What’s all the excitement about with the Assault Air Bike? Isn’t it just another exercise bike? Well, we had the pleasure of being tent neighbors with the Assault Air Bike Team at the 2015 CrossFit Games and got to watch first hand the pain and suffering that this beastly bike inflicts. The Assault Air Bike has a reputation of being a Giant Killer (in a good way) and over the course of the weekend, we watched legs turn into jelly as person after person took the 60 Second Challenge (max calories in 60 seconds) in an effort to win a bike.
The Assault Air Bike was grandfathered in to training by a piece of equipment known as the Schwinn “Airdyne”. This was one of the first exercise bikes with movable arms to assist with the turning of the legs against a flywheel. The bike utilized both pushing and pulling resistance in the arms to accompany the legs in turning the wheel. It originally found its way into many physical therapy offices because of the arms unique ability to assist in turning the legs, and providing an effort free range of motion for things like knee and hip rehabilitation. It also sat and collected dust in the corners of various gyms.
Renewed Interest in the Air Bike
It wasn’t until CrossFitters discovered the potent metabolic blast that working the arms and legs on a bike could elicit, that the Airdyne became popular in our sport. People started searching for old Airdynes on Craigslist. Coaches formulated some awful workouts and tested on it, such as a 10-minute calorie test.
The problem was that these old rickety bikes often needed repairs, and even new ones were not built or equipped to handle the intensity at which our athletes attempted to ride them. Picture a thunderous blast of the flywheel creating a buzz-across the gym like a herd of killer bees, followed by a sharp ping and snap of the screws falling off. These bikes were simply made too flimsy for these kinds of forces.
Now a More Durable Air Bike
The Assault Air Bike picks up where the Airdyne left off, and solves the issue of durability.While more expensive than an Airdyne or other Air Bikes, these bikes are heavier, sturdier, and more solidly built to handle an intense pounding of maximal effort from the arms and legs. The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ applies here and the cumulative cost of repairs and inconvenience of not having it available make the Assault Air Bike worth the investment.
Where the Assault Air Bike further separates from Airdyne is the bike provides air resistance that increases as you pedal faster. There is no “cruising” or “spinning” zone and the faster you pedal, the harder it pushes back.
They also incorporate more specific measurements in the monitor for CrossFitters, such as reading calories, watts, providing interval training programs and reading heart rate. The computer incorporates many built in workouts, but you can also customize it for tabata training.
Athletes and coaches use and trust this bike so much, that they have even been featured at the “Reebok CrossFit Games” as a training implement in the 2015 individuals final event. Next to the Concept 2 “Model D” rower, The Assault Air Bike is quickly becoming a must-have for any serious gym. And yes, it also serves as a handy scaling option for athletes who are hurt of rehabbing, but still need to get in the gym.
Air Bike Workouts and Tests
Here are a few common tests and workouts used on this bike:
50 cal for time
Single effort for max wattage, followed by Max 30 intervals at 90% with one-minute rest.
Tabata intervals for max calories
The 60 Second Challenge (Max Calories in 60 seconds)
So over the weekend we watched hundreds and hundreds of people test their mettle on this bike taking the 60 Second Challenge. Probably the most fun for us was to watch the “before and after” moments of the people who weren’t familiar with the Assault Air Bike’s reputation before they tried the challenge. This is the bike that hurts so good!
Louden Swain is our Editor-in-Chief and one of the foremost experts on CrossFit. He oversees all content on the Wodstar Website including the production our our movement video index. He offers insightful stories and commentary regarding current trends in CrossFit and sprinkles in his own opinion to spice up the discussion. If you have questions or comments about his articles, please feel free to challenge him—he’d enjoy the lively conversation.