Unlike those ordinary exercise bikes at the gym, the ones that (at best) plop you in front of some exercise ‘game’ on a flat display, the NordicTrack VR Bike makes you forget that you’re even pedaling.
“You have to continue to pedal, or else you’ll go down,” a NordicTrack representative told me as I sat transfixed upon what I was supposed to believe was an exercise bike.
In the meantime, I was airborne, navigating through mountain ridges and diving between golden rings as I shot down approaching targets. With my head stuck inside of an HTC Vive Focus headset, the only thing I wanted to do was explore the fantastical world I’d found myself in.
The game was called Aeronauts, one of the base fitness games that is slated to come with the entire $2000 package this upcoming summer. It was one of the most novel things I’ve played with thus far, and yet it felt like something I could imagine myself playing with every day.
In terms of technical specs: While I didn’t pay attention to the iFit resistance features, which the company claims let the user work with a personal trainer to adjust incline/decline and resistance, or even the details of the panel on the front of the bike (which contains vital information about the efficiency of the workout), I did notice the built-in fan blowing on me as I sped up. That was probably the coolest part of the entire demo. During moments where I could glide from ring to ring, the fan helped Aeronauts open up and make me feel alive.
However, some of the tighter turns made it difficult for me to telegraph whether to continue pedaling or slow down. Unfortunately, as soon as I stopped pedaling, I realized that my capacity to turn all the way around in the game had become clumsy and ineffective as a result.
That said, while I found that the overall experience of playing Aeronauts was smooth sailing overall, I might have also been too drunk on the novelty of playing with the NordicTrack device to notice any ill effects. I want one, and I don’t think I’d be perturbed by the style of movement or even the fact that I’m bicycling around in a VR space to begin with (over a longer period of playtime). However, I can see how others might have some issues with motion sickness if they play with the NordicTrack VR Bike long enough. Brenda Stolyar of PCMag experienced light motion sickness on a full stomach during her CES demo of the same game.
Finally, there’s a multiplayer element to Aeronauts that I spoke with the NordicTrack representatives about briefly. While I’m not sure if what I experienced was synchronously connected to other players, there will be players working out with and meeting up with one another to play games across connected NordicTrack VR Bikes. The representative I spoke to also promised within the ballpark of three games launching alongside the device, with hopes for additional content coming to the NordicTrack VR Bike platform in the future.
Overall, the (roughly) four minutes I had with the NordicTrack VR Bike were blissful. I walked away with a little bit of sweat, but nothing I’m not already accustomed to with my home workouts. I did not experience notable discomfort either, though I could also have some sort of superpower that makes me impervious to motion sickness.
Does the NordicTrack VR Bike seem like something you’d pay a membership to use regularly? Let us know in the comments!