A SNEWS® Training Center written by the editors of SNEWS®
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The upright bike -- the original piece of programmable, computerized exercise equipment -- has evolved since its earliest days into a go-to standby that can give anybody, anywhere a workout. It can offer a cruising, comfy workout for those interested in a less intense ride; a hard-driving, intensely aerobic or even anaerobic workout for those seeking hard-core training; and it can provide anything in between to all shapes and sizes.
Despite the popularity of treadmills and ellipticals, you should never neglect the possibility that an upright bike might be the best choice for a customer, depending on their needs, space or intended users.
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What is an upright bike?
An upright bike is just that -- a stationary bike that has a user sitting in an upright position that feels and looks much like the position of an outdoor bike. That means the seat is higher than the pedals, leaving the user's hips higher. There is usually a clear distinction between an upright and a recumbent bike position, although there are some bikes on the market that are hybrid-like mixes that offer the characteristics of both recumbent and upright cycles.
Between models and brands, there are also different types of:
• seats, including width, shape and padding,
• adjustability of the seat and handlebars, from front to back or height,
• placement of knobs and handles used to adjust the seat, and
• programs, console shapes and lighting, or sizes and buttons.
Basic benefits of an upright bike
Many of the advantages of an upright could also be said about both the recumbent and indoor cycling bike equipment categories, for example:
1. They take less space than treadmills, ellipticals or many other equipment types.
2. It's easy to read or watch TV while exercising.
3. They aren't generally as noisy as other types of equipment.
4. Most bikes can cost less than other similar levels of equipment.
5. Everyone can ride a bike.
6. Controls and programs aren't usually as complicated as those on other types of equipment.
In addition, upright bikes:
• can adapt to many levels of users, from beginners to more advanced, including avid cyclists if the bike's construction and fit are high quality.
• take even less space than other equipment categories compared to recumbents.
Selling an upright bike
Is a recumbent right for the customer?
First, determine if an upright bike is the best piece of equipment for a customer.
1. Past exercise and bike experience: What is or has been comfortable and why?
2. Household users: Will there be more than one?
3. Space constraints: Uprights have some of the smallest footprints, are fairly easy to set up and can move easily.
4. Injuries or orthopedic limitations: Are there existing or past hip, back or knee problems?
5. Intensity desired: Is the person less conditioned or without a desire or need for high-intensity workouts, or a workout enthusiast seeking cross-training indoors?
Although the user for an upright can vary widely, someone who has less space and more cost constraints may appreciate the option. Plus, someone who is expanding their home gym may want a bike for cross-training. Once you've determined in talking with the customer that an upright bike may be the preferred category of equipment, start introducing him or her to different styles of uprights you have in stock, pointing out differences in features and benefits, and asking the person to sit down to get a feel for the build.
Features to point out:
Seat size, comfort and possible interchangeability -- There are different types of seat shapes including those with cutouts under the upper leg so the seat doesn't interfere with the leg movement when pedaling. Materials include cushions, ventilation or mesh. Some higher-end bikes allow users to take their own bike seat and pedals and put them on the indoor bike for comfort and familiarity.
Adjustability -- A seat's position in relationship to the console or pedals can change to adapt to customers' personal needs. Some offer more adjustments than others. Handles to adjust the bike are in different places on various brands and are operated differently to adjust the bike fit. Plus, some are also adjustable from front to back or up and down.
Console placement -- Visibility of control buttons to change programs or adjust resistance comfortably is important. Tilt and size of console's can vary, as can the distance from the seat.
Programs and features -- Some bikes will come loaded with programs, which may or may not be advisable for a customer. Monitoring features also can include heart rate, calories, watts, speed or mileage. More is not necessarily the merrier for some customers, whereas some may want it all to track progress and help with motivation.
Pedal stroke feel -- Some are smoother than others and some even offer the ability to "free wheel," or stop pedaling and "cruise" for a moment as if the user were on a real bike outdoors and cruising down a hill or around a corner.
Stability and construction -- Materials used in construction should be sturdy and corrosion-resistant and the base should be wide enough to inhibit wobbling or creaking. Wheels on the base to move the bike around are helpful.
Self-generating or not -- Some users may like to place a bike where an electric outlet may not be convenient, may like to move it at will, or may want to avoid dangling cords that could be hazardous. That could narrow the choice to a self-generated, cordless bike.
Computer downloads -- Depending on the user, some may want either to upload programs from a trainer or to download workout data to track and analyze on a computer or to send to a trainer or physician.
Electronic add-ons -- As bikes and technology progress, some bikes offer USB and MP3 ports, as well as built-in speakers or computer interfaces.
Basic comforts -- Is there a place for a water bottle, cell phone, MP3 player, towel, watch or TV remote? Is their a built-in rack for reading books and magazines comfortably?
Upright bikes can go for as low as a $100 for ones someone might find at mass merchants (and may not offer the stability needed or other features desired), while quality upright stationary bikes go for about $600 up to about $2,500 for commercial-grade bikes. Don't be shy to show higher-costing bikes and let a customer see how they feel and what they offer compared to other price levels. Many will step up to a higher-end bike if it fits well, feels good and has benefits they decide are good for them.
Key selling points
1. Comfort and feel are king since there can be so many differences.
2. Appropriate width between the pedals in relationship to the user's hips should not make a user feel as if he or she is on a horse.
3. Programs and intensity should be variable enough (both on the high and low ends) to accommodate the user's needs.
4. Service should be easily available.
If customers walk in and ask for a particular brand, it could be they're using that brand name generically for the entire category and not actually seeking that brand. Inquire if they know what they have used before, what they know about the bike, and what they did or didn't like. That can also help you narrow the choices for them and allow you the chance to explain the differences and varying benefits of the bikes you carry.