Wattbike Review

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Wattbike Review and Overview

Last year we discovered a new wattage indoor cycling trainer called the Wattbike (https://www.wattbike/us). In my quest for the ultimate indoor trainer, this one seems to stand out.

The Wattbike was created in conjunction with British Cycling, to provide an indoor bike for training and testing.  The goal was to have a trainer that would be suitable for anyone from school children to Olympic Gold Medalists. Within seconds of pedaling, you can be accurately measuring your power output, your pedaling technique and heart rate.

The indoor trainer has a mean accuracy of 2% across the whole power range.

The Wattbike comes with a Performance Computer.  The computer is designed to be simple and intuitive to use. It records a total of 39 parameters and records them 100 times every second. Key information is displayed through seven different views. The rider has the option of viewing their data in Power (Watts), Energy (Joules), Speed (km/h) and Pace (time per km). The Performance Computer natively supports ANT+ SPORT chest heart rate belts including Suunto and Garmin. Polar uncoded belts can also be used with an adaptor.

The Wattbike’s Expert Software allows you to link your Performance Computer directly to your PC, providing you with even more information.

The Wattbike comes in two flavors, Pro and Trainer.  Both retail for $2995.00, so the trainer is quite expensive compared to many trainers out there.

  • The Pro has a resistance range of 0-3,760 Watts and broadly has five endurance levels (Air Brake 1-5) and five sprint levels (Air Brake 6-10). The magnetic brake extends the resistance range and is useful for specific training of top sprinters.  The Pro is suited for Category 4 (male) and Category 2 (female) endurance cyclists and triathletes.
  • The Trainer is designed for coaches and scientists to replicate the sensation of ‘real’ cycling and be one of the first factory calibrated static bikes to deliver accurate, consistent performance data and technical feedback.

The trainer that is most comparable to the Wattbike would be the Computrainer by RacerMate. The Computrainer retails for about half as much $1549, but does require you to mount your own bike to it. The Computrainer does offer advantages to the Wattbike, including automatically adjusting tension based a course profile, being able to race against a previous workout and transportability. Where the Wattbike excels is in creating a more road like feel, the ease at making slight position adjustments and the ability to adjust the trainer to multiple users.  The other advantage to the Wattbike vs Computrainer is the fact that most people don’t have a dedicated bike for the trainer, so they end up using their only bike.  It is often a pain to be constantly hooking up the bike to the trainer.  With the Wattbike you simply get on it and go.

Both the Computrainer and the Wattbike offer a wide range of feedback, which can then be analyzed post workout.  One thing I really do like about the Wattbike is the great graphics and good looks.  The Computrainer hasn’t really changed in as many years as I can remember.  The trainer itself is dated and could use a makeover.

Wattbikes were originally only available in Europe, but they are now available in the U.S.  In fact, they recently partnered with CrossFit Endurance, so I expect to see these in many gyms, workout studios and cycling stores.  I am sure we will be seeing races pop up with these units where a number of Wattbikes will be tethered together for a virtual race.

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About Author

Tom Crandall

Totally into multi-sports including triathlon, swimming, cycling, running skating and movement in general. Love to trail run and hang outdoors.

2 Comments

  1. I’m very interested in Wattbike. A few questions:
    1) can it give speed in mph or is it just kph? I’m American & I’m used to relating to speed in miles. I suppose I could get used to km but I’d like to it say miles
    2) where can I find a US dealer, or do they ship from the UK, and what is the fright charge?
    3) How much physical space do I need to fit it?
    4)I’m a fairly serious indoor rower in the winter and train to ride bike centuries in the summer. My rowing rankings for all the ‘events’ are usually in the high end of the top 10 for my age group (51) and I’ve biked several centuries doing 50% of the pulling (i.e. not in a peleton, just with a buddy and pulled at least half the time) at 18.7 mph. I am tempted to think I would like the Pro model better, but don’t know if that is over reaching. I would hate to buy the Trainer and find I wanted more bike, but also scared I’ll get the Pro and find it too hard. Can you advise?
    5) How do you make the Watt bike ‘match’ the fit of your road bike? Should I bring it to the same shop that fitted my bike (FitWerx, see http://www.fitwerx.com ) or do you just take certain measurements of your road bike and make the distances the same? how do you get the same angles?
    6) what is the cost in US dollars?
    7) I’m considering a CompuTrainer or a Cycle Ops 400 as other potential choices. Their big draw is the video workouts that make the resistance change to match the ‘terrain.’ is that ever coming out for wattbike?
    8)I’m sort of confused about gearing on the Wattbike. On the road, when I come to a hill, I try to keep at the same cadence I had on the flat (@96) all the way up the hill by lowering the gear. It’s not always possible if the grade is very steep, of course, but I try. The hill is still there because it physically exists, but you spin up it. If you create a hill on the Wattbike by adjusting the fan (like ‘drag’ on the C2), I don’t see how you then set the ‘gear’ so you can go up the hill at a high cadence. Do you set the magnetic thing down as if you were gearing down? I clearly don’t quite understand…

    • Tom Crandall

      Hi Carla,

      I CCed some folks over at Wattbike, so that they maybe able to answer some of your questions below.

      1. I believe the Wattbike can do both MPH and KPH, but I haven’t looked into changing it.
      2. Yes, you can get the Wattbike in the US.
      3. You only need as much physical space as would be required for any other trainer/bike combo. Your best option is to select a spot in the house and have the trainer stay there. Since it weighs 55kg it is quite heavy and is not something you would moving around much. The weight of the bike is really nice when your out of the saddle hammering a workout. It doesn’t move on you.
      4. Wattbike will give you an amazing workout, so either unit would be fine.
      5. The Wattbike is very adjustable, so it is pretty easy to have it setup similar to your road bike configuration.
      6. The retail cost is $3000.00
      7. I don’t see the Wattbike doing something like the Computrainer as far as computer controlled resistance. For me I find the feel of the Wattbike much better, smoother and more consistent.
      8. I don’t climb hills at that high a cadence. I am what you might consider a masher. 🙂 The magnetic unit from what I understand adds resistance like a hill would, where as the fan unit would simulate various wind and speed conditions. You might want to think about lowering your cadence in general. I have found that the guys who I train with who had higher cadences, got better and faster when they lowered their cadence and pushed bigger gears. Just for the record, I am an extremely good climber and typically put a hurting and distance on guys who maintain high cadence.

      I put up a video on youtube
      http://www.endthetrendnow.com/2011/10/27/wattbike-video/

      Hope this helps

      Cheers

      Tom

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