A University of Colorado graduate has found a way for people to get the cardio workout of running without the pain that follows when you pound the pavement.
Inventor and CU grad Brent Teal invented the ElliptiGO to be a way for people to get the workout of running and the low impact exercise of an elliptical without being confined to a gym.
So what’s an ElliptiGO?
At its core, the ElliptiGO is a fitness device that emulates running outdoors without the associated impact. Many different names for the product have emerged recently, including elliptical exercise cycle, stand-up bike, mobile elliptical trainer, mobile cross-trainer, and outdoor elliptical trainer. Regardless of the moniker, there are four fundamental attributes of an elliptical bicycle:
- It is used outdoors
- It has two wheels
- It is propelled by an elliptical motion that emulates running
- It performs similarly to a conventional road bike in terms of speed and handling
Elliptical bikes enable people to take low-impact weight-bearing exercise outdoors. Studies show that people tend to exercise longer, more intensely, and more consistently when they are able to do so outdoors. As a result, elliptical bikes provide people with a great way to get fit and stay active for years to come.
What’s wrong with the conventional bicycle?
There’s nothing wrong with the bicycle. It’s a great vehicle. In fact, every member of our company has spent a lot of time on a bicycle. The two founders are former Ironman triathletes (a race that includes a 112-mile bicycling portion) and our employees include former professional road and track bike racers and competitive triathletes. We are not tying to recreate or change the bicycle – far from it. In fact, what we’ve created isn’t actually a bicycle, it’s a pedal-driven scooter. If it were at all easy to say “elliptical pedal-driven scooter” we’d call it that. We’ve simply chosen the term bicycle out of convenience, but we’re the first to admit that the ElliptiGO is not a bicycle. More importantly, the ElliptiGO is a solution made by runners, for runners. Our goal is to re-create running outdoors without the impact. As any runner will tell you, bicycles don’t do that for a number of reasons.
First of all, the cycling position is very different from the running position. Cyclists ride seated with their upper torso hunched forward so they can reach the handlebars. Runners exercise in a much more upright position. Secondly, the cycling propulsion motion is very different from the running motion. Cyclists pedal in a circle while runners take long elliptical strides. Finally, the overall experience is different. The cycling position facilitates resting, but can make it challenging to keep the head up, which results in many cyclists spending a lot of their time staring at the ground a few feet in front of their own front wheel. A runner’s head is in a relaxed position that enables the runner to more comfortably absorb his environment visually and appreciate his surroundings. Cycling and running both have their good points and bad points, but we believe that they are significantly different, and the ElliptiGO is designed to deliver an experience that is much closer to running than to cycling.
That said, the ElliptiGO would not have come into existence if we had been able to find a comfortable bicycle saddle. After thousands of miles of cycling, professional fittings, and trying out a wide variety of seats, we concluded that bike seats are just uncomfortable for some people. Accepting the fact that our nether regions were going to go numb every time we worked out just stopped making sense after awhile – especially since we don’t have kids yet. Layer on top of that the lower back, neck, and shoulder pain caused by the hunched over riding position and the need to come up with a low-impact alternative to cycling seemed pretty obvious. Turns out we weren’t alone. Well over half of the 1,500 cyclists we’ve surveyed have indicated that the pain caused by the seat and riding position is a drawback to cycling. Elliptical bikes eliminate the pain from the seat and riding position. We think that’s a good thing.
How can you ride a bike without a seat?
People often ask us how it’s possible to ride a bicycle without a seat. Fortunately, it’s easy to ride an elliptical cycle because it turns out that people are able to balance quite well when standing. Think about the last time you were riding a bike over some kind of obstacle – train tracks, potholes, speed bumps – chances are you stood up on the pedals to improve your balance when crossing the obstacle. Basically, the elliptical bike rider is in that well-balanced position the entire time.
In addition, the need to rest on a seat while exercising is something of a myth. People run marathons without sitting; people hike for hours on end without sitting; and almost everyone finds themselves walking and standing for long periods of time fairly frequently. Just think about the last time you were at the mall, or Disneyland, or sightseeing. Riding an elliptical bike is basically like walking, hiking, or running. You can comfortably do it for hours, and as you’ll see on the “Epic Rides” pages, we’ve tested our theory and found that there is no substantive difference in the amount of time we can ride the ElliptiGO versus how long we could walk, run, or ride a bike.
Is there anything else out there like it?
We haven’t seen any other elliptical bikes out there yet. We have seen an elliptically-driven tricycle advertised on NBC’s The Biggest Loser and endorsed by the show. These tricycles appear to be targeted at overweight individuals and we’ve been told that TBL contestants will be seen riding these mobile elliptical trikes as part of their workout regimens this season. These outdoor elliptical trainers use a short elliptical/circular pedaling motion for propulsion and include arm levers that help drive the vehicle forward. Because it doesn’t perform like a bicycle however in terms of speed and handling, the three-wheeled mobile outdoor elliptical trainer used on The Biggest Loser is not an elliptical bike. Although this isn’t one, we do expect to see other elliptical bike companies enter the market in the near future.
The best way to find out more about ElliptiGO, and how fun it is to ride, is to go to the closest HealthStyles Exercise Equipment location and do a test ride. HealthStyles is excited to introduce this new and exciting outdoor elliptical to the Denver Metro area and Colorado. You just have to stop in and try it!