Peloton Tread Is Back, and It’s Very Good

Peloton Tread Is Back, and It’s Very Good
Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo

Peloton’s new treadmill is finally available to buy in the U.S., but you’d be forgiven for being confused. Wasn’t Peloton’s treadmill recalled due to safety issues? Isn’t it super expensive to be having so many problems? Yes and yes, but let’s back up a second to clarify.

Peloton actually has two treadmills. The company’s original $US4,295 (A$5,781) treadmill was also named Tread, but it was later rebranded Tread+. You may have heard about the recall, and that is still in place after reports of injuries due to its slat design, which sits higher off the floor and lacks a safety bar to keep objects (or limbs) from being sucked under the machine. But earlier this year, Peloton had announced a smaller, sleeker, cheaper Tread with a more conventional belt design that was also recalled before it officially went on sale — though that recall was due to display issues, not limb-sucking slats. Peloton has fixed the cheaper Tread, which is an easier-to-stomach $US2,495 (A$3,359), and now it is officially on sale. That’s the Tread this review is about. (We also reviewed the old Tread when it first went on sale.)

I’ve been using the newer Tread since April and have logged dozens and dozens of runs, walks, hikes, and bootcamps (oh, the bootcamps!). The model I’ve been testing didn’t have any display issues, but Peloton sent a team of technicians to replace the screen anyway prior to its official launch date.

The Tread has three main selling points compared to other home treadmills: It has a small footprint, its scroll wheels and jump buttons make adjusting incline and speed extremely fast, and its classes are *chef’s kiss*. Some treadmills have one or two of those features, but no other company effectively combines the three. Yes, it’s expensive. If you love running, it’s worth it.

Peloton Tread

WHAT IS IT?

Peloton's smaller, cheaper connected treadmill (not the one that's still recalled)

PRICE

$US2,495 (A$3,359)

LIKE

No front shroud; an easier fit for apartment dwellers; comfortable to run on; a variety of entertaining, challenging classes that expand beyond just running

DON'T LIKE

Expensive, and Peloton needs to do some work to rehab its image post-recall

A Sleeker, Smaller Tread

The cheaper Tread has a carbon steel frame and, unlike most home treadmills, lacks a front shroud where the motor is usually stored. That means it has a smaller footprint, standing at 157 cm high, 83 cm wide, and 172 cm long. Its belt offers 149cm of running space. Peloton says the treadmill is rated for users between 4’11” and 6’4″, with a weight range of 48 kg to 135 kg. I’m on the petite side, 5’3″ with admittedly short legs, and have never even come close to touching the back of the Tread while running. If you’re taller with longer legs, you might want to test out the Tread at a Peloton showroom in person to make sure you have enough runway. For comparison, the absolutely ginormous Tread+ measures 182 cm high, 92 cm wide, and 184 cm long. It’s bigger in every single way.

Peloton also recommends that you have two feet of space to the left, right, and front of the Tread, and 200 cm of clearance behind the Tread, with a power outlet nearby so you don’t use an extension cord. If you don’t have enough space, Peloton Redditors have reported that you may not be able to accept delivery of the Tread (or you’ll have to set it up yourself), so avoid the hassle and ensure you have the room.

I placed the Tread review unit I’ve been testing on the hardwood floor of my living room. I’ve been pounding the treadmill for months now and found it incredibly sturdy — it doesn’t shake, wobble, or vibrate while I run — though if I had downstairs neighbours, I would probably be concerned about the sound. Honestly, I would not recommend buying any treadmill to place on a hardwood floor with downstairs neighbours unless you want to make enemies — after all, running is not a quiet activity. The Tread does inch itself forward on the hardwood floor if I do an incline-heavy class, but it’s easy to pull back into place (I could have put a mat down to mitigate both that and the sound, but I didn’t, so here we are.)

Like Peloton's bikes, the Tread has a built-in camera (with a physical shutter) that I have never used. (Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo) Like Peloton’s bikes, the Tread has a built-in camera (with a physical shutter) that I have never used. (Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo)

The Tread has a 60 cm 1080p touchscreen that tilts slightly up and down with a range of 50 degrees so you can easily find an optimal angle for streaming the classes. The screen doesn’t swivel from side to side for doing off-treadmill portions of Tread bootcamp classes, but I placed a workout mat behind the Tread and was easily able to see the strength portions of the bootcamps. Like Peloton’s Bike and Bike+, the Tread has a front-facing camera with a physical privacy shutter. The camera is for seeing friends while you work out, but I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would want to stare at someone else’s sweaty face as they do an intense workout, and I haven’t ever used the camera on either the Bike+ or the Tread.

On the Tread’s right rail is a speed knob with a centre jump button for increasing the speed by 2 km/h every time you press it, up to 20 km/h. On the left is an incline knob, which also has a jump button — each press increases the incline by 1%, up to a 12.5% grade. The Tread+ has a higher incline of 15%, but I found the 12.5% more than sufficient (i.e. it kicked my arse). The jump buttons are a game-changer — rather than jabbing at a speed and incline button and waiting for the machine to catch up, the Tread allows you to quickly adjust to meet the class instructor’s callout ranges. That’s huge for hill running, because it takes mere seconds for the Tread incline to catch up.

You can roll the Tread's incline forward or use the centre jump button to increase the incline to the next whole grade (i.e. from 1% to 2% or from 1.5% to 2%). The speed jump button on the right side works the same way. (Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo) You can roll the Tread’s incline forward or use the centre jump button to increase the incline to the next whole grade (i.e. from 1% to 2% or from 1.5% to 2%). The speed jump button on the right side works the same way. (Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo)

In the centre of the Tread’s front handlebar is a giant red Stop button. Tucked beneath the handlebar is a magnetic safety key for stopping the machine in an emergency. More on that in a minute.

A Purely Enjoyable Running Experience

As a runner who finds treadmill running incredibly tedious and does it only under duress (i.e. when it’s too cold outside), I gave the Tread the side-eye for the first few weeks it sat in my living room, begrudgingly hopping on a few times a week for the sake of this review. But then I started warming up to it. And it’s all due to the classes.

I prefer to run outside, but during the pandemic, I got tired of my usual running routes. I noticed my speed, usually a respectable 10-minute mile, slowing to 11, some days even 12 minutes. I found myself completely lacking motivation. I’ve tried audio run-training apps like Nike Run Club, various earbud-based coaches like Vi, and Peloton’s audio-only outdoor classes. Nothing stuck. I’m more of a visual person than an audio one, so I was curious to see if watching an instructor run and seeing target ranges for speed and incline would be more effective. Then there’s the Peloton leaderboard, which is useful for seeing how you compare to others who have taken the class or who are currently taking it, which I warmed up to on the Bike+. Peloton’s classes can be taken live or on demand — I’m more of an on-demand person and prefer to pick classes when I have time rather than readjust my schedule to take them live.

You can see all of your metrics on-screen while you run, and the leaderboard to the right (which can be swiped away if you don't want to see it) will show you how you stack up to other runners. (Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo) You can see all of your metrics on-screen while you run, and the leaderboard to the right (which can be swiped away if you don’t want to see it) will show you how you stack up to other runners. (Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo)

But it turned out the best part about Peloton’s running classes was how entertaining they are, even ones focused on training goals like endurance, progression, or tempo. I already knew I loved Peloton’s classes from reviewing the Bike+ (which I then purchased), but I was uncertain if that instruction style would translate to the Tread. But like the cycling instructors, the Tread instructors are personalities who are skilled at coaching you through, for instance, a series of sprints in which you feel you may die. One of my favourite cycling instructors, Jess King, also teaches on the Tread, which made my treadmill transition a little less rocky.

You can plan your workouts using the Peloton app. (Screenshot: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo) You can plan your workouts using the Peloton app. (Screenshot: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo)

There’s something for everyone, and your options aren’t limited to various speeds of running, though, of course, there are plenty of classes that focus on that. You can take a 60-minute endurance class with marathon runner Becs Gentry, a 20-minute high-intensity intervals training run with Army vet Marcel Dinkins, or a 30-minute live DJ run with my personal fave Adrian Williams when you want to have fun. The instructors’ coaching has also helped me improve my form, with reminders to pay attention to the position of my neck and hips and which part of my foot is striking the treadmill.

Classes are marked beginner, intermediate, or advanced (or not labelled if designed for all levels), and instructors typically offer wide speed call-outs. For some, 11 km/h is a light jog. For me, it’s a fast run. Peloton also offers programs that lay out which classes to take each week if you need more structure, whether you’re a running newbie or training for a race (from a 5K to a marathon). There are themed classes around everything from Beyoncé to Broadway (who thought running it out to the Rent soundtrack would be such a blast?).

But the Tread doesn’t offer just running classes. There are power-walking classes and sessions that combine walking and running. One day, tired and looking for an easier workout, I decided to take a 45-minute hike with instructor Rebecca Kennedy, thinking it would be, well, low-effort. As Kennedy instructed me to crank my incline as high as it would go and encouraged me to power walk my way up the Tread for close to 30 minutes without grabbing the handlebars or rails for support (to simulate climbing a mountain, how fun!), I realised that the hikes were not the easy classes.

Then there are the bootcamps, which are my favourite of all Peloton’s classes. For 30, 45, or 60 minutes, you transition between running and floor exercises for an incredibly difficult and effective workout. Whenever I’ve had a frustrating day or trouble sleeping, a post-work bootcamp is my preferred outlet, with a bonus side effect of complete exhaustion. And if you’re feeling brave, I’ve heard instructor Jess Sims’ notorious Saturday 60 will have you questioning all of your life decisions. I personally am still working up to it.

For those who hate music and/or studio-style classes (yes, I’m aware you’re out there), Peloton also has scenic content so you can use the immersive screen to skip around Iceland, for instance, if you so desire.

My biggest complaint with the Tread’s content is that, until recently, it’s been pretty light due to the recalls. Now that the cheaper Tread is on sale again, Peloton has added seven new instructors, and the class offerings have quickly become as diverse and frequent as the ones you find on the Bike.

The Tread's incline increases to 12.5% and its speed to 12.5 mph. (Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo) The Tread’s incline increases to 12.5% and its speed to 12.5 mph. (Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo)

The Tread’s social features are the same as the ones on the Bike and Bike+ — you see a leaderboard on-screen, so you can race against other runners currently taking the class, high-five fellow users for extra encouragement, and see which of your Peloton-using friends have taken a class. These features are, for now, less motivating than on Peloton’s bikes, simply because there are fewer Tread owners. But my strong desire to be in the top 50% of the leaderboard on any given run has been a kick in the arse when I feel like rolling the speed knob back a touch.

Therein lies the appeal for me: I don’t train for races, I run because it’s a good workout, and the Tread’s classes allow me to switch it up with challenging but entertaining runs. And this is how Peloton gets you. You quickly figure out your favourite instructors. You learn their catch phrases, like “no ego amigo” (Jess Sims) and “take an emotional lap” (Adrian Williams). You learn their quirks — Selena Samuela sings along to every song on her playlist; Rebecca Kennedy dances throughout her runs. Soon you find yourself following them on Instagram and taking live classes to get shout-outs for milestones and high-fives on the leaderboard. Peloton’s stickiness is the secret to its success, and while that’s beneficial for the company’s bottom line, it’s also beneficial for users. If you fall in love with a trainer (or a few) and get addicted to the leaderboard, you might commit to a workout routine and actually use the Tread instead of allow it to collect dust. No other fitness company has come close to replicating this.

Let’s Talk Safety

The Tread now requires a passcode to use it, and will lock itself when not in use to prevent accidental activation. (Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo) The Tread now requires a passcode to use it, and will lock itself when not in use to prevent accidental activation. (Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo)

The Tread is a low-profile belt treadmill and not a slat treadmill like the Tread+, which sits higher off the ground, and therefore the Tread isn’t riskier to use in the home than other conventionally designed belt treadmills — which is to say that anyone can be injured by a piece of machinery without precautions and you should never allow pets or small children to play around or on the Tread. As mentioned previously, the Tread was subject to a voluntary recall earlier this summer due to an issue with the screws that mounted the display to the machine, which could cause the monitor to topple over. The Consumer Product Safety Commission cleared a fix in August before the Tread went on sale again. That fix involves a complete replacement of the neck of the machine and the tablet; they are now one piece instead of two.

Peloton also rolled out a new software-based safety feature called Tread Lock, which requires you to enter a passcode to activate the Tread. If you step away from the machine, it will require you to enter the passcode again after a few seconds. There’s also a safety key magnetically attached to the Tread. Clip the cord to your waistband while you run, and if you fall and need to stop the Tread, yank on the cord to detach the magnetic key. Doing so will stop the belt. Tread instructors give an entire rundown about safety before each class, reminding you to watch out for kids and pets and to store the safety key away from the Tread when it’s not in use. I appreciate all of these features.

In addition to Tread Lock, the Tread also has a Stop button and a safety key that will stop the treadmill when pulled. (Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo) In addition to Tread Lock, the Tread also has a Stop button and a safety key that will stop the treadmill when pulled. (Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo)

But I will say that, as a Peloton customer (I purchased the Bike+ I reviewed and really love it), I have serious concerns about the company’s handling of the Tread+ accidents, which included the death of a child. That’s no small thing. The company initially shifted blame for injuries onto Tread+ users and took far too long to issue a recall, doing so only after bad press and pressure from government agencies. The company is now under investigation from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Securities and Exchange Commission over its disclosure of the Tread+ incidents.

Peloton took a financial hit from the Tread recalls, but its subscription revenue was up in the fourth quarter of the year, indicating that users aren’t fleeing en masse due to safety concerns. Peloton CEO John Foley apologised for the company’s response to the Tread+ incidents, and I feel comfortable that I can safely use the Tread. But the situation didn’t exactly inspire confidence, and I will be paying close attention to how the company handles future issues — including the eventual relaunch of the Tread+, which will presumably go on sale again when a fix has been approved.

But Is It Worth the Money?

You can, of course, easily find a cheaper home treadmill than the Peloton Tread — one without a screen that doesn’t need to be connected to the internet so you can run freely or take Peloton classes on a tablet or your TV. Peloton’s walks, runs, and bootcamps are all available via the Peloton app, which is $US13 (A$17) per month. That’s far less than the $US39 (A$52)/month Peloton membership you need to unlock the Tread classes with the machine (though you can use the Tread sans membership if for some reason you want to). But there are sacrifices you’ll make to save money: As Runner’s World notes, treadmills under $US1,000 (A$1,346) tend to cut costs with smaller, narrower belts that might not accommodate your stride length and are made of less sturdy materials than pricier machines (reports of cheap treadmill belts cracking just months into use aren’t uncommon).

Then there are similarly priced connected treadmills from companies like NordicTrack, which offers both standard treadmills as well as an incline-focused series of treads that can increase up to 40% grade. I know folks who love NordicTrack’s iFit platform and its focus on outdoor training. I personally do not like NordicTrack’s classes — either its studio offerings or its outdoor ones (though I’ve only tested its bike, not its treadmills). The iFit classes are boring and there’s zero focus on music, which is a huge motivator for me. Your mileage (literally) may vary.

Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo

In many ways, Peloton is similar to Apple. You can absolutely buy a cheaper device that offers comparable features (or maybe just has fewer bells and whistles, and depending on which bells and whistles you want, that might be fine). But some people — judging by the success of Peloton’s bikes, a great many people — prefer the seamlessness of taking Peloton classes on a Peloton machine, just as many prefer the ease of buying into the Apple ecosystem, regardless of whether more budget-friendly alternatives exist.

But the Tread isn’t for everyone, even Peloton fans. The Bike and Bike+ are more accessible to more people, because running is a high-impact exercise and treadmills are frankly just too loud for many spaces. If you’re just getting into running, I would recommend trying a Peloton class using a phone or tablet on a treadmill at a gym first before investing in such an expensive piece of equipment.

But if you already like to run and you want an excellent indoor solution, the Peloton Tread is the best combination of hardware and software you’ll find. If I had the space or budget for a full home gym, I’d buy it.


Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.