The Flywheel Home Bike was a relatively new entrant to the market that was looking to dethrone Peloton as the leader in at-home streaming spin classes. They attempted to go head-to-head with Peloton in terms of both pricing and quality of product and service. The business model was near identical—classes recorded in one of Fly’s studios in Manhattan, and live streaming was available for real-time participation. The bike itself (as you’ll see below), was very well built for its price of entry, and the cult-like following that Fly had already developed in the indoor cycling studio scene has already converted a significant audience who were looking to take advantage of bringing Fly classes into their own home.
Unfortunately, after a legal battle between the two brands, it seems Peloton came out on top, and Flywheel was forced to end production of its bike. This is an unfortunate set of circumstances for riders who purchased the Flywheel bike during its brief run, and it’s also a real eye opener when it comes to this category. With any new upstart brands there are risks involved, which is why we are often more prone to recommend fitness equipment from brands that have been in the category for a longer period.
Rating: 90/100. Seeing where the Flywheel home bike stacks up in the market is interesting on account of the growing affordable alternatives popping up on the scene. Brands like Echelon, Horizon, and Bowflex have come out with more price-conscious bikes capable of running the Peloton training app, bringing down the overall cost of the “Peloton experience”. Fortunately for Fly, the same cannot be said of their streaming instruction services, meaning that if you really want the “Fly Experience” you’ll at the very least have to go with their base-spec bike.
One of the key differences about how the Flywheel home bike operates in comparison to the Peloton bike is in how it captures and uses ride data. Because the Flywheel home bike is designed to be used in connection with a smart TV or tablet (when purchased without a built-in screen), the bikes sensors feed data to a controller that then pushes the requisite info into the Flywheel Sports app regardless of where you’re choosing to follow along. This method is in stark contrast to that of Peloton, whose sensors feed directly to its built-in screen. Some people have made the case that the setup of the Flywheel home bike is more versatile in terms of product development/evolution. and I tend to agree with them. Given the fervent evolution of tech (especially when it comes to phones, tablets, and other display devices), this seems like a good bit of future-proofing on the part of Flywheel.
Looking at the bike’s build construction, there are a few specific highlights to call out. It uses magnetic resistance (standard for this price bracket), a belt drive for its flywheel (to ensure quiet operation), and LOOK Delta compatible cycling shoes (fairly standard). One differentiating factor when compared to some bikes is the fact that most of the bike’s running gear other than its pedals is encased inside a hard plastic shroud. Not something you’d necessarily think of offhand, but Flywheel suggests that this was done as an added safety precaution for those with small children or pets in the house.
Here are lists of pros and cons we’ve noted in a preliminary Flywheel home bike review.
- Thousands of enthusiastic customer reviews & very few complaints
- Stream from an archive of pre-recorded spin classes
- Compete in real-time with live class participants
- Delivers Peloton-style experience that you can run though TV or tablet instead of built-in screen
- Bluetooth enabled for audio, heart rate sensor integration, and other functions
- Sturdy frame construction
- Great adjustability for ergonomics — accommodates riders from 5’1” to 7’0″
- Off-bike workouts also available with subscription
- Smaller screen than Peloton (15.6″ vs 21.5″)
- More affordable competitors now in the market
- Shorter than standard warranty length
- Questionable sustainability of business model
Flywheel Workout Programs
Surprisingly there are more types of workout classes from Flywheel that take you off the bike than there are conventional spin classes. Here’s how it all breaks down:
Flywheel’s signature HIIT style spin class, and a fan favorite of any and all who’ve taken part in their in-studio sessions. Fast flats and hard inclines take riders through a strenuous ride, with just the right amount of downtime to survive the 45-minute session. These workouts also include a minor upper body workout element to even things out a bit.
Consider this the leveled-up version of Method, and a class model that Flywheel suggests not to take on unless you have at least a few Method sessions under your belt. The recovery gaps are shorter, the hills are longer, and the upper body workout has been removed to focus your energy on the ride at hand.
Once again in the interval training category, Tempo is a more rhythm/beat based workout that fuses core exercises and spin into one seamless workout. Confused? So were we at first, so here’s a video we found that explains it better than we can. Think of it like a uniquely choreographed dance workout while clipped into your exercise bike?
Hopping off the bike, Flywheel Sports classes break out into three categories, starting with FlyBarre. Broken out into different key groups (Core, Upper, Lower, Arms & Abs, etc), FlyBarre focuses on light weight with a higher pacing and rep volume. These classes make a good hybrid of calorie burn and strength training without being a full-on lifting workout.
In contrast, FlyFit classes also come in several variations, but trade off frequency for heavier weights. The intensity is still high, and the classes are split into categories of total body, upper body, lower body, and core. You’ll have to have a set of weights handy for this, with an operating range of between 5 and 20lbs.
Given the intensity of so many of their programs having some recovery on the docket makes sense. Flywheel didn’t go overboard with yoga or other elaborate recovery programs, but you’ll find a good range of stretching and foam rolling programs in their database to ensure you’re properly stretched out before and after your workout routine.
Flywheel Home Bike Features
From a basic riding standpoint the Flywheel home bike ticks all of the requisite boxes that make a good spin bike. Designed to accommodate a wide range of rider heights, the usual adjustability is all there (seat height, seat fore and aft, handlebar height). As previously mentioned, the bike uses a magnetic resistance system with a 0-100 percent control knob—also an industry standard for this level of bike.
If you opt for the model with the built-in tablet, it isn’t the largest screen in the market, but at 15.6″ across the display is big and bright enough to get the job done. If anything, sometimes the 21.5″ screens offered by Peloton and NordicTrack both seem a little overwhelming. The screen itself is pretty much standard fare for the market, and by all accounts the brand’s app is fairly simple and seamless to navigate. It’s worth noting that Flywheel has put a lot of work into the FAQ/Getting started guides on their site, and there are plenty of answers if you’re struggling to get your bike fired up for the first time.
At a “comfort and convenience” level, there are some pros and cons here, though nothing that’s too out of the ordinary. Given the style of bike this is, you won’t find built in fans or big onboard speakers. Flywheel was thoughtful enough to include not one but two water bottle holders though, and given the intensity of their workouts I’ll take this over fancy speakers or a “utility tray” any day of the week.
For those considering the version of the Flywheel home bike without a screen, the mounting position of its tablet tray is a bit low. If you’re more of a “heads down” rider this will be perfectly natural, but road riders used to looking ahead while riding might find this a bit of a foreign posture until they get used to the setup.
Warranty & Guarantee
The Flywheel home bike warranty provides 12 months of coverage for the bike’s parts, electronics and labor. Extended warranties of two and three years are also available, priced at $175 and $225 respectively. This is a surprisingly short warranty in a market where 3-5 years or more is the norm. If we were talking about a bargain basement bike for a few hundred bucks we’d be satisfied with a 1-year warranty, but considering you’ll be into this thing for a couple grand, we’d expect a bit more back-end support.
All told, much like Peloton, the Flywheel home bike is a solid offering that very much speaks to the cultish nature of spin classes across the country. If you appreciate the live feedback, the friendly competition via a leaderboard, and being able to have that “in-class” feel at home, then the Flywheel home bike could be for you. I’d suggest also looking at the bike’s other closest competition, the NordicTrack S22i.