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The Stationary Epicycle

By: on February 18, 2012
$9,650 - $10,795
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Monowheels, or monocycles--huge, single-track circus contraptions riders sit inside instead of on top of--have been around since the late 19th century, and were at one point proposed for use as a serious mode of transportation. As if bumping or grazing self-righteous cyclists ramming their spandexed, manorexic rear ends through rush hour traffic weren't already tempting enough.... But now, Old Faithful Hammacher Schlemmer, and French manufacturer Ciclotte, have turned clownish into cool, solved the share-the-road conundrum, made low-impact exercise interesting again, and thrown in an obscene price tag for good measure with the Stationary Epicycle.

Conceptually similar to some models of Spinning or other group fitness bikes, the Stationary Epicycle employs a flywheel and magnetic resistance to promote smooth pedaling, and simulate all outdoor terrains, from downhill to straight the F up. The Epicycle stands out, however, because its dual-satellite epicyclic transmission manifests each single pedal revolution as four flywheel rotations. That is, a rider spinning at 100 rpms is generating flywheels speeds of 400 rpms.

The sleek, slim-profiled Epicycle is 44 1/2" tall x 21 1/4" wide x 44" deep, and weighs 121 lbs. Its nifty design and slick colors almost transcend its true calling as a sweat-summoning, tortuous piece of fitness equipment. It will certainly look way cooler in your rec room than a clunky treadmill, has-been BowFlex, or life-size talking cutout of Chuck Norris barking orders and threatening to kick your ass. OK, maybe not cooler than that last one, but definitely less offensive to company.

The Epicycle's copper ring measures 36" in diameter, and is dotted with 6 magnets around its enclosure to generate a magnetic field providing 12 levels of resistance. Handlebars are carbon fiber, and adjustable, as is the padded Alcantra saddle, which has 4 settings ranging from 1/2" to 8 1/4" high. The bike's frame is steel and strong enough to carry riders weighing up to 285 pounds. Each bike also sports a touchscreen display computer that controls resistance, and gives readouts of time, rpms, and wattage. Monthly charging via an AC adapter keeps the display's batteries, and perhaps your motivation, juiced up and ready to ride.

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