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Have you ever considered virtual bike touring?

Haveyoueverconsideredvirtualbiketouring_752_40027281_0_14105649_400
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There's nothing quite like riding your bicycle. The feeling of your feet powering you as fast and far as you want, the air breezing across your face as the road blurs underneath you and the landscape disappears behind you – it's electrifying. Many people have tried to replicate the experience of cycling with machines and workout equipment. While these gym machines may give a rider the same muscular workout that a touring bike would, it loses the experience in translation. 

A new product, the Ebove B1 smart bike, was unveiled by Activetainment at the popular technology event, the Consumer Electronic Show or CES recently. It's designed to replicate the entirety of the cycling experience both visually and athletically. And, according to early reports, it's gotten pretty close. 

A virtual bike touring trip 
Tech news website Engadget explained that this new bike isn't the classic spinning machine at the gym. The Ebove B1 smart bike lets users follow whichever trails they want and feel like they're really in it. It's not just a TV screen at the end of a stationary bike.

"Sure, there are plenty of static exercise bikes that let you follow a trail with the benefit of a tablet strapped on top," Engadget explained. "There are a lot fewer bikes that are set up on a gimbal that lifts up when you crest a hill and dips down when you hit the opposite side. When you factor in the fact that the bike has working gears and the effort you make represents the distance you travel, it's the closest thing we've seen to trail biking that doesn't involve getting muddy … Because the bike is attached to a single point and can move in several directions, you have to wrench the bike into each turn, which certainly gave me a great core workout. In fact, in just 500 seconds, I was sweating enough to have run several marathons."

In addition to side-to-side range of motion, the enthralling visual aspect of this bike allows riders to ride virtually wherever they want. Users can even do difficult jumps or tricks that they wouldn't be able to in real life without fear of injury. This bike can be outfitted with a simple tablet, a larger high-definition TV or even a virtual reality headset. These bikes may be making their way to a gym near you before you're able to buy one for your home, however. 

Touring tech 
While a bike like the Ebove is a cool toy, it isn't enough for diehard tourers. They want to get out on the road and really experience a ride. If you fall into this category, you can still use technology to your advantage. Here are a few cool tech tools that you may want to throw in your pannier for your next ride. 

  • A compact laptop – While a laptop may not help you improve your pace, keep you dry when it rains or repair a flat tire, it does let you document your trip. TravellingTwo recommended that tourers first think about why they're documenting their trip before they invest in a new device. If it's just for sharing stories with friends, like an online diary, consider an inexpensive laptop or netbook. That way it's OK if it gets banged up a little or doesn't do everything a better computer can. However, if you're looking to become a professional, sponsored tourer, invest big. Get a machine with a quality graphics engine, photo and video editing and durability. Consider getting a backup device or remote internet connection tools as well. 
  • Safety tools – Also unveiled at CES was biking safety equipment that could help tourers protect themselves and their bikes from injury and theft. Among the gadgets, there's a Volvo helmet that warns cars when they get to close to bikes, according to the BBC. There are also "smart" pedals that are designed to curb theft, which is prevalent across Europe. They have an independent power source and internet connection, so that if your bike is stolen, these pedals will notify you and let you find it with its GPS tracking. 
  • A generator – Experienced tourers and backpackers have likely seen dozens of devices that advertise charging your electronic devices through solar power or hand cranks. Although some work well, others can take hours to get your smartphone or computer only slightly charged. This new generator makes more sense for cyclists however. The Atom from Siva Cycle actually attaches to your bike and uses the pedal power to store a charge that you can use to keep your map app or GPS alive. 
  • A Bluetooth speedometer – Rather than dealing with magnets and wires, threading them through your spokes and up to your handlebars like older speedometers required, you can now just use your phone. Simply attach the device near your wheel and connect it to your Bluetooth on your phone and you'll be able to see how fast you're riding to keep your pace. 
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About Stephane Marchiori

Owner of Cyclocamping.com
Bike touring since 2003, including:
a 5-Year Bicycle Journey Around The World!

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