This is the era of the spin bike. Ever since at-home boutique fitness became all the rage and Peloton’s stock more than quadrupled in 2020 other notable brand names in the space have released their own luxury bikes. One of the biggest names in spinning? SoulCycle. That’s why it was no surprise when last year, in March of 2020, the brand partnered up with Equinox+ to release their own at-home spin bike, designed to bring the OG boutique studio spin class home to loyal riders. I was lucky enough to get to try SoulCycle’s bike in my own home for 30+ days, and I’m happy to report it was, overall, a very positive experience.
SoulCycle At-Home Bike
Bike Delivery + Setup
Full disclosure: I have a Peloton bike that I bought at the beginning of the pandemic shut down in 2020, so if I reference it a lot in this review that’s why. I also think it’s probably, besides the NordicTrack, the most popular bike folks will be comparing to this bike, and many are probably trying to decide between the two when it comes to their investment. By the end of this review, you’ll have my answer for where you should put your hefty chunk of change because yes, this bike is also super expensive.
This bike, similarly to the Peloton, needed two people for delivery and has wheels it can roll on if you tilt it back far enough. It was relatively easy to get into my apartment, and the mat it comes with creates a solid, protective surface on which the bike can sit. It’s exactly the same size as the Peloton, with slightly bulkier features that are more similar to an average spin bike you’d find in a gym.
After a quick adjustment to one of the legs due to my uneven floors and a software update for the screen, we were in business. The seat and handlebar height, as well as distance from each other, were easy to adjust, and the included cleats are super comfortable.
Clipping into the SoulCycle bike was a little harder at first than the Peloton, but that could’ve been because I wasn’t used to the machine. The clips functioned perfectly during the ride, and felt very secure at a wide range of resistance levels. The pedaling experience on the SoulCycle bike feels just as smooth as the Peloton, but in a different way, and you can audibly hear the pedaling in a way you can’t with other bikes. It’s not necessarily a con, since it’s satisfying to hear the whistling when you hit a high enough cadence.
The seat is comfortable to sit on, and the handlebars are ergonomically angled to be supportive whether you’re sitting or riding out of the saddle. The bike weights are also conveniently racked on the back, making them easy to reach but completely out of the way while you’re in class.
For my first class, I picked an instructor I’m familiar with. I’ve been to about 10 SoulCycle classes in my life, and I have to admit I do love them. I have, embarrassingly enough, cried in a few. Yup, the whole soulful thing? Definitely works on me. What can I say, I sip the Kool-Aid.
Ross Ramone was always one of my favorite instructors when I lived in LA, so I know exactly what his classes are like in person. After navigating through the extensive library of classes with soulful titles and varying levels of difficulty, I recognized his face and went for it. Immediately, I noticed the high production quality of the session I was about to experience.
Every SoulCycle class on the bike is beautifully shot, with the instructor front and center, and three other riders in the room. There’s a progress bar that shows you how far along you are in the class, a stats bar and a camera view of a “form rider” who models exactly what your body should be doing at any given moment.
A few things to note — there’s no leaderboard, so you’re not competing with any other riders, and there are no metrics related to speed or resistance, everything is off of feeling. You ride to the beat of the music always, and add or takeaway “turns” of the resistance knob beneath you to make your ride smoother or more difficult.
The classes are difficult on this bike, and the lack of concrete metrics to work off of is noticeable. It’s far more self-paced and internal than Peloton, and is more about the lesson/ mantra of each class. If you’re someone who likes numbers, charting your progress and working towards a quantitative goal — you’re better suited for Peloton. If you love a good dharma talk in a yoga class and would rather not have your exact progress or lack thereof shown to you, SoulCycle might be your jam.
Pros and Cons
There are many pros to this bike. It works well, is easy to use and carries a wide range of soulful, motivational classes that will whip you into shape with their intensity. The technology of the bike functions well, and it doesn’t take up a ton of space. They have an extensive library of classes to choose from, and the quality of the filming for each class is amazing.
In terms of cons, I did have a little bit of trouble connecting my Bluetooth headphones at first, but I can look beyond that. My main beef with this bike is that it does feel like an experience that’s meant to be in person has been brought home. SoulCycle’s power comes from being in a sweaty, dark candle-lit room with strangers and feeling the impact of the shared experience. Peloton was never in-person and creates content that’s tailored to the at-home experience. The SoulCycle at-home bike does feel like they’re trying to squish the expansive, empowering ritual they offer at their studios onto an at-home bike, which inherently sacrifices some of its appeal.
You can hop on this bike and get a great workout, and see your favorite instructor for a little while, but you can’t expect it to recreate exactly what you feel in a studio.
Another thing I want to mention is the price. This bike is $2,500, almost exactly the same price as Peloton’s Bike+. With their bike, you get access to strength, yoga, meditation and a bunch of other content on the bike via a screen that rotates. With this bike, you only get cycling. The Equinox+ app, which is the required membership for the bike, has a bunch of other content, but you can only access that on your phone, tablet or computer. It’s great cycling, but your selection on the SoulCycle at-home bike is inherently more limited. For that reason, I’d say the Peloton is more worthwhile for the price.
If you’re short on time and need a quick synopsis it’s this: this bike is solid if you LOVE SoulCycle. If pre-pandemic you were a loyal SoulCycle rider, you should know it won’t recreate the experience exactly, but it’ll do a pretty good job. If spiritual, preachy, soul-connecting spin classes titled things like “Be Your Own Path” and “Climb Your Mountain” sound appealing to you, this bike is a worthwhile investment. If you’re more of an “I just want to sweat” person, maybe not. It’s a great bike, the classes are high-quality and you will get a great workout. But if an instructor asking you go “turn inwards” or “make the challenge your superpower” makes you nauseous, you might want to consider spending your $2,500 elsewhere.