Although cycling is a great form of exercise, it does involve simply doing one thing over and over – rotating the legs forward. Bicycles like the Varibike have attempted to turn it into more of an overall workout, by getting the rider’s arms in on the action. biXe Italia, however, is taking another approach. Its namesake device reportedly allows riders to work different muscle groups, by pedaling forwards or backwards in order to move the bike forward.
In development since 2000, the biXe Gear takes the place of the usual bottom bracket and spider (the bit that the chainrings are bolted onto). An adapter sleeve ensures a good fit inside of the bottom bracket shell of an existing bike.
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Within the biXe is a gear system that turns any pedaling movement – in either direction – into forward movement of the spider. This means that conventional derailleurs can still be used, as the drivetrain is still ultimately turning in the usual direction.
There are currently three versions of biXe Gear available. The add-on device comes in road and mountain bike models, both of which weigh in at 952 grams (33.6 oz). Another model is being aimed more at bicycle manufacturers, to build into their bikes right from the start. It features a mechanical handlebar-mounted control, that lets riders turn off the biXe’s backward-pedaling feature when desired.
According to the company, sports medicine expert Dr. Giovanni Boni conducted tests using the biXe Gear, and concluded that it does indeed allow users to work a wider variety of muscles. By allowing riders to switch between pedaling directions, it also supposedly reduces wear on joints such as knees and ankles.
The road version of the device is priced at €360 (US$474), while the mountain bike model goes for €375 ($494). They can be seen in use in the Italian-language video below.