Bike in a virtual world!
This stationary bike's hallmark feature is its interactive virtual world in which you train in. It lets you ride any number of courses that range from flat tracks to curving mountain climbs. I've been selecting the hardest possible climbs in preparation for the triathlon, in the hope that the 30% grades that this machine gives me will be enough to get me fairly used to the familiar burn of going up hills for a prolonged time.
If you aren't interested in the courses, you can switch it over to T.V mode too and watch whatever you want. I spent many a night watching Buffalo Sabres games or the Knicks play, and I fully anticipate more of this in the winter months to come.
What I Like
I really like the variability and difficulty of the pre-selected courses. Being able to create an account and monitor your progress, as well as compete against others in the virtual world is also a pretty neat feature. For whatever reason, chasing down the Pacer computer player is more fun then it probably should be, even though I haven't quite figured out how he shoots past me on every downhill stretch there is.
I also really like that with two of these machine side by side, you can race your friends or go on a leisurely bike ride together. Anything that promotes working out as a group is A-OKAY in my book.
What I Don't Like
The obvious first dislike is the insanely high price-point. At seven thousand bucks, it basically rules out every single possible chance that I'll ever own one of these in my home. I understand that it is a state of the art trainer and these pieces of equipment are expensive, but that seems a bit ridiculous.
My second, functional dislike is that the grade changes happen too rapidly for the gear shifts. You'll be cruising down a hill in 24th gear and within two seconds be going back up a 25% grade and unable to pedal at all. The program doesn't quite have the momentum and coasting mechanics that a real bike does. It can be frustrating when it throws off your cadence until you can downshift to a low gear.
If you have a gym membership that includes the use of these bikes, give it a shot! I recommend trying it multiple times to learn how to use the gears effectively, because there is a bit of a learning curve. Though this will never replace a good outdoor bike ride, I can see this being a valuable tool in the winter months when outside isn't an option. As stated above, you get out what you put in. Try harder courses out and see what you can do!