With the northern hemisphere winter approaching again, keen riders will be looking for options to ride indoors. German company Kettler's ErgoRace trainer and Kettler World Tours software may just fit the bill.
The £1,299 ErgoRace is a standalone indoor bike that uses an electro-magnetic brake system to provide resistance. It's quiet enough to be used without disturbing your neighbours, which is an important consideration with any indoor trainer.
The bars offer two positions: bull horns and tri-bar extensions with arm rests. The bars and saddle are adjustable using pull-out knobs, which means you're limited to the nearest hole setting. The feet are also adjustable in case you have an uneven floor. The trainer comes with combination SPD and flat pedals, but these can be swapped for your own.
There's also an LCD screen attached to the bars, which gives you speed, distance, time, heart rate and power output (it can handle up to 1,100 watts), and you have the choice of 16 gears.
Where the ErgoRace differs from most indoor trainers is in the Kettler World Tours software, which costs an additional £149 – although Kettler will be offering it for free this December and January. Unfortunately the software is not available for Apple Mac - it's only for Windows at the moment.
The software enables you to hook the trainer up to a television or laptop and ride on virtual courses which are displayed using Microsoft Bing maps. The courses are just GPX or KML files that are easily imported into the software, which means you can create them using a GPS device or a route mapping site like Bikely.com.
Even better, for those of you who need that extra motivation, if you've got an internet connection you can race against your friends over any given course. All you have to do is sign up and create a race on the Kettler World Tours website, set a date and time for the race, and invite your friends or leave it open to anyone to participate.
At the allotted time, it's game on and you can see how far ahead or behind you are compared to the rest of the field. Virtual bragging rights and a solid workout all in one – definitely a winner.
A word of caution though: if you're a powerful rider you might find yourself running out of gears, especially on the downhill sections!
For a list of ErgoRace stockists, visit the Kettler website. To see the bike and software in action, check out the video below: