Snail-shaped stationary bike rises to the challenge of indoor training
Stationary exercise bikes are a great way to keep fit, but can be a bit mind-numbing. Hong Kong's Snailcle is looking to liven things up with a feature-packed – and adorable – smart bike with auto height adjustment, terrain-mimicking resistance and app-based virtual routes.
Hopping on a real bike and cycling outdoors can not only give you the workout you need over flats, climbs and curves but can also present a feast for the senses.
Such activities are often weather dependent though, meaning some dedicated road racers also have a stationary exercise bike in the spare room at home. These can certainly help keep you in trim, but can also be somewhat boring unless you've invested in something like a Peloton or other smart cycling platform that include streamed spin classes or virtual routes.
The Snailcle Smart Bike – which has been in development since May 2021 and is currently raising production funds on Kickstarter – falls into that latter camp, and is designed to make exercising at home engaging and fun.
This model will need to be plugged into a wall outlet for the onboard systems and EMS resistance to work. The resistance level can be adjusted manually over 36 levels using a traditional dial (which includes LED status lighting), but the snail-shaped bike is also reported to offer "realistic terrain effects" aimed at reproducing the feel of uphill climbs and downhill sprints by automatically altering the resistance at the pedals according to routes selected via an iOS/Android mobile app.
The startup is working with Unity to provide weekly cycling route updates to keep things fresh, and riders can view rolling scenes onscreen via a smartphone docked in a mid-handlebar cradle to help them get in the zone (though users can opt to cast the visuals to a big-screen TV as well). There's no leaning into the turns that you get with some setups, though.
The development team has cooked in one more method for resistance adjustment – onboard sensors can detect rider position so leaning back will ease off the resistance while adopting a forward stance with elbows close to or resting on the handlebars will let the system know that you mean business and the resistance is increased accordingly.
If the household has more than one stationary bike user, individual profiles and ride histories can be stored in the companion app, which means that riders can continue where they left off without too much hassle. And the Snailcle also includes motorized seat and handlebar height adjustment, which can be manually controlled using buttons on the side arms of the handlebar without the need to get off the bike, or can be applied from saved settings in those stored profiles.
The Snailcle team has turned to Kickstarter to raise production funds, where pledges currently start at HKD 3,915 (about US$500). If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in November. The video below has more.