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There’s a Prime Exercise Bike, and Amazon Isn’t Happy

Look familiar? Hmm.
Look familiar? Hmm.
Image: Echelon

Just yesterday it seemed like a Peloton challenger had arrived. Echelon Fitness casually dropped the news it was launching the “Ex-Prime Smart Connect Bike,” or a $500 stationary bike that it claimed was “Amazon’s first-ever connected fitness product.” Except now Amazon is crying foul, saying it has nothing to do with the bike at all.

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The pitch for the so-called “Prime Bike” is that it is a cheaper version of the Peloton that, according to Engadget, was to be exclusively available to Prime subscribers. The design certainly is reminiscent of the original Peloton Bike, especially with the red resistance knob, though the Prime Bike doesn’t include its own screen. It instead has a tablet stand so customers can provide their own screen to access on-demand workouts. Another cost-cutting measure, according to Cycling Weekly, is that the Prime Bike uses toe straps instead of clip-on pedals.

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Yesterday, Bloomberg reported Peloton shares fell as much as 6.7% thanks to the news. Because, yeah, even though Peloton recently reduced the price of its OG bike to $1,895 from $2,245, $500 for something extremely similar is a hell of a markdown. It seemed too good to be true, and apparently it was.

As of this morning, Echelon’s original press release announcing the Prime Bike has been deleted. (Per the Verge, you can still find mirrors of it online.) The Amazon listing for the bike itself is still up, but is listed as “Currently unavailable” with an additional description saying “We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock.” Which is weird, given that there are already three reviews for the product dating back to Sept. 12, 10 days before the bike was even officially announced. In statements to both Engadget and Bloomberg, Amazon explicitly denied any involvement, saying, “This bike is not an Amazon product or related to Amazon Prime. Echelon does not have a formal partnership with Amazon. We are working with Echelon to clarify this in its communications, stop the sale of the product, and change the product branding.”

Hmm. It’s odd that, if Amazon truly hadn’t been involved at all, Echelon just went and claimed the bike was a Prime-exclusive product as if Amazon wouldn’t immediately find out. The timing of this whole thing is also strange given that Amazon is expected to announce a slew of products at an event tomorrow. An Echelon Fitness spokesperson told Gizmodo, “This product was built by Echelon to sell exclusively on Amazon, we are working to rebrand the product to get it back up for sale as soon as possible.” Okay. That makes sense given Amazon’s response, but it still does not clear up why Amazon was described as a partner to begin with. We’ve asked for clarification on that.

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It’s not abundantly clear that this “knockoff Peloton” bike would’ve posed a huge threat to Peloton. There’s no shortage of at-home fitness equipment with on-demand classes, including Tonal and Mirror. Not to mention, last week Apple also announced it was hopping aboard the at-home fitness train with its subscription service Fitness+. People who love Peloton genuinely love Peloton—which is in no small part due to the instructors. Plus, Peloton has knocked a blatant copycat on its ass before. Earlier this year, Peloton bested its rival Flywheel out of selling its at-home classes and bikes after slapping the smaller company with a lawsuit in 2018. A week ago, Flywheel filed for bankruptcy.

In any case, it’s clear that so long as the pandemic keeps gyms and boutique fitness studios shuttered, the at-home fitness craze isn’t going anywhere—and neither will the copycats.

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Consumer tech reporter by day, danger noodle by night. No, I'm not the K-Pop star.

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DISCUSSION

I feel like people are forgetting that you can buy the Peloton app without the bike? I have a Stages SC3 cycling bike (the same one I teach classes on at my gym — or did, pre-COVID) and I gave the Peloton app a try when they were offering a free 90-day trial in the early days of COVID. And I have to say... it’s really well done. As a cycling instructor, I’ve spent years making fun of them for their terrible commercials, but now I’m eating my words a bit. They have options for any level of fitness, and the instructors/styles are also greatly varied so I think most people could find someone they liked (as in, it’s not all cutesy cheerleader types like you see in the commercials).

So, yeah. Peloton app is $12.99/month. With me staying home and only teaching virtual formats (kickboxing, bodyweight strength, and yoga), I’m getting my cycling fix in with this app. Plus they have bootcamp, yoga, strength/etc workouts available through the app as well, and it’s cheaper than the vast majority of gym memberships.