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There's certainly no shortage of stationary bike options on the market right now, but a few like the Peloton aren't all that affordable. Cycling fans will be glad to hear there is another affordable option in the at-home exercise bike arena to consider—the Echelon Connect Bike EX-3. The Echelon Connect Bike EX-3's sleek silhouette occupies a small footprint and is friendly on the knees, making it great for an at-home workout. It also boasts a range of features that make it an incredible value for the price.
Whether you're hopping on the saddle for the first time or an experienced cyclist ready for an upgrade, Elspeth Huyett, the 2021 Elite National Champion in track cycling and Level 3 coach took the EX-3 for a spin herself and reported back with her findings. Read on for our comprehensive breakdown of this budget-friendly stationary bike.
Echelon Connect Bike Models
Editor's note: The Echelon EX-3 Connect Bike is currently being phased out to make room for the new model. If no more EX3 bikes are available for purchase, we recommend considering the Echelon EX-5s-10.
- Overall: 3.9/5
- Value/price point: 4/5
- Delivery/set-up: 4/5
- Footprint/portability: 3/5
- Durability: 5/5
- Bike capabilities: 4/5
- Tech capabilities: 2/5
- Ease of use: 5/5
- Convenience: 2/5
- Dynamic programming: 4/5
- Customer reviews: 5/5
- Customer service: 5/5
- Warranty/financing/returns: 4/5
A Quick Look at the Echelon Connect Bike EX-3
- Footprint: 55"H x 55"L x 20"W
- Weight: 104 lbs.
- Weight Capacity: 300 lbs.
- Resistance: 32 levels of magnetic resistance
- Flywheel weight: 28 lbs.
- Seat style: 6" padded competition seat
- Warranty: 1-year warranty on frame, parts, and electronics
- Features: Dual-compatible pedals with toe cages, flippable media holder, Bluetooth compatibility
What We Like
- Durable exercise bike with authentic spin experience
- Small footprint is great for those with limited space
- Dual pedals so you can wear cycling shoes or regular sneakers
- USB port to keep your device charged as you ride
- Variety of on and off-bike classes to keep you from getting bored
- Wide padded seat for a more comfortable ride
- 2 rear weight holders and 2 water bottle holders
What We Don't Like
- No built-in display or speakers, so you'll need to use your own device
- App integration isn't a good fit for everyone
- Can't fast forward for on-demand classes on the app
- Short warranty window
Founded in 2017, the Tennessee-based company Echelon Fitness debuted its first Connect Bike in 2018 with the goal of making home fitness options more accessible and enjoyable. Echelon's Connect Bike EX-3 is an alternative to pricier competitors but it's a solid pick for a high-quality, at-home cycling experience.
The EX-3 arrived for Elspeth within a week of ordering and came in a large cardboard box, she did require help moving it up her stairs as there aren't any handles.
As for the build itself, "I wouldn’t say that I am generally good at building things and typically need to enlist help, but I was able to build the EX-3 in about 90 minutes," says Huyett. "The instructions were relatively straightforward, I initially started reading them in the wrong order, which led to some issues, but I quickly realized my mistake and could move forward without a problem. There were videos detailing the assembly, but I could move forward with only the written instructions."
"The tools, a screwdriver and wrench, are included in the packaging, and I used them to assemble the bike, but if you have your own tools, they will work better. However, I did struggle with leverage sometimes using the small tools included. Depending on your location, you can opt for White Glove delivery for $199, where an Echelon employee will get the bike situated and built in your home, but it was unavailable in my area."
The Echelon EX-3's smaller footprint makes this a good choice if you don't want your bike dominating your workout space. Although the wheels make it more mobile-friendly, you may need another set of hands to help move the machine as it weighs a little over 100 pounds. For Elspeth Huyett, "I found these wheels challenging to use. I am unsure if it is due to the bike's weight or that the wheels didn’t roll easily, but when I had to move the bike, I had to lift it and inch it to its final resting place. [But], with enough manpower, you could move the bike upstairs or downstairs after it assembled."
The Echelon Connect Bike EX-3 comes with 32 levels of magnetic resistance, which can be controlled by the dial in the middle of the frame. Adjusting the resistance levels can be a little under-sensitive, so you may need to turn it a few times to get your desired intensity. Echelon's guidance is that 0 to 14 is beginner level, 15 to 25 is intermediate and 25 and above is more advanced. "At level 1, you have essentially no resistance, and you do most of your workout at level 8 or above," says Huyett. The magnetic resistance makes for a smooth ride, and it's also quiet so you won't disturb your housemates when you get out of the saddle.
The Echelon Connect Bike EX-3 doesn't come with a display, so you may need to purchase your own screen if that's necessary. It does come with a built-in device holder, though, which flips 180 degrees for off-equipment workouts, plus a USB port that can charge your device as you ride. Use your smartphone or tablet to access the Echelon Fit app to join live and on-demand classes and track your stats.
"The EX-3 is Bluetooth-compatible and I was able to sync it with my iPad so that I could track my cadence, resistance, and power during classes. I would like it if there was some kind of computer within the bike that could track cadence, power, and resistance without needing a smart device. Sync your workouts with Strava and Fitbit and use Zwift with your Echelon through a third-party app," recommends Huyett.
Clocking in at 104 pounds, the Echelon EX-3 is substantial but not cumbersome. The wheels make it easier to slide out of the way, but you may need an extra set of hands if you're tackling the stairs. One thing we love about this bike is that it's easy to assemble on your own, so there's no need to hire an expert or recruit a moving team to help you get this bike into your home. If you're assembling the bike on your own, you can carry the pieces separately to your workout area and assemble them where you plan to place them.
The flywheel is one of the key parts of your cycling experience and can have a huge impact on your ride. Flywheel weight is important because it determines the amount of momentum the wheel carries, ultimately impacting the amount of resistance the rider will experience. For the Echelon Connect Bike EX-3, the rear-mounted 28-pound flywheel provides a smooth, quiet ride with enough of a "cold start" to mimic the feel of a road bike.
Most indoor cycling bikes have a weight capacity of 250 to 400 pounds, so the 300-pound weight capacity of the Echelon Connect Bike EX-3 is a bit on the lower end but still within the range of its competitors.
Echelon backs the EX3 with a 1-year warranty with a guarantee on the frame, parts, and electronics. You can also purchase a 1-year extended warranty for $150. Compared to competitors, this is a tight warranty window.
Echelon Fit App
The Echelon EX3 doesn't come with pre-programmed workouts, but a subscription to the Echelon Fit app (priced at $39.99 a month) offers access to a variety of classes and ride options. You'll also get access to Echelon's FitPass, which streams live and on-demand classes like yoga, strength training, and cardio. The scenic rides are a great option if wanderlust helps you mentally escape during a workout. Or pump up your jams with a workout based on motivating musical genres—including EDM, hip hop, and '80s rock. Just mount your smartphone or tablet in the built-in device holder on the bike or sync your app with a smart tv for a larger screen. If you're new to spin and cycling classes, 10- and 20-minute intro classes are also available to get you started.
When you start a class, you'll be able to see various stats on the screen, including the leaderboard. You can also connect to Facebook and share your workout with your network. Your RPM, resistance levels, and wattage are also displayed on the screen. There's also a place for heart rate metrics if the EX-3 is paired with an external monitor, such as a chest strap. You can view completed workouts in the "progress" tab, where summaries with your stats are saved. (You can even email them to yourself.)
"I don’t recommend using the bike without the app, you won’t be able to change resistance easily; it will essentially operate in “manual” mode," says Huyett. "You can use the 'freestyle' feature within the app at no charge, but to access classes, you must pay the $34.99 a month fee—less expensive than Peloton’s $44 per month subscription. In my opinion, to get the most out of your bike, you will want the subscription and the classes unless you are an experienced cyclist or fitness enthusiast who can create your own programming."
Pro Tip: Schedule a live class on the app and click “add to calendar" so you'll be ready to join when the class starts. Plus, you'll have the time blocked off on your calendar to minimize distractions—and excuses.
Ease of Use/Convenience
"After downloading the app, I could hop on immediately and take my first class. It was easy to navigate to a workout, and the instructors explained the ins and outs of the metrics and the bike in the beginner-friendly classes. Adjusting the fit is very easy, much like a bike in a gym, and no tools are required. A class within the Echelon app walks you through how to customize your fit if you need clarification," says Huyett.
"The bike has dumbbell holders on the seat post to make it easier if you are taking a class with an arms component. The bike also has two water bottle cages on the steer tube below the handlebars. I did have difficulty mounting them during the assembly process, but in the end, it was because I was using the wrong length of screws to attach them to the bike. There is nowhere to put a second device. I was using my iPad to stream classes, and I would’ve also liked to have my phone within reach, but the iPad's mount was too small to add the phone, and there was no shelf or other mount. The bike is very quiet when it is in use. I live in an old house, and you can hear every little noise. The bike was not distracting to people downstairs or my neighbors and would be an excellent fit for someone living in an apartment building," she continued.
On both Amazon and Echelon, users rated the bike at 4.5 out of 5. "I contacted Customer Service via the live chat on the Echelon website twice with minor questions about the EX-3; both times, I could speak with a real person in under 5 minutes who answered my questions in detail," reports Huyett.
Here are examples of positive reviews from Amazon and Echelon.
"This has been the best purchase I have made for myself to date. I find myself motivated and love that I can either take a class or just do a free ride on my own. The bike is ready to use and allows me to get a great workout in. Love it!" - Tamara R. via Echelon.
"While I was putting it together, I noticed how superior quality this bike actually is. It’s so nice! Once put together, I plugged in my bike, added my iPad, opened the echelon app and took my first ride on it! Wowza, it’s freaking amazing! So smooth, and literally makes no sound at all! I can’t believe I got this bike for a mere $399!!!!!!! Even more so, I can’t believe people pay $1400-$2800 for other high end brands. Seriously people, if you’re considering a magnetic bike you will be so happy with this bike!!! Don’t waste all the extra money on a name." Sherry O. via Amazon
Echelon backs the EX3 with a 1-year warranty with a guarantee on the frame, parts, and electronics. You can also purchase a 1-year extended warranty for $149.99. Compared to competitors, this is a tight warranty window. A 0% financing offer exists for qualified buyers for up to 48 months and there is a 30-day return window and Echelon will pay for shipping, which is above industry standard.
According to Huyett, "Echelon does not have a recommended service window, but there is a checklist of items you should check on your bike and at what intervals you should check them to ensure the machine is safe and in working order. Based on reviews from long-time users, there is no issue with durability."
BUY: Echelon Connect Bike EX-3
Echelon Smart Connect Bike Ex-3 Performance
The Echelon EX-3 holds its own with performance, durability, and ease of use. The 28-pound, rear-mounted flywheel and 32 magnetic resistance levels offer a smooth and quiet ride.Plus, it pairs easily with your smart device via Bluetooth. The Echelon Fit app offers live and on-demand class experiences, motivating instructors, and scenic rides to help you stay motivated. Add in the fully adjustable handlebars, competition padded seat, and dual-compatible pedals and you're ready to roll.
How Does the Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX-3 Compare?
The main difference between the Echelon Smart Connect EX-3 and many comparable models is the absence of an HD touchscreen—like NordicTrack's stationary bike options—or a monitor that can track metrics like time, cadence, resistance, and power. Another affordable option, the Sunny Health and Fitness Premium Cycling Smart Stationary Bike from their connected fitness line, has both a device holder and a small performance monitor to track basic metrics like calories, distance, pulse, speed, and time.
The Echelon Smart Connect Bike is often compared to the Peloton and touted as a lower-priced alternative, true when factoring in the dynamic interactive apps available by subscription for both brands. Peloton does have the upper hand with a 22-inch rotating touchscreen on its standard model, but it lacks the finer details like toe cages on the pedals.
Is the Echelon Smart Connect Bike Ex-3 Worth It?
The Echelon Connect Bike EX-3 offers an authentic cycling experience without having to leave home. You'll find competitive features and great quality for the price point (with the tradeoff being you don't have a display screen). Overall, we think the EX-3 is a well-built bike, and love its adjustable handlebars, cushioned seat, dual-compatible pedals, and heavy, rear-mounted flywheel. The app integration can help take your rides to the next level, so if you're up for investing in the subscription this may be just what you're looking for.
For Huyett, "I jumped at the opportunity to test the Echelon EX-3, a lower-priced spin bike with many of the same features as a Peloton. The EX-3 is bare bones, but it has all the essentials to get you on the bike and spinning. However, ensure you have a tablet, as the EX-3 doesn’t have a screen or computer to track your metrics. The EX-3 has all the features you need to get an intense spin class workout at home and none of the extra fills. If you’re limited on budget and not looking for a luxury experience, the EX-3 is a great bike to add to your home gym and it is in stock and ready to ship right away! If you’re looking for more features, I would recommend springing for the EX–5s-10, which comes with a 10” HD Touchscreen and is currently on sale."
CHECK PRICEEchelon Connect Bike Models
Why Trust Us?
The ACTIVE Reviews Team is made up of fitness experts that include athletes, coaches, and certified trainers who bring their years of knowledge and experience to each review. More importantly, each member of our team is a fitness enthusiast. Fitness may be our job, but it is also our passion. Therefore, we strive to bring you products that we trust and would personally use.
FAQs About the Echelon Connect Bike EX-3
Can I use my phone on the Echelon Connect Bike EX-3?
The Echelon Connect EX-3 uses Bluetooth to pair with your device, which functions as your display and can be used with the Echelon Fit app for live streaming and on-demand classes. You can use the speakers on your phone or tablet, or pair them with Bluetooth headphones.
Can I use the Echelon Connect Bike EX-3 without a subscription?
You can opt to use the Echelon Fit app in "freestyle" mode to track your resistance, output, and stats, but you'll need the paid subscription to be able to access live classes or scenic rides.
Can I watch Netflix on the Echelon Connect Bike EX-3 without a subscription?
Since the Echelon Connect Bike EX-3 is a "bring your own screen" sort of bike, you can ride the bike and mount your tablet or smartphone on the bike to watch Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming apps. It has a large enough media holder to accommodate most devices.
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