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Muoverti’s Tiltbike Looks Cool: But It’s A Long Ways Away

tiltbike5

Muoverti managed to capture the excitement of cycling news sites everywhere this afternoon, announcing their upcoming Muoverti Tiltbike indoor smart bike that kinda looks like a real bike, while also apparently being able to lean fully (and theoretically without tipping over). All while claiming to be fully compatible with everything from Zwift to an Xbox. While pricing hasn’t been announced yet, they say they’ll be ‘competitive’ with the upper end of the smart bike range. Today, that’s essentially referring to the Wahoo KICKR Bike, which is priced at $3,500USD.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s dig into the (very thin) tech specs, and then look at the (very long) journey ahead for the company.

The Tech Specs:

Now, before we talk about the timeline reality check, let’s talk about the claimed specs. However, I’d say their 89-second video is worth a watch, if not for the technical info, then just for the videography.

Ok, so let’s start with the frame. The company says it’s adjustable from a size 49cm to a 64cm frame, which is pretty good. You can see on the front handlebar that they’ve got two adjustment points there. One for forward/back, and one for up/down.

FrontHandle

Meanwhile, on the back near the seatpost you can see up/down adjustability, and then a rear seatpost (with slight adjustability built into that). This would mean that you’ve got a bit less forward/back adjustability on the seat itself than most smart bikes, which slide along a horizontal axis quite a bit more to allow greater fit options.

RearBike

Looking at the imagery, you can see there’s a small adjustable bit near the crank arms to allow different crank lengths – in what appears to be 165/167.5/170/172.5/175mm.

Tacx, Wahoo, and Stages all have gone with a bear-paw design that allows multiple crank arm lengths on a single crank arm. Whereas Wattbike has gone with a simple static crank arm length (that’s not changeable).

To cover larger differences in rider sizes, the company says the ‘bike portion’ of the frame itself is designed to be easily swapped, such as for another rider of a different size.

Bikeframe

Seriously, I love their frame designs (well, not the white one, but all the other ones). This *LOOKS* like it fits in a proper cycling pain cave, and immediately puts all other indoor smart bike designs to hang their heads in shame. So good.

TiltBike9

In fact, you can also swap out the handlebars, you can see an MTB configuration here:

MTBbike

The company talks a lot about controls, to integrate with apps like Zwift that don’t support them. For example, you’ll see the front handlebar has brakes:

Brakes

And it also has a small joystick for navigation, seen on the front edges of the left and right handlebar:

Joystick

Again, these are things that could be amazing, but it’s going to require platforms (again, like Zwift, but also that could be Rouvy or Bkool) to actually do something with this stuff.

Of course, the namesake of the bike itself is its tilting capabilities, allowing you to lean into the corners, and with compatible games, actually control what your avatar is doing (you can see this in the video).

XBox

Here’s a more clear shot though of what they’re going after:

Tilt

In the video, the tilt range looks pretty cool, though, I’ll pretty much guarantee you they extend the base/platform out a bit wider than that. I suspect it’ll be trivial to tip that over with a tall rider.

If you look at the midpoint of the downtube, you’ll see some status light there. That’s an interesting locale for electronics, rather than the back of the bike near the flywheel where most other companies place it. Some companies do internal routing within the frame (as Muoverti does as well). In this case, since Muoverti says that the frame portion is replaceable/swappable, so perhaps this could allow for electronic upgrades more easily down the road.

LowerLED

In terms of transmission, the company hasn’t outlined exactly what it’s transmitting, but invariably it’ll be ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart – and probably ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth Smart FTMS. In their promotional bits they show someone riding Zwift, but it’s unclear if the bike is at the production level to be transmitting data itself.

TiltbikeZwift

I noticed that in one of their ‘everybody at a party riding the bike’ video snippets, the bike in those scenes is equipped with Garmin’s Vector/Rally power meter pedals, which could be used for comparative testing. Or it could simply be used to power Zwift. I’ve seen smart bike/trainer companies in the past do events with power meter pedals for trainers/bikes that aren’t actually working yet.

GarminPowerMeterPedals

And of course, as par for the course for any upcoming cycling startup – they’ve got their former pro rider with quotables saying how game-changing it is. In their case, it’s former pro cyclist and Australian Olympian Simon Gerrans – who seems like a nice guy based on his Instagram feed. Though, historically speaking, I’d point out in my experience, the more established sports tech companies don’t tend to actually use quotes from former pro riders. Not sure why.

Gerrans

What’s semi-notable about his quote however is Muoverti is using an electromagnetic resistance control system at the rear, akin to what Wahoo uses in their KICKR Bike and what Tacx uses in their Tacx NEO series (including their NEO Bike) – as well as more recently the Wattbike ATOM 2020. This is tricky stuff to get right, not just for inertia, but also ERG stability. All of these companies took quite some time after release to really nail those bits down (and some still haven’t got it right). But none of it is new.

But electromagnetic resistance is unquestionably where any smart bike should be going, and its benefits are huge. This includes being totally silent, but also far greater control over the experience. However, they say they’ve also got a power meter in there somewhere, including tracking for left/right balance. It’s not clear if that power meter is in the crank arms, or if they’re doing estimated balance via any number of methods. They also claim torque effectiveness and pedal smoothness. Given they know the names of those terms, I’m assuming they know the ANT+ power meter spec they come from, and thus, that bodes well for consumers.

The Timeline:

3dPRintedhandlebar

Of course, the biggest red flag on the Jarvis Island infield is simply the timelines. At present, they’re claiming availability in “Fall 2022”, which, for those calendar-challenged folks is one year from now. Any time a company is talking about timelines one year from now, that means that they don’t really know with any precision. It could mean they’re being conservative, or perhaps they’re being aggressive. Either way, they don’t actually know. They’re just hopeful. And there’s nothing wrong with hope – it’s what ultimately moves the industry forward. New ideas and new concepts are great for consumer innovation – even when we can’t have them today.

But I wouldn’t hold my money out for it specifically. My bet is we won’t see it till probably Spring 2023. Just taking a swag using roughly a decade’s worth of doing this, combined with a few spoonfuls of supply chain hell that companies are going through right now. The fact that the handlebars shown above are 3D printed tells me they’re still quite far out from going through manufacturer line prototypes, which will invariably take them another year or so to tweak (assuming they match the rough timelines of their competitors).

Building a true indoor smart bike is hard – really hard. It’s taken the likes of established indoor trainer companies like Wahoo, Tacx, Stages, and Wattbike multiple years of being actively in production and shipping to sort out the issues. One only needs to read the comments section of any of my smart bike reviews to see that people are still finding issues with some new off-the-line indoor bikes. Stages is generally the most mature here production-wise, because they’ve been doing it for a decade or so for gyms and such. The others are all in various states of tweaking, either firmware or hardware. As I said in my reviews for all those bikes – the indoor smart bike market is really for early adopters at this point, with many bikes having quirky caveats (along with expensive price tags).

This weekend, starting today, the company plans to show the bike at Rouleur Live in London. I don’t know if that’s on the show floor and ridable, or if that’s behind a rope in a glass case or something. I’d love to hear from folks if it’s rideable, in terms of feel. I also know that earlier this year (January), they were trying to raise funds. Obviously, it sounds like they were successful there to some degree.

One has to wonder, with Zwift’s smart bike program running into challenges (despite having access to $500m in recent investor funding), how Muoverti will fare, with undoubtedly far less funding. Certainly, Zwift would have heard of the earlier fund-raising of Muoverti earlier this year – as for the price it would have been an easy pickup if they felt the technology was mature enough to invest or acquire in.

In any case, I think the bike looks awesome. And if there’s anything I know about cyclists, it’s that looks matter most. Hopefully it’ll have the right tech under the hood once it’s ready to release. At which point, I’ll be happy to review it.

With that – thanks for reading!

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33 Comments

  1. Chad McNeese

    Missing word?:

    “Looking at the imagery, it’s not [clear, visible, evident?] how the crankarms are swappable (such as 170/172.5/175mm).”

    • Chad McNeese

      On topic: I agree, this is the most clean and bike focused option we have seen. It just looks clean from every angle. Some smart choices on wiring and overall design motif. It is super pretty compared to the rather blocky and imposing designs of the other smart bike options. They look massive and industrial by comparison.

      There are a TON of unknowns at this point, but I welcome their overall fresh take on the basic design, and of course, I am interested in the motion aspect of the bike. It is the first to apparently use both Leverage and Steering inputs to control and impact the bike lean angle. I have done this with my E-Flex mod, and firmly believe the future of the best motion systems will combine both actions in one form or another. So, I am happy to see this entry and hope it helps drive others to take steps in that direction.

      It will be interesting to see the progress on this and hear feedback from open sources. Thanks for the coverage and thoughts as always. Your depth always surpasses the fluff that is little more than reprinted marketing puff pieces. Cheers.

    • Joe

      However, there is about a half a second in the video at 12″ from start, where you can see that it seems to be adjustable and do not needed to be swapped.

    • Oh…very nice catch – will update/include that!

    • Joe

      Better pic attached

    • Chad McNeese

      Dang, good eye! Seems a bit like the adjustable cranks we use for some bike fitting, but cleaned up a bunch.

  2. John Davie

    Side to side action would be cool for sprinting but it’s hard to see this working with, say, corners on Zwift without actual centrifugal force.

    • Paul S

      Yeah, the physics of tilting a two wheeled vehicle has everything to do with motion. Tilting when you’re not moving just won’t feel right and isn’t necessary.

  3. Frank Bauer

    I received an email from Rouleur Live offering the opportunity to book a test ride at the show, so in theory they’re showing an operational version that the public can try. I’m there tomorrow – I’ll be intrigued to see it in action now.

    • Chad McNeese

      Sweet! Please report back anything you see or here.

    • Frank Bauer

      I’ve just booked a 15 minute test ride for tomorrow, will report back…

    • Frank Bauer

      My thoughts having ridden it briefly at Rouleur:
      – overall aesthetics are very good, might benefit from some refining / polishing before full production but generally it looks great
      – braking & steering worked well on the machine I demo’d. Tilting didn’t feel quite right for me (but might’ve been fine for someone lighter / smaller). It was suggested that the tilting uses bushings so not sure how they can respond to different rider weights & heights without some sort of control allowing manual adjustment
      – I can see the tilting, steering & braking being very immersive in a VR environment (like Zwift), providing the features are supported
      – data offering is comprehensive via their app, which I was informed can be run alongside Zwift / TR / etc. (power, cadence, pedal smoothness graph, left right balance, etc)
      – there is no incline adjustment (up & down like the Kickr climb). I’m not sure how close it can come to riding outdoors without it

  4. Bill Renfroe

    The lateral motion in the video looks off to me. The rider’s center of gravity is off too far to the side. I wonder if that might reinforce bad habits that could create problems on a real-life ride.

  5. Neil Burfoot

    Had a chance to sit on the Mouverti at the show tonight. The tilt was a bit disconcerting when you first get on – you think it’s going to tip over – but it was OK once on and felt pretty nice. The lean felt a lot further than spec so it would be interesting to see how a heavy guy gets on – I’m 5’9 and 12 stone. The steering weight seems to be a feature that has caused some debate – some have found it light but I thought it was a bit heavy. I didn’t get a chance to try the bike with their software on the screen because apparently they had been given the wrong WiFi Ssid and the tech guy had gone home? Not sure if that was the cause but when I put any power through the crank it just gave a big clunk and then felt like it was broken so all I could do was peddle lightly. The video they showed of their software environment looked great however – off road single track and mid air back end flip outs are possible – motocross style. The graphics were a bit rudimentary however. In general the riding position felt good much like a road bike and it will be interesting to see how well the gear change and braking work albeit not in zwift to start with. They were asking my thoughts on price and suggested it would be between £2k and £3k – I suggested it needs to price match to watt bike and wahoo and they seem focused on that. I asked about colour customisation which seems to be available but somewhat more limited than I would like. Overall a good start but as you say DC it’s got a long way to go yet.

    • Thanks, Neil – interesting thoughts, appreciate dropping the comment!

      I’d agree that for coloring, I’d think out of the gate they’d want to have 4-5 colorways, in however many sizes they’re offering (if they wanted this to be a differentiator, which, I think it is actually quite a substantial one). But long term it’d be incredible to have some sort of custom paint program (for a fee of course).

  6. Jason McAllister

    Hi Ray, thoughtful article as always. Typo in the second last paragraph – it should be “fare”, not fair. Definitely agree with the sentiment though!

  7. Michal

    It seems to tilt the right direction. How? No one did it right so far.

    • Chad McNeese

      1) Getting the right pedal timing is largely related to using a proper leveling spring setting, when looking at traditional rocker plates. Typically, people use too strong of a spring setting, which leads to the incorrect timing we see all too often. Once you lower the leveling spring force to what most people think is “too loose” initially, the rider is required to actually balance the system. It is not exactly like riding outside, but the more appropriate timing becomes more likely and easier with low leveling spring force.

      2) From what they have shared, the TiltBike uses an electromagnet for leveling forces, that is actually adjusted dynamically according to the controlling app. This has the potential to cover some of the issues people see. That said, I want to see “regular” riders on this device and see how they handle it. Polished videos are not necessarily a full indication of what everyone can expect. That said, I am very excited to learn more about this and try one whenever I can.

  8. Kevin LaCour

    Their Facebook page was created December 12, 2019. And a “test-ride” event was posted for Feb. 12, 2020. Did anyone go to this test ride event?

    As to the tilting action – I have a KOM Cycling trainer tilt board. In my experience, I am not impressed, the rocking motion adds little to the ride experience. If it is not set up “just right” it’s a PITA. I’m selling it.

    • Ian

      Yeah, tilting a fixed bike to corner in no way shape or form is anything like corning a real bike except in appearance. If your force vector is that far out to one side on a real bike you are about to crash. It is more realistic to tilt the view as in RGT

  9. John Tobin

    They’ve really focused on the aesthetics of a regular bike, but given that means they need multiple frame sizes that could be problematic with multiple users. But maybe they assume no one shares their indoor bike? The tilt function will need some adjustability in resistance if it’s going to properly accommodate different rider weights.

    Never thought I might have a future as a cycling model as I ain’t no Tom Brady in the looks department, but if they can use that guy in their video, maybe there’s actually hope for me!

  10. How do all of these smart bikes stand up to to people who sweat heavily? I currently have an old road bike on a Tacx Vortex and I have to do more maintenance on that bike than my outdoor bikes. I’m definitely on the outlier side of the curve but when I’ve thought of upgrading to any of these bikes, I worry about their longevity under me.

  11. JP

    Exactly what I have been waiting for! Tried it today! The tilt is amazing! Esthetics fantastic! Hopefully available soon…

  12. Beautiful setup and great review! Why not add a back and forth motion like the MP1 Nfinity Trainer Platform?

    • CowRob

      I get situational vertigo. (Yeah, it sucks) The swaying/leaning, I think, wouldn’t be a deal breaker, but forward/aft movement would likely trigger it. It’s been interesting experiencing what triggers my SV, and what doesn’t. The ‘climb’ feature of the Kickr bike caused some discomfort in the beginning, and at some points in my ownership of it. I was surprised it didn’t trigger it more often. *shrug*

      But this trainer looks pretty polished in the videos. It looks exciting. It’ll be interesting when it finally comes out. It will be the New Hotness for sure. I’m sure the software is what could be holding it back.

  13. Craig G

    Looks interesting though I can’t see if it supports climbing simulation.

  14. Andy Perrin

    I rode it this evening, really good fun, quite smooth peddle stroke. Mostly found I need to turn the handlebars to steer rather than lean to follow the road, once I got used to it it was great. Almost forgot I was getting exercise

  15. dean s

    waiting for cycling/pedaling dynamics

  16. I did a test ride a few weeks ago before the Rouleur event and chatted with the guy for a good hour while riding. As a biomechanist and mechanic, I noticed the crank length was adjustable via a central hex bolt, you just need to slide the crank arm up and down, tighten the bolt for your crank length (I did point out that they printed the crank length mark wrong way round… lol). The fore / aft of the handlebar was adjustable by the whale shark shaped stem which I thought was ingenious. However, the reach when adjusted to the shortest was probably about 5cm off a 49cm road bike (which I normally ride).
    I rode it on their own software and the free ride experience was really really exciting. It’s like Grand Theft Auto, you can go any where you like, super cool. The graphics wasn’t super sophisticated, there were power ups / oil cans / health box, all sorts of things that you can collect like other games, you can go into worm holes into a different realms etc. I also tried it on an Xbox mountain bike game as shown on the video, which was even more fun with the ramps / jumps / ditches and the avatar falls over like a real person (if you could yank the handlebar and do a manual, that would be cool).
    I would agree with DC Rainmaker that a 2022 launch would be over ambitious. When I rode it, the steering for both tilt and handlebar turn were very delayed and uneven, the belt drive was very loud and felt like it was slipping, there was a fair amount of software communication glitch, it was very much a beta testing on a prototype. That said, it’s clear that there’s a huge potential and when it’s ready, it’ll be one of those super addictive thing that will make you look forward to a 3 hour turbo session.

  17. Very promising product. I’m sure lots of fitness enthusiasts will be hooked into this (including me LOL). Is this available already to the public?