In 2007, few visionaries could have imagined a future in which cyclists would train in their living rooms as they do outdoors.
Combining a world as physical as cycling with one as digital as the internet? Our dear Fernando García Checa saw that it was possible, and he set about shaping it.
“People have limited time: either they dedicate it to one thing or the other, and the internet is winning“, he said at the time in an interview in El País. “Either we manage to combine them or sport is going to be the loser in this battle”.
Fourteen years have passed since that original BKOOL idea became a reality and we created a new sporting category, online cycling.
Today we have all grasped it as a means of training, entertainment and above all health: online cycling has transcended beyond the amateur cyclist and allows fitness classes, competitions and even World Championships.
We have the great fortune of facing an expanding sector: according to AMBE data, 1.565.233 bicycles were sold in Spain in 2020; smart trainers increased their sales by 400%, according to data from David Martín, CEO of TradeInn.
So what’s next? We wanted to get the opinions of industry peers, roller manufacturers and journalists, to ask them how they see ecycling over the years.
How will online cycling change over the next ten years?
“Ten years from now there will be a different reality: indoor cycling will continue to grow, the number of consumers of virtual cycling will be much higher”, says Iñaki Argote, CEO of Oreka Training.
From his point of view, the future lies in two aspects: improving competitions, which are still in their infancy, and the user experience.
“Online competitions are going to grow“, explains the head of the Gipuzkoa-based company. “And both the industry and the federations are going to have to get serious about regulating fair-play“.
The head of Marketing at Zycle, Pablo Villabona, adds to this new concept of online competitions, revealing that “there are rumours and news that e-cycling is going to become more professional with competitive leagues at a professional level in Europe“.
However, as well as improving meetings, events and competitions, it is necessary to add how the user deals with them.
In the next decade, from Iñaki’s point of view, the future of e-cycling lies in augmented reality and proposing a more immersive experience: “Glasses that allow you to experience that you are in the peloton”. From his point of view, it is possible.
Diego Rodríguez, from Planeta Triatlón, also goes further along the same lines, including the bicycle manufacturer: specific bicycle models for the smart trainers, smart bikes, vibration platforms. “Anything that makes the user feel at home in the living room as if they were going out to train with the group on Saturday morning, is gaining followers for the cause“, he explains.
The family and e-cycling
Up to now, the smart trainer, or e-cycling, has been understood as a training tool specifically for cyclists or triathletes.
But there is an opportunity, and a future ahead, to show that there is a long way to go in areas such as health and entertainment:
“The future also lies in the fact that cycling is not just for cyclists“, says Diego, “and between all of us we have to normalise that the Smart trainer is another element of the house that more members of the family unit can approach”.
Fitness classes like the ones you already have available at BKOOL, Diego explains, “help people not to see the smart trainer as the enemy, but as something useful and on which you don’t need to enter the anaerobic threshold or sweat a lot“.
“Even”, he concludes, “if we are able to combine gamification for children and cycling, we will be able to reduce the sedentary lifestyle rates we hear about in the news“.
From Zycle, Pablo Villabona comments that he has already noticed “a change and growth in the amateur user, who has been introduced more into the world of virtual cycling and the experience with smart trainers“.
The future is already part of the present
As we said at the beginning, fourteen years ago at BKOOL we were pioneers in online cycling.
And we are still thinking about how to make our software a valid tool for better training, recreational sport and entertainment.
Our latest version of the simulator takes this path: better graphics, personalised avatars to make you feel more like a protagonist, and more realistic routes in both video and 3D.
Are you coming to the future with us? Visit our website to check out all the facilities that BKOOL has to offer: getting on your bike has never been so easy!