These days all eyes are on Peloton Interactive, Inc (NASDAQ: PTON). Especially the competition. No surprise then we’re seeing more offerings in the at-home cycling market segment.
Like most indoor bikes the design is quite Peloton-ish. Save for a few exceptions. Instead of a 22-inch screen as found on the Peloton Bike, the Bowflex C7 downsizes somewhat with a 7-inch HD screen. But, unlike Peloton, Nautilus provides a much more open and flexible system for its users. So you’re free to use the C7 to not only stream the core JRNY fitness service, but also to stream entertainment services such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu and Disney+. Further, you can even install and use third-party apps, the press release notes, including Peloton itself and Zwift (separate subscription fees apply of course). In the PR Nautilus notes that a recent survey found that 93% of consumers cite “at least one form of entertainment they engage in while working out.”
“The high demand for home fitness solutions is growing our consumer base and demand for product availability in a variety of places at a range of price points,” said Jay McGregor, Vice President, General Manager, North America Retail, Nautilus, Inc. “We are pleased to debut our new Bowflex C7 at Dick’s Sporting Goods as a way to offer a new indoor cycling experience for people who are working out at home.”
Source: Nautilus, inc. via Businesswire
Design-wise the bike features most of what we’ve come to expect. There’s a resistance knob offering 100 levels, and a magnetic resistance system should make for smooth and quiet rides. Conveniences like bottle and weight holders can be found up front.
The big difference between something like the Peloton Bike and Bike+ and the Bowflex C7 becomes most apparent, however, when we talk about price.
Additional features include:
- Built-in 7” HD touch screen.
- Integrated device holder for a phone or tablet.
- Intuitive resistance knob with 100 resistance levels.
- Magnetic resistance system for a smooth, quiet ride.
- Heart rate monitoring via Bluetooth® armband, dual water bottle holders, and easy-to-reach cradles with 3 lb. dumbbells.
- Compact footprint to fit easily in the home.
Nautilus is (heavily) undercutting Peloton in this respect, with the C7 selling for $1,199 USD. That’s substantially less than the $1,895 starting price for a Peloton Bike.
And the competitive pricing extends to the service side as well.
Fitness service JRNY offers a 2-month free trial. Beyond that you’ll pay $19.99 per month or $149 per year. By comparison the Peloton All-Access membership for bike owners goes for a not insignificant $49 per month (a digital only app is also available from Peloton for $12.99 per month).
Interestingly the Bowflex C7 is being made available to consumers through retail. In this case the channel is Dick’s Sporting Goods stores (select locations we’re told).
Stark Insider Take
Bowflex has an excellent reputation in this space so I expect many to gravitate toward this option if saving some money is a concern — and I think such is the case these days.
I like the design. Pretty much on point by today’s standards. Caged pedals are included. Serious cyclists will likely want to swap those out for cleats.
Given the price difference between the C7 and Peloton bike of course there’s going to be some concessions.
The biggest is the screen/tablet size. On the C7 it’s achingly small. On the Peloton classes are extremely engaging thanks to top notch instructors, but also because the large 22-inch screen helps create immersion. Still, I know many serious cyclists who use small Stages power meters for training and it’s all they need to get the job done so it really comes down to personal preference. Besides the C7 also features an integrated phone/tablet holder so it would very easy to pop in your own iPad or Android tablet to upsize the experience, at least on the entertainment streaming side (something not possible on the Peloton unless you add an aftermarket bracket).
Regarding distribution I find the retail strategy curious. We’re in a pandemic. Do people really want to go into a retail location and risk COVID? I’m sure social distancing guidelines are in place, but it seems the most common business model these days is digital. A quick scan of bowflex.com and it isn’t clear to me whether the C7 will also be available online. Peloton, of course, famously promotes its Bike and Tread availability through its web site, and offers a 30-day money back guarantee (though wait times are currently sitting at 4-8 weeks which is something that could benefit the likes of Bowflex, Echelon, ICON/NordicTrack and others).
Overall, though, a solid offering. Competitive features. Compelling price point. And a strong brand backing it all up. I expect the Bowflex C7 to sell well, and likely siphon off a few would-be Peloton shoppers.