Now that much of the Northern Hemisphere is well within the icy clutches of winter, many mountain bikers have turned to riding indoors on rollers or trainers. While that may help them to keep fit, it's still far less fun or interesting than riding outdoors on actual trails. Norwegian startup Activetainment hopes to close that gap a little, however, with its interactive ebove B/01 bike. The trainer moves beneath the rider and becomes easier or more difficult to pedal, in response to the terrain of animated trails on an accompanying tablet.
The trainer itself is gimbal-mounted on a stable base, and communicates via Bluetooth with an included 14-inch touchscreen tablet that sits above the handlebars. That tablet in turn comes with several trails preloaded, plus it can access others from the company website using its built-in Wi-Fi.
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When the user starts out, they see a first-person view of the trail they've chosen, with an avatar of their handlebars visible at the bottom of the screen – real-time stats including heart rate, speed, distance traveled and calories burned are also displayed. As their real-world pedaling speed increases or decreases, their on-screen speed changes accordingly. Additionally, they experience either more or less pedaling resistance as they encounter virtual ascents and descents, plus the trainer tips back or leans forward to simulate riding up and down those hills.
As the pedaling resistance changes, the user can push bar-mounted shift buttons to change gears as needed. On descents, they can also shave off unwanted speed using the two brake levers. A flywheel on the front of the trainer additionally produces more stability at higher speeds – just like in real life.
Of course, one of the other big disadvantages of indoor trainers is the fact that using them is typically a solo activity. As with the recently-announced Zwift system for road cyclists, however, the ebove addresses this problem with the ability to go on virtual group rides via the internet. These rides can be set up with other users through the company website, where it's also possible to keep track of one's own personal riding stats. When taking part in one of these "multiplayer" rides, the user is able to see avatars of the other riders on the trail with them, each one traveling at the speed set by its real-world counterpart.
Activetainment tells us that the ebove should be available later this year, with preorders due to begin soon. Pricing has yet to be announced. In the meantime, you can see it in use in the video below.
Needless to say, mountain bikers who don't like having to ride inside all winter might also just look into buying a fatbike.