Exercise bikes have been around for quite a while, and are to be found in every gym. They are also perfect for people wishing to keep fit at home, safely tucked away from cold weather, slippery ice, heavy traffic or the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indoor bikes used to be purely mechanical inventions, but this has changed in recent years. Modern technology now sits at their centre, offering exciting new ways to enjoy the experience of keeping fit. Today we are going to look at three smart innovations that do precisely that.
Apps for training
Nowadays, indoor bikes can feature racing pedals, over thirty levels of magnetic resistance or bottle holders and towel racks. It is also possible to smart connect and access streaming bike classes or on demand training videos. Bluetooth compatibility is included, and using this or wireless ANT+ frequencies is all that is required to make it happen.
Apps such as RGT Cycling can provide training on the go, and the bike may have an integrated tablet holder specifically for this purpose. TrainerRoad offers personalised workouts. Sufferfest is a popular app, offering not just training but a healthy dose of humour as well. Don’t be put off that it’s been around for a long time – there are frequent updates to provide improvements and variety.
An app called Xert takes a good look at a person’s data. It then creates the best routine based on where they are now and where they want to be in terms of fitness. Anyone who pays for Rouvy will gain access to 2.5k videos and GPS routes. Users of Windows computers will be helped to create their own training plans and access ride analysis, too. Trainer Road may seem dull to some in that it doesn’t supply music or entertainment. What it does do, however, is focus on the main thing: getting people fit and providing quality data.
Apps for virtual simulations
Over the years, computer gaming evolved from just having one or two players at a time. People became connected online, making it possible for complete strangers to play against each other, and enjoy a chat during the process. Zwift is a great bike training app, and it offers virtual courses that resemble computer games. It is possible to connect with other users and to arrange for a meet up at a virtual location at a specific time.
The beauty of cycling with other players is it removes the sense of isolation when keeping fit at home. It makes keeping fit a lot more fun, and bikers can encourage and motivate one another as they go. Whilst taking group rides, Zwift users can message one another or give a ‘thumbs up’. There are such virtual locations as London and Richmond or Watopia- a location that includes the exciting Mayan jungle. Sufferfest provides great soundtracks and enjoyable story lines.
The opportunities for cyclists have become even greater now that there are E-Racing championships, and the UCI E-Racing World championships to compete for.
Imagine taking things up a level and having the cycling resistance levels automatically adjusted for specific time periods for added authenticity. This brings us to…
As with all things smart, one needs the money to enjoy the equipment. Smart trainers aren’t cheap, but they are getting cheaper, and are like the Wattbikes found in gyms. They are interactive trainers that connect with the apps whether they are on smartphones, tablets or computers. Setting up doesn’t have to be hard, because the trainer will automatically seek the app and try to connect with it.
Interactive turbo trainers can help cyclists experience the power of battling headwinds or the need to push hard up steep hills. Some workouts can be set for specific units of time, with the resistance levels automatically adjusting to maintain consistency.
There are two types on the market. The first are wheel on trainers. They are cheap and light, but can reduce the tread of the tyres. The riding experience is not so authentic, nor is the accuracy of the data. Direct drive trainers are the best choice if someone can afford them, offering a more realistic ride and more precise information. They are heavier than wheel on trainers, but are quieter in operation and kinder to the tyres. Smart trainers can easily be stored away, too.
These days, smart bikes bring a person as close as they can to cycling outdoors. People don’t just enjoy the benefits of accurate power measurement or high adjustability. They can access virtual routes and join others on the same fitness journey. Add to that the experience of wind and hill resistance, and the whole thing becomes second to none.