One of the simple pleasures of mountain biking is the affinity with nature. It is a test of you and your machine away from the crowds, stresses and strains of day-today life. That’s why we think it’s a bit odd that Activetainment has is allowing you to experience mountain biking a little differently – in your local gym.

Using the latest virtual reality technology, it has created the Ebove B1 exercise bike. Unlike a normal exercise bike, which would be used for cardiovascular fitness, the Ebove focusses on core strength by simulating the impacts and sudden changes in direction that can be found in downhill riding.

How does virtual reality mountain biking work?

You can train either on a standard television screen or, for the full experience, on a virtual reality headset called the Occulus Rift. The Occulus Rift is a mask that straps onto your face and plugs you into the Ebove’s world using screens and headphones. It also tracks your motion so as you move your head it changes what you see through the screens – if you look up, for example, you will see the sky.

The Ebove can be used either with a screen or the virtual reality headset

The Ebove can be used either with a screen or the virtual reality headset

Our experience

Huw Gladstone, from our sister magazine Cycling Weekly, took a trip to Holborn to try one out at the SpinLDN show. He said it was a “sick” experience, although this was more down to the nauseous effects of the headset, as opposed to the thrill of being on the bike.

It also caused an old back injury to flare up. We can’t be sure whether this would have also happened on a standard mountain bike ride (he is a roadie after all) but it’s not a good sign.

The EBove tracks your performance against other users

The EBove tracks your performance against other users

He said: “It didn’t take me long to decide to give up on virtual reality biking forever. It had its thrills, the immersion was convincing but the experience overall was a jerky descent into hell.”

So, what do we think? Actually as a bit of fun, we’d love to have a go. It looks a bit different and hey, we’re willing to try anything once!

As a fitness tool, we’re not sure we see the benefit over a standard bike ride, apart from the accessibility. And as a substitute for riding in generally, not a chance!

If you want to try the Activetainment Ebove out yourself then finding a gym  with one installed is your best bet, if not, we’ve no doubt the novelty factor alone will be enough to get them to cycle shows for a few years to come.

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  • Grant Hilton

    I do think the accessibility factor is a major plus. It will never replace mountain biking, and it will never have the same feel, no matter how immersive virtual reality gets. I don’t see it as being any different from a climbing wall, really.