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Recumbent and upright bikes still the best for cardio

True recumbent bikeDespite the constantly growing number of cardio equipment options, upright and recumbent stationary bikes are holding their own, their status ensured by their ease of use, ongoing innovation, and increased interest in cycling.

Manufacturers report strong sales both in the U.S. and abroad. In the U.S., demand for recumbents remains high, due in part to their comfort and growth in the country’s aging and obese populations. Meanwhile, overseas, uprights sell more strongly, in part because of their smaller footprint.

Although stationary cycling is one of the oldest and most evolved cardio concepts, new bikes and refined features continue to emerge.

A recent entry to the market, for instance, is the commercial Turbo Trainer from Star Trac, which utilizes a distinctive isokinetic resistance mechanism to simultaneously deliver both an upper- and lower-body workout. As the user increases RPMs, the bike’s flywheel disperses air at a rate commensurate with the rider’s effort, assuring the comfort of everyone from a deconditioned exerciser to an elite athlete.

Unique approaches to configuration and resistance also have been introduced by First Degree Fitness. Its Fluid Cycle XT functions either as a recumbent bike or as an upper-body ergometer, moving in forward or reverse direction, and utilizes a patented, variable, water- based resistance system. “The Fluid Cycle XT allows people to enjoy their workouts a bit more by hearing and seeing the water in the tank, which is fun and effective,” points out Paul Trodd, the company’s national sales manager.

Some of the innovations in bikes are specifically designed to appeal to serious cycling enthusiasts, and to better replicate riding in the great outdoors. The g-force UT, from LeMond Fitness, Inc., for example, offers four adjustments for the seat and handlebar, a narrower pedal width, and a seat post that can accommodate any road bike saddle.

RealRyder upright bikeExpresso Fitness’ upright and recumbent bikes boast motion- control handlebars that steer and shift, and active resistance, which varies intensity as riders climb or descend. The company, moreover, attempts to engage riders and foster interaction with its Team Cardio turnkey programs, group rides, and live leaderboards.

“The sport of cycling is growing, and club owners should consider bikes with team-based and competitive features,” suggests Ross Stensrud, the chief marketing officer for Interactive Fitness, which manufactures Expresso bikes. “Competition and inclusivity are grow- ing in popularity, and being able to challenge friends and ride together as a team is motivating, as well as important for member acquisition and retention.”

“We expect this category to grow, particularly given the fact that many baby boomers, as well as the general public, are coming to appreciate how important regular exercise is,” predicts Dan Corkill, the product manager at Star Trac.




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