Trying To Sell Your Peloton Bike? Good Luck
The pandemic-era trend has officially become passé, with former die-hards selling their bikes in droves on Craigslist.
A few weeks ago, I glared at my Peloton, annoyed. The last time I used the bike was last year, before I even moved into this apartment. Now it just takes up space, collecting dust in my spare room. (Occasionally, it serves as a clothing rack.) I decided to sell it.
Or, at least, I tried to: The resale market is crowded, with some bikes selling on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for 50% of their original price, which starts at $1,895 (or $2,245, depending on when you bought it). In New York City, where I live, a recent Craigslist search pulled up 106 pages of results of bikes for sale, a majority of them Pelotons. “I just want it gone,” one seller’s post said. It’s a similar story in Austin, Texas, where some people have priced their Pelotons at $600 to $700; in Chicago, one seller posted a seven-word short story: “Peloton cycling shoes size 39 worn once.” The pandemic may not be over, but it looks like this pandemic-era trend might be.
It wasn’t always like this. In September 2020, around the time I bought my Peloton, the company said it had more than 1.09 million connected fitness subscribers, up 113% from the year before, and roughly 3.1 million members in total. Like so many others, I bought the bike and immediately bought into the cult. I’d start my days with a half-hour ride, taught by instructors I grew to have a one-sided first-name-basis relationship with (Cody, Alex, Ally, Robin!). I’d do a 30-minute “club bangers ride” after work. I’d ride for 60 minutes on the weekends. What else was I doing, anyway?
Like so many others, I bought the bike and immediately bought into the cult.
But in the spring of 2021, I got vaccinated, and my world came springing back, albeit in fits and starts. I went back to bars and restaurants, I went on vacation, and I started training with a strength trainer instead of focusing on cardio. It was a relief, I soon realized, to step away from the bike, which had the tendency to make me hyperfixate on metrics and numbers instead of whether I was actually getting a good workout and enjoying myself. (Although, once again: What else was I doing, anyway?)
As my own Peloton languished, so, too, did the company’s numbers. As 2021 and 2022 progressed and the economy reopened, the sales of connected fitness products like Peloton slowed. In January 2022, Peloton temporarily halted production of its products as demand faltered. A few weeks later, the company laid off 2,800 workers — about 20% of its corporate headcount. Today, its $3 billion market cap is a fraction of its all-time high of nearly $50 billion in January 2021. The company, which has lost money for six consecutive quarters, reported a $1.2 billion quarterly loss in September.
In recent months, Peloton has made attempts at winning back customers, re-opening an in-person studio in New York City this summer and adding a $3,195 rowing machine to its fitness equipment lineup this fall. The company has tried hawking its wares on Amazon, and it’s even tried to compete with the secondary market itself, running a brief test this August of its certified pre-owned bike program, which lets people buy secondhand Pelotons through the company. Meanwhile, SoulCycle took a cheap shot, offering to lure Peloton riders in by letting them trade in their bikes for 47 in-studio SoulCycle classes. (It’s a fair trade: At $35 a pop, 47 SoulCycle classes is almost equal to the cost of the now-$1,445 bike itself.)
It all seems to be coming too late for many former fans. Like tie-dye sweatsuits and Instant Pots, Peloton can feel like a trend stuck in 2020, and who wants to still be there? Abby, who lives in the Bay Area and bought her Peloton in April 2020, says her bike was her “ticket to feeling like a person again those first few months.” Eventually, however, it wasn’t so soothing. “I almost started associating it with the pain and isolation of the pandemic,” she said. “I ultimately decided to rejoin a local in-person yoga studio that I love instead of keeping up with my bike payment and the rising cost of a membership.” (Earlier this year, Peloton made changes to its subscription pricing structure. Beginning June 1, the cost of membership rose to $44 a month, up from $39.) In May 2022, Abby sold her bike.
“I almost started associating [the Peloton] with the pain and isolation of the pandemic.”
Similarly, some once-devoted users told me that while they initially loved their Peloton for its online community, they eventually grew weary of pedaling alone in their apartment. Corey Kindberg, a strategy director for an advertising agency, sold his Peloton Bike+ — the brand’s premium offering — before he moved from New York to Los Angeles in 2021. “I rode that thing religiously for a bit and I really loved it, but then the allure of it really wore off,” he said. “I actually started hating that it was just sitting in my apartment taunting me.” The solo rides just didn’t do it for him. “The magic of spin class for me wasn't the workout, but rather the energy in the room,” he said. “I wasn’t getting that on the bike. It wasn’t the same.”
To be fair, Peloton does offer in-person classes at its New York studio — but, obviously, not every Peloton lover lives in New York. Allison Dapper, an attorney in Washington, D.C., struggled to become a Peloton person, despite having previously been a spin class person. “I liked that I could exercise anytime,” she said. “But in reality, there was no one forcing me to stay on the bike for the whole class or work my hardest.” In October 2021, she sold hers for $1,000.
Other hopeful sellers have found they’re stuck with their bikes, at least for now. Yael Berger, a New York City-based PR professional, bought her Peloton in August 2020. Now, she’s looking to sell. (She’s still a Peloton person at heart, she says, but she’s now training for the New York City Marathon and has a regimented fitness schedule that’s running-focused with little room for spinning.) But she hasn’t parted ways with her bike yet, in part because of the current state of the Peloton resale market. “The resale market just isn’t worth it right now,” she said. “I purchased my bike for about $2,000, so to only get $500 in return, I might as well just keep it and use it when I want.”
Another possible reason why people are over their Pelotons: The tides are turning in terms of how we think of wellness. After all, Peloton isn’t alone in its floundering. Despite its own recent dig at Peloton, SoulCycle isn’t doing much better: In August, the company announced it would shutter 25% of its studios. Many people I spoke to who decided to shed their Pelotons aren’t headed back to punishing, high-intensity workout classes; instead, they mentioned taking up new forms of fitness like hiking, weight lifting, yoga, and Pilates. These activities are difficult, sure, but it’s a sustained kind of difficulty, one that relies on strength and endurance. Overall, activities like hiking or yoga are less intense and metrics-driven than popular pre-pandemic workouts, like SoulCycle or OrangeTheory or, yes, Peloton.
It’s part of an overall trend in fitness that journalist Rina Raphael observed in a recent newsletter: Gen Z is pushing back against the hyperproductive, “hustle culture” elements of wellness and fitness that characterized the millennial era. Life is hard enough — why should our workouts be any harder?
Then again, maybe it’s just not that deep. It’s pretty common for people to abandon their fitness tech once the novelty wears off, pointed out Raphael, who is the author of the new book The Gospel of Wellness: Gyms, Gurus, Goop, and the False Promise of Self-Care. “You often heard the same with Fitbits — a high percentage of consumers got tired of their trackers and threw them into a drawer after six months,” she said. “At the end of the day, you have to love what a tech product offers to stick with it. Otherwise, you’ll get bored and move on to the next big fitness fad.”
I’m not sure what will become of my own Peloton. I’ll try to offload it to a friend in my neighborhood first, and if that fails, I’ll sell it at a discount on Craigslist. I’ve gotten everything I needed out of it, and now it’s time to move on. Like that one seller in New York said: I just want it gone.