Equipment: The CompuTrainer

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, March 1996

Equipment: The CompuTrainer
By Oliver Starr

Preseason rites such as indoor training have led many a cyclist to consider February and March the cruelest of months. The monotony of spinning to the drone of rollers can make vacuuming the carpet seem a preferable rec-room activity.

The CompuTrainer, however, provides the forward-looking cyclist with interactive diversion of almost Mystlike magnitude--and an accurate measure of fitness from which to start spring. The system consists of a bicycle stand, a computer-controlled load generator to regulate resistance, a heart-rate sensor that clips to your ear, and interactive software that runs on your Nintendo machine and offers myriad training and testing programs. It's also being used by the likes of the U.S. Cycling Team.

Resistance, which you control with a handlebar-mounted microprocessor, ranges from 50 watts (almost coasting) to 750 watts (beyond Indurain). You can use the unit in stand-alone mode or hook it up to your TV to race against an on-screen computer opponent; either way, you get data on elapsed time, distance covered, speed, heart rate, and your output in calories and watts.

My one complaint, that the heart-rate monitor isn't wireless, is minor. What's tougher is the ego-bruising that comes from losing repeatedly to a virtual competitor. But for the precision ergometer complete with entertainment value, I'll come to terms with getting dropped by the CompuTrainer.

$1,249. From RacerMate Inc., 3016 N.E. Blakeley St., Seattle, WA 98105; 800-522-3610.

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