The 2012 edition of the ProForm Le Tour de France is an indoor option for winter cycling. If you live anywhere where snow and ice are wintertime realities, it’s worth considering.
The biggest killer of cold weather training is BOREDOM. It kills you dead…worse than dead. You’re alive, but there’s barely enough electrical activity in the brain to prove it. Bike racing re-runs grow old quickly. Stationary motion [which should be a contradiction in terms] numbs the senses. Before you know it your spouse is flashing a light in your eyes to see if your pupils are reactive.
The TDF trainer simulates changes in terrain – e.g. climbing and descending – with changes in pedal resistance and a +/- 20 degree elevation control. All of this comes from data supplied through Google Maps. Through an internet subscription to iFit you can, for example, download the climb up the west side of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. The trainer will reproduce that same climb. No kidding.
Riding in your basement you can virtually train on rides that normally need to wait for warmer weather. Better yet, you can ride all the hills on an upcoming tour.
But wait…THERE’S MORE!
Go for a ride through the Pyrenees on the route of the Tour de France. The possibilities exceed the imagination. According to the website there’s realistic front and back virtual shifting, a saddle clamp that can accommodate the rider’s personal saddle, and the option to use your own pedals and cleats.
My first stop was Amazon. The trainer received 3 out of 5 stars out of 35 reviews. There were 16 reviews in the 1 and 2 star range [bad], and 14 reviews that earned 4 or 5 stars [good]. Some of the most informative comments included:
- “non-existent customer service”
- “parts unavailable…wrong parts shipped”
- “when it works it’s great”
- “wait for generation three – not there yet”
From Roadbike Rider: When the system works as advertised, it is fantastic. But working as advertised has only happened a couple of times.
Roadbike Reviews: an even mix of “I love it” and “it never worked”
A blogger named Zeke who had an epic bad experience.
Below is are stats from the Better Business Bureau re ProForm:
Great concept poorly executed?
After all that’s been said, I’m most reluctant to spend money or tie up money in a dispute with what appears to be simply terrible customer service coupled with inconsistent quality. Present users seem to be holding out for a third generation that works consistently, while appreciating the brilliance of this trainer when the planets are in alignment, and it works. Potential users may do well to be cautious: there’s still quite a bit of ambiguity out there.