Things have been heating up this week in the sports tech space – albeit, not all of the heating has been of the new product variety. Still, here’s a few things I found worthy to dive into deeper.
Peloton Seat Post Recall:
The issue stems from the seat post, specifically the welds. There have been sporadic reports on Peloton Facebook and Reddit groups over the years of the seatpost snapping or separating during use. The company has confirmed the exact number of reported breaks and injuries to date:
“Peloton has identified 35 reports of seat posts breaking out of 2,160,000 units sold in the US. There have been 13 reports of injuries, including a wrist fracture, lacerations and bruises.”
Peloton says this impacts “original Peloton model Bikes sold from January 2018 to May 2023 in the US” – and that it does not impact non-US models.
I’m slightly perplexed as to how the Peloton Bike+ isn’t included in this, since it appears virtually identical – at least in the initially sold model I have. Perhaps it’s changed slightly since then. Below is my Peloton Bike+ seatpost (my base Peloton Bike is a US model, which I bought second-hand in January 2020 in the US, but was sold about a year prior. My Peloton Bike+ model was bought in Europe at launch of that model):
Obviously, there must be some internal difference, or weld difference that’s not visible.
Either, all Peloton users should have received an e-mail in the last 12 hours with details on the recall, though you can also just visit their site for details. Peloton will be sending out replacement seat posts (the seat post easily slides in, so it’s a 2-second fix). You can ‘order’ them at that site.
In my case, since I live in the Netherlands now with it (and they won’t ship replacements there – just other currently supported Peloton countries), I’ll just order it to a hotel in the US. I’ve got some travel coming up, so that’s easy enough.
Zwift Steering Rebirth:
Zwift’s had a lot of news related to new features lately, including launching the previously announced Coffee Stop feature this week (check out GPLAMA’s video on how it actually works now that it’s out). The latest update is now (finally!) taking advantage of Apple Silicon Mac M1/M2 graphics via Metal.
However, perhaps the most curious (pretty substantial) update in the latest update is a massive shift in the usage of steering. From here on, all events – including races, will have steering enabled by default. As initially reported by Zwift Insider, steering is now enabled by default for all events:
“Zwift has supported steering for years, but it’s been disabled in most events. With this update, steering is now enabled by default for all events.”
Further, atop that, two more notable changes:
1) Zwift has “temporarily closed” their original off-road steering tester course, Repack Ridge, while it works on “exciting improvements”
2) Zwift has also revamped the pairing screen to now prominently include steering as one of the ‘main’ pillars of the game:
Setting aside the hilarity of ‘closing’ a section of digital road in a game for work, the shift to include the pairing screen is quite notable. Up till now, it’s literally been a side-show. Compare these before and after screenshots of the pairing screen (previously steering was down to the left), where steering is now ‘front and center’:
Now, one has to remember that up till now, Zwift has done their darndest to kill their own kitten. Within hours of launching true steering with the Elite Sterzo Smart years ago, Zwift backtracked and turned it off by default. Up till announcement, the on-record plan was that steering was on by default for all events. However, just a few hours of people screaming and that plan changed to be off by default. And immediately, Zwift killed their own baby.
Adding to their attempts to induce failure, Zwift has limited steering to just a single device from Elite via exclusivity contract. They then ‘opened up’ that to smart bikes via buttons, but only if you signed a (silly expensive) licensing agreement. There were basically no takers initially, and eventually Wahoo came onboard with the KICKR Bike – though it doesn’t sound like they paid anything. That was later followed by a few others. However, even when new companies like JetBlack tried to introduce their dedicated steering products, Zwift also dragged its feet on bothering to certify them – for nearly a year after initial announcement. Seriously.
I mean, I don’t know if Zwift could have tried any harder to kill steering. They sabotaged it within the events/racing community by forcing it off by default, they sabotaged it within the industry by either charging crazy fees or not bothering to certify devices once interest gained. And then they sabotaged it marketing-wise to consumers by basically never mentioning it.
Yet here we are, and randomly nearly years later Zwift has:
1) Turned it on by default overnight
2) Disabled their test steering course to ‘improve’ it
3) Made steering a prominent feature on the main pairing screen
Now, I know some people don’t like steering. Some argue it’s a “tax” to win in racing. As without it, you’d be at a disadvantage. Setting aside that Zwift themselves has noted that steering actually makes winning a race harder (as if you forget to turn on the ideal line, you’ll fall off the line/group).
Still, the reality is that Zwift racing is a game. It’s not an FTP test. It already has gamification (which was also just recently revamped this past week), and steering is one more element of that. If we took away gamification, you end up with the FTP-test style time trial that are some other platforms. Nobody actually wants that.
Ideally, Zwift needs to figure out how to make a steering device that’s super cheap. Akin to the Kommander buttons, but produced at huge scale like Zwift’s Run Pod (which they basically gave away). Do that, combine it with a good/interesting user experience, and they’ve got a winner. Only time will tell though if that’s in the cards, or if steering will soon be left to die by the roadside again.
GoPro Price Drop:
Finally, a quickie – GoPro has reduced prices on their GoPro cameras, saying they’re doing so to bring it back in line with pre-COVID pricing. Specifically, the following (basically everything is $100 lower):
– HERO11 Black to $399
– HERO11 Black Mini to $299
– HERO10 Black to $349
– HERO9 Black is $249
– HERO11 Black Creator Edition to $599
– GoPro MAX (360 Cam) stays at $499
As part of this though, they’re no longer giving a $100 discount for becoming a GoPro subscriber via GoPro.com – in short, in their earnings call they said that they no longer feel the need to use that carrot, and that they’re seeing people finding value in the GoPro Subscription as-is, saying:
“And eliminating camera discounts at the time of purchase at GoPro.com. Thanks to the strength of in-app subscriber conversion of retail consumers, as well as improvements in subscriber retention, we believe we can generate more subscribers with growth in retail sales than if we continue our pandemic-driven strategy of focusing primarily on GoPro.com sales for subscriber growth.”
And to drive that carrot a bit more, GoPro is reducing the price of the first year of the GoPro subscription:
“GoPro is also making its very popular GoPro Subscription more accessible with introductory $24.99 pricing for the first year and $49.99 upon annual renewal thereafter.”
In case you’re curious, in terms of camera sales, GoPro has beat their sales expectations by 10%, though overall camera sales remained flat year over year. This makes sense to me, while there was excitement for a GoPro Mini product, the overwhelming feeling is that the Hero 11 Black Mini just kinda missed the mark. There was nothing technically wrong with it, but that people simply wanted something smaller. Basically, GoPro actually packed too much camera/specs into it, at the cost of size (and the size really wasn’t much different).
I’d love to see GoPro take another stab at the Mini, ideally with making some sacrifices to considerably shrink the size. On the flip side, the Hero 11 Black (main camera) continues to be my daily driver. Works great, and no complaints. So being $100 cheaper on the regular, is great.
With that – thanks for reading!
Hi there, seems RGT added Elite Sterzo Smart compatibility for steering with their latest update:
link to support.wahoofitness.com
Yup! I covered it a bit here: link to dcrainmaker.com
Good stuff though!
Just to note that steering in game for Kickr bikes v1 and 2 is currently broken! – your comment about potential licensing fees around the feature slightly worries me somewhat….
How is it broken? I have kickr bike v1 and my steering works (used yesterday), albeit crapily. I wish I could disable it , like I was able to prior to this most recent update.
Christopher, does the Kickr Bike steering automatically “pair” to Zwift or do you actually have it selected in the new STEERING box on the Devices screen? I am wondering if you can un-pair from that screen to deactivate steering on the Kickr Bike?
As far as i can tell, it auto pairs and does not pair up through the “new” more prominent steering pairing box. Almost as if it pairs as part of the bike or controller aspect. When I have everything paired up, all boxes except the new steering box are blue. That was not the case before the update.
OK, that’s understandable in a way, but not ideal. Here’s hoping that Zwift will actually separate that for Wahoo and other makers (assuming Tacx and others are paired in the background too?) so people can actually choose if & when to have steering active.
Yes, confusingly the KICKR bike steering is automatically paired when the bike pairs – the pairing screen confusingly shows you don’t have a (standalone) steering device paired, but it’s active once you start your activity.
When you’re in an activity, there’s an icon at the top left that shows you have steering active. I’m not sure if that’s also a button that allows you to disable it. I’m an Apple TV user so daren’t try using the remote to find out in case I find myself accidentally doubling my ftp setting or opening Netflix.
My experience has been that if you connect the kickr bike up via ant+ then steering doesn’t work. It only works via BT. I have to even remove my ant+ dongle from my laptop to get zwift to recognise the BT kickr bike data stream (I don’t have to do that with any other devices – both will show up as options).
So if you’re on a laptop, that would be a possible option. Just use ant+ and that will mean no steering.
Hmm, it must be specific to the platform you’re using or something. I just tried our V1 KICKR Bike at home, and no luck with Apple TV. It doesn’t enumerate/show up at all in steering. The V2 bike is at the office, and I’m too lazy to try with Mac, Windows, etc… But seems there’s something to the issue.
…and nevermind, not enough coffee yet, now I understand the thread. Yeah, that’s silly – not showing as paired despite being paired. Sigh.
The email seems very carefully worded to avoid specifically stating that non-US bikes aren’t affected by the defect, rather that they’re not affected by the recall.
My suspicion is that they are only recalling US bikes due to pressure from the US regulator, and whatever defect there is will be the same worldwide. Pretty shady behaviour if this turns out to be true.
Any ideas on this one, Ray?
Yeah, I don’t really understand it either. I also find it hard to believe that there were different bikes/seat posts going to Europe than those going to the US. That just makes no sense to me.
And the kicker is that their EU/UK (let alone AUS) footprint is absolutely tiny, so I don’t understand why those wouldn’t be included just for the sake of it. If the write-off is really only $8M as Peloton says, then proportionally the DE/UK/AUS user base would be a tiny itty-bitty drop on that bucket.
Would love to see better options for cameras on bikes used primarily for recording incidents. By that I mean easy to turn on at the start of the ride and off at the end with a long battery life and hard to screw up how its recording in the middle so its not recording. In that sense I’d love a better mini. Seems like we only have the Cycliq (fly61 and fly12), Garmin (rear only varia), Tooo DDVR80
There’s the magic shine now as well, which looks interesting and is way cheaper than a Cycliq Fly6: link to magicshine.ca
Now there’s something I’d love to see Ray review in the near future. I have the Too DVR80, but would like something with even longer battery life. Only downside I can see so far is that it does not record audio.
Now if we could only get something that can compete with the new Fly12 from Cycliq with better battery life.
I speak of these things strictly from a light and camera combo, not from a strictly action camera standpoint.
I have the Elite Rizer which has steering. I mostly do the RoboPacer group rides. I find the steering makes it very fun, but also lets me moderate how much drafting effect I get. So I am glad to see steering will be enabled for most events.
What was the major issue with using your phone and the companion app to steer? I don’t recall ever having major issues on Repack Ridge when using my phone to steer. Any chance of this making a comeback?
I think it came mostly down to practicalities:
1) It required some sort of phone mount for your bike (either a minimal version, or something bigger like the Wahoo KICKR Steer).
2) It meant you couldn’t use your phone for the Zwift companion app anymore (from a usage perspective)
3) It meant you couldn’t use your phone for anything else you wanted to do mid-ride
In a short 60-second or so thing like Repack Ridge, the last two aren’t a big deal. But for a 45-60+ minute event, it’s kinda a deal killer for many.
It’s one of those things that seems appealing at first, but many people use their phones on the trainer – to varying degrees depending on the intensity of the workout.
This doesn’t feel like a big deal. Surely the steering sensor delivery could be built into the companion app. And if you switched away to fiddle with Spotify or whatever it could just turn the steering off temporarily.
“Setting aside the hilarity of ‘closing’ a section of digital road in a game for work” – this tells me that they’ve already broken steering for Repack, so rather than try to go back (and risk breaking something else), they closed the gate. Fairly typical Zwift.
“If we took away gamification, you end up with the FTP-test style time trial that are some other platforms. Nobody actually wants that” – Actually, lots of people want that. The “I can suffer worse than you” crowd is prevalent in Watopia. Probably a majority of Zwift racers, actually.
I think the overwhelming majority of Watopians have little to no interest in steering, and wish the resources were allocated elsewhere. Also typical Zwift (see also: running, rowing).
“The “I can suffer worse than you” crowd is prevalent in Watopia. Probably a majority of Zwift racers, actually.”
Certainly, they segment is loud, but I don’t think it’s a majority, or even a meaningful minority. After all, those people would scream bloody murder if all the other gamification bits were taken away – power ups, drafting, bike components, and so forth (even new road/routes/etc..). Those are just as gamified as steering is.
The reality is that Zwift’s growth has flat-lined – it’s peak numbers were reached more than 3 years ago now in the Covid era. Zwift has to find new ways to attract new people to the game, because, by their own admission – it’s a game (it was written proudly on their HQ walls in their previous HQ). I get some people want to simply pedal as hard as they can, but again, that’s just an FTP test on a trainer. It’s certainly not anything near a real-world cycling race. Instead, Zwift has added all these layers to make the experience more entertaining.
…just my two cents.
In the 6 months or so that I’ve had my KICKR bike, I’ve been ‘criticised’ twice by random strangers on Zwift for using my steering… and that was on free rides.
Looking forward to the new steering.
Got a Sterzo smart, when Zwift sold them off last summer and really loved repack ridge.
Though the penalty for not finding the perfect line was quite high, it kept me motivated….even though there was a glitch, where you couldn’t see the track in the standard view setting at one point.
Also on winding roads it added some fun or took off your mind from the suffering.
Eventually I will give it another chance in the coming weeks.
Hilton has partnered with Pelaton to put pelatons in their properties. I had never used one before but have really enjoyed being able to use them while traveling for business. I much prefer my trainer with Zwift. The Pelaton is however better than the crappy equipment found at a lot of their lower tier brands.
Last night got to the Hampton Inn and checked the fitness center and pelaton was unplugged. Plugged it in and everything worked. Came down to ride later and it was unplugged again with an out of order sign. I plugged it in removed sign and rode. Put sign back on and unplugged. Stopped at desk asked what was wrong and was told they didn’t know but had been told to put the sign on by their boss.
So it appears Hilton may be taking Pelatons off line d I e to the recall. Hopefully they get replacement posts quickly. It is a nice amenity to have Pelatons available.
ChatGPT, is that you?
I have the Elite Sterzo Smart. The killer app, currently missing in Zwift (at least last time I rode) was that STEERING CAN’T TURNS/FORKS IN THE RODE.
To me, this would make a huge improvement in UX/game play realism, just exploring or riding rebel routes. I hope Zwift will make an improvement in this area.
Would appreciate that as well.
But one would have to make sure, that you stay on track by default….imagine to go the Uber-pretzel and missing a turn without notification/possibility to get back on track
That’s great that they are finally working on getting better graphics with the M1/M2 Macs. I am using the apple TV (latest generation) to run Zwift. Any idea if they will extend similar graphic upgrades for that, or is Apple TV not powerful enough?
i’ll believe it when i see it. considering the m1 came out 2+ years ago now and they’re only NOW laying the foundation for future graphics upgrades (important to note that zwift today on m1/m2 looks identical to how it did 2 years ago even after this update), i’d say you’re looking at another year at least before you see any improvement. zwift seems to want to move at the speed of turtle and expects you to stick around paying the $$$ monthly in the meantime.
I’m pleased that Zwift has finally migrated to Metal. Zwift appears to run smoother and with 4k. I want the ability to choose the graphics detail independently of the resolution. It would nice for Zwift to be a universal binary allowing it to be native ARM code vs relying on Rosetta to translate the Intel binary to ARM.
Long overdue first step, but its done…
Would it eventually become available also on iPad Pros?
Or are „handheld“ devices to be kept in lowest possible graphic detail settings just because?
And the Garmin Pro leak!!!
While I have a steerzo, I would have prefered to be able to control my zwift bike via a game controller or arrow keys. Turning the handlebars for high speed maneuvers is dangerous muscle memory to learn on the bike, and will probably contribute to more in person race crashes, more than Zwift’s current influence.
Have you ever tried the Sterzo in-game?
No chance to build muscle memory from that, which will lead to dangerous situations IRL.
What’s next? Rather use a non fixed training bike, because the „always straight up position“ might lead to muscle memory preventing you from taking a turn?
LOL, totally agree, David. The implication above that steering plates will somehow negatively impact riders is pure nonsense.
I always giggle a bit when people criticize stuff like this when most riders are still locked in position on trainers and smart bikes. We cyclists have used rigid trainers / bikes for decades and somehow… we still manage to ride a bike successfully when heading back outside. Something about never forgetting or other phrase 😉
Sure, stuff like rollers and rocker plates are useful tools for a number of reasons, but they are not mandatory in “fixing” handling issues or preventing crashing because we somehow forget how to ride.
I’ve been using Zwift(apple tv) and TrainerRoad(iPad) together since reading your article about the cable device. My setup suddenly stopped working this week. At first I thought it was a battery issue with the cable device but after swapping a couple batteries I realized I can’t connect appletv to Zwift with or without trainerRaod running.
Even after their update (1.40) I’m having difficulty pairing my trainer on an apple TV. The initial pairing screen doesn’t see my trainer but if I skip pairing then at the top of the screen where you select world/workout there is a connection icon which shows a broken connection. If I select the connection icon it takes me back to the pairing screen, seems if I wait a bit here or fiddle with the setting it eventually detects my trainer.