While it isn’t a part of the hardware itself, this review would not be complete without discussing Island Worlds, which is the game/editing environment/online portal that allows users to build and explores islands of their own design with terrain, buildings, even race courses that turn this world creation tool into an ideal training partner, allowing users to share custom built islands with other Island Worlds users. You could even go so far as to set up a race course on your island and have you PCGamerBike owning friends join you on your island for races.
Of course, if you’re focused on the exercise benefits, anther key feature of note is the Exercise Log. Inside the Configurator, the Exercise Log allows you to track your daily pedal motion, along with several statistics including total pedaling time, average speed, Maximum speed, and the estimated calories burnt (based on the weight information entered into the system). Personally, I found the estimated calories burnt to be somewhat inaccurate in comparison to the calorie counter on my watch/heart rate monitor, but that is to be expected from a system that can only take into account your weight, the resistance setting, and number of cycling revolutions.
Maybe the single most important feature aside from the ease in which the Mini integrates into game play is the fact that it has adjustable magnetic resistance (up to 100 watts). What this means is that by turning the dial on the front of the unit, you can increase or decrease the effort it takes to generate the same amount of in game motion. Being that I play hockey, and have been riding the exercise bike at the gym as part of my exercise regimen, I found I needed to adjust the resistance up a good bit from the minimum resistance. Because the resistance is magnetic, it remains even throughout, which is something that anyone who has used a bike with belt resistance will enjoy.
While I thoroughly enjoy using the PCGamerBike Mini, it is not entirely without faults. To begin with, many computer desk chairs have wheels, and it’s somewhat easy to push yourself away from the unit in a wheeled chair. Perhaps including optional chair clips or some other mechanism to connect the unit to the chair could alleviate this issue. The other issue is that of stability. For anyone with a less than perfectly smooth stride (like me for example), you may find the Mini to be a bit wobbly from time to time, especially if you’re supplying extra exertion to the pedals in an effort to escape an untimely demise at the hands of a Vampire, Nazi, or other n’er-do-weller. This is likely due to the somewhat high center of gravity of the unit. The workaround of course is to remember to keep moving your feet in the same circular motion more quickly without applying extra pressure to either pedal. A suggested improvement for future versions of the unit would be to increase the leg span of the unit a few inches on each side. I have a somewhat small desk, and even with an increase in leg span, the unit would still fit under it easily.
In discussions with hardware vendors in the past, I’ve mentioned that “It’s easy to get a good review, simply make a good product”. I can say that after a large amount of use that not only is the PCGamerBike Mini a good product, I am so fond of mine that after consulting with my nutritionist and personal trainer, I have replaced my rides on the gym exercise bike with the same amount of time on the Mini. And with an SRP of $179, it’s a lot cheaper than a gym membership, and you don’t have to give up any time in front of the PC to gain the benefits of a good ride.
The PCGamerBike Mini brings the world of gaming and exercise together in a way that is both healthy and intuitive. Aside from the occasional tendancy to wobble under extra effort, it’s a solid product that may change the way you play games permanently. Recommended to anyone who could use some more exercise, so everyone.
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