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Biking in style without ever leaving the house

A decade ago, a West L.A. endurance cyclist, body builder and personal trainer named Johnny Goldberg built a stationary bike that had the look and feel of a road racer and created the group aerobic exercise known as Spinning. Spinning classes remain popular, and now fitness equipment manufacturers are making inroads into the growing market for home and gym versions.

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Feels like the real thing

Star Trac Spinner NXT: Pricey spinning bike clad in rustproof aluminum skin.

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Likes: Same natural chain-drive feel, 43-pound flywheel and tension-adjust twist-knob as the original. Improved adjustable seat with infinite positioning. Built-in dual holders on handlebar fit all water bottle sizes. Convenient rubber plate at rear of base for stretching.

Dislikes: Expensive, considering there is no workout video or electronic feedback.

Price: $1,625. (800) 228-6635; www.startrac.com.

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Down a rougher road

Trixter X-Bike: The first stationary “mountain bike.”

Likes: Provides a full-body workout. You can stand and pull the articulating handlebar from side to side, simulating rocking the bike on a hill climb. It has a standard bicycle freewheel, so you can simulate coasting downhill (the fixed gear of other spin bikes keeps the pedals moving with the wheel). Includes training manual and a CD with two, 30-minute interval-training workouts.

Dislikes: Ability to coast may make workout too easy for those who enjoy nonstop pedal movement. No performance data console.

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Price: $1,299. www.trixter.net.

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Trekking for techies

CycleOps Pro 300 PT Indoor Cycle: Serious training machine with numerous built-in electronic readouts.

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Likes: Cool looks. Dashboard loaded with info: mph, distance traveled, time, heart rate, cadence, calories burned. Includes power output in watts -- important for gauging true ride effort. Ride data is downloadable to your PC; can be analyzed, graphed and compared to past rides via enclosed software. Nifty built-in water bottle holder on top tube. Heart-rate monitor strap included. Hand brake stops flywheel when you want to dismount quickly.

Dislikes: Resistance dial should be bigger and have numbers for more accurate setting. You’ll need to carefully read the manual to understand all the data functions.

Price: $1,699. (800) 783-7257; www.cycle-ops.com.

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On a silent streak

LeMond Fitness RevMaster: Very quiet spin bike.

Likes: Solid feel. Optional Pilot data readout console ($200) provides cadence, distance, calories burned, time and heart rate. Includes three workout DVDs. Virtually noiseless, so you can watch TV as you ride.

Dislikes: No built-in water bottle holder. Use of ultra-quiet belt rather than a standard chain makes it feel a bit less like a real bike than other models.

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Price: $1,095. (425) 482-6773; www.lemondfitness.com.

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-- Roy M. Wallack


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