ViRZoom VR Bicycle Now Shipping, Combines Gaming And Exercise

I’ve written before about the ViRZoom Gaming System, a foldable stationary bike that is simultaneously an exercise bike and gaming peripheral for VR. It may sound counterintuitive, but for those times when you want to mix your peanut butter and your chocolate, it’s surprisingly delightful. You don't even realize that you're getting exercise.

And now ViRZoom officially shipping, selling for $399.95 online at ViRZoom.com, with availability at third-party online retail in July and in store in October.

BeforeBeforeShipping versionShipping version


A couple of things have changed since I last tried out the bike back in December (and even since GDC), most notably the controllers (on the bike handle). They're more streamlined and easier to navigate, which is especially important given that your eyes are covered and you’re pedaling a bicycle. (If you want, you can map existing VR game controls to the ViRZoom controller and play them from the bike, although obviously you won’t get the benefits of bike locomotion. This works only for games launched from SteamVR.)

Instead of using Wi-Fi, the bicycle connects using Bluetooth LE now. It includes heart rate sensors, eight tension control settings, and an additional game called Apache (previously announced), where you’re in an attack helicopter, surviving shots from turrets while also managing fuel consumption. I played Apache, pictured below, for a good 20 minutes, and it’s quite addictive, especially considering I was getting some light exercise to boot.

A few quick reminders about ViRZoom: The bike weighs about 39 pounds and folds up for easy storage. It comfortably supports humans weighing up to 260 pounds and measuring 4’4” to 6’2” in height. In games, you go faster or higher by pedaling faster, and you navigate left to right by leaning, just like on a regular bicycle. The bike ships with five games in its “arcade” (Cowboy, Racer, Pegasus, Tank and Apache), each with different levels, and you can select from a variety of workout modes, like “timed” or “award challenge;” you can even challenge others in online multiplayer gameplay. 

ViRZoom works with either the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, and it will also support the PlayStation VR. The company has included Strava integration (a social network for fitness tracking). The company claimed that many developers are using its Unity SDK to build more games, which will certainly be a key factor for those plunking down $400 for this peripheral.

Fritz Nelson is the Editor-In-Chief of Tom's Hardware. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Follow us on Facebook, Google+, RSS, Twitter and YouTube.

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  • xkm1948
    How about use that money to buy a real bicycle and get that fat lazy ass off the computer chair for some exercise?
    -3
  • Nuckles_56
    I wouldn't mind getting one if it meant that I could 'ride' the same roads as say the Tour de France
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  • cryoburner
    This just looks like your typical cheap $100 to $150 exercise bike, with a game controller integrated into the handlebars that somehow inflates the price to $400. Going by the FAQ on their site, it also sounds like the retail release might cost even more. It seems like a bit of a missed opportunity not adding more VR-geared features to it at this price.

    At the very least, rather than having a cheap tension-control knob, I'd much rather have the tension controlled digitally. That would allow games to change the resistance themselves as a form of force feedback. Riding a bike up a hill in VR, increase the tension, and when heading downhill, decrease it. The same could be done for different surfaces, so that riding through sand or across a grassy field would be harder than traveling down a road, and (virtual) gears could be shifted using the triggers, or other buttons. It could also be possible to have a game like Crazy Taxi where you ride a rickshaw, and are able to pick up multiple passengers or make deliveries of varying loads, increasing or decreasing the tension accordingly.

    And on the topic of force feedback, some "rumble" could be nice as well, giving you feedback about the surface you are riding on, or for non-biking games, providing a jolt for weapon impacts and so on, further improving the level of immersion. And how about having a fan attached to the front that games can control to make it feel more like you're actually moving? Not only would it help to improve realism, but would also help keep the rider cool, which is probably even more of an issue when you have a foam-cushioned VR headset and headphones strapped to your face.

    I just checked their FAQ, and they actually suggest that higher-end models might be coming with "game controllable resistance and fan", so I guess they already thought of these features as well. No doubt they will be on even higher priced models though. I like the idea of using exercise equipment in VR, but much like the rest of this current generation of consumer VR, early-adopter pricing in effect, and everything costs almost double what it probably should.
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