Following through on its promise to focus on its strength in cardiovascular equipment, Star Trac will introduce at the Athletic Business conference this week two new, eye-catching additions to its successful Pro treadmill -- an upright bike and a recumbent bike.
The bikes are a first step toward taking the recognition the Irvine, Calif.-based, company has experienced with its Pro treadmill, formally introduced at the IHRSA show in March, and moving the design concept and features throughout its line, as new executive Vice President Steve Nero promised in an interview with SNEWS last month.
Some might question the step into stationary bikes -- called a "boring" category by some -- but bikes are a standard in clubs and for uncomplicated workouts. Note that other companies have told SNEWS recently they are refocusing on that category also.
"The bike market isn't going away," Terry Woods, Star Trac senior product manager, told us on a recent visit SNEWS took to the company's manufacturing facility. "The bike market is a strong market."
Although only being officially introduced at this week's AB show from Dec. 4-6 in Orlando, Fla., Woods said they are already close to being sold out, which the company expects to happen in January. Early production models were being shown to customers in a private suite at the Club Industry show in Chicago in October.
What makes these bikes particularly interesting -- aside from their sleek design by DesignworksUSA, a BMW Group company, which also was instrumental in the treadmill design -- is the focus on the profiles of their users, which the company says are very different, as well as the incorporation of the PDA interface that has been a big draw for both sales and media attention on the Pro treadmill.
"We believe that these new products represent a reason for facility operators to buy a different bike in a category that is ready for a unique and distinct approach," said Star Trac President James McPartland.
For example, after surveys of users and clubs, the company maintains that the upright bike user is about 50/50 male/female, skews younger and is a more aggressive rider focused on the workout, while the recumbent bike user is 40/60 male/female, is older, may be rehabbing an injury or cautious because of back pain, and is a more casual rider or may read the newspaper or a book during a workout.
Features that make you take a hard look
To that end, Star Trac made the upright a more aggressive-looking bike with minimal shrouding for a faster look. Also, the bike has bars that allow a rider to sit up as well as lean over the console more comfortably in a racing position if desired. And the seat adjusts with one pull to ratchet it into position. (Photos available only when the article is individually viewed through www.snewsnet.com.)
The recumbent bike also minimizes shrouding but emphasizes a step-through design to allow older or rehabbing users to get on and off more easily. In addition, it has armrests that at first may seem odd, but should make the ride much more comfortable for a casual exerciser. Also, the seat adjusts using a bright red bar that wraps around the entire seat so users don't have to fumble around to find the handle.
Both have PDA compatibility, fans in the console that can be turned off as desired, and a ski-boot-type ratchet shoe strap that can be easily adjusted (rather than ignored or torn off as has happened to many straps in the past).
"We're breaking the stereotype," Woods added, "that 'a bike is a bike.'"
SNEWS View: Granted, SNEWS doesn't traditionally write about every new product out there, but these bikes are interesting indeed in their design, how well thought-out they were, and how they are helping to take the company one step closer to a unified look and design that will catapult it ahead in the industry. We've fiddled with the adjustments and tried these bikes briefly, and we can say they do beg to be ridden.