CAROL Bike 2.0 review: A great Peloton alternative!

The CAROL Bike 2.0 is designed around using AI-personalized resistance to deliver the shortest, most effective workouts possible, with the standard session taking less than 10 minutes from the beginning of the warmup to the end of the cool down.

Of course, there are other workout types to choose from, and available integrations with third party apps like PELOTON, Zwift, and Netflix.

CAROL Bike review [Video]

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CAROL Bike design

The CAROL Bike 2.0 looks great, with the flywheel sitting on the back end rather than the front. The included pedals are dual sided with both a toe cage and SPD clips, and there is a three-way adjustment system to help fit the bike to various body types.

On the front is an attached 11” tablet, which is a lot smaller than most bikes. Since most workouts on CAROL are very quick, this was not a huge deal, though I did miss the big screen during the few longer sessions, especially when pairing to third party apps like Netflix and Peloton.

How it feels

CAROL 2.0 feels smooth to ride, and with its digitally controlled magnetic resistance, makes little to no little noise.

What impressed me the most was how smooth it continues to feel as the bike quickly ramps the resistance up during high intensity intervals. With most bikes, this rapid increase in resistance would feel very clunky. CAROL somehow avoids that even while taking the resistance up enough to allow me to produce a power output of over 1000 watts.

While CAROL rides smooth while sitting, it struggles when trying to ride out of the seat (aka out of the saddle). In fact, everything feels so wonky while riding out of the saddle, that it is a struggle to keep the pedals moving at all.

CAROL workouts

The primary training format that CAROL is centered around is what is referred to as Reduced Exertion High Intensity Interval Training (or REHIT). The idea is that you can get a similar benefit from doing two short all-out (20 second) efforts within 10 minutes as you can from moderately intensive sessions spanning 30 or more minutes. You can see a research study demonstrating this effect here.

CAROL utilizes AI within these workouts to automatically ramp up and adjust the resistance based on your previous outputs. As you demonstrate higher levels of power output, CAROL will add more resistance in the future to allow for a personalized progressive training model.

There are two additional variations of this; one with 10-second intervals and the other with 15-second intervals.

Does REHIT work?

The research study on CAROL and REHIT training suggests you can get similar benefits from three days of REHIT training as you would from 4-5 longer workouts. So for someone who is limited in time (or needs a workout where no sweat is created), then the CAROL 2.0 seems to be a great choice.

However, with only short intense interval training, you will likely be missing out on some health benefits that you can only get with longer, lower intensity sessions.

Luckily, CAROL is more than capable of just REHIT protocols. There are about 18 workouts available on the bike, including a “fat-burn” series, ramp tests, FTP tests, and various custom rides.

Unlike the REHIT workouts, many of these other workout types give you control of your resistance, though you can also set CAROL to automatically adjust your resistance to maintain a certain power output or power zone.

For example, if you select a specific power zone, CAROL will adjust the resistance up or down depending on my cadence to ensure I continue generating the correct output.

Third party support

While I enjoy the REHIT style of training on CAROL, it is the third party support that I enjoyed the most. Unlike most connected fitness bikes, Carol allows you to download and use third party apps like Peloton, Zwift, Netflix, and more. Overlaid on top of these apps are various CAROL metrics and resistance controls.

You can even utilize the auto-adjusting resistance to keep you at a certain wattage while in these apps. Though unfortunately, as of now, your auto adjustments are not available in power zones like they are within the CAROL app itself. Hopefully this can be added, because combining the REHIT sessions with some of the longer power zone sessions that Peloton provides is an amazing package to have together.

The fact that CAROL allows you to utilize third party apps is a huge big benefit, especially for someone who doesn’t want to be locked into a single program on their bike forever.

CAROL 2.0 price and membership

All of this power and flexibility does come at a cost. The CAROL 2.0 itself is one of the most expensive indoor bikes you can buy at $2,595. There is also a membership which costs $15 per month, which provides the 18 available workouts, AI-optimized resistance for the REHIT training, and metric tracking.

But what I think is also pretty nice with CAROL, is that even if you don’t keep the susbcription, you still get access to 6 of the 18 workouts, though they won’t be automtacially optimized by your performance. And you can still access those integrations with the various third party apps like Zwift, Peloton, Netflix and others, which is more than what almost any other bike offers without a subscription directly to it.

Final thoughts

Overall, CAROL is a fantastic bike. It is best for those who want to get results in a very short time frame, but it is also one of the only bikes that doesn’t force you to be locked into a single program since you can integrate it with a variety of third party apps.

While the attached tablet is small and the price is high, the CAROL Bike offers a lot of value that you just cannot find anywhere else. As long as you don’t mind not being able to ride “out of the saddle,” the CAROL 2.0 is a one of the best options for an indoor bike available.

Buy CAROL here

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