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SoulCycle competitor Flywheel declares bankruptcy amid a pandemic

Its parent company filed for Chapter 7 in New York late Monday, signaling it is likely liquidating and permanently closing its remaining studios. Flywheel did not return requests for comment, but some of its current and former instructors posted on social media that the company was over.

At its peak, the 10-year-old company had more than 40 studios in the United States offering cycling and bar lessons. But Flywheel was having trouble well before the pandemic hit.

Peloton sued Flywheel in September 2018, arguing that the smaller company copied the technology used to create its home bikes and the ranking that allows customers to race against each other. The decision rendered Flywheel̵

7;s domestic bicycles unusable, with Peloton offering their own bikes to Flywheel’s customers.

In summer 2019, Flywheel closed about a dozen of its studios for good. And in February 2020, Flywheel was forced to shut down virtual classrooms attached to its home exercise bikes due to the two-year legal battle with Peloton for patent infringement.

A few weeks later, the pandemic stalled and forced Flywheel to temporarily close all of its studios. The company reportedly laid off 98% of its 1,200 employees. Flywheel had recently started offering courses in two cities (Hamptons, New York and Miami, Florida), but according to its website they are no longer bookable.

Fledgling Town Sports International (owner of New York Sports Club and other chains), abandoned its plans in April to buy Flywheel after reaching an agreement just four months earlier.
Without studios or a bike at home, there is no strong path for Flywheel. Meantime, Peloton (PTON) found success and reported successful earnings last week. SoulCycle reopened dozens of studios and started selling its $ 2,500 home bike.

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