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Transportation Technology

Tilting Bike Uses Google Maps To Simulate Routes 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the google-is-in-all-the-things-now dept.
cylonlover writes "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."
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Tilting Bike Uses Google Maps To Simulate Routes

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  • At first I thought they were talking about left/right tilting for fast cornering... Now THAT would be hard to replicate on a stationary bike.
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Shouldn't be too difficult - unless you corner so hard it feels like you're on a wall of death.

      I want to know if they can do downhill freewheeling with a nice cooling breeze in your face. I could do that for hours...

      • Re:Camber (Score:5, Funny)

        by SharpFang (651121) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @06:43AM (#36670248) Homepage Journal

        Add a showerhead to simulate rain, and some kind of bumpers on the sides to give impressions of trucks clipping you, and you've almost got the real thing!

        • by jamesh (87723)

          Don't forget about the mud nozzle behind you to squirt a line of muddy water droplets up and down your back.

          • by xaxa (988988)

            Don't forget about the mud nozzle behind you to squirt a line of muddy water droplets up and down your back.

            Like most bikes intended for non-leisure use, and not purchased from a supermarket, my bike has mudguards :-)

            How about a giant fan to provide a headwind? And will the whole thing be stolen every few years?

            • by Rogerborg (306625)
              Ooh, ooh, and some way to simulate jumping onto the pavement at speed and then running down an old lady. Exervise the skills we'll actually use in the real world!
              • by Sique (173459)

                There is a very cheap simulation for that simulation. It's called a bike.

              • by xaxa (988988)

                Ooh, ooh, and some way to simulate jumping onto the pavement at speed and then running down an old lady. Exervise the skills we'll actually use in the real world!

                So far I've only managed to hit a child* and near-miss a woman**, but I'm practising all the time :-|

                * He ran out into the road, but I'd 98% stopped by the time I hit him; fortunately he wasn't hurt. (He apologised a lot in French, so maybe he looked the wrong way before stepping out (or maybe not). Another time I was on a bus that hit an American at night (4am) in central London on Valentine's Day. He'd walked out looking the wrong way, according to his distraught girlfriend. He wasn't OK, blood and cuts a

              • And a car door operated by a pneumatic ram...

                IRL, one just missed cutting off my little finger.

            • And will the whole thing be stolen every few years?

              Every few years?!? Lucky you!

            • by jamesh (87723)

              My mudguards just used to get packed with mud, sticks, etc or fall off so i'd normally just preemptively remove them.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      At first I thought they were talking about left/right tilting for fast cornering... Now THAT would be hard to replicate on a stationary bike.

      Theoretically, not so hard... just need to put the bike in an elevator synchronized for the extra centrifugal force (assuming that the cyclist doesn't circle a virtual roundabout forever).

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        That sounds crazy but it might work in practice...put the simulator on the end of a long arm that can spin around (like one of those astronaut centrifuges we see on TV). When you go around a corner, spin it up.

        Oh, wait, that only simulates turning left. Bummer.

        • by AJH16 (940784)

          You just need to be able to rotate the bike around to switch directions, you could also face it in or out in order to simulate accelerating and decelerating.

        • by c0lo (1497653)

          Oh, wait, that only simulates turning left. Bummer.

          Not quite correct - the rotation direction of the centrifuge is irrelevant.

          In reality, a turn correctly taken will result in the internal ear still detecting the vertical (even if the eye will tell you something else) and your body an extra "gravitational pull" (the centrifuge force).
          In the simulated environ able to recreate extra g-forces, you would only need only keep the bicycle aligned to the "vertical", visually isolate it and replace the view in from of the cyclist with a tilting scenery.

          (as a homewo

      • Just tilt the bike the opposite direction. The direction of the vector could be correct, even if the felt magnitude isn't.
        • Whatever geekery one might apply to the stationary bike, there is nothing that can be done about the fact that they are just plain boring to use. Sure, we can try using fans to simulate headwind and maybe play porn movies to alleviate the boredom (though the combination of a bike saddle, exercise and a hard-on doesn't entice me much for some reason).

          But for a comparatively small outlay we can buy an OK bike and take advantage of some interaction with the Outside World(TM). Even better if we can use the ma
          • by paiute (550198)

            Whatever geekery one might apply to the stationary bike, there is nothing that can be done about the fact that they are just plain boring to use.

            Not with the chainsaw option.

          • by mattack2 (1165421)

            Whatever geekery one might apply to the stationary bike, there is nothing that can be done about the fact that they are just plain boring to use.

            Watch TV while riding it?

            I walk on a treadmill while watching TV. Because I can veg out is the reason I've made myself walk on the treadmill consistently.

            Even if I were on a bike outside, I'd at least want to listen to music/podcasts, which makes things more dangerous.

    • by fafaforza (248976)

      The bike would be leaning in that case.

    • by scheme (19778)

      At first I thought they were talking about left/right tilting for fast cornering... Now THAT would be hard to replicate on a stationary bike.

      Not really, kurt kinetic's rock and roll trainer already lets you do that in part.

    • by GooberToo (74388)

      They had this in a gym I went to twenty years ago. Yawn. Twenty year old technology is suddenly slashdot worthy?

      Holy shit slashdot has fallen.

    • Re:Camber (Score:4, Informative)

      by strength_of_10_men (967050) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @08:38AM (#36670788)
      There is a spinning bike that leans left/right [realryder.com], but after having tried, it, i can say that it in no way reproduces "real" cycling. It's more of a gimmick than anything else.
      • by Kyont (145761)

        Not having tried it, I'm not surprised to hear that. Unless they can somehow simulate the centripetal force (jump in, pedants) from turning a corner when you lean, I'd have trouble believing it would be anything more than gimmicky. In fact, sounds downright terrifying. Note: I is a mechanical engineer and cyclist, but could still be wrong.

    • At first I thought they were talking about left/right tilting for fast cornering... Now THAT would be hard to replicate on a stationary bike.

      I thought it would involve lances or something, and was similarly disappointed.

    • Computer monitored Indoor training has replaced road work for many riders to the extent that they can produce the wattage to ride fast, but are incompetent in basic driving skills. This can be seen even at the elite levels with crashes in the straight aways and cornering without the slightest calculation of the apex.

      Admitted, I am an old bastard who raced in wool shorts, toe straps, leather shoes, leather helmets and analog gearing where a ten speed meant 5 cogs and two chain rings. An American, I was ra
  • Spoken like someone who apparently has ridden neither exercise bikes, nor real bikes. You can vary the resistance of exercise bikes, and you are also free to vary gears and/or pedalling effort on a real bike. The news here is the Google Maps routes for exercise bikes bit.

    • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @05:32AM (#36670002)

      Perhaps more to the point, any exercise bike with a computer-controlled resistance is likely to have a variety of profiles where the resistance is increased/decreased automatically. Unlike the Google-inspired routes, they also tend to be designed for specific purposes.. training for climbing, training for endurance, training for just building muscle, etc.

      I can see where it could be useful, however - if somebody rides a particular route outside quite regularly but a giant dust storm (hi Phoenix!) decides to screw their schedule.. load the route into the trainer's computer and off you go. But I rather suspect the experience will still be nowhere near the same in terms of the particular resistance given.

      So in general I enjoy the geek factor, but practical use seems limited; as with most things in life, I suppose.

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        So in general I enjoy the geek factor, but practical use seems limited; as with most things in life, I suppose.

        Hang on! Don't go further... it is not a FA about iPhone, Android or Facebook.

      • by delinear (991444)
        Could be interesting for cycling fanatics if it let you ride famouse bike race routes from the comfort of your own home.
        • by rjstanford (69735)

          Like this [computrainer.com], for example? This is not a new product - possibly its a slight convenience tool in making it easier to put together courses, but the GPS -> grade-specific training file process isn't that hard now, and often contains much finer elevation change information than the Google Maps version, especially when taken with a device that supports barometric altitude like an Edge.

          The new CycleOps has announced support for video cameras, making it easier to get a full "re-ride" experience if you ride with

      • by cptdondo (59460)

        I used to go to a gym where they had tilting recumbents, all wired together. The bikes had a big fan you drove with the pedals; the harder you went the more wind in your face. They had a big monitor to show you where you were. You could race preset courses against other riders on the network, or you could race against the computer.

        These things were cool! If you ran into something like a wall or a tree, the pedals would lock up. You could ride under water and have to dodge fish.

        I'm an endurance cyclist

    • Well going up a steep hill even if you are on the lowest gear is still a lot harder going flat on high gear. I cant talk about pros but myself I feel the urge to try to bike at the same speed. So while I am in in low gear I am peddling faster up the hill burring a lot more energy.

      • by erroneus (253617)

        The real secret is to keep your peddling speed and applied force as constant as possible. This means the gear system must be used to help regulate that. Speed is also a consideration for some people, but I don't ride for speed or time.

    • by orange47 (1519059)
      however, there is a difference between resistance and tilting: your position relative to bike/ground.

      in any case, nothing beats the real thing.
    • Back in 1995 I had a summer membership at Golds Gym. They had two recumbant excercise bikes there that both had large monitors in front of them. It was a virtual reality thing (yes, that was the craze back then). There was a virtual world (graphics were decent, but not fantastic), and as you went up-hill, or downhill, the resistance would change. You could also lean to turn.

      Both the bikes were networked together. My buddy and I would race, and cut off the road, and over fields (hitting sheep and other

      • Damn. That sounds hilarious :) Keeping it interesting is definitely the way to go, then you don't even realise you've been "exercising". Which is why I stopped going to the gym and prefer instead to do Parkour.

        • Damn. That sounds hilarious :) Keeping it interesting is definitely the way to go, then you don't even realise you've been "exercising". Which is why I stopped going to the gym and prefer instead to do Parkour.

          Parkour? What? Are you too lazy to go around an obstacle?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just tilting the bike would not increase the effort required by the user, unless they had some variable system in it that would make peddling more difficult, and then they could even simulate gear changes needing different peddling power for different situations.

    • At least with bikes it's fairly trivial to add resistance. The one I've never understood is when they incline a treadmill. I mean, surely people realize that running up an incline is challenging because you are physically *moving* your body in opposition to gravity. Tilting a treadmill just forces you to raise your knees higher when you run, which is a bit harder, I suppose, but not at all analogous.
      • by karnal (22275)

        I thought the same as you; but have recently gotten back into running (real-world) and thought "Meh, increasing incline doesn't do anything." Then I tried it. Holy hell. The incline increase forces you to use different muscles - even though the motor is still powering the belt underneath, you utilize more of your calves on a sharper incline. Seems to mimic more of a hill than one would normally think as you have to adjust your balance to stay upright.

        • Well yeah, that's a good point about using different muscles. It's essentially a different running technique, so even if you aren't actually fighting gravity, you are using your legs in a different way. So it's not that it doesn't do anything, it's just not really like running up a hill.
        • by vux984 (928602)

          No, its exactly the same as a hill. You are absolutely climbing, your upward movement is just cancelled out by the downward movement of the treadmill, just as your forward movement is cancelled out by the reverse motion of the treadmill.

          Make no mistake, you ARE climbing in opposition to gravity on an inclined treadmill, not merely working different muscles.

      • by vux984 (928602)

        The one I've never understood is when they incline a treadmill. I mean, surely people realize that running up an incline is challenging because you are physically *moving* your body in opposition to gravity. Tilting a treadmill just forces you to raise your knees higher when you run, which is a bit harder, I suppose, but not at all analogous.

        -facepalm-

        Tilting a treadmill is exactly the same as running up a hill, in that you are moving your body up an inclined plane in opposition to gravity.

        Its just that you

        • Hmmmm.... good point. Maybe it has to do with the way I run. A treadmill requires you to remain stationary, which is equivalent to maintaining a constant velocity, and a constant velocity eliminates inertia as a concern. Running on an actual hill could have some inefficiencies due to variance in the vertical component of velocity, which might make the force of your strides spike higher and trough lower... Or maybe the difference is all in wind resistance. I always thought running up an inclined treadmi
    • Yeah, that was my thought as well. IMO the tilting is a rather small part of making it feel real; pedal resistance is a much bigger factor. The article mentions that they can simulate wind resistance (so the system has the ability to vary the amount of pedaling effort required), but nowhere does it say that they actually tie this in to the inclination data.
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Why would it have a system to make ambulatory salesmanship more difficult?

      A system which increases the torque needed to turn the crank would seem more useful...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why not link this with Google StreetView, so you can get a real impression of where you are 'virtually' riding?

    • by Compaqt (1758360)

      Oh, and also integrate that smell-producing machine that was on Slashdot a few weeks ago so you can smell what the route would have smelt like (flowers, fruit trees, landfill, whatever).

      And also hook in the sprinkler system and HVAC for virtual weather (heat/cold/humidity up/down), so you can experience exactly the kind of weather you'd have if you were really outside.

      And also hook in street/trafffic cams so you can hear the sounds you would have heard if you deigned to go into the big room [urbandictionary.com] with the blue ce [wikipedia.org]

      • by styrotech (136124)

        Screw that - I want to be able to simulate being in a room when I'm riding my bike to/from work.

        eg comfy temperature and humidity, no head winds or rain, and no treacherous oil slicks left by badly maintained buses. Oh and it should simulate watching TV and not having to pedal.

        It could be like an outdoor couch trainer.

        • by Compaqt (1758360)

          Hey, that's a great idea!

          Simulate being in the small room, while actually being in the big room.

          We could add a display monitor that'd double as a TV. Also, maybe we could hook into a global network of satellites to try to figure out where you are (to avoid having to open the portals of simulator and ask biological beings where you are).

          To avoid pedaling effort, we'll add some kind of device that takes petroleum distillate, burns & explodes it, and produces a turning motion. Voila, no pedaling!

          Of couse,

          • by styrotech (136124)

            Pfft! Big deal - that's already been done. I saw those at a gym in 1995 back when virtual reality was all the rage.

            They weren't installed yet though - there were dozens of them all lined up outside. But they were all unwrapped and looked like they were ready to go. I wasn't quite sure how they were going to fit them all inside though.

  • Years ago while working on ergonomics we got a request to speed up traffic through tunnels. Drivers had no reference enough to the environment and pushed the gas pedal only when the car slowed down on the climb out. Lines on the tunnel walls that represented the actual level and even inclined a bit against the actual level did wonders. Drivers anticipated and pushed the gas pedal earlier.

    • by xaxa (988988)

      I notice this walking through tunnels between underground stations. One of the tunnels between different lines at King's Cross St Pancras (London) is very steep, but the tiles/lines/decor is all parallel with the floor. It's quite disconcerting.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Around here the city has been giving away trees for planting in the parking strip along city streets. Part of the reason why is the effect they have on pollution, but the other reason is that it tends to cause traffic to slow a bit and obey the speed limit.

      I was somewhat skeptical myself, but I noticed that although I'm not one for speeding, that I would want to speed along streets with long stretches of nothing along one or both sides. It just seemed like I was getting nowhere even when I was going precise

  • What about simulating pot-holes, sleeping policemen, traffic lights, etc. You set it to Hard Core Bike Courier mode and have buses pull out or car doors swing open in front of you and if you don't swerve or stop the bike ejects you forward like Buck-a-Roo.
  • How does an ordinary mortal like me access this info?

  • WTF. Is the news day that slow?

  • I guess the only newsworthy thing is that you can use Google maps. I already tried out an exercise bike back in the 90s which used a video/large TV combo together with a course profile which was used to vary the resistance of the bike. So you could choose from a variety of recorded courses (e.g. Tour de France stages, etc.), put the video plus the course profile into the machine, and then when e.g. you saw a climb on the video, the resistance of the bike increased accordingly. So the only difference between

  • Why not go get a push bike and actually go outside and cycle? Hell, if you really must go to the gym, cycle to it and back.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      because it's 119 degrees outside, or it's raining, or there's a crazy head wind, or you're afraid of becoming roadkill, etc. And many don't like gyms. Some people who are very introverted, like myself, would rather not spend our limited social energy on strangers at the gym. So, Hell, do what ever suits you.

    • It sounds like you live in a climate where biking in the winter months isn't considerably dangerous.
  • multi-player where you cut off other bikes, crashes, noises, etc
  • Equivalent functionality has been available for years. For example: Computrainer from http://www.racermateinc.com/ [racermateinc.com] (popular in the USA) or Fortius from http://www.tacx.com/ [tacx.com] (popular in Europe)
  • The technology has been around for years, when I was in college they had bikes there where you would pick a course and the course would project on the screen looking like a video game with other riders. The pedaling resistance would increase and decrease as you would go up and down hills and you have to turn the bike and shift gears as well. Only difference here is the Google maps, which just seems like it is more advanced technology that would cost more, with no real upgrade to the training.
  • That way you can see the actual surroundings. Also, periodically the street view car comes by, the bike forces you to slow down so you can get off, turn your back and cover your face while waiting for it to pass.
  • http://www.tacxvr.com/en/products/tacx-trainer-software-real-life-video [tacxvr.com]

    or, perhaps:

    http://www.computrainer.com/rm_inc/IRCVideos.htm [computrainer.com]

    Both products have been available for many years. The Tacx unit has an available steering head, so while you can' t lean the whole bike, you can turn and interact with the course. While the forward/backwards tilting is a new innovation, the interactive virtual trainer certainly is not. Both calculate wind resistance based on height and weight, resistance, etc. Both offer b

  • I want to see it simulate a pot hole in NYC
  • While that's cool and all, why stop with real-world environments? You can ride in the real world any day. Instead, load up Google Mars [google.com] and cycle up to the summit of Olympus Mons. Or ride Mario Kart's Rainbow Road [mariowiki.com]. Or heck, glide through the air on a vaguely steampunk-ish ornithropter [arcade-museum.com] popping balloons for points. Reality is for people with tiny imaginations.

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