By Kate AmosThere are few machines more elegantly simple than the bicycle. While many of us love to ride for the break it affords us from the chaos of modern life, there is no doubt that technology can help us get the most out of every ride. Read on to learn more about how to incorporate some of the latest technological advances into your next Spinning® training session.
Heart rate monitors provide a window into the body; they work by sending a wireless signal from a strap worn around the ribcage to a computer mounted on the bike, or to a personal watch or smartphone, allowing you to observe and record in real time how quickly your heart is beating in response to your ride.
Using this information, you can not only monitor how hard you’re working, but also adjust and make changes on the fly to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your workout. For example, if your goal is to complete a recovery ride, you can use the heart rate monitor to ensure that you are staying within 50-65% of your maximum heart rate. Relatively inexpensive, incorporating a heart rate monitor into your workouts is one of the most effective things you can do to improve the quality of your training.
For those looking to take their training to the next level, a power meter like the one found on the Spinner ® Blade IONTM is an incredibly useful tool. While a heart rate monitor measures a rider’s response to the work they perform, a power meter uses a device called a strain gauge to measure the work directly, transmitting this information via ANT+ wireless protocol to the bike’s computer. This information can be used to determine a rider’s Personal Spinning Threshold and SPINPower® zones, allowing riders and instructors to build personalized training plans and regularly test for improved performance. This is cutting-edge technology that is being adopted and refined by pros and weekend warriors alike.
Popular with road cyclists since the 1980s, clipless pedals are not a new technology, but they can make a huge difference in the quality of your ride. There are two main types of clipless pedal systems, road (like the systems made by LOOK®) and mountain bike (like the systems made by SPD®), the latter of which are more common on Spinner bikes. Both require the use of cycling-specific shoes with either a three- or two-hole pattern, respectively, drilled into the sole. A cleat is then mounted to the bottom of the shoe, and the cleat is what secures the shoe to the pedal, allowing the rider to disengage with a simple twist of the foot. Be sure to check with your regular studio or gym to find out what type of pedals they are using before purchasing shoes, as many shoes are designed to work only with a specific type of pedal.
Whatever system you choose, clipless pedals will increase the efficiency of your pedal stroke, as they allow you to pull up on the pedals and apply even power throughout the stroke. A clipless pedal system can also increase comfort and prevent injury, as cycling-specific shoes have stiff soles that improve power transfer and minimize hotspots.
It may be surprising to some, but clothing is on the leading edge of cycling technology, with new designs and fabrics that improve both comfort and performance. Technical fabric is especially important indoors, as the lack of wind that you would find out on the road can make it more difficult for riders to shed heat. Cycling jerseys are made out of a special polyester material that not only breathes better than a standard cotton t-shirt, but also wicks away sweat to improve cooling. Cycling shorts are made out of either spandex or Lycra® and usually include a pad called a chamois. Just like jerseys, cycling shorts perform better in sweaty conditions, and the pad helps to increase comfort, meaning you can ride harder for longer.
Finally, while cell phones and mp3 players may be among the most ubiquitous pieces of technology in our modern lives, they also play a huge part in most Spinning classes. Your instructor carefully selects a playlist before each session, setting the mood for specific types of rides or intervals and helping riders to establish a strong mind/body connection. A good playlist on your own phone or mp3 player can help you to recreate that special environment during your solo training sessions, inspiring you to push yourself to your personal limits or maybe just tune out the world for a little while. You can also view our Weekly Playlist for suggested music on Spotify or purchase directly from iTunes.