It is difficult to train for outdoor sports indoors. We can try to replicate naturally occurring factors such as hills, valleys, wind and rain; but nothing can adequately imitate what the outdoors is capable of producing (even when training outdoors). Cycling is no exception. Training is regularly conducted indoors, to control things such as resistance and drag when slopes are sparse. Or, when practise riding into a headwind is required and there’s not a breath of wind outside.

Previously, an ergo (stationary bike) was the option, where gears were simply changed to add resistance to the ride, slowing a cyclist down and causing him/her to push harder to achieve the same speed. A relatively new product has emerged, however; it is completely changing the training game.

AIRhub is a revolutionary cycling training device produced by Terrain Dynamics. It is an electromagnetic braking system which adds watts to your ride without adding mass. The AIRhub connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, with the AIRhub app controlling your output in real time. “AIR” stands for automated integrated resistance, and hub of course being the 1.5kg physical attachment to the front wheel of the bike.

The aptly named Terrain Dynamics is the brainchild of Perth man Michael Freiberg, a gold and silver Commonwealth Games medallist himself and 2011 Omnium World Champion. Freiberg developed this remarkable feat of engineering after years of training for both track and road cycling. He was finding he couldn’t control and manipulate his training schedule exactly to his needs with the technology that was previously available; his routine was often dictated by his location or the weather on the day. As this inventor and managing director Freiberg says:

"With the AIRhub, we've created that. A smart, one-of-a-kind electromagnetic braking system that works with you and can be customised to suit your program and your terrain.”

AIRhub has a series of different modes to select from, each regulating the system in a different way.

  • Manual mode: it can add up to 100 watts while riding. This mode is ideal when riding with slower cyclists; it allows for a slower speed, but with the use of more power.
  • Heart rate mode: it monitors the heart rate and automatically adjusts resistance to keep the training in a specific zone. This mode is ideal if riding in a large group – it increases resistance when positioned in the middle/back of the pack and decreases it if at the front; it is designed to maintain a consistent heart rate.
  • CDA mode: it increases coefficient of drag to simulate headwinds.
AIRhub
A close up of the hub and specialised front wheel.

 

This product is versatile. It can be utilised by leisurely weekend riders - wanting to increase average speed by a couple of km/h, all the way up to elite athletes – wanting to hone in on specific heart rate targets, oxygen intake and output wattage. Sitting at a current price point of $1950 per unit, the AIRhub is a fairly significant financial investment, but one that when used correctly, can dramatically improve results in very broad or very specific areas.

“I hope everyone who's ever struggled to take their performance to the next level, whether it be because they live in a flat area, don't have safe roads to train on or have to train solo just to get in those hard sessions, can find their answer in the AIRhub.” M. Freiberg

The results speak for themselves, with riders demonstrating a 10-15% improvement in riding power with no additional effort.

 

References:

En.wikipedia.org. (2018). Michael Freiberg. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Freiberg [Accessed 12 Mar. 2018].

Rainmaker, D. (2017). Hands-on: The AIRhub on-road cycling resistance unit. [online] DC Rainmaker. Available at: https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/01/airhub-cycling-resistance.html [Accessed 12 Mar. 2018].

Terrain Dynamics. (2018). AIRhub. [online] Available at: https://terraindynamics.com.au/airhub [Accessed 10 Mar. 2018].

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