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.
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.