Live Science Verdict
For challenging cardio workouts the Echelon EX5s has great versatility with a wide range of classes suitable for beginners to advanced riders.
Great workout data
More affordable than top competitors
Screen navigation is tricky
Not all sessions are captioned
Scenic rides are automatic
Few endurance rides
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I was a little dubious about the Echelon EX5s and how it would fit into my workout routine, I will be honest. I am not a fan of indoor exercise. I much prefer to be mountain biking in the woods or trail running through the fields, than stuck indoors with zero mental stimulation sweating it out. I don't do gyms and I only use my bike turbo trainer on the rare occasions when it is too icy to cycle or run safely.
But I must admit that within a couple of days, I was converted. As a piece of kit to use for alternative cardio work it held my interest and to my surprise I found myself enjoying the sessions.
Dimensions: 52"L x 20"W x 50"H
Display: 21.5" screen
Max user weight: 136kg
Resistance levels: 1- 32
Warranty: 1 year
Workouts provided: Live and on demand
Other features: Dual audio jacks for headphones, clip in cleat option
I believe the reason the EX5s won me over was the variety of classes from instructors around the world. No two sessions, or instructors, were the same meaning it held my attention and I was committed to completing each session. The EX5s ended up featuring on our list of the best exercise bikes for this, among many other reasons.
Whether it was a 45 minute hill session or a quick 10 minute speed workout I always came off the bike feeling I had achieved something.
Yes the instructors were sometimes a little nauseating, and no I couldn't care less about the leader board, but overall I was impressed with how engaging each class was, and how I wanted to come back for more.
Echelon Connect EX5s: How we tested
Most classes range from five to 45 minutes and there is a sprinkling of endurance sessions, with the longest being two hours. We tried every duration on our Echelon, including spin sessions, hill reps, endurance workouts and stretch classes as well as sessions with weights.
Echelon Ex5s: Price and Availability
The exercise bike can be bought via Amazon, but is the same price from Echelon direct, and can also often be found at a reduced price at Walmart, Best Buy and Target. The model currently carries a $1,499 price tag, which includes a one year warranty and a 30 day free Echelon app membership. The monthly membership plan to access all of the classes ranges from $29.16 to $39.99. Although you can use the bike without membership, it is designed to hook you into subscribing and has limited functionality without it. Delivery is free and it comes with mostly clear instructions, taking about 90 minutes to assemble.
Echelon Connect EX5s: Design and display
The Echelon EX5s quite a hefty piece of kit wearing 123lbs/56kg so once in place it's not the easiest to move around. However it is easy to adjust with settings to move the seat up and down as well as forward and backwards. You can also adjust the height of the handlebars.
It does take a few sessions to work out the best fittings because it's not like sitting on a normal bicycle and there are a lot of classes that involve standing up on the pedals.
The machine is mostly black with red trim on the wheel and a red resistance wheel. It has a moderate size footprint, meaning it isn't too intrusive or bulky, and the 21.5" screen is the perfect size as you are able to clearly view the instructors whilst also keeping an eye on the leader board if you wish.
Navigation around the screen is not particularly intuitive and it can take a while to find what you are looking for but the search function is an effective shortcut.
Echelon Connect EX5s: Features
There are dozens of live sessions each day and thousands of on demand videos. However it is very difficult to know what you are logging into because the descriptions are vague and it takes a while to find sessions or instructors that suit what you are looking for.
There is lots of great live data such as your cadence, speed and power, plus the leader board which can be muted if it's not your thing. It also has real time information on calories burnt and miles ridden. You also get a breakdown of your stats via email straight after each session and the app also links with Strava to automatically update it.
If you want to do your own workout there are a number of scenic routes but they are a little uninspiring and don't move in real time so it's difficult to get a sense of how fast you are moving, or the terrain you are supposedly travelling over.
For a bike with classes that really test your leg muscles we were surprised by the lack of quality stretching sessions and there is definite room for development in this area. I was also disappointed that there were very few classes longer than 45 minutes because for cyclists training for an endurance event this is rather limiting. We managed to find just one two hour session. But there is always the option to do two or three long classes back to back.
Another niggle was that some of the instructors were a little hard to follow or hear and it was easy to miss an instruction and end up doing the wrong thing. Although some of the sessions have captions, this is the minority which is a shame from an accessibility point of view, but also as a backup in case you miss an instruction.
Despite operating in the shadow of Peloton with its phenomenal global community, Echelon has a decent number of members and you can often be riding alongside thousands of other people. There are also options to join its Facebook community and follow instructors on social media. It's not uncommon for instructors to give shout outs to regular members or notice how they are progressing which is a nice touch.
We've summed up Peloton vs Echelon: which exercise bike is better if you're curious how these two fitness giants compare.
Echelon Connect EX5s: Performance
The seat has a good level of padding making it comfortable enough for the longer classes and the wheel turns quietly, meaning it's great for early morning workouts without waking up the household. You can also plug in your headphones or connect wireless headphones via Bluetooth or just press mute if you don't want the screen noise to disturb anyone else.
The resistance levels are easy to turn, just half a turn to the right and it moves up one notch. Having 32 levels of resistance makes this a really versatile bike for easy spins or quad aching hill sets. You can definitely get a great cardio workout on the bike and even if you are not keen on cycling it's an effective piece of cross training kit when the weather is bad, you are tapering for a race or if you are carrying a running injury.
There is also a bar for holding dumbbells at the back and a drinks holder at the front, although it can be a little awkward to reach for your bottle through the handlebars. Instead we found ourselves resting a water bottle on a window ledge.
Echelon Connect EX5s: User review
Scoring 4.4 on Amazon across 2,246 reviews, the Echelon EX5s has great recommendations. Some 73% of buyers rate it as 5 star, whilst only 7% give it a one star score. One Amazon reviewer said they absolutely adored the bike because it was "sturdy, didn't break the bank and was super high quality." But a minority of reviewers complained about the seat being uncomfortable, the Bluetooth not working and the customer service being poor.
Should you buy the Echelon Connect EX5s?
This is a great alternative to the Peloton if you are looking for a more affordable option. It's still not cheap but you do get plenty of bang for your buck with an almost unlimited array of classes at the touch of a button.
If this product isn’t for you
If you are looking for a more affordable exercise bike then the Mobi Turbo is a solid alternative. It is quick to assemble, is compatible with Swift and Kinomap and has 32 resistance levels. Currently just $449.99.
For the crème de la crème of exercise bikes then look no further than Peloton which receives rave reviews worldwide. It has a huge global community, 100 resistance levels and a small footprint making it easy to fit into a small space.
Lily Canter is a freelance money, health and lifestyle journalist with more than 20 years' experience. She writes about fitness for Fit+Well, Tom's Guide, T3, South China Morning Post, Runner's World and Trail Running magazine. She focuses on personal finance for Yahoo! Finance UK, Metro, The Guardian, and loveMONEY. In her spare time she is an ultra-runner, canicrosser and UK Athletics running coach. She also co-hosts the award-winning podcast Freelancing for Journalists.