peloton bike vs sunny indoor bike

The Peloton Bike is super popular in a way that riding a bicycle indoors never was before. Let’s see how the $2245 Peloton compares to a regular indoor bike that costs 10 times less!

Our comparison model is the Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Indoor Bike – a very popular bike that’s easily ordered from Amazon.com. The price? A mere $250 brand new. (And yes, it’s eligible for free shipping through Amazon Prime.)

If you can get a bike this cheap, what’s the point of buying a Peloton?

The Sunny Health & Fitness Bike vs The Peloton Bike

sunny health and fitness indoor bike SF-B901

We’re going to compare a value price bike ($250) to the Peloton bike, which costs 10 times more! (And requires a nearly $40 monthly subscription service on top of that!)

Total cost of ownership

What’s the total cost of ownership?

The Peloton costs $2245 for the base model + $39 monthly.

Yes, a monthly subscription is required! You could ride the bike without the subscription, and still get more data than you’d get with the Sunny bike, but realistically, there’s no point buying the Peloton if you’re not 100% into the content.

The Sunny bike costs $250 and that’s it, you’re done. Just a one time fee.

(When it comes to the accessories like pedals and shoes, a mat, and weights, you’d need those with either bike.)

Winner: Sunny

There are obvious reasons the Peloton machine is more expensive. But if you’re price sensitive, the cheap Sunny bike is the clear winner.

Financing

Peloton offers 0% financing, which allows you to buy one today and pay it off slowly, without a penalty. (Expect payments of ~ $100 per month for 39 months.)

The Sunny bike is so cheap you could put it on your credit card. It doesn’t really need financing.

Winner: Tie

Set up

Both bikes come with free shipping, but Peloton also includes free setup.

With the Sunny, you have to build it yourself, which requires tools and know-how. And you have to hope that it includes all the necessary hardware in the box and that none of the parts are missing or broken.

Granted, there aren’t that many parts to an exercise bike. The flywheel and frame are already assembled; mostly you’re just attaching the seat, handlebar, and bottom supports. You may need to tweak the chain guard to make sure it’s lined up and verify the chain tension is correct. Most people can do it in 30 minutes.

When it becomes a problem is if parts are missing or something is defective, you’ll have to go through Sunny’s customer service, or maybe Amazon’s customer service. There’s no official company rep nearby with a van full of spare parts.

Winner: Peloton

Getting a Peloton bike is like getting a major appliance delivered and installed. You pay for the finished product, in your home, working and ready to use.

Maintenance

The fact that the Peloton is professionally built on-site is going to cut down on maintenance in the future. The bike also uses a belt drive, which shouldn’t require much maintenance. Occasionally you’ll want to make sure that all bolts are tight, and clean off your corrosive sweat after every ride. That’s about it.

The tricky part is the screen and their proprietary software. That’s where things could get complicated – that’s not typical bicycle maintenance!

The Sunny bike is probably going to require more maintenance. You’ll need to lube the chain every so often. You’ll need to lube the flywheel with a special silicone lubricant so that the felt brake pads don’t squeal or get too hot (which I’ve heard smells like burning hair!) And occasionally you’ll need to tighten the seat and handlebar to keep them in position.

Winner: Peloton

The Peloton is a solid machine that when set up properly, should be reliable and low-maintenance.

Warranty

The Peloton comes with a 1-year limited warranty. Most parts are covered for one year; the frame is covered for five years. They’ll repair or replace components, even the belt drive and the touchscreen. Labor is included, too. (Details here.)

You also have the option to purchase an extended warranty, known as the Peloton Bike Service Plan. This is overseen by a third-party on behalf of Peloton. It costs $175 for an additional 12 months or $230 for 27 months. (Details here and here.)

If this was just a bike, I’d probably save the money to put toward any components that happen to break. But it’s not. There’s a tablet computer attached, that’s very important to proper functioning. And electronics like that are 1) easy to break and 2) expensive to replace. (I’ve heard it’s $750 to replace the screen. Yikes!)

In addition to the warranty, Peloton maintains an entire Support website with lots of answers.

In general, I hear great reports from people about working directly with Peloton for repairs, parts, and service. But… if you have to work with the third-party handling the extended coverage… I’m not so sure.

The Sunny comes with a 3-year warranty on the frame but only a 180-day warranty on other parts and components. (Details here.)

A 6-month warranty isn’t particularly confidence-inspiring. If you look through enough Amazon reviews, you see that sometimes Sunny doesn’t even honor their warranty. For example, there are a number of reports of crank arms and pedals shearing off during normal use. Those parts should be covered under the warranty, but some people say they call in about the warranty and Sunny tells them the warranty only covers the frame. That contradicts what is on their website, so, buyer beware.

Winner: Peloton

Peloton offers a much better warranty, and it seems they honor it.

Fun Factor

Peloton has a built-in screen right in front of your face that displays live classes with professional instructors. It’s the closest thing you can get to being in a studio, without actually being there. You can give virtual high fives and see where you rank on the leaderboard.

This experience is what you’re paying for!

If you’re riding the Sunny bike… you have to make your own fun. You have to provide your own screen, watch TV or listen to music, and choreograph your own workouts.

Winner: Peloton

peloton bike website screenshot

The winner

There’s no need for a drum roll.

The Peloton bike is clearly superior.

The Sunny Health & Fitness Indoor Bike is not a worthy alternative to the Peloton Bike. Not even close. It’s so far off that this comparison didn’t even make sense!

The proper comparison is the Peloton bike plus subscription VS SoulCycle/Flywheel studio membership plus transportation and other fees. (In which case, seriously, the Peloton is a great value!)

If you really want the Peloton experience, and you can afford it, it’s worth it.

Can’t afford it?

If you’re reading this article, it means that price is a concern. So the $250 bike that’s affordable and will let you ride, is better than the bike you can’t afford.

So for you, maybe the Sunny bike is the winner after all.

Choosing a Sunny Health & Fitness Indoor Bike

If you’re looking for a cheap exercise bike, Sunny has a seemingly endless supply. (Seriously, they have soooooooooo many bikes that are very, very similar.)

They all have wheels for easily rolling them around. None of them fold. The flywheels are 40-50 lb. It seems, just slightly different frame sizes. And most are under $500.

The newer models have belt drives, which is about the biggest improvement you could ask for.

Which model is best for you?

Here’s the original: the SF-B901. With over 2,000 reviews on Amazon, and a 4-star rating, it seems like a bargain for $250.

The “Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike” has a chain drive (a little noisy); felt pad resistance, just like a rim brake on your regular bike (it will be hard to get gradual adjustments); and no water bottle cage (how will you stay hydrated?).

sunny health and fitness indoor bike SF-B901

Sparse features, but what a deal! The retail is $499.99, but you can find it on Amazon for around $250 or even less.

Based on the reviews, it works more often than not. But it’s a gamble. If it breaks, you’re left with a $250 paper weight. (A common theme in the Amazon.com reviews is for the crank arm or pedal to shear off, which can’t be replaced, leaving the bike unusable.)

You could opt for the SF-B1423. This one offers a belt drive (quiet); a different type of felt pad resistance, which applies pressure from the top down (more reliable); a little LCD screen to track time, speed, and distance; and it has an attached water bottle cage.

This one retails at $459.99, but I see it on Amazon for $250.

The next best choice is the SF-B1002. It has a belt drive; a heavier, 49 lb flywheel; a leather pad resistance mechanism (to avoid the smell of burning felt); and a water bottle cage.

This one retails for $599.99 but can be found on Amazon for around $300.

The prices are almost too good to be true.

Fortunately, there is a Sunny Health & Fitness bike that looks legit, and it’s still a fraction of the price of the Peloton.

My recommendation: the SF-B1516

sunny health and fitness indoor bike SF-B1516

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B1516 is their “commercial grade” machine. The retail price is $900.

It’s heavy and stable; it looks like a solid bike with high-quality parts. Specifically, the crank arms utilize a good design. (Remember, a common complaint on the other bikes is broken crank arms.)

This one costs $500 on Amazon and still has free Prime shipping.

Give it a look if it’s in your budget.

 

P.S. If you happen to have a large budget, just not Peloton large, consider the premium bikes from Sunny Health & Fitness. These are sold under the “Asuna” name and they are fantastic machines. There’s the 7100, the 7130, and the 7150. Even the 7150 is less than half the price of a Peloton!

asuna 7150 indoor bike

You could buy one of those, hook it up to your tablet computer or smart TV, and access live classes via the Peloton app for just $19 per month. (Yes, you can use the Peloton app without their bike.)

Would you purchase one of these bikes instead of the Peloton? Or is the Peloton worth it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!

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1 Comment
  1. You could buy a Sunny bike, a pedal-based power meter, and a subscription to Zwift.

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