So, I'm sure most of you have heard of Peloton, the somewhat cultish home bike system that uses an enormous android tablet to allow live and pre recorded spin classes to be blasted in the users face.
Now, I am not rich, I cannot afford an exercise bike that is close on £2000, nor the requisite subscription to use the classes for £39 a month... Also, what's the point in a blind guy having a 24 inch screen because, let's face it, that's what you're paying for.
I decided to create my own system for a fraction of the price and without being locked into any particular app.
Note: there are plenty of YouTube videos and blog posts spread across the wilderness of the web that cover the finer details, but I thought I'd talk about it from an accessibility perspective using apple hardware with a couple of little additions.
I purchased the Sunny 1805 bike in the UK for £330 though I have seen it go as low as £220 and as high as £470 on amazon. Note to UK purchasers, the warrantee does not extend outside the USA... Which is probably why it's so much cheaper.
it's basically a peloton bike without the digital hardware. No heart rate monitor, no cadence sensor, no screen, no speakers, just mechanical hardware and a magnetic 20 kg fly wheel.
Now, the Peloton app is completely accessible though, unlike apple fitness, does not have audio description and it is arguably more complicated than apple fitness in that not all information is called out and the cadence that is set does not necessarily fit to the beat of the music as it does with apple fitness, which is a great benefit to those of us with some rhythm.
I also purchased a Wahoo cadence sensor that connects to the Peloton app. Once in a ride you can tap on metrics at the bottom of the screen > cadence, and once connected, you can leave VoiceOver focus on the cadence which it will call out to you each time it updates, about every twenty seconds or so. As yet, apple fitness have not included cadence in their workouts but, as I said before, they work to the beat of the music which may make the addition redundant.
I use my Apple Watch as a heart rate sensor, AirPods to pump the beats into my brain and either my iPhone or iPad mini, depending which is closest to hand on the tablet stand on the bars.
This setup, though early days, seems pretty solid to me. There are a few things you don't get if you don't have the peloton full fat set up, leader boards, automatic resistance change and such, but for a fraction of the price, I'm still getting the majority of the benefits.
This also allows me, as you might have guessed, to jump back and forth from apple fitness to Peloton and, in the future to other apps.
Just one more thing, if you have an Apple TV hooked up and a fat sound system, you can really go for it as a lot of these apps have Apple TV counterparts.
It's often hard for us to find accessible means of exercising, I'm really glad I've got this. It has all the juicy metrics I crave, can see improvements, close my rings and generally gives me a mood boost.
Please don't hesitate to ask anything about the setup... Maybe I can't answer but I'm sure there will be others who have solutions.
Also, what biking apps do you recommend? Are there any games that exist similar to zombies run for the exercise bike?
now I need a shower... Yep, wrote this sweaty.
Not a bad idea!
See, and this would allow you to use the spin classes found in the Aaptive app, which is a totally audio workout app. Interesting. I have an apple watch, plenty of good sets of headphones, and if I really wanted the bike in my living room the Apple TV and sound system piece applies. Thanks for the interesting idea! I might be off to look at exercise bikes now.
It's actually fun, it kinda…
It's actually fun, it kinda gamifies a workout rather than just cycling into infinity.
As I say, the 1805 by sunny seems the best in that it's only mechanical rather than us paying for sensors and screens we can't use.
Good luck. It would be nice to have a bit of a apple tech based fitness group on here, exchanging ideas of how we use apple tech to workout safely and effectively.
Now for me, this would be a real motivating factor. I love going swimming and knowing I've done 1500 metres. sure, knowing I've also burnt 1300 callories in the process is nice but the distance is the main stat for me. It would make cycling a lot more fun if I knew I'd cycled 26 miles or whatever. Can you get that info with your setup? And is there any reason why this should not work wiht a cheaper bike?
You can't get distance,…
You can't get distance, unfortunately. The metric is really energy used, and power. I know what you mean, have a target of X miles that you keep trying to beat but, without knowing the resistance, your device won't be able to work out distance, which would be a function of cadence and resistance.
I imagine that you can get something like it with the full fat peloton setup and on other smart bikes but the accessibility of them varies though some will connect to your phone.
With my setup it's really just getting me moving. I do have metrics to beat but I always pick a 20 minute session, realise I should be doing 30, and it's just challenging yourself to push through it. On the peloton app there is a metric of how hard you worked, calculated through your heart rate, which is a good thing to chase. Distance, really, is a bit of an abstract idea and likely inaccurate when compared with real world situations, hills, weight of the bike, weather, and so on.
I suppose you could work out the number of calories you burn during a 20 mile ride and work it that way, which is similar to what an onboard computer will do.
Hope this helps.
Adding Tech to Non Tech Spin Bike
Great to read the tech solution on your Sunny Spin Bike, I have the JLL ic350 Pro spin bike and it likewise has no accessible features, there is a LCD monitor but I cannot read this,
My solution was like you to get the Wahoo RPM cadence sensor which can be mounted on the crank arm or on your shoe via the shoe mount provided, I have the Polar heart Rate Monitor armband as the old chest strap type kept sliding down to become a belt!
I use the www.fitdigits icardio app and on the indoor cycling mode it gives heart rate, speed, cadence (rpm) and distance, via the audio feedback feature you can get spoken feedback via your blue tooth headphones (or iphone) which can be set by your own preference such as every 3 minutes, how many calories burnt say every 50 and you can have heart rate zones set as name, number percentage in fact a real variety of feedback options to play around with, a new feature is a custom feedback which allows you to enter a prompt every few minutes to motivate you so it might be you ask it every ten minutes to say well done keep it up, or something I set this so I know where I am in my workout but with the audio feedback stats you get time elapsed anyway.
You can get a free trial of iCardio or I subscribe for just under £10 per year.
Worth taking a look as the app will pair to dozens of sensors, I have a polar stride footpod for on the treadmill and set the app to treadmill running and again it will feedback all the stats I choose.
My thoughts is where there is a will I try to find a way.