We get a lot of questions about how our bike conversions are made, so we wanted to explain our process. For more details on Schwinn IC4, Schwinn IC8, and Bowflex C6 conversions, please also see this page on those conversions specifically.
Why you should use a conversion table
The goal of a conversion is to tell you what settings on a non-Peloton bike (Keiser, Schwinn, Echelon, etc) will have you working as hard as the settings on the Peloton bike that the instructors call out in Peloton videos. This allows you to work hard when the instructor wants you to be working hard, and recovering when the instructor wants you to be recovering. In short, it lets you get the workout the instructor means for you to get.
What we are actually converting and why
To understand this, we have to talk a little bit about how we measure work in a cycling class. You have probably heard the instructors use the following terms:
- Cadence is how fast you move your feet (and therefore, the pedals). Cadence is measured in revolutions per minute, or RPMs. The peloton bike uses the term cadence, your bike may say RPMs, but they are the same thing. There is no difference between the two.
- Resistance is how hard you have to push in order to move the pedals. In most modern bikes, this is magnetic resistance, achieved by moving a magnet closer and farther from the flywheel. This is equivalent to the gear of a road bike, and some bikes use the term gear instead of resistance.
- Output is how much energy you are putting into moving the pedals, in real-time, at this very moment. This is measured on most bikes in watts. A watt is one joule per second.
- Total output is how much energy you put into the bike across your entire ride. This is measured in joules, or watts x seconds. So if you generate 60 watts for 60 seconds, you generate 360 joules of energy. If you generate 60 watts for 60 MINUTES (3600 seconds), you generate 216,000 joules. To make the numbers easier and get rid of all the zeroes, Peloton and others express this in kilojoules (kJ). One kilojoule is 1,000 joules, so our hypothetical 60 minute ride generates 216kJ. The Peloton bike displays total output this way. Not all bikes display this metric, though – the Keiser bikes, for example, given average output in watts at the end of the ride, not total output in kJ.
Since watts represent how hard you are working, and cadence is the same no matter what bike you are on, the remaining variable, the unanswered question, is the resistance. So the real question, when you are trying to replicate a Peloton ride on a non-Peloton bike, is what resistance level or gear to set your bike to.
How we do the conversion
We said that the goal of the conversion is to tell you what resistance level on your bike will make you work as hard as the resistance level that the Peloton instructor calls out would make you work. We said that your output in watts tells you how hard you are working, and that cadence (or RPM) is the same on any bike.
So, let’s say the instructor calls out a cadence of 80 and a resistance of 40. On the Peloton bike, this combination would generate 120 watts.
So, the question is this, at a cadence of 80, what resistance level do you need to set on your bike in order to generate 120 watts? This will be the equivalent to 40 resistance on Peloton bike.
The first step of the conversion process is to determine the output (in watts) that you generate on your non-Peloton bike at each resistance level at a set cadence (usually 80rpm).
These numbers are then matched to the known output of the Peloton bike at varying resistance levels at the same cadence.
That is, if the instructor meant for you to generate 120 watts, we see what resistance level you need to set on your bike in order to generate 120 watts. This allows us to see what resistance level on your bike will make you work as hard as the instructor intended you to work.
Some bikes make it easy and display the wattage in outputs on the screen in real-time, so these numbers can be obtained by riding at a consistent cadence and writing down the output at each resistance level. Other bikes transmit the data via Bluetooth. For some bikes, to get the output you have to use power pedals, which are bike pedals with a power meter in them. Some manufacturers release calibration tables which indicate We have used all of these techniques to get numbers from different bikes.
Will your conversion work for my bike?
Our conversions assume that your bike’s output at each resistance level matches the bikes that we got our numbers from. In some cases, we were able to check our numbers against multiple different bikes. Some bikes, like the Keiser M3/M3+/M3i are extremely consistent from one bike to another. These commercial bikes have very tight tolerances, and the numbers that we get are identical to what other Keiser owners are seeing. On the other hand, the Schwinn IC4/IC8 and Bowflex C6 have a much wider range of calibrations that are considered “correct” by the manufacturer. This means that two bikes that are both considered correctly calibrated by Schwinn or Bowflex may be very different. There are some ways to try to find the best conversion for your bike, which we go into in more detail here.
Credit where credit is due
The sources of our numbers for each bike that we convert are given below:
Keiser M3/M3+/M3i: from our M3+ bike, and confirmed by other Keiser owners.
Echelon: numbers were provided by an Echelon bike owner.
Schwinn SE2: numbers were obtained from the calibration tables in the owner’s manual
Schwinn IC4/IC8 and Bowflex C6: The original numbers came from an IC4 owner who used power pedals to get the most accurate numbers from his bike. Since then, multiple other conversions have been obtained by other users by gathering the data sent by Bluetooth from the bike’s computer. See this article for details of the Schwinn IC4/IC8 and Bowflex C6 conversions.
If you have other questions or concerns, let us know! We would be happy to help.