The Echelon Smart Connect EX3 Max Bike is purpose built for spin class and endurance cycling workouts in the comfort and privacy of your own home. It would suit anyone looking for a low-impact cardio workout to help them lose or maintain weight, and to generally boost their cardio health. We tested the bike over a three-week period and it’s now our top pick of the best exercise bikes (opens in new tab).
The bike isn’t without it’s little annoyances though, which includes being somewhat tricky to assemble if you aren’t used to putting home gym (opens in new tab) equipment together. It’s also heavy when built. As we recommend with the best bike trainers (opens in new tab), you could place a mat underneath it to protect your floor.
The Echelon Smart Connect EX3 Max Bike is priced at $1,199/£1,199, though we are already seeing it sell for a slightly reduced price ahead of Amazon Prime Day 2020 (opens in new tab). Despite its more affordable price tag compared to something like a Peloton or Bowflex, the Smart Connect EX3 Max Bike has a lot of great features.
Echelon Smart Connect EX3 Max Bike: Spec
- Weight: 105lbs
- Style: Upright
- Warranty: One year
- Workouts: Over 3,500, plus live classes (via FitPass)
- Resistance levels: 32
- Footprint: 950(L) x 505(W)mm
- Max rider weight: 300lbs
Echelon Smart Connect EX3 Max Bike review: Design
One glance at the new Echelon will tell you this is a fitness bike built to last. The Smart Connect EX3 Max Bike is durable and heavy, and noticeably quiet when in use. There’s no console here, so you’ll need to place your tablet in the display cradle to exercise along with Echelon classes, and to view your workout stats.
That display cradle can hold phones too, plus any screen up to 12.9-inches. It can also be rotated 180 degrees for off-bike workouts (think yoga, zumba and HIIT).
We found the padded seat was very comfortable during longer endurance training sessions, and loved how it can be adjusted up or down through 17 different height levels. It can also be moved backwards and forwards. If you live with others who may also want to use this bike, having an easily adjustable seat is mandatory.
The ergonomic handlebars are durable and comfortable too, and the SPD compatible aluminium pedals with adjustable toe cages are welcome. There are two holders at the back for water bottles or small dumbbells.
A 13kg flywheel is used for 32 levels of magnetic resistance, making the Echelon Smart Connect EX3 Max Bike challenging enough for most riders. The bike doesn’t fold up when not in use, so once built, that’s it.
In terms of warranty, the EX3 comes with a 30-day money back guarantee and a one-year limited parts and labor warranty, so not the longest warranty we’ve seen. Extended warranties are available for an extra cost. For contrast, the Schwinn IC4 Exercise Bike (opens in new tab) offers a 10-year frame warranty.
Echelon Smart Connect EX3 Max Bike review: Features
The Bluetooth connected EX3 connects to your smartphone (opens in new tab) or tablet for workout monitoring, though we also wore our Fitbit Charge 4, one of the best fitness trackers (opens in new tab) for tracking indoor cycling.
Most of the EX3 action revolves around the Echelon Fit app, and luckily this is a well-designed app with an intuitive layout. It’s also where you access a veritable feast of workouts. We spent three weeks breaking a sweat with the new Echelon exercise bike and the hardest part for us was selecting which class to jump in on.
In addition to cycling based workouts, you can do off-bike classes including Zumba, yoga, pilates, HIIT, kickboxing, stretching, body strength training and more.
You can join live classes or dig through the 3,500+ on-demand workouts at a time that suits you. So no more having to race to the gym to make a specific spin class - with the Echelon Fit app, spin class comes to you. It isn’t the same as being in a room with 20 other people all sweating it out to the same beat, but it’s still fun.
Don’t be surprised if the Echelon Smart Connect EX3 Max Bike brings out a competitive streak in you, either. How come? The leaderboard. You’ll see this displayed on the left-hand side of the Echelon Fit app. It basically tells you how many people are working out in the same class as you, and where you’re currently placing in terms of your effort.
When you take part in a class, your username and fitness metrics appear on the screen. These show you how hard you’re working, how many calories you’ve burned, your maximum output and so on.
While it’s easy to find an Echelon workout or instructor that resonates with you, we would have preferred if the EX3 offered some pre-programmed workouts, rather than everything being accessible via the app only. And how much does Echelon Fit cost? $39.99/£39.99 a month, or a one-off annual payment of $399.99/£399.99.
This cost is comparable with other leading online fitness workout services, so we’re used to seeing this kind of price. However, if that’s too much for you, take a look at the Nautilus U618 Upright Bike (opens in new tab) with its 29 pre-programmed workouts.
Echelon Smart Connect EX3 Max Bike review: Performance
Getting started with the EX3 is simple. We were given free access to the Echelon App for review purposes, and our experience involved downloading the app to our Apple iPad Air, then using the supplied log-in details. According to user reviews of the bike, creating an account is quick and easy.
One you’ve signed in and your device is synced with the Smart Connect EX3 Max Bike, you’re ready to start. We’d recommend watching the instructional videos first to ensure you have set up the bike correctly, and to learn the right form for exercising on the Echelon bike. Once done, you’re free to hit any class you want.
We did a mix of spin and endurance classes, and just a couple of scenic rides. We found those incredibly boring (and the video quality wasn’t great) compared to the workouts.
Oh, and unless your tablet has excellent speakers, we’d recommend pairing your device with sweatproof wireless headphones so that you can listen to each Echelon video as loud as you want to get immersed in your workout.
The instructor will tell you when to increase or decrease resistance on the bike, when to stand, when to sit, when to focus on your cadence, and when to pedal like crazy. If you want an endorphin rush to set you up for the day, choose a high-octane spin class. There’s even 15-minute classes available for those short on time.
Should you buy the Echelon Smart Connect EX3 Max Bike?
Echelon has done a great job with the Echelon Smart Connect EX3 Max Bike, and we loved working out at home using the bike for spin and endurance training. The heavy flywheel means it’s quiet in use, and multiple resistance levels make it a challenge when you’re ready for it.
While the scenic rides are a little too boring for us (we’d rather head outdoors for a ride), the workout classes were sweaty and fun. We’ve focused solely on the cycling workouts for our Echelon Smart Connect EX3 Max Bike review, but there’s a lot in the app to ensure you have a well-rounded fitness routine.
While it doesn’t recreate the vibe you get in an actual spin class (the lights, the sound system, the camaraderie), in the age of COVID the Echelon Smart Connect EX3 Max Bike is a fun way to stay spin-class fit at home.
Looking for more fitness content? Take a look at our guide to the best treadmills (opens in new tab) for running and walking indoors, or the best elliptical machines (opens in new tab) for cross-training.