The Lifeline Rocker Plate is a platform that's designed to add realism to indoor riding, allowing side to side movement through inflatable balls that can be adjusted for rider weight and preferences. While it might not totally mimic real riding, it does add an extra dimension and also makes longer spells in the saddle more comfortable.
The Rocker Plate is made from two wooden ply sheets, connected by four rubber damping blocks along the centre of the board, along with two inflatable balls that provide resistance. A maximum of 13 degrees of sideways movement is possible, which is sufficient for almost all riders and riding styles.
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The Rocker Plate arrived fully connected, with the only part needing to be fitted being the two inflatable balls. It's these that provide the resistance and can be adjusted for different rider weights. A pump is provided, and it is very simple to do, using a similar valve to a football or rugby ball.
The pump provided is fine if you only plan to use the trainer yourself, but it does take a few minutes to fully inflate the balls. If you share the trainer with someone else and you're different bodyweights and need to adjust the pressure, I would suggest having a track pump with a suitable connector handy as it will vastly speed up the process.
There is no guideline for how much pressure is required, you simply place all your weight on the top plate and when the boards don't touch, that is the correct amount.
Also included is a small spirit level, to ensure that the balls give a level surface; while this might not sound important, if it isn't level, once you are on top with all your weight any small discrepancy will be multiplied and it will slant sideways.
Measuring 162.5cm in length and 90cm at its widest point, the plate will take up more space than a standard bike and trainer setup. One aspect that didn't even cross my mind before setting up is that it also requires a little extra height; it's just another 10cm, but if you are currently using a restricted space, as I do, then it's something to consider.
The setup is designed to fit almost all brands and styles of trainers, including major brands Tacx, Wahoo and Elite.
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Velcro straps are provided to secure the trainer in place, and for the Tacx Neo2 that I use they proved fine for the rear, but on the front when using a riser block – which was needed to give a level setup – the straps were a little short. Five straps are provided in total, and I had only used two for the rear so I had a spare, so I simply joined two together and connected it up fine, but it would have been simpler with a longer Velcro strap.
On the rocker
In use, the Rocker Plate feels a little odd at first; it doesn't mimic riding outside, but the swing motion is very noticeable and adds another dimension to riding. It's more realistic than a stationary trainer on the ground.
To be honest, I struggled initially and wasn't able to match power numbers usually achieved. I had to adapt my riding style to suit and, while it might sound counterintuitive, had to prevent myself from rocking too much. Over a few weeks my power numbers did return to more normal levels, but I still haven't been able to reach those I normally see on climbs and in races online using platforms such as Zwift. To put that into perspective, it's only around 10-15 watts (4-6% of FTP) difference, but for those who race it could be significant.
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I imagine the reduction in watts is down to the swing produced, and perhaps extra effort put in that isn't all transferred to the trainer, which is providing the numbers, though it could perhaps be more simply the different setup and not being accustomed to it.
I suspect the difference will reduce as I continue to adjust to the setup, but I think it will always be a struggle to match high-power sprint effort numbers, which may be an issue if you race.
I would also expect different riders to see a different outcome depending on riding style, and using a power meter rather than take the reading off a trainer could also make a difference.
The biggest improvement is the comfort that the Rocker Plate provides, with the swing that gives a more natural riding style. As you pedal you move sideways gently, and having the trainer move to accommodate this makes for a much more comfortable and enjoyable ride. If you spend a long time riding indoors I suspect this will be the largest benefit; it may even increase core muscle strength slightly as the body reacts to stay upright and stable.
The higher the effort, the less it feels like 'real life', with sprints in particular being hard to get accustomed to as the board moves in a way that feels different to sprinting outside.
As I said at the start, you can alter the pressure in the balls to adjust the feel of the setup; increasing the pressure will reduce the movement, which could be useful – especially when you begin riding with the plate.
The board is made from coated plywood that ensures water – or, more importantly, sweat – will not be absorbed into the wood. There are also a number of anti-slip sections glued on to the board, but a few small sections did start to peel off after a few uses. It doesn't affect the performance at all, but is a bit annoying considering the large outlay.
The wood itself has stood up fine after plenty of use and also lots of cleaning after each session, and I do not see any issues developing, assuming it's kept indoors and cleaned following rides. The setup also came with two spare inflatable balls, should any mishaps or punctures occur.
Sideways only, or fore and aft?
There are other similar options available, such as the Bespoke Rocker Plate R1 that Dave tested last year, which has a similar rrp (£295). Both the Lifeline and Bespoke only have sideways movement but there are other options that also offer fore/aft movement, including the Turborocks Realplate React at £449 and Saris with the MP1 Nfinity trainer platform, with an rrp of £999.99.
While the Lifeline Rocker Plate doesn't feel exactly like riding outdoors, it does add an extra element to indoor riding that many will welcome, especially if you ride indoors a lot. It takes a little while to get fully accustomed to the setup, and you might see an initial reduction in power numbers, but other benefits could outweigh this, including the extra comfort that the platform offers.
Adds an extra dimension and increases comfort for indoor riding
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Make and model: LifeLine Rocker Plate
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Lifeline Rocker Plate adds an extra level of realism to your indoor training. Mount your trainer to the plate and begin your session. The 13-degree side to side rock simulates the balance of road riding.
Compatible with most market-leading trainers including and not exclusive to:
Lifeline TT-01 & TT-02, Tacx Neo, Tacx Flux, Tacx Booster, Tacx Satori, Wahoo Kickr, Wahoo Snap, Xplova Noza S, Elite Crono Fluid, Elite Turbo Muin, Elite Qubo Digital.
Mount your trainer and riser block to the rocker plate and secure down with the velcro straps provided.
The Lifeline Rocker Plate provides up to 13 degrees of 'rocking range' and adds an additional sense of reality to your indoor riding. The rocker plate requires the rider to maintain balance on the bike. It recreates the natural side to side movement you'd get whilst out on the roads. When you put the power down, rock with the bike and build your core strength. Indoor training doesn't have to be static.
An added benefit of the Rocker Plate is that it relieves some of the stress on the bike frame that is associated with long term static training.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
90cm at its widest point
28.5cm at its narrowest point
Plywood with natural rubber sheet
Included in the box:
Ply Rocker Plate – upper and lower x 1
Rubber damping block x 5
M10 countersunk screws x 10
Velcro straps x 5
Inflatable balance balls x 3
Mini pump + needle x 1
Spirit level x 1
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Overall, well made, solid and strong.
Rate the product for performance:
Easy to adjust to different rider weight or preferences to attempt to mimic more natural riding style, and also does help in terms of comfort. The longest session I did on it was just over two hours, which is longer than I would normally spend on a trainer, and had no issues or discomfort.
Rate the product for durability:
Some anti-slip sections starting to come off, but the main aspect should last without significant deterioration.
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
The sideways action allows the body to move more naturally, giving a more comfortable riding position.
Rate the product for value:
It's roughly the same price as the similar Bespoke.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It took some time to adjust and adapt, but after a number of weeks it felt good and more comfortable than riding without.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Easy setup and adjustment possible.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The time it took to adjust to the change.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are similar rocker plates available, with the two most prominent being the Bespoke Rocker Plate R1 at £295, which Dave tested last year, and the TurboRocks Realplate+ which starts at £275 for the Naked, although this isn't one that has been tested yet. Some offering fore-aft movement not just sideways cost more: the TurboRocks Realplate React is £449, the Saris MP1 Nfinity trainer platform has an rrp of £999.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Eventually yes; initially, not so much.
Would you consider buying the product? Probably not.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they ride indoors frequently.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The overall construction is solid and well made with useful number of spares provided. It's very good.
Age: 35 Height: 168 Weight: 62
I usually ride: My best bike is: Cannondale SystemSix
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, sportives, mtb, Lots of gravel style riding
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