There’s a new indoor bike trainer you need to know about. One that is destined not to become a clothes rack like your last indoor cycling machine. It will probably even replace your indoor trainer, whether you are currently using rollers or another rear-hub spinning device that you attach your road bike to. Indoor winter road bike training just got a whole lot more real, and more fun.
The ProForm Tour de France spin bike was created by ProForm (under the parent company Icon Fitness) to bridge the gap between indoor cycling training and true outdoor road bike results. Because indoor cycling bikes or “spin bikes” were really created as an alternative to aerobics, they have never truly taken the place of on-bike training. At the same time, indoor bike trainers have always fallen short for various reasons. Every cyclist invests in both of these devices at some point, and usually looses interest in about a year.
We’ve been using the Tour De France spin bike for several months now as the outdoor cycling season comes to an end here in Colorado, and have been super impressed with its ability to mimic actual cycling conditions and rider position on the bike. The performance feedback and visual integration is second to none on the market.
What the brand is calling “iFit Coach” uses the rider’s weight, selected gear, cadence and grade to determine speed and load — consisting of wind, road grade and rolling resistance— to bring the cycling experience inside. Users can create a course anywhere on Google Maps, integrated into the bike’s computer system and displayed on what is essentially an iPad on the handlebars, easily connected to the internet in your home. You can re-create any course in the world or map out your training rides that you would normally ride during summer months, and the bike reacts to the dynamics of the road accordingly.
Regarding fit, the TDF bike incorporates several key features to facilitate training in an optimal, real world position. Standard pedal and saddle mounting to allow you to use your own pedals and saddle. There is also precision adjustments for both the handle bars and saddle, not the typical clunky adjustments found on typical IC spin bikes. The most critical feature to allow training in the correct body position is the incline.
The ProForm TDF will keep you fit to race all winter, and when you emerge into daylight, maybe you’ll be ready for something something epic.
A 10 percent grade will move the saddle back approximately 7 centimeters for an average male, which moves the rider’s weight from 1-2 centimeters in front of the bottom bracket to 5-6 centimeters behind the bottom bracket, and riders are forced to adapt by altering where they sit on the saddle, how they pedal and how they use their arms. The TDF bike allows you to train to be able to stay seated as long as possible in order to conserve energy. Rider position is controlled by the saddle and handlebar position relative to the bottom bracket, and allowing precision adjustment of rider balance and joint angles.
Whether you are training on one of the pre-set international courses or on your own pre-programmed course or manually, the TDF bike allows training in the correct zone using watts, cadence, grade and speed. Additional data includes elevation gain/loss, heart rate, distance and more, prepping you for next road season, fall cyclocross or fat bike racing.
Our only complaint is that the shifting and grade adjustments can take a little time to catch up to the computer and course, but it’s minor, and the system just takes a little getting used to, like any trainer.
The magnetic resistance of the rear wheel is extremely accurate and quiet compared to traditional IC bikes, and the freewheel provides pedaling form feedback, eliminating the upstroke found with normal flywheels. Interval training display allows you to measure performance for each interval you wish to perform.
There’s even music stations built in to the system, or, you can check emails, surf Facebook and YouTube, or attach your own mobile device to the top of the unit. Pre-programmed routes of the Tour de France are a really great way to kill a couple of hours training indoors each day, helping make you legitimately race ready for spring.
Comment on our Facebook page if you’ve tried this bike or have strong feelings about indoor trainers in general!