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Test-Riding Peloton's Pricey (and Excellent) At-Home Spin Bike

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All photos by Driely S. for Racked
All photos by Driely S. for Racked

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It's Monday morning, and there's a spin bike in my house. There's a spin bike in my house! And hot damn, is it sleek. The all-black machine sticks out obtrusively into my living room, a constant reminder that I have no excuse not to work out ever again. Think about it: It's raining. It's snowing. It's a million degrees out. There are no classes at my gym when I'm free at 10pm. All these excuses are rendered completely invalid, thanks to this object staring at me from the corner, a totem of responsibility and new Calvin Harris songs.

Just like a bottle of Fireball whisky, it feels unnatural to have exercise equipment in my grownup New York apartment. This is not the suburban basement of yesteryear, sectioned off by 8-pound weights and a NordicTrack collecting dust, which is why I initially have no idea how to feel or what to do.

Honestly, I was putting all my chips on "biking drunk after a three-course meal," or possibly treating it like a beautiful, carbon steel rack for sweaters I'm thinking about returning. But instead, my fiancé and I work out. Like, a lot. To not have to zig-zag through tourists in our neighborhood on the way to the gym was a blessing, and to be able to hop on pedals just feet from our bedroom was an unbelievable timesaver.

What I'm trying to say is that by the time it would take me to get to a spinning studio, I'm already halfway done with my ride. And that's only where the craziness begins.

It takes me a total of four hours for me to break Peloton's elite cycling machine. I have trouble with internet connectivity at first (because, yes, you stream classes to the bike via a mounted screen), so I futz with a wire and a metal bracket comes hurtling towards the ground. MAN DOWN.

"Does...this mean I don't have to exercise today?" I wonder while frantically e-mailing customer service, imagining myself cleaning bathrooms Broad City-style to pay off my debts on this tester bike. It ends up all good: The bracket is non-functioning, in place just to hold cords flush against the bike. Phew.

I find plugging in for a live class to be a lot like dialing in for a conference call. There's no pause button, and you didn't know there would be an arms section, and now you're clomping around your apartment in spin shoes looking for anything that resembles hand weights and reluctantly settle on a fistful of beer bottles. (Hey! I do what I can.)

My first ride is certainly an experience, and I'm blown away by the impressive livestreaming capabilities and rotating library of classes Peloton provides. The collection of magnetic instructors like ultra-marathoner and queen of encouragement Robin Arzod, Drishti Flow cardio-yoga creator and exercise aficionado Steph Neiman, and even badass Peloton founder Marion Berrian Roaman herself, in conjunction with live DJ rides, weight-intensive practices, and themed classes accessible 24 hours a day, prove that Peloton's hit that perfect mix of athleticism and fun.

But let's be real: The teachers may be great and the bike may be sick, but how do you have accountability to finish strong with nobody else around? The answer is the leaderboard, a nifty little tool that shows your "place" throughout the entirety of both livestreamed and on-demand classes. It's optional, but if nothing lights a fire under your ass like needing to beat the person in front of you, then you might just find yourself shouting things like "SUCK ON THAT, SHANNON FROM CONNECTICUT!" to a 21.5-inch video screen while alone in your apartment.

For me, the Peloton bike was almost too good. I wake up the next morning, much too hungover for a Tuesday, to my male counterpart proclaiming, "I think I'm gonna try that Pay-lo-tron!" After (unsuccessfully) trying to fit into a women's size 40 cycling shoe, he toughs it out in tennies, filling our home with the sounds of old-school Jay Z and shouted interval countdowns, exasperating my two-drink headache. It seems with Peloton, when someone spins, we all spin. (Or at least, until we discover the headphone jack.)

The perks of spinning at home are rather cut-and-dry: You'll never again be locked in a sweaty spin room with a horrific '80s hair metal playlist, you're in charge of the AC (!), and you have an excuse to murder your boyfriend with your bare hands. But in terms of pitfalls, your discipline levels need to skyrocket.

The only thing separating me from burning 550 calories in Steph's killer 10:30am class or watching a Shark Tank marathon instead is a flick of my right ankle. Still, the idea of never having to de-bundle and re-bundle at the gym in the dead of winter is enough to get my body moving towards the bike involuntarily, like a possessed Frankenstein consumed by climbing hills and beating strangers.

Then there's the bulk (you need space for this thing!) and the cost—$1,995 for the bike, $39 a month for unlimited classes for your entire household, and $250 for shipping and setup (though that cost is currently being waived).

Before I let my bougiest self convince you how that's "somewhat reasonable," let me put it this way: If you're an outdoor runner or you go to a local gym twice a week, you're no doubt already e-mailing this story to your friends to make fun of me. That's fine! It's not for everyone. But if you're a boutique spin addict, a fitness obsessive with an insane daily schedule, a stay-at-home parent, or someone who lives in an exercise-desert of a town, the cost-benefit can even out.

Ultimately, is it a ton of money? Absolutely. Am I considering selling my plasma to buy one? Perhaps. But the idea of having to give back my loaner bike next week is giving me just enough motivation to hop on and take Robin's high-energy live DJ class one more time. And, because it's right here next to my desk, I actually can.