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Wattbike Indoor Bike Trainer

by Alexandra Parren
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What is a Wattbike? Sundried

An introduction to the Wattbike, an indoor bike trainer which replicates the feel of the road whilst providing cycle-specific performance data for serious cyclists and competitive athletes.

What is a Wattbike?

"The Wattbike is the best thing I have found in my long career that is so close to riding on the road." -  Stephen Roche, Tour de France Winner.

If you are a keen cyclist, you will know how frustrating it is trying to get good training miles in over winter. You may try to make winter training more bearable by using a turbo trainer or even rollers, but it's just not the same as riding outdoors.

Athletes and amateurs alike were demanding an indoor bike that could make structured training easy and thus, the Wattbike was born. Wattbike was founded in 2000 and saw its founders seeking to create an indoor bike that accurately replicates the feel of cycling on the road whilst also providing cycle-specific performance data.

Wattbike engineers worked closely with Peter Keen (former performance director of British Cycling and UK Sport) and used athletes to test the bike throughout its eight-year development before publicly launching after the 2008 Olympics.

For most recreational gym-goers, a Wattbike will provide a lot of technical data that isn't needed. This is so much more than your average stationary bike or spin bike and is designed to get top results for serious cyclists and competitive athletes. 

How to use a Wattbike Sundried indoor cycle trainer

How to use a Wattbike

There are two key features to the Wattbike which stand out as the largest contributors to its road-like feel: the resistance and the setup. 

Wattbike Resistance

The Wattbike has two methods of resistance, air and magnetic, to create a real-ride feel.

Air-braking system

The air-braking system recreates the feel of cycling on the flat using different gears. The ‘gear lever’ can be moved from ‘1’ through to ‘10’, where ‘1’ is the lightest and ‘10’ the highest gear. The lever regulates the flow of air entering the flywheel by increasing the hole through which air can flow and therefore increases the resistance.

For most situations, the rider will only need to apply the air-braking gear system. You can adjust the ‘gear’ during a workout, just as you would on a road cycle and the sensation is just the same (minus the gears being on the wheel itself and not the handlebar).

Magnetic Braking System

The magnetic braked flywheel is designed to recreate the feel of climbing. The magnetic lever twists between gears 1 - 7, 1 being a flat road and 7 being a steep hill. The combination of both allows the Wattbike the diversity of training to extremes, at either a high cadence with a low wattage or low cadence with a high wattage.

Wattbike Magnet Brake

Data

What makes the Wattbike different from any other indoor bike is the sheer volume of feedback the bike has to offer. Over 40 variables are monitored from basic power, heart rate, and cadence data to efficiency, time-to-force peak, angle-of-force peak, and left-right leg balance.

Previously unrecorded data can now be stored on the bike with the power being sampled 100 times per second and being revealed for permanent viewing throughout the workout on the bike's monitor. The monitor memory stores every workout so it is easy to recall previous data and work on your scores.

Why is accuracy important?

Without accurate data you cannot train precisely, enhance your performance, or optimise your time when training. How accurate is the Wattbike? The Wattbike is accurate to within 2% across the full range of Watts. This study has been independently verified by the South Australian Institute of Sport.

Wattbike Training


Range

Error

< 100 Watts

up to 6 % or 6 Watts

100 - 200 Watts

within 2%

200-500 Watts

within 1.5%

> 500 Watts

within 1 %

Over the full range

within 2 %


All data recorded on the Wattbike can also be transferred to your PC and uploaded to compatible apps such as Strava. Wattbike also have an app which provides real-time data feedback as well as data storage to keep track of your progress.

Wattbike: Trainer or Pro?

The Wattbike comes in two editions, Pro and Trainer, each tailored for their own specific audience. The Wattbike website explains:

“The simple fact is that the Wattbike Pro is exactly the same as the Wattbike Trainer in every respect except that the Wattbike Pro has a slightly higher resistance range. All other features are exactly the same, including the price.

What I would say initially is that the Wattbike Trainer is the preferred model for the majority of people as with a combination of the air brake and magnetic brake you can replicate a desired power output up to 1200W. The Trainer is great for high cadence, low intensity sessions and people who want to use a Wattbike for recovery and rehabilitation, not forgetting that with the adjustability of positions on the Wattbike, the entire family can use a Wattbike Trainer.

If you're wanting to do peak power tests it's still possible to produce in excess of 1200W on the Wattbike Trainer (using a combination of the air and magnetic brakes) while endurance cyclists can produce 220W at 90 cadence or 300W at 100 cadence with only the air brake at level 10.

What does all this mean for competitive cyclists/triathletes though? As a rule of thumb if you're a male Cat 4 cyclist or below, a female Cat 3 cyclist or below, your 10 mile TT takes longer than 25 minutes or as a triathlete your 40km ride time takes longer than 1h 10' then look towards the Wattbike Trainer.

If you're currently making significant gains on your performance then look towards a Wattbike Pro. The Wattbike Pro is suited to more powerful individuals and you'll find that there is an overlap of the resistance settings between the two models.

Level 5 air resistance on the Wattbike Trainer is equal to Level 1 air resistance on the Wattbike Pro - both of these settings produce 150W at 90 cadence which nicely illustrates why the Wattbike Pro is the choice of more powerful individuals.”

Wattbike

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