Zwift to 'pause' launch of smart bike alongside staff lay-offs

The brand has not confirmed how many staff have been laid off, but says 'the restructuring is not limited to the hardware department'

Stefan Abram racing on Zwift
(Image credit: Future)

Zwift has announced a round of staff layoffs as well as the “pausing” of its smart bike hardware plans, that were announced just a few months ago. 

While the numbers of employees affected haven’t been released, the current economic climate is stated as the primary reason behind the online training giant’s decision. 

In a statement Zwift said: “Given the current macroeconomic environment, we have decided to scale back our hardware offering, pausing plans to launch a smart bike. 

"As a consequence, Zwift has implemented difficult, yet important changes to the organisation of the business. We are grateful for the contributions of all those impacted and have done our very best to support them.”

The brand, which saw a huge increase in sign ups to the indoor training platform during the Covid pandemic, added: “We are committed to increasing the development of the core Zwift game experience, increasing the speed of new feature releases, and making the platform more accessible than ever before. We firmly believe these changes will allow us to achieve these goals and better support the continued growth of our subscription business. Further, these changes will preserve Zwift’s strong financial position as the world navigates these turbulent times.”

Cycling Weekly asked Zwift how many people had been laid off and if these were restricted only to the hardware department. 

Director of PR at Zwift Chris Snook declined to comment on specific numbers but did say that “the restructuring is not limited to the hardware department,” while adding that “the new structure will allow us to remain laser focused on developing the core Zwift experience through more frequent product innovation.”

The decision comes hot on the heels of two of indoor training’s biggest players, Wahoo and Peloton, laying off staff as a result of a drop in indoor cycling hardware sales that had spiked during the global COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent quarantine restrictions that affected access to the outdoors and commercial gyms.

When asked if there was a sense that growth in expensive indoor trainers (the best smart trainers can cost in excess of £1000, and the best exercise bikes well over £2000) and hardware that has taken place over the last two years, largely driven by experienced cyclists, has plateaued, Snook agreed, but added “we expect to see continued growth in the indoor cycling space.” 

This would seem to imply that, moving forward, the sales of smart bikes and indoor trainers are expected to be led by those new to the sport, looking for entry-level smart bikes, something the planned Zwift products certainly weren’t. Suggested retail price for the Zwift Ride smart bike was reported to be £1,700 /US$2,299, while its Zwift Wheel trainer, which is similar in specification to the Tacx Neo, had a reported price tag of £900 / $1,200.

The "pausing" of the hardware plans and staff layoffs aren't the only bit of news coming from Zwift in recent weeks. 

The indoor training market leader also made headlines after announcing, via an online discussion forum, that it will be ceasing support of older hardware and operating systems. The post read: “Starting August 1st we will begin deprecating certain operating systems based on industry standard minimums for both the Zwift game client and the Zwift Companion app.”

The move, which affects Android 7,8 and iOs 12 as well as Mac OS 10.12 and 10.13, prevents Zwift from spending valuable time and money on supporting software and hardware that's long in the tooth. Zwift maintains a list of devices that are currently supported to run its product.

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