How much?! That’s the question we often hear about test bikes. So when our colleagues got wind of the Wattbike’s £1,650 price tag there was the sound of jaws hitting ﬂoors. But that price was put into perspective after people discovered what this training bike was capable of. After all, British Cycling must have some very good reasons to endorse this machine. So just what does the Wattbike do that is so impressive?
Well, like most turbo trainers it offers variable resistance, in this case using air and magnetic resistance, which you can change during sessions. But it also measures just about everything you could ever want to know about your cycling, including average and peak power, cadence and average cadence, energy expended, distance covered, left leg vs right leg, heart rate – when linked with a compatible heart rate monitor – and much, much more.
Once you’ve completed a training session you can download this information onto your computer for you or your coach to accurately monitor and assess your progress. Perhaps most signiﬁcantly for the likes of British Cycling, power output results from the Wattbike correlate exactly with those of SRM’s Power Cranks – the power measuring devices that pro riders use on their race bikes.
What we discovered is that none of us approach the likes of Chris Hoy and Jamie Staff when it comes to maximum power output – no shock there. Though one of our team was surprised to ﬁnd he was using his left leg much more than his right when pedalling. This was something he hadn’t been aware of and is now seeking to address. This is just one small example of what this machine is able to achieve.
When you’re pedalling at over 50rpm, a generator recharges the computer console’s battery, which is neat. And while the chunky aluminium seatpost and stem aren’t elegant, they are designed and built to last for years of gym use.
In practice, while you could buy a Wattbike, this is the sort of product that is aimed more at gyms, schools and organisations rather than individual cyclists. And British Cycling’s coaches are already using it in schools to try to ﬁnd the successors to Wiggins, Pendleton and co.