In my attempt to ward off the “quarantine 15[pounds]”, I converted a section of my basement into a home gym consisting of a treadmill, dumbbells, and a smart TV. But after nine months, I realized I needed something new to reinvigorate my workouts. After much research, I chose the Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX-5, and I could not be happier!
Echelon and their Smart Connect Bike EX-5 provide stiff competition to the market leaders in at-home workout equipment. When I first began my research into spin bikes, I started with Peloton, based on a friend’s recommendation. The bike’s high price, the recurring monthly cost of the subscription, and the long delivery times encouraged me to look for an alternative. I joined several Facebook groups and searched the internet for top-rated indoor exercise bikes; Echelon consistently made the top of the list.
Echelon has five different Connect bikes on their website; each one varies in price and features, which guarantees there is a bike for every person and budget. The basic model, the EX-1, has an MSRP of $999.99 and the top of the line EX-7s has an MSRP of $2039.98. Additionally, Walmart sells an exclusive bike called the Echelon Connect Sport, priced at $497.00, which includes a complimentary 6-month membership to the Echelon app. It’s worth noting that the Walmart exclusive Echelon Connect Spot seems to be a fan favorite as “best budget bike” on many of the Facebook groups.
Setting up the Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX-5
When I first received my Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX-5, I was impressed with the quality of the packaging. The box’s side had been torn open by the shipping company, yet all parts were safely secured inside with no damage to the bike. The frame itself came secured with a metal support bolted around it, and the entire unit was cushioned in styrofoam.
Installation was simple and straight-forward. I installed it by myself, and it took me less than one hour. Unlike my many IKEA assemblies, I got this one right the first time. One bonus of the assembly is that all of the necessary tools were included in the box. I didn’t have to go searching through my garage for anything! I also like that I can leave the tools in a small box near my bike if I need to make any adjustments in the future.
My one complaint is that the instruction booklet did not come with a troubleshooting or FAQ section. I had trouble adjusting the angle of my seat. It took me a while to realize all I had to do was loosen the bolts and use a little force to change the angle. The other challenge I had was tightening the pedals to the shaft. I was afraid I was doing something wrong due to the amount of force I had to apply; however, after Googling the issue, I was able to attach the pedals properly.
Using the Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX-5
Once my Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX-5 was assembled, I couldn’t wait to test it out. I dusted off my spin shoes and hopped right on. The bike has no learning curve whatsoever. If you’ve ever taken a spin class at the gym, you’ll know how to use this bike. The EX-5 is completely adjustable, so I fine-tuned the seat and handlebars, clipped in, loaded my first class, and went to work.
My first ride was fantastic! I could not believe how quiet the bike was. It was completely silent! With a pair of headphones, no one will even know you are working out. This bike would be excellent in an apartment or other shared area where space and noise are a concern.
Furthermore, I was utterly impressed with the top-notch quality of the bike; it felt totally solid. Whether riding in or out of the saddle, the bike didn’t shake, shift, or move to any noticeable degree. The pedals were smooth, the handlebars were the perfect size and had an ideal amount of cushion. They are also designed to allow for multiple riding positions so all different size riders will find a comfortable position.
All of Echelon’s bikes use the “connect” technology and are equipped with Bluetooth. Any Echelon bike that does not come with a built-in screen does not have a place to view your metrics; instead, you can easily pair your phone or tablet using the Bluetooth connect technology. Not all devices are compatible with the Echelon app, so make sure you do your research before committing to one. For my set-up, I chose to use an Amazon Fire tablet to stream my classes and purchased a cell phone holder to display my metrics.
If you’re using the Echelon app, you do not need two devices, but I plan to try out various other apps, including the Peloton digital app and Apple Fitness +, in which case I’ll need my phone to track my metrics and the tablet to stream the classes (the Peloton app does not connect to the bike so you cannot view your metrics on that app using an Echelon bike). No matter your preferences, Echelon has a bike that will allow you to customize your ride and experience.
Echelon’s attention to detail is evident in every ride. The EX-5 touts:
- Handlebars: Competition Aero handlebar system provides fore and aft adjustments for either performance or comfort set up
- Seat: NEW competition seat with 6” lever-style adjustment
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Console: NEW smart device mount that flips 180 degrees
- Resistance: NEW indexing resistance adjustment knob with 32 levels of magnetic resistance
- Motor: NEW motor for precise magnetic resistance
- Pedals: SPD Compatible with fully adjustable toe cages
- Workouts: ‘FitPass’ featuring trainer-led yoga, stretching, pre-and post workout sessions, meditation, pilates. Kickboxing, Zumba, & more
- Instructors: “30+ world-class and relatable trainers PLUS guest and celebrity instructors”
- Other Features: 2 handlebar-mounted bottle holders, weight rack behind the seat (holds two 2lb dumbbells). Sold separately
- Measurements: Width – 20”; Length – 54”
- Weight: 112 pounds
The flywheel weighs in at 13kg, which is about 28.6 pounds. The weight of the flywheel is important because it directly relates to the bike’s resistance. The Echelon uses a magnetic resistance system, which means magnets are on either side of the wheel. When you increase the resistance using the knob, the magnets get closer to the wheel, making the pedals harder to turn. Many riders want a flywheel heavier than 20 pounds and Echelon fits that requirement. My only issue with the resistance knob is that it’s not as responsive as I’d hoped. To increase the resistance by 1 level, it takes a few spins, but overall, this does not interfere with the ride or the experience.
Could the Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX-5 Be the One for You?
If you’re looking to purchase an Echelon and you’re overwhelmed with all of the options, I’ll give you insight into my decision-making process. If you check out the bike comparison page on the Echelon website, you’ll notice that the less expensive models come with fewer features and fewer ways of adjusting the bike. As I discovered in my Echelon Facebook groups, many people purchase a cheaper model bike and then buy many aftermarket items to upgrade their bikes, such as SPD pedals, a weight holder, a phone holder, and a tablet stand. However, I wanted a more streamlined experience without having to add tons of accessories to get the bike I wanted, which is why I chose the EX-5.
I love the pedals’ flexibility; I can clip in with my spin shoes while my husband can ride using his sneakers and the toe cages on the opposite side of the pedal. I also love that the bike comes with a tablet holder instead of a permanent screen. Even though I had to buy a tablet (I scored an Amazon Fire tablet 10 for $79 on Black Friday!), I wanted the flexibility of being able to choose any workout app I wanted. If I chose the EX-5S, then I would have to commit to paying for and using the Echelon app exclusively.
This is also another reason why I decided against purchasing a Peloton. The Peloton comes with a dedicated screen that only works with the Peloton app. By using my own tablet, I can do any workout I want, including a freestyle ride (which is basically just tracking my metrics) while streaming a show on my tablet. I can also flip the tablet holder around so I can do workouts off the bike. Another nice feature is that the bike has a USB port next to the tablet holder, allowing you to keep your tablet charged at all times.
Overall, I’m in love with the Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX-5. I ended up swapping out the seat for a softer one and adding an iPhone holder but other than that, it seems like the perfect addition to my home gym, and I definitely recommend it. As I mentioned earlier, I’m very impressed with the bike’s quality and the attention to detail. It’s a nice, heavy, solid bike that provides an excellent workout. The 180-degree swivel on the iPad holder is a great feature that adds versatility to the bike and my workout options.
The Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX-5 sells for $1,239.98; other options are $1,599.98 Bike + 1 Year Echelon App subscription and $1,799.98 Bike + Two Year Echelon App subscription. It is available directly from the manufacturer.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Fully adjustable bike; Love the SPD/cage pedals; High-quality bike for much less than the market leader; Built-in tablet mount with USB port for charging; Flexibility to use any workout app you want
What Needs Improvement: Does not provide enough FAQs during initial assembly and set up; Seat is a little too firm