Peloton treadmills recalled after Tread+ child death: What owners do next

Peloton will recall all of its treadmill models, after concerns about child safety around the fitness equipment and at least one reported death. The voluntary recall impacts both the Tread+ and Tread models, with Peloton and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) advising owners to cease using them immediately.

It's an unexpected turnaround from the popular fitness equipment company, which had strongly pushed back against calls for a recall earlier in the year. As recently as April 17, Peloton refuted the CPSC claims, branding them "inaccurate and misleading," and arguing that "there is no reason to stop using the Tread+, as long as all warnings and safety instructions are followed,"

In a stark change of approach today, Peloton CEO John Foley apologized for that attitude, and for delaying the recall.

"The decision to recall both products was the right thing to do for Peloton's Members and their families," Foley said in a statement. "I want to be clear, Peloton made a mistake in our initial response to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's request that we recall the Tread+. We should have engaged more productively with them from the outset. For that, I apologize. Today's announcement reflects our recognition that, by working closely with the CPSC, we can increase safety awareness for our Members. We believe strongly in the future of at-home connected fitness and are committed to work with the CPSC to set new industry safety standards for treadmills. We have a desire and a responsibility to be an industry leader in product safety."

Concerns about Peloton treadmill safety arose in March 2021, after the US recalls agency confirmed it was investigating reports of children being dragged under the belts of the connected fitness equipment. Launched in January 2018, Tread+ is Peloton's most expensive model, notable for its connected slat base rather than the cheaper, more commonplace rubber belt on other treadmills. Peloton later announced the Tread, far cheaper than the $4,295 of the Tread+, which combines the same guided fitness lessons with a cheaper belt design.

General availability of the Tread wasn't expected to begin until May 27, though Peloton did offer some early hardware by invitation-only between November 2020 and March 2021.

Peloton denied the safety concerns, arguing that all treadmills have inherent risks and pointing out that it advises plenty of space be left around Tread+ and Tread. The hardware should not be used by those under 16 years of age. Still, in mid-April, the CPSC advised against using the Peloton models.

"I am pleased that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Peloton have come to an agreement to protect users of the Peloton Tread+ and Tread products," Robert S. Adler, Acting Chairman of the CPSC, said in a statement today. "The agreement, which the Commission voted this morning to accept, requires Peloton to immediately stop selling and distributing both the Tread+ and Tread products in the United States and refund the full purchase price to consumers who wish to return their treadmills. The agreement between CPSC and Peloton is the result of weeks of intense negotiation and effort, culminating in a cooperative agreement that I believe serves the best interests of Peloton and of consumers. I would like to thank the CPSC technical staff who have worked tirelessly to protect consumers and to warn the public. Today we have taken steps to prevent further harm from these two products."

It certainly appears that there's no immediate fix which would get the treadmills back in users' homes anytime soon. Peloton is working "on additional hardware modifications," the CPSC says, but sales and distribution of the Tread+ have ceased in the meantime.

Those who have a Tread or Tread+ should contact Peloton for a full refund, the CPSC says. It's unclear whether Peloton will be able to remotely shut down the treadmills still in the wild, given their connected nature.