There’s nothing like a long, challenging bike ride on a crisp day surrounded by the hustle and bustle of city life or the lush landscapes of nature. Granted, this is only true so long as there’s no rain, sleet, snow or extremely cold temperatures. Put simply, inclement weather is a cyclist’s biggest enemy, often leading to missed opportunities for both pleasure and fitness.
WideRun’s marriage of both cycling and virtual reality eliminates the tedium of stationary biking, offering eager cyclists a chance to ride in diverse environments when they’re forced to stay indoors. Of course, the biggest challenge with all VR experiences is achieving a suitable level of immersion. WideRun’s system accomplishes this by employing a bike trainer engineered to apply pedal resistance and let cyclists turn their handlebars; these two variables are essential in convincing riders that they’re riding the Great Wall of China or through an abandoned, zombie-infested city.
While WideRun is compatible with any bike, it is currently only compatible with the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, and smart TVs (for those who don’t have access to a VR headset). No matter which route a cyclist chooses to take, WideRun must be connected to a smartphone or PC. In exchange, the software lets users check their performance, ride with community members, and challenge other riders as a means to keep things interesting.
The full system can be had for $446 with an expected ship date of April 2016. The campaign is looking for $44,475 in funding by May 2, 2015.
While WideRun claims its pedal resistance can successfully mirror the feeling of riding uphill, it may not do enough. Because the system lacks the means to transmit other types of feedback — like bumps in the road or uneven paths — the fullness of the experience might be compromised. Still, the product is very well thought out, sporting similarities to the VirtuixOmni.