In a product introduction that was refreshing, albeit rowdy by fitness industry standards, the Trixter indoor cycling bike and program were launched at the recent IHRSA show promoting its tagline, "Outdoor Attitude Brought Indoors."
The difference between the Trixter indoor cycling X-Bike and other indoor cycles is a concept that leaves you whacking your head and saying, "Now that's a no-brainer!" Basically, instead of front handlebars that are anchored securely and without possible movement to the support bar, the X-Bike's front handlebars have a sort of adjustable hydraulic that allows the user to move his or her arms to pump the handles up and down -- just like real mountain bikers and road cyclists do while climbing -- or to bank them as if carving a turn outdoors. The motion's resistance can be adjusted from light to heavy with seven settings -- and even locked for beginners who don't want to or can't handle the movement.
"We're all about making indoor exercise more fun," said CEO and developer Michael Rice, himself an avid mountain biker.
Trixter's bright-yellow booth, in a front corner of an alcove area, was definitely all about fun -- although it may have shocked the fitness industry: Mountain bikers helping the company launch had plenty of space to pop wheelies and ride their regular Giant mountain bikes up and down the aisle -- until a security guard told them to cut it out. Rock music came from its corner, and tattooed mountain bike champions helping the company with the launch sounded at home using words like "gnarly" and looked down right comfy in baggy knee-length jeans and knit watch caps on a floor filled with attendees mostly wearing Lycra or polo shirts in neutral colors. The group promised to ride down the steep flights of stairs to the expo at the close of the show -- when getting kicked out would be a moot threat.
"We're not the fitness industry," he said. "We're true bikers that know about fitness."
Rice, of the United Kingdom, said he took indoor cycling classes in the winter and off-season and, although it kept his cardiovascular system in-shape, he felt the upper body muscles demanded in mountain biking to maneuver rocky and technical trails or climb hills were left out-of-shape.
"I'm not dissing Spinning because it helped me through the winter," he said. "I just wanted something that felt right."
With a spark of an idea, he took to his garage with a welding torch. The bike and its patented X-bars were born in 2001, and is being tried out now in gyms in the United Kingdom. The IHRSA show in San Francisco, Feb. 27-28 and March 1, was the U.S. launch for the company.
The bike (made by Giant in a partnership with that company) lists for $999, and has the same sturdy feel and micro-adjustments as the best bikes now on the market. Adjustments for resistance are at the rider's fingertips -- as on regular outdoor bikes -- so indoor riders don't have to let go of handlebars to change levels. The Trixter company (www.trixter.net) also has its own program to train instructors it calls "The School of Cool."
SNEWS View: We rather liked the shocked looks at the show, which can be a tad too conservative and sometimes lacking in fun for an industry that should be all about fun. On first hit, the bike seemed like a winner. Not only did it offer safety, adjustments and good mechanics for an indoor cycling bike, but it also offered a real outdoor feel (as well as we could judge after only a couple of minutes on it).
The bike seems as if it could truly be a revolutionary concept that could find success -- but the company will need to learn how to fit in a bit better. No, please, please, don't give up the fun and attitude. Maybe just tone it down a hair, as needed.