The 8 Best Online Cycling Classes To Keep You Motivated (No Matter Your Fitness Level)
From the early days of Spinning at the YMCA through the current age of at-home exercise bikes, indoor cycling has held a steadfast presence in the fitness world. But with so many platforms, brands, and class types available, choosing one can be overwhelming. The best online cycling classes offer great variety, standout instructors, and a community of happy riders.
Whether you’re arriving fresh to the cycling scene or you’ve been clipping your cycling shoes into your at-home bike pedals, we’ve done the legwork to find the best online cycling classes for every budget, preference, and lifestyle. Below, find our list and learn more about the benefits of cycling and how to choose the best class for you.
The best online cycling classes of 2023:
The best online cycling classes of 2023:
The benefits of indoor cycling.
Regular aerobic exercise has a slew of benefits, including decreased risk of heart disease and lowered symptoms of depression1. Alongside compact treadmills and ellipticals, stationary bikes are a great addition to any home gym, making cardio sessions much more accessible.
We spoke with Seema Bonney, MD, founder and director of the Anti-Aging & Longevity Center of Philadelphia about the benefits of stationary cycling.
“Indoor cycling is a convenient way to build up your cardiovascular endurance,” she says. “It also builds strength in your legs and lower body, especially at higher resistances. The pedaling action helps to strengthen quadriceps, hamstrings, and even muscles in your back and core. Over time, and with consistent effort, you'll find that your aerobic capacity will improve, helping you to bike longer and with more intensity.” It’s also a great way to build muscle in your glutes and your calves.
Bonney notes that stationary bikes are a good fit for anyone who doesn't want to put a lot of stress on their joints—and biking indoors limits the variable of bad weather. “It used to feel like a solitary activity, but with the advent of platforms like Peloton, it's much more social now,” she adds.
How we picked:
If indoor cycling is your jam, you’ll want to ride regularly without getting bored. All of the brands on our list offer a generous variety of cycling and other fitness classes, although you’ll notice that some shine brighter in the cycling department than others.
We focused on brands with a strong reputation and a sense of community among indoor cyclists of all levels. We also read as many reviews as possible, including app reviews to get a sense of how a variety of users interact with the platforms.
While some cycling platforms are best with the brand’s designated bike (e.g. SoulCycle or Peloton), all but one of them (Zwift) are accessible with any standard stationary bike and minimal technology.
Using an app or streaming platform is typically less expensive than paying for frequent classes at boutique studios. Still, the monthly subscription cost is worth considering. We included a range of options on our list to meet every budget.
Our picks of the best online cycling classes of 2023:
Best motivational: SoulCycle on Equinox+
- Access to live and on-demand SoulCycle classes
- Includes other boutique names like Rumble & Pure Yoga
- Compatible with Apple Health and WHOOP
- Shorter trial period
- App gets mixed reviews
SoulCycle, a boutique cycling studio with a cult-following, is one of several featured on the Equinox+ app. SoulCycle’s rhythm-based rides include light weights and high intensity intervals that are sure to get you sweating. But, while people may come to Soul for the workout, they stay for the motivational instructors.
The app includes a library of over 200 pre-recorded and live SoulCycle classes for all levels. You can use the Equinox+ app on SoulCycle’s at-home bike (purchased separately) or a different stationary bike, and you’ll also be able to access other workouts such as Rumble (boxing), SolidCore (pilates), HeadStrong (meditation), and Pure Yoga. Sync the app to your Apple Health (for iOS users) or your WHOOP device to house your workout data in one place. Just note: The trial period is only seven days, so you’ll need to move quickly to decide whether Equinox+ is a fit for you.
The Equinox+ app has 4.7 out of five stars overall on the Apple App Store. While there’s a lot of solid positive feedback for the classes (one member says: “Just like real life SoulCycle classes, this app is life-changing”), a few people have less-glowing feedback about the app itself, which can apparently be glitchy at times.
Membership cost: $40 monthly
Best overall: Peloton
- Huge library of live & on-demand classes
- Wide variety of popular music and themed rides
- Strong community aspect
- Limited cycling stats without the Bike or Bike+
Peloton has exploded in popularity and is easily one of the highest quality class streaming services. With a roster of beloved instructors and a wide variety of music-driven classes, the brand’s ever-growing library of cycling, yoga, running, and strength training content makes it nearly impossible to get bored og your workouts.
The best part? You don’t need to own a Peloton bike to use the Peloton membership. A basic membership package gives you access to thousands of streamable workouts. The app is compatible with a slew of devices, and you can even sync a heart rate monitor or another stationary bike to track your calories burned, cadence, and additional stats. To get the full “Leaderboard” experience, which allows you to reach certain milestones and compete against other riders, you’ll need a Full-Access membership and the Peloton Bike or Bike+.
The brand has no shortage of fans. One member writes, “From meditation and yoga, to a walk/run on the gym tread and cycling on my spin bike, this app has everything I need to get a complete workout. Peloton covers all aspects of fitness of the body and mind in a fun, motivating, and communal way.”
Membership cost: $13 monthly ($44 monthly for Full-Access with Bike or Bike+)
Best for audio only: CardioCast
- Reduces your screen time
- Extensive library of audio-based workouts
- Good for travel
- Less metrics than some other classes
- No instant replay or favoriting of classes
Need a break from the screen? CardioCast offers audio-only workouts led by certified instructors. Cyclists of all levels will appreciate the wide variety of music-driven, speed-based rides. The coaches go off your perceived level of exertion (how hard you feel you’re working) versus machine-specific power metrics, so you can use the platform with any stationary bike. If the bike you use has a console, you’ll be able to follow along with the instructor’s guided speed recommendations in revolutions per minute (RPM).
In addition to a huge library of cycling classes, CardioCast also offers guided rowing, running, walking, elliptical, yoga, and bodyweight strength sessions so you can mix it up a bit. Because it doesn’t connect to a power meter, the app does not track your workout performance—but you can sync it with Apple Health or Google Fit to store your workout data in one place. One additional consideration: there is no option to “favorite” specific classes or to replay the same session indefinitely (due to music licensing), so you’ll typically need to wait a bit before revisiting a class you enjoyed.
The CardioCast app has 4.8 out of 5 stars on the Apple App Store and Google Play. People love the down-to-earth instructors and wide variety of class offerings. “CardioCast allows me to go into the spin room and take an instructor-led class whenever I want! I love that it is audio only so I can put in my AirPods and choose an instructor and class length and spin to my heart’s content. They offer a variety of music styles and length of classes which update frequently so each time it’s a new class.”
Membership cost: $10 monthly
Best for class variety: Les Mills+
- Huge variety of classes
- Generous trial period
- No live classes from home
- Less data-driven than other options
Les Mills has been a big name in the fitness game for decades (anyone who took part in BodyPump classes in the aughts knows what we mean). What started as a group class format for box gyms has expanded into a massive online presence, thanks to Les Mills+. With a huge variety of cardio, strength, and yep, cycling classes to choose from, there’s something for everyone. The cycling classes can be performed on any stationary bike.
A Premium membership includes access to three cycling class formats: RPM, a rhythm-based ride; Sprint, a 30-minute high intensity interval (HIIT) ride; and The Trip, an immersive digital scenic ride (which basically feels like you’re inside a video game). There are over a thousand on-demand workouts to choose from, making this a great option for all levels—including beginners. With the premium membership you’ll also have access to the platform’s extensive list of barre, kickboxing, yoga, strength, and dance classes.
The Les Mills+ app has an average rating of 4.9 out of five on the Apple Store and over 2,000 total ratings. One member writes, “It’s the only platform I never stopped loving and following. With the variety of workouts, the music and the professionalism of the instructors - they are truly one of a kind!"
Membership cost: $15 monthly
Best for community building: CycleBar Xponential+
- Live & on-demand classes
- Includes 9 other boutique studio workouts
- Plenty of in-person studios to visit
- No TV apps (like Apple TV or Roku) yet
- Reviewers love the classes, but not the app
This online cycling platform houses 10 major boutique fitness brands, including the fan-favorite indoor cycling workout, CycleBar. Through the Xponential+ app, you’ll gain access to a variety of 30 to 45 minute classes that are actually recorded during live sessions at a CycleBar studio. These classes are all available on-demand, but there are also plenty of live classes throughout the week, if you’re craving more of a community feel. To really bring the experience to life, you can supplement your at-home rides with a visit to one of CycleBar’s many in-person studios.
Other brands available under the Xponential+ membership include Club Pilates, YogaSix, RowHouse, Pure Barre, and Rumble. However, if cycling is your only goal this platform may come with more classes (and a higher price point) than you need.
Xponential+ gets great feedback for its classes, but not as glowing feedback for the app itself (although there aren’t enough reviews to get a full picture). One member writes, “I really enjoy the rides and the instructors, I always feel like I got a good workout when I’m done.” If the class offerings appeal to you, it’s worthwhile to take the app on a 7-day test run before committing.
Membership cost: $30 monthly
Best for road cyclists: Zwift
- Data heavy
- Simulated scenic rides
- Strong community aspect with events
- Requires smart bike or smart trainer
- Not for studio-class lovers
Zwift is kind of like The Sims for cyclists; it’s a simulated ride experience that connects to your devices to mimic the feel of riding on the open road. Cool, right? To use Zwift, you’ll need a smart trainer to pair with a road bike or a smart bike. Keep in mind, a smart bike is different from a stationary bike, as you’ll need something that’s able to perform the automatic adjustments to simulate the feel of whatever route you’ve chosen to ride.
If that sounds intimidating, fear not! Zwift may require a little extra legwork in the tech-department, but the courses are open to all levels and have an inclusive, community feel. In any of the routes (across the 11 simulated worlds you can choose from), you’ll see the names and nationalities of other riders’ avatars in real time. You can join events, connect with other cyclists, and easily track your progress with workouts designed by world-renowned coaches.
The Zwift app has 4.7 out of five stars on the Apple Store, withfans across the globe. It's the preferred indoor training method by many professional cyclists (again, don’t let that intimidate you!), and one self-pronounced Zwifter writes, “It has increased my exercise 100 fold. I find myself excited to get out and ride. The interaction is great, the incentives are great, the competition and drive that Zwift creates is absolutely amazing.” Some people note feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the technology at first, but praise the slew of tutorial videos.
Membership cost: $15 monthly
Best for personalized training: Aaptiv
- Over 6,000 audio and video classes
- Programs tailored to your training or weight loss goals
- Less instructors than other programs
- Less of a focus on cycling
Another pick that’s focused on audio, Aaptiv is geared toward folks who are chasing a specific fitness goal. At the start of your Aaptiv trial you’ll select a primary focus, such as training for a race, losing weight, building strength, or reducing stress. From there, you’ll be served a selection of recommended programs to help you get closer to your goals. You can join challenges and filter workouts based on trainer, workout type, duration, and music.
While Aaptiv has a solid variety of workouts, it’s not the most cycling-focused option on our list. There are only three cycling trainers— so if you’re hoping for a huge variety of rides, this probably isn’t your pick. That said, if you’re seeking a way to incorporate cycling into a broader fitness routine, encouraging trainers and quality playlists make Aaptiv a great choice.
Aaptiv is one of the best platforms for audio-based workouts. It has 4.7 out of five stars from over 55,000 ratings on the App store, and gets generally great feedback. One person says, “Great workouts with great music and amazing trainers! I work out at a gym and a personal trainer has literally been chasing me to be his client for months but little does he know I have 10+ personal trainers telling me what to do through my headphones as I'm telling him I'm not interested!”
Membership cost: $15 monthly
Best free classes: Studio SWEAT OnDemand on YouTube
- Easy to use on any bike via any streaming platform
- Accessible all-levels classes
- No tech required
- Less polished studio experience
- Access to full library requires
If you’re new to indoor cycling or just hoping to sprinkle it into your existing routine, you may not feel ready to subscribe to a membership. Although Studio SWEAT OnDemand is typically a membership-based platform, it also has a number of free cycling classes available on YouTube. Choose from high intensity intervals, low impact workouts, and beginner-friendly rides, with options for riders of all levels. Plus, because the rides aren’t metrics based, you can use any bike you have available and still get a quality sweat. While you can repeat the free classes whenever you want, for access to a wider library of rides and other workout types, you’ll need to subscribe to the Studio SWEAT membership, which is about $20 per month. Singular rides are also available to download for around $8 per class.
Studio SWEAT has over 140,000 subscribers on YouTube and a ton of fans across the country who appreciate the real-person approach to indoor cycling. One streamer writes, “I was looking for a way to get myself in better shape in a way that worked for my schedule and my budget. I'm more than happy with SSOD. They've provided me with the right type of classes, motivation and community that keeps me pushing towards my fitness goals.”
Membership cost: Free on YouTube, $20 monthly for Premium membership
How to choose
When deciding which platform is right for you, consider the below factors:
AV preferences: Some brands on our list offer audio only classes, while others have only video (or a mix of both). If you’re hoping to take a break from your screen, platforms such as Aaptiv and Cardio Cast could be a great fit. For a more immersive or community-driven experience, opt for a session through Peloton, Les Mills+, or Zwift.
Class variety: Some brands on our list have a wider selection of classes than others. Platforms such as Les Mills, SoulCycle and Peloton have extensive rosters of instructors and a wide variety of music and themed rides. It’s also worth considering what other types of exercise you’re hoping to do. Many digital fitness subscriptions offer other workout types, including barre, yoga, strength, kickboxing, and meditation.
Budget: With bigger names and more variety comes a higher price point. Consider what your goals are and whether you’ll be fully utilizing the platform before committing to a monthly subscription fee. Luckily, every pick on our list offers a free trial period—just be sure to read up on the conditions, because some are more generous than others.
Community: If you’re a lone wolf, you may not care to dish out high fives mid-ride or race against a friend along an open course (as with Zwift). But if community is important to you, there are plenty of social features that come with most online cycling platforms—so there’s no reason not to prioritize it in your search.
Your tech & equipment: The bike you choose has a huge impact on the type of indoor cycling experience you’ll have. If you’re a competitive person, you’ll likely want to see how you’re performing in real time and track your stats. The best way to do this is to combine a subscription with a compatible bike (such as Peloton, SoulCycle, Zwift, or Les Mills+, which uses the STAGES bike). But there are plenty of other hacks that will give you a more high-tech experience without buying a specific bike. If tech is important to you, read up on what the compatibility is with various smartwatches or health apps and consider investing in the corresponding bike.
Is Zwift or Peloton better?
Zwift and Peloton are very different platforms, so this really comes down to personal preference. Peloton is well-suited for riders who want an in-studio experience and instructor-led classes, where Zwift is ideal for road bikers looking to recreate the feel of outdoor riding. Peloton’s Bike and Bike+ do offer scenic rides, but Zwift uses digital worlds to simulate the road experience and automatically changes the resistance while you ride.
Does Netflix have cycling classes?
Netflix now hosts Nike Training Club, which includes a few series of bodyweight strength workouts and yoga classes. However, at the time we published this article, there weren’t any cycling classes on the platform.
Does YouTube have free cycling classes?
There are a lot of free cycling classes available on YouTube—one popular option is Studio SWEAT, which we included on our list.
Because it's low on impact and high on reward, indoor cycling is a workout that won’t be going away anytime soon. There are plenty of streamable classes available for all types of cyclists and budgets. Just remember to stretch, hydrate, and allow time for recovery between rides to avoid overtraining. And, if you’re looking for a recommendation for a recumbent or upright at-home bike, we have plenty of quality recommendations.