Echelon Connect EX3 review

Asia's Tech News Daily

The Echelon Connect EX3 is a competitive alternative to Peloton Bike: good value, well designed and easy to use, it’s got everything you want – apart from an inbuilt display.

Echelon Connect EX3 review
© Provided by Live Science Image shows the Echelon Connect EX3 exercise bike against a white background.

Just like Peloton, it has a ton of live and on-demand classes available via the Echelon Fit app ($39.99 a month), but you’ll need your own tablet, smartphone or smart TV to stream these.

The Echelon Connect EX3 comes with a 29 lbs rear-mounted flywheel, fully adjustable handlebars, competition padded seat and dual-compatible pedals.

It’s got a small footprint so is well suited to people with limited space, and is fairly easy to move around thanks to the transport wheels. Just make sure you move it to somewhere near a power point.

Currently on offer on Echelon for $1262 (down from $1595), it comes with 32 magnetic resistance levels for a smooth and quiet ride. We love that it offers an authentic spin experience from the comfort of your own home, but found that the resistance could be a little under-sensitive at times. Connectivity was also sometimes an issue. If your class gets cut short because of tech glitches you’ll have to restart it, as there is no fast forward option.

But we love the array of on and off-bike classes and instructors, all of whom are enthusiastic and motivating. You can also filter your workout by music genre for an extra boost while training.

The Echelon Connect EX3 is a high-quality, well-designed exercise bike that offers excellent value and performance from the comfort of your home.

Echelon Connect EX3: Set up and usability

The Echelon Connect EX3 is super easy to set up on your own (although you might need help lifting the box inside). It comes 4-way adjustable handlebars and a comfy 6” padded competition seat.

It’s a slimline and compact design and doesn’t take up much space – but at 105 lbs it’s quite heavy so make sure you position it where you plan to keep it and also near a power point.

The Echelon Connect EX3 has a height recommendation of 4.5” to 6.8”, so if you are outside that bracket then try testing the bike out in person before you buy.

The EX3 is fully integrated and connects via Bluetooth to your smart device, meaning you can track your progress in real-time. You can also connect the bike to Facebook to share your workout with friends, or compete with each other.

Once you’ve plugged the bike in, look at the Echelon logo button – it will flash as it tries to connect and then go to a blue glow once it’s set up. Personally, we found the connectivity on the Echelon Connect EX3 really good. There were only a few times that it disconnected, but we think that might have been due to our poor WiFi connection. Bear in mind that if that happens, you’ll lose the data from your workout and will have to restart the class from the beginning.

You also need to subscribe to the Echelon Fit app to get started (available on Android and iOS devices from $39.99). When you open the app it will automatically connect to the bike and you can choose your workout. The app can be a bit overwhelming at first as there is a lot going on – lists of classes, both live and on-demand, as well as challenges and the Featured tab. But it’s fairly easy to navigate, and after the first few rides, you will find the app easier to use.

Under the handlebars is your magnetic resistance dial. Choose from 32 levels to increase or decrease intensity. Note that the resistance is slightly different to what you might be used to in the spin studio or gym. We assumed level 14 was going to feel hard-going and heavy, like sticky mud, but because there are so many resistance options, this actually felt relatively easy. Echelon advises that up to 15 is beginner level, 15-25 is intermediate and 25 and above is more advanced intensity.

The resistance dial itself can be a little under-sensitive, so you might need to turn it a few more times to get your desired level.

Echelon Connect EX3: Design and display

The Echelon Connect EX3 is well designed with a slimline footprint. It looks very similar to a spin bike in the gym, and it’s small enough not to overwhelm a room with its 29 lbs rear-mounted flywheel.

It has dual pedals – clip-in and cage – so you can choose to wear cycling shoes or regular sneakers. There’s space for two water bottles on either side of the frame, which is much needed during a sweaty spin session.

The bike itself is sturdy (it weighs 206 lbs) so it’s not the easiest thing to move around on your own despite the transport wheels. Ideally, just set it up where you plan to store it and make sure there is a power point nearby as the wire isn’t that long.

It doesn’t come with an inbuilt screen, but there is a tablet holder where you can put your iPad or phone to view classes. There is also a USB port to keep your device charged as you ride. 

The Echelon Connect EX3 also doesn’t have inbuilt speakers so you need Bluetooth-enabled headphones or speakers if your tablet or smartphone isn’t loud enough for your personal preference. You can also stream the app from your computer or smart TV via Bluetooth if you want a larger screen.

Echelon Connect EX3: Features

The Echelon EX3 doesn’t have any pre-programmed workouts but a subscription to the Echelon Fit app gives you access to a ton of workouts and stats. Use your tablet or smartphone to monitor your metrics – speed, calories burned and distance. You can enjoy 14+ daily live classes, scenic rides and thousands of on-demand workouts so this is a great exercise bike for all fitness levels.

You can try out different rides like Power, Endurance, Hill Rides, Speed, Bootcamp and Low Impact or opt for a Freestyle Ride. We recommend trying the beginner classes first, and building up to longer rides if you’re new to exercise or spinning. To access a live class, you can schedule this on the app and click ‘add to calendar’ so you don’t forget when it’s on.

One drawback of the Echelon Connect EX3 is there is no fast forward button, so if the app cuts out then you have to either restart the ride from the beginning. This is really annoying if you are mid-ride when you have a technical hitch.

The bike offers a comfortable ride thanks to the wide padded seat, and the adjustable 12.9” screen holder works well with most devices. When you start a class, you can keep or swipe away various stats that automatically appear on the screen, such as the leaderboard. There’s also space for heart rate metrics if you pair the EX3 with an external monitor. We tried it with a MyZone chest strap monitor and it synced efficiently.

The most useful information you need during a ride is in the middle of the screen. It’s your RPM, resistance levels and wattage. You will vary the first two features to change the intensity of your training.

We loved the Tabata-style workouts the most – short bursts of speed or endurance followed by active recovery or rest. These were challenging and helped me build up stamina and strength without getting bored. The scenic rides are also great for a bit of escapism in the Covid-19 era, where traveling isn’t so easy.

When you’ve finished your class you can look at metrics in the Progress tab, including calories burned and your place on the leaderboard. These results can be emailed to you too so you can look back on your progress. Sync your Fitbit or Strava app to get more extensive stats.

If you love music then you’ll like that the workouts are categorized by different genres, from rock and EDM to 80s and 90s. And if you feel you’ve exhausted the ride options, you can try FitPass, which is video-based workouts off-bike from Zumba and HIIT to low impact yoga or meditation.

Echelon Connect EX3: Performance

To get used to how everything works on the Echelon Connect EX3, I recommend watching the introduction videos, which cover how to use the bike and all the features. If you’re new to spinning or a bit rusty, try the 10 and 20-minute classes to get started and used to the bike. It also means you can work out which of the teachers you like most (and want to avoid!).

All of the workouts track three things: cadence (speed), resistance and output (effort level). Competitive types can compare their performance with other members on the leaderboard, or swipe this off the screen if you find it distracting.

The padded seat makes it a really comfortable ride and the magnetic resistance means that getting out of the saddle to do a running ride is smooth and fluid. It’s also really quiet so won’t disturb your neighbors or anyone else in the house during a workout session.

Should you buy the Echelon Connect EX3?

The Echelon Connect EX3 is a well-made, durable exercise bike, which offers an authentic spin style experience. There are enough live and on-demand classes to keep you busy on and off the bike and it’s super easy to set up and use. The Echelon Connect EX3 is a solid and affordable Peloton alternative and a great way for the whole family to invest in their health and fitness at home. 

If this product isn’t for you

For a cheaper option, the Mobi Turbo Exercise Bike ($899) comes with a free app and 32 resistance levels. It’s compact and well designed with a 26 lbs flywheel and a wooden bracket for your smartphone and tablet (no inbuilt screen). It’s also compatible with certain third-party apps including Zwift and Kinomap.

The MYX II is a mid-range exercise bike with an ergonomic design and a variety of on-demand only classes via the MYXfitness app (subscription cost: $19.95/month). It doesn’t have live workouts but it adds new content every week so you won’t get bored. It’s more expensive than the Echelon Connect EX3 at $1399, but it has an inbuilt 21.5” touchscreen, Polar OH1 heart rate monitor and you can pair it with Apple Watch.

If money isn’t an issue, the Peloton Bike+ has a great rep for being the Don of all exercise bikes. With its solid, heavy frame, it is super quiet and offers a huge variety of live and on-demand workouts, as well as an ‘auto-follow’ feature that adjusts the resistance to match the instructor’s. It retails at $2145 (plus an extra subscription fee to the Peloton app, $39/month) so it’s a lot more expensive than the EX3 but if you’re looking for the ultimate home exercise bike with all the bells and whistles, this is the one.

If you’re still undecided about which brand of exercise machines to choose, we’ve written up a comparison of Peloton vs Echelon.

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