>Watt Bike

>I had a go on a Watt Bike today (well it was raining). The Watt Bike is a static trainer which is easily adjustable, has some very sophisticated software and is accurately calibrated. You can also hook several Watt Bikes up to a computer and run real time competitions between machines. Normally this sort of kit would be way out of my price range, but British Cycling‘s Central Division have a trio of machines that are currently local.

My ride was short but it did give me a chance to look at the Polar View: an interface that allows you to observe your pedalling action both numerically and graphically. You see the force you are applying at each phase of the pedal stroke. The numerical feedback allows you to try and even up the force from each leg (I tend to favour the left over the right it seems). The graphical information indicates how smooth and even your pedal stroke is: do you lose momentum as the cranks go over top dead centre? Watt Bike suggest three categories: figure of eight (beginner, not so good), peanut (good) and sausage (excellent). At the moment I’m a peanut but I can see that, using the feedback, I could work on becoming a sausage. The supplied display give you dynamic information. Attaching the Bike to the PC software would allow you to do more sophisticated analysis.

The Bike has many other features. The only other one I looked at was the power output screen. I’m not going to tell you what my peak power was. I was ashamed.

The Bike is a sophisticated training and testing tool. Indeed, BC have helped develop it and use it extensively with their squads and in schools. The Watt Bike Web site suggests a series of training routines and tests.

What does a Watt Bike offer over, say, a turbo with power?

  • It’s accurately calibrated. My Tacx Flow turbo trainer’s power readings vary through a session and may not even be consistent between sessions. The Flow, of course, costs under £300 – the Watt Bike is listed at £1,850.
  • The Polar View of pedalling action is very useful as a diagnostic tool and for giving feedback during a session.
  • The post session analysis, particularly when using the PC software, records many more parameters.
  • You can build session plans into the Bike and compete against previous sessions.
  • It comes with an air braking and a magnetic braking system.
  • The ability to link several Bikes into a PC and have competitions between them.

With the weather turning bad, the nights drawing in and the race programme winding down, the need for static training is going to rear its ugly head again. I’ll be setting up the Flow any day now. It would be nice to have a Watt Bike but it costs twice as much as my road bike – it’s not going to happen. I wonder if it will be there next Friday?

EDIT: Watt Bike have been in touch via Twitter and point out that there is a hire option if you want to try before you buy.