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eMotion Rollers from insideride.com
dennis bean-larson

I've had a stationary trainer since about 1992 and I've used it quite a bit at various times in my rather brief cycling career - the most recent was back in 1999 to 2001 when I did a lot of road races. I'd bought a unit from Performance, one that had a fork mount and originally had a fan resistance unit. It was really noisy, but if I was wearing headphones and listening to music it wasn't all that noticeable to me. It was noticeable to everyone else in the house, and I'd taken to training when everyone was gone. The kids were into all sorts of after-school activities, so planning was pretty easy. Eventually I upgraded to a fluid resistance unit, which was a bit quieter I guess.

Underneath all these goings on was my secret desire to really be riding rollers instead. Money was the most common rationale I used for not getting some rollers, but the real reason was fear - yep, fear. Fear from not being able to ride them. I didn't think I'd get seriously hurt or anything, but fear that somehow I just wouldn't be able to ride rollers at all. Well, ok, there also isn't really a hallway at home that would be very suitable and that became another excuse that I'd use to convince myself.

So, when I went to Interbike last October and saw the eMotion Rollers made by Larry Papadoupolus and his crew up in North Plains, Oregon, it got the juices flowing again.

I was working my way across the convention center, and as I came around a corner towards the back of the hall here were three sets of rollers and a pretty good sized crowd. On two sets of rollers were two young guys riding side by side, joking with the onlookers, and alternately standing up, sitting down, accelerating up through the gears, and pretty much riding all over their rollers. As I inched up closer for a better look, they both slid out onto their hoods, clicked up a couple gears, and upped their cadence to what looked like maybe 24-25 mph. We were all suitably impressed at how smooth they looked.

We couldn't help but notice the slight front to back movement that these rollers offered … not much, maybe an quarter inch of oscillation, maybe a bit more when they slightly shifted on their saddle.
As we watched them ride one of the guys said to the other: "You ready?"
The other half-jokingly replied: "Oh, ok, let's GO!" as they clicked it up another couple gears, went to the drops and immediately accelerated up to a 35 mph balls to the wall sprint.
It was sorta like looking at a dragster engine when the driver cranks it up to 8,000 rpm ….we all took a couple of g steps back as these two guys made no attempt to even attempt to look smooth, but rode all over the rollers until they back off, sat up NO HANDED, and coasted for a bit till their speed dropped back to a more reasonable 18 mph and they could once again engage in some conversation with the crowd.

It was safe to assume everyone was impressed and some of us were downright sold right then and there. I was. I gotta have these rollers!

So, it wasn't too many days before I was on the phone with Larry telling him that we had to get these rollers in front of all of you. Now I know that many of you prefer to ride outside - I surely do. But I live to far from work to realistically be able to commute, and it's often too complicated and cold (and downright dangerous sometimes) to be able to train or ride outdoors reliably during the winter. Still, I want to get some exercise, and be in decent shape when the snow and ice are gone.

Back when I rode my stationary trainer a lot I'd developed ways to get far past the boredom issue that keeps many people from riding anything indoors. I setup some schedules of drills to work through. Like warm up for 5 minutes, then start at 60rpm for a minute and then increase cadence by 5 rpm every minute. When I'd get to 110 it would just be survival and doing that drill would easily eat up 20-25 minutes. I used Joe Friel's A Cyclist's Training Bible and a couple books by Dr. Arne Baker (yes, you've heard his name, he's been helping Floyd Landis with his defense). Lately I've been watching movies on my laptop…didn't have one of those back in '99.

So, in late January a set of rollers arrived from Larry. Was I a bit apprehensive? You bet. I'd still never ridden any kind of rollers and that little voice in the back of my head was still asking me "Why was I doing this anyway?"

Set-up of the eMotion rollers is really a snap. All you have to do is slide the flywheel and shaft into place, slide the pulley on the other end of the shaft, tighten the set screw, and flip on the belt. Next take the included 9/16" combination wrench and loosen the two acorn nuts that secure the front roller and adjust the rollers to correspond to the wheelbase of your bike with both of the adjustment knobs, tighten the acorn nuts, and you're off. Takes maybe ten minutes and BCI has included all the drawings and info that anyone needs to do this set-up.

My first few rides were done next to a flat wall and unless you are well over 6' tall you will probably need a short stool or a cement block to step up on to get on the bike. When I was up at my friend Jeff Koch's house (more about that later), he showed me a nifty way to get on: swing your leg over, clip that foot in, and pump the pedals up and down a few times to get the wheels up to speed they hop up, coast a bit and clip the other foot into it's pedal. Of course Jeff was riding a geared bike. Don't try that technique with a track bike kids!

So what was my first ride like? So easy it's ridiculous. I stepped up on the stool, clicked that foot in, got up on the saddle, clicked in the other foot, and gave it a spin …YOW, as I immediately clicked my left foot out and stepped to the ground.
"Let's do that again…."
One more time and I'm riding with fingers still on the wall, no just tickling the wall….15 seconds, 30 seconds, bump the yellow rollers a time or two …. Up my cadence to maybe 75 or 80 rpm and ….
"Whoa, that really smooths things out."

Seriously now, 2 minutes later and I'm venturing into a standing position.
"Wow…this is a heck of a lot easier than I ever thought it might be. Piece of cake."

Now, one little word of caution. I moved my fan into place and setup my laptop to watch a DVD on my first hour-long ride the next day. I popped in a Jackie Chan movie thinking all the action would really make my 1st hour fly past.
Don't do it!
Don't watch a Jackie Chan movie, or Top Gun, or anything like that on your first big ride.
Pick something with a little less action - something with no downhill ski episodes or intense side to side action - but save them for a week or so, because you'll soon be able to watch them while riding these rollers..

I've now had these rollers for three weeks and I've put just short of 300 miles on them. I just moved up to riding an hour and a half, but last Saturday I rode two hours. This will get you through a whole lot of recent movies - the final scenes in Top Gun really had me hammering a couple nights ago. Of course I'm riding fixed and I'm riding a 48x20 though actual gearing might be a bit different for you. I'd normally ride a 48x17 on the road. I think the perceived exertion level is just a bit higher than actual outdoor riding, and of course there really is no coasting. I ride for about a half hour and then hop off for a minute or two. The Soma I'm riding doesn't have a water bottle cage so a couple minutes off is ok with me. I have yet to ride a geared bike on these rollers, the experience might be a bit different when I do.

In case you are wondering … spinning that 48x20 up to 22 mph gives 114 rpm and according to the calibration sheet provided by InSideRide that would yield about 360 watts - on the "Zero" resistance setting. That, kiddies, is a lot of power. I can spin 22 mph for all of about 15 seconds, but that's besides the point. Most trainers just can't handle that kind of effort. Most stationary trainers just allow too much wheel spin at high power outputs.

eMotion Rollers have four resistance settings.
Can you feel the difference?
Oh, my God yes. I will probably never ride on Level 3 except on rainy days in the summer when I want hill repeats. Jeff thinks I'll be riding on "1" before long. I have my doubts, but then I am 61 - a lot older than most of you are. Professional riders could never outride the limits of these rollers.

So, what is the advantage of these rollers?
First and foremost it takes all of the load off your butt. Only when you see that little fore and aft movement that these rollers allow can you realize how much more comfortable these rollers are (and it doesn't matter how smooth you think your pedal stroke is - no body is perfectly smooth).
Secondly, eMotion rollers allow you to stand and sit very very easily, which allows you to stand and stretch, or to stand against a higher resistance to similar real-world climbing.
Third, these rollers are just a bit wider than Kreitler rollers, and the yellow side 'guide rollers' and the front and rear 'guard rollers' (both are my terminology) give you an additional sense of security.
Finally, they are just fun to ride because they are comfortable and you feel safe riding - they are wide enough and the movement takes up the shock. Ride of over an hour can actually be almost comfortable.


There is one more thing that I haven't talked about at all (but which is probably apparent to you already) - eMotion Rollers are absolutely beautifully made. You will notice that as soon as you pull them out of the box. Inside,outside, and underneath .... each part is beautifully manufactured, anodized, and assembled. If you've clicked on just a few of the attached photos, you've seen what I mean. Beautiful. And they look good with just about any living room decor from Traditional to French Provincial to Modern or even Post-Modern from Cousin Vinnie.


So, now that I'm an "old pro" at riding rollers, what about the other brands of rollers out there on the market. FixedGearFever did a review of different roller systems (including eMotion) and their criticism of these rollers was primarily the fact that you can't fold them up. I assure you that folding them up is the least of my worries. I am never going to take them with me to Berlin or Amsterdam or even Boise. I'm far more interested in how they help me ride right here in Michigan.

But in all fairness, I knew that I'd have to ride some other rollers now that I "had my legs" so to speak. So, I popped a bike in my car and went up to Ross Hickman's house to ride his Kreitler rollers. He has the Alloy Challenger with 4.5" diameter rollers and the optional Killer HeadWind fan (MSRP $700.00). You sit up noticably higher on the larger diameter rollers and since I didn't want to fly off into Ross' big screen TV or into the dining room table I set up his rollers in a doorway.

Do they feel different? Of course. With the movement of the eMotion rollers I could feel myself rolling up against the rollers to the front and the rear. Movement fore and aft accentuated that feeling, but it wasn't totally disconcerting - at least not as much as I thought it would. The larger diameter rollers were much easier to spin, even with the Headwind Fan attached.

What about standing? Well, yes, I could stand, but I did it very very carefully at about 40 rpm. It just didn't feel very secure. Would I become more proficient? Probably. Could I do it as mindlessly as I can on the eMotion? Never.

Aside from that, what's the difference? It's like the difference between a Mercedes Benz and a Chevy Impala. Design and workmanship are both beyond compare...but so is price. You can buy a pair of Nashbar rollers on sale for a hundred bucks, and maybe that's the best you can afford, and that's ok. But if you are going to ride indoors all winter for the next five years and you want it to be fun (as much as can be expected anyway) and you want to get the most benefit out of your time, you need think hard about eMotion Rollers.

Or just c'mon up to Traverse City for the 2007 Fixed Gear Symposium in August and give 'em a spin.

dennis fixedgearwizard@yahoo.com


click to hear Norm's comments.....

  Jeff Koch and I traveled together to road races quite a bit back in 2000 and 2001. In 2005 Jeff won the Elite Michigan State Road Race. After I came back from Interbike last October, I told Jeff about the eMotion Rollers and showed him the on-line videos. He told his training partner Norm Licht about them, and before I knew it, both were training on eMotion Rollers. Both Jeff and Norm are coached on-line by Carmichael Training Systems.

click to hear Jeff's comments.....


Technical Details
Overall size: 68" x 22" x 6.5" high
Weight: 30+/- lbs
MSRP: $795.00 + shipping

More info is available at insideride.com
You can purchase eMotion Rollers on-line from the manufacturer or from a couple retailers.
Manufactured by
BCI Industries
PO Box 1207
North Plains, OR 97133
USA
phone:(503) 647-5883


gtpeace