Biking in VR with the HTC Vive
Every year I promise myself I’ll work out more, eat better and cross some items off my bucket list. This time around I was equipped with VirZOOM, a virtual reality connected exercise bike to help make my fitness goals come true.
I tend to get easily bored with workouts and the prospect of gamifying my fitness seemed appealing. Could shooting down tanks and flying a Pegasus prevail where any combination of pilates/trampoline dodgeball/pole-dancing and circus arts had failed?
To make my virtual reality test feel accurate, I decided that this was the only form of exercise I’d do for one week, and after that, I could incorporate it into my regular mix of gym and ClassPass. I wanted to see how much I enjoyed it, how effective it was and if the gaming part was addictive enough to keep me wanting more.
VirZOOM retails for $399 and is available at Amazon, Target, and other stores. It’s not the only virtual reality fitness gadget, for example, the Icaros offers a full body flying experience, but that’s around $8000, and the awesome Virtuix Omni Treadmill is only available for businesses.
To play, you need a compatible headset and the bike is compatible with all the big players — that’s Playstation VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive Headsets. Like any VR experience, you'll need a powerful computer/PlayStation to run this, which means an investment of around $1000 - $1500. If that’s a little steep, people who are curious can try this at some of the VR Arcades springing up around America. An added bonus is that the company recently launched competitive workouts at some venues (the full list is here) in partnership with HTC, AMD, and FitBit. Here, you battle other players to win prizes — which in many cases, is a home kit of your own. Boom.
The VirZOOM handlebars
The VirZOOM setup:
The bike arrived in a large cardboard box, that contains bike parts, an instruction booklet, and a mini wrench. It took me around thirty minutes to put this together, snapping on the saddle, screwing in the pedals and adjusting the handlebars. It would help to have another person around when you do this, as I could have cut down my time if I hadn't had to balance everything on my own. Once assembled the bike feels sturdy and looks pretty slick, with a shiny black finish. It weighs in at 39 pounds and they say it can handle up to 260 pounds.