Cycles, cycles everywhere at IHRSA

At IHRSA, the SNEWS team saw wheels spinning everywhere, even at companies not traditionally in the indoor cycling space, such as SportsArt. Many of the new product designs focus on easier maintenance for clubs and consumers, smoother rides and increased data-tracking capabilities.
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At IHRSA, the SNEWS team saw cycles everywhere, even from companies not traditionally in the indoor cycling space.

Many of the new product designs focus on easier maintenance for clubs and consumers, smoother rides and increased data-tracking capabilities.

FreeMotion took the cake in terms of innovation with its new hybrid carbon drive system, which provides the smooth ride associated with a belt but the secure feel of a chain system. Plus, many of the bikes had multiple adjustability options — handlebars and seat — to make rides as comfortable as possible for every size user.

Indoor cycling veterans like Life Fitness and Spinning brought some new versions of previous products to the show floor, and companies like SportsArt are making their way into the space. 

The ‘wow’ factor

As far as innovation goes, FreeMotion’s new hybrid carbon drive system was the most interesting new element in indoor cycles.

Doug Crawford, vice president of product development for Foundation Fitness, FreeMotion's parent company, said the traditional poly-v belt is smooth, and that when users pedal, friction causes the belt to tighten, making a ride feel sluggish.

Plus, traditional belts have a tendency to slip. Crawford and his team started with the poly-v belt material, then put teeth into it so it would operate and catch like a chain system. Now the hybrid, which will be available on all FreeMotion's current models of indoor cycles, offers the benefits of both belt-drive and chain systems rolled into one. The company is so confident in the product, it's offering a five-year warranty.

“It feels like a chain and it’s never going to slip,” Crawford told SNEWS.

Out with the old, in with the new-old

Life Fitness’ new group cycle, the Lifecycle GX (photo, right), made a big splash at the show. The bike has a rear flywheel design — many stationary cycles have it up front — to prevent rust from wayward sweat. Plus, the plastic shroud and frame are coated in zinc oxide to protect other bike components from moisture.

A few handy molded urethane platforms on the extended base and the rear of the bike allow riders to stretch their hamstrings and calves. There are multiple adjustability options on the seat and handlebars to make the bike as ergonomically correct as possible for many different users.

This newest version of the Lifecycle, which was invented more than 40 years ago, has a belt-drive system, a narrower q-factor and dual-sided pedals – one side with a surface for users without cycling shoes, and another with a pedal clip for those with them. Its magnetic brakes don’t require as much maintenance as traditional friction brake systems.

On the commercial front, Mad Dogg Athletics released its SpinnerBlade (MSRP $1,995), a new cycle with an aluminum frame, seat, handlebar adjustability (which both can adjust front-to-back, up-and-down) and a narrower q-factor for a more ergonomic ride. The handlebars are tilted an extra 5 degrees toward the user for added comfort.

The company also showed its SpinnerAero, a home unit that debuted at the Health and Fitness Business Expo in September. It has many of the same features, such as a narrower q-factor.

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“Indoor cycling has become the standard for clubs to get a return on their investment,” Kippur said. It helps with member retention because many “spinning” or indoor cycling students enjoy the social aspect of the classes. Plus, he said, home specialty fitness retailers get business because people go looking for the cycles they use at the gym to put in their homes.

Spins from old players, new players

Another bike with a rear flywheel design came from Keiser. Its new M3TBT (Total Body Trainer, photo, left) has a smooth magnetic resistance system and movable handlebars. It's designed for users who want both and upper and lower body workouts, either simultaneously or independently. The Keiser M Series Computer is on the product and tracks watts, heart rate (Polar compatible), time and cadence.

Power Plate showed off its PowerBike, a stationary cycle that incorporates the company’s vibration technology, designed to help users activate more muscles during their ride.

And SportsArt is throwing its hat into the ring with the new C510 Indoor Cycling Bike (MSRP $1,299, photo, right).

“We just wanted to broaden our commercial and club offerings,” said Anita Miller, product manager. The poly-v belt-drive bike also features multiple adjustability options and focuses on keeping the moisture away, not by putting the flywheel in the back, but by putting a sweat guard over the front flywheel and fully enclosing the belt system. “There is a huge market,” for indoor bikes, Miller added.

--Ana Trujillo

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