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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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. This is a top-quality indoor bike that is 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 a Bluetooth connection 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 full year, so those numbers should be added into the price of the bike 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 self-motivate.
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, as well as over 1700 classes in the Fit Pass ranging from yoga and stretching to pilates and strength training. Additionally, there were a number of live-streaming classes throughout the day that you could 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 quite 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 is controlled by an adjustment knob on the main frame 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 of cyclists will not be left wanting for 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 comes with dual function pedals that have 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.
Throughout our test period, we found the EX-3 to be a comfortable exercise bike. 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 from a comfort standpoint while testing the EX-3. Echelon claims a recommended user height range of 4'11" to 6'4", and the seatpost 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 level of comfort. 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 a bit of an outlier in this metric because it doesn't come with a console or screen. Instead, it pairs to 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 the use of the app or a screen. The EX-3 also needs to be plugged in to power the Bluetooth and adjust the magnetic resistance.
Echelon has loaded the EX-3 with lots of 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 of the feet have independent levelers. 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 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 to us that it was challenging to move around in its shipping box. We would highly recommend getting another person to help you move it, and to get the bike out of the box. Once the bike is out of the box, the remaining assembly can be completed by a single person. 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 difficult 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.
We feel that the EX-3 is a relatively good value. When compared to a competitor like Peloton, for example, it is roughly half the price with a similarly excellent exercise quality. An important factor to consider when purchasing this bike is that you will need a tablet or similar device for the screen/console, and pay for the EchelonFit app subscription to enjoy all of the quality studio workouts and track your performance. The app adds a significant monthly or yearly expense that can't be overlooked. Without the app, this is still an excellent bike, though its functionality is somewhat limited compared to some other bikes on the market. It also comes with just a one-year parts and labor warranty, much shorter than some competitors.
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. There is no limit to how hard you can push it on this bike, and when used with the EchelonFit app you'll have thousands of on-demand and live streaming classes to choose from. The EX-3 is suitable for a huge range of fitness levels and goals, from beginners to hardcore riders. One of the biggest factors to keep in mind is the price of the EchelonFit app subscription, as this bike works but has somewhat limited functionality without it.
Other Versions and Accessories
Echelon makes a range of fitness equipment including smart rowers, wall-mount touchscreens, and 4 models of Connect exercise bikes. The EX-3 we tested falls in the middle of the range in terms of price.
The EX-5S is the top of the line version that comes with all of the features of the EX-3 we tested, plus a 21.5-inch HD touchscreen. The EX-5 is nearly identical to the EX-5S, although it has a smart device mount instead of the fancy touchscreen.The EX-1 is the least expensive model in the line. I looks very similar to the EX-3, in a slightly more basic package.
— Jeremy Benson