Practice Lanebreak Platoon

Image for article titled Peloton's video game feature is here, and it's fun

Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo

The peloton is have a bad time. The connected fitness company is struggling to sell bikes it couldn’t keep in stock, its CEO has just been replaced by a more competent executive, and he just laid off 2,800 employees. But Peloton has never struggled in one specific area: its classes. The company therefore hopes to take a break today by launching a Lane skip function that turns Peloton rides into video game levels.

The feature has been in beta since last summer, racking up thousands of Bike and Bike+ users at any given time. Peloton gave me early access to Lanebreak a few weeks ago to take it for a literal ride. If you’re a bike owner looking to change up your routine, Lanebreak is a really fun way to ride.

Will Lanebreak solve Peloton’s many problems and bring the company back from the brink of disaster? No. Will it entertain Peloton owners who might eye their bikes warily, dreading what appears to be an inevitable Amazon acquisition? Yes.

How Lanebreak Works

Lanebreak is a new feature only available on Bike and Bike+, accessible under the “More” tab where Peloton’s Free Rides and Scenic Rides live. There are around 20 levels to start with varying musical themes in partnership with Warner Music Group. You can currently choose from 5-minute cool-downs and warm-ups, 10-minute hip hop classes, a 20-minute level with a soundtrack hosted by Peloton’s favorite DJ, John Michael, and even a 30-minute class. minutes. Most of the levels are bite-sized, designed to stack with other rides (though they’re actually impossible to stack – more on that in a minute).

Peloton Lanebreak's circuit breakers feature forces you to pedal fast

To complete a breaker like this, you need to pedal furiously to maximize the points you can earn.
Screenshot: Platoon

Each level is similar, with the same gameplay. There are different playlists for each, and you can choose from four difficulty levels (beginner to expert), but otherwise the visuals are the same: a futuristic look that evokes tron. Lanebreak also has a minimalist style Mario Kart Rainbow Road vibe, except instead of rolling down a track as an Inkling Girl, dodging obstacles and throwing turtle shells behind me, I pedal to hit specific beats, fill circuit breakers by pedaling furiously, or maintain a flow by maintaining a cadence, while using the bike’s resistance button to switch between six lanes. You are rewarded with points for hitting all the targets.

The game’s mechanics are inspired by Peloton’s instructor-led classes, according to David Packles, Peloton’s senior director of product management overseeing Lanebreak.

As a Bike+ owner feeling uninspired to train for the past few months, Lanebreak has been a fun way to change it up, and the levels offer training as good as instructor-led classes, maybe even better. . In an instructor-led class, I sometimes pull back my resistance or cadence to catch my breath in hopes that I can catch up later in the leaderboard, but with Lanebreak, skipping a stream or crossing a breaker leaves points on the table. My performance on a 20-minute Lanebreak has been consistently higher than on a regular 20-minute class, and I finish each level sweating profusely, regardless of the difficulty level I choose in advance.

A work in progress

You can see your ranking status after a Lanebreak ride, not during.

You can see your ranking status after a Lanebreak ride, not during.
Screenshot: Platoon

I asked my husband, another Peloton racer and true video game enthusiast, to test Lanebreak to gauge its appeal to gamers. He loved it, although his reviews of the feature were similar to mine: levels need more diverse visual landscapes to make it feel like you’re progressing, and Lanebreak also needs a level ranking or other way to compete with other racers. (Currently, you can see your rank status after a Lanebreak level, but not halfway through.)

Packles told me these features are in the works. “We were pretty focused on nailing the core experience first and making that core experience as fun as possible,” he said. “All of the other stuff – progression systems, visual diversity, new types of features that build on our core – are all stuff we plan to layer on over time. Over the next few months, members can expect to see changes in Lanebreak.

Packles said Lanebreak will operate similarly to the rest of Peloton’s classes, with new releases regularly.

“Peloton is amazing because every time you go up there’s another new Alex [Toussaint] class, another new Adrian [Williams] class,” he said. “We apply this principle to Lanebreak, so every week there is something that attracts you.”

Racers can expect the majority of Lanebreak levels to be bite-sized – 10 or 20 minutes instead of 30-60 minutes. Honestly, it’s for the best: Because the Lanebreak track looks exactly the same no matter how long you pedal, longer courses would quickly become monotonous. Lanebreak levels are also fun to combine with instructor-led classes, but it’s more strenuous than necessary. You have to tap into More, select Lanebreak, go through the process of choosing your level, complete the ride, and then dive back into the rest of Platoon’s classes in a completely different section of the interface after exiting Lanebreak. Lanebreak currently has no location on the home screen when you fire up the Bike or Bike+ tablet, which is a perfect example of another Peloton problem: introducing extremely cool features or classes only to make them difficult to find or use.

Will Lanebreak save Peloton?

Hitting a flow forces you to follow a cadence legend, just like you would in an instructor-led class.

Hitting a flow forces you to follow a cadence legend, just like you would in an instructor-led class.
Screenshot: Platoon

Peloton’s more literally gamified rides won’t solve the company’s current structural shitshow, but Lanebreak is an example of where Peloton shines: its actual content. No other connected fitness company offers Peloton’s experience, and that’s why its users remain dedicated despite the company’s uncertain future.

Lanebreak is also, potentially, a glimpse of where Peloton could go in the future. VR-based fitness games like Supernatural and beat the saber have become extremely popular, and it would make sense for Peloton to start developing VR content – to create a Peloverse, if you will (sorry, sorry, try deleting) – rather than releasing wearable accessories or a strange bodybuilding camera. (A long-talked-about Peloton rower is should be out soonand adding rowing content would also go a long way in attracting new users.)

“What is unchanged within Peloton is our commitment to innovation and our commitment to trying new things. Lanebreak is a good example of that,” Packles said. “We are what we have always been and what we will continue to be. We’ll see how it works and decide how deep we go. Our feedback on our beta test has been overwhelmingly positive.

Peloton’s Lanebreak feature is now available to Bike and Bike+ owners in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and Germany.

Wiley C. Thompson