Bkool has launched 3D RealWeather technology that allows you to ride any route on Earth – in a virtual way using an ANT+ trainer – complete with real time weather conditions.
Now, you might think that one of the reasons to ride indoors on a trainer is to avoid the weather, but this system will only depict the weather on screen – you don’t actually have to get cold and wet!
“When the cyclist selects a route Bkool 3D RealWeather simulates its meteorological conditions, and in 3D,” according to Bkool. “The weather phenomena are depicted in real time, and cover every route in the world. This advance represents a breakthrough in virtual simulation, making possible extremely realistic virtual scenarios. This new development is launched applied to the practice of cycling, but it will be progressively expanded to other sports and multiple fields, like video games and driver's training.”
So, for example, you might live in London but decide to ride a virtual route in Tokyo. If it is currently raining in Tokyo, you’ll see raindrops hitting the road. If it’s windy in Tokyo, you’ll have the wind either helping you or acting against you, depending on the direction you’re riding. For those of us brought up on Ataris and ZX Spectrums, this is mind-blowing stuff.
The Bkool system will also portray snow, fog, cloud and lightning storms if those are the weather conditions where you’ve chosen to ride. It reproduces the time of day as well, the simulator portraying the light conditions at dawn, in the morning, at dusk, and at night. It will even accurately recreate the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky, and the phase of the moon!
Bkool launched its 3D World technology last August. They boast that the simulator can reproduce the scenery of any route in the world in 3D, recreating the rivers, trees and rocks typical of an area. It also reproduces roads, buildings, and so on.
As you cycle, the simulator transmits the features of the terrain through the trainer. So, if there is a climb in the real world you will feel the resistance get higher, and if there’s a descent the resistance will decrease.
Bkool says that its major contribution to the sport and the videogame industry is that its virtual 3D scenarios are unlimited, unlike those of other simulators whose routes are pre-recorded.
The technology allows you to take part in mass participation events, leagues, long-distance races, or simple rides. You take the form of an avatar and can interact with other avatars in the virtual world. You can speak to other riders as you race on the simulator, no matter where they are in the world.
The Bkool simulator also offers an analytical platform in the Cloud. This takes your training data – time, distance, heart rate, and speed – are displays it graphically.
The Bkool simulator, including RealWeather, is already available and can be downloaded from the Bkool website. It can be used with any ANT+ cycling trainer (or stationary bicycle). Go to the Bkool website for a list of compatible models.
There’s a free version, while the Premier version that includes 3D simulation requires the payment of a monthly fee. It’s currently £8 per month, or £6.50 per month if you take out an annual membership.
Things have really hotted up in the world of virtual reality cycling lately, Zwift having entered the market. That online system is currently available as a free Beta product ahead of a full launch soon.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.