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PowerWheel is designed to make your race bike go ... slower?

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September 16, 2011

The PowerWheel and SlowWheel (hub pictured here) are resistance training wheels for road r...

The PowerWheel and SlowWheel (hub pictured here) are resistance training wheels for road racing cyclists

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... and why on Earth, you may ask, would you want to go slower? Well, because it requires more effort to make a slow bike go fast, and the more effort you put into your training rides, the faster you'll go when you swap in a regular front wheel on race day. That's the idea behind the new PowerWheel and SlowWheel, made by TriSport Devices.

The company compares the idea to drag chutes for runners, or weight vests for football players - it's resistance training.

The PowerWheel replaces a bike's regular front wheel and features seven levels of resistance, which can be adjusted using a knob on the hub when the bicycle is stopped. Its sister product the SlowWheel offers three levels, while both models also allow the user to completely turn off the resistance.

That resistance is created when a couple of rotating centrifugal masses in the hub pull on a cam as they rotate, the tips of that cam in turn coming into contact with an array of resiliently deformable blades. The faster the wheel rotates, the farther the cam is pulled into the blades, and the greater the resistance. When the user selects a higher level of resistance, the curvature of the blades is increased.

At speeds below 6 mph (10 km/h) the resistance is disengaged, to make both handling and starting from a standstill easier. It is also disengaged at speeds above 30 mph (45 km/h), as such speeds would typically indicate a downhill descent, which could cause the hub to overheat if it were engaged.

The PowerWheel and SlowWheel are resistance training wheels for road racing cyclists

Besides its value on regular training rides, TriSport suggests that the wheel could also be useful for holding one's self back when training with a slower rider, or for maximizing the benefit of short-duration rides.

Richard Lewis, an independent inventor, came up with an interesting take on the same idea. His Gear-Head Cycling Trainer is sort of like a traditional resistance trainer that mounts on the rear wheel, except it has a gear reduction system that drives little rubber wheels of its own, so it slowly propels your bike forward while you pedal at high speeds in high gears.

The PowerWheel and SlowWheel concepts are currently on display at the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas, and are reportedly available for preorder, although prices have yet to be announced. Contact information is available on the TriSport website.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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11 Comments

A small drag parachute, or an old headlight generator would do the same thing and probably be a lot cheaper.

Slowburn
16th September, 2011 @ 10:41 pm PDT

Get some wider tires, lower the air pressure quite to the lowest recommended PSI, add some Mr. Tuffy or other tire liners and some True Goo sealant. Voila! Slow wheels. And a lot cheaper. Or train on a cheap mountain bike with drop bars, same riding position and fat knobbies at 40-50psi (sealant and liners optional). Or if you have disc brakes, just keep light pressure on the levers continuously as you pedal. You'll have to replace brake pads and rotors more often, but this contraption will need the cam and "resiliently deformable blades" replaced on a regular basis, as well. If you don't want your fingers to get tired, wrap Velcro straps around the brake levers to apply the light pressure or use the cable adjuster barrels or disc pad adjustment knobs to take up all slack. Not as good an idea with rim brakes since you don't want to have to rebuild wheels with new rims often.

Gadgeteer
17th September, 2011 @ 12:58 pm PDT

Most bikes have gears; more resistance can be achieved simply by shifting. Similarly, one can just try to go faster, since wind resistance increases at an exponential rate (and is free). Regardless, lack of strength is relatively unlikely to be a problem compared to sub-optimal aerobic fitness--consider that elite cyclists are more prone to blood doping than steroid use. Muscles are worthless if they can't get enough oxygen, and the extra weight is a penalty when going uphill.

dreamer.redeemer
17th September, 2011 @ 01:50 pm PDT

Re; dreamer.redeemer

The point is to train for a higher speed while going slower for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to, to ride with a "lesser" rider, speed limits.

Taping playing cards to your spokes would also work.

Slowburn
17th September, 2011 @ 11:36 pm PDT

Because if there's one thing that is proven to sell gadgets and inventions, it's the way they make someone's life harder. *rolls eyes*

Facebook User
18th September, 2011 @ 02:09 am PDT

Or just find a hill...

Keith Reeder
18th September, 2011 @ 08:24 am PDT

dreamer,

Higher gears don't provide the other benefits they claim, "TriSport suggests that the wheel could also be useful for holding one's self back when training with a slower rider, or for maximizing the benefit of short-duration rides." Sometimes, you don't have time to get out to the open road and it's impossible to go full speed on city streets without endangering yourself or others.

Gadgeteer
18th September, 2011 @ 11:19 am PDT

LOL - Epic Answers to a Stupid IDEA.

Ahhh the OLD CRAP plain sleeve bearing bottle generators and kind of flat dirt bike tires...

I'd actually like to see the tour of Frangers, done in REAL STYLE, using proper old chinese rickshaws, with the fold over roof, and 2 of the biggest fattest Australian tourists as passengers - making regular hamburger, ice cream and toilet stops.....

Actually if you really did want resistance training - that would beat everything.

Mr Stiffy
18th September, 2011 @ 07:49 pm PDT

I wonder if there is any additional strain on the dropouts. And also, I wonder if the resistance of the front hub could cause a wash-out in a low-grip situation (such as cycling on wet/greasy/frosty winter roads).

lewisantonearl
19th September, 2011 @ 08:36 am PDT

I have an electric bike, and when I want it to pull me up the hill I touch the throttle. To slow down, or have resistance training, I just put in in "reverse mode".

Why not just buy a stationary bike, and put wheels on it?

Or, why not..... are you kidding me???!!!!

Gary Ares
19th September, 2011 @ 10:34 am PDT

With the deformable blades, I wonder if it makes "motorbike" sounds like clipping playing cards to the frame for the spokes to hit?

Gregg Eshelman
19th September, 2011 @ 07:54 pm PDT
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