Can you use Peloton without subscription?
Anyone considering buying a Peloton bike would probably be aware of its amazing features. There are thousands of classes on offer where you can compete with others doing the same class. In fact, Peloton aims to replicate at home, the experience you would get in a spin class in a gym. But did you know that on top of the cost of the bike (which definitely isn’t cheap), you also need to pay a monthly subscription to access all of these features? While you technically can use a Peloton bike without subscription, it is really not worth buying the bike if you don’t also buy 1 of the 2 monthly subscriptions.
First up what is a Peloton bike?
Peloton is a stationary exercise bike with a touchscreen (like an ipad) that displays pre-recorded and live spin classes. You can also access non biking classes like yoga , walking, running, strength, cardio, yoga, and meditation from the touchscreen.
There are thousands of classes on offer where you can compete with others doing the same class. The touchscreen on the bike gives you a lot of stats about each of your rides such as ride time (elapsed and remaining), current speed, distance covered, cadence (how fast you’re pedalling, in revolutions per minute), resistance intensity, your heart rate and calories burned.
And competitive types will love the leaderboard (an electronic scoreboard) which is also displayed on the touchscreen – as the class proceeds you can see your position on the leaderboard change (i.e. it will go up when you are peddling faster than the other participants in the class). However all these features of Peloton are only available if you purchase 1 of the monthly subscriptions.
What can I access without a Peloton subscription?
Without a subscription you can only access the following from the bike:
- 2 pre-recorded, pre-selected classes that never change. These classes are only suitable for beginner riders.
- a “just ride” / ride only feature with no instructor or music. In other words, you just peddle on the bike. You could of course do a Youtube spin class workout on another device such as your own ipad while using the ride only feature. The ride only feature displays only real-time data on the touchscreen, with no leaderboard inspired competition or any record of your efforts. So the touchscreen will display basic metrics such as distance, speed and time just like almost all stationary bikes will – including much cheaper bikes! However you will have no way to save your stats for a ride (you could take a picture of the screen just after your finish the ride). Most cheaper bikes will give you more data than the Peloton bike without a subscription. You also won’t have access to your rider profile which records your rides and your achievements.
This Youtube video shows you what the touchscreen looks like without a subscription:
Without a Peloton subscription you won’t be able to access the features that make the Peloton bike so great. This includes the ability to connect with other riders and compete against them during workouts.
You can access more information about this on the What Content Can I Access Without a Membership? Peloton page.
In summary, without a Peloton subscription, the Peloton bike operates much like any other stationary bike. It is a decent, sturdy bike but there are other stationary bikes out there which are just as good if not better, that cost a lot less. When you purchase a Peloton bike, you are really paying for the software integration. If you are not going to use the software (by paying for one of the subscriptions), there is little point in paying for such an expensive bike.
There are 2 different types of subscriptions being:
- Digital app membership
- All-access membership.
The Peloton website is a bit light on the details about the differences between the 2 memberships and it can be confusing to work out which membership is right for you.
Both memberships give a user access to the same live and on-demand classes. Both memberships also give you access to all the non biking classes like yoga , walking, running, strength, cardio, yoga, and meditation.
The digital app cost $12.99 a month, plus applicable taxes (as of February 2023) and is the right to subscription to purchase if you want access to all the Peloton classes but don’t have a peloton bike. So if funds are tight, you could just buy a cheapie bike and get the digital app. Note that you might be able to get a discount on the digital app through your health insurance. Peloton also provide discounts on the digital app for students, educators, healthcare workers, first responders, and military personnel in the US -you can find out more information on this here.
Digital app membership
So why would you get a digital app membership over an all-access membership? There are a few differences between the digital app and the all-access membership. Be aware before you consider taking out the all-access membership that not everybody thinks the all-access membership is worth it over the digital app membership (see this Business Insider article for example).
The main reason you would get the digital app membership over an all-access membership is that you get the Peloton workouts without having to get the Peloton bike. For the digital app membership you can use any device to stream the workouts. So you might use a non Peloton bike and attach your ipad to it to stream your workouts. However what you will see in your screen will be more basic with the digital membership app. You won’t see all of your metrics such as your output or heart rate. It will also be difficult to work out the resistance levels the instructor is using for each class. There are however, various workarounds you can use to record your performance metrics and approximate the all-access membership experience (such as using the heart rate function on your apple watch).
You’ll also be missing out on the social/ competitive aspect of the Peloton classes with the digital app.
An all-access Peloton membership isn’t cheap at $44 a month plus applicable taxes (as of February 2023) – so more than $500 a year. And that is on top of what you have paid for the bike. Remember that cost is ongoing for as long as you use the bike. However there is really no point in having the Peloton bike without either an all all-access membership or the digital app membership.
So what exactly does the pricier all-access membership offer over the cheaper digital app membership?
In addition to the thousands of on-demand and live classes and other features such as guided workouts, that you get with the digital app membership, the all-access membership unlocks other features such as personalized performance metrics (e.g. cadence, your output and resistance), and community features which appear on the bike’s touchscreen. Trying to get to the top position on the leaderboard, competing against friends and trying to beat your personal best can really make it less of a chore to hop on the bike and do a workout everyday. So if you are the type that enjoys the social aspect of a spin class at a gym and thrive in competing against others as well as trying to beat your personal best times, the all-access membership will definitely be the better membership option for you.
You can also have multiple profiles under the same all-access membership. So if your partner does a ride, their stats won’t be recorded on your profile. And once you start using the bike you’ll likely become obsessed with milestones so you definitely don’t want somebody else messing up your stats!
You might be tempted to get the Peloton bike and the cheaper digital app membership and stream it through the bike’s touchscreen. However this won’t work – without the all-access membership, the bike’s touchscreen looks the same way as it would if you were using the bike without any subscription . You need an all-access membership to view the workout through the bike’s touchscreen. In other words, the app isn’t connected to the bike and neither the workouts or your metrics will appear on the bike’s touchscreen.
Essentially what you are paying for with the all-access membership is the metrics and ease of use. You could track your metrics by other means but it is kind of cumbersome to do so.
There are a few other additional features that Peloton have added to the all-access subscription. Unlike the app, the all-access subscription gives you access to scenic rides. Scenic rides are virtual outdoor rides. The all-access subscription also has a gamification aspect which might keep you motivated to use the bike and make what is essentially a boring activity, pretty fun. The all-access subscription gives you access to to the addictive Lanebreak rides. Each Lanebreak ride turns a potential boring bike ride into a video game. You can see a Lanebreak demo here:
Note also that the all-access membership also gives you access to the digital app so you can stream the workouts on any device (including non biking classes like yoga , walking, running, strength, cardio, yoga, and meditation).
The all-access membership also allows you to participate in the Peloton affiliate program (provided you live in a country where Peloton will deliver to and you purchase a Bike, Bike+ or Treadmill). The Peloton affiliate program gives you discounts (up to a maximum of $600 a year) on Peloton apparel where you refer friends, family members and acquaintances and they purchase a Bike, Bike+ or Treadmill.
The following Youtube video does a really good job of highlighting the differences between the digital app and the all-access membership:
You can see at a glance the differences between the 2 subscription types in this table:
|Digital app membership||All-access membership|
|Cost||$12.99 a month (plus applicable taxes)||$44 a month (plus applicable taxes)|
|Requires a Peloton bike?||No||Yes|
|Multiple profiles on the same account (this means other people in your household can use the bike too and keep a record of their stats/ rides)||No||Yes|
|All of the Peloton content including live and on-demand classes and other classes|
|Yes (except the Lanebreak video game rides and the Scenic Rides)||Yes|
|Access to the classes via the touchscreen on the bike||No||Yes|
|Leaderboard (a leaderboard ranks riders based on “output” or the total wattage of energy expended). You need the Leaderboard to participate in competitions and challenges||Limited||Yes|
|Ability to participate in Power Zone rides||No (although workarounds are possible)||Yes|
|Access to advanced metrics like output, resistance and speed||No (although workarounds are possible)||Yes|
|Access to non biking workouts such as walking, running, strength, cardio, yoga, and meditation||Yes||Yes|
|Access to Lanebreak video game rides||No||Yes|
|Access to Scenic Rides||No||Yes|
|Ability to stream the workouts on any device (including non biking classes like yoga , walking, strength, cardio, yoga, and meditation)||Yes||Yes|
|Allows you to participate in the Peloton affiliate program?||No||Yes|
Can you use Peloton without a subscription – concluding thoughts
It is technically possible to use a Peloton bike without a subscription but it really isn’t worth getting the Peloton bike without the subscription. If you really don’t want to pay for either of the subscriptions, you’d be better off just getting a cheaper bike and maybe doing free Youtube workouts. And while you can currently do a few classes without a subscription, it is possible that Peloton might release a software upgrade that will limit even further what you can do without a subscription.
If you are thinking about investing in a Peloton bike, you really need to factor in the subscription fee (which works out to be in excess of $500 a year) into the cost. You can pause your membership if you need to but keep in mind that if you do this, none of the features that make Peloton worth it and unique from other stationary bikes, will work.
And even though the all-access membership is expensive (especially when you factor in the cost of the bike too), if you do even a couple of Peloton rides a week, it will work out cheaper than doing Spin classes at the gym.
If money is tight and you don’t value the live classes, leaderboard and competitive / social aspect that the Peloton all access subscription gives you, you might be better off getting the cheaper digital app membership and using it with a cheaper bike.
Courtney has a passion for all things fitness on a budget. She loves home workouts and trying out different fitness gear.