With some products, like phones, you have a myriad of options to sort through. But if you want to buy one of Peloton’s spin bikes, you only have two choices: the Bike or the Bike+ (pronounced “bike plus”). That little “+” costs an extra thousand dollars, so is it really worth it? Let’s dive in. 

Overview of the important features

I’ll go over the details below, but here’s the short answer: if you just want “a Peloton,” the regular Bike is the original. It’s the one most people have, it’s cheaper, and it does the job just fine. I have a regular Bike and I’ve never felt like I’m missing out. The regular price for a Bike is $1,445, but with a good sale you can find it closer to $1,000. If you’re willing to look at used models, they can often be had in the mid to high triple digits.

The Bike+ costs significantly more, so what are you paying for? The tech components are nicer, so the on-screen experience will feel a bit faster and smoother. Other than that, the big features are auto-resistance (the bike will follow along with classes without you having to turn the knob) and a swiveling screen so you can turn it to the side for things like strength workouts and guided yoga sessions. List price on the Bike+ is $2,495, with deals sometimes bringing it as low as $1,995. Refurbished and used models will, of course, cost a bit less.

What’s the same between the Bike and the Bike+

Most of the differences between the two bikes are tech-related, and we’ll get into those in a minute. But first, you should know what’s the same between the two bikes. 

First, they’re the same size. Both have the same footprint, 4 feet by 2 feet—Peloton recommends that you allow 24 inches on each side of the bike, and that you put it in an area with at least 8-foot-high ceilings. This allows even tall riders to be able to stand up and pedal. (If you don’t care about standing, or if you’re shorter, you might be able to squeeze into a tighter space. I’m 5’6” and never had an issue with my attic’s 7-foot ceilings.)

The controls and the frame are the same, with the exception that the original Bike had a seat post recall, and the Bike+ did not. (If you’re buying used, make sure that the seat post was replaced.) Both have a hard wired 3.5mm headphone jack, although it’s probably more common to use the onboard speakers or a bluetooth headset rather than plugging in a pair of headphones.  

Both flavors of bike can accommodate a rider who is anywhere between 4’11” and 6’4” and weighs up to 297 pounds. The Bike itself weighs 135 pounds, and the Bike+ weighs 140, due mainly to the hefty flywheel (with spin bikes, the heavier the flywheel, the better).

Both the Bike and Bike+ have access to the same subscription options. For the $44/month All-Access subscription, you get: 

Classes on the bike—these are the classic offering, with a charismatic instructor leading you through a structured workout (and often peppering it with motivational speeches).

Scenic rides on the bike, with “Peloton radio” for music (I usually mute it and just play my own music from my phone).

Lanebreak (a sort of ride-along video game) on the bike.

Access to classes through the Peloton app on your phone.

The ability to create multiple profiles for family members, so you can all share the bike without additional subscriptions.

Besides cycling classes, the bikes and the app can also provide follow-along classes for strength, stretching, yoga, and more. You can take bike classes on the phone app as well, a handy feature when you have access to a spin bike but it’s not a Peloton (for example, at a gym). 

Now that we know what’s the same, let’s dig into the differences.

The Bike+ has a swiveling screen, but don’t buy it just for that

The first thing you’ll notice about the Bike+ (and arguably its only visually distinctive feature) is the fact that its screen is on a swivel. This lets you set up a space next to the bike, perhaps with a mat and dumbbells, to do other types of workouts. Hop off the Bike+, point the screen toward your mat, and you can do a yoga class without having to crane your neck to see over the seat. 

The screen on the regular Bike doesn’t swivel, but it does tilt. This lets you adjust it for the most comfortable angle or to avoid glare while you’re riding. If you want that swiveling feature, though, you don’t have to pony up an extra grand for a whole new bike—an aftermarket swivel mount is only about 50 smackers.

The Bike+ has auto-resistance and a real power meter

If the Bike+ has a killer feature, it’s this. When an instructor tells you to set your resistance to 30, you don’t need to touch the knob—the Bike+ will adjust the resistance for you

You can turn this feature on or off during a ride by tapping the lock icon next to the resistance numbers. On regular rides, the Bike+ will adjust the resistance whenever the instructor announces that the resistance is changing; on power zone rides, it will adjust as needed to keep you in your power zone. 

The catch is that auto-resistance only works for rides where “target metrics” are programmed. This includes most rides from Peloton’s back catalog, but it does not include rides where you’re following along with an instructor in real time. After those live rides, Peloton will add the target metrics, but they say it can take up to 24 hours for that feature to become available for a given ride. 

The Bike+ also has a power meter built in, so that it can tell exactly how many watts your output is. (The regular Bike will show you an estimated wattage, but Bikes can become miscalibrated and the wattage may be off.) While you can calibrate a regular Bike, the Bike+ always knows how hard you are actually pedaling, and you may appreciate this extra accuracy.

The Bike+ has better quality tech in its tablet

The screen on the front of your Bike or Bike+ isn’t just a screen; it’s a whole tablet computer with its own processor, RAM, and other electronic components. An under-appreciated part of the Bike+ upgrade is just that everything in the tablet is nicer, better, and faster. The screen itself is larger: a 23.8” diagonal instead of 21.5”. The Bike+ also has:

4 gigabytes of RAM instead of just two

A 2.5 gigahertz Qualcomm processor instead of a 2.0 GHz Mediatek

A 26-watt sound system with front- and rear-facing speakers instead of a 16-watt system with just rear-facing speakers

Bluetooth 5.0 instead of 4.0

A USB-C port so you can charge your devices while you ride (the regular Bike has a charging port, but it’s micro-USB, so most of us would need to get an adapter).

A smudge-proof, reduced-reflection coating on that big ol’ screen.

There are also two features that are better on paper but that won’t matter to most of us. First, the Bike+ supports GymKit, a protocol for connecting your Apple Watch to the Bike+ for heart rate data. (They briefly stopped supporting GymKit, since there’s a Peloton Apple Watch app that does most of what GymKit does, but got enough complaints that they brought it back.)  

Second, the Bike+ has a nicer selfie camera, 8 MP versus 5 MP (and a privacy cover for said camera). Wait, the Peloton has a camera?? I hear you say. Yep, and according to Peloton its only use is for taking a selfie to use as your profile picture. (You can also just take a photo on your phone and add it to your profile through the app.) That said, Peloton users have said they’ve used the camera for video chat—but nobody seems to actually like that feature.

Ultimately, these features mean that your experience will be just a little bit faster and smoother. Some Peloton riders say that the nicer tech means that Lanebreak is less likely to have that occasional lag when you change “lanes” during the ride, and that the interface is just generally a bit more responsive.

The bottom line: Peloton Bike vs. Bike+

The Bike is a solid choice that will fulfill pretty much all your Peloton dreams. The Bike+ has some features that are nice-to-haves. 

Buy the Bike if: 

You just want a dang Peloton.

You don’t want to pay an extra $1,050 for minor upgrades.

Buy the Bike+ if: 

You want the fastest and smoothest tech experience.

You’d like the Bike to adjust itself during (most) classes.

You’re a numbers nerd and want to know your exact wattage and know that the bike is perfectly calibrated.

Ultimately, both are good choices. The exact price differential between the two models will depend on whether you can find your chosen bike on sale, used, or as a rental (I crunch the numbers for those scenarios here).