Hackercise bike

During lockdown I was fortunate enough to have continued work building websites, in-fact due to Covid-19 various organisations needed to pivot focus I was busier than usual. So although I didn’t suddenly find myself with loads of time on my hands there was still plenty as I wasn’t going out or travelling to an office.

And on that part of not travelling, I really missed my daily cycle into my office space. It was only 2 miles each way but with lockdown I really started to feel the lack of that daily exercise.

So I emergency purchased an exercise bike – a ‘Roger Black Gold Folding Magnetic Exercise Bike’ for £109 from Argos a week before lockdown (we all knew it was coming right).

During the early stages of lockdown it was a real boon. But I still missed the feel of my bile as well as the ability to track my ride. The Argos one very much didn’t have these capabilities. As such the Hackercise bike was born. I bought or repurposed the the following.

  • Bike tape
  • Garmin Speed Sensor 2 (key to tracking distance)
  • Garmin Cadence Sensor (optional)
  • Garmin out front mount
  • Garmin 520+ Edge bike computer

Now the Speed sensor is meant to go on a proper bike, and the one I bought had a flywheel, I tried to see if I could attach the sensor to it in some way, but there was no good place to do so. So I attached it to the pedal crank. I read somewhere that if you then give the Garmin Edge a fake wheel circumference that you could trick it into thinking it’s a real bike. Anyway, I did so and using the existing speed sensor that came with the bike I was able to calibrate the sensor with the wheel circumference at a massive 4.85 meters. But what the hell, I had an accurate(ish) reading.

It was on.

That sorted I removed the foam padding from the bars, removed the existing computer (basic LCD) – tapped up the bars, and added the mount. It actually felt like a real bike! And I was able to record my rides!

The project had two purposes, firstly a little focus during some pretty dark times, and secondly it also allowed me to exercise more which then helped with purpose one.

And it worked! Here’s a Strava activity from the Hackercise bike.

And some photos, the first one is the original setup.

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