Seven reasons why an indoor bike could be your perfect training partner

How to use a smart bike to fast-track your fitness

Wattbike Atom indoor smart bike

Wattbike has more than ten years’ experience helping top-level bike riders to hone their fitness, having worked with British Cycling, the UCI and world-leading sports scientists.

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The Wattbike Atom brings that track record of working with elite riders to the home user. Whatever your cycling ambitions or fitness goals, the next-generation Wattbike Atom smart bike can help you achieve them. It’s quick to set up, easy to use and gives you the data you need to perfect your riding.

The revamped Atom steps things up a notch by offering power measurement accurate to +/- 1 per cent, an improved electromagnetic resistance system for road-like realism, and improved connectivity with the Wattbike Hub and other third-party training apps.

Here are seven reasons why the Wattbike Atom could be your perfect training partner and help improve your cycling performance.

1. Structured training

Wattbike Atom indoor smart bike
Wattbike has updated the Atom to improve power measurement, connectivity and ride feel.
Wattbike

If you’re serious about your training then consistency is key to achieving your goals, but it can be difficult to fit in an outdoor ride between other commitments, not to mention weather.

When you do get out, terrain and traffic can limit your riding options and mean you’re constrained in where you can ride and the training session you can complete.

Moving some of your training indoors overcomes these obstacles and the Wattbike Atom is the ideal platform for indoor cycling sessions. It will add variety to your rides and offer options for structured training and competition, so you can get the most out of your time on the bike.

It’s also easier and safer to track your effort level and follow a cycling training plan without needing to think about other road users. You can also jump straight onto the bike and into a workout, with minimal setup.

That’s a key benefit of indoor cycling stressed by Adam Daniel, a personal trainer who works with Wattbike to help users get the most from the Atom. “You can get on the Wattbike and replicate an outdoor ride quickly and reliably,” he points out.

You can also use the Wattbike Atom to follow specific workouts and training plans, with the bike capable of automatically controlling resistance to ensure you hit the numbers you need for interval training, fast-tracking your fitness in the process.

Ken Owen was commercial director of the London Olympics and has used a Wattbike since 2010 to prepare for his cycling goals. “Faced with the intensity of corporate life, frequent weekly Wattbike sessions made a real difference, building VO2 max and stamina, and improving my FTP, together with a smooth pedalling technique, all of which would have been difficult to achieve on the road with limited training time available,” says Owen.

“In 2019, after crossing the Andes and cycling through the Tibet Himalayas, with nine mountain passes over 4,200m, I can safely say my Wattbike has been and continues to be an invaluable training partner.”

2. Accurate power measurement

Getting the most from your training, both indoors and outdoors, needs accurate data. You want to know how hard you’re working during a session so you can target your training and track your performance over time.

That, however, requires accurate and repeatable measurement of your power output. The latest updates to the Wattbike Atom give it a power measurement accuracy of +/- 1 per cent, which is comparable to pro-level indoor trainers and power meters.

It can also handle efforts of up to 2,500 watts – more than enough for the world’s best sprinters – and simulate uphill gradients of up to 25 per cent, perfect for using the Atom with Zwift or other training apps.

On top of that, the wide base of the latest Wattbike Atom means that it’s stable enough for your all-out sprint efforts.

3. Connectivity to training apps

Wattbike Atom indoor smart bike
The Atom has a built-in tablet mount.
Wattbike

Indoor training has changed out of all recognition in recent years with indoor cycling apps offering an immersive riding environment and comprehensive training plans, rather than the boredom of intervals while staring at a wall.

Training apps can also let you compete with other riders and challenge yourself on simulations of real-world courses. They were even a staple of the pro scene in early 2020. With outdoor competition limited, the pros pitted themselves against each other in virtual races.

The Wattbike Atom provides easy access to third-party apps, including Zwift, RGT Cycling and Rouvy, via a smartphone, laptop or tablet using either ANT+ or Bluetooth. Wattbike has its own training and analysis platform too, with a clean user interface that’s easy to read.

The Wattbike Hub app is free and includes a range of workouts to up your cycling fitness. You’ll also find simulations of famous climbs, such as Alpe d’Huez and Mount Baldy. There are structured training plans for events and sportives, as well as plans to improve your fitness for other sports.

“Many of my clients enjoy riding world-famous climbs on their Wattbikes that they might not have the opportunity to ride in real life,” says Daniel.

4. Realistic ride feel and gear changes

The latest Wattbike Atom has been designed to offer a realistic ride feel that replicates the sensation of heading out onto the open road.

The improved electromagnetic resistance system changes the Atom’s resistance level instantly when you hit a climb in a simulation or a ramp in an interval session, and drops it down as quickly at the end so you can recover.

Wattbike has added a new crank angle sensor to the Atom. This collects data 48 times a turn, while there’s also a new cadence sensor. These upgrades aim to improve the data granularity and provide a faster reaction to gradient changes in training apps.

With 22 simulated gears accessed via the bike’s shifters (or the Wattbike Hub app), using the Atom is also like being on a regular bike.

5. Pedal like a pro

Wattbike Atom indoor smart bike
Wattbike’s unique software allows you to fine-tune your pedal stroke.
Wattbike

Wattbike’s own analysis software uses the power and crank angle sensors to give you an insight into how efficiently you are pedalling.

Wattbike’s trainers give you a score for how effective your pedalling is (Pedal Effectiveness Score) and there’s also a unique view (Polar View) of where you are putting power in.

The optimum pedal stroke makes a peanut shape in the on-screen diagram, so you can see how efficient you are pedal stroke by pedal stroke, and work to improve that in real-time.

It’s functionality that Daniel uses extensively. “Wattbike’s unique measurement means you can look at pedalling technique, which muscle groups are being used, left/right balance and what is going on through the pedal stroke,” he says. “That lets you work on improving your technique.”

Wattbike has found its software allows even the most experienced cyclists to make minor adjustments in position and technique to improve their efficiency.

6. Adjustability and flexibility

The Wattbike Atom is designed to be quick and easy to adjust. It can fit different riders between 1.52cm (5ft) and 1.95m (6ft 5in) tall, and with a maximum weight of 135kg.

With that in mind, one Wattbike can be used by multiple riders in a household. Both the bar and saddle height are adjustable, with simple levers to fix them in position. You can also set the horizontal position of both the bars and saddle, to get your perfect ride position.

Daniel recommends reviewing your position every six months and having a full bike fit every year. “As you train, you’ll get more flexible and more mobile, so your optimum position will change,” he says.

The Atom comes with a standard handlebar and saddle, as well as bar extensions, so you can mimic the ride position of a time trial or triathlon bike.

If you’re fussy about your kit, want a setup closer to your road bike, or just find that the supplied handlebar and saddle don’t suit you, you can easily swap them out for your preferred replacement.

7. No pre-ride setup

Wattbike Atom indoor smart bike
The Atom is always setup and ready to start a training session.
Wattbike

If you’re planning to do a lot of indoor training and have space for a dedicated pain cave setup, an indoor bike like the Wattbike Atom makes a lot of sense.

If you’re using a smart turbo trainer and bike, every time you want to switch from outdoor to indoor use you need to set up the turbo and mount your bike, possibly including removing the rear wheel and positioning an oily chain. A smart trainer will often weigh around 20kg too, so it’s not always easy to fold and put away after regular use.

With the Atom there’s no setup required before you train; the bike is ready and waiting for you to jump on and start your session – another advantage that Daniel finds important for riders pressed for training time.

There’s also a built-in mount on the Atom’s bar extensions to hold your tablet or phone, so you can see your data as you ride.

Although it weighs 44kg, ensuring a super-stable ride, the Wattbike Atom has rollers so you can move it around if you need to. Plus the Atom’s black, red and brushed silver colour scheme, modern shape and fully enclosed drivetrain mean it looks super-stylish wherever you place it.

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You can buy the next-generation Wattbike Atom for £1,899 or finance your purchase from £90 per month.

Two Wattbike training sessions to improve your fitness

Unders and overs

Daniel recommends this session to increase your aerobic efficiency and ability to ride above FTP, while also being able to handle changes in pace.

Warm up for 5 minutes at 49% FTP

6×6-minute intervals: 

  • 1 minute at 95% FTP
  • Hold for 2 minutes at 105% FTP 
  • Cool down 3 minutes at 56% FTP between intervals

Repeat x6

Keep cadence at 80-90rpm

Technique session

This 23-minute session takes in a range of cadences and power outputs. Used with Wattbike’s analysis tools, it demonstrates how your pedalling changes with cadence and power.

Warm up for 5 minutes at 54% FTP

3 minutes at 46% FTP ramping to 135% in 20 second steps, recover 1-minute at 43% FTP

3 minutes at 43% FTP ramping to 152% in 20 second steps, recover 1-minute at 43% FTP

2 minutes 40 seconds at 43% FTP ramping to 152% in 20 second steps, recover 1-minute at 43% FTP

2 minutes 20 seconds at 54% FTP ramping to 170% in 20 second steps, recover 1-minute at 43% FTP

Cool down 3 minutes at 46% FTP