"It really made me fall in love with cycling all over again."
Fitness + Music + Gaming = Lanebreak
Peloton Lanebreak is a music-driven fitness experience shipped in 2022 to more than 2 million Peloton Bike and Bike+ owners. Designed and developed in a partnership with digital product studio ustwo, Lanebreak leverages Peloton's position as the leader in the home fitness market to introduce gaming to its members alongside a soundtrack that riders want to move their feet to.
My Role + Approach
I was originally brought into the Peloton x ustwo partnership as Senior Designer, focused on designing and rapidly prototyping future concepts for game mechanics and meta-progression systems. After we launched Lanebreak in early 2022, I was elevated into a combined Lead Designer and Product Owner role.
As Lead Designer
I was responsible for setting the direction of new Lanebreak features. I made data-driven decisions about new feature and content updates in close collaboration with stakeholders including Peloton's Senior Product Manager. I relied on my engineering skill set to rapidly prototype and iterate upon design concepts, and was responsible for ensuring that our developers had full understanding of these concepts from small, edge-case details to how they fit into the larger vision for the Peloton brand. I produced design documents to share with stakeholders and demonstrated prototypes to lead technical implementation discussions with the team.
As Product Owner
I owned the direction, coordination, and final work product of a cross-disciplinary 13-person development team. I partnered with the Delivery Manager to ensure delivery of new features, bug fixes, and new content releases to Lanebreak players on a weekly release schedule. I set priorities for the team's work within an Agile / Kanban framework and owned the tracking of issues in Jira. Communication was continuous, relying on synchronous team rituals including stand ups, backlog refinements, and team retrospectives, as well as asynchronous communication via Slack and Jira to preserve developer flow.
Wearing multiple hats was made possible by working with an amazing team of people at Peloton and ustwo. Thank you, Lanebreak Team.
"Spoiler alert: It's a lot of fun."
If fitness is the backbone of Lanebreak, music is its heart. From a design standpoint, a key challenge was how to bring fitness and music together in a gamified experience that Peloton members would love.
Drawing inspiration from rhythm games and refining mechanics through a cycle of concepting, prototyping, playtesting, and user research, Lanebreak became a music-driven experience in which the user engages with the world through changes in their Resistance and Cadence.
Lanebreak levels contain the following gameplay elements, or "Moments":
Users earn points for collecting blue Beat markers across 6 lanes. By adjusting their Resistance with the Bike's integrated resistance knob, users move the wheel avatar horizontally across six lanes, from lowest Resistance on the left to highest Resistance on the right.
Users earn points in Streams by maintaining their Cadence within a target Cadence Range. A user's Cadence, or pedaling speed, is measured in RPM; Streams continuously reward players with points for maintaining a Cadence within a total range of 20 RPM.
Breakers are the highest-intensity Moments in Lanebreak. Coinciding with high-energy moments in the music playlist, Breakers reward points if the user pedals hard enough to charge up the Breaker Meter. Additional points are rewarded for Overcharge, or charging the Breaker to a higher level by pedaling harder than required.
Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby walks through the game in detail in this featured launch video:
"I’ve been shocked at how much Lanebreak taps into exactly what I’m looking for in a workout."
Shipping Post-Launch Improvements
At launch, a common point of user feedback centered around integrating Lanebreak into the wider Peloton experience. After Peloton rolled out a platform-wide feature that enabled members to use the Apple Watch as a heart rate band in March, the Lanebreak Team worked to incorporate the feature into Lanebreak. Support for users to set their best Personal Records from within Lanebreak followed next, addressing user requests for better integration of Lanebreak rides into their personal workout history.
A post-launch update to the Breaker mechanic raised the skill ceiling for the experience. Lanebreak launched with a cap on rewards for Breaker Overcharge—users could earn extra points by performing up to 200% of the output necessary to complete a Breaker. While this original 200% maximum was partly intended to serve as a stretch goal for more capable players, it also meant that every Lanebreak level had an attainable "perfect score" that emerged at the top of the Leaderboard. We rebalanced Lanebreak to remove the Overcharge limit so a perfect score was no longer in play; as a result, competition at the highest levels became possible and we established an additional incentive to set Personal Records within Lanebreak.
Lanebreak shipped with 21 levels, featuring music from a variety of artists and genres. By leveraging Peloton's partnership with Warner Music, I collaborated with the Level Designer, UI Designer, and Content Team to deliver new music-driven Lanebreak levels to users on a weekly basis. I provided final review and approval to ensure that over 70 new levels were delivered on-schedule, on-brand, and met Peloton's fitness and safety guidelines.
The Road Ahead
Quite possibly my favorite time on Lanebreak was the time we set aside for the team to experiment with future concepts in a hackathon-like format. Over the period of one week, the team broke out into smaller groups of 3–5 and we hustled to prototype future concepts that could be applied to Peloton hardware. If I could turn back time, I'd push to share some of the amazing future concepts we developed, but they remain secrets for now and the preceding inside joke shall exist as a placeholder.
"Lanebreak is a really fun way to ride ... Lanebreak is also, potentially, a sneak peek at where Peloton could go in the future."
Lanebreak is the result of a dedicated effort between the teams at Peloton and ustwo, and represents a commitment to innovation in delivering a fresh fitness experience that delights Peloton members. The project was received positively by users and reviews by critics were generally positive when it launched in February 2022. In the year after launch, the Lanebreak Team shipped new features and content as a live service while preserving the core experience that users loved.