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The small on-site gym at work just upgraded to a set of fancy new gym bike machine at work. I occasionally dedicate my lunch hour to a quick workout, so new machines were a nice change. The exercise bike machines they replaced were standard and equipped with personal TV screens with access to cable channels. These upgraded gym bike machines not only have a larger screen, but have been gamified with with interactive games and challenges.
Having used both the old machine and the new machine, I can say the gamification of the bike machine by Expresso is pure genius. In Race mode, a virtual world is created where a bike path is displayed on-screen. The path curves left and right and there is elevation change in the route. But what's most differentiating is the handle bars are now interactive to control direction.
The biggest change on these Expresso gym bikes are that my workout is distance based than time based. On the old machine, I would generally select a 30 or 60 minute workout, depending on how much time I had to spare. This often lead to slow pedaling, just to get through the time. There wasn't a motivational drive to get me to pedal faster. On the Expresso bike machine, I choose a difficulty level and a distance. The harder the difficulty, the more elevation gain, which automatically scales the difficulty machine. When there is a big incline (like a mountain), the difficulty is increased. The opposite is true for downhill sections. The equalizer here if you're concerned about the hills are the bike machine is equipped with gear shift controls on both sides of a of handles, very similar to a real bike.
With these tools offered on the Expresso bike machine, my workout is now more engaged and focused on performance, rather than time. With the computer AI bikers, pedaling slowly means I will get passed, which nobody likes. Lastly, what makes this bike machine different is the handle bars move like a real bike. When its time to turn on the course, you turn the handle bars to simulate turning.
Other features that are available when you login are ghosts. Ghosts are mimics of your previous times on the map that allow you to challenge your previous personal record on a particular map. If there are multiple machines in your gym, logging in also allows you to challenge friends or others in your gym. Creating an account is free and can be done either on the bike machine or on your computer.
Though it's a huge improvement on top of other bike machines, there are still some improvements that can be made. Most noticeably are the low quality graphics. Being such large screen, I'd expect the graphics to be higher resolution. Additionally, the game itself is a bit basic, in that your character can pass right through computer cyclists on the screen. In general, these suggestions are minor and in no way affect the workout, which is the most important thing.
My biggest concern with these Expresso bikes in the gym is that they will be to popular and I'll have more difficulty finding one.