The `Erg': From Bike Wheel to Rower's Tool

`WHEN you look back now, it did look foolish," Peter Dreissigacker says of the prototype indoor rowing machine that he and his brother Dick created in 1981. It was a wheel from Peter's fourth-grade bike nailed to a barn floor that helped give "character" to the original model. But even with its unrefined appearance, says Peter, it was well-received, because there was nothing comparable at the time.

"There were rowing machines around, but typically they were the type of rowing machine using shock absorbers ... they weren't something that was suitable for training," Peter explains.

The brothers Dreissigacker, mechanical engineers, rowers, and founders of the Concept II company, developed their rowing machine as a training tool for the winter months when rowing outdoors is all but impossible. Now, the $700 Concept II Ergometer is the one used at the CRASH-B Sprints, by the United States rowing team, and at 79 indoor regattas worldwide.

Of the options available at the time, Peter says they chose the flywheel design because of its ability to translate to on-the-water rowing. He says that while the motion used in rowing allows for the building of momentum without having to come to a full stop with each new stroke, the drag of the water constantly slows the boat down.

"The flywheel is a perfect analogy, really, of something that has a drag on it, yet has momentum," Peter says.

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