Are my coworkers genetic freaks or is Peloton power off?

So, I’m having a friendly conversation with two coworkers yesterday regarding the Peloton exercise bike. I’m just listening as they talk about how nice it is to get a quick 30 minute workout in, they discuss their favorite instructors and soon enough the conversation turns to FTP.

For some context my coworkers train a few hours a week sporadically, work 60+ hour weeks, have no athletic background, weigh around 225 lbs and are about 30 pounds overweight, don’t watch their diet, etc.

I take cycling somewhat seriously, train around 10-15 hours per week, eat well, race, sleep, etc

At this point I’m expecting that their 20 minute power will be low compared to mine. My current 20 minute power is north of 330 watts and I weigh significantly less. I’m thinking of ways to downplay my power when it becomes my turn to share as not to sound boastful. Turns out that wouldn’t be necessary because according to their Peloton bikes their 20 minute power is 410 watts and 440 watts. One of them pulled out their phone and showed me their results on the leaderboard and sure enough - 440 watts for 20 minutes.

So my question is did my coworkers miss their calling as professional cyclists or perhaps Peloton power readings are a little off, lol.


Peloton power isn’t calibrated. Ever. It’s consistent only with that particular unit. If that.


If it doesn’t pass the smell test, it probably isn’t true. If it were, they better drop some mass and join the pros! Untrained cyclists pushing north of 400 watts? Not a chance. They’ll be lucky if it is half that. It’s a shame because remotely accurate calorie counts are contingent on a decent measurement of kJs. If their goal is to get fit and drop weight, I hope they are not using those counts to form their diet!


Bunch more commentary:

Certainly, OP’s colleagues don’t have that kind of strength, in the sense of FTP used on this forum.

But I find the related conversation interesting. I have accompanied my SO to many a spin class, and we did quite a bit of TR / peloton class (app only) side by side during the pandemic. I think the interesting thing about Peloton is the kind of volume even average users hit. It could be 45 mins x 5 times a week, usually all out efforts (mix of anaroebic, threshold, sweet spot, but very little recovery). A lot of people may realize significant gains, perhaps like OP’s colleagues.

But there seems to be very little interest (on part of riders and Peloton) to then graduate to a structured approach.

I know a guy who recently did something like a 350w FTP test on his Peloton and he’s definitely a strong dude but not even close to guys who are legit power meter 350w riders that I know

Buddy of mine routinely does 400w+ 20-30min rides on Peloton, and can’t hold 400w for more than 5 min on his Stages equipped bike.


I’ve had to use Peleton bikes a few times on business trips and have found them to be inconsistent with power, at least with reference to RPE and HR. I can run a TR or Sufferfest program on my IPad to allow myself to set the appropriate power and sometimes it seems correct and sometimes super hard. If the power seems off, then I modify it to what my normal HR would be for said workout and move on and just get the best out of it I can. My 2 cents.

Damn, I need to get my hands on a Peloton.


Just a little off. They might not be able to win the Tour de France, but maybe the Vuelta.

Do you know which generation Peloton bikes they have? According to one Youtube video, the older generation bikes have orange buttons in back of the LCD screen, whereas the new ones have grey buttons.

I’ve heard that the new ones (3rd gen) have more accurate power readings.

I’m in search of an older model… :laughing:

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agree with everyone here. Even aside from peloton and the known issues with its consistency and accuracy, you have to sort of take everything people tell you with a grain of salt. Different PMs measure power differently, which we all know already, but also you see people who seem to be very clearly having issues. Like i remember a few years back i saw a facebook post of a guy showing his stats from a 330w average power, 4-hour ride, and you’re like wow, but then you notice his average speed is 15 mph on a flat-to-rolling course . . .


Imagine how hard you’d crush the Wed night ride if that thing had wheels!


I think the interesting thing about Peloton is the kind of volume even average users hit. It could be 45 mins x 5 times a week, usually all out efforts (mix of anaroebic, threshold, sweet spot, but very little recovery). A lot of people may realize significant gains, perhaps like OP’s colleagues.

Sounds like a recipe for burning out. Might also explain why used ones were going for $2,500 in my city and are now almost nonexistent.

Oy vey! Peloton FTP numbers are just another variation of the threads about Zwift superstars. I don’t know if this is all a function of the “everybody gets a trophy” generation, are simply that everything is virtual, and therefore a virtual “reality”.

Geez, I almost forgot about the Strava “posers”.

All I know is, lots of Trainerroad users have a hard time getting friends to ride with them, because they are extremely strong on the bike IN THE REAL WORLD!

Thank you Trainerroad for making me a stronger cyclist for real.

To answer the OP’s question…take into consideration your coworker’s mass/weight. I’m sure their FTP is inflated, but they probably do push bigger watts. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if their W/Kg isn’t over 3.0.


Peloton bikes are notoriously poorly calibrated. It’s also super easy to modify it to bump your watts up. Having said that, we see the same thing with inaccurate wheel on trainers on Zwift or even TR. I know lots of people who are hitting the podium in Zwift races but can’t avg 20mph outside.

Also, as mentioned above, don’t forget watts aren’t nearly as impressive as wt/kg. A guy who weighs 250 should be able to have an FTP of 250+ with very little training, but that’s nothing next to a woman who weighs 110 and has an FTP of 175.

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Do they ride bikes outside in the “real world”

Did you invite them for a ride?

Not to dick measure, but just to you know……get more people cycling and have some riding buddies.


I own a peloton bike as well as a trainer. When I use my assioma pedals on the peloton it tracks pretty much perfectly at first but then has some drift. I have run trainerroad at the same time a a peloton class and it’s normally fairly close in average power.

But then I used a peloton at a hotel and I was pushing 500 plus watts for a 45 minute class when my ftp is 300, So it totally depends on the bike and how well they are calibrated.

Their leaderboards are totally pointless.


Short ish answer.

No their 20min power is not 400+w…

It’s basically a random number generator.

Unless you’re talking about a very large lean athlete, it’s very rare for someone to produce over 400w for 20mins. This would have them riding at incredible speeds.

I’ve met a few riders capable of it in real life. All of them were elite or professional athletes. If they aren’t elite, they are just very large riders. As a w/kg measurement 400w for 20mins is not very special at all, if you weigh 100kg/220lbs etc

Sadly the kg part of w/kg is a thing…

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I’m pretty fit at 55 and, on a good day, can manage 4w/kg (360/90) for 30-45 minutes in my 2015 model. Those numbers are probably a bit goosed, but those numbers at the top of the leaderboards seem impossible to me.

Yeah, those early models are all over the place, even if unintentionally. They used to send out text instructions and a tool to show you how to change the numbers too, I know it was well intentioned, but it was a super easy way to juice your numbers.

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