Lanebreak is exactly what Peloton needed
I may be mildly addicted to Lanebreak on my Peloton.
What is it? Think Guitar Hero meets spin class. People love videos games and challenges, and I don’t know why more fitness devices aren’t learning from video games.
If people are willing to do something as dumb and pointless as spending countless hours learning to play fake guitar, imagine how much time they’ll be willing to spend if they are actually accomplishing something. Lanebreak is legit. There is a big market here.
Peloton has had a very rough year and a lot of bad news (mostly related to over expansion and poor operational management). Lanebreak’s release was the first good news in awhile for the company. And, frankly, it’s a heck of an experience.
Peloton has been too focused on hardware (and marketing) and not nearly focused enough on software. Lanebreak should have been released much sooner than now, because it’s exactly the kind of software they should be investing in.
If Peloton is smart, they’ll create more games and experiences like Lanebreak, and they’ll focus more on software and ecosystems. Peloton’s hardware is nice, but their ability to build an elite experience is going to be with software and ecosystems. Heck, I think Peloton might be able to charge extra for games (or at least season passes with extra content and challenges).
I enjoy the instructor-led classes, but having another way to ride can be a nice way to keep up interest in riding day after day. Lanebreak classes are as short as five minutes, and if you just want to grab a few minutes of exercise when you have time in your day, they are easy to pick up and do than other rides.
I've been regularly hitting new PRs (personal records) with Lanebreak, and other Peloton users tell me the same. The lack of instructors allows you to focus more on your performance. The other thing that Lanebreak does better and different than Peloton's instructor-led classes is that you know how long each interval will last.
There is never any mystery of how hard you'll need to go in a particular part of a Lanebreak class. The Peloton UI does not contain info about how long intervals are when you are in instructor-led classes, which means that people often have to shave some of their performance off to make sure they get through the interval.
If you know you have 20 seconds left on an interval, you can give it your all for that 20 seconds. But if you aren't sure if you have five seconds or three minutes left, it can be hard to give it your all.
In this gif you can see how intervals work in Lanebreak. You visually know how much more you have to do and you get an increasing score to encourage you to ride harder.
I’ll have a feature review of the Peloton UI and overall UX, and while I think it is better than most connected fitness experiences, it still could get a lot better. The lack of data around how long intervals are and which Power Zone you are supposed to be in during Power Zones classes is a weird usability oversight.
Lanebreak classes are hosted in the cloud, so the bikes don't have to do anything other than send some cadence and resistance data to cloud servers (and this means they could probably sell the classes to non-Peloton equipment). But this does make me wonder why the Lanebreak tracks aren't more interesting and varied.
Hear me out on this one: What if Lanebreak tracks looked like Mario Kart tracks. What if!
I know making better looking and varied tracks would cost more money, but the Lanebreak tracks all look the same and are fairly bland.
Also, what if there were daily, weekly, and monthly challenges to compete? What if I could challenge my friends to the challenges? What if we could set up competitions?
Where is the social aspect of Lanebreak? This is a big miss.
Lanebreak does offer a good variance in difficult. There are four difficulty levels and each level has different branches with varied difficulty you can do. Riders can progress from beginner to expert (and expert is extremely hard if you are wondering).
I’d like to see a true custom difficulty tier added in based on a person’s functional threshold power (FTP) score. This would allow a custom progressive overload programming to help users increase their FTP scores and physical fitness in a methodical way. This is how Peloton’s existing Power Zone training works and why not bring Power Zone training to Lanebreak and other games?
Power Zone training is the best thing going on the Peloton, and oddly not marketed enough by Peloton, but the Power Zone classes can get monotonous over time. I always take a break in-between blocks of Power Zone training. Having a Lanebreak way of doing Power Zone training would help keep me engaged.
Lanebreak is a true minimal viable product. What it does, it does well. And it doesn't do a lot of stuff.
This is the proper way to do MVPs. Lanebreak doesn’t have a lot of features or depth, but it does what it does well. It’s better to have half the features and nail them than have double the features and half-ass all of them.
If Peloton can keep iterating on this, they'll have a massive hit on their hands. If they basically stop iterating and just add some new rides every now and then, they'll miss a huge opportunity.
Going from an MVP to a bonafide hit is the big challenge for product teams. Peloton has climbed the first big mountain by releasing a great MVP. Now it is time to scale mountain number two by releasing a strong 2.0.