When Flywheel Lost A Legal Battle Their Bikes Were Bricked
Most people like the idea of exercise, but are too physically repulsed by other human beings to attend an actual cycling class. Well, Flywheel thought they had the solution. In 2017, the company launched an extremely expensive, WiFi-enabled stationary bike that allowed you to take part in live-streamed cycling lessons from the comfort of your own home. It was a brilliant product, which is probably why Peloton had been selling it since 2013. Peloton quickly sued for copyright infringement, alleging that Flywheel had copied design elements, and that a Flywheel backer had gone undercover as a potential investor to sneak a peek at their business model.
Peloton/YouTubeWe all remember Peloton, right?
It was all pretty standard corporate intrigue, nowhere near as interesting as that time Air Canada had a private detective in fake glasses and goatee spying on WestJet's CEO. But it suddenly became of great interest to Flywheel owners when Peloton won the lawsuit and all their bikes turned into worthless bricks. As part of the settlement, Flywheel agreed to shut down all their virtual classes and other online offerings. The owners didn't even get to hear about this from Flywheel, they all suddenly got an email from Peloton, a completely different company, basically saying, "Hey, that bike you bought? Well, it's ours and we're setting it on fire."
Peloton promised that eligible Flywheel owners would be able to exchange their bikes for a refurbished Peloton. But many people bought a Flywheel specifically because they didn't want a Peloton, since Flywheel's classes focused more on fitness and less on disbarred life coaches screaming inspirational slogans. Also, it turned out that "eligible" meant people who bought their Flywheels outright. If you had financed your purchase of a $2,000 exercise bike through a lender, well ... sucks to be you, poors, you get nothing. The Flywheels did still work as offline exercise bikes, but you can get a stationary bike for like $250 and an actual bike for whatever bolt cutters cost these days. Nobody spends two grand on a goddamn exercise bike.
Stanislav Jelen/Wikimedia CommonsIt's not exactly the most advanced technology known to man.