The bike-in-a-box is a way to stay warm, fit, and social in cold outdoor weather, in a way that doesn’t waste energy. It’s a little bit like a one-person portable sauna (see ridiculous pictures below), except that it’s not actually a sauna, and it can be used by more than one person at a time.
The idea is this: you put one or more stationary recumbent bikes inside an insulated box, with a hole on top of the box for your head (your warmly behatted head) to peep out of. Ideally the bikes also have heated seats, so that you’ll be warm when you first sit down, before you’ve had a chance to heat up from pedalling. The insulated box will trap most of the heat given off from the seats (and from your body), and will also act as a wind-breaker on windy days.
If the box is placed in a sunny area during the daytime, that will obviously provide a source of heat as well. You could also place the box near a fire, or heat the box from within, for example by using a space heater. Once you’ve warmed up from pedalling, you can then reduce these additional sources of heat in order to save on your use of electricity or fuel (or in the case of backyard wood-fires, to reduce your smoke inhalation and contribution to urban air pollution).
Another source of heat for the bike-in-a-box can come by way of hot drinks and hot food. The box will come with a hatch for hot food and drinks to be stored in, so that your food and drinks can stay warm inside of the insulated box while, at the same time, they will also be providing extra heat to the box. (I haven’t quite figured out how to get the food from the box to your mouth yet, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it…)
In theory, the bikes could also be attached to a pedal-powered heat pump to provide additional heat to the box.
The bike-in-a-box can therefore be a social and physical activity,
allowing you and your friends to eat and drink outside in cold weather, perhaps in front of a small fire under the stars in the countryside, or perhaps while watching sports or a movie on a big outdoor screen in your backyard in the city. (You won’t be bothering your neighbours nearly as much as you would on a warm night, when windows are open and they might be outside too). You might also bike-race your friends virtually, or even play pedal-based video games with your friends, on that same big outdoor screen.
If you use a recumbent or semi-recumbent bicycle or tricycle during the warmer part of the year, you could also put it on a bike trainer stand in the winter in order to temporarily turn it into a stationary bike in a box for the season. If you do this, you would then also have the option of taking your bike or trike out of the box, in order to use it indoors as well during the winter:
In the summer, the box could double as a backyard storage shed, for your summer sports or garden equipment (etc.) that you might store in your garage during the winter.
Sure, it may look absurd to sit outside with your head sticking out of a box. But it’s also a way of getting fresh air and exercise and having fun in the winter, particularly for seniors who might, for example, be worried about going to the gym because of a winter pandemic surge, or be worried about jogging outside on icy roads. And it’s a great excuse for watching tv guilt-free.