BKOOL social sports network
BKOOL home turbo trainer and social sports network
Move over, Strava…
Posted 15 August 2012
What’s going to be the Next Big Thing in the world of GPS ride tracking? Or online cycling networking, or home training for that matter? Something that combines the three sounds like it might be a good bet; something like BKOOL Connect Sport, for example, which CTR got to see in the metal on a recent visit to Sussex-based distributor i-ride.co.uk.
Put simply, BKOOL is a combination of GPS data logger, programmable-resistance turbo-trainer and Strava-style interactive network but there is so much to it that giving a full account of what it has to offer will have to wait for a review proper.
Imagine, however, the following scenario; you go out for a spin around a favourite route and, once home, transfer ride data from your smartphone or GPS device to your computer and to the BKOOL website. A day or so later, you fancy going over the same ride but don’t fancy the weather; meanwhile, a regular online follower on BKOOL has bettered your performance on several sections of the route.
You stick your bike on the BKOOL home trainer, connect it to your computer and, after a suitable warm up, re-ride the route at the same level of effort right to the point where your follower has gone one or two percent faster. On his or her home trainer… Using the route data from your original ride… You, in turn, post an even quicker split, which your numerous followers who own the BKOOL trainer hardware can then themselves attempt to better. And so on… You need never again leave the comfort of your own home!
BKOOL can be used as a social network alone but the home trainer is the bit that makes the difference. It has a computer-controlled magnetic resistance unit of the sort that can generate resistance that varies according to the demands of virtual terrain and, in this case, the virtual terrain can be a recreation of that previously ridden by a BKOOL user out in the real world.
Screen-grabbed – sort of
So, you can make your own resistance maps based on favourite – or hated – rides and share it with others who may wish to try the same route. You can compete with them either online or on board your home trainer, you can create a ride history and you can access training programs prepared by BKOOL according to parameters you set.
The system has been three years in development in Spain and already has some 3,000 users; a number sure to increase rapidly once it becomes more widely available. After all, while the urge to compete with online riding buddies never seems to wane, the willingness to get out on the bike may vary with weather. And the BKOOL home trainer feels highly realistic at the pedal.
The hardware – trainer, cadence sensor, front wheel block and wireless dongle for connection with a computer – should cost around £400 when it becomes available. Can’t wait.
If you like the sound of the Bkool trainer, see our full review here.
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