The Echelon EX-3 is a top-quality spin bike with excellent exercise quality and connected features. With a sturdy steel frame, a 33 lb weighted flywheel, and 32 levels of magnetic resistance, it can stand up to the hardest of cycling efforts with a resistance range suitable for all fitness levels and workout goals. This smart bike uses a Bluetooth connection and the EchelonFit app to pair with your device, which functions as the display. You can use the bike manually or in conjunction with an EchelonFit subscription for live streaming or thousands of on-demand studio workouts. It also comes loaded with all the features you need, including dual-function pedals with cages and SPD compatibility. It's not cheap, but if you seek the at-home studio cycling experience we think this is an excellent option to consider.Editor's Note: The Echelon review was updated on January 11th, 2022, with extra information on recommendations and help to better compare products.
Echelon EX-3 Review
Cons: Requires a Bluetooth connection and device to operate, only works with the EchelonFit app, more expensive
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|Pros||Quality feel and finish, 32 levels of smooth magnetic resistance, smart/connected features, excellent workout quality||Smart/connected features, excellent warranty, 100 levels of magnetic resistance, comes with hand weights||Affordable, smooth belt-driven weighted flywheel, infinitely adjustable resistance, stable and sturdy||Affordable, folds for storage, simple no-frills design||Comfortable recumbent position, affordable, lightweight for a recumbent|
|Cons||Requires a Bluetooth connection and device to operate, only works with the EchelonFit app, more expensive||More expensive, inaccurate speed and distance readings, doesn't work perfectly with Peloton or Zwift||Basic display, no program workouts, no connectivity||Limited resistance range, basic display||Basic: limited features, large footprint, limited resistance range|
|Bottom Line||A high-end bike with a quality exercise experience and connected features||A reasonably priced, high-quality spin bike with connected features||A simple, effective, and affordable spin bike that lacks connected features||An affordable and convenient folding model that is ideal for light workouts||A simple, comfortable, and affordable option with a limited range of workout intensity|
|Rating Categories||Echelon EX-3||Schwinn IC4||Yosuda Indoor Cycli...||Exerpeutic Folding...||Marcy Recumbent ME-709|
|Exercise Quality (30%)|
|User Interface (20%)|
|Specs||Echelon EX-3||Schwinn IC4||Yosuda Indoor Cycli...||Exerpeutic Folding...||Marcy Recumbent ME-709|
|Resistance Settings||32 levels||100 levels||Infinite||8 levels||8 levels|
|Measured Weight||105 lbs||106 lbs||68.8 lbs||41 lbs||54.2 lbs|
|Measured Dimensions||54.5" L x 20" W x 55" H||48.75" L x 21.25" W x 52" H||40.5" L x 21.5" W x 45" H||33" L x 22" W x 46.5" H||58"- 46" L x 24.75" W x 38.5" H|
|Folded Dimensions||n/a||n/a||n/a||20.5" L x 22" W x 55" H||n/a|
|Max. Weight Capacity||300 lbs||330 lbs||270 lbs||300 lbs||300 lbs|
|Recommended Height Range||4'11" to 6'4"||not specified||25" to 35" inseam height adjustment||5'3" to 6'1"||27" to 37" inseam length (12 inches of measured height adjustment)|
|Resistance type||Weighted flywheel with adjustable magnetic resistance||Weighted flywheel with adjustable magnetic resistance||Weighted flywheel and adjustable resistance pad||Magnetic||Magnetic|
|Resistance Adjustment type||Knob||Knob||Knob||Knob||Knob|
|Heart Rate Sensor||No||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Digital Display||No (the Echelon app and a device are required)||LCD (measure)||LCD||LCD display: 3.3" W x 1.5" H||LCD display: 3" W x 1.5" H|
|Display Information||n/a||distance, time, speed, calories, RPM, heart rate||time, speed, distance, calories, odometer||distance, calories burned, time, speed, odometer, scan, and heart rate monitor||time, speed, distance, calories, odometer, and scan|
|Other Features||Bluetooth, works with Echelon Fit app, 2 bottle cages, rack for handweights (weights not included), transport wheels, dual sided pedals, adjustable device holder,||Bluetooth, works with Zwift and Peloton apps, USB charging port, device shelf, 2 water bottle holders, 3 lb weights, weight cradles, Bluetooth Heart rate armband, dual sided pedals with cleats||Bottle cage, device shelf, cage pedals, flywheel brake, transport wheels||pedals with safety straps, cell phone holder, transport wheels, folding for storage||Recumbent handlebar, transport wheels, adjustable seat, digital display, pedals with safety straps|
|Warranty||1 year limited parts and labor||Frame: 10 years, Parts: 3 years, Labor: 1 year||1 year parts replacement||Frame: 1 year, All other parts: 90 days||Frame: 2 years|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Echelon EX-3 is a top-quality spin bike for the home that costs significantly less than the more well-known competition. This bike was designed for serious cyclists with connectivity via Bluetooth and excellent functionality when used with the EchelonFit app. It is well made and sturdy, with an exercise quality reminiscent of a commercial spin bike you might find at a gym or spin studio. While we loved the EX-3, it lost a little ground to the competition for its lack of a display and its limited functionality when used without the EchelonFit app.
The EX-3 has an outstanding exercise quality that rivals the best in the test. It is a top-quality indoor bike made to meet the demands of serious cyclists and everything from easy spins to the hardest of training rides. The overall exercise quality of the EX-3 is even better when used with the EchelonFit app, as it provides a wealth of live streaming and on-demand studio workouts for all fitness levels and training goals.
Echelon's Connect bikes are often compared to the at-home studio cycling experience leader, Peloton. The bikes and the experience are quite similar, although, unlike Peloton, the EX-3 does not come with a large touchscreen monitor. Instead, you supply the device and connect to the bike through Bluetooth and the EchelonFit app. You can simply use your tablet or phone as a display for the bike for freestyle, manually controlled workouts, but you will need to pay for a subscription to unlock the thousands of live and on-demand classes available. A subscription runs $39.99 monthly or $399.99 for a year, so those numbers should be added to the bike's price, assuming you are interested in the studio workout experience. The EX-3 does not work with the Zwift or Peloton apps the way some other competitors do. It also works just fine without a subscription; you'll just need to control your workout and be self-motivated.
The EX-3 comes with a 30-day free trial of the EchelonFit app, so we signed up to take it for a test drive. During our test period, the app had over 5500 on-demand classes with a variety of instructors, music styles, and lengths of time. The classes ranged from beginner, hills, power, speed, low-impact, bike boot camp, and more. There were also over 30 scenic rides and over 1700 classes in the Fit Pass ranging from yoga and stretching to pilates and strength training. Additionally, there are several live-streaming classes throughout the day that you can join if you choose. Assuming you purchase a subscription, the sky's the limit for how far you take your fitness and training. That said, the bike is still operated manually, and you need to adjust the resistance as you ride along to the classes.
The bike itself is pretty impressive. It looks and feels like a commercial spin bike you would find at a gym or spin studio. It features 32 levels of smooth magnetic resistance that adjusts via a knob on the mainframe below the handlebar. Level 1 is very easy with virtually no resistance, while level 32 is as hard as it gets. There is plenty of resistance range to suit all fitness levels; even the strongest cyclists will not be left wanting more. The app also displays all of the information relevant to your workout, including speed, cadence, distance, calories burned, resistance level, elapsed time, and estimated power output in watts based on your resistance level and cadence. The bike feels very similar to an actual road bike, and it is sturdy and stable and can handle the hardest of out of the saddle efforts. It also has dual-function pedals with cages on one side and SPD clip-ins on the other. That way, you can ride in any shoes you like, including fancy cycling shoes. The EX-3 also comes with a slimmer performance-oriented saddle that is well suited to the high-performance intentions of this bike.
We found the EX-3 to be a comfortable exercise bike throughout our test period. It has lots of height adjustability in both the seat and handlebar, plus it comes with a 6-inch competition seat that is an agreeable shape and has ample padding.
We found little to complain about while testing the EX-3from a comfort standpoint. Echelon claims a recommended user height range of 4'11" to 6'4", and the seat post has 17 indexed half-inch adjustment increments. Our 6-foot tall tester with a 32-inch inseam had no trouble getting a proper fit, with about an inch of seat height adjustment to spare. The seat also moves fore and aft with up to 3 1/4 inches of adjustment possible. The handlebar can also be moved up and down in nine indexed half-inch increments. Unfortunately, the handlebar is in a fixed position atop the handlebar mast, and it can't be moved closer or further from the rider. The EX-3 comes with a 6-inch competition seat that we found to provide a high comfort level. It is generously padded with an agreeable, performance-oriented shape and a pressure relief cutout. Riders who prefer a larger shelf or platform may find the stock seat to be a bit too narrow, but we liked it for high-intensity training rides.
The EX-3 is somewhat of an outlier in this metric because it doesn't come with a console or screen. Instead, it pairs with your device through a Bluetooth connection, and that device serves as the screen that displays your workout information as well as any live or on-demand class you might choose. The bike does have a highly adjustable device holder, as well as a USB charging port so you can keep your device charged.
Since the EX-3 doesn't have a screen or an LCD display of any kind, you will need to use one that you already have or purchase one for that purpose. A highly adjustable device holder can fit a large range of devices and rotates 180 degrees so you can line it up perfectly for your needs. The EchelonFit app is required to operate the bike, and a paid subscription is only needed if you want the studio workout experience. You can use a smartphone or a tablet, but we found that a larger screen is preferred, especially when using the app for a scenic ride or on-demand class.
The screen shows a wealth of information at a glance, with elapsed time, cadence, resistance level, distance, current speed, calories burned, and output in watts. While this system works well, we were a bit dismayed that you can't ride this bike without using a device and logging into the app. We think it would be nice if this bike also had an LCD display, and you could ride it without using the app or a screen. The EX-3 must be plugged in to support the Bluetooth feature and adjust the magnetic resistance.
Echelon has loaded the EX-3 with many features that enhance its user-friendliness and exercise quality. It is among the most feature-packed models we've tested. In addition to its connectivity, it has just about every bell and whistle you can think of, minus a screen.
The EX-3 is one of several models in Echelon's Connect line of indoor cycling bikes. This bike connects to your device through Bluetooth, and the device acts as your screen. It has a large adjustable device holder, as well as a USB port for charging your device while you ride. The bike requires that you use the EchelonFit app to operate it, and you can pay for a subscription to take advantage of thousands of on-demand and live streaming workouts.
The EX-3 has a heavy-duty steel frame that supports a 33 lb weighted flywheel and riders up to 300 lbs. The front stabilizer has integrated transport wheels, and all four feet have independent levelers to keep the bike stable. The handlebar and seat have loads of height adjustment, and the seat can also be adjusted fore and aft for a personalized fit. The 6-inch competition seat has a performance-oriented shape with a pressure relief cutout. A rack for hand weights (sold separately) is attached to the seat slide rail, and there are two bottle cages attached to the frame. The large rubber-coated handlebar is suitable for a wide range of hand positions and seated and standing pedaling. It also comes with versatile, dual-function pedals that have cages on one side and SPD clip-in compatibility on the other. The EX-3 comes with a one-year limited parts and labor warranty.
Ease of Setup/Portability
The EX-3 was among the most time-consuming to set up out of all the exercise bikes we tested. It came with tools and detailed instructions, and it took about 45 minutes to remove all of its packaging and complete the remaining assembly. Once assembled, it takes up the same amount of space as other upright models, although its heavier weight can make it a little awkward to move around.
The Echelon EX-3 is a heavyweight at 105 lbs, so it came as no surprise that it was challenging to move around in its shipping box. We would highly recommend getting another person to help you move it and get the bike out of the box. Once the cycle is out of the box, a single person can complete the remaining assembly. It takes a few minutes to remove all of the protective packing materials from the frame and all of the parts, but our bike arrived in perfect condition with no shipping damage. The bike comes with printed assembly instructions with color photos detailing the steps in the process. All of the tools needed are also included. Most of the steps were relatively straightforward, including attaching the front and rear stabilizers, pedals, the seat, handlebar and handlebar mast, and the console. One of the most challenging tasks is feeding the cable through the handlebar mast, although Echelon has preloaded a long twist tie to expedite and simplify the process. Once the bike is assembled, it needs to be plugged in and connected via Bluetooth to a device with the EchelonFit app.
Once the EX-3 is assembled, it is fairly easy to move around on firm, flat surfaces thanks to the integrated transport wheels. That said, the 105 lb weight of the bike makes it a bit of a challenge to move up or down stairs, and we'd recommend getting the help of another person if you intend to do so. Like most other upright exercise bikes we tested, the EX-3 has a moderate-size footprint. Our test bike measured 54.5" L x 20" W x 55" H.
Should You Buy the Echelon EX-3?
If you're in search of a high-quality exercise bike and a studio workout experience, the Echelon EX-3 is a great option to consider. This bike provides an excellent workout quality that rivals the more expensive and well-known competition at a price that is much easier to stomach. The high quality and great adjustability make it one of the most comfortable bikes we tested, and if you purchase the app, it has one of the best workout programs as well. We also appreciate that when compared to a competitor like Peloton, it is roughly half the price with a similarly excellent exercise quality. We recommend this for people who enjoy having more quality and structure to their riding but don't want to shell out the cash for a more expensive bike. However, keep in mind that the price will go up after purchasing extras such as an outside console and an app subscription.
What Other Exercise Bikes Should You Consider?
If exercise quality is your top priority and what drew you to the Echelon in the first place, then the Schwinn IC4 is a good alternative to check out. It costs a bit less and comes with loads of features that make it more versatile. The Renpho AI Smart Bike is a more moderately priced option that performs well and has connectivity via its app as well as some other programs.
— Jeremy Benson
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