Wattbike: The best bits

Our Wattbike loan is over; here's what we liked about it

by Mat Brett   March 14, 2012  

Wattbike8

It’s with a heavy heart that I have to tell you that the guys from Wattbike want their Wattbike back. I know; gutted. That’s my three-month loan period done and it’s out of here tomorrow.

So, before it goes, I thought I’d tell you what I’ve found the most useful features…

The Polar View

The Polar View shows where you’re applying force throughout your pedal stroke, allowing you to work on your pedalling technique and remove dead spots that can occur when your legs pass through the 12 o’clock/ 6 o’clock positions.

I wrote all about it before so I won’t go into it again here, but this feature allows you to develop a more even force through each turn of the cranks.

Expert Software

If you want more information than you get on the Performance Computer that sits on the handlebars, you can link the Wattbike to your PC (although only on a Mac if you install something like Boot Camp and run Windows) and run the free Expert Software.

This gives you real time monitoring of your performance on the Wattbike. In other words, you can see measurements and charts of what you’re doing on your computer screen where they’re really easy to understand.

The parameters measured are power, force, work, circumferential pedal velocity, left leg percentage and right leg percentage. It might sound complicated, but it’s really not. Even if you’re not particularly technically minded, you’ll get the idea in no time. Plus, you soon learn what information you’re interested in and what you want to ignore. If you are technically minded, fill yer boots. You can become a data geek in no time.

So, for example, you can present your power measurement either on a line graph or a bar graph. You can set the parameters you want to work to with different colours on the graph indicating different zones. As I said, this is all displayed in real time so you get immediate feedback and can respond straightaway.

You also get the Polar View (see above) on the Expert software. And once you’ve finished your ride you can see each pedal stroke overlaid on top of one another to give an overall pattern of your pedalling rather than each pedal stroke individually. You also get a line that shows you the average angle at which you apply your maximum force. Essentially, it’s a more in-depth version of the Polar View you can get on the handlebar-mounted Performance Computer.

The other useful feature of the Expert Software is that it allows you to look back at your stored files later on to check your progress.

Power Cycling Software

The Power Cycling Software is free too, and it is similar in some ways. It gives

You can enter your own training zones and display the information in various different ways. It’s all clear.

Again, all of your performance details are stored and you’re given your own training zones to work to for later sessions.

One clever bit of the Power Cycling Software is that you can set up a race with somebody else, or a group of other people, over any distance you like, and race them on screen. You get little icons to show where you are in relation to one another, along with readouts of whatever measurement you want to show – which is likely to be either speed or power.

Summing up

I’ll be honest: I’ve never been a big fan of indoor cycling. I mean, I do go on the turbo or the rollers from time to time, but only when the weather is bad. Really bad. I find it pretty dull and, nine times out of 10, even if it’s raining I’d rather head out on the road.

But the Wattbike makes indoor cycling interesting – as turbos with virtual reality software can make indoor cycling interesting. I found enough information here to get my teeth into and make sessions on the Wattbike a valuable alternative to going out on the road. In fact, more than enough information; there’s stuff on here that I’ll never use.

In some ways, there’s a real benefit to using the Wattbike for regular sessions. It’s easier to work on your pedalling technique, for example, when you have that Polar View on a screen in front of you and there’s no traffic to worry about. You can just concentrate on getting your pedalling right.

The same goes for certain interval sessions. Doing your intervals indoors means you’ll never hit a junction or descent at the wrong time. Of course, that applies to any indoor cycling system but the difference here from many others is that the Wattbike feels real. The resistance feels pretty much like riding outside, but without the road buzz or the potholes.

To complement your normal road training, the Wattbike has a whole lot to offer. For more info go to Wattbike's website.

 

5 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Interesting. I won a Wattbike in a race at work (yes, a Wattbike race - a virtual kilo in 1:04) I had mixed feelings about cycling in the garage, so when it seemed to be taking ages to deliver my prize, I swapped it for a rather nice Boardman bike which goes fast and gets me out on the road. Never looked back, but it's nice to see they're still around and have their uses.

posted by effemm [93 posts]
14th March 2012 - 18:42

7 Likes

i really want one but i'm worried about the noise?
Is it loud ?

posted by Cervelo12 [78 posts]
14th March 2012 - 20:28

9 Likes

Cervelo12 wrote:
i really want one but i'm worried about the noise?
Is it loud ?

It uses a fan so it's not quiet. It's not mega noisy either. It doesn't make high-pitched whirring noises like some turbos, but the fan does make a noise.

posted by Mat Brett [1888 posts]
14th March 2012 - 20:52

4 Likes

would you buy one Mat?

Fringe's picture

posted by Fringe [1081 posts]
14th March 2012 - 21:56

7 Likes

Fringe wrote:
would you buy one Mat?

Hi Fringe, I would think about it. If you're serious about your training, you like working to numbers, setting goals and ticking them off, the Wattbike is a great piece of kit. The watt measurement is SRM-accurate and the bike is built to put up with the type of use and abuse that gets dished out in gyms, so it's going to last. It doesn't need re-calibrating and there's very little maintenance to worry about.

If it was a bit cheaper, I'd certainly consider it. As it is, I probably wouldn't get the use from it to justify the expense... but that's down to my individual circumstances rather than a reflection of the Wattbike (I need to be outside testing products as much as possible because that's my job).

I know a couple of people who have bought Wattbikes and haven't looked back. They follow the training programs and have made huge fitness gains.

posted by Mat Brett [1888 posts]
14th March 2012 - 22:47

5 Likes