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If you are in the market for an exercise bike, chances are that the two most common names that come to mind are Peloton and NordicTrack. Most people may only know of Peloton initially but you get familiar with the other options around pretty quickly once you start looking around.
NordicTrack stands out as one of, if not the best alternative to Peloton.
Let’s look at some of the things that differentiate the top two competitors in the market for you. At the end, we can decide which of the two is better overall.
NordicTrack Has Been Around Longer
Even though Peloton may be the most popular exercise bike name right now, it is by no means the oldest. NordicTrack has been around since 1975, while Peloton was founded in 2012. And it was not until 2015-2019 that Peloton really took off.
NordicTrack has had longer to refine its products. Its companion app, iFit, has more content.
But being a newcomer also has its advantages, something we will talk about in a bit.
NordicTrack Has Better Scenic Classes, More Content, and Google Maps Ride Anywhere
NordicTrack’s iFit classes are filmed all around the world, from Nepal and Thailand to New York, London, and so on. The instructors go through the exercise in public squares, open green fields, and at the base of mountains. One can only imagine how weird it might seem to the passerby. But it can make for a pretty interesting class for you.
NordicTrack also has more classes overall. The classes include ones for exercise bikes, yoga, strength training, and so on. iFit’s overall number of classes is more than Peloton’s.
Peloton also has scenic rides on offer. But they do not provide the same experience. That is because the video is chopped up and edited to make it more cinematic. On the other hand, iFit’s scenic rides are unedited and more realistic.
On top of that, you also have the Ride Anywhere feature powered by Google Maps. This feature lets you virtually ride anywhere. You choose the location, and the console gives you the street view vision of the route as you bike. You also get automatic adjustment of the resistance and the terrain according to the route terrain. It might be the closest thing to real rides you can get short of maybe putting on a VR headset on the bike.
NordicTrack Bikes’ Touch Screens Rotate
This is a feature that only the Peloton base model lacks. NordicTrack’s high-end exercise bikes, including the S15i, the S22i, and the S27i studio bikes, have rotating screens. If you are wondering why anyone would care, the answer is exercising off the bike.
Both iFit and Peloton offer classes besides just cycling. You can do strength training, yoga, pilates, and more. You can’t do all of that while you are sitting on the bike. A rotatable screen helps in this situation.
The Peloton Bike+ has this feature, and it helps justify the bigger price tag on it compared to the base model Peloton Bike.
NordicTrack Bikes Have The Incline/Decline Feature
One of the unique things about NordicTrack’s bikes is their incline/decline feature. The bikes go from -10° to 20° tilt based on the terrain.
The feature is designed to mimic actual inclines and declines on roads. And it is no gimmick. When you are virtually riding on terrain with an uphill incline, the resistance goes up beside the bike tilting backward. It makes for a more immersive experience overall.
Like the resistance, the incline settings adjust automatically with the class you are taking on iFit.
NordicTrack Bikes Have More Value
Peloton’s bikes are generally priced higher when you take into account the extra delivery and setup fees. Their products also do not include free memberships. If you look at the different bundle options Peloton gives you, the additional equipment cost really stacks up fast as you add more things to the package.
NordicTrack’s bikes are not cheap by any means, but they are less expensive than Peloton’s bikes. Even the NordicTrack bikes that are more expensive than the Peloton bike are still more value packed. That is because their prices include free threshold delivery and a month of iFit membership.
They also include free equipment like the three-pound weights and the water bottle.
NordicTrack Bikes Have Automatic Resistance and Incline Adjustment
Peloton only offers two bikes, both of which are direct competitors to NordicTrack’s S15i, S22i, and S27i. All three of NordicTrack’s bikes have automatic resistance adjustment. That means you do not have to change the resistance manually as your class goes on. The trainer adjusts the resistance and the incline for you. So all you have to do is enjoy the ride.
On the other hand, Peloton’s base model bike does not have this feature. Of course, you can manually adjust the resistance yourself if you go down this road, but you lose the convenience of automatic adjustments. Plus, this might require more discipline and honesty than automatic adjustments.
Peloton is aware of the lack of this feature. That is why they include it in the Peloton Bike+, a more expensive upgrade to the regular bike.
Nordictrack Bikes Have Fans
Besides the incline/ decline, NordicTrack’s exercise bikes also have a fan bar on the front. A lot of people have separate fans on the floor to keep themselves cool during a sweat session on their bikes. Others have to turn up the AC.
Having these fans right on your fans is a great addition to the package. You can manually adjust the speed of the fans or leave it on auto. If you leave it on auto, the fans will adjust according to the workout intensity so you can keep your cool no matter how hard you are going.
Peloton Offers Live Studio Classes
While NordicTrack only offers virtual live classes, Peloton offers both virtual and physical live classes. All of their virtual classes are filmed at the London or New York studio. And they open their doors to paying attendees if they want to attend the live studio classes that are streamed globally.
Live physical classes definitely help Peloton develop and maintain the cult following they are known for. But since exercise bikes are meant for use in the comfort of your home, this perk will probably not matter to most people. You do not have to buy a Peloton Bike to attend a live Peloton class.
Peleton’s App is Better
Although NordicTrack may have a larger number of classes on offer, these classes are not as well categorized as they could be. Peloton does a better job of categorization, which helps you find what you are looking for faster. It’s also easier to navigate through the app.
And it is not just the navigation aspect of it. It is also about the overall app UI. Peloton’s system looks better overall. It has better graphics, and the design just feels cleaner. Going from screen to the next is also snappier compared to iFit.
A Couple of the Best Proform Exercise Bikes
NordicTrack S22i Studio Bike
The S22i studio bike was the flagship until very recently when NordicTrack launched the S27i. The most striking difference between the two bikes seems to be the screen size. The same goes for the S22i and the S15i.
Build and Warranty
The S22i has everything you could wish for in an exercise bike. It is solid and sturdy with very healthy warranties. You get ten years of warranty on the bike frame, two years on the bike parts, and 12 months on the labor.
A labor warranty protects you against loss from improper installation and setup. Since NordicTrack delivers and assembles the bike for free, if they make a mistake during installation, you are covered for any damages that may cost in the next 12 months.
Adjustments and Pedals
There are three points of adjustment you can use to customize the bike. You can adjust the seat both horizontally and vertically. The handlebar is not as flexible, though, only allowing vertical adjustment.
The pedals have cages you can use with your running shoes. But if you want to use your cycling shoes, you will have to install your own pedals. For the most part, though, the cage in pedals should be just fine.
Resistance and Incline
Like NordicTrack’s other bikes, the resistance on this bike is magnetic, so you do not need to worry about the noise. There are 24 levels of resistance you can go through. As we mentioned above, the incline/decline feature can take the bike from 10° to -20°.
You can either adjust both of these settings manually or leave it to your class instructor to do it for you.
Screen, Fan, and the Ride
The 22″ inch is plenty big, and it is a great quality display. The visuals are great in the outdoor classes, which feel immersive and add some much-appreciated outside flavor to working out at home. The speaker quality is also great. They can be pretty loud. But if you want a quieter workout, you can also use Bluetooth headphones. The fans help keep you cool during your workout, which is something you may sorely miss on a Peloton bike.
Not to mention, the incline and resistance settings are taken care of by the class instructors if you have an iFit subscription.
Where NordicTrack stands out is its outdoor scenic rides. The classes themselves are great. They have fantastic visuals, and the ride’s guide keeps talking to you as if you are really there. The automatic incline and resistance adjustments also help make the classes more immersive and enjoyable.
NordicTrack S15i Studio Bike
The S15i is the younger sibling of the S22i. It’s third down the line if you count in the new S27i. Again, the most striking difference between all of these models is the screen size. The S15i studio bike has a rotatable 14″ touchscreen. Everything else is about the same.
Build and Warranty
You get the same sturdy build quality with the adjustable seat and handlebar. The maximum weight capacity is the same at 350 lbs which means bigger people can ride it as well.
The warranty is also similar with ten years on the frame, two on the bike parts, and 12 months on the labor.
Adjustments and Pedals
There are three points of adjustment here as well. You can move your seat both vertically and horizontally. The handlebars only move vertically. However, since you can move the seat back, you may not need to adjust the handlebars horizontally.
The pedals are flat on one face and cage-in on the other.
Resistance and Incline
The resistance is also magnetic, making this bike just as quiet as the S22i. The only tiny difference is that this bike has 22 levels of resistance while the S22i has 24. It might have been better if the S22i had 22 levels of resistance, huh? The actual resistance and incline/decline performance are pretty similar on both bikes.
Screen, Fan, and the Ride
Since most of the hardware on this bike is similar to the S22i, the ride experience is pretty similar as well. Of course, the smaller touch screen might feel less premium. But in our opinion, it is not that big of a difference. You can see the visuals well, and having the smaller screen should not stand in the way of a good ride.
The fan bar is a bit smaller since the console itself is smaller, but they should do just fine as well.
Overall, the ride experience here should be just as good as on the higher-end models, except for the difference in screen size.
So, Nordictrack Vs. Peloton, Which Bikes Are Better?
NordicTrack offers better prices for its exercise bikes than Peloton. But the iFit app experience is not as refined as Peloton. iFit’s better outdoor scenic rides help even the scales, though. The added fans are a great feature on the NordicTrack bikes and something you will miss on Peloton. Not to mention, NordicTrack’s warranties are much better than Peloton’s.
While NordicTrack has shifted from giving you a one-year to a 30-day free subscription on iFit, their bikes still pack a lot of value.
The Peloton content library and UI are cleaner and feel better to use than iFit. Although the scenic rides may not be quite as good, the Peloton community has a flavor of its own.
To sum it all up, if you are looking for a better value high-end exercise bike, go with NordicTrack. However, if you want better app experience and studio classes, Peloton might be the right way to go.