/ Indoor training
I've got a lot of outdoor road bike plans for this year including Ride London in under 6 hours and the Gran Fondo Dragon ride. I need to get serious about training and having clocked up a measly 550km so far this year have decided to make a concerted effort on indoor training. I hear a lot about Zwift but wonder what is the best indoor trainer to use with it?
My other question is about Wattbike. Is it worth the cost because it looks good but is very expensive and what are the cheaper but effective and reliable alternatives?
I have a Wattbike Pro and train on Zwift every day through winter so I'll try to answer you questions.
First of all Zwift is fantastic I can't recommend it enough its almost as good as riding outdoors and in winter its a million times better than riding outdoors. The whole Zwift experience is totally immersive, you can just go for a ride, ride with your mates, race, do group workouts or follow one of their many training programs etc etc there really are no limits. To get the best out of Zwift you'll need a decent trainer with a power meter, and cadence sensor and ideally a heart rate monitor for training. The trainer will need to be able to transmit via Ant+ or Bluetooth to connect to Zwift. To run Zwift you'll need a PC, in which case you need an Ant+ dongle (you can get them from wiggle)
or you can run it using an iPad, iPhone or through Apple TV. I use a PC with the dongle and also use an iPod to run the Zwift App which allows you to control certain Zwift game features easily and communicate with other riders in real-time.
There are loads of different trainers out there and most are now smart trainers which means the resistance automatically changes depending on the terrain on Zwift. Basically if you go up a hill on Zwift the resistance increases and the steeper the hill the more it increases just like the real world. Most smart trainers are compatible with Zwift but you can find details of what you need here:
If this sounds complicated it genuinely isn't and there is loads of help on how to get started on Zwift. When you sign up I think you get a certain number of free days but then you have to subscribe its about $20 a month which is a total bargain.
I have the Wattbike Pro and this isn't a smart trainer but the recently launched Wattbike Atom is a smart trainer and is actually cheaper than the Pro. The advantage of the Wattbike is (1) its super accurate so if you genuinely care about your training and performance and want meaningful power data it really is the gold standard (2) it is a self contained trainer so you don't need to use your own bike which means you're not wearing the parts of your bike, chain, cassette, chain-rings etc (3) its super adjustable so you can dial in your bike fit perfectly and experiment with different geometry fits very easily (3) it has a load of technical features especially the way it measures pedaling dynamics which are very useful if you want to improve your pedaling technique. I transmit the Wattbike data via Bluetooth to an iPad running the Wattbike App. If you go for the new Atom model you will need an iPad anyway as it does not come with its own monitor.
I did the 190 mile Dragon Devil ride in 2016 in just under 10 hours, its a brute but great fun. Best advice is to go late so there are plenty of people on the road in front of you to use as carrots to bridge up to. Make sure you start easy and try and get into a group of riders who are of similar ability then work together.
Irrespective of which trainer you go for get on Zwift - its ace!
Thank you very much Lee. Much more information than I hoped for and I think I'm sold on Wattbike. Am I right in thinking Wattbike is compatible with Zwift or does it run its own software?
Edit. I just read your first paragraph again. Clearly it is compatible.
I use Zwift with a Cycleops Hammer, which is one of the new breed of smart trainers (like the Wahoo Kickr or Tacx Neo). It's very good. I've got my winter bike permanently attached to it in the spare room which avoids the 'I can't be bothered to set it up' factor. I use it with my laptop which copes fine with it. Recommended from me.
Thanks for the info. I saw the Hammer on the Zwift website. Its a bit pricey!!
It is, but peanuts compared to a watt bike pro.
They are starting to come onto the market used though, often little used as folks lose their initial enthusiasm. Zwift can deal with non smart trainers but the resistance won't vary, your speed is governed through their algorithms instead.
To do it in 6hours is 17 mph. I would suggest given most of the course is flat,learning to sit on a wheel and the ability to ride for 6 hours will be the best way to do it.
Yes, Ride London isn't too hilly but the Dragon Gran Fondo is over 3000 metres of ascent and 142 miles. I don't want to take over 10 hours therefore some serious training required as well as wanting to hold my own on the cycle club A rides!!
Agree, less than half the price. Decisions decisions ........
The bottom line is that it’s nothing to do with the trainer, it’s how is your tolerance to sitting on your bike and battering yourself while staring at wall.
I'm enjoying Zwift because of its structured workouts.
That's what Zwift is designed to address- no wall but an immersive virtual environment. I cannot abide indoor exercise usually but Zwift I can just about tolerate.
To add some 2 cents.
It all depends on how much money you have (or want to spend!) you don't have to have a wattbike.
The next 'level' down would be a smart trainer, which will set the resistance for you as per the workout, or Zwift route. So you would have it a 200W for 20mins, then 220W for 20m, then 240W for 20min or whatever. If you change cadence/gear the W will be kept the same. Or it can follow hills on a route and increase/decrease the resistance appropriately.
The level 'below' this would be a normal turbo trainer. There are lots on the market from about £100-£400. I would strongly suggest a 'direct drive' - where you put your bike onto a cassette on the trainer, rather than push resistance against your rolling tyre. You change 'resistance' by changing gear. In practice this will still cover all your resistance needs (lower cadence high power through to spinning along easy)
You can do very effective workouts with the cheaper option, the more expensive options are more 'techy' and fun. Zwift will work with any of the above in terms of pedalling along and you moving on a screen.
I've done the Grand Fondo a few times, it's a good day out. Practice some lower cadence workouts for the hills.
As a Wattbike Pro user I'd go for a direct drive turbo, esp if you don't want to play around with hitting power levels accurately. Without the erg mode it is an active process managing interval power.
Second reason cost. Wattbikes are very expensive, the Atom is not a finished product given the number of reported problems.
Which Direct drive turbo would I go for? Probably the Elite Direto but the Tacx Flux would make the list. Simply I feel I get what I need at an appropriate price whereas the Neo and Kickr are costly. This thought process is through the use of a Neo, friends owning others and the ever handy DcRainmaker blog.
Regarding the software, Trainerroad or Zwift will both do it. I prefer the structured nature of Trainerroad plan, better than Zwift IMO, but Zwift is more engaging with its computer game nature. Trainerroad can overlay netflix on your Ipad or laptop.
I'd go look at both, try both (if you need a TR trial send me a message). Avoid the Wattbike Pro unless your power is already good enough to make the Wattbike normal annoying to use.
And as said above, the real challenge is the misery of sitting indoors on a bike for an hour +
Thanks for the info. Much food for thought!! I think a smart turbo is going to be the way to go.
Should you go for a smart turbo (shop around) but Sigma Sport have an extra 10% off some with the code Feb10. Do check the other retailers for cheaper mind.
I likewsie have a Wattbike Pro.
I don't use Zwift, but as other have said, the Trainerroad package is excellent and has lots of plans. You can find various other packages and training plans online. Their support is good, and it links to Training Peaks and Strava.
The WB can be a bit "analogue" - it won't vary resistance itself - you have to do that, but you soon get your eye in for where the resistance needs to be for a given cadence/ power / duration.
The pro is a tougher prospect than the Trainer version, which is what you will see gathering dust in your average gym. The default resistance is quite high, so it might be worth going to a training session at a WB gym or try the Trainer first and see if you find it too easy.
It is addictive and you'll soon find yourself buying Coggan's Training with Power, book boring your other half with FTP related conversations and staring at the mouldy patch for an hour and half as your legs fill with lactic acid.
I must admit - the TR 90 minutes under and over sessions are as much fun as smashing my balls with a hammer.
Slight different outlook....I have the wattbike trainer...so not totally different but slightly. I can hit over 1000W on mine and can't maintain it for anything longer than 10 seconds so the trainer does me fine and dandy...also my wife who isn't a regular cyclist can use it as and when she likes.
Zwift has revolutionised indoor training for me, i hated spinning on a turbo and as soon as I discovered zwift the next thing was to order the wattbike to ensure accuracy and get the most out of the experience.
I agree with the others about the smart trainer, had the atom of been available when I took out the amazing 0% deal then I probably would have gone with that! But i don't regret it, its not gathering dust, i use it a few times a week and now climbing has taken back over any coach will tell you that a good aerobic level of fitness is required!
You won't be disappointed....buy the watt bike.....buuuyyyy ittttt ;-)
Edit: one more thing....get the comfy saddle upgrade! Your ass will thank you in the long run
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