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For your own safety, hit the brakes and dismount your bike immediately. Your stationary bike, that is.
On Thursday, the pandemic-wunderkind-turned-endemic-problem-child Peloton announced a recall of 2.2 million of its famed exercise bikes. In turn, the company’s oft-troubled stock took yet another skid, this time to its lowest point since October.
Pedal to the Meddle
Despite the unending praise showered on it by seemingly every Peloton cult member… err… customer in existence, the company hasn’t been able to build a sustainable business, with the latest recall just another snap in its financial bike chain. Peloton discovered the design flaw earlier this month, which involves a defect in the seat post on its original bike model that can unexpectedly break at a weld joint. Thirteen injuries caused by the defect have been cited by the company, including one wrist fracture. Ouch. In other words, let’s hope you enjoy the standing-and-pedaling portion of your Peloton routines. Or, at the very least, maybe wear a helmet and Level 4 body armor.
The news comes at a tough time for the company, which is still sitting on a massive fleet of unsold equipment after sorely misjudging the longevity of pandemic-era enthusiasm (after all, a nation can only stress-mainline Ben & Jerry’s every night for so long). Worse, the company was forced to pay a $75 million settlement to Dish Network following an International Trade Commission dispute over streaming technology. And that’s on top of a now somewhat-troubling track record of product recalls for a company that was all about its hardware:
- In May of 2021, Peloton recalled some 125,000 units of its Tread+ treadmills following the death of a child involving the equipment. The company at first resisted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s insistence on recall, though later cooperated and apologized for doing so.
- The Tread+ recall extended to its more singular “Tread” treadmill product line as well, and the company also issued a recall in 2020 due to a flaw in its bike’s pedal clips.
Peloton’s share price fell roughly 9% on the news Thursday, closing the day under $7 per share. The company will be shipping out a new seat for customers to install themselves at home.
And Just Like That: While waiting for the delivery, the company surely hopes its customers remember it offers services other than the bike, like online non-cycling exercise classes. In fact, just last week CEO Barry McCarthy announced Peloton would “relaunch its brand” by the end of the month to refocus itself as an all-in-one fitness super player. But then came the defective seat recall, and just like that, Peloton was back on the hot seat.