Hacking the ProForm Tour de France (part 1)

I have the version 2 of ProForm’s Le Tour De France bike trainer.  Unlike a lot of other folks who have been posting about this bike since v1 I haven’t had any mechanical problems with the bike, to date, but then again we’ve only put around 200 miles on this trainer in the two years we’ve had it.  I primarily like to ride outdoors on a real bike, and to date I really hate riding on any type of trainer. Still, will heavy snow fall outside I thought it was about time to start using the trainer more regularly.  Part of why I chose the TDF was it’s advertised integration with google maps, being able to plan actual routes anywhere in the world online and then downloading the route to the bike, and then seeing the actual road and scenery as you ride using google street maps.

As it turns out, the ProForm TDF uses iFit.com for all its google maps integration and route access.  iFit.com basically is a joke – the only way they stay in business, I think, is they have somehow managed to broker deals with various hardware vendors, like ProForm.  Otherwise, basically they charge a steep premium membership fee and offer far, far less than what you can get for free from many other cycling & running sites, such as Strava, Garmin Connect, MapMyRide, and others.

Furthermore, users of iFit.com can neither import ride data from a Garmin or other GPS device or a file (TCX, GPX, etc), nor can they export anything from the site, either.  That’s an essential, bare-minimum feature that every other fitness site has.  The only way, therefore, to create a route to use on your equipment, then, is to go to iFit.com and slowly, painstakingly draw the actual route on a map.  And I do mean slowly – their route mapping software seems quite inefficient as it suffers from significant lag.

So I got to thinking, the TDF itself is a great piece of equipment, it even has a built in power meter so I can use it for my max threshold test…it would probably be well worth my effort and time to try to hack this thing so I can get at the ride data and export it to Strava, at the very least.

To that end, so far the only reference I’ve found online where anyone else has hacked it was this one by Bruce Potter:

http://cycleoverride.org/review-proform-tour-de-france-stationary-bike/

If anyone has any additional info on hacking TDF, I’d love to hear about it.  Meanwhile I thought I’d start tracking my own attempts on this blog.

So, first off, I have been having an issue trying to get the firmware to update.  When I first got the trainer, I was able to update the firmware, but for about the last year or so I haven’t been able to get it to update.  I’ve filed a tech support request about this with ProForm, we’ll see if they respond or not.  As a side note, I found it interesting (and dismaying) that there is no link from the ProForm site to their support site.  Luckily I found the manual to my TDF, which lists their support site, http://www.proformservice.com.  Then again, that site is also pretty useless, unless you need to download the manual or order parts.

Even though the TDF was saying it was connected to my WiFi network, I thought maybe the issue was something in the WiFi configuration.  I was able to connect to iFit.com and login from the TDF, but I also couldn’t download my ride – it would get stuck on “Downloading: 0%”.  Setting up the WiFi on the TDF is a ridiculous pain, as the screen is not a touch screen and the interface is quite tedious to use.  However, I did discover this gem – the TDF has a WPS setup option.  Now, I have a Mac network, and a Verizon FIOS router.  I only use the Verizon router for my DNS, but the WiFi is all through an Apple Airport Extreme.  Apparently, the Airport Extreme supports WPS, which before tonight I had no idea about. I’ve created a separate post here explaining how to use WPS with the Airport Extreme.  Anyway, long story short, after doing the WPS setup, I was now able to successfully download a planned ride from iFit.com onto the TDF.  However, still no luck with the Firmware update – it just sits there and never downloads any update.  Nor does it tell me what the latest firmware version is – I have no idea if my firmware version (2.0.30) is the latest version or not, nor could I find an online resource anywhere that states what the latest version is.

Anyway in my next post on this topic I plan to attempt to get to the ride data on the machine from my mac…

 

 

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