AKRON, Ohio — The only thing less interesting than running on a treadmill is riding a stationary bike.
On the former, at least, it’s sort of possible to pretend you’re on the road, but on the latter, it takes an exceedingly wild imagination to dream up the elements that make real cycling engaging: the inclines, descents and ever-changing wind patterns.
But riding indoors need not be quite so boring. A truly satisfying virtual cycling experience may still be a long way off, but in the meantime, ProForm’s “Tour de France” bike represents a fairly decent substitute.
The first and biggest difference between the TDF ($1,500, proform.com) and standard stationary bikes is that TDF isn’t actually stationary. Unlike most exercise bikes, on which you simply sit and pedal, TDF bikes tilt up and down 20 percent in each direction, simulating hills.
And not just any hills, either, but Tour de France hills. The mammoth climbs and steep descents of cycling’s greatest race.
Programmed into every TDF bike — I tried one at Ohio Cycleworks in Akron — are several snippets of the course. Other, more everyday routes, including yours around your neighborhood, are also available, via the Internet-ready monitor and a subscription to iFit’s Google Maps-based training software.
Also, there are gears. Just like your good old 10- or 12-speed, the TDF has actual shifters, a vast improvement on those unrealistic buttons and knobs on traditional indoor bikes.
You’ll need them, too. For along with roller-coaster landscapes, TDF machines also challenge riders with “Intelligent Wind Resistance,” automatic applications of counter-pressure based on height and weight. Along with that come wattage reports, data typically available only from costly accessories.
Still, for all their simulations, TDF bikes are no substitute for the real thing. The experience is more authentic than on most stationary bikes, but it still leaves a fair amount to be desired, not the least of which is the side-to-side motion some newer breeds of cycling trainers now permit.
For one thing, the TDF is almost totally silent. No joke, you could ride one near
To read the whole story, visit here: http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2012/09/stationary_cycling_more_realis.html
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