You might have seen him riding around the streets of Corrales on what at first glance looks like a bicycle.
And it is a bicycle, but something’s different. Instead of pumping pedals, Corrales resident Gene Butler seems to glide down the road as if walking on air. The wheels are smaller and, upon closer inspection, the iron horse he rides has no saddle.
“It’s an elliptical bicycle,” he explains. “There’s a number of varieties that you can look up online.”
An elliptical bicycle is designed for the rider to stand upright while pedaling. It’s like an elliptical trainer you see at gyms, but attached to a wheel.
Butler says he bought his elliptical bike about six years ago.
“I don’t like working out inside,” he says. “If I had something inside, I wouldn’t use it. I look at this as an alternative to running.”
Butler used to be a fairly avid runner.
“As you get older, the knees start to ache,” the 76-year-old said.
One advantage an elliptical bike has over running is that it’s easy on the knees. Butler notes that elliptical bikes offer non-impact exercise.
It also may be better than a bicycle. Some athletic trainers say that slouching forward on a bike is harder on the shoulders and spine, and hip flexors can get tight and feel fatigued. An elliptical bike is less of a strain on the body because the rider maintains a vertical posture.
While elliptical exercise equipment has been around, well, at least since those Tony Little infomercials of the 1990s. But a patent for an elliptical bicycle wasn’t registered until 2008.
Butler, whose company, Kestrel Corp., does research and development work with an assortment of technologies, bought his bike online. It’s manufactured by ElliptiGo, based in Solana Beach, Cal., which makes both elliptical bikes and stand up bikes.
According to ElliptiGo’s website, its elliptical bikes provide workouts that exercise the legs, body core and upper body. They claim that a workout on an elliptical bike burns 33% more calories than a traditional bike.
Prices for ElliptiGo bikes range from $2,500 to $4,000.
Butler says he often rides a 3-mile loop on Loma Larga and Corrales Road.
While EllipiGo makes a variety of elliptical bike that can traverse mountain bike trails, Butler keeps his on the pavement… except for the time he got run off the road.
“Most of the people in the village are very sensitive, with the horses and all,” he said just moments before a horse and rider coincidently appeared walking along West La Entrada Road. “But there’s then there’s that guy where you’re in his way.”
But for Butler, elliptical bicycling is the way to go.
“I get out four or five times a week for about 45 minutes at a time,” he said. “It’s a good way to enjoy being outside.”