New data says Peloton now has more customers than rival SoulCycle. We tested workouts from both — here’s the verdict.

Peloton's bike allows you to stream classes live from home.

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Peloton’s bike allows you to stream classes live from home.
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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

  • Peloton has revolutionized home fitness with its high-tech indoor bike, which enables users to stream live classes from home. The company launched in 2012 and is now valued at about $4 billion.
  • SoulCycle is an indoor cycling workout brand that launched in 2006 and now has 90 studios across the United States and Canada. It’s known for inspiring a cult-like following of fans.
  • We compared the experience of taking a class with each brand, and there was a clear winner.

Indoor cycling is becoming the most competitive space in the fitness market. Until 2012, SoulCycle seemed to be invincible with its cult following of fans who were prepared to pay as much as $36 a class.

Then Peloton came along. The high-tech fitness company, which launched in 2012, enables users to stream live classes from anywhere, making it possible to get a SoulCycle-style experience without ever leaving your bedroom.

And it seems to be paying off. Peloton was valued at $4 billion after it closed a $550 million financing round in August.

New data released by analytics firm Second Measure, which tracks the credit and debit purchases from a pool of four million US customers, showed that for the first time ever Peloton overtook SoulCycle with 4% more customers during the third quarter of 2018.

A spokesperson for SoulCycle disputed the data in a statement to Business Insider.

“The data is not only incomplete, it’s wrong. SoulCycle is highly profitable. Studio revenue has increased year over year, paid rides are up, total rides are up and our active ridership has not decreased. We’re also seeing an increase in the number of classes our active riders take each month,” the spokesperson said.

Peloton said that its user base has doubled in the past year.

Earlier this year, we put these two cult-favorite brands to the test to see which offered a superior experience:


We headed over to the Westin Hotel near Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan to trial a Peloton bike, which is available for hotel guests to use.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

The first thing that struck us is how much better the size of the bike is compared to its newest product, the Tread.

This bike could easily occupy a corner of your apartment without being too intrusive.


Each bike has a touchscreen from which you can stream live and on-demand classes. It costs $39 a month to stream these classes.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

Peloton has a cycling studio in Manhattan, where you can attend these classes in person if you’d like. There are between 11 and 13 classes a day, and you can also stream these classes from home.


The touchscreen was user-friendly, and at 22 inches in size, it’s easy to see.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

There are a ton of classes to choose from, ranging from 45-minute, high-intensity classes with weights to 10-minute, low-impact rides. For our trial, we opted for a 30-minute intervals-and-arms class with instructor Robin Arzon.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

It’s an easy process from the get-go. The class began with a three-minute warm-up.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

The screen shows how fast you’re going, how much resistance you’ve got on the bike, and where you rank in the class in terms of output.

Peloton's bike allows you to stream classes live from home.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

This was the best part of the bike. At SoulCycle, there’s no accurate way to track your performance since there’s no screen on the bikes.

This means you could end up slacking by not putting your resistance up as much as it should be.


The instructor gives you exact instructions on what resistance level you should be on and what output you should be aiming for. This leaves you no chance to cheat.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

The resistance wheel is easy to adjust.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

As we were in a public space, we had to listen to the class via headphones. At times, the headphone cord tangled up with the handlebars.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

If you are streaming the class live, your username is added to a leaderboard on the right-hand side of the screen. This means that the instructor can shout out your name to motivate you.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

10 minutes in, the class switched to arm work. The weights are handily located at the back of the bike.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

When you purchase a bike, Peloton gives you the option to choose between one set of weights. These come in either a one-, two-, or three-pound size.


Next, we headed to SoulCycle in Soho. SoulCycle offers 45-minute classes that will vary by instructor.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

The mantra behind SoulCycle is that it’s more than just a workout: “It’s a powerful mind-body experience,” it says online.

Cellphones are not recommended in class, the lights are dimmed, the music is pumping, and it’s boiling hot.


The bikes were tightly packed into a small space. This obviously makes economic sense for SoulCycle, but it’s also designed to create an atmosphere that riders are all in it together.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury


At the start, we were asked if we needed help setting up the bike. While this was great customer service, it’s not a service you would need with the Peloton bike as once it’s set up for you at the time of purchase, you’re good to go.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

The SoulCycle instructor felt as much like a performer and DJ as a fitness guide. As the music boomed out of the speakers, the instructor was screeching out motivational words.

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Facebook/SoulCycle

The biggest issue is that with the booming music, it’s hard to follow what the instructor is saying. Without a screen telling you what resistance you’re on, it’s hard to know exactly how much you should be adding. This means there’s a lot of a room to cheat.


Throughout the class, the instructor asked us to assume different hand positions on the bars. This was easy to follow.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

The bikes are about the same size as Peloton, but they felt a lot more sturdy. Peloton’s bike seemed to be rattling at times.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

What’s the verdict?

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

SoulCycle was definitely a more fun way to work out, and if you don’t like working out alone, this is the option for you.

However, Peloton was the overall winner. It’s easy to use, you have a ton of choices if you don’t have time for a 45-minute class, and the instructors felt as motivational as those at SoulCycle. Plus, you could do it without the hassle of having to leave your home.