Valuable a conditioning tool as stationary bikes are, any avid cyclist will tell you that they're nowhere near as good as being out on the open road. One of the differences between real cycling and indoor training is the fact that when riders are on the road, the topography of the area determines the pedaling effort required. By contrast, when on a stationary bike, riders usually just vary their output as they feel like it. In an attempt to make indoor training more like the real thing, Pro-Form's Le Tour de France Indoor Cycle lets users choose or create real-world routes using Google Maps, then adjusts the angle of the riding platform to replicate the experience of riding up and down those roads.

Using Pro-Form's iFit Live technology in conjunction with Google Maps, riders can select one of 24 pre-mapped routes, or they can create their own. The Le Tour de France's control panel will then display a satellite image of the chosen area with the route marked on it, indicating the cyclist's current position within that route. As the grade increases or decreases on the map, the bike tilts forward or backward by up to 20 percent accordingly. The display also indicates the amount of the incline or decline that is currently being simulated.

Wind resistance is also added into the mix, the amount of which is determined by the bike's Intelligent Wind Resistance system. It creates a rider's "wind profile" based on their height and weight, then automatically sets the device's magnetic resistance to replicate the amount of aerodynamic drag that the rider would be experiencing at the current point in their virtual journey.

The Le Tour de France Indoor Cycle sells for US$1,299, and can purchased via the Pro-Form website.

Source: engadget