Peloton vs. SoulCycle Bike Comparison

Peloton+ at home bike
Peloton+ .

Peloton

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There are countless options available for those who want to exercise at home. If you're in the market for a home exercise bike, two of the most popular options are Peloton and SoulCycle.

The at-home bikes are similar: both stream live classes and offer a wide range of other workout formats, like yoga and strength training. Both require a membership fee, and the bikes have a similar look and feel. But there are also significant differences between these two workouts.

If you're considering Peloton or SoulCycle, use this guide to compare your options. However, remember that the right bike for you may be different from the right one for someone else.

Features that are important for one rider may not matter to another. So keep your needs and preferences in mind as you consider your choices.

Cost and Specifications

At first glance, the Peloton and SoulCycle bikes look and feel very similar. But there are some differences that might make a difference to you. Evaluate the basic facts in the chart then get more details below.

   Peloton Peloton+ SoulCycle At-Home
Bike cost  $1200 $2000  $2,500
Monthly fee  $39 $39  $40
Trial period 30 days 30 days 30 days
Warranty screen: 1 year; components: 1 year; bike frame: 5 years screen: 1 year; components: 1 year; bike frame: 5 years screen: 1 year; hardware: 1 year; bike frame: 5 years
Dimensions  59" L x 53" H x 23" W 59" L x 59" H x 22" W  62.2" L x 53.5" H x 22.2" W
Bike weight  135 lbs 140 lbs  128 lbs
Height range  4'11" to 6'4" 4'11" to 6'4"  4'10" to 6'10"
Weight limit  297 lbs 297 lbs  350 lbs
Adjustment points 3 3 4
Pedals Delta-compatible aluminum pedals Delta-compatible aluminum pedals Double-sided Delta-compatible and SPD
Classes offered Cycling, Pilates, yoga, treadmill, bootcamp, and more Cycling, Pilates, yoga, treadmill, bootcamp, and more Cycling, yoga, weights, boxing, treadmill, outdoor running, and more
All prices are approximate and subject to change

Costs and Fees

The two most similar bikes are the basic Peloton bike and the SoulCycle At-Home bike. The cost difference is relatively substantial. The Peloton+ bike is unique in that it offers a swivel screen. The screen is useful for people that want to use their Peloton bike for workouts other than cycling, like strength training or yoga.

Swivel the screen to face an area away from the bike where you have the room to do full-body movements. Both brands offer accessory packages for additional fees, including weights, cycling shoes, or a mat.

Both SoulCycle and Peloton provide a 30-day free trial period. However, both brands may charge a $250 return fee to cover shipping and delivery. Financing is available for both SoulCycle and Peloton, so there is no need to pay the total amount at once.

Size and Capabilities

There is a slight difference in the size of the bikes. The three bikes are roughly the same width, but SoulCycle is slightly longer (62.2" vs. 59"). The Peloton+ bike is also notably taller than the other two (59" vs. about 53").

A difference that many riders might want to consider is the user capability. The SoulCycle bike can accommodate a broader range of riders. That bike can take riders as small as 4"10", as tall as 6' 10", and weighing up to 350 pounds. The Peloton bikes can accommodate riders between 4'11" and 6'4" in height and up to 297 pounds.

Another issue is the adjustability of the bikes. SoulCycle provides one more adjustment option than Peloton. You can adjust both bikes' seat height and depth (forward/back) position. Both bikes also allow you to change the handlebar height.

But only SoulCycle will enable you to change the position of the handlebars (forward and backward). This adjustment may be helpful for smaller riders and those with shorter torsos.

Pedals and Pedal Options

Standard pedals on a Peloton or Peloton+ bike are Delta-compatible. That means you need cycling shoes with cleats to operate the bicycle. Sometimes called "Look" cleats (after the company that makes them), Delta cleats are 3-holed cleats that attach to the bottom of your cycling shoe and then clip into the pedal. Delta cleats are popular among road cyclists.

If you are not comfortable with "clipping in," you can also purchase toe cages for your Peloton bike as an option to use your regular workout shoes. Clipping in means that your foot stays attached to the pedal around the entire pedal circle.

It allows you to engage fully and create power at every point of the pedal stroke, including the back of the circle where your foot pulls the pedal up. If you're investing in an at-home bike, clipping in is the smarter way to go.

Be advised that if you buy a used Peloton, you may need to swap out the pedals. Peloton issued a recall on their PR70P Clip-In pedals that were standard on bikes sold between July 2013 and May 2016. According to the company's official statement, the pedals can break and be replaced at no charge.

SoulCycle provides double-sided pedals on their at-home bike. The pedals accommodate Delta and SPD cleats (SPD stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics). SPD cleats use a two-bolt system, and shoes with these cleats are usually easier to walk in.

Classes Offered

When you buy a Peloton or SoulCycle bike, you'll need to pay a monthly membership fee to access all the live and on-demand classes. Peloton charges $40 per month, and SoulCycle charges $39 per month (unless you are an Equinox member, in which case app access is free). If you buy the SoulCycle bike, you'll use the Equinox+ app.

Both brands offer a wide range of classes through their apps and different ways to access classes on the app (in addition to the bike). For instance, you can watch the class on your smartphone, tablet, or smart TV.

On the Peloton app, you'll see classes including:

Peleton App Classes


On the Equinox+ app, you'll have access to various brands, including SoulCycle, Rumble, Equinox, [solidcore], Pure Yoga, Precision Run, and Headstrong. Within these brands, you'll find classes that include:

Equinox+ App Classes

  • Boxing
  • Cycling
  • HIIT
  • Meditation
  • Running (outdoors and treadmill)
  • Sculpt
  • Strength
  • Stretch and recovery
  • Walking
  • Yoga

If you prefer not to take a class on the SoulCycle bike and want another option, you can watch Netflix or Disney shows or choose Freestyle mode and ride to your own music. This feature is currently not yet available on Peloton.

The Workout Experience

There is a definite difference in the "personality" of the SoulCycle and Peloton experiences. However, it can be hard to compare directly since each brand has many different instructors, and each instructor adds their own flare. Many riders will see a reasonably apparent difference in the feel of each brand.

SoulCycle

SoulCycle at-home bike

SoulCycle

The SoulCycle experience is highly stylized. For years, SoulCycle has been known for its instructor-driven, trendy, in-studio offerings where participants wait at noon on Mondays to sign up for spots in the most popular classes.

This vibe is evident in the streaming classes, as well. The classes resemble more of an inspirational dance party than a cycling workout. In fact, the bike seems like a bit of an afterthought.

Beat-Driven, Choreography-Based Workouts

In SoulCycle classes, the aim is to ride to the beat of the music. Data—such as watts (power), distance, and cadence—are available, but they are featured much less prominently than on a Peloton ride. Instead, you are encouraged to ride to the rhythm as your primary goal.

At the end of the class, you get a score (your Beatmatch) that tells you how well you did at sticking to the beat of the music.

You might also notice that during a SoulCycle class, you are likely to spend far more time out of the saddle than in other cycling classes. In fact, in some SoulCycle classes, the warm-up and the entire ride are out of the saddle.

Being out of the saddle gives your body more space to move (which may be a good thing or a bad thing based on your goals) and may help you burn more calories.

However, the number of calories you burn in any class (Peloton, SoulCycle, or other) will depend on your total effort, which is determined by your speed and resistance. Riding out of the saddle with little to no resistance might burn fewer calories than riding in the saddle with heavy resistance.

SoulCycle classes are heavy on choreography. You'll do moves such as tap-backs, double tap-backs, abdominal crunches, obliques, chest presses, and "around the world" while pedaling.

The movement combinations give you something to focus on and (for many) might make the class more fun (although there is little evidence that these moves provide any significant strength-training benefits).

Inclusive, Inspirational Community

The great thing about a SoulCycle ride is the sense of community and inclusiveness. Instructors are skilled at providing inspiring and motivational messages throughout the class and focusing on the participants.

You'll see prominently featured riders of different sizes, abilities, and races. During a SoulCycle class, you feel like you are part of something; for some, the classes are transformational.

Kathleen Kulikowski, SoulCycle Master Instructor on Equinox+

I’ve truly met the most incredible humans in that dark sweaty room. And now thankfully, I have found an even bigger community all across the country with the Equinox+ community and SoulCycle At-Home bike.

— Kathleen Kulikowski, SoulCycle Master Instructor on Equinox+

Distinct Riding Style

In a SoulCycle class, the instructor form may be nearly unrecognizable to those who participate in cycling. For instance, you'll see many instructors riding with toes pointed down almost exaggeratedly.

They may also pull their knees in dramatically with each pedal stroke, crossing over what would be a top tube on an outdoor bike. You'll see a lot of hip movement, and bouncing up from the bottom of the pedal stroke is almost a requirement if you want to stay on the beat.

These practices deviate substantially from what is generally considered "good form" on an outdoor bike. In some classes, there is a helpful feature called "Form View," where the side view of a rider is featured in an inset window so that you can see what your form is supposed to look like.

Form view usually demonstrates a cycling form that is more consistent with proper form taught and encouraged by cycling coaches, promoting optimal safety and pedal stroke efficiency.

Peloton

Peloton bike

Peloton

Peloton was the first brand to offer a live streaming experience for indoor cycling. The bike has a solid reputation, and the fact that there has been a waiting list for the cycle is evidence of the bike's success and popularity.

The newer Peloton+ bike takes the essential rider experience to a new level with features that up your cycling game.

Challenging, Evidence-Based Workouts

When you take a Peloton class, either on-demand or live, you will likely get a solid, evidence-based workout similar to a traditional cycling workout and may include elements like hill climbs or intervals. You're not likely to find choreography like tap-backs or chest presses unless you're taking a "Groove Ride" or "Arms and Intervals" class.

During a Peloton ride, participants see metrics front and center, including cadence (in RPMs), output (watts), and resistance, which can be increased by turning the resistance knob. Instructors guide riders through the workout, relying heavily on these numbers. If you prefer not to see the numbers, you can choose to hide them, but instructors refer to them often.

For instance, during a hill climb, riders might be given a starting resistance range and cadence and then guided to increase one or the other by several points at given intervals. By increasing resistance and tempo, your output numbers increase, and your spot on the leaderboard is likely to climb.

The leaderboard, where you can see how your total output ranks with other riders, is featured prominently on a Peloton bike (although a rider can also hide it), and friendly competition is encouraged.

On the Peloton+ bike, there is a new feature called Auto-Follow Resistance. When this feature is engaged, the Peloton Bike+ will automatically adjust to the instructor's recommended resistance, so you are always in the suggested range.

On both bikes, you'll see your overall metrics at the end of the ride, including where you finished on the leaderboard.

Wide Variety of Instructor Styles

Because Peloton has been in the game for a while, they offer a massive library of classes to choose from. This means you can choose from a wide variety of instructors, each with their own teaching style.

Some offer workouts that may involve choreographic elements and have a dance party feel, but others are geared to athletes and offer more sport-specific challenges and motivation.


Generally, Peloton classes have a more traditional cycling feel than SoulCycle. Music is prominently featured (they recently announced a multi-year partnership with Beyonce), but it doesn't necessarily drive the workout. Some instructors may offer the option of riding to the beat, but it is not a metric measured by Peloton. The goal on a Peloton bike is to maximize your power output.

The substantial class library and a wider variety of instructor styles may be something to consider if more than one rider will be using the bike you purchase. You may have someone in your house who wants to dance away an hour-long workout, while others may be training for an athletic event.

Leaderboard-Connected Community

Community is also an element of the Peloton experience, but it has a different feel than SoulCycle. In a SoulCycle class, you're likely to get inspirational messages and motivation from the instructor, and it feels like the instructor is making the ride about you. While at Peloton, instructors provide guidance and encouragement, but the challenge comes from connecting with others.

In fact, Peloton connects you to one of the largest fitness communities in the world, with 4.4 million members. Features like "Sessions" allow Peloton riders to invite fellow members to take a class with a clean, new leaderboard for a more intimate class experience.

Another feature called "Scheduling" allows you to invite other members to take a class at the same time as you. And a feature called "Tags" helps members show off their interests on their profile and find other members who share them.

Even if you don't use one of the features, Peloton makes it easy to connect with others during your ride. You can "high-five" other riders or high-five back if others connect with you. You constantly have access to the leaderboard and can see where you rank in the pack.

You can even video chat with a friend during the ride using the front-facing camera at the top of the touchscreen—a helpful feature if your training buddy lives across the country (or even across the street).

Cycling-Based Riding Style

Lastly, you'll notice a big difference in form when comparing SoulCycle to Peloton. While there is some variation from instructor to instructor, Peloton instructors tend to have a less-stylized, "cleaner" riding style that more closely mimics a traditional cycling workout.

This contrast may be important for runners and cyclists who train for competitive events and are often highly conscious of good form. Proper alignment of the hips, knees, and ankles is essential for an efficient stride and pedal stroke and to avoid chronic injuries. The highly stylized movements used by many SoulCycle instructors are inconsistent with these alignment principles.

For example, a cycling coach is not likely to recommend that you pull your knees into—or even across—the top tube with each pedal circle. Instead, it is generally recommended to keep the knees and ankles aligned directly under the hips to get the most power out of each stroke.

The Bottom Line

So which bike is best for you? There are some key issues to consider. First, a substantial price difference between the Peloton (basic) and SoulCycle might matter to you.

And if you want the bike right away, you'll want to call to see when Peloton would be available for delivery. Lastly, exercisers should review the specs carefully to ensure that the bike they choose can accommodate them.

Aside from these fundamental issues, the best bike depends on your workout personality and the preferred workout style. Each brand delivers a different class experience.

SoulCycle provides a motivating, inclusive, music-driven workout. You'll get an exciting, calorie-burning workout, but sport-specific training takes a back seat to a fun, trend-driven experience. The highly stylized cycling movements demonstrated by instructors may not be a good fit for everyone, especially those with knee issues or athletes training to ride and run outdoors.

Peloton, on the other hand, provides athletic, evidence-based, well-designed workouts. Instructors inspire you to ride with good form and provide sport-specific challenges to get you in shape, like endurance rides, hill climbs, and intervals.

However, these rides may not be best for those who prefer dance-based cardio and are not inspired by data, competition, and metrics.

It would be best to consider how you will use the bike and the app beyond cycling workouts. Both bike packages offer a wide variety of workouts, but Peloton+ provides the unique benefit of a swivel screen that might be very helpful for those who prefer guided workouts on a larger screen instead of a tablet or smartphone. It also provides the challenge of Auto Follow to keep you accountable at home.

By Malia Frey
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.