Some cyclists brave the elements and ride outdoors year round, but many prefer to exercise outdoors in the colder months. You’re popping up stronger than ever in the spring and ready to smash it on the open road.
There are a number of brilliant indoor training software for these cyclists such as Zwift, The Sufferfest, and TrainerRoad. However, to take advantage of these, you will need a smart trainer.
This can either be a turbo that you mount your own bike on, or a complete exercise bike. In the latter case, you will have to pay a premium to get a top quality machine that is priced north of £ 2,000 by default. Sometimes far north of this price, as in the case of the excellent Wahoo KICKR bike.
Of this type of smart exercise bike, the Wattbike Atom is your best bet despite its not inconsiderable price of £ 1
The Wattbike Atom was recently updated, with the latest version getting a new electromagnetic device
Resistance system that reacts faster to gear changes and gradient changes in apps like Zwift – the latter is a crucial feature that smart bikes need to function properly.
I tested the bike with Zwift and Wattbike’s own app. The Wattbike app has a range of workouts and virtual recreations of famous climbs such as Alpe d’Huez and Mont Ventoux to test yourself on. The app also includes complete training plans as well as FTP (Functional Threshold Power) tests.
The bike I tested came assembled, so I can’t judge how easy the setup is, but I can say that it is quite heavy at 44kg and takes up quite a bit of space due to the frame that surrounds it on each side The base is 100 cm x 50 cm. Of course, you benefit from this frame when it comes to stability, and even on my slightly uneven garage floor, the bike hardly moved when I got out of the saddle and pushed hard while climbing or interval.
Not only did the Wattbike Atom quickly connect to Zwift, it also found my Garmin watches (I tested them with both the Fenix 6 Pro and Forerunner 745) automatically and beamed over a lot of useful data during each session. In fact, the only thing the bike wasn’t so well connected to was the shifter on the right side of the handlebar – it failed a couple of times and I had to unplug the bike to reconnect or use the Wattbike app to change gears.
Since the resistance improvements focus on how well the atom responds to things like gradient changes in Zwift, that was the first thing I tested. I used Zwift’s Sand and Sequoias route for this, as there is a lot of switching between uphill and downhill skiing in the second half.
While the Atom was pretty quick to respond to these changes, it’s not quite as good as my normal setup – an Elite Direto Turbo – or the Wahoo KICKR bike I tested earlier. You will notice the short time it takes for the bike to measure the change in slope and to change the resistance accordingly on uneven ground.
However, it is a very For a short time and on journeys without constant ups and downs, I did not notice the slight delay. It doesn’t quite fit a bike that costs £ 1,100 more, but there’s no doubt the Atom is a brilliant exercise bike to connect to with Zwift.
Along with Zwift, I kept the Wattbike app open on my rides by using the Atom’s built-in tablet holder. The app displays the information you’d expect, like the gear you’re in and the power you’re putting out (the max for that is a whopping 2,500W; of course, I’ve come close to that number). as well as Wattbike’s Polar View diagram, which analyzes your pedaling.
This shows the force you are putting on the pedals where you might lose momentum and the balance between your right and left legs. All of this data is summarized in a constantly updated chart where you are aiming for a sausage or at least peanut shaped ad instead of the number I hit eight. You also get a Pedaling Effectiveness Score (PES) with a color-coded target to aim at while driving, which again made for a daunting experience in my case.
The Wattbike app does an excellent job of making complex insights into your pedaling easy to understand. If you want to improve your technique, the data is there for you. I found that I could improve the shape of my Polar View and PES by focusing more on pulling up my pedal action, for example, and if I were a more dedicated cyclist I could have developed and improved.
However, if you want to improve your overall bike performance, you need more than a sophisticated technique. You have to sweat and the Wattbike app is full of workouts and training plans to help you do that. These workouts are broken down into sections such as Endurance, HIIT, and Speed. The personalized destinations are based on your FTP. So you need to make sure that the app has accurate information on this subject.
The workouts use the Wattbike’s Ergo mode to adjust the resistance so that you reach your target performance during the sessions, and you can adjust your goal at each interval using the switch buttons. There is also a cadence target for each section.
I tried an endurance and a HIIT workout via the app. They are easy to follow and seem well designed to improve the target area of your fitness. The screen isn’t particularly appealing during a workout compared to the instructor-led video workouts on home spinning bikes like the Peloton and Echelon, but I did watch the Wattbike workout with Zwift on a separate monitor to add a little more entertainment through the Intervals cranked.
The training plans available are long and can help you prepare for athletes or even multi-day trips like the Haute Route for amateur riders. Since the workouts are based on FTP, they are suitable for riders of all skill levels. You can do more FTP testing along the way to see how you improve.
While the Wattbike Atom doesn’t match the realistic ride feel of the Wahoo KICKR bike, for most home users it offers a brilliant smart bike experience and an impressive app at a more realistic price. With a turbo like the Elite Direto, you can get an excellent smart setup for less than a smart exercise bike, and many cyclists will prefer it because they ride their own bike instead of a machine while the connection to the Wattbike app can definitely get you there help improve your technique, fitness and overall performance.
Buy from Wattbike | £ 1,899