I appreciate all of the comments on the previous post which discussed what those kcals were. Let’s continue with another number often found on our indoor bike computer (and other fitness equipment) - TRIP or Distance Covered.
Looking at your total distance number at the end of a cycling class can often provoke 2 very different responses: “Oh, that’s cool” and “No Stinkin’ Way!”. Someone who doesn’t do much riding outdoors may not have a perspective on (1) how fast they would actually be riding and (2) how far they could go in, say, an hour. This rider may see a TRIP number of 20.0 — 22.0 and think “oh, that’s cool”. Another rider who is accustomed to tracking their distance when riding out doors may view 26.0 to 28.0 (miles) after a steady hard class and say (out loud) “No Stinkin’ Way”.
What’s going on here?
As I coach, you keep hearing me talk about all of these “factors”. I seem to have factors for everything from cadence to training zones to power output to riding aero on an indoor bike and the list goes on. Well, smirk if you want, but the Tom Scotto FACTOR-Y is going to churn out a few more. Indoor bikes and fitness equipment that calculate distance are often only looking at a single measurement. For the indoor bike this would be the rotations of the flywheel (heavy wheel providing inertia/momentum). The bike computer simply adds up the number of rotations of the flywheel (not the legs or pedals) and determines the distance as how far the wheel’s circumference has traveled. Since there are no internal or external gears like on an outdoor bike, one rotation of the pedals ALWAYS equals the same amount of rotations of the flywheel. What are some of the other factors? How much resistance the rider is using can play a significant role. Is the person pushing a lot of resistance which could indicate a “fast” actual speed or spinning at high cadence with little resistance translating to a slower actual road speed? Is the rider going uphill or downhill? What about wind resistance (no, not the fans)?
Here is an example from one of my riding experiences and the factors:
A number of members from my team would travel to Turkey every year for a couple of weeks to train in the mountains in warmer temperatures. One day, after having our traditional cup of Ã‡ay (Turkish tea), we headed toward one of the bigger climbs in the Taurus mountain range. It took us about 30 minutes to ride to the base of the mountain road where the climbing began. We climbed for 3 hours, transversing close to 70 switchbacks (sharp winding turns in the mountain road). We descended on a shorter back road for 45 minutes and arrived back at the cafe. One of the locals sitting at an outside table asked us how far we had traveled. I confidently looked at my bike computer and was disappointed to read only 48 miles. We were out for over 4 hours and only covered less than 12 miles per hour. In this case, my computer was not incorrect because it included ALL of the factors involved in my ride (the foremost being going “slow” uphill).
Bringing it back to our indoor bikes, due to the factors that the bikes are NOT considering, the number we see displaying as our TRIP distance will rarely ever be accurate. So what is it? Each manufacturer may calculate this differently, but here is the formula for the Keiser bikes:
- 200 revolutions on the Keiser M3 = 1.0 (TRIP)
- Flywheel is 49 inches in circumference
- 1 revolution on crankarm = 8.75 turns of flywheel
- 49 x 8.75 x 200 / 12 = 7145.8 feet
- 1.0 on our computer = the rear flywheel traveling 1.35 Miles
Remember, the above calculations do not include the “factors” so we are still ONLY measuring how far the circumference of the flywheel is traveling. So what is the TRIP number good for? Since it is directly linked to our cadence (the more pedal rotations the higher the TRIP), one can observe if their overall cadence was higher or lower for a given ride or effort. Although the Keiser bikes already provide an average cadence number, the TRIP can tell you how many rotations you pedaled during the class (divide your trip by 200).
So, as instructors, it is important that we understand how these number work and what they represent. This will enable us to give sound guidance to our riders so they can view their efforts with a touch of reality. This will better prepare them (and not discourage them) if and when they venture outside.
Originally posted 2011-03-10 07:00:15.
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The phrase that springs to mind here is, “so what?”. Is that just a long winded way of telling us that the TRIP meter is pretty much meaningless?
Surely Mssr D. Keiser (as an engineer) should remain somewhat embarassed about having a distance measure that can’t possibly measure or even approximate distance. What’s wrong with adding the FACTOR to the display and take a GEAR x REVs approach. It couldn’t be that hard could it?
Along the lines of Gear X Revs approach, isn’t the wattage as displayed on the Keiser M3 simply the selected Gear X RPM = output. No strain guage involved, rather just a mere guestimate of what the wattage may be for the rider. There are a number of Kieser bikes in the class that I lead but I hesitate to direct the riders focus on wattage or distance for the aforementioned reasons.
Along the lines of Gear X Revs approach, isn’t the wattage as displayed on the Keiser M3 simply the selected Gear X RPM = output? No strain guage involved, rather just a mere guestimate of what the wattage may be for the rider. There are a number of Kieser bikes in the class that I lead but I hesitate to direct the riders focus on wattage or distance for the aforementioned reasons.
Shayne….I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t be too hard to add any FACTOR you want to the display algorithm. However, what would be the cost to do this? All of these club bikes are designed to be purchased by clubs. Ya gotta pay to play….as they say.
Anyone teaching on or using a Keiser bike knows that the TRIP thingie is meant for maintenance purposes only. Nothing more. Nothing less. If they don’t know that, well….
Ralph….you’re right(almost). The Keiser bikes don’t use a strain guage. The *wattage*….which, for sure isn’t necessarily wattage such as you learned about in your physics classes….is derived from a mathematical calculation based on magnetic resistance and Eddy currents (I didn’t listen up enough in physics class myself to be able to offer a tutorial on this…..there’s always Google)
So, although a Keiser watt may not be exactly a “James” Watt, it’s consistent and reproducible….and for the majority of participants in my classes that’s all we need and is a 110% improvement over the self delusion that can come with riding a stationary bike with zero feedback.
Shayne, you are right that there is little value or accuracy in the TRIP reading. Part of theis series of posts on the various numbers we have to work with is to educate instructors (and then our riders) on how to interpret them.
I’ve been a cycling coach for many years and have spent a good amount of my time training other coaches and instructors. I prefer to teach people “how” to think instead of “what” to think. In my book (figuratively speaking), just telling someone that something doesn’t work isn’t good enough. Anyone who has taken a workshop with me knows that answering a question by saying “that’s the way it’s always been done” or “Lance Armstrong (or insert your favorite cycling authority) said that doesn’t work” is not acceptable. If a person cannot explain something beyond name-dropping, they really don’t know what they’re talking about.
I hate seeing an instructor fumble to answer when a rider asks “why”. Cycling Fusion and I teamed up with ICI/Pro because they are committed to providing sound education and content to their members.