Good vibrations? The revolutionary bike that guarantees a bumpy ride

Tom Peck samples the latest in high-intensity training equipment

Suddenly my thighs ignite in violent tremolando. Up until now I had been sitting on what felt like a normal exercise bike. But now I am wobbling more than I have since leading the school orchestra's second violin section in "Schubert's Symphony Number 8".

A vibrating exercise bike is an intriguing concept, which, I later learn, is designed to "engage your core muscles". To my relief, the seat remains static, but the pedals vibrate as if they are wired to a jackhammer.

The powerBIKE is a new product from the people behind the popular Power Plate – an exercise platform that vibrates at various speeds, adding considerable intensity to stretching and other floor exercises. The bike, the Power Plate people say, combines all the benefits of the plate (improving muscle tone and bone density, for example) with the cardiovascular workout of an exercise bike.

It is certainly hard work. The harder you push, the faster the pedals vibrate, rotating the wheel in a jagged circle. I am told it is a little like cycling over cobbles, but having never got round to learning to ride an actual bike – I accidentally sacrificed my childhood on the altar of Nintendo – that sensation is alien. I have wheeled a cheap barbecue over a slatted wooden boardwalk, however, and the memory instantly returns.

Rebecca Romero, one of Britain's many Olympic cycling gold medallists, who also has a silver medal in rowing, has been testing the bike. She warms up with 30 minutes on the top intensity setting. On this level, I am exhausted after around 40 seconds, but the lower ones are more manageable.

Vibrating exercise technology has been around for about 30 years, but only in the mainstream for five or six. It was originally used by Soviet cosmonauts in preparation for space missions. In zero-gravity conditions, muscles waste away alarmingly quickly, just as rested limbs do after injury or surgery. In this regard, the Russians fared far better than the Americans.

"When you walk down the street, and you step on an uneven paving stone, your muscles contract" explains Lars Harms, Power Plate's UK academy and education manager. "If they didn't, you would fall over and injure yourself. By exercising on an uneven surface, you are activating those core muscles. It makes everything that much more intense."

Intensity, it seems, is the name of the game. Sessions on the powerBIKE should be kept to no more than 30 minutes, but those minutes are the equivalent of far longer on one of those old fashioned, non-vibrating machines. It is all about the "HIT" – high-intensity training – the current buzzword in fitness circles. Idly pedalling on an exercise bike, reading the paper or watching the news does not deliver the HIT, failing to activate and exercise the crucial fast twitching white muscle fibres of which Lance Armstrong and Usain Bolt have more of than most.

At £2,995, the powerBIKE is not cheap. And don't expect one to appear in your gym any time soon. The company intends at first to integrate them with existing Power Plate classes. For the moment at least, a normal exercise bike is far cheaper, and most should fit on top of a standard tumble dryer.

Future gyms...

* Researchers at UCL are developing implantable chips capable of exercising paralysed people by sending electronic impulses to the spine.

* The £6,000 Xdream bike is part exercise bike, part video game. Users race around simulated routes, complete with potholes.

* Jukari "Fit to Fly" classes urge people to swing from a trapeze to improve strength and balance.

ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

    £45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

    Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

    £60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power