At CES 2019 following the Vive press conference, we tried yet another quirky solution for VR traversal called the NordicTrack Virtual Reality Bike. Combining gaming and fitness, the NordicTrack Virtual Reality Bike brings a new way to explore fantasy worlds while getting in a healthy dose of cardio.
It’s a strange take on VR traversal that works better than you might think. The NordicTrack VR bike may seem like an ordinary stationary bike, but its unassuming look is a blend of features that work surprisingly well together.
After climbing on, we put on a Vive Focus headset and started a demo called The Aeronauts, one of three unique games developed specially for the bike. As we began to pedal, we took off into the sky, following a path of gold rings that took us on a scenic ride over the ocean and through some mountains.
Even with a clear goal, it was tempting to go off the path and explore the world in this new, unusual way. Steering the bike required pushing, pulling, and turning the handlebars, which not only act as a controller but also keeps you steady.
As you ascend and descend on your path through the rings, the bike responds by moving up and down. It was a fascinating feature to witness, watching the bike as it pulled downward and upward, making the most of its 10 percent incline and decline. All the while, a workout fan blows cool air that adjusts its intensity based on your speed.
The mix of stimuli made the experience fun, immersive and, at times, a little overwhelming. Steering, pedaling, and moving the handlebars was almost over-stimulating, and the demo left us a bit dizzy. I hope it’s something you can get used to, because it is an adrenaline rush you’ll want to experience again.
Many of the design choices in the NordicTrack VR Bike may become standard to fitness equipment. Yet it’s the addition of gamification that makes it stand out. Motivation is often a problem for people who exercise using stationary equipment, and virtual reality is an effective solution to that problem.
Getting fit with a headset on your head won’t be cheap. Set to release in the Summer of 2019, the NordicTrack VR Bike will sell for $2000. This includes the HTC Vive Focus VR headset and 1-Year iFit Membership. That’s a hefty price to pay, but to be fair, stationary exercise machines are often priced above $1,000.
The NordicTrack VR Bike could certainly interest a health conscious tech enthusiast with money to spare, and we can also see it as the popular, new workout machine at your local gym, one that’ll help keep you motivated even as you pedal in place.