Why Smart Trainers are for Geniuses

 

Why Ride Indoors?

There comes a day in every cyclist’s “career” when riding outdoors is neither viable nor safe.  The temperature might have dropped below your threshold or it is simply too late and dark to get on the road safely.   In the not so distant past, you basically had two options when you found yourself in that situation.  You either jumped on a “dumb” trainer and suffered, or sat on your couch and succumbed to the “Almighty God of Laziness”.

Thankfully, the future has arrived and we no longer have to bore ourselves and suffer on a lifeless trainer.  With the introduction of the smart trainer, we are now able to train, get stronger, and have fun, all within the comfort of our pain caves.   The key word here is “fun”, or “as fun as it gets” at least.

Brands like Wahoo, Tacx and Cycleops have produced some impressive equipment during the past few years.  These smart trainers can communicate essential performance data and simulate real road conditions to keep you motivated year-round.   On the other hand, companies like Peloton produce “gym-style” spin bikes with relatively modern features that make them popular. 

In this article, we will be discussing the ins and outs of smart trainers and why we think they are a smarter choice when deciding whether to get a cycling specific indoor trainer or a spin bike.

Metrics

The Peloton’s big breakthrough comes with the introduction of power metric readings to the masses.  In the past, you were able to buy an indoor bike and have it display how much distance you had covered, how many calories you had burnt and what your average heart rate had been.  The inclusion of power/wattage into your workout levels the playing field and sets the bar for the competitive type.  This enables you to compare your actual performance with whomever you please.  Power is also essential for those seeking weight loss since it provides an accurate depiction of energy expenditure, which translates to brownies charred.

So yeah, the Peloton does let you know how many watts you’ve put in and also lets you compare your stats against your peers to see how you stack up.

“A smart trainer does too & a whole lot more.”

Smart trainers from brands like Wahoo and Tacx have built in power meters as well.  These power meters are calibrated with great accuracy to a maximum of 1.5-3% deviation.  Combined with the ability to sustain up to 2,000 watts (or 2.5 horsepower) you know you can rock that trainer like a Track World Champion. 

So what is the Smart trainer advantage?

Did I mention that you don’t have to turn a knob on a smart trainer to modify resistance or power?  Not only can you change resistance with the power of a button, it can do it by itself.  One of the most impressive features of a smart trainer is the ability to set preferred specific power output (wattage).  This means that you can tell your trainer how much energy your want to put into your workout to get desired results easily.   You can also pre-program your workout depending on several variables like power, heart rate and slope/incline.   No need to touch a dial or a button after it’s been set up.

The power adjustment capabilities of a smart trainer are vast.   You can choose to ride with your own gears, or have the trainer “change gears” for you.  It’s not rocket science but it sure feels like it.

“NO NEED TO TWIST A KNOB”

Eager to measure yourself against your peers?  Smart trainers are compatible with a myriad of social training apps.  There is more than a dozen smart trainer compatible apps when it comes to interactive training.  In addition to these apps, you can connect your trainer to a variety of Bluetooth compatible devices so there is no need for a dedicated screenyour 65” OLED 4K TV can be your dedicated training display! Or even your smartphone!

Training Apps

Peloton offers a yearly or monthly membership with live online classes and workouts.  This is a nice feature, particularly the live classes, but it is limited in scope when you consider that classes and workouts are all based on gym-style spinning sessions.  Although pre-recorded, Youtube provides similar classes for free.

On a smart trainer, the types of workouts are quite a bit more dynamic.  You can opt for structured workouts with motivational videos “a la Peloton”, go for a colorful spin through the French Alps or ride with 200 of your best buds in real time through the virtual streets of London.   There are tons of options.  Here are a few of the most popular training apps used by the cycling community:

·      Sufferfest – Structured workouts, heavily used by competitive riders looking to improve fitness in a time crunch.

·      Zwift – The social alternative. Ride with your friends through elaborate virtual worlds.  You can enter real time races and do incredibly challenging climbs in an instant.

·      Rouvy – Simulated real life routes, pre-recorded videos that interact with your performance metrics.  You can ride famous courses, climbs and see the real world.

 

While these applications also come with fees, they are a fraction of the Peloton’s monthly membership fees and offer a more engaging and dynamic experience.  Don’t believe me?  You get to try some of these for free when you purchase a smart trainer of your choice.

Practicality

How about practicality, you may ask?  Lets take a look.

What do we mean when we say that a Smart trainer can be practical, at least when compared to an indoor spin bike?  There are several aspects that make the smart trainer more practical.  These reasons include portability, better fit, compatibility and a “2 in 1” Advantage.

Lets start with portability.   At 135 pounds, the Peloton spin bike sure is portly.  It requires special delivery and assembly fees ($$$).  In comparison, the smart trainer is relatively light, at roughly 30-45 pounds, and has handles that make it easy to carry in case you desired to move your training elsewhere.  Not to mention, it will fit inside of most modern cars, unlike the Peloton.

Now lets talk fit.  The Peloton bike does allow for geometry adjustments to produce a fairly efficient pedaling position, however, within the grand scheme of bike fits, the Peloton adjustments are on a macro scale.  If you have spent more than 2 minutes on a spin bike, you’ve probably noticed that the adjustments are typically in increments of 1 to 2 cm.  That is not good enough for the enthusiast seeking precision and performance (not to mention that a bad fit can cause injury).  By using your own bicycle as part of your smart trainer setup, you are able to set your pedaling position with more precise micro adjustments.  From crank arm length and stem length, to handlebar width and saddle shape, you are able to make the most of your workout experience and squeeze every single millimeter of extra performance.

The subject of bicycle fit brings me to my next point, the “2 in 1” advantage.  What do we mean by “2 in 1” advantage?  Tired of riding indoors?  Is it a beautiful day outside?  Want to go ride with your friends?  Detach your bike from the smart trainer and go enjoy that sweet fresh air with the freedom that only a 2-wheeled bicycle can provide.  Try dragging your Peloton bike across the neighborhood, not so bueno.

Then there is product quality.  While the Peloton is of respectable quality and by no means a bad product for its intended purposes, smart trainers come with high quality standards as well.  These trainers are used by professional cyclists all across the globe and endure incredibly high levels of stress rolling for thousands of hard miles every year.  They are tough and resilient, and come with warranties backed by reputable world-renowned brands.

Value

Still not convinced?  I will let the table below do the talking… Below is a one year cost overview of an extensive smart trainer setup vs. an indoor spin bike.

Wahoo Smart Trainer Setup

Peloton Setup

Kickr Snap Smart Trainer - $599.99

Peloton bike $1,995

Kickr Climb Simulator - $599.99

Delivery/Setup Fee $250

Tickr HR Monitor - $39.99

Generic Shoes $125

Hi Performance Carbon shoes - $200

HR Monitor - $50

2018 Giant Contend Road Bike - $1,000

Peloton Membership $468yr.

Training software membership - $125yr.

 

 

Because you have muscles AND Brains… The Smart Trainer is for you!

·      A Smarter way of training that enables you to obtain desired workout results with ease.

·      Dynamic, provides the ability to ride with friends online, enjoy a scenic ride through your favorite vacation spot, or specifically train for a race at the touch of a button.

·      Practical, with ability to carry the trainer with you in case you plan on visiting your in-laws for the holidays.

·      All in One - How about better performance, more gadgets and most importantly, having a bike to ride outside once the awful weather clears!  Yeah, all of that for less than an ordinary spin bike… It’s no brainer, be smart like a trainer

Bonus: Already own a bike?

You can get an indoor workout setup for less than $600 (without tax)…

Written by: Luis Berrios