Pedalgate? Broken Peloton Pedals

Broken Peloton Bike PedalBroken Peloton Pedals: freak accidents, or the start of “Pedalgate?”

Recently, a Peloton rider posted an emergency room photo of a painful-looking laceration to her ankle, which she blamed on a broken Peloton pedal. She reported that one of the pedals on her Peloton bike had sheared off while she was riding. Soon there were literally a thousand comments to this social media post, with some other riders telling stories of broken pedals, and the question was in the air: are Peloton pedals dangerously defective?

This week, Peloton responded with a post that said, in part:

We have no reason to believe that the recent issues flagged in this group were caused by a product defect. Every model of pedal ever included with a Peloton Bike has been tested and certified as compliant…. That said, pedals on any stationary bike need to be replaced on regular basis…

This is where I started to get interested. Is that true that pedals need to be replaced on a regular basis? Most bicycling resources do not list pedals as wear items (like brake pads, tires, or even chains). Do they need to be replaced? Did the fact that Peloton specifically mentioned “stationary bikes” mean that they’re different in this regard?

Before I attempt to provide my thoughts on the subject, let me state firmly that I claim no special knowledge or expertise, and you should not consider calling me as an expert witness at your product liability trial. This is armchair analysis, but hopefully thoughtful armchair analysis.

The Defense’s Argument: Peloton has exercised due care to minimize broken pedals

Peloton's note to bike owners

Email from Peloton regarding pedal failures

So, let me start with the most obvious question, whether or not one should expect a bicycle pedal to break and whether or not they should be considered “lifetime” components of a bike. The answer is that if you ride your bike enough, eventually your pedals will break. This is pretty basic materials science. What you have, in the pedals, is a metal rod that is subjected to a shearing force repeatedly (once per RPM, and maybe even twice if you want to consider the effect of the “upstroke”). Man has not created a material that will last through an infinite number of cycles of stress. Pedals break, as do crank arms and any other component that is stressed when you ride.

So, if pedals don’t last forever, we’re left to ponder the expression “regular basis,” as in, “pedals on any stationary bike need to be replaced on a regular basis.” Peloton didn’t exactly specify what they mean by “regular basis”, but elsewhere on the site they recommend replacing them every 12 months. I did a bit of digging to see if any OEM bike or pedal manufacturer has a recommended interval for replacing pedals, and while I did see other notices that pedals do suffer from stress fatigue, there is very little in the way of guidance as to what the right interval is. In fact, I found only one (bicycle) manufacturer who even ventured to give a number, and theirs was 5,000 miles. 5,000 miles in 12 months is not a completely unreasonable number (I’m on track to do that myself this year), particularly for a bike that is shared.

So, my informal investigation seems to lead to the conclusion that Peloton is probably OK here. They say that their pedals have been tested and certified, meaning that they meet the minimum acceptable standards, and that should be enough to protect them in court. Whether they did enough to educate their users that pedals need to be changed out occasionally is something for the lawyers to argue.

Now that I’ve concluded that, based on the currently available evidence, that “Pedalgate” is not a thing, let me argue the other side for just a minute. If I were the prosecutor, my case would be based on the following…

The Prosecution’s Argument: Peloton could have done more to avoid broken pedals

Peloton pedals may be certified as meeting at least the minimum performance standards required, but consider this: Peloton knows (or can know) with astounding detail exactly how much stress is being put on those pedals. Every RPM is counted, and the power being applied to the pedals is calculated at least as frequently as every RPM. Peloton should be able to tell you precisely how many stress cycles your pedals have been through, the magnitude of the stress, and how many more they should withstand. For all intents and purposes, the Peloton world is one giant laboratory for such things. With the sort of data they collect, Peloton could alert customers that it is time to change their pedals, just as your car reminds you to change your oil periodically. With the sort of data at hand, one could argue that there should never be a pedal failure, because there are no unknown variables. Any pedal that fails in the field is presumably not a pedal that would have passed the certification tests, and by that logic Peloton would have some responsibility in selecting pedals that they know (or should know) cannot withstand the workload.

I’ll update this post if there are any noteworthy developments. Until then, be warned that Peloton expects your pedals will last about 12 months. In the past, they have offered free replacements after the first 12 months of ownership, but it is unclear if that policy will continue.

Can I change my Peloton pedals myself?

Yes, you can. Changing out the pedals on your Peloton bike is no more difficult than changing the pedals on your road bike. For the Peloton pedals (at least, the ones on my own bike), you need a 15mm wrench. Other pedals will go on with a 15mm wrench or possibly a large Allen wrench, depending on the manufacturer. Remember that the left side pedal is threaded opposite the right pedal. The reason for this is because the designers don’t want your pedaling motion to be the same motion that unscrews the pedals. In the unusual case in which your pedaling transfers right to the post, you’d want your pedaling to tighten the pedal instead. Be sure to apply some grease to the threads so you can unfasten them a year from now (particularly if you put your bike on your lanai or the deck of your yacht where it’s exposed to the elements).

Your local bike store might be the best place for an inexpensive set of decent quality pedals. I don’t know what Peloton will charge to sell pedals to you, but I wouldn’t expect that to be cheap! (To be fair, Peloton has been good to me regarding broken parts including a buckle on a shoe and the somewhat dubiously designed water bottle holder.) If you change from the stock Peloton pedals, be prepared to change your cleats, too, even if your new pedals are made for delta cleats. My aftermarket pedals didn’t quite fit the Peloton-supplied delta cleats. Anyway, none of this is particularly expensive or difficult to change.

Update: April 2020

I have seen a number of anecdotes, both here and elsewhere, that suggest that pedal problems still remains an issue for Peloton. It’s difficult to know how widespread the problems are because, of course, everyone who doesn’t have a problem is not online tweeting that everything is fine.

I have noticed that the accounts of pedal failure that I’ve encountered since my original post seem to involve pedals that were incorrectly installed as opposed to pedals that may have a defect in manufacturing. It’s possible that these pedals were simply cross-threaded during installation, and if that were to happen the pedal could fairly easily work its way loose from the crank arm (and it would not be possible to reattach it due to bad threads either on the crank arm, pedal or both). Another cause might be over-tightening of the pedal at the factory, which could damage threads. A third (in my opinion) less likely scenario is substandard metals used in the crank arm and/or pedal.

EVERY 3 TO 5 RIDES: Tighten any loose pedal with the included 15 mm wrench. Pedals should be tightened to 25 lb-ft of torque. Turn clockwise to tighten the right pedal and counterclockwise to tighten the left pedal.

— PELOTON owner’s manual

On the other hand, I have not heard recently of pedals that literally break off, as in the case(s) that started “pedalgate”, which I think is a good sign. It’s not that you can’t be injured by a pedal that comes away from the crank arm in any event, but at least without the fracture there would not be the sharp edges that apparently caused some of the lacerations that were reported early on.

I’ve had a couple of requests for instructions on how to replace the crank arms on your Peloton bike, so I created a post for that, with an official Peloton video.

Also, my SEO plug-in tells me I need an internal link on this page, so I’ll throw one in here for my animal-shelter fundraiser: TeamK9Buddy. I should also mention my most popular posts, one on the Peloton leaderboard and one that talks about all of the information on the Peloton screen (cadence, resistance, output, etc.)

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32 thoughts on “Pedalgate? Broken Peloton Pedals”

  1. I purchased a Peleton as a Christmas gift for my spouse. On his second ride the right pedal fell off. We have not been able to reinstall it. Luckily, he was not hurt. We are pretty disappointed and this is not a great way to start our experience with the bike. It’s New Year’s Day so customer service not available but I will call tomorrow to see how we can get this fixed.

    1. Deb,

      Head over to consumer affairs and read the reviews of others, who experienced the same thing as your husband.
      https://www.consumeraffairs.com/health/peloton.html

      There’s no way that Peloton doesn’t know that there aren’t numerous issues with the bike in general…but specifically the pedals. Of course if they come out and admit they knew or that there is an pedal issue (a recall) they would have to “give” free pedals to those who already have bikes and then spend money to retool the manufacturing process…All of which costs money.

      I would be interested to know how many bad reviews you and your u=husband read on this bike and then still ordered one. I’m not trying to insult you at all, I just think many people get taken in by the hype and commercials and decide to “treat” themselves to something that seems great and amazing. They only read the umpteen bad reviews, AFTER their $2000+ dollar bike breaks or worse injures them.

      1. Brent, thanks for reading and for your comment.

        I don’t have any stake in Peloton and no particular reason to defend it, but let me chime in here. One thing to note is that the pedals themselves are almost certainly third party pedals with Peloton branding. There is nothing particularly proprietary about the pedals or the crank arms (the part of the bike the pedals screw into), and I can’t imagine Peloton would pour money into R&D for something so basic. Now, is it possible that the pedals they’ve sourced aren’t good enough quality? It’s possible.

        Second, when Deb talks about the pedal falling off, that suggests to me that the pedal literally unscrewed from the crank arm, which is different from the pedal failing (the injury described at the top of the pedal was caused by the pedal literally shearing off). This would indicate an assembly problem, not so much a quality problem with parts. I have seen other anecdotes from people claiming that their pedals were cross-threaded (screwed in improperly so that the pedal isn’t secure and, at the same time, damaging the threads so the pedal can’t be reattached if it comes out), and that was the first thing I though of when I read her reply.

        There are many complaints on the message boards about Peloton’s delivery service, XPO. In my case the “installers” didn’t seem very knowledgeable and that is echoed by a lot of posts in Facebook. If memory serves, the Peloton bike arrives with the pedals attached, so maybe you can’t blame XPO for that. If XPO is attaching the pedals then I’d be even more suspect about bad assembly as the root cause of this problem. (You reference consumer affairs reports… note that most of the bad reviews of the Peloton refer to peoples’ experience with XPO and not with the bike itself.)

        I am aware of at least one instance of Peloton sending free replacement pedals to a customer within the first year. I don’t believe their cost is more than about $50 a pair so I don’t think they’d really sweat it if they identified a problem. In my experience, the plastic water bottle holder on my bike broke, as did one of the buckles on a shoe, and Peloton cheerfully replaced both for free. I have heard from several people who have received free replacement heart rate monitors from them (street value, $30 or so). Then again, this is all probably missing the point. If the pedals are unsafe, the big liability is the medical bills of injured customers, not the replacement cost for pedals. IF Peloton is trying to downplay “Pedalgate”, it’d be to avoid injury lawsuits, not to get out of having to send people new pedals. Is that what’s happening? I am not qualified to say.

        (Personally, I replaced my own pedals after the first year — at about 5K miles. I did this partly out of an abundance of caution (see article above about the service life of a bicycle pedal) and also because I wanted pedals with a bit of float and ones that were easier to clip in and out of. I never liked the stock Peloton pedals but at the same time I was never particularly concerned they’d break off.)

        Again, I am not a Peloton employee or stakeholder, and I really have no skin in the game here. After reading your comment, though, I did want to respond to say that I believe that the Peloton bike is a very good quality bike (and it SHOULD BE for that price!), far nicer than the Echelon bike (which a relative of mine owns) and your run-of-the-mill gym bike. You can argue that the bike isn’t worth $2000 or that other companies offer a better value, but I really don’t see much evidence that the Peloton bike is poorly made in general.

    2. My pedal sheared off on second ride. I was still clipped in on both sides and scarred my wood floor as I flew off and twisted my other ankle, narrowly missing my pointer marble table. Peloton has been unable to offer assistance.

    3. I had to wait a month to get the bike due to the pandemic. Same thing happened to me, 2nd ride, the pedal came off. The service rep helped me confirm that the crank was assembled backwards. To make matters worse, Peloton said they can’t send me a replacement crank because “they’ve had too many problems doing this” yet they can’t schedule service calls during the pandemic and they won’t send me a new one. They basically said it could be months but they could give me a 3 month subscription credit. Ummm, they are offering this to the whole world during the pandemic. I am VERY disappointed, they have no customer service and clearly poor quality checking.

  2. I just received my Peloton 3 weeks ago and the left pedal fell off on the third ride. I cut my leg and bruised both legs. Because of Covid, they are not offering any options. So disappointed in this experience.

    1. Send it back and order another one. You have 30 days to return it. This just happened to me today and if they don’t fix the issue I will be returning the bike and simply purchasing another one.

    2. Soooo frustrating, that is exactly what happed to me an the service rep said it’s been a big problem – they must have not trained their new employees that were hired to keep up with volume.

  3. I just received my Peloton at my threshold today. went to change pedals to fit my shoes which I researched ahead of time and now the left peddle will not tighten. I am now on hold for over 30 minutes and 31st in line for chat. very disappointed right now as I am a healthcare worker and I really need this to de-stress right now in covid!

    1. Hi, Tiffany. I’m not sure if this will help, but just in case it does I would remind you that the pedals of a bicycle are threaded opposite to one another. This is so that the pedaling motion doesn’t cause a pedal to unscrew from the crank arm. Thus, the right pedal tightens when you turn it clockwise, but the left pedal tightens when you turn it counter-clockwise (“anti-clockwise” in Europe). Also, the pedal-crank arm connection on the Peloton is exactly the same as it is for any road bike, so your local bike resource might be able to help diagnose your problem (that is, you don’t need any Peloton-specific knowledge to swap pedals).

  4. Like other commenters I too bought a Peloton to get me through the lockdown.

    6 rides in the left pedal came off. The thread in the crank arm is completely shot so I now have a useless bike.

    I have been told I have to wait until after lockdown is lifted for a repair or a frame swap.

    Very disappointed – there’s no way a 2k bike should break after 5 x 45 minute rides.

    1. I had my right pedal fall off after 13 rides because the installers stripped out the threads in both the right crank arm and pedal. I contacted customer service and they gave me two options, 1) wait until after the COVID lockdown to have a technician come out when they can get through the myriad of current service calls or 2) they will send me a new crank arm and pedal along with an instructional video on how to fix it. I’m going to have to buy about $75 of additional tools that I don’t already have (Torque Wrench, Crank Puller & a 15mm Crows foot), but having watched the video it looks like it’s a pretty straight forward repair.

      The lady I spoke with admitted to having been inundated with calls about the crank arms breaking and she believes they are addressing the Quality Control in their warehouses and installers, but the Customer Service people are aware of the problems at least.

      Now I have to wait for the parts to arrive and go get some new tools, but it’s pretty disappointing that this was a simple installer error that wouldn’t occur had someone paid more attention when they were installing the components.

      1. Did they tell you your warranty would be voided if you worked on it yourself?? That’s what they told me

  5. Christopher F Wilson

    Right pedal came off on first ride. 15 minutes in. Came unscrewed. On hold with customer support for 75 minutes (still holding). Peloton predicted 30 minute hold. Threads on crank may be shot. Will try putting on standard Shimano road bike pedals. Looks like Peloton has a class action coming. Sorry to say opting for proprietary shoes/cleats/pedals was probably a bad idea for Peloton. Thankfully no injury – wife was riding and she has had lots of cycling and indoor cycling experience.

    1. I don’t think the shoes, cleats, and pedals are proprietary. They’re branded with the Peloton brand, but they’re off-the-shelf items. You can argue that they did a bad job of sourcing the pedals or installing them (most anecdotes are about stripped threads in the crank arms), but they are not proprietary in the sense that you cannot substitute anyone else’s pedals/cleats/shoes.

      1. Christopher F Wilson

        Off whose shelf? Cannot tell who made the shoes, cleats, crank arms, or pedals. Presumably not Peloton. Maybe “white label” cranks is a better term. Cannot go to the local bike shop or Amazon and order a Peloton crank or Peloton pedal, but can order a branded crank or branded pedals for my road bike and know they will fit.

    2. Christopher F Wilson

      Peloton finally picked up and is sending us a new crank arm, pedal & cleat. My job to put the new crank arm on. Fortunately have a crank arm puller and wrench needed from my outside bike tool collection. Also called my local bike shop which can help out if things go sideways. Fingers crossed about replacement crank arm and Peloton components in general.

  6. Same experience here. Bike was delivered last Friday. The bike was used for 5 beginner rides and yesterday the right pedal fell off. The threads were shot and metal shards left on the floor under the bike. I messaged with support via their chat and was told they would send out a new right pedal and new crank arm. I was sent the link to a video on how to replace it myself. They explained that due to COVID-19 they are no longer shipping bikes or doing repairs (understandable due to the times we are in). They also explained that due to me accepting responsibility for the repair and doing it myself, if I do further damage it’s $$$ on me. I get it. Told parts will be here in 3 business day. This morning I get an email the parts are all on back order with no ETA. #frustrating. They did credit me back half of my delivery charge which was nice as it will pay for the tools I need to buy to do the repair.

  7. OMG, I just posted about this on the official peloton page, SECOND time I am riding, two minutes in the left pedal came off and because I was standing on the bike pedaling I fell onto the seat and then from the bike- I’m in horrible paid and peloton only offered to send me new pieces and take off two months of my subscription. I am so unhappy. Horrible customer service.

  8. I can’t believe this, reading through and I’ve had exactly the same experience and been super disappointed because I cannot ride my bike since Week 1! It’s the same thing, left pedal came off about 4 rides in. I cut myself from the metal shavings twice! They were all over the mat and big pieces came off, leaving it completely bare and unusable! I stressed so much about it and when i finally got through to somebody they asked if i could manage the repair and then sent the parts. But i had no idea that i needed additional tools not already provided for the repair. Given the COVID situation, those take time to order and not even sure i am getting the right tools. Finally, we decided to give up bcz we didn’t want to damage the bike further. I have tried calling and chatting, etc and the hold music is just so awful. I finally got through tonight and I’m not really left with good options. Will try again to fix it bcz getting another delivery is running approx 5/6 weeks. I just cannot believe this is so common. It’s pretty awful and dangerous too!

  9. Unfortunately I have had the same issue. Bike was delivered April 18 and I have ridden it a total of 6 times. First, it wasn’t correctly calibrated but they hadn’t left me any calibration tools so had to wait 10 days for that. Then yesterday while riding, left pedal fell off and I was unable to reinstall it because crank arm threading was shot. Also cut my finger from metal shavings. Have tried to call Peloton (impossible) an had 2 attempts at chat. Essentially the crank and pedal need to be replaced but no technician would be coming out to do so. I am going to return the bike because it is now an expensive coat hanger. Will be looking into one of their competitors who have decent customer service since Peloton’s in awful. Have also filed a complaint with BBB and sent an email to their VP of “customer experience.” We’ll see where that gets me.

  10. Pingback: Removing / Replacing Peloton Crank Arms • BRYGS

  11. Our bike is a little over a year old (out of warranty of course) and the right pedal just snapped off while my wife was releasing her foot. We ordered new pedals and a right crank arm (threads were stripped). My question is, how do you remove the plate from the orange wheel? i understand the need for a crank puller but what is required to actually remove the plate so I can put the new one on?

  12. After three years of riding and over 1000 rides between my wife and I, my right pedal shaft cracked in half ( while riding). I will say it was a scary experience but I am ok. Wish I would read this blog a while back. I will be replacing my pedals every 12 months moving forward.

  13. Same thing! Bike delivered on Friday. During my second ride, the right pedal came off. Appears to have been installed incorrectly, as the treads in the screw were sheared. Peloton would not ship me a new bike or replacement parts even though they sent me a dangerous defective product.

  14. I have the opposite problem. I want to replace the pedals and cannot get the off! They are awkward because the are like normal riding bikes.
    Any suggestions?

  15. Carrie Cassinelli

    On our fourth ride today, right pedal popped off during my husband’s ride. Threading in arm seems totally shot. We tried to reattach to no avail. Could not get thru to customer service on the phone. Finally got on chat. They said they’d put a ticket in for repair but could be a week got a response. From the above comments I’m not super hopeful this will be resolved quickly or in a satisfactory manner. What a shame for such an expensive product. We ordered it in April and it’s now July. How completely frustrating.

  16. Right pedal snapped like butter today after less than 250 rides. I’m 6’6″ and weigh 245 lbs so I’m definitely putting more than average force on the bike but I’m now questioning the quality of the material.

    Not sure if anyone noticed, but if you go to the site and click bike > accessories, this is what the description now reads:

    “Push yourself farther with our Delta-compatible clip⁠-⁠in pedals, usable with a variety of cycling shoes. Your first pair is included with your Bike purchase, but we recommend a fresh set annually” The warranty on this part is one year.

    Peloton was kind enough to send a replacement pedal free of the $30 charge, but now that I think about it I should be replacing the left side as well. It blows my mind that there is a $60 a year maintenance charge on pedals. What further blows my mind is that this isn’t common, suggested knowledge when you buy the bike. Mine split mid-ride and could have easily lead to a bad cut or worse, a torn ligament. Oh well – no one in the market has a comparable product and the classes are great.

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