Zwift vs Peloton – Is it a Better Alternative?

Zwift vs Peloton

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Staying fit during extreme weather is a challenge most cyclists or bike lovers have faced for decades.

However, thanks to the recent growth of indoor biking solutions, you now have many viable options. Two of the most popular choices in 2019 are the peloton indoor bike or Zwift.

Before choosing the peloton bike or a zwift setup, there are some things you must first consider. In this article, we'll make a comparison of the peloton vs zwift and share all the most essential facts. However, before we jump into the comparison, we'll tell you a little about each indoor biking solution.

Zwift is an online training app for cyclists or runners that allows them to meet and compete with each other in their homes. For cycling, the app works in conjunction with a smart trainer and your bike to simulate a real-world riding experience. So even during extreme weather you can quickly jump on your zwift setup and get a thorough workout.

The apps elite coaches built zwift as a social gaming community that allows riders and athletes to stay fit at any time. Zwift app features hundreds of free events and races for you to join at any time. 

Zwift and Peloton Comparison

One key difference between the zwift app and other digital training software like peloton's app is that zwift is more of a social gaming community than just live spin classes.

What is Peloton?

The peloton is an indoor exercise bike that features live spin classes from expert NYC fitness trainers. Peloton bikes feature a 22" Display that runs the peloton digital app. Peloton bikes are built using a carbon steel frame and feature a near quiet belt drive system attached to a perimeter weighted flywheel.

In addition, the bike has a smooth magnetic resistance system that you can tune while you exercise.

Peloton bikes are great for persons that want to stay fit but not so great for real cycling enthusiasts. While a peloton bike does offer the ability to do free rides and their live classes are fun to take part in; the zwift setup is more suitable for cyclists. We'll show you why in the comparison section below.

Zwift Vs Peloton Comparison

If you aren't just looking for a peloton bike for their app and instead want rides that simulate real-world riding, then zwift is where you'll find it. In this section, we compare the peloton vs zwift and look at the similarities and difference on both setups. We also look at what each will cost, and the key things you need to know.

To start, we'll look at what you need for either setup and the cost.

What do you need for the Peloton Cycle?

Getting a peloton will always be something to question internally.

Realistically, do you need to spend $2000 to stay fit at home? Will it be worth it? If you can afford it, then you might not be asking those questions. However, from a cost standpoint, you could save a lot of money by looking at peloton alternatives.

But if you decide to go with a peloton bike here's what you will need.

Firstly, you need to get their bike which at the lowest will cost you $2,245. If you already own basic riding gear then getting just the bike will be enough for you. Otherwise, you'll need some essentials to go with the peloton bike.

At this point, your total cost to set up the peloton indoor training cycle is already at $2400. However, that's still not enough as you'll even need a heart rate monitor and a bike mat as you'll likely sweat a lot! The bike mat and the heart rate monitor will be an addition of $100. So, all in all, you should expect to spend $2500 for the peloton bike.

The zwift setup, on the other hand, is a fraction of the cost you'll need to spend on the peloton! Moreover, the workout that you'll get with zwift will likely trump that of the pelotons.

What do you need to get started with Zwift?

Most people think that setting up Zwift in your home costs a lot or is difficult, but they couldn't be any more wrong. You can set up the zwift for as low as $200 as all you need is your bike and a device that can run the app plus a smart trainer.

Here's a quick setup guide for different zwift budgets:

Zwift - Budget-Friendly Setup

If you're on a budget but already own a bike and a mobile phone, then this is the best zwift setup for you and or persons with small budgets. The first thing you'll need to purchase is a SuperMats Heavy Duty Equipment Mat to put the bike on to reduce the mess you'll make with your sweat.

You'll also need to get a CycleOps Climbing Riser Block to provide a stable ride. The CycleOps riser block features a 3-level design. With this riser block, you can stack multiple riser blocks to raise the height of your bike.

Additionally, you'll need to purchase a Bluetooth speed and cadence sensor from Wahoo and any phone mount to hold your mobile phone while you ride. For the Bluetooth sensor, you can also buy the speed sensor if you want to save on the cost.

zwift cheapest setup

The last piece you'll need for the budget zwift setup is a smart trainer.

We recommend the Sportneer Bike Trainer for the lowest price and best performance with six resistance settings.

If you decide to go with this trainer, you could skip the CycleOps Climbing Riser Block as it comes with one of its own.

So to start Zwifting on a budget, you'll be spending as low as $220! That's a tiny fraction of the cost of a peloton. For anyone that wants a real workout and not live spin classes, it's obvious which to choose.

Zwift - Mid-Range Budget Setup

Our next Zwift setup is for persons with a slightly larger budget. This setup will give you a much more realistic ride as you'll now be looking to add a smart trainer that can talk to the zwift app.

how to set up zwift cheap

The first part you'll need to get is the BKOOL GO Trainer or BKOOL Smart Pro 2 Trainer. We chose the BKOOL trainer as it already includes a USB ANT+ dongle which is essential for communicating with the Zwift game. 

Next up is a laptop or a PC setup with a monitor and the Zwift app. For choices in laptop or PC setup, we'll leave that up to you to decide. If you already own one then no need to buy anything else and you can move on to the next item.

You'll also need to get yourself a CycleOps Climbing Riser Block to stabilize your rides. Plus you should also purchase a floor mat and sweat net from RockBros to protect your floor.

Lastly, you'll need a sizeable fan, your bike, and a heart rate monitor to capture more information on while you train. This setup should cost you no more than $550 if you work with the items we recommended.

Zwift - High-End Setup

The last zwift configuration costs a little more than the previous setups due to the higher quality smart trainer we've decided to use. We will still need to get all the basics for this setup such as a heavy-duty floor mat, heart rate monitor, a fan, and a device to run zwift. 

For this setup, we recommend using the Wahoo Kickr smart trainer with Zwift as it provided the best feel for the price. You can buy the Kickr smart trainer directly from Wahoo's website here. 

In addition to the Wahoo Kickr, you'll need to get yourself a portable fitness desk to hold your laptop or tablet. You could also go all out and purchase a TCL 40" HD Smart TV plus a tv mount and then use a PC or a cheap Apple TV to run the game and send it to the screen.

For stability, we still recommend the same CycleOps Riser Block to hold your bike steady. In all, you should expect to spend around $1800 on the high-end setup. While the price might be a bit high, if you are serious about cycling and want to train indoors this is an investment that is well worth the cost.

Cost Comparison of Zwift vs Peloton

Now that you would have decided which zwift setup suits you best it should be evident that Zwift will be cheaper. And considering you get a more intense and realistic workout on the zwift we wouldn't recommend spending $2200 on the peloton.

What are the similarities and difference between Peloton vs Zwift?

There are a few similarities that both the zwift and peloton app have in common. The first is that both apps are community-based and use a social factor in keeping you interested in working out. The second is the different ride modes that you can choose from at any time.

One thing to note is that the peloton is more focused on their streaming of live classes. However, you do also have an option to do free rides with sceneries from around the world.

With Zwift there are four ways you can ride in the game. The first two are a Free Ride mode and a Group Ride mode where you can go around cycling with friends in a group. You can also do a Racing Mode or Workout Mode that gives you a much more intense workout and a truly engaging experience.

Another similarity we found after comparing the zwift vs peloton is that both apps can work with different bikes. However, while the peloton app can be used with different bikes to do the exercises; the content of the live app is for the peloton cycle. So if you don't have a peloton, you won't be getting the full benefits of the app. On the other hand, Zwift can be set up and used perfectly in with many bikes or smart trainers.

Furthermore, both apps do require a monthly subscription fee to use them. However, you do get a trial period of 14 days with the peloton app and 25 km ride distance with the Zwift. After the trial periods end, you will be required to pay 19.99 per month to continue using the peloton app. While for the zwift it is a little cheaper at $14.99 per month.

Conclusion

Both indoor biking solutions are great ways to stay fit at home. However, before choosing either zwift or peloton, you need to understand that they are suited for different persons.

We recommend the peloton bike for people that want to lose weight or stay fit at home and have a real interest in live spin classes. Additionally, you should only opt for the peloton bike if you have a decent budget upwards of $2000 to invest in a workout bike.

The Zwift setup is for persons that already own a bike or have a stronger interest in cycling or even just basic fitness. Still, if you don't already own a bike but have an interest in getting one, you should always consider the Zwift as an alternative to the peloton.

Setting up the zwift is cheap and easy to do and will take very little time to install in your home. Furthermore, Zwift has the added benefit or rehabilitating injuries and helping to train a cyclist riding form and endurance for real-life events. And lastly, it gives you the means to compete with other riders from around the world in a live environment in the comfort and safety of your home.

All in all, after comparing zwift vs peloton, we think zwift is a complete solution that does most of what other indoor biking apps like peloton can do or offer. It will cost you fewer dollars and help you quickly achieve your fitness goals whatever they may be.