OK, here’s the latest chapter in our indoor riding saga.
As I mentioned in my Rollers Update entry back on Jan 7th, I went ahead and decided to beef-up our indoor riding arsenal vs. adding any more rolling stock: we’ve clearly got enough bikes and tandems. OK, maybe just a frame update on our Ventana this Spring, but that’s it! So, we ordered a few more Spinervals, some accessories for the Kreitlers, and a set of the e-Motion rollers.
Our video library updates arrived last week from Spinervals, and they look pretty good based on a quick scan. However, as noted on Jan 10th, we weren’t able to use those once they arrived as Debbie was just getting over a bout with the Flu or perhaps more correctly the ‘winter crud’. Moreover, she had been nice enough to give it to me and I’ve been pretty much fighting “the crud” with over-the-counter remedies all week. While I thought I had it on the ropes, it hit me with a knock-out punch on Friday morning, to the extent I finally went to the doctor. Bronchitis and a sinus infection was the diagnosis so I’m now doing antibiotics and not much else, short of typing and resting. Coupled with being snowed-in most of the week (after all, this is Atlanta, GA not Albany, NY), not a lot of indoor or outdoor riding going on around year. But I digress…
Our first hardware upgrade was a new set of e-Motion rollers from Insideride.com. Although originally expected on the 11th, I was finally called to come and pick them up from our local FedEx Office store last evening. Just as a note on Insideride.com’s shipping practices, I requested they waive the signature required and instruct FedEx to just leave them on our side porch and they stood fast: signature required!
Although I was planning to leave them in the back of the truck until perhaps tomorrow, prudence gave way to temptation so I hauled the box up to the exercise room this morning and pulled them out of the box. As advertised, they simply get pulled out of the box and are ready to go with just a minor adjustment for wheelbase: two knurled knobs + two adjusters for that. Overall fit, finish and material quality is excellent and, as a bonus, they’re Made in the USA. It’s a very solid unit and everything that you touch to make adjustments is solid and beefy, no need for tools unless you need to replace belts at some point. The integration of the heavy flywheel and magnetic resistance unit is really quite ingenious as well. All-in-all, just a really well-engineered product that has been refined twice since it was originally introduced.
After adjusting the front roller to accommodate the wheelbase of my Dean Castanza I gave it a short trial run just to satisfy my curiosity as to just how different they purportedly rode vs. standard rollers, remembering I’d not demo’d these before buying. Now, I was cautiously optimistic if only because my friend Tim P. up in Knoxville had given them a big thumbs-up based doing a demo-ride at Interbike this past Fall and I’d also heard from our friend and fellow tandem geek at Webcycler.com, Henry Able who was more than enthusiastic.
So, how was the quick spin? Amazing!
Even though I’m hocking-up bits of lung, during my short trial spin I was up and out of the saddle slogging away in no-time at all. Seems like you can ride like a drunken sailor and still not come off unless you simply fall off the bike. Now, to be fair, I’m already pretty good at riding conventional rollers, so I’ve gone through the entire re-learn to ride your bicycle experience that comes with anyone’s first roller experience. e-Motion’s rider instruction sheet does a very good job of explaining the basics of what you need to overcome when you first ride rollers, but beyond that the free-motion clearly makes the entire learning process a much quicker and more intuitive experience. No kidding, riding on the e-Motion rollers even for my short little spin made me feel like I was…. well, riding a bicycle! There’s no way I could do what I was doing on the e-Motion rollers on the Kreitlers without coming off the Kreitlers: after all, I’m good on rollers, not great. But, more to the point, I felt like I could have ‘fun’ on the e-Motion rollers which is hard to say about standard rollers given the need for nearly 100% focus on form they require, at least at my skill level.
So, as you might imagine, I’m looking forward to being able to do a full 40 – 60 min workout on the thing so that I can give a more objective analysis of the training experience. In the mean time, here are just a few other observations that came to mind as I fiddled with the e-Rollers before returning to the family room and my laptop… to resume my recuperation.
Why New Instead of Used? There were a couple of reasons. First off, there aren’t a lot of the original L, newer F or newest H-model e-Motion rollers out there on the second-hand market, and the ones that aren’t priced a bit high are snapped-up in a hurry. In one instance there was a set of the new H-model rollers being offered up at a good price, but the seller was unwilling to ship them (go figure: how hard is it to drop something off at the UPS or FedEx Office Stores… heck, they even pack the stuff). In another, the price seemed OK, but the quoted shipping cost brought the used rollers within $100 of the new ones. I even explored getting a bro-deal through a friend in the biz, but the good folks at InsideRide.com only sell direct, so that was a dead-end. At the end of the day I opted to buy new vs. second-hand, as the e-Motion rollers came with free shipping, a 30-day, Money Back Guarantee as well as a 5-year warranty and related support that a known customer can always expect if they have a problem or questions: always good to be in the data base!
Is Free-Motion Worth The Added Cost? Actually, and as mentioned in one of my earlier rollers entries, you must first get to an apples-to-apples cost comparison of what the e-Motion rollers offer vs. other rollers before putting a value on the free-motion. Or, looked at another way, let’s start with the $850 cost and build in credits against our beloved Kreitler rollers: Well assume free shipping all around so $529 for a head-wind resistance unit & Challenger 4.5 rollers plus $140 for a Flywheel = $182 for the free-motion feature. Note that I’m using the most economical Kreitler configuration, as Kreitler tells buyers that only the Alloy 3.0 and 2.5 rollers should be used with the Head Wind and Fly-wheels, not the less durable polycarbonite “Challenger” end caps. So, if you substitute the Alloy 3.0 rollers, the cost difference for free-motion is only $96.
While the cost of doing your own free-motion base would put you in the ball park for a break-even on materials in either of the two above scenaros, your time and ability to correctly design and build a durable home-built system becomes the wild card. Just looking at one home-built in one of my earlier posts, drilling holes into a set of Kreitlers frame rails and putting loads on those rails that were never intended might require some new rails and an expensive re-do in the future. Note: I fully intend to explore a free-motion base design for our Kreitler tandem set-up, as to whether or not I execute that design… too soon to tell. Let’s see if we’re still riding indoors in March!
Can You Lock-Out The Free Motion? I suspect a Jorgensen clamp could be carefully applied to eliminate the free-motion if someone wanted to work on the finesse needed to ride motion-less rollers, but perhaps that’s over-rated if all you’re looking for is the ability to ride indoors when you can’t ride outdoors and don’t want to be strapped to a trainer or do traditional rollers. Seriously, if you’re looking for a way to keep riding inside I can’t imagine not using the free-motion if it was available.
As for the Kreitler hardware upgrades, I’m still waiting for notification from the Etailer that the back-ordered Flywheel has been received so that our entire shipment can be made… cue the Jeopardy music. But, no worries given our other health challenges at the moment.