Issue No. 200: Ready to Ride

Illustration: Courtney Powell

From home workouts and studio classes to cycling outdoors, the business of biking is shifting gears.

Spin Cycle

As gym visits rebound, cycling studios are trying to keep pace.

Barry’s. With nearly every location fully open, and utilization on par with pre-COVID levels, Barry’s is eyeing expansion.

However, unlike boutique competitors Xponential Fitness or Orangetheory—which count thousands of locations globally—the high-end HIIT studio’s reputation exceeds its physical footprint of 85 studios in 14 countries.

The latest: Scaling up, the company is launching indoor cycling studios.

What it is: RIDE x LIFT follows the interval studio’s traditional format where members alternate between cardio- and strength-based programming. In this case, the bike replaces the treadmill, making for a more accessible and lower-impact workout.

What to watch for: Debuting in a dedicated space adjacent to the brand’s Chelsea NYC studio, RIDE was piloted pre-COVID but was sidelined as gyms shuttered.

Back to business, RIDE is relaunching with plans to add more studios within or in close proximity to existing Barry’s locations.

SoulCycle. Despite being a preeminent boutique cycling brand, SoulCycle was slow to unveil its at-home bike, missing out on the connected fitness boom. When restrictions lifted, members didn’t rush back, so the company recently closed 19 studios and laid off 75 employees.

Flywheel. A move that may have flown under the radar, F45 Training paid $25M to acquire Flywheel Sports’ trademark and related assets.

Going head to head with SoulCycle last decade, Flywheel opened 40+ studios and briefly offered an at-home bike. After a series of financial and legal missteps, the brand folded in 2020.

Plotting a comeback, F45 was preparing to relaunch it this summer before its core business crumbled. With F45 putting expansion and new concepts on hold, it’s unclear if Flywheel will ever be resurrected.

On the bright side… Xponential has found continued success with CycleBar, topping 260 open studios, as well as reaching agreements to enter Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

Another approach, Swerve Fitness livestreams cycling classes into gyms. Pivoting from a brick-and-mortar studio to B2B content, the company is gaining traction with Crunch Fitness while also signing on new partners.

Remote Ride

Digital and connected fitness brands are adjusting to the new normal — one where fitness seekers have the option of leaving their homes.

Peloton. A few weeks back, we took a deep dive into the company’s restructuring. Focusing on content and pivoting to fitness-as-a-service, subscription revenue is the aim.

The latest: After testing a limited rental option for new and used bikes, CEO Barry McCarthy said Peloton is expanding the program nationwide to reach “value-minded” consumers.

Starting today, first-time Bike and Bike+ members receive an equipment + unlimited content bundle for $89 or $119 per month, respectively. There’s also a buy-out option and no-cost cancellation.

Between the lines: According to NYT, sales of Peloton bikes on eBay increased 80% between July 2020 and July 2022. Offering rentals and controlling pre-owned sales, the company wants to keep customers and equipment in its ecosystem.

Zwift. After scrapping its smart bike and laying off staff, the company didn’t quit equipment entirely.

The latest: Last week, it launched Hub, a bike trainer that syncs most road bikes to its virtual cycling universe. But, Zwift didn’t make this hardware; the white-labeled Volt trainer is manufactured by JetBlack.

A strategic play, the offering makes accessing Zwift’s content—the primary focus, according to CEO Eric Min—a little easier while undercutting the price of other smart trainers (like Wahoo’s KICKR and Saris’s H4).

Content is king. While Peloton mulls streaming content to third-party equipment and Zwift doubles down on software, hardware-agnostic cycling content is proving popular. Tapping digital-only classes from Apple Fitness+ to obé to Motosumo, riders are creating equipment and content bundles of their own.

Pedal Pusher

Correcting course, road and trail biking’s hot streak is cooling.

Bike boom. In 2019, Americans spent about $6B on bicycles and accessories. Fueled by the pandemic, that number rose to $7B in 2020 and more than $8B in 2021.

But, sales at US bicycle retailers declined 7% through the first half of 2022 versus last year (according to NPD research), compared with jumps of 46% and 4% during the same periods in 2020 and 2021.

E-conomics. Surging interest and dwindling supply drove bike prices up 17% in 2021. In particular, the average price of road bikes increased 29%. As demand and inventory stabilize, pricing will follow.

Riding new-found momentum into the future, e-bikes (up 240% in 2021 vs. 2019) and cross/gravel bikes (up 109% in 2021 vs. 2019) are expected to outperform.

Punchline: After two years of ups and downs, biking brands are settling into a more predictable speed, but the race isn’t over. Whether its at home, in studio, or outdoors, keeping riders in the saddle will prove challenging.

🍏 AI Meets CGM

In the midst of a metabolic health crisis, glucose monitoring is going mainstream.

On the Fitt Insider Podcast: January AI founder & CEO Noosheem Hashemi discusses her metabolic health platform using AI and continuous glucose monitors to personalize lifestyle recommendations.

We also cover: pioneering predictive health, digital twins, and more.

Listen to today’s episode here

⌚️ Adventure Time

Apple unveiled a smartwatch designed for endurance sports and outdoor pursuits.

What it is: Known as Apple Watch Ultra, the device has a larger screen, titanium case, and an Action button for controlling new functionality.

  • Off-the-grid features include a built-in compass, GPS with waypoints, depth gauge, and an emergency siren.
  • Six real-time metrics can be viewed at once. For running, new data forms include stride length, ground contact time, vertical oscillation, and running power.
  • Upgraded workout views enable segments, splits, and elevation, as well as features like heart rate zones, pacing, and custom workouts.
  • Two temperature sensors inform modules for stress management, sleep, menstrual cycles, and high-level disease detection.

Ultra similar. But, by launching a rugged, outdoorsy watch for $799, Apple is undercutting adventure watch makers Garmin and Suunto — whose watches serving trailrunners, triathletes, divers, backcountry skiers, and more typically run $200–300 higher.

Looking ahead: While committed Garmin wearers are unlikely to abandon their devices, Apple is running a familiar playbook. Testing the waters and appealing to the casual endurance athlete, the tech giant can gain traction and garner user insight ahead of expanding further into the category.

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💪 Flex or Fade

Tonal is looking to raise $100M in funding at a $1.9B valuation.

Need-to-know: Makers of a wall-mounted, tech-enabled strength training machine, the company is seeking cash to expand its capital intensive business, per Bloomberg.

This development follows a series of ups and downs for both the company and home fitness brands.

  • Benefiting from pandemic lockdowns, Tonal gained a 90% share of the smart strength category as sales surged 800% in 2020.
  • Last April, it landed $250M at a $1.6B valuation, bringing its total funding to $450M.
  • This July, as COVID restrictions lifted and gym visits rebounded, the company laid off 35% of its workforce.

Citing continued growth, the equipment maker expects to earn more than $100M in subscription revenue over the next year.

But… With brands like Peloton and iFIT struggling as consumer behavior swings, Tonal is in a tough spot. New investors will receive favorable terms, including liquidation preference, according to Bloomberg — meaning the company will have to outperform competitors and expectations going forward.

TBD. While competitors reshuffle their business models and test equipment rentals, Tonal seems committed to selling one $3,500 smart gym. Whether or not that strategy shifts with new capital in hand remains to be seen.

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📰 News & Notes

  • On launches sustainability-focused resale site.
  • Peloton co-founder John Foley resigns from chairman role.
  • Xponential signs high seas studio agreement with Princess Cruises.
  • Startup Q&A: BelliWelli CEO Katie Wilson on destigmatizing gut health.
  • Fitt Jobs: The go-to resource for hiring/getting hired in health & fitness.
  • Air Force enlists Sparta Science and Oura for combat readiness scores.
  • Sleep Cycle partners with Gympass to bring sleep tracking to corporate wellness.
  • Trailblazer Venture Studio announces first cohort shaping the future of women’s sports.

💰 Money Moves

  • Rootine, a personalized nutrition company, secured $10M in a Series A round led by Relevance Ventures.
  • AI nutrition and wellness platform InsideTracker raised $15M in a Series B round led by PeakBridge.
  • Mental health platform Headspace Health acquired Shine, a self-guided mindfulness app, for an undisclosed sum.
  • Redesign Health, a firm acting as a launchpad for healthcare startups, secured $65M in a Series C round, valuing the company at $1.7B.
  • LetsGetChecked, an Ireland-based at-home diagnostic platform, secured €20M ($20M) from JPMorgan’s Morgan Health.
  • Misfits Market, a produce box service reducing food waste, acquired competitor Imperfect Foods.
  • Cipher Skin, maker of connected textiles and apparel, landed an undisclosed investment from Tribe CapitalDraper Capital, and others.
    More from Fitt Insider: Next-Gen Wearables
  • Castore, a British sportswear brand, secured a £50M ($57.5M) credit facility.
  • DTC running shoe startup Hilma added $3M in a seed round led by Brand Foundry Ventures.
  • Wellness-focused restaurant chain True Food Kitchen raised $100M in a funding round co-led by HumanCo and Manna Tree.
  • Indoor farming startup Gotham Greens secured $310M in a funding round and will expand nationwide.
  • PowerPlant Partners closed a $330M fund to invest in plant-based, sustainable companies.
    More from Fitt Insider: Our conversations with PowerPlant’s Dan Gluck
  • Netherlands-based Venturerock launched a $75M sports tech venture investment company.
  • LYKON, a German personalized nutrition and wellness company, closed €10M ($10M) in Series A round.
  • LegitFit, an Irish gym and studio management software company, closed €1M ($1M) in a seed round led by Delta Partners.
  • Denmark-based Kollektiv, a decentralized and performance-centered personal training platform, secured €1.5M ($1.5M) in pre-seed funding.

Today’s newsletter was brought to you by Anthony Vennare, Joe Vennare, and Ryan Deer.

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