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Echelon EX3 Reviews (2021): Is the Connected Fitness Bike Worth the Buy?

The Echelon Connect Bike EX3 is a popular connected fitness bike for good reason. It’s relatively cheaper than other popular counterparts in the market, and yet it offers a solid performance and delivers plenty of features and content to take your fitness to the next level.

But right from the get-go, it should be mentioned that it isn’t perfect. Particularly, the app could use a little rework, and you also need to provide your own display. However, these don’t really subtract from the overall experience. In other words, you can still get all the benefits of a smart stationary bike from it, including a pretty intense workout, guidance from professional instructors, and important metrics to keep track of your progress.

Echelon EX3 Reviews Comparison Chart

ModelEchelon Connect Bike EX3Echelon Connect Bike EX7-S
 Echelon EX3 Smart Connect Fitness Bike (Black) (EX3 BLACK)Echelon EX-7s Smart Connect Fitness Bike, Black, Large
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
DisplaySmartphone or tabletBuilt-in 21.5″ touchscreen with 180-degree pivot
SeatCompetition-style seatCompetition-style, gel comfort seat
PedalsToe cages and clip-insCommercial-grade toe cages and clip-ins
Resistance32 levels, physical knob32 levels, physical knob
Ethernet PortNoYes
Max Rider Capacity300 lbs325 lbs
Weight104 lbs124 lbs
Footprint37″ x 20″37″ x 20″

Echelon EX3 Review

There’s a lot to love about the Echelon EX3 and the Echelon Fit classes.

Echelon EX3 Review
The Echelon EX3 (in photo) doesn’t have a built-in screen, but it does have an affordable price point.

To start things off, the Echelon EX3 sports an adjustable competition seat and pedals with toe cages and clip-ins, so you can take your pick between cycling shoes or training shoes. Moreover, it has ergonomic handle bars that can be set in different positions, and it uses magnetic resistance and a 28-lb flywheel. There’s also a resistance knob with 32 levels that’s easy to access and adjust when prompted during a training session.

Like any other connected fitness bike, the main appeal of the EX3 is its platform, and in this case, it comes in the form of the Echelon Fit app, which is available on Android and iOS. There are tons of on-demand and live classes, and you can filter them based on your fitness level, workout length, and more. Speaking of, its instructors are as motivating and enthusiastic as they come, shouting encouragements to help you keep on going. There’s also a leaderboard, which is perfect if you like competing. But if classes aren’t your thing, there’s a Freestyle mode too, which is self-explanatory.

Echelon EX3 Reviews
A closer look at the pedals (left) and seat and dumbbell holder (right) of the Echelon EX3.

Besides cycling, Echelon offers other workouts like yoga, strength building, meditation, and boxing. In addition, the app logs key metrics, such as distance, speed, average resistance, and cadence. You can export these data to Fitbit and Strava to boot. 

For some, the app may have too many things going on, which leads us to its display—or lack thereof. You can connect either a smartphone or tablet to the bike via Bluetooth, but the former won’t provide enough screen real estate, so your best bet is to go with the latter. If nothing else, vital factors such as resistance level and RPM are put front and center. They’re important because trainers will guide you to adjust your cycling based on them. For instance, instructors will tell you when to increase or decrease resistance or pedal faster to hit a certain RPM.

As for subscriptions, you get to choose from monthly and yearly United and FitPass plans. United memberships cost $39.99 a month or $399.99 a year, while FitPass is $11.99 a month or $99.99 a year. The main difference is, United is the whole package, and that includes cycling classes aside from other workouts. On the other hand, FitPass includes everything except cycling, which defeats the purpose of getting a connected exercise bike in the first place.

Echelon Bike Comparison

The Echelon EX5, EX5-S, and EX7-S are pricier than the EX3, but they do have meaningful upgrades.

Echelon EX3 Reviews Echelon Bike Comparison
Both the Echelon EX5-S (left) and EX7-S (right) have a display.

Echelon has plenty of models in its selection, but besides the EX3, its main offerings are the EX5, EX5-S, and EX7-S. Across the board, all of them share a lot of similarities. For one thing, they all use magnetic resistance and a 28-lb flywheel. Also, they’re equipped with pedals with toe cages and clip-ins, and needless to say, they’re all compatible with the Fit platform. However, there are a few but noticeable differences between them.

Basically, the EX5 builds on the EX3 with new Aero handlebars and a better device mount. Then the EX5-S has everything the EX5 has to offer and improves on its predecessors with a built-in 21.5-inch touchscreen. Last but not least, the EX7-S takes things up a notch with a 22-inch display, commercial-grade cranks, Kevlar PolyV power drive belt, Ethernet port for a fast and stable connection, and new gel seat for comfort.

It’s worth noting that the screens on the EX5-S and EX7-S come at a price. In fact, their inclusion makes them about as expensive as Peloton bikes. For the uninitiated, Echelons are considered as affordable alternatives to Peloton, but these two no longer fit the bill in that sense.

Click here to see how Echelon bikes compare to Peloton.

Echelon vs Schwinn

The Schwinn IC4 doesn’t have its own training programs, unlike the Echelon EX3.

Echelon EX3 Reviews Echelon vs Schwinn
Here’s a look at the Schwinn IC3 (left) and IC4 (right) Indoor Cycling Bike.

Schwinn is another popular pick in the game, and it has the IC4 Indoor Cycling Bike that goes in direct competition with the likes of the Echelon EX3 (read: both cost the same and don’t have built-in screens). It’s also similar in that it has pedals with toe cages and SPD clips, Bluetooth connectivity, and magnetic resistance. It does have 100 levels of resistance, which somewhat give it the upper hand. However, Schwinn is lacking when it comes to proprietary training apps and content, relying on third parties such as Peloton and Zwift. Sure, it has Explore the World, but it’s more for scenic rides than instructor-guided cycling.

There’s also the IC3 Indoor Cycling Bike, but it’s a standard fitness bike, meaning it isn’t exactly comparable to connected ones. On that note, it doesn’t have a device mount, and it doesn’t use magnetic resistance either. 

The takeaway here is that an Echelon is more of a complete package than a Schwinn. It comes with everything you need to work up a sweat, from its first-party app to instructors and classes—except for a display in the EX3 and EX5’s case, that is.

In Schwinn’s defense, the IC4 is cheaper than, say, the EX5. Also, the fact that it works with Zwift and Peloton apps means you at least get more options to choose from, but the experience won’t be as seamless and streamlined.

Echelon vs NordicTrack

The Echelon EX3 may not have as many features as NordicTrack bikes, but it’s a lot easier on the budget.

Echelon EX3 Reviews Echelon vs NordicTrack
Here are the NordicTrack Commercial S15i Studio Cycle (left) and Commercial S22i Studio Cycle (right).

Aside from Peloton, another worthy contender in the scene is NordicTrack. Usually, it’s touted as the best and slightly more affordable alternative to Peloton, owing to the features and performance of the Commercial S15i Studio Cycle and Commercial S22i Studio Cycle. 

Compared to Echelons, these NordicTrack bikes also use magnetic resistance, but both of them are fitted with a built-in screen that rotates 360 degrees, which comes in handy when doing other workouts on their iFit platform, such as strength training and yoga.

One thing that makes NordicTrack stand out is that trainers can remotely adjust resistance levels on your bike during a training session. That way, you can focus on pedaling and keeping up the pace. On top of that, it has Map Based Workout, a feature that lets you draw a route on Google Maps and simulates the terrain, including inclines and declines.

Considering its features, NordicTrack bikes are hard to beat, but Echelons do have the advantage of being less expensive and having 32 levels of resistance as opposed to 22 levels on the S15i and 24 on the S22i.

Click here for our NordicTrack vs Peloton comparison.

Verdict

Even though it doesn’t have its own display, the Echelon EX3 offers plenty of features and content without breaking the bank.

To sum things up, the Echelon Connect Bike EX3 ticks all the right boxes of any connected exercise bike worth its salt: excellent classes led by professional instructors and features to track key fitness metrics. If there’s anything to complain about, it’s the layout of the accompanying app that gets hard to read on small screens, not to mention that you have to provide your own display. 

But at the end of the day, the EX3 is a decent bike worth considering over other popular options like Peloton and Schwinn. It may not be as feature-packed as NordicTrack bikes, but at the very least, it isn’t as expensive.

FAQs

📌 Is Echelon as good as Peloton?

In some ways, Echelon is comparable to Peloton. For example, the Echelon Connect Bike EX3 uses a magnetic resistance system and has trainers to guide your cycling workouts, but it does have fewer resistance levels, and Peloton instructors are arguably more popular.

📌 Does the Echelon EX3 come with a screen?

No, the Echelon Connect Bike EX3 doesn’t have a display. You’ll have to use your own smartphone or tablet.

📌 Is Echelon Connect worth it?

Yes, Echelon Connect Bikes typically have a decent price-to-performance ratio, such as the Echelon Connect Bike EX3. Also, the Echelon Fit platform has plenty of live and on-demand classes with excellent and motivating instructors.

📌 Can you use Echelon without a subscription?

Yes, you can use your Echelon in Freestyle mode without a membership, but you’ll only be able to keep track of basic metrics. You also won’t get the most out of your connected fitness bike since you won’t get access to the app and training programs.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Vincent Lanaria

Senior Editor, researcher and writer passionate about running, cooking, and how technology mixes with the two.