Tilting bike uses Google Maps to simulate riding in different parts of the world


July 5, 2011

The Le Tour de France Indoor Cycle replicates riding on routes selected via Google Maps, simulating the area's incline or decline by tilting the riding platform (Photo: Pro-Form)

The Le Tour de France Indoor Cycle replicates riding on routes selected via Google Maps, simulating the area's incline or decline by tilting the riding platform (Photo: Pro-Form)

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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

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

I\'ve always wanted to cycle up Everest.

Adrian Bancilhon

Doesn\'t give any simulation of cornering, though. And no, just having the bike tilt wouldn\'t give the right sensation, as anyone who used to play the old Hang On motorcycle videogame back in the 1980s can attest. Once that bike was tilted, it felt tilted and stayed tilted, not like it was balanced by centrifugal force. Also, no simulation of climbing out of the saddle with bike rocking beneath you.


Can it simulate an upright cruiser bike as well as the back breaking, hunched over racing bike position?

Gregg Eshelman

It would have to automatically change the toughness of pedalling while \"going up a hill\", because then it wouldn\'t be very realistic. It think it\'s a nice idea, though.


The bike does give you the realistic feel when going uphill or downhill. You control the \"gears\" up and down on the control panel. The incline is very real and you adjust the pedal stroke witht the gears. You can climb out of the saddle and get the real feel just like a road bike.


I ordered the Tour de France bike from the company's Web site. I liked its ability to work with, so that you could map a route using a Google Maps extension that iFit has, then download it to your bike and ride that route.

When the bike came, I had paid for delivery to the second floor--but the delivery team wanted to leave it in the garage. We spend about ten days working out that problem--ten days that were a lot worse than they needed to be because the company takes 15 minutes to a half hour to answer the phone when you call.

Finally it was installed in my home gym. The machine looks good--it's sturdy and well made, and it's silent when you ride it. Quality looks really good.

Sadly, though, all I could ride was the Tour de France routes that are baked into it. Although I'm an engineer and work with the Internet all the time, I could not get the iFit connection to work. I spent a number of hours reviewing every aspect of it, but just couldn't make it work.

So I called their support. What agony! They ask you to leave them your phone number and then they call you back at "the earliest opportunity." Would you believe 6 hours later? The person who talked to me, once I described the problem, said "You'll have to talk to our IT people" and he put me on hold! So once again I heard the familiar music of their on-hold system. After fifteen minutes I gave up.

I know that my experience isn't unusual. An employee told me that although they have 100 help operators, after about 8 am the wait typically grows to 700 customers. So my multi-hour wait to work out what may be a simple problem is the daily routine, not anything unusual. It's clear that this company, while making a good product, is simply not committing the resources it needs to its support obligations.

I also posted a review with this information on their site. The review didn't appear on the site--instead I got an email offering to schedule a support call for me to help me get it working. I decided that I'd still have to contend with their regular support if I ever needed help again, so passed on that offer. I have been checking out their site, and my review never appeared. That's why they don't have reviews on their site that complain about their rotten service--they don't post them!

So I used my guarantee and they're picking it up at my house and taking it back. This is a product that's not as useful if it doesn't work with the Internet, so you really need their support. And trust me, their support, although you need it, is something you do not want to deal with.

Dave Roberts Potomac, Md.

Dave Roberts

OK 24 Digital gears?? The front crankset allows a 53/39?? it also allows a triple??? the back cassette allows for a 11-28 so are we to assume the triple inthe front is a 48-38-28

Perhapes the engineers who built this can pipe in and shed what the true "Digital Gearing" is

Seriously Proform-you put out a product with some pro riding it and dont even present a technical explanation of the gearing! And to the pro endorsing it-Dude-your image is on this-Do your homework about a company not presenitng technical facts!


For starters, love the bike... thanks ProForm. This is a far more engaging experience for a stationary bike than any other on the market.

However, iFit's complete incompetence is a bit of a downer. For starters, the (new) website is difficult to navigate. I spent 20 mins on the phone with a customer support rep who was very nice, but had to consult an expert to figure out how to add a workout to my schedule.

Need support? Expect to wait 10-15 minutes on hold. I used the call-back function one day - it was supposed to maintain my place in the queue but the call came in over 2hrs after I hung up. Glad I didn't wait on hold.

Looking for a departure from the included Tour de France courses? You can create your own, but don't expect any additional content to be included with your subscription. Runners get this, but the company released a new workout program for the bike with a $14.99 price tag... on top of my subscription. Lame.

Want to use the street view - sorry, that broke with the new redesign also.

Do you have an Android device? Don't look for a mobile app for your bike.

I won't return the bike... it really is nice. But it would be great if there were options beyond iFit for content.

Jonathan Porterfield

iFit is crap, the login on the bike is crap, I have logged in 15 times, I have only used the bike 7 times, and it takes for ever., I gave up I won't do it again......

I have never been able to use street view, which is reason why I bought it.

The bike is ok, a bit weak up front, but is generally ok, all up not worth the money in my view.

Is anyone from iFit reading this, good, go back to the drawing board.

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