I Rode Saga's HoloBike and Things Got a Little Weird

Matson told me that he finds wearing a headset to be too cumbersome when you’re working out. In particular, parents told him that they can’t check out with VR because they need to know what’s going on around them. However, I prefer to not have any distractions, mainly because I’m horrible at exercise and will take any excuse not to do it.

High-endurance athletes may find Saga’s offerings a bit slim, too. Matson says the company plans to ship the bikes with three to four trails in the system, each about 20 kilometers long. This is not very many rides, and those rides are not very long. By way of contrast, NordicTrack has an extensive library of rides of all lengths, levels, and programs, which also increase resistance and move up and down as you ride. Other bikes integrate with Zwift, the immensely popular online cycling platform, or collect intensely granular data that allows you to improve your fitness.

Closeup view of the handle bars and large screen attached to an indoor exercise bike

Photograph: Saga Holographic

As of yet, HoloBike doesn’t do any of those things. The augmented technology, however, certainly makes what you’re seeing seem more real. And in some circumstances, not being real is a bonus. If all the trails are virtually generated, I’d love to have the ability to safely traverse places I wouldn’t otherwise go, like the streets of Mumbai, or even something entirely fictional, like a delivery route from Paperboy, or Elliott’s big take-off from E.T.

It would be cool if there were a possibility for users to design or contribute trails, too. I joked to Matson that they should make some version of a trail that goes all the way around the world, so you could circumnavigate the globe over the course of a year’s worth of rides, only to have him suggest creating a little onscreen pedal boat for when you’re crossing the Atlantic. With the HoloBike, the world really is entirely open and limitless. That’s enormously exciting.

That being said, the bike’s starting price tag on Kickstarter is $2,599, with expected delivery in the winter of 2024-2025. That’s comparable to other video-enabled stationary exercise bikes, but a lot to shell out for potential. If I’m going to ride a bike, I need something that approximates the feeling of the open road a little more closely, and for a little bit longer.

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