Echelon EX3 Review: Works Like a Charm on Zwift & Peloton
Echelon is a huge name in the indoor cycling spinning world. They have made an amazing brand and community around these bikes second only to Peloton. I was lucky enough to be able to review the Echelon EX3.
The EX3 is one of the main Echelon models and currently the second most basic in its range. It sits alongside the EX1, EX5, EX5s, EX7s and the Connect Sport. Though on the Website they currently only offer EX5s, EX3, and Connect Sport. Although considered basic to Echelon, this Spinning bike is pretty advanced in the Spin bike world.
Warranty and Price
The bike is beautiful. The first thing to mention is that it comes in three colours which I thought was really cool. Black, Red and Black and White. It has a rear flywheel, feels really high quality and really looks something special in my opinion. It’s $1000 currently making it a mid range bike. Mid range is where you will find the majority of spinning bikes so it has a lot of competition.
Assembly is not challenging at all. The tools are all provided and it’s really straightforward. The warranty is a year, which isn’t the shortest i’ve seen but definitely not the longest. Echelon has always been known as a heavy hitter in the Indoor cycle market, we know they can punch at the top but can they make a fight off some of the mid range spinning bikes?
Connectivity and Apps
The Echelon EX3 doesn’t come with a screen unfortunately, but don’t let that disappoint you. The indoor cycling bike is actually designed to be used with your own tablet or phone. You have a lovely high quality holder on the front of the bike along with a USB port on the side for changing a device.
After you link up with the Echelon App on your tablet via Bluetooth FTMS and you’re ready to go. The bike does have Bluetooth but not ANT/+ though. The cost of the App is $39.99 a month. When you have it loaded you will have access to thousands of classes.
The last time I checked it was 3500 recorded classes. They offer also several live classes every day and it’s not just spinning. You have Boxing, Pilates, HIIT, Strength and Conditioning. I appreciate it’s not cheap but it is an amazing community and completely opens your world of fitness.
One thing I loved about this bike was being able to join a live class with a friend then chat about it after we had both done it and compared figures. When you’re in the classes you get all the data you need, time, distance, heart rate, calories, rpm, resistance level and even watts.
For the Heart Rate you will require a Bluetooth heart rate monitor. The power reading will come in watts and on this bike is an estimate, but for $1000 I wouldn’t expect a direct power meter.
A question asked by many is can this bike link with apps such as Peloton and Zwift. Fortunately it can perfectly with Zwift and Peloton. Although on to Peloton you can only link its RPM and controllable for power zone auto resistance, on Zwift, you can link cadence/RPM, speed, heart rate, and controllable for automatic resistance change.
You just need the Qdomyos Zwift application as a bridge and you are good to go. In a perfect wold, you shouldn’t need this bridge app but it’s also understandable as Echelonfit is a subscription platform they are running.
Resistance and Transmission
The transmission system on the bike is good and I can see they have put a lot of time in making it really user friendly. The first thing to mention is it is a belt drive, from the information I can find from Echelon it is polymer and made to last a long time and to be very durable. It’s a flat belt and not notched, so it’s a good belt but cannot compete with a very high end bike such as the Stages SC which uses a carbon notched belt.
That aside it will require no lubrication or maintenance. The next thing to mention is that it is a magnetic frictionless system making the bike resistance change effortlessly and smoothly. I have to mention that the bike is one of the quietest bikes on the market. It’s so silent, this system they have produced is perfect if you live in a flat or spin at an awkward time of the day.
I was so impressed when hearing it just how little noise it made. The bike produces 32 resistance levels and these are displayed on your tablet’s screen when you’re working out and feel really easy to adjust via the dial at the front.
If you don’t want to use its resistance knob, you can set the bike to change its resistance automatically when you are connected to Zwift or Peloton because it has both manual and electronic magnetic resistance which is why it’s one of the best Peloton alternatives at an unbeatable price. It will cater for a new spinner to a seasoned pro cyclist and its nice to see yourself work up the levels as you get fitter.
Pedals and Q-Factor
The pedals are of a great quality and have not just toe clips but also SPD clip in options to use specific indoor cycling shoes if you wish to. On a bike at this price I wasn’t expecting that and it was a surprising bonus. The pedal thread is also standard 9/16 so they can also be swapped out for other options if you wanted to.
The Q Factor, this is the distance between the cranks arms, is very large. Road bikes would be 150mm, mountain bikes would be 170mm and spin bikes are normally around this or slightly larger. This bike is 202mm, which is very large.
To you standard spinner you wouldn’t notice this. If you are an avid road cyclist you will notice this and might find it might take a few rides to get used to it as you will power more from your hips.
Flywheel and Sturdiness
The flywheel is 28lbs which is fairly light but on a magnetic system will work just as effectively as a heavy flywheel on a friction system. Something to mention the flywheel as you can see in the pictures points to the rear. This is all well and good but it might not be the bike for you if you live in a house with kids around as it’s not protected. the Echelon EX15 would be a better choice if that’s the case because it has a fully covered flywheel.
The frame is of a very high quality and as mentioned before has a great design with that rear facing flywheel. The bike itself weighs 110lbs and as far as bikes in this range go it’s heavy. It’s 54” in length, 54” tall and 19” width. It’s quite a long bike but very small in width.
It can accommodate riders from 4ft 6” to 6ft 6” and this is a huge range so definitely a bike for the whole family. The max user weight is 300lbs and the bike is easy to move about on transportation wheels which is a blessing as it’s not a light bike.
Comfort and Performance
The handlebars are fairly basic and have a nice feel to them. They are dipped and come with the tablet mount in front and everything feels secure and they do the job but there is no drop or elbow pads on the handles. I am aware they improved the handlebars on the Echelon EX4S, EX5, and EX7s bikes.
The saddle is actually of a very high quality and most people find it very comfortable and easy to get used to espceially compared to Nordictrack S22i‘s saddle. The saddle can move horizontally and vertically and the handlebars just move vertically.
This model does not come with bottle holders but the Echelon EX5 and EX5-S smart connect indoor bikes do. As you can imagine those improvements also come with a heavier price tag. All in all even without the horizontal handlebar adjustment and elbow pads, the Echelon EX3 performed very well in short and long indoor cycling rides.
Echelon EX3 Indoor Bike Specifications:
- Q-Factor: 202mm
- Pedals: Dual-sided Toe clip Spd
- Flywheel: 28 Pounds
- Resistance: Manual + Electronic Magnetic
- Transmission: Belt
- Weight capacity: 300 Pounds
- Height capacity: 4’6″ – 6’6″
- Bike weight: 110 Pounds
- Bike dimension: 19″W x 54″H x 54″L
- Monitor: None
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
- Applications: Echelon, Zwift, Peloton, Kinomap, and Strava through Qdomyos.
- RPM tracking: Yes
- Speed tracking: Yes
- Watt tracking: Estimation
- Resistance tracking: Yes
Echelon EX3 Comparable Indoor Bikes
When considering alternatives comparable to the Echelon EX3, two notable indoor cycling bikes to explore are the Schwinn IC4 and the Niceday.
The Schwinn IC4 stands out as the top choice among Echelon EX3 alternatives, thanks to its built-in backlit screen. Unlike the Echelon EX3, the IC4 offers a console with backlighting, making it easier to track your metrics in various lighting conditions. Additionally, the IC4 boasts a heavier 40 lb flywheel, horizontally adjustable handlebars, and even includes dumbbells and holders, providing added convenience and versatility. While it is compatible with popular cycling apps like Zwift, Kinomap, and Peloton, it lacks the Echelon EX3’s automatic resistance feature for Zwift uphills or Peloton classes.
On the other hand, for those seeking a budget-friendly Echelon EX3 comparable indoor cycling bike, the Niceday is a compelling option. While it may not offer the Echelon’s automatic resistance, it compensates with a 3×4 rotatable monitor that comes included with the bike itself, eliminating the need to rely on your phone or tablet for tracking. Furthermore, the Niceday boasts a 15-lb heavier flywheel (45 lb in total) compared to the Echelon EX3, contributing to a smoother and more realistic riding experience. Notably, it features a spacious media tray that fit up to 15″ tablets, SPD dual-sided pedals, and a Bluetooth FTMS transmitter, ensuring a seamless connection to your favourite spin bike apps.
Whether you prioritize a backlit screen, additional features, compatibility with specific apps, or budget considerations, both the Schwinn IC4 and the Niceday offer appealing alternatives to the Echelon EX3. Take these factors into account to determine which option best suits your indoor cycling needs.
I really like the Echelon EX3 exercise bike. It’s well built, it’s a lot of fun to ride and the community around Echelon is amazing. If you already have a tablet and are looking to upgrade your spinning bike game this is perfect and is great value for money. It’s a very cost-effective way to get into the interactive spinning world at a much cheaper price than a fully interactive bike. If you are looking for an intense training machine to become a Tour De France Cyclist then this isn’t the bike for you as that Q factor and the Estimated watts might make it challenging. The value in this bike is having the ability to transmit ride data to online cycling applications and enjoy the automatic resistance. For virtual indoor cycling the Echelon EX3 indoor bike is incredible and I highly recommend it.
- Automatic Magnetic Resistance
- Good Warranty and customer support
- Tablet mount and USB charging port
- Dual-Sided Pedals with SPD and cages
- Great Quality and Sturdy Built
- Quiet Belt Drive Transmission
- FTMS Bluetooth Connectivity
- There is no built-in screen/monitor on the bike
- Handlebars don't adjust horizontally
- An app connection is needed to stats
- No power meter (power is estimated)
- No armrests on the handlebars