton app but how do I see who is live in class?
        I ordered the cadence as I see this will be very helpful.
        Thank you!

        • Robyn Downs

          Hi Shannon, you should be able to see who else is riding in a live class within the Peloton app itself. Once you start a ride make sure you click on “riding now” and it will display the other riders on the right hand side (if your device is horizontal) or at the bottom (if your device is vertical). Hope this helps!

        • Chrissy

          How are the 20 live classes with the app? Is there a variety? Do the instructors see you through Zoom, or is it a one way deal? I really miss studio spin classes and find I’m more motivated with a real live instructor. Thanks!

          • Robyn Downs

            Hi Chrissy, you can check out the full spectrum of what the app has to offer on the Peloton site. There are live streaming classes every day, plus hundreds and hundreds on demand (with a variety of times, styles, and instructors). They can’t see you. You watch them and listen to their cues and make the adjustments to your bike. I do find it to be similar to a live, in-person class in that way!

  • Jess B.

    Thank you so much for this – it was exactly what I needed to read!

  • Casey Wilson

    Hi there!

    LOVE that you posted this because I’m about to pick up a Sunny bike that I’m buying off FB marketplace and I want to be able to follow along with the Peloton workouts.

    Are the pedals you linked to the right thread size? I can’t tell from the Amazon listing.

    • Robyn Downs

      Casey, they should be, as long as the Sunny bike is the same make and model!You can find the thread size under “product description” for the petals.

    • Candace Scroggins

      I have a ProForm 500 SPX Spin Bike and I’m having trouble figuring out the resistance. Is there an attachment or something I can get to add to the resistance knob for clarity?

      • Robyn Downs

        Candace, I linked an Etsy shop in the post (under #6 resistance gauge), and if you check out the shop you may find an option for the ProForm. If you do let us know and we’ll include the link in the post as well!

  • Val Spiller

    Robyn, good info. I bought a Keiser bike because it was used at my club before I quit! I LOVE it. Using the Peloton app for about 3 weeks and now want to join a group but, I’m thinking I will only be able to see them in the app but as you mention above, won’t be on the leaderboard etc. I added a group # to my profile. Tomorrow will be the first time trying to ride with the group and I was wondering if we will all see each other (there are 61 people in the group) or communicate. Sounds like no. I’m sure it will still be a great workout. My bike has same cadence as Peloton but the resistance only goes to 22 so, I just ballpark it at half of what the instructor is suggesting and adjust from there a little up or down. So far it’s been working. Great workout.

    • Robyn Downs

      Val, thanks for sharing what’s working for you with the Keiser bike! As of now–as far as I know–you can’t ride with a group using the Peloton app alone, though you can follow along with groups and hashtags. So you should be able to ride with the group, you’ll just not be able to see them in real time if that makes sense.

  • Raymond

    Hey Robyn!

    Just wanted to say thanks for your great write-up. I got into spinning at my gym and before I knew I’d been spinning at the gym for 1 1/2 years! Then Covid-19 hit. I also tried my neighbor’s Peloton and loved it because of the amazing studio like experience! Like you, I just could not see the high cost outlay and membership lock-in. I bought a gently used Life Fitness IC6, signed up for the Peloton app on Roku and can get the Peloton spin classes on my LCD TV. It is awesome! I will be ordering the Wahoo cadence sensor this week.

    I can spin on my own terms, own space, and stay Covid-19 safe from a gym environment.

    Apologies for the long thread, props to you Ms. Robyn!

    • Robyn Downs

      Raymond, thank you so much for your comment–super helpful for others who might be considering a similar setup. So happy you found a home workout set up that works so well for you!

  • Crash

    Hi Robyn, thanks for this great information. I’m wondering if the Sunny Magnetic also works with Zwift?

    • Robyn Downs

      Hey Crash, I’m not as familiar with Zwift, but I did a quick check of their site, and it looks like, yes, you can use most indoor bikes. From their website it looks like you’ll also need a cadence sensor–I Wahoo sensor I linked in this post appears to be compatible. So you’d need the bike and the cadence sensor in order to make it all work. Hope that helps!

  • Leila Cutshaw

    Hiya! Great article. Wanted to ask how you watch your tablet while you ride? What is your setup to put the tablet in position in front of the bike? Any recommendations would be appreciated!

    • Robyn Downs

      Hi Lelia, the Sunny bike that I used and linked has a place to hold the tablet built in between the handle bars. So I just place the tablet there and watch it during the ride just as I would with the real Peloton. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  • Veronica Lieberman

    Hello!

    I’m wondering if you can help me find a similar bike to the one you use, but one that allows for clip in shoes?

    Thank you!

    • Robyn Downs

      Hi Veronica, most at-home stationary bikes don’t come with clip-in petals. I switched the petals on my bike for ones that allow for clip-ins. Those petals are linked in the post above. Let me know if you have any other questions!

    • Jai

      Hi Robyn,

      This post is fantastic! Thank you so much! I was thinking of buying the Echelon but wasn’t sure if there are reasons I should get the Sunny bike instead?

      • Robyn Downs

        Hi Jai, so glad you found it helpful! I don’t know much about the Echelon, but it looks like the Echelon is essentially a direct competitor to Peloton, and has its own membership included. So the Sunny bike is a much less expensive basic spin bike that you can use with the Peloton app to get access to the Peloton app and content and instructors. Hope this helps!

  • Chris Varney

    Thank you so much for this article!!! Truly helps me as I am also researching home gym equipment. Can you speak to what a true Peloton bike gives you that a non-Peloton bike does relative to the app? In otherwords, if you spent the $2k+ for a Peloton bike, what does that give me that using a non-Peloton bike and the app doesn’t? Have you looked into things like iFit or any other Peloton competitor?

    Thank you again for the article!!! All the best.

    • Robyn Downs

      So happy you found it useful, Chris! As far as I can tell, there are two main reasons you might want to fork over the $2k+ for a real Peloton. 1. You want the full Peloton experience, and the prestige of owning the real deal. 2. The dashboard on the real Peloton has more features/additional functionality that the app alone. Specifically, the ability to see the resistance, cadence, and the combo of these two, output. With the app alone you’ll need to purchase a separate cadence sensor and pair it up each time to the app via bluetooth. Even then, you wont’ be able to see your resistance level, nor your output. The real Peloton also allows you to compete with other real time riders, and climb the leader board in live classes. To me, none of those features are worth the extra money at this point, but I also know people for whom those features make it completely worth the price. I haven’t looked into the Peloton competitors much, as I am really pleased with the offerings within the Peloton app, the instructors, and the whole vibe. Hope this helps!

  • Talena Adams

    this was so helpful. Thank you for the tip on the resistance.

  • Ana

    Hi thanks so much for all the info! My friend bought a peloton and swear buy it but I already have a spin bike so didn’t really want to buy the bike, so this has been really helpful.

    Will any Bluetooth candence sensor work or is it particular ones that link to the peloton app? Thanks

    • Robyn Downs

      Hi Ana, I think as long as the cadence sensor has a bluetooth connection the Peloton app should be able to sync with it. I’ve been really happy with the Wahoo sensor linked in the post, I’ve had it for over a year now and it’s still going strong!

      • Adeline

        Hello Robyn,

        Thanks so much for this SUPER informative and honest post!
        So helpful!
        I’m just unclear about the Wahoo sensor, it seems there are two different ones on Amazon: one for cadence and one for speed, do I need both or just one will do, and if so which one? Because I do want to monitor speed as well..
        They do have the “blue SC” which measures both speed and cadence: is this necessary in your opinion?
        Thank you so much!
        Kind regards 🙂

        • Robyn Downs

          Hi Adeline, I’m so glad you found it helpful! As far as I know you don’t need 2 sensors. If you want to use it with the Peloton app, you’ll just need the cadence sensor like the one linked in this post. You’ll then connect it to your Peloton app via Bluetooth, and it will show your cadence in real time, that it, how fast you are pedaling. The Peloton instructors cue the cadence during class, so you can follow along with that, rather than speed. Hope this helps!

      • Carly

        Hi Robyn! First, thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thorough article and answer everyone’s questions! I have never used a spin bike before but am looking for something to add to my TBL Pilates (I’m in the sisterhood!). Do you feel that you get a good full body workout on the bike (arms and core) or is more specific to lower body? I’m torn between a spin bike and a rower to add to my Pilates! Thanks again. I love all of your material 🙂

        • Robyn Downs

          Hi Carly! I have been loving the bike as an addition to my TBL Pilates routine! The Peloton app has a huge variety, even within the bike workouts. There are straight-up bike workouts (obviously this is targeting lower body), but they also have bike + arms, which adds in light hand held weights. They also have a bike bootcamp, which adds in body weight strength training intervals. There are also upper body strength workouts off the bike in the app. Overall I feel like the bike + Peloton offers perhaps more variety than a rowing machine, and has a smaller footprint as well!

  • Sara Gepp

    This was linked from the Wall Street Journal! Woohooooo – excellent advice

  • Sarah C

    Hi! This is super helpful, thank you. I’m just left with one question. Is it helpful to have a bike that comes with a digital performance monitor (not tablet, just the small monitor), or does the Wahoo sensor that you need for the Peloton app anyway make that useless? I’m looking at a few different models and the ones without the monitors are cheaper so I’d prefer to buy one of those but want to make sure I’m not missing out. Thanks so much!

    • Robyn Downs

      Hi Sarah, so happy you found it helpful! If you’re primarily planning on using the bike with the cadence sensor with the Peloton app I don’t think you need the digital performance monitor. If you’d like to be able to use the bike without the app, then you’d want it. Hope that helps!

  • Kes

    Great article! I do have a question. About the Bluetooth

    Background: I have an unique situation where I recently had knee surgery- bought a Peloton (with insurance helping) and my brother in law surprised me with a Sunny bike his gym was getting rid of. So now I have TWO bikes 🙂 I have been riding both this past month. I will say, the Peloton is hands down my fav and everyone fights to ride it.

    However, I’m interested in your article because of the Sunny bike we have- and how to create the “Peloton experience” as well. My husband uses the app on the iPad which is awesome and we ride together.

    So my question is: if we connect the cadence sensor and use Bluetooth to do so- can we also pair our AirPods as well? That’s how we listen to the instructors (sometimes we are off a few seconds and it can get distracting). Or can you only pair one device at a time?

    Thanks again for the advice!

    • Robyn Downs

      Hi Kes, I believe you can connect both! Connect your bluetooth headphones directly to your iPad (go to Settings –> Bluetooth). Now your bluetooth headphones should work for any app on or iPad. Then open the Peloton app and connect the cadence sensor each time your ride. Hope that helps!

  • Morgan

    How much of a difference would there be if using the cheaper spin bike as opposed to the magnetic belt drive bike?? if I’m pretty new to spin, do you think ill notice the difference?

    • Robyn Downs

      Morgan, the magnetic resistance will definitely get you the closest approximation to the the real Peloton, or to any cycling bike you might use in a gym or studio. Bikes with magnetic resistance provide more consistent resistance, have a greater ability to adjust resistance level overall, and are better for high-speed workouts. They cost a bit more up front, but the durability and lack of maintenance required usually means a better investment long-term. That said, if your budget only allows for the cheaper version, you’ll still get a great workout. Hope this helps!

  • Mike

    Thanks Robyn!

    I just got a great deal on a magnetic resistance bike- I’d guess its similar to yours. My wife has an old IPad that isnt compatible with new apps so i highly doubt the Peloton app will work with hers. Is there a way to connect through my Iphone 12 or Iphone 12 combined with smart tv or would you suggest I purchase an IPad?

    I’ve been a runner for the last 7-8 years but I think this would be a great alternative to “treading to the treadmill’ at my gym in the winter, especially when Im short on time.

    Thanks!

    Mike

    • Robyn Downs

      Hi Mike, you can definitely use the Peloton app on your phone! It’s a little small, but especially for cycling there’s not much to really see anyway. As long as you can hear what the instructor is saying you should be good to go. The Peloton is also available to download directly on AppleTV, so that’s another great option. Hope that helps!

  • Alyssa

    I purchased a very cost effective Sunny bike to use with the Peloton app and honestly I actually enjoy it. Finally found a good fit for activity that i don’t hate! lol. I work at home so this is perfect to get a quick ride/shower in over my lunch time. I purchased a Wahoo cadence sensor but whe i use that and compare it to the RPMs on my bike’s screen they are the same. Maybe i just got (un)lucky? The only issue i have is not having any clue where my resistance is and where it should be. Does anyone have any thoughts or tips for this? I have the Sunny SF B1877 with magnetic belt drive. i have basically just been guessing and i know at least i’m still doing something. But if anyone has found any type of conversion (i.e. a full knob turn is x points of peloton resistance) please let me know!

    • Robyn Downs

      Alyssa, I haven’t heard of a conversion for the knob. I usually just turn the resistance up as high as I can while still maintaining the cadence range suggested by the instructor. This seems to work pretty well!

  • Elizabeth

    After reading the post on Simply Real Food and now yours, we have decided to purchase the Sunny bike as well. Looking forward to it!

  • Catherine Stearns

    Hi! Great post I was JUST looking for this type of info! What do you think the most imp features on a bike are? I am trying to enjoy and like the bike but cut corners on price as much as possible- looking at the walmart echelon bikes. Thank you– your sharing the experience is super awesome!

    • Robyn Downs

      Catherine, it’s really personal preference as to which features matter most. If you’re looking to spend the least amount possible the Walmart bike, a cadence sensor, and the Peloton app will get you all the basics. I can’t speak to the quality or longevity of the Walmart bike, but as long as it has a solid way to control resistance you should be good to go!

  • Heather

    I read your post and many of the comments – when you are done your workout what information is saved on the peleton app? Just that you completed the workout since it cant see your cadence/output etc? I trialed the real peloton at a gym and liked how it showed how the current workout compared to my best PR.

    • Robyn Downs

      Hi Heather, the app store your workouts (including total number of workouts, which workout it was, plus your cadence data–as long as you’re using the cadence sensor), plus days you completed a workout, streaks, and “awards.” You won’t get PR data, since you need both the cadence data as well as the output data for that). Hope this helps!

  • simon

    Hi Robyn, Question: What is the better/best 21 inch or larger tablet to buy to use with this set up that’s affordable and reasonable? Or, better yet, is it possible to use a desktop or laptop to run the app and simply push a monitor to view (and use a mouse set on a table to the side for instance instead of touch screen). I happen to own a big monitor and extra CPU and/or laptop. Don’t have a tablet yet, can buy but why if not needed… Have bought all the rest, and looks like a Fantastic much less expensive option !!… since we had a spinner bike already.. love spending about $100 start up and $13/month instead of thousands and $40/month…. Tablet options? (or better yet CPU versus laptop options?) laptop = macbook pro. CPU= microsoft. Thanks !

    • Robyn Downs

      Hey Simon, as far as I can tell there isn’t a Peloton app for laptop at this point (thought that might change, you can always search the app store). They do have an app for Apple TV, so that’s an option. Honestly you can start by using your phone to get a sense of things, as you don’t need a very big screen for cycling. Or a used iPad (smallest size) would also do the trick. Hope this helps!

  • Anu

    Hi,
    I’m looking into getting a bike and am wondering how quiet the Sunny bike is? Is the magnetic one quieter than the regular cheaper one?
    Thank you for this post! It’s very helpful!

    • Robyn Downs

      Hi Anu, the Sunny bike is pretty darn quiet! I think the cheaper one is slightly louder, but both are pretty quiet.

  • Sean

    Hi just been reading through the questions but I was just wondering I brought an android tablet but the problem I have is that when I tap on the screen while watching the cycling clip I only can see a heart rate option but I want to connect a cadence sensor through Bluetooth but don’t have an option! Am I doing something wrong?

    • Robyn Downs

      Hi Sean, I’m not as familiar with Android tablets. On the iPad there are two options under bluetooth, both heart rate and cadence. Has anyone else had success using an Android tablet that might be able to assist with this question?

  • Tara

    I’m wondering if you might know a Canadian link for the cadence and speed monitor? I’m trying to find one! Even if it’s a different brand!

  • Yesenia

    hi! thank you so much for all this info! i went to the sunny website to look at the bikes and saw this one. do you think it’s compatible/comparable to the one you use? it’s a bit cheaper (on sale) and appears the clips come with it. thanks in advance!

    Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rear Belt Drive Indoor Cycling Bike with RPM Cadence Sensor – SF-B1709, Black https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B07HL5RHXY/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glc_fabc_AHX-FbAZR1HQZ?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

  • Ann Shultz

    Hi, I’m wondering if you could do this via a tv monitor with the pelaton app downloaded via Roku instead of on a tablet? Do you think this would be as good of an experience as having it on a tablet on the bike?

    • Robyn Downs

      Hi Ann, I’m not sure that the app downloaded via Roku will allow you to sync with the cadence sensor. That’s the primary benefit of using a tablet or phone as far as I know.

  • Mike

    I use my IPhone which works with the Wahoo cadence sensor and the peloton app– I have an android tablet but as Sean notes, it does not allow me to look for a bluetooth device to add– so must be an ios thing… unfortunately although the iphone works fine. I would love to figure out the resistance number they are talking about – i would guess that when i turn it up so much it starts to scrape is 100% but it takes like 48 turns on my bike to get there- i also do as much resistance as i can to keep the cadence but I’d love to be able to see where i am compared to where they suggest.

    • Robyn Downs

      Good point about iOs vs. Android and helpful to note! I know there are some resistance conversion charts floating around online, tough I’m not sure how accurate they are. I’ll look into it.

      • Mike

        For my Finer Form bike, after looking online, estimating resistance got easy quickly- i found out that basically my bike has 10 full turns of resistance, so if i start from wide open, 2 full turns is 20%, 5 full turns is 50% and after 2 rides, it seems pretty accurate with Peloton. Knowing a quarter turn is 2.5 is helpful too when they say add one or two to resistance- now i have an idea how to measure that.

  • Michael

    This was a very helpful article! My indoor spin bike is arriving this week and I was planning to use it with the Peloton app. To be clear, should I purchase a speed AND cadence monitor or does the one you recco have both functionalities? And these sensors connect to the Peloton app on your phone via Bluetooth?

    Thanks again for the helpful info!

    • Robyn Downs

      Hi Michael, the cadence sensor functions as your speed monitor, as the Peloton instructors cue speed via cadence. And yes, the sensor should connect via Bluetooth to your iOS device. Hope this is helpful!

  • Monique

    I am so happy I found this…thanks so much. I am using your links!

  • Anna

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU for writing on this topic. It includes all the information I’ve been trying to gather on my own. Bonus points for adding affiliate links to Amazon 🙂

  • Sara

    Thank you so much for this! I was convinced I needed a Peloton, but given my exercise commitment issues, my husband was not persuaded. This is a great compromise, and my new bike arrives on Saturday 😉 Can’t wait to try your set up!

    • Robyn Downs

      Sara, yes, love that! The perfect compromise. I hope you find it as doable a habit as I do. Maybe I’ll see you on the app. Cheers!

  • Linzie

    Great info, a coworker just purchased the real deal and couldn’t stop talking about how great it was. I was looking for cheaper options with only the app and came across your page. I’m unfamiliar with the app, are there multiple types of memberships with different monthly prices? Or just the one membership? I was more interested in the scenic rides, is that possible with the purchase of the app or something extra that only comes with the bike purchase? Sorry about all the questions. Thanks in advance.

    • Robyn Downs

      Hi Linzie, the app is $12.99 a month. You can try it for free for 30 days if you want to give it a try, here: https://www.onepeloton.com/digital/checkout/digital-30d. I believe there’s only one type of membership, and that the monthly amount of $12.99 gets you access to everything. Yes, you can purchase the app separately, without purchasing the bike. The app includes some senic rides, as well as hundreds of instructor guided rides. Hope that helps!

  • Selita Sprunger

    I bought a Nordic Track Studio bike…..I would like to still uses the peloton app but really only for group rides with my co workers…is it worth it? My Nordic came with a free 1 year iFit with all the same programs the Peloton has

    • Robyn Downs

      Selita, you might consider keeping the Peloton app for a month once you have your Nordic set up and see if you end up using the Peloton app, or if it ends up being redundant. If you don’t use it after a month it makes sense then to cancel it!

  • Dru DeWitt

    Hey! I am a 65 year old Nanna who has had a partial knee replacement and fusions on both feet for arthritis issues and has ben struggling to find a good and fun way to regain some strength and lose the extra “later life”/post surgery pounds. I just returned from a visit to my daughter’s, and she is in the best shape of her adult life from using and loving her Peloton. She convinced me to try a ride and I did like it (and did not get sick, which I consider to be a plus!). We already have an exercise bike, and my daughter shared her Peloton membership with me, so I am going to give this a try. Thank you so much for all of your helpful information! I look forward to posting about how this Nanna puts the pedals to the metal and gets in better shape!

  • Jenna

    Thanks for your recoendations!
    Just a note for a correction that may give readers more confidence in your recommendations:
    Bikes have pedals, not petals. “Petals” refers to a part, but they’re typically a part of a flower. The only petals I’ve seen on a bicycle were on cutesy plastic flowers decorating a wicker handlebar basket.😉

  • Madeline Harper

    Hey Robyn!
    I just wanted to say thank you for all this information! I noticed a similar comment in a lot of comments and wanted to post what I found in case it helps someone else. Someone on Etsy is selling a resistance gauge that attaches to the Sunny bike which is on the 1-100 scale that Peloton uses so it makes it easier when you’re riding with the app. This is the think to the one that pairs with the SF-B1805. (https://www.etsy.com/listing/945344496/resistance-gauge-for-sunny-sf-b1805sf?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=sunny+bike+resistance&ref=sr_gallery-1-2&organic_search_click=1&bes=1) They do make ones for the other versions of the Sunny bikes. I hope this helps some other people as much as it has helped me.

    Thanks again for all the info!!

  • Liz

    Thank you so much for this. I was looking at buying Peloton bike but just cannot afford it at this time. I am going to try to set up as you have and the info is amazing. Happy spinning from Australia.

  • Robbie Compton

    Do you think SF-B1714 model bike would work too?

  • Peggy Hauser

    Thanks so much for this info! Truly helpful. Now I have to think about whether I want to invest the money, and if I will truly stick to it!

    • Robyn Downs

      Peggy, I’m so happy you found the information helpful! I’m still using my spin bike + cadence sensor 3 x week and loving it. Good luck making your decision!

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