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Brett (the sales and marketing manager) delivered the WattBike to my place a few weeks ago so I could get to know the product. Since I grew up cycling in Canada I’ve done a lot of ergo training and know the benefits very well.
Advantages of Ergo Training
You might be asking “why would I want to be riding indoors during this sensational Aussie summer of ours?”. Very true, but there are some fantastic benefits to ergo training. I’m not necessarily a fan of the mind-numbing boredom of being cooped up indoors and riding an ergo trainer. What I do love however are the highly targeted, no distractions, no interruptions, solid workouts I can get in an hour. When I’m focused on training for an event I’ll usually dedicate some of my workouts to stationary training so that I’m sure I get the proper training in.
1. It’s time efficient. It’s said that 1 hour on an ergo is worth 90 minutes on the road. If you have kids you can throw in a DVD, give them some ice cream, and get in a more solid workout than you would on Beach Road.
2. It allows you to gauge your intensity. When you’re on the road there’s hills, descents, traffic, red lights, other cyclists, etc. If you want to get in some solid intervals with no interruptions and have it done over within an hour, an ergo trainer is the way to go. This comes back to point #1 – efficiency.
3. It’s dry. When it’s been raining and windy out for days it’s far more motivating to throw on a Tour de France DVD or tune to websites like Sufferfest or RaceDayRush. These will put you in the right frame of mind to smash out a good session.
About the Wattbike…
It was easy to dial in my position on the Wattbike. I quickly adjusted everything to make it fit just like my road bike. The saddle was much more substantial than my road bike’s which was a bonus. Comfort is one of my top priorities, especially on an indoor trainer. If it’s not going to be comfortable, your decision has already been made for you if you’re not motivated to do a workout.
Wattbike managed to recreate the feeling of riding a real bike in real conditions on the flat or in the climbs. There’s an air resistance adjustment lever that regulates the airflow into the flywheel (the white circular part up at the front). This creates a realistic feeling of cycling in most situations. The faster you pedal, the more air enters the flywheel, thus more resistance.
There’s also magnetic resistance adjustment that does the job of simulating the force of gravity for that “climbing feel”. The combination of magnetic and wind resistance along with a fan blowing on your face will make you think you’re riding in the great outdoors.
Since I live on the top floor of an apartment I liked how the Wattbike ran quietly, smoothly and didn’t shake down the whole building when pedaling. This is a definite drawback to using my rollers or wind trainer at 6am.
It’s obvious from the name that the Wattbike measures power. If you’ve followed this blog for a while now you’ll know how much I rave about how training with a powermeter will improve your cycling. The power measurements and results that the Wattbike show are in real time on the head unit.
One thing I love about having a powermeter is that you can self-test yourself to monitor your progress in training. The software that comes with Wattbike allows you to easily perform tests on yourself like Maximum Aerobic Power Output, Threshold Power, Peak Power and Maximum Sustainable Power. You can use this test data as a periodic check in-between training blocks or use the data to set your own training loads.
The coolest feature of Wattbike is the pedaling efficiency graph that is displayed.
To explain what’s happening here, basically a single pedal revolution involves a push phase and a draw pull phase with each leg. The push delivers most of the force that generates forward momentum. The pull also contributes to overall power by the upward pull of your attached shoes.
The shape of the graph above has a diagonal lean with the greater power in the bottom left and top right quadrants (the PUSH phases of the left and right leg). This is because the angle of peak force (the PUSH phase) is just beyond the 90° point. The angle of peak force will vary from individual to individual but should be at the same angle in each leg. Ideally you’d like to get this polar graph looking like a complete circle. Efficiency is the key here. Learn how to pedal more efficiently and you’ll improve your cycling. No doubt about it.
I could talk all day about this feature but you can find more information here on the Wattbike website.
This is fun. Wattbike allows you to connect to other users and run races against them. The main screen on the computer shows parameters from all users like speed, power, heart rate, pace, etc. It doesn’t take much imagination to think of all the cool things you can do with this.
At the UCI Track World Cup in Melbourne this past weekend Wattbike had an expo area set up. The crowds swarmed around to watch their race demonstrations with all their bikes connected together.
World Cup track cyclists Haseem Maclean (Trinidad & Tobago) stopped by to give it a go and smashed out 1628 watts. In case you’re not familiar with the numbers, this is a huge!
Detailed Software Analysis
Included with the Wattbike is analysis software that will blow your mind if you’re a sports scientist or a numbers junkie like myself. I have to admit that it’s complicated and I didn’t have enough time to dive into it as much as I would have liked, but I can tell you that the designers left nothing to the imagination. You can slice and dice your data any way you could possibly want. This is much more comprehensive than standard powermeter software. This can be connected to the Wattbike via USB to your PC and watched in real-time or recorded for analysis later. I can’t possibly write all about it here but check their website section for more information.
What you get with Wattbike is a very durable indoor bike with the capabilities of detailed and accurate monitoring of power and pedaling data. The ride quality, adjustability, and stability of this ergo bike is exceptional, and the level of analysis possible is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. British Cycling has endorsed the Wattbike and have given their feedback for design modifications that have been implemented.
Wait – Don’t Change The Channel – There’s More!
As a reader of Cycling Tips you are eligible for an introductory $200 discount towards the purchase of a Wattbike.
Call 1 800 237 738 and Quote CTB01 to receive your discount on a Wattbike. Call this number as well if you simply want to take a test ride on one. The Wattbike is normally $3850 AUD (Inc GST) plus Freight however with this discount you pay only $3650 (Inc GST) plus Freight.
Read here for more details.