Peloton Tread Could Relaunch This Winter, but the More Dangerous Tread+ Is a Bigger Problem

Peloton Tread Could Relaunch This Winter, but the More Dangerous Tread+ Is a Bigger Problem
Photo: Ethan Miller, Getty Images

After recalling both of its treadmills, Tread and Tread+, Peloton is working on fixes to get the machines back on the market. One, a software update that will require a pin passcode to unlock the treadmills, will roll out in the coming days. But hardware fixes will also be necessary for both machines, and Peloton detailed what those could entail — and what relaunch timeframes may look like — during its quarterly earnings call Thursday.

The issue with the $US2,495 ($3,210) Tread, which is smaller, lower-profile, and has a more conventional treadmill belt design than the $US4,295 ($5,526) Tread+, is the screws that mount the 24-inch touchscreen display to the body of the machine. A handful of reports from Tread owners in the U.K. and Canada, where the machine was already on sale, indicated an issue with those screws caused the screen to detach from the Tread and crash to the ground. The Tread was slated to go on sale widely in the U.S. on May 27, a launch which has since been cancelled, and the 1,050 Treads that have been sold stateside have been recalled.

Peloton CEO John Foley said during the company’s earnings call that the Tread fix could be as simple as improving the screws to make sure they don’t come out of the console. It could take 6-8 weeks, or perhaps longer, for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to evaluate Peloton’s proposed Tread fix, but Foley said the Tread will “hopefully” relaunch by July.

The Tread+, however, is a different story.

The pricier machine’s unconventional slat belt and higher-profile design, which positions the belt higher off the ground than most treadmills and lacks any sort of guardrail to keep objects from being sucked under, is a bigger issue. Before Peloton issued its Tread+ recall, the CPSC received 72 reports of injuries and the report of a death of a 6-year-old linked to the machine. Peloton initially pushed back against the CPSC’s warnings in April that people with pets and small children should cease using the Tread+ immediately, claiming that the machine was fine to use when all safety guidelines were followed.

“There is no reason to stop using the Tread+, as long as all warnings and safety instructions are followed,” Peloton said in a press release at the time. “Children under 16 should never use the Tread+, and members should keep children, pets, and objects away from the Tread+ at all times.”

The company finally relented this week, issuing a voluntary recall and recommending that Tread and Tread+ owners stop using their machines until fixes could be implemented. Foley apologised for the company’s horrible initial response and said Peloton “has some work to do” to get on the “right side” of safety.

For the Tread+, the software passcode update is not enough, and the hardware fix is a little more complicated than improving some screws. Foley said he couldn’t detail the exact changes needed, but said additional hardware would physically prevent objects from being sucked under the back of the Tread+. That could take months to implement and be approved by the CPSC, and will require a revamp of the machine’s manufacturing process.

Tread and Tread+ owners will have their $US39 ($50) monthly Peloton All-Access subscription fee waived for the next three months, but the company will continue to release new Tread content to prepare for the Tread’s relaunch and for runners who subscribe to the company’s app (which is only $US13 ($17) a month) to take classes outside or on non-Peloton treadmills.

The company said it expects to take a $US165 ($212) million hit to its revenue in the fourth quarter of its fiscal year due to the recalls and subscription waivers. Peloton was flying high before its treadmill errors. Its Bike and Bike+ delivery times were coming down, digital subscriptions skyrocketed to 891,000, and connected fitness subscriptions (those tied to Peloton’s machines) jumped 135% year-over-year to 2.08 million.

Now the company has work to do to prove it’s taking safety seriously, though it remains to be seen if the brand’s reputation has actually taken a hit. According to Insider, many Tread+ owners have no intention of returning their treadmills, despite the reports of injuries.

Those who do want to return their treadmills for full refunds have until Nov. 6, 2022 to contact Peloton.