During the pandemic, I was one of the many people who purchased an indoor cycling bike. My husband and I tested both the Bowflex C6 Bike and the Peloton Bike for 30 days before deciding to keep the Bowflex C6 and return the Peloton.
In this article, I will answer the question, "Is the Peloton Bike better than the Bowflex C6?" and explain my thoughts on the C6 now that we’ve had it for more than a year. You can also watch the short video below I made when we had both bikes so you can see the side-by side.
We are really happy we kept the Bowflex C6! Let me explain why the C6 is better. It's not just because it's more than $1,000 cheaper!
Bowflex & Peloton Price Difference
There are several differences between the exercise bikes, but one obvious one is the price. The Peloton lowered its rate in 2020, but it is still more than $1,200 more expensive than the Bowflex C6! See the cost breakdown below. My husband and I really didn’t mind paying a premium for the Peloton -- if we felt it was worth it. However, after spending time with both indoor cycling bikes, we preferred the C6 and we're happy to save more than a thousand dollars!
There are two main costs to consider: the bike and the subscription to a cycling app such as the Peloton App (which syncs well with the C6). Check out the cost breakdown.
- Bowflex C6 Bike: $999
- Peloton monthly app subscription: $12.99 ($156 annually)
- Total: $1,156
- Peloton Bike: $1,895
- Peloton monthly subscription: $39 ($468 annually) -- yes, the exact same programming is way more expensive with the Peloton Bike!
- Total :$2,363
The cost difference in the first year is $1,208!
You will need an iPad, tablet, or smartphone to stream classes with the C6 since it does not come with a screen. Still, you could buy a device like this and still save nearly $1,000! Anyway, the Peloton has some surprise expenses which I will point out in the next section.
Bowflex C6’s Equipment Advantages
In some aspects, the Peloton Bike and the Bowflex C6 are quite similar stationary bikes. They both have many of the same features including bluetooth compatibility, a smooth and quiet ride, black and red color scheme, adjustable seat and handlebars, and water bottle holders -- but the C6 stands out. I’ve found three major advantages with the Bowflex C6, which make the C6 a more versatile cycling bike.
No Bulky Screen
I love the fact that the Bowflex C6 does not have the enormous monitor that comes with the Peloton. On the C6, there is a place that holds your iPad or smartphone -- which is great because it gives you more flexibility. The Peloton Bike’s monitor only lets you stream Peloton classes -- you can’t watch Netflix or catch up on email while you are bike on the Peloton. Our Bowflex C6 is positioned in front of a TV so we have the option to exercise and watch a show or stream a cycling class on our iPad using Chromecast or Apple TV. With the Peloton Bike, if you decide to end your Peloton streaming subscription -- you’re stuck with the blank monitor. That's a big eyesore!
Dual-Sided Pedals Offer Versatility
The Bowflex C6 comes with dual sided pedals. One side has toe cages so you can wear ordinary gym shoes, the other side has SPD clips so you can buy compatible cycling shoes. I like having this flexibility with the C6! In fact, I wear ordinary sneakers on the C6 and the toe cages work well! Plus, it’s nice when we have guests over, because our guests can easily hop on the C6 and get in a workout. That’s not the case with the Peloton which requires special shoes they sell for additional $125.
More Accessories with Bowflex C6
The Bowflex C6 comes with three pound weights that hang on the bike and a Bluetooth armband that monitors your heart rate. The heart rate monitor and weights are included in the price of the Bowflex bike. However, Peloton does not include these accessories, but instead will charge you an additional $250 for an accessories package that includes those items.
Peloton Community & App Compatibility
Peloton has such a strong following that it is tempting to buy the bike just for the community. However you can still tap into that community by buying the Bowflex C6 and subscribing to the Peloton App for the lower rate of $12.99 per month. (Peloton Bike users are charged $39 per month, which is a crazy difference! I guess, because Peloton Bike owners are locked into the Peloton ecosystem, the company knows they can get away with charging more.) Anyway, the Peloton app allows you to do the exact same live and recorded classes.
This is awesome because I plan workouts with friends who have the Peloton Bike. I can see them pop into the same class as me while using the app with my Bowflex C6! Having an accountability workout partner is great, so it’s nice to be able to cycle with a friend. In the photo below, you can see one of the views of the Peloton App while it is synced to my Bowflex C6 stationary bike. You can see key statistics like my heart rate and see when other cyclists or friends join the class in real time in the list on the right side of the screen.
There are Two differences Worth Noting about the Peloton App with Bowflex C6 vs. Peloton classes on the Peloton Bike:
1) The Peloton App lets you pause a class but the Peloton Bike does not (That's a win for the Bowflex C6!)
There have been times where I had to hop off the bike for whatever reason (such as an important phone call), and it’s nice that I can pause my Peloton workout since I use the app. I think it’s a bit odd that the Peloton Bike doesn’t let you pause on-demand workout classes. This is another example of how the Peloton App + Bowflex C6 combo offers more flexibility!
2) There is no leaderboard on the Peloton App.
If you are ultra competitive and want to see your name ranked among the other people in the class, you may want the actual Peloton Bike. Although the app lets you give a virtual “high five,” add friends by their username, and see how far along other cyclists are in the class, it doesn’t rank people. Personally, I’m not trying to lead a Peloton class, so I could care less about that feature. The music and trainers are motivating enough for me!
The Bowflex C6 comes with a backlit display to showcase metrics that help keep you motivated during your workout. It tracks:
- Cadence (RPM)
- Heart Rate (when using a bluetooth heart rate monitor)
We did read that the Peloton resistance numbers are a bit different than the C6, so we found a conversion "cheatsheet." See the image below. You can copy the numbers for yourself. We wrote the Bowflex C6 to Peloton resistance conversion on a sticky note and stuck it to the bike. When the Peloton instructor calls out "resistance 25," just put the C6 to 9 and you will be set. It took all of two rides to get used to that, so it isn't an issue at all for us!
I haven’t used other apps, but the C6 has Bluetooth and is compatible with other cycling apps such as Zwift, My Fitness Pal, JRNY. Thanks to Bluetooth, additional metrics show up on your tablet or smartphone. In fact, at the time of publishing this post, Bowflex is offering a free six month subscription to JRNY!
Where to Buy Bowflex C6 Exercise Bike
The easiest way to buy the C6 is online on the Bowflex website. They often run various deals. Right now, there's one that includes free shipping and a kettlebell.
Conclusion: The Bowflex C6 is superior to the Peloton Bike
For us, the Bowflex was the better option. It has been a fantastic purchase! With busy schedules, it has been awesome to be able to get in a great workout without leaving our home. You can burn a ton of calories and build muscle in a short amount of time! The Bowflex C6 is a high quality exercise bike and the ride is super smooth! We love being able to use the Peloton app with this bike because the classes are fantastic and highly motivating. (Try Cody's cycling classes for an entertaining ride.)
I highly recommend getting the Bowflex C6! It offers greater flexibility than the Peloton. The Bowflex offers features such as dual-sided pedals, bluetooth compatibility with several cycling apps, no bulky screen, and the ability to pause your workout -- plus it is a much better value. Definitely save yourself the $1,200+ and get the Bowflex C6!