An Honest Review of the SoulCycle At-Home Bike (Which Is Currently $600 Off)
If you’ve ever clipped in, tapped back or waved a sweaty towel around to the beat of a Taylor Swift remix, chances are you’ve taken a SoulCycle class. Featuring epic playlists, inspiring instructors and sweat-inducing choreography, the boutique fitness company (that has 99 studios nationwide) is known for creating an electrifying—and at times, intimidating—workout environment that hardcore fans can’t get enough of. Now, the brand that put spinning back on the map is looking to bring that same intensity to your living room with the SoulCycle at-home bike.
Before testing, I had some questions: Is it possible to replicate the IRL energy of an in-person class on a 21.5-inch touchscreen? How does it compare to the one, the only, Peloton? After five months of testing, I’ve got answers (and some pretty ripped calves). Here’s everything you need to know about the SoulCycle at-home bike, from the basics of beat match to the intricacies of the Equinox+ app.
P.S. You can snag the SoulCycle at-home bike on major sale from 11/15 - 12/24. Save $600 when you use the promo code HOLIDAY2021 at checkout.
The bike itself is pretty dang cute: sleek, matte black and as discreet as a stationary bike can be. As the machine whirs to life, you’re guided through a set-up tutorial that will help you determine your personalized seat and handlebar measurements. (P.S. If you have multiple riders in the home, you can save that info to your profile for future reference.) After a quick connection to your home’s Wi-Fi, you’ll be able to search through SoulCycle’s library of on-demand cycling and sculpt classes based on time, intensity, music genre and instructor. There are also live classes offered daily that you can join in real-time or schedule out as you plan your week.
SOULCYCLE AT-HOME BIKE SPECS
- COST: $2,500 for bike, plus $40/month for Equinox+
- BIKE DIMENSIONS: 62.2" L x 53.5" H x 22.2" W
- BIKE WEIGHT: 128 pounds
- SCREEN SIZE: 21.5”
- ROTATING TOUCH SCREEN: No
- RIDER HEIGHT RANGE: 4’10” to 6’10”
- RIDER WEIGHT LIMIT: 350 pounds
- CLIP-IN SHOE REQUIREMENTS: Yes (Delta and SPD-style shoes)
- BLUETOOTH HEADPHONE SUPPORT: Yes
- MEDIA STREAMING: Yes (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+)
At the heart of it all is the sweat-resistant touchscreen, with its massive display, anti-fingerprint coating and high-quality stream. The sound quality of the built-in speakers is top-notch, engineered specifically for this bike to create a surround sound environment similar to that of a front-row studio spot. If you live alone or DGAF about your neighbors, we advise you crank it up and sing along to Nasty by Janet Jackson like there’s no tomorrow. But if you’re in a shared space or don’t want your roommates to know you’re taking a holiday ride in the middle of June, there’s a Bluetooth option that can connect to any wireless compatible headphones.
The bike frame felt strong and sturdy, though I did notice some slight shaking during the particularly fast sprint pushes. The handlebars are non-slip and easy to grip. The bike seat is as comfortable as a saddle can be, but the placement of the resistance knob made it a bit tricky to change my power while staying on beat and keeping up with the choreography. Perhaps my specific settings are to blame, but the knob always felt just slightly out of reach, forcing me to bend down or lean over each time the instructor told us to add a turn to the right.
As far as metrics go, there are only three numbers dubbed important enough to grace the top of the screen: cadence, power and distance. You’ll also see a progress bar at the bottom displaying how much time has elapsed in your workout. If at any point you don’t want to see either of these features, just swipe up and down to make them disappear.
One thing you won’t see before, during or after your ride? A leaderboard. Just like the in-studio offering, the main goal of a SoulCycle class is to match your cadence to the beat of the music. And with the new at-home bike, you can finally measure and score it. So rather than racing against @spinmaster3000 in Marfa, Texas, you’re simply competing against yourself. Once the class has ended, you’re met with a bar graph and percentage score that indicates your beat match on a scale of 0 to 100. That’s how you know how much of the ride you spent matching the music (again, the main goal) and how you can measure your success and growth in each class.
In addition to the on-demand and live classes, the SoulCycle bike also offers a “free ride” feature where you can do your own thing while listening to music, exploring a new city or streaming your favorite shows.
To actually use the bike, you’ll need an Equinox+ membership, which will cost you $40 per month. The membership gives you access to the app’s full library of workouts including cycling, running, barre, yoga, Pilates, boxing and meditation, featuring fan-favorite brands like Precision Run, TB12, [solidcore], Rumble and, of course, SoulCycle. Though I didn’t get a chance to test most of the additional workouts, there are plenty of options available to provide users with a balanced and varied exercise routine.
Let’s talk screen time. I was so impressed by the production value of the on-demand classes. The SoulCycle team does a great job of taking what we love about an in-person class—the hype, the energy, the ferocity—and distilling it down into these 20-, 30-, 45- or 60-minute workout videos. They’re structured and purposeful without feeling scripted, and rather than a dark, moody room brimming with sweat and grapefruit-scented candles, each class takes place on a discoteca-esque set complete with flashing lights, Technicolor backgrounds and enough camera blocking to keep things interesting (but not make you queasy). As the video pans from the lead instructor to the three students that accompany you in every class, you can’t help but feel invested—determined to keep up and impress these strangers you don’t know and will probably never meet. Just like a live class, there’s simply no room to half-ass it. And the instructors? They’re the whole-grain bread and dairy-free butter of it all. Truly in a league of their own, each trainer brings tons of personality and their own unique craft to the bike. You will laugh, you will cry, you will want to be their best friend (Alba, give me a call).
It wasn’t long before I noticed that the hi-res touchscreen had another special feature to it. It’s made of glass, meaning when the light hit just right I could see myself, sweat dripping everywhere as I strained to keep up with Valentine or Melanie in the middle of their latest ride. With a quick adjustment of the eyes, I could easily dial back in, erasing my face to concentrate on the task at hand. But I began to notice that as my legs got heavy and my lungs felt pinched, my focus would drift...and there I’d be again, staring myself down as I climbed the latest hill or sprinted to the finish line. A convenient byproduct or a purposeful innovation, I’m not entirely sure. But either way, this mirrored effect was indescribably motivating.
There’s something disarming (yet exhilarating) about watching yourself break down barriers, do the impossible or simply finish a hard AF sprint. At the very moment you’re dying to give up, your own reflection tells you otherwise. It’s the silent incarnation of a live instructor shouting “REMEMBER WHY YOU STARTED!” And it quickly became my absolute favorite part of the whole damn bike.
In addition to being the most size-inclusive option, SoulCycle has successfully set itself apart by sticking to its roots and leaning into what it knows: the Soultribe community. Riders come to SoulCycle to break a sweat, to be moved and to feel alive. It’s simply not about the numbers (in fact, there hardly are any numbers). With Peloton, you almost can’t escape the metrics. Your speed, distance, total output, calories burned, cadence, resistance and leaderboard rank are all measured, averaged and meticulously organized into individual bar graphs that live on the app forever. If you love tracking your progress or are training for a specific challenge, there’s no doubt these numbers can be useful. But for SoulCycle, it’s about riding with the pack, not against it. And that energy is palpable throughout each and every class.
When it comes to design, the bikes are almost identical (though SoulCycle comes with a fourth fit setting that can adjust the handlebar depth, compared to Peloton’s three). The main difference lies in the screen, which is fixed on Soul and can swivel 180 degrees in either direction on the Peloton Bike+, allowing you to unclip and begin a floor workout without having to switch devices. Though SoulCycle focuses on spinning, it also has upper body sculpt classes that can be taken on or off the bike. The lack of swivel made it a bit tricky—though not impossible—to participate in these classes while standing. The Peloton Bike+ also has an auto-follow feature that, when engaged, will automatically adjust to the instructor's recommended resistance changes throughout class (so you don’t even have to touch the resistance knob). SoulCycle and the original Peloton bike do not offer this feature.
The app integration is also very different. With Equinox+, each type of workout available on the app is its own brand, with its own filming style and workout philosophy. You won’t see your favorite SoulCycle instructor popping up in a Rumble boxing class or a [solidcore] beginner series, and none of them are filmed on the same set. With Peloton, there’s consistency across all modalities in terms of set, style and class structure. They’re built to be done on their own or stacked on top of each other, and you know what to expect because they each have a similar cadence and rhythm. If you prefer a cohesive experience, Peloton’s app takes the cake. But if you like mixing it up and don’t mind learning new workout methods, Equinox+ will keep you on your toes.
Where SoulCycle undoubtedly has a leg up is with entertainment. Unlike Peloton, the SoulCycle bike supports Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, so you can stream your favorite shows while cycling at your own pace using the “free ride” feature.
The SoulCycle at-home bike is certainly an investment, but like Hulu and health insurance, it’s the kind of investment you don’t often regret. The classes are well thought out, well-produced, challenging and fun. There’s no shortage of energy or opportunities to dig deep and surprise yourself. As a runner, I’m used to mustering motivation out of thin air, and over the years I’ve tested more workout apps than I care to share. What sets SoulCycle apart is how it carries you, both through class and through the rest of your day. I’m a happier person when I hop off the bike. Lighter (in more ways than one), inspired and proud of the person that appears in my screen’s reflection.
If you’re on the fence about trying the SoulCycle at-home bike, take this as a sign to give it a go. You never know who you might find staring back at you...