As a series of setbacks — tank revenues, layoffs, recalls — continue to knock Peloton off its pandemic-built pedestal, you might be wondering if spending top dollar on its signature bike is worth it in this moment. If you’re serious about pedaling in place in the Peloton universe, we think you’ll still be very happy to do so, even in light of the company’s current issues. The Peloton bike (see our full review for more) combines great gear, top-notch workout content, ultra-engaging instructors, and a fervent (some might say fanatical) community of avid cyclists. But buying one of the company’s bikes or treadmills isn’t without risk. Now, while questions about Peloton’s future abound, here’s what we know.
What is going on?
As unprecedented interest in home training wanes, Peloton’s popularity and profitability have cooled. The connected fitness company was a darling of the pandemic. The Peloton bike debuted in 2014, but Peloton didn’t its first quarterly profit through early 2020. In the third quarter, revenue had jumped 232% year over year. But the boom took its toll and Peloton struggled to keep up with demand. In the third quarter of 2021, its sales of connected fitness equipment had fallen 17% year-over-year. The company ended the year with a loss of $439 million and lowered its revenue forecast for 2022.
After a prominent Peloton investor advised Peloton’s board to fire CEO John Foley and considering selling the company, Peloton replaced Foley in early February (he became executive chairman) and announced that he lay off 2,800 employees worldwide. The company said the layoffs would not affect its instructors or content, and the promise of new products continues: a $90 heart rate armband debuted in February, and Platoon guide, the brand’s bodybuilding “experience”, is expected this spring. As for the sale of the company, Apple, Amazon and Nike were all mentioned as potential buyers.
Declines in demand for Peloton gear are largely due to shifts in buyer behavior as the pandemic evolves, as well as, perhaps, the ripple effect of last year’s recall of its Tread+ treadmill now discontinued following more than 70 reported incidents, including the death of a child. The Peloton bike has made a pair of rather dark cameos on popular TV shows, HBO And just like that end of 2021 and Showtime’s Billions in early 2022, causing public relations scrambles. In addition, several Peloton employees sued the company for payroll missteps.
How did Peloton respond?
In response to the slowing business, the company announced layoffs, replaced Foley and, more directly with buyers, raised prices. After lower the basic price of the bike from $1,895 to $1,495 in 2021, the company changed course at the start of 2022: on January 31, Peloton began charging a $250 fee for the delivery and installation of the Peloton bike – a courtesy once included in the base price. He added a similar fee ($350) to his treadmill, the Tread. (The Peloton Bike+, the bike’s upgraded model, still builds delivery and setup into its $2,495 sticker price.) Peloton attributes the price hikes to inflation and supply chain issues.
Is it a good idea to buy a Peloton bike now?
Despite Peloton’s current woes, ardent fans remain optimistic about the company. And the numbers prove it: at the end of December 2021, the company had 2.77 million connected fitness subscribers (compared to 1.67 million a year before) and 862,000 app-only subscribers (compared to 625,000 the previous year). . The real-time connection and camaraderie is what draws people to the brand, and a Peloton bike becomes largely obsolete if the connected fitness part of the business isn’t supported. Since those millions of subscribers are still paying a monthly membership fee, the Peloton universe is unlikely to completely collapse. (If you own a Peloton bike and choose not to pay for a subscription, you’re left with three pre-recorded classes and the uninspired Just Ride mode.)
Peloton, of course, isn’t the only game in town when it comes to connected fitness. There are other bikes you can ride with or without the Peloton app, as well as bikes we’ve reviewed that are intended to be used with their own branded workout content or no content at all. For those not interested in a bike but keen to get a taste of Peloton, the company’s app ($13 per month) streams Peloton workouts of all kinds.
If you still find a Peloton Bike intriguing, you can buy a new one now with reasonable delivery times (currently two to three weeks). A used Peloton bike could also be a possibility. The unofficial Peloton Facebook Group Buy, Sell, Trade has nearly 200,000 members. Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and eBay list dozens of Bike and Bike+ units for sale and potential deals to land. And unlike at the start of the pandemic, nowadays used bikes are rarely sold at the price of new bikes.
As with buying any used fitness equipment, you should glean as much detail as possible about the past life of that particular bike from the seller: how often has it been used? How many people have ridden it? Did any parts have problems or were they replaced? If you can, take a test drive. Remember that a warranty cannot be transferred from an original owner to a new owner. (Peloton discusses used bike sales on his website.)
Whatever you decide — and no matter the state of the company’s Peloton — it’s important to think about buying expensive exercise equipment. Think about how often you’ll use it, how much space it’ll take up in your home, and whether the streaming lessons are really appealing. Millions of people have found motivation, fitness and friendship in the virtual world of Peloton. Whether you choose to ride with you is up to you.
This article was edited by Kalee Thompson.