Comment: Is it time to rethink Peloton’s bike leaderboard?

Peloton bike

After a few months of using my Peloton bike, I now have a bird’s-eye view of some aspects of the platform and where improvements could be made. The main aspect of the platform I see issues with is the Peloton leaderboard and how it calculates total output.

The main focus of the Peloton leaderboard is to see where your total output ranks with others in the class (if live) or everyone who has taken the class (if on-demand). It can be filtered by your Peloton tags, gender, age, etc. If it’s an on-demand class, you have the option to switch between “Here Now” or “Overall.” Your output is calculated by a combination of your resistance and cadence during the class.

What’s wrong with total ouput?

The issue I see with calculating the leaderboard by total output is that there are people that will always be at the top and there are people who will always be at the bottom. If you have stronger legs by design (body type, gender, etc), you will have a much easier time climbing the leaderboard even if you have a cadence that can be half as slow as someone else. If someone is in tip-top shape but doesn’t have the leg strength to sustain a super-high resistance for the entire class, then they have no shot of reaching the top of the leaderboard.

On the flip side, if it was only about cadence, then people that kept resistance low would easily dominate, as they could stay above 100 on cadence for a long period of time.

There has to be a better solution.

Rethinking the leaderboard

I love everything about the leaderboard from a design and UX perspective. It’s easy to navigate even while mid-ride. It’s a challenge to design a system that can’t be “gamed” to skyrocket to the top, though. As I pondered the options, I realized that keeping all riders on the same scale is where the problem lies. Someone that weighs 225 pounds is going to be able to achieve a higher score than someone who weighs 135 pounds, and there is no way to work around that.

Peloton should introduce weight and age variables. While it would be on the honor system, it would allow for a level playing field. Someone who weighs 225 pounds would be expected to have a higher resistance because they would have more leg strength. Someone who weighs 135 pounds wouldn’t be penalized for not being able to sustain a higher resistance. It would be some sort of sliding scale in terms of how the total output is calculated with consideration for weight and gender.

Final word on Peloton leaderboard

The leaderboard is a strong motivator for many riders, and Peloton has done a great job with the “gamification” of the platform, but it’s time to add a new wrinkle to it and give folks who can’t normally climb the leaderboard because of their leg strength a chance to compete.

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