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Friday, July 30, 2021

Meet the India startups trying to pedal into Peloton’s track

Is there space for a Peloton-inspired smart fitness bike in India? That’s what three startups in India are hoping to answer.

Written by Shruti Dhapola | New Delhi |
Updated: July 2, 2021 3:08:56 pm
Peloton, Peloton price, TREAD One, SynQFit bike, Flexbike, FlexNest bike, TREAD One bike, Cult Fit, Watt Bike, Watt Bike IndiaA Made in India Peloton? That's what TREAD ONE as seen in the picture and other hope to achieve. (Image via TREAD)

When one thinks of a smart fitness exercise bike, Peloton is the brand that instantly comes to mind, even though it is not yet available in markets like India. But is there space for a Peloton-inspired smart fitness bike in India? That’s what three startups in India are hoping to answer.

The Peloton clones

TREAD ONE — priced at Rs 49,990– is clearly inspired by the Peloton journey. Founder Dinesh Godara told indianexpress.com that their bike has been designed by Eric Villency, the designer of the original Peloton bike.
The Bengaluru-based startup — now part of fitness brand Cult.Fit — is hopeful of shipping by August. The exercise bike has a 22-inch attached screen, which can be rotated to try out other workouts such as strength training, yoga, etc. The latest version of Peloton offers something similar.

The focus with TREAD ONE is also around live sessions and content, just like the Peloton, which includes monthly subscriptions. However, users will have the freedom to download these classes later on. The company plans to charge up to Rs 1000 monthly for the subscription. Further, different family members will be able to set up their profiles on the bike.

TREAD is hoping their live content will be a differentiating factor. Users will be able to get a “very immersive experience with real-time music, trainer, and motivation,” according to Godara. It will also rely on Cult for content around cardio and yoga and other activities, though the spinning content will be in-house.

Peloton, Peloton price, TREAD One, SynQFit bike, Flexbike, FlexNest bike, TREAD One bike, Cult Fit, Watt Bike, Watt Bike India The TREAD ONE bike, which is yet to start shipping. (Image via TREAD)

Gurugram-based startup SynQFit, which started shipping out its bikes in June is taking a similar approach, though their bike starts at Rs 69,500.

SynQFit is also offering their on-demand content on the bike for free now, though the company plans to charge Rs 1000 per month later on. Here too, users can rotate the screen and rely on it for other exercises. It is offering floor workouts such as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), stretching, yoga and mindfulness and Toning and rehabilitation for users with its content.

“I believe the quality of content is going to be the relative differentiator. We will also offer access to Les Mills online content, which is premium and only available with us,” Pratik Sud, co-founder of SynQFit told indianexpress.com. The Les Mills BodyPump classes are very popular with fitness enthusiasts.

Peloton, Peloton price, TREAD One, SynQFit bike, Flexbike, FlexNest bike, TREAD One bike, Cult Fit, Watt Bike, Watt Bike India The SynQFit bike with its 22-inch screen. (Image via SynQFit)

Unlike TREAD and SynQFit, Gurugram-based Flexnest is taking a simpler approach to their ‘smart’ bike, which starts at Rs 29,990. The first pre-order stock has already sold out, according to co-founders and husband-wife duo Rhea and Raunaq Singh Anand.

Designed in Germany, FlexBike relies on a bluetooth sensor to connect with a user’s iPad or tablet. But the rest of the approach follows a similar tactic as the others. On-demand classes from the company’s Flexnest app. “We have studios in Delhi and partners in Dubai, where we shoot content on FlexBikes,” Rhea Singh Anand told indianexpress.com.

“Classes will not be limited to Spinning. FlexNext has different sections. We plan to have online classes for all other equipment that we sell,” she explained.

Gurugram-based Flexnest is taking a simpler approach to their ‘smart’ bike. Co-founders and husband-wife duo Rhea and Raunaq Singh Anand with their Flexbike. (Image source: FlexNest)

FlexNest is offering a host of home training equipment, all designed to be customisable such as dumbbells, kettlebells, etc. Just like the other two players, the company is giving one year of complementary subscription. The monthly price is yet to be finalised.

The home fitness opportunity

All of the founders agreed that while there is potential with the rise of home fitness due to the Covid-19 pandemic, convincing and educating customers to pay the premium is still a big challenge.

“In the West, Peloton and others are all booming. But spinning has been known in the West for about 20-30 years. Whereas in India it is something that is new, but it is growing popular in Bangalore and Gurgaon,” Singh explained.

She agrees the pandemic opens a new opportunity for smart bikes, given they are an easy way to get one’s cardio done.
“We launched only with home exercise equipment in January. The FlexBike launched in May. The reason behind this was that we wanted to build a community. Today, we have around 10,000 customers who are using FlexNest equipment,” she said, adding that they have managed to convince many existing customers to take an interest in the bike.

Peloton, Peloton price, TREAD One, SynQFit bike, Flexbike, FlexNest bike, TREAD One bike, Cult Fit, Watt Bike, Watt Bike India Dinesh Godara, founder of TREAD. (Image via TREAD)

TREAD’s founder too knows the value of convincing existing consumers, especially those focused on fitness. That’s where they are hoping the partnership with Cult can give them a solid boost.

“People want to touch and feel that product before placing the order. I have gone through the Peloton journey. They had 100+ showrooms when they went live. So we are also thinking on the same lines. With Cult, from Day One we are getting access to more than 250 centres,” Godara explained, adding that by September they will be in Cult centres in Bengaluru and Mumbai.

SynQFit’s Sud too feels the education is missing. “I believe the biggest challenge for the market is proper education. We could not do that during the lockdown. Once we do have some physical presence in high footfall areas people will get to use it,” he said.

Peloton, Peloton price, TREAD One, SynQFit bike, Flexbike, FlexNest bike, TREAD One bike, Cult Fit, Watt Bike, Watt Bike India Pratik Sud, the co-founder of SynQFit. (Image via SynQFit)

In fact, they are already using a tool to measure how much their machines are being used. “Except one or two, all of them are being used for about two to three hours a day,” he claimed. The way Sud sees it, the company will be looking to improve and add more customisation for Indian users once they have more users and can get some data on mean height, weight, usage times.

The best is already here

But the Indians are not the only smart bike players in the market. UK-based Watt Bike–designed for athletes and professionals–starts at nearly Rs 4 lakhs for Pro trainer version, while the Atom X costs Rs 6.5 lakh. The bike is used by cricketers such as Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, KR Rahul and even actor Anil Kapoor.

Peloton, Peloton price, TREAD One, SynQFit bike, Flexbike, FlexNest bike, TREAD One bike, Cult Fit, Watt Bike, Watt Bike India The Watt Bike designed for athletes is already here in India. (Image source: Watt Bike)

“Some other players have started to manufacture smart bikes in India, but that industry is in a very nascent stage in terms of manufacturing. None of the technology is being built in India. It is all being imported from China, etc,” Prateek Sood, Director at Grand Slam Fitness, which is the official distributor of WattBikes in India told indianexpress.com. Grand Slam Fitness has been in the space of fitness for 30 years.

While TREAD One says they are manufacturing in Pune, SynQFit is only assembling the bike here. FlexBike is built in China and Taiwan, according to the founders.

Peloton, Peloton price, TREAD One, SynQFit bike, Flexbike, FlexNest bike Prateek Sood, Director at Grand Slam Fitness, which has been in the space of fitness equipment for three decades now.

Sood said while the segment is new, and people might be interested, it will still take a couple of years “before people start accepting” that the smart bike is better and “pay a little extra.”

In his view, while WattBike can help even non-athletes take their form to another level, it will have to be seen how the other products perform.

And he points out, there’s another challenge to the growth of smart bikes and other such fitness equipment in India. “The people who can afford such a service are also able to afford a personal trainer. They like the personal attention from the trainer. This is not the case in the US or in Europe, where personal trainers are really expensive,” he said.

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