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Hands-on: Wattbike introduces new Atom stationary bike (with ANT+/BLE and more!)

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Today Wattbike has introduced their first consumer-focused smart stationary bike.  And unlike some of the other ideas floating around – this one is actually real, here today, and with production underway.  So much real that a unit has been sitting in the DCR Cave for a few weeks now.

And while it’s easy for some to dismiss a stationary bike as not a real bike and trainer (I’d often do the same), upon reviewing the specs…and pricing…this thing is pretty darn compelling for a solid chunk of folks.  It’s going to be the standard bearer for the next year as companies race to compete in the renewed indoor bike realm.  So without further ado, let’s dive into it.

However, if you want the quick and efficient version of this, I’ve done a consolidated 14-minute video about the Wattbike Atom here:

(Oh, and yes, as always the Atom in the DCR Cave will be going back to Wattbike.  The poor guy that had to drive it over from the UK to France to drop it off, will also pick it back up again when I finish my in-depth review in about a month or so.  He’ll also get the pleasure of getting it back up the tight staircase in the cave.  Bonne chance, mate!)

The Tech Details:

I suppose it’s best to start with the size of the unit shipped, or delivered as it may be.  In this case, here’s the Atom, boxed inside the back of a large courier van, next to a grown adult.

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And here it is sitting atop the tiny staircase into the DCR Cave:

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Now despite my significant concerns prior to shipping on how it might get into said Cave, it actually comes in just a few pieces that are fairly easily transportable.  A beastly treadmill this was not.

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Putting it together was pretty darn quick and easy.  While I had a few minor suggestions for the manual (this was production unit #9), I’ve been assured some of those suggestions have already been incorporated.  Setup couldn’t have taken me more than 10 minutes – and that’s including taking a boatload of photos and video.

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Once things were all setup, here’s how it looked:

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So let’s dive right into some of the bulleted specs.  I’ve got some massive comparison sheets, but I think these are the most notable specs:

Resistance Type: Magnetic control
Wattage Range & Accuracy: 2,000+ watts at +/- 2%
Gradient Simulation: 0-25%
Connectivity Control: ANT+ FE-C Control, Bluetooth FTMS Control (so apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, The Sufferfest and more)
Connectivity Broadcasting: ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart Speed, Power, Cadence
Heart Rate Data: Compatibility and pass-through of ANT+, Bluetooth Smart, and Polar analog straps.
Total bike weight: 44KG
Handlebar controls: Electronic shifting built in, supported in Zwift and other apps.
Flywheel: 4.64KG (10.2 lbs)
Power required: Yes (but battery pack coming in October)

All of the above are more the technical trainer-focused specs, but it’s important not to overlook the bike fit side of the house.  For example, you can adjust all of the following:

Handlebars: Vertical and horizontal micro-adjustment, or, put your own 26mm and soon 31.8mm handlebars on there
Saddle: Vertical and horizontal micro-adjustment.
Pedals: Swap out your own, comes with flats
Display holder: Increase size to fit anything from phone to full tablet

Note that the crank arms are set for 170mm, so that piece isn’t so swappable, but that shouldn’t be a huge issue for most.  What’s most interesting about this is that some of these bike fit things aren’t even available on the higher end bike they have (Pro/Trainer).  In fact, almost none of the tech pieces listed in the first section are.  There’s no FE-C control or similar, nor is there any Bluetooth Smart support of any type.  Lacking both of which you basically wipe out 3rd party app support.

For adjustability aspects, you’ve got a slew of options as noted above.  On the back of the bike you’ve got a simple lever to loosen the seat post, which can slide up/down and has markings on it, so you can easily remember what setting you’re at.

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Similarly, the seat can be adjusted forwards/back, as well as an additional layer within the saddle rails itself as normal.

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On the front portion of the bike, you’ve got the same quick-release style lever for overall height:

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And then you’ve got a further pile of adjustability with the loosening of a single hex bolt in that red square.  That includes forward and back, and then with another bit of loosening you can slide the aerobars inwards/outwards.  The display stand is actually built into the front portion of the aerobars.

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The entire handlebar system can be swapped out for your own 26mm handlebars (though they’re working towards 31.8mm compatibility too).  That, in turn, means you could also swap for your own aerobar setup as well.

I will note that on the production unit I had, the holes were drilled just ever so slightly off on the aerobar pad holders, making them tilt slightly inwards/outwards, driving my brain nuts (it has no tangible effect on fit or stability – just straight lines).  Since that’s a dollar part and something I brought up last week, I suspect it’ll be addressed well before you see units.  Seems like just an automation error.

In any event, probably one of the most interesting things for most folks coming from the trainer realm is the addition of shifters to the end of the handlebars.  This allows you to actually shift within the game.  The two black nubs to the right of the word ‘Wattbike’ are the shifters.  The red portion is just cosmetic.  There are shifters on both sides.

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While these shifters are propriety, the company notes they actually looked at both SRAM RED eTAP and Shimano Di2 initially (and started building out on eTAP at first), but eventually went with this method as including handlebars equipped with either of those would have dramatically increased the cost of the ATOM.

Now while the inclusion of shifters are cool in theory, I’m giving them about four to five weeks to make them cool in reality (read: by my in-depth review).  I found the shifting a bit sluggish to the point it didn’t provide much value (actually, more frustration than value).  The company says this is a mere software update (and I generally agree) that should be iterated on quickly.  And while that will help the sluggish aspect, I noted I really would prefer just regular bike shifters here that ‘feel’ and click like a bike.  Two little rubber buttons that don’t click at all when pressed feel like…a 1980’s VCR.

The company says they were aiming for a quieter/silent bike, which was a request they heard frequently.  I get that…but still…give me my click!

Still, it’s the thought that counts – and I’m sure it won’t be long till this is fine tuned a bit.

Oh, and before we wrap-up, the unit does require power.  But that shouldn’t be too much of an issue for indoor use.  They’re planning on introducing a battery pack of sorts in October, enabling you to bring it camping with you atop your Mini.

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And it’s also got nifty little rollerblade style wheels that make it easy to roll-around.  I show this in the video a bit.

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Finally, when it comes to road feel, I haven’t had a ton of time on it – but all feels like a mid to mid-upper end trainer to me, which is logical given the flywheel weight matches those.  It’s not quite as perfected as a higher end trainer in terms of inertia, but I’ll also give them a few more weeks to fine tune that too.

App Integration:

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Because the Atom has ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth Smart FTMS built in, virtually any app out there can control it.  I’ve talked about ANT+ FE-C before, and plan a post on FTMS shortly.  But basically it’s a Bluetooth Smart variant of FE-C, albeit so new that the maturity of implementations by both equipment companies and apps is still a bit…fresh.  So we’re seeing some growing pains.  I’ll give props to TrainerRoad here that they’ve become a bit of the de facto troubleshooting hub for various companies like Elite, Wattbike and Tacx to figure out the quirks.

In any event, with ANT+ FE-C you’re going to cover not just apps like TrainerRoad or Zwift, but also even head unit devices.  Both Garmin Edge and Wahoo ELEMNT/BOLT units support FE-C control of trainers, and that would now extend to the Wattbike Atom. This allows you to take something like an outdoor ride and re-ride it on the ATOM.  In general, you see more desktop/Android apps using FE-C, since it relies upon ANT+ which isn’t natively available on iOS.  For iOS you’ve still got Bluetooth Smart FTMS of course.

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And then there’s the native broadcasting of both regular ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart power, speed, and cadence sensor data.  So you could use virtually any sport watch that supports sensor data from either to collect things like speed, power, and cadence onto your watch.

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Last but not least is the interesting re-transmission of both Polar legacy analog heart rate transmission as well as ANT+ HR transmission over to Bluetooth Smart.  This means that on the Wattbike app (I’ve only tried iOS), it’ll actually allow you to pair to both ANT+ & legacy Polar analog HR straps.  The way this works is that the bike does the pairing using goodness inside the unit.  Then from there it translates that signal to Bluetooth Smart and sends it onwards to the Wattbike app.

I haven’t fully tested whether or not they are re-broadcasting it as standard Bluetooth Smart heart-rate accessible to other devices/apps (my initial look says no, but perhaps it’s premature there).  Still, that’s pretty darn nifty if ya ask me.

Difference to the existing Wattbike:

There’s a slew of differences between the Wattbike Atom and the existing units.  I’ve covered what I feel are the most interesting ones up above, but of course – to each their own.  For example, the max rider weights (135KG for Atom, 150KG for Pro/Trainer) might not matter to most, but could be key for others.  As such, I’ve taken the gigantic comparison chart that the company sent over and kerplunked it into a table.  Said table is below:

Wattbike Model Comparison

Sale/DeliveryWattbike AtomWattbike Pro/Trainer
Cost£,1499 inc. VAT£2,250 inc.VAT
Boxed and assembled delivery available?Yes - Nb - the Atom is pre-assembles with only the tablet mount and pedals that require fittingYes
Availability RegionsUK (warranty supported)Global (via distributors for warranty)
Sales RouteE-commerse (direct to consumer model)e-commerse and regional distributors
Warranty2 years / 6 moths on wear and tyre items2 years / 6 moths on wear and tyre items
Fuction/Feature
Uses phone/tablet as control unit 'Device used to 'control' bike'?Yes - Android/iOS with Wattbike App/Third Party AppModel B Monitor - connects to iOS / Adriod device via Bluetooth for App use N.b not via FEC
Polar viewYesYes
Left/Right leg balanceYesYes
Pedalling Effectiveness ScoreYesYes (via app)
Electronic ShiftersControl app and bike. 3 button controls on each shifterNo
Gears1 - 22. Across Power CurveAir (1 - 10) and magnetic resistnace (1 - 7). Across Power Curve
Gradient0 - 25%None
Ergo ModeYesNo
Climb modeClimbs available in Wattbike App ( developed with velo viewer)Virtual climbs not compatible
Ability to replicate road bike & TT set upYesYes
Sound70 decibels at 70 cadenceAt 70 cadence in gear 5 pro & trainer are 79 decibels
Ability to update firmwareYes (via app)Yes (via USB cable & laptop)
Training contentYes - tests, workouts and plans (via app)Yes - tests, workouts and plans (via B monitor & app)
In built testingYesYes
Resistance
Resistance typeStep motor driving natrual magnets to replicate the Wattbike power curveAir & Magnet
Wattage range40 - 2000+ wattsTrainer 0 - 2000 watts Pro: 0 - 3760 watts
Accuracy+/- 2% - across the full power range+/- 2% - across the full power range
Electronics systemSmart control wireless electronics.N/A
Connectivity
ANT +YesYes
FECYesNo
BLE fitness machineYesNo
BluetoothYesYes
Heart rateBLE, ANT + and PolarANT, ANT + & Polar
PowerYesYes
Speed & CadenceYesYes
Wattbike HubSave, share and analyse your dataSave, share and analyse your data
Third party appsYes - Any ANT+/ANT+ FEC/BLE enabled app. Custom BLE control via Zwift. BLE Exercise Machine Control support to follow after launch. Zwift, Sufferfest, Trainer RoadYes - via ANT +/BLE Zwift, TrainerRoad and Sufferfest. Manual adjustment of resistance required
Data analysis abilityWattbike Hub and connecting to Strava, TrainingPeaks and TCX exportWattbike Hub and connecting to Strava, TrainingPeak and TCX export
Trainer control
Supports ANT+ FECYesNo
Supports Bluetooth ControlCustom integration with zwift, BLE Exercise Machine Control support to follow after launchNo
BLE fitness machineYesNo
Technical Specifications
Power requiredMains adaptor OR battery pack (functionality coming in October) (5 volt 1.6amps)External power not needed, internal generator
Ability to moveYes, 2 Coaster WheelsYes, 2 Coaster Wheels
Max rider weight135KG150KG
Rider size5' - 6'55'1 - 6'4 (7'1 with extra long stems)
Bike weight44KG55KG
Footprint100cm (length) x 50cm (width) x 80cm (height to road bars) or 100cm (height with tri-bar & tablet holder)125 x 66 x 130cm
Handlebar adjustability (micro adjustment)Yes - vertical and horizontalYes - vertical and horizontal
Ability to fit own handlebarsYes (currently 26mm, working towards 31.8mm)Factory fitted drop handlebars (not interchangeable)
Saddle adjustability (micro adjustment)Yes - vertical & horizontalYes - vertical & horizontal
SaddleLow profile saddleLow profile saddle
Ability to fit own saddleYesYes
Crank length170mm170mm
Q factor160mm173mm
PedalsChangable for user + Combination pedals - flat for trainersChangable for user +E148 Wellgo (MTB SPD, Look Keo & toe cage for trainers)
Ability to fit own pedalsYesYes
Tablet holderCan accomodate from 70mm - 240mm in heightComing soon
Power measurememt measuring the chain tension over a load cell. The Wattbike measures angular velocity twice per crank revolution measuring the chain tension over a load cell. The Wattbike measures angular velocity twice per crank revolution
Number of water bottle holders21
Flywheel4.64KgMagnetic- 7.5kg & Fan- 5.6Kg (13.1Kg)
Drive trainChain & timing beltChain to Drive Belt
Needs calibration?Factory setFactory set

As for road-feel like nuances between them, the vast majority of my riding on the existing Wattbike products has been within races (indoor tri’s), and honestly that was about the least important thing I was worried about at those moments.  Obviously, the larger (especially wind driven) flywheel means you’re going to get more inertia though than on the Atom.

Note that I *may* look at adding indoor bikes into the product comparison database down the road, we’ll see.  At present, I might just stick it in as a trainer and note some differences.  I wouldn’t want to enter units into the product comparison tool until they’re close to shipping or locked in spec.  For example, the Tacx Neo Smart Bike I noted a few days ago, that’s still about a year away from shipping, and as such I see too much variability there to make purchasing decisions on – so I feel like including it in the product comparison tool is a bit premature.  Just my two cents.

Going forward:

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When companies first contact me about checking out their product, I usually have a rough idea within a few seconds of reading the e-mail whether or not I think it’ll do well.  When I first saw Wattbike in the sender’s domain, I cringed a bit as likely a product that was out of touch with what the indoor training market wanted these days.  But after I got through the e-mail and the specs they laid out – I was pretty intrigued.

However more importantly was that the product as delivered exceeded those expectations.  First off, it’s stunningly pretty.  Or maybe I’m just a MKBHD-like sucker for a sweet black and red paint scheme.  And the assembly was quick and efficient,  I’d argue faster than assembling some trainers.  And from a spec standpoint, it actually bests much of the existing higher-end Wattbike product line.

But more than all that is the connectivity aspects.  This is the core of what makes this product interesting to me.  Like it or not, widespread app integration is critical these days to the indoor trainer market.  And without it, your product is dead to me (and most others too).  And Wattbike nailed that.  They’ve adopted every standard known to mankind, and even included translation for older ones like Polar’s legacy HR straps.  That’s cool.

Of course – there are still areas for improvement.  The shifting is a big one, and the company is also having to fight the good fight to sort out the growing pains of the Bluetooth FTMS control.  Major apps like TrainerRoad will have those aspects compatible well before you see a bike of course, but many other apps will likely have growing pains too (the entire industry really, trainers too).  And then the fact that it’s only shipping to the UK this winter is a major bummer.  I think Wattbike has a very finite window before fall 2018 and the flood of new indoor smart cycles.  It’d be in their extreme best interest to at least re-prioritize figuring out US/Canada/Europe distribution while they’ve got the lead on everyone else.

Note that as I said in my Tacx Neo Smart Bike post, while I think there’s space for some new smart indoor stationary bikes on the market, I’m not convinced there’s room for every trainer company to introduce one.  Nor is there room for many options that are super-expensive.  But at the price point that Wattbike has (1,499GBP, which converts to 1,633EUR or $1,941USD), they’ll do exceedingly well.  Hence you can see why there’s not a chance in hell Tacx can sell their similarly equipped bike for 2,500-3,000EUR next fall (when prices will invariably be slightly lower with renewed competition).

In any case – plan to see a full in-depth review in early October, once I’ve had a bunch more time on the bike.  With that – thanks for reading!

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117 Comments

  1. Ryan

    Well done Wattbike and thanks Ray for the great review (as always).
    Knowing the price of the old Wattbikes, I couldn’t believe the price of this when I read it – this should do really, really well. Wattbike already have a trusted brand name and they really have specced the trainer out very well indeed – I currently have a Kesier M3 for the bad winter days, but I think I’ve just found a reason to upgrade and join the Zwift world!

  2. Derek Chan

    With so much adjustability you could use it as a bike fit station. And not too pricey either.

  3. Tom Carter

    Another indoor trainer to keep an eye on is the new Concept 2 BikeErg

    link to concept2.com

    Rowers around the world will recognize concept 2 (they make the standard rowing machine which more or less every serious rower uses to train and test on) and they are pretty well known for being solid machines that can take a pounding.

    On paper Its a lot more basic than the wattbike (no gears, manual resistance adjustment) but considerably cheaper at less than $1000 and has ANT+ and Bluetooth so if support is added by the developers then could also work with smartphone apps like Zwift using the smartphone adapter

    link to concept2.com

    • CB

      Concept 2 make solid, reliable kit (I come from a rowing background, so uncomfortably familiar with their rowing machines), but my god……….is it loud. Air resistance technology is fine for the gym, but for home, you’d have to be out in the ‘cave’ rather than in a spare room

    • JB

      no power… no go… any serious cyclist/tri would not get this….

    • Dave

      If you’re talking about the Concept2 bike, it does indeed have power. It’s one of the key metrics the PM5 is designed to display.

    • Concept2 still does not support the ANT+ profiles PWR, CAD and SPD, nor FE-C (wouldn’t make sense for RowErg and SkiErg), but *only* the very old and not really/widely supported FE (some old Garmin watches like FR610, FR310XT support that).

      Tools like Zwift, TrainerRoad and others *do not* support ANT+ FE. Instead they rely on ANT+ PWR, CAD, SPD (and FE-C).

      The ErgBike has very little adjustability and even that is quite bad (eg. as saddle height influences the fore/ aft of saddle as seat tube has an angle).

      SkiErg and RowErg are quite noisy devices, so BikeErg will be too.

      Damper settings on RowErg/SkiErg are usually a quite static thing, but not on a Bike, where you need to shift (change damper) regularly/often to stay in ‘your range of cadence’.

      I find the RowErg/SkiErg great devices, but the BikeErg I find crap – TBH.

      The last couple of years Concept2 has playing deaf for the wish/need of ANT+ PWR, CAD, SPD transmission. Some users with serious skills have been building ‘bridges’ (link to p729.com) to work around this topic.

    • Neil Jones

      Yeah, totally agree, Concept make a great rower but they’re in too comfortable a position in that market that they don’t have to look to improvement, by which I mean the technology aspect with data now being such a big thing (even a key motivator) for many people. The fact that Concept seem to have no interest at all in driving compatibility with Garmin etc, just saying ‘it’s up to Garmin’ and leaving users to find third-party workarounds says it all.

      That’s fine when you dominate a market sector, but take that approach in a market where there’s big-player competition and they’ll be dead in the water (no pun intended)

    • Brad Silverberg

      Neil, I was just talking the other day with a personal trainer friend how Concept2 has gotten too comfortable in its niche and not been keeping up with the technology aspect, as others like Peloton have done. Technogym has just come out with an erg, the SkillRow link to technogym.com, that has interesting data, display, and group capabilities.

  4. JB

    im all over this… are more compact bike, excellent price point… my smart turbo will be on sale as soon as this becomes available…

  5. Brigitte

    Thanks for the first hands-on, very appreciated! One question though – how does it handle resistance within Zwift?

  6. Ian L

    I am struggling of reasons not to get one of these for the cave. It ticks all the boxes, quiet, low maintenance, looks the business, integrates with everything, excellent price point (direct UK sales help here for us).

  7. Nathan B

    Wow! I’m impressed with this!

    When my old man got knocked off his road bike last year, he was planning on doing a lot more indoor riding, and was considering a Lemond or a Wattbike. I convinced him to get a Neo, and now he loves it!

    If this had been on the market at the time, I think I would have actually suggested this to him instead! It looks like a great package!

    What I find even more interesting, is that you may see these in some gyms soon, so a 30 min warm up, may include TrainerRoad or Zwift!

    One question Ray:
    Once you’ve got it setup the way you like it, does it *feel* like you’re riding on a bike (on a stationary trainer)? When I ride the old Wattbike, it feels to me like I’m riding a Wattbike. Granted the grips are all different, so I’m curious as to whether it feels like a proper bike setup?

    • Dan

      I would think this would be a big hit in the gym industry — providing the fit adjustments are robust enough. Not sure gyms or gym users would be keen on Allen keys… But I see these devices, a massive improvement over standard (crap) gym stationary bikes, being very popular.

      Presumably you could do spin style classes with the resistance across all machines set and controlled by the instructor!

  8. Eric

    So Ray, just to confirm, I’ll be able to control this WattBike from either my Garmin 820 or my iPad? Is that correct?
    Eric

  9. Kimmo

    This is interesting piece.
    How is the Q-factor?
    Just to confirm that only 170mm cranks available?

  10. Philippe

    Whoooo
    Very impressed with pricing a potential capabilities!
    I was going to pull the triger on Tacx Neo and put my old bike on it and might now change my mind and wait.
    I like the fact that both my wife and I can use same indoor bike and recreate our tribikes settings.
    I am a little bit worried about noise since it seems noisier than Tacx Neo
    Pp

  11. Mike Robinson

    Just wait for another month or so of Brexit negotiations and that price will be even cheaper in EUR and USD ;)

    I can definitely see the appeal of an integrated trainer compared to the faff of attaching a bike to a separate trainer and this type of product will likely appeal to the fitness market and maybe some gyms as well?

  12. Michael Hanrec

    Hi Ray,
    Thanks as always. FWIW your 14 min video is not loading on my browser…may it is answered in your video, but, my Q is:
    Does the Zwift (or other app) control work smoothly? Can it deal with intervals for example?

  13. Chris Walters

    Does the holder fit the larger iPad Pro?

  14. Ryan

    I may have just bit the bullet and ordered one! :-)

    I’ve been crying out for a company to make a product just like this – the fact that its been done by one of the most respected names in training bikes with a lot more features than expected at half of what I thought they might charge…..it was a no brainer for me.

    Really can’t wait for my winter training this year.
    Thanks as ever Ray for the quick review – there was no way I would have ordered without your thumbs up.

  15. Mike P

    I really love this idea, sharing the trainer with my wife would become much easier than having to swap bikes, however the crank length is a show stopper, we are both tiny and ride smaller cranks.

  16. Terra72

    Pretty impressed with the price – remember this includes 20% VAT so the comparable pre-tax and pre-shipping price is £1,250 or ~US$1,600 / CA$2,000.

    Look forward to reading the full review in a few weeks.
    Two questions which would help me convince the wife that this is great idea:
    (i) Are you able to assess if the version you have received will be compatible with North America voltage?
    (ii) I’m a Zwifter but the wife prefers spinning. Would this be a good bike to use with the Peloton app?

  17. Daren

    Can the 6 moth warranty be extended to butterflies?

  18. fisao

    New Kickr + Climb (+ my own bike)? Neo smartbike? The Atom? Which is the “ultimate” indoor training setup?

    Since the question of price is not entirely settled yet, I have to choose another factor in my decision for the winter of 2018 (I live in France): convenience.

    My wife would like to use indoor programs and apps every now and then and the Atom and Neo smartbike have my attention thus far, they tick all the connectivity boxes and the gym-equipment like measures on the atom would ensure we can both setup in under a minute.

    The price of the atom also hits a very defendable expense point.

    I would have never thought that I’d contemplate buying a Wattbike, but given this product….nice !

    Thanks Ray and the competition for making the choice harder and more interesting.

    • Tim Grose

      I think the “ultimate” factor here is whether you can ride indoors just like any actual bike you have assuming of course you may want to ride outside and indeed even have a “real” bike. For me I ride a TT bike and a road bike and want to do indoor training in either position. So, to do so, I swop said bikes on my single trainer. A recent bike fit suggested 175mm cranks are “best” for me. So at a stroke the Atom cannot exactly replicate my position on either. I do often ride a Wattbike Pro at the gym – the position is close to my road one but not the same. So the Atom is all very interesting but just does not quite tick all the boxes.

      Don’t forget the Neo Smartbike is at about a year away from being available to buy so if my comments above are no issue then yeah this Wattbike looks compelling.

    • Paul S.

      The “ultimate” indoor training experience?

      You open the door of your VR room on a cold late December day and step inside. You see the grey summer skies of Pennsylvania overhead (the day you recorded this was cloudy) and a gravel road in front of you surrounded by forest. You hear and feel the crunch of gravel beneath your feet. Your full suspension mountain bike is leaning against a tree (you really have to clean that thing). You mount all of your mountable devices, wake up and pair all of the sensors, start your head unit mount and set off. Climbing up the long 7% grade everything feels just the way it would feel outdoors, your bike rattles on the gravel, the summer forest surrounds you, but you get tired of the grey sky. “Sunny day” you say and the skies are blue. You reach the level part, go down the little hill, and start grinding up the 10% part. “Fall colors”, and the trees suddenly blaze like they did in mid-October. Reaching the crest, you head downhill, but you’ve edited out the run off tracks filled with small debris and the general gravel crud that DCNR throws on the actual roads so you fly downhill not touching the brakes. Right on the dirt road, across the mud patch that seems to always be there, past the overlook (you look left and see the view but don’t stop), dodge the potholes filled with water and cross the rock gardens. “Proceed with the plan”. The right hand turn that would be coming up is there but it’s paved instead of gravel. Make the right, and suddenly the skies of the French Alps are overhead and you’re at the beginning of the famous climb of L’alpe d’Huez where you’ve never been. The bike underneath you is a high end road bike that you don’t own, but everything feels natural. Some ways up the climb, your alarm rings, and you say “We’ll start off here tomorrow, and then I want to continue on the La Ruta course in Costa Rica”. As you leave the VR room, your wife enters, and before the door closes you see her canoe pulled up on the bank of that stream in Colorado she so loves to paddle. As you head for the shower, you think “God I wish it would snow. I hate riding indoors.”

      Later that night you have to talk down the room’s UI after your grandchildren used the room with their Disney World simulation. You half expected this, since DC Rainmaker’s review of the device said that his teenagers really caused chaos when he let them try it. After the UI seems to have recovered, you say “Good night” and leave it to whatever UI’s do when they’re free. You remember the UI once saying something about “Skynet”; maybe they “chat” with each other during the night.

      In other words, once you can’t tell the difference, then you’ve reached the “ultimate”. We may get there soon enough. Until then, it’s still boring old indoor riding.

  19. Ian S

    The pro version was well out of touch in terms of both functionality and price point, so kudos to wattbike for addressing. This seems like a much more reasonable proposition.

    But for the consumer market, I still don’t really get it. For anyone with a bike, a kickr or neo gives you all of this functionality at half the price plus you are riding your bike (i.e it’s a perfect fit for you..in theory). And you still have a bike you can ride outside.

    For anyone getting into the sport you can buy a relatively good beginners road bike, and a kickr/Neo for the same money, and have more flexibility in the future. Plus if you upgrade your bike you have a ready made turbo only bike.

    The only real use case I can see is gyms, where it makes sense. For consumer use I can’t think of a reason not to get a turbo with a road bike.

    • Mike Robinson

      You aren’t considering the faff of needing to attach and reattach a bike to a turbo trainer.

      In my case, my “cave” is on the second floor (third floor for Americans ;) Hauling my road bike up stairs every time I want to use the trainer means I will never use the trainer so I bought a cheap bike for my KICKR. The price difference with this Wattbike then starts to look smaller.

      Then there is the “spousal acceptance factor”. How many people are lucky to have a dedicated “cave”? A Wattbike in the corner of a bedroom is a lot more practical than a turbo + road bike.

    • Ryan

      The Neo certainly wouldn’t be half the price Ian, but I agree there are much cheaper ways of achieving the same result.

      However, there are many advantages of a dedicated trainer bike:

      1. It is much more sturdy for one – any trainer I have ever used before has always had that slight movement in it and never felt 100% sturdy – especially out of the saddle.

      2. Much cleaner – no dirty chain to worry about inside the house and the actual unit is much better looking too (if you care about aesthetics – being inside the house I find it important too)

      3. No setup – it is hard to place a value on having everything set up and just ready to jump on every morning, no faffing with QR skewers, cleaning the bike to take it inside etc.

      They may all sound like small issues, but added altogether they turned into massive annoyances for me when training 2-3 times a week indoors.

      Agreed, you could get a dedicated bike for the turbo, but you still have the problem of point 1 listed above, which was actually quite a big one for me. A dedicated trainer bike will always feel more solid and secure.
      I was considering the Neo for this winter, but at nearly £1000, the wattbike is not a huge step up – and when you look at what your getting from a technical and hardware point of view, it seems like really good value to me.

      It won’t be for everyone I agree, there are always more than one way to achieve the same result at different price points, this just happens to be the most elegant one I have seen….and I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is – and I think there may be quite a few who will agree.

      Wattbike have a very good reputation but have always been out of a lot of peoples price range – this drops the price and adds all the features we could have asked for – they deserve great credit for listening to the market and producing something that hits the mark – and also appears to be pretty well matured from a software point of view in regards to connectivity with the major training platforms.

    • JB

      if you are training, set the position up like you would your road/TT/Tri bike and just hassle free….

      if you are inclinded to use zwift or similar, hook up a ipad on the mounts.. hassle free.. with a road bike you have either use a stand or buy another attachment mount etc etc ive been there and its a total headache.. i want to get on and beast it, wife get on and beast it.. small change of height and bars and boom done..

      pretty much every TT guy i know has a wattbike or cycleops one..

    • Thomas

      These things are obviously personal. My girl would kill me if I were to place something as permanent as one of these stationary trainers in our bedroom (or anywhere else in our apartment, for that matter). Instead, she’s very fine with a fold-away trainer that can be easily removed when guests come over. In exchange, she doesn’t bother about the noise (but it’s a Stac, so the only noise is from the bike). Goes to say: it’s great both types of products exist, and while I still find this crazy expensive, at least it’s not as ludicrous as Tacx’ proposal.

  20. Dave

    If it wouldn’t result in a divorce, I’d sell my Kickr for one of these in a heartbeat. Zero hassle, built like a tank…what’s not to like???

  21. Is it a smart trainer? like computrainer, kicker etc
    any financing option?

  22. Ronald Meier

    How was accurancy compared with the P1 pedals?

  23. Ron Gurney

    Ray -Would the Girl prefer this Watt Atom or the Peloton bike she has asked for? Would she prefer Zwift or other apps compared to instructor led cycling classes such as those offered by Peloton? Both bikes are about the same price in USD. Let us know. Her opinions are as valued as yours are. Thanks.

    • Chris

      Couldn’t she use this bike with the peleton iOS app? I’m hoping so.

    • Sorta. She could use it, but it won’t show any metrics (not even HR). Kinda a bummer.

      As for Ron’s original question – honestly, it’s tough because she hasn’t spent time on either yet. She’s going to likely try the Atom with both Zwift and Peloton app (as slimmed down as it may be), and see if that fits her bill.

    • Patrick

      The peloton app shows HR now if you pair a bluetooth HRM.

  24. fisao

    After watching your Youtube video:

    -Why put a measurable adjustment scale on a bike to indicate quick and easy repositioning of the saddle and handle bars and then make them only movable with an allen key? that is plain silly. That will be the first thing swapped out if I can find a replacement.

    -Also, it does seem a bit loud (I have a Neo and might be a bit biased).

    still love the pricepoint and product in general though.

    • Tim Grose

      Maybe something to do with the Atom only seemingly been aimed at home users not gyms. Indeed when I goto my gym which has 4 Wattbike Pro bikes often I have to move along to the next one as somebody has tightened one of the supposedly easily adjustable bolts so much it just will not budge. Probably would budge with a pedal spanner type wrench!

  25. Peter Lin

    Bluetooth Fitness Machine specification still only covers reading data, but not controlling the fitness machine. It will be nicer once the specification covers machine control.

  26. Scott E

    The Cave doth runith over Ray. Keep taking on stationary trainers and Cave Duex will be needed.

    Cheers

  27. Tommy

    Hi Ray. Thanks for the review.

    I am very much in that market for a smart trainer. I’m glad i held on, because the £500 extra over the competition seems like a no brainer here.

    Just one question, is there a USB port to charge the iPad while its on there?

    Now i’m just looking for the financing options they offered on the bigger brother.

    Cheers

  28. Johnny B

    Thanks for the quick review.

    I kinda struggle to see the relevence for most of the Wattbike Trainer / Pro now at their original price point? Only real difference i can see is the ability to get above 2,000 Watts? Which in reality i spend about 0% of time at (but i appreciate some will do more at that level). At £1,499, it’s a serious piece of kit and would make me question upgrading my turbo.

    • I think the basic aspect would be:

      A) Slightly more road-like feel with wind flywheel addition
      B) More wattage resistance (though, my bet is that you actually can go over 2,000w just fine. And my bet is that’s just a fake spec. Regrettably, I can’t put out 2,000w.)
      C) Slightly higher rider weight max
      D) No power required

      Realistically C & D won’t matter to 99.87% of cyclists looking to buy this unit. And then that ignores the other 23 line-items which favor the Atom. So yeah, I’d agree with you that they’ve sunk their own battleship there.

      But, I’d also say…they had to. Indoor trainers have gotten so good in the last 12-24 months at such lower price points that Wattbike saw the writing on the wall: People just weren’t buying antiquated indoor bikes that didn’t have legit Zwift integration. Simple as that.

    • Johnny B

      Thanks, that’s kinda exactly what i was thinking, but thought i must have missed something with the £600 odd price difference. Makes this look incredible value.

  29. Jeff Rey

    I can see a few minor things this needs. For this to work in my house I’d have to sell it as something for me AND my wife to use. That creates 2 issues.

    To make this “wife friendly”
    1. The handlebar adjuster needs to be something you could change WITHOUT tools, not allen key.
    2. The seat adjuster needs a tool free adjuster.

    I have to say after watching the video, it seemed quite a bit louder than I expected, but I’ll wait for a side by side comparison with “regular trainers”

    Otherwise they have addressed the many other things that would make it work for a married scenario.

  30. Jean-Christophe Bettinelli

    Hello,
    Regarding the shifting, I understand that it will simulate the shifting of a real bike, but what is the benefit in the application like Zwift? What is the interaction?

  31. Dave Craig

    I’ve been waiting for something like this! I’ve been looking for something to use with Zwift/apps when the weather makes the trails too hazardous. It’s way shorter than a bike + Kickr like trainer, and my MTB isn’t always clean enough for indoors anyway…
    The review and the marketing focus on tablet support, but presumably the Atom works with Zwift/apps on a PC+dongle as well?
    Cheers,
    Dave

  32. Gryphon

    Ray…Just curious why, given that the resistance is magnetically controlled, does this unit not support gradients < 0%, like the Neo supports? Is it simply that it is a much more costly from a tech standpoint, or is it more that these manufacturers just don't see the value added? Thank you.

    • When it’s less than 0%, then the unit must have a motor internally to drive the flywheel forward. I’ve got a video somewhere on YouTube of the Tacx Genius doing that, basically screaming the wheel forward with the bike by itself on the trainer.

  33. Simon

    Has the Tacx Neo bike just become obselete, 12-18 months before release?

    The (hopeful) ease in swapping between TT and road position, as well as person to person, makes this interesting. Was thinking of upgrading my kirkr v1 next year, and this interests me a lot.

  34. Daniel

    Why not adjustable cranks? Doesn’t seem like it would be that complicated. Arguably it’s a more Important measurement if trying to mantain bike fit. Lots and lots of triathletes are using 165mm and below cranks. And it would be an easier sell to the decision maker if she could get her cranks length also

  35. Wyatt Kuntz

    Does this have a fixed hub like a spin bike or can you stop pedaling and have it keep spinning like a regular bike?

  36. Charles Morgan

    Will be interesting to see how distribution works in the U.S. Will it be direct like Canyon Bikes just started doing, or will Wattbike still use the Woodway Co., like is done now with the older Wattbikes?

    • It’s planned to be direct to consumer, which they say is a large reason why they’re able to lower the prices a bunch.

    • Jim Murray

      But aren’t current Wattbikes ‘direct to the consumer’, I bought mine direct. Also, in the comparison chart it says current Wattbike has 10 gears, air resistance, but this isn’t quite true as you have almost infinite range of gears as you can vary the resistance all the way through the 1 -10 settings.

    • They do direct to consumer, but they also do distribution. With the Atom, purely direct to consumer.

      As for the chart and gearing, I’d have to defer to Wattbike there. I just copied and pasted that one (if/when I pull it into the product comparison database, I’ll validate/normalize things).

  37. Jonny Stoddern

    I’m pretty sure the answer to this is yes but I thought I should double check…. Does the Atom connect to a PC happily? Their compatible deivces (link to wattbike.com) mention only android and iOS but would it work with zwift or trainer road on a PC?

  38. Tim Grose

    As a fairly regular user of a Wattbike Pro at the gym this is very interesting. I do so mainly as I goto to the gym to run on a treadmill as I don’t have one but sometimes I fancy a ride and they are next to each other. It would have to be my setup for duathlons on Zwift! The big “problem” with the existing Wattbike is that I cannot even replicate my road position even despite buying their extended seat pin. OK if it was my Wattbike I could use Speedplay pedals that I use but am still “stuck” on the 170mm cranks as I use 175mm and there is no way of getting anywhere close to a decent TT position.

    That said, I can get a useful session on the Wattbike but I can’t see me ever buying one because of the fit compromises.

    And with the Atom same problem it seems. Also it looks quite hard to get a low TT position with a such an upright sloping top tube. Also I seem to be right on the edge of their range for height.

    This certainly would be nice to see at my gym but studying wattbike.com this does not seem likely any time soon as they are only offering warranties for home use.

    Also what’s the score with their existing Pro & Trainer models. No price change at all and although they probably work better for elite sprinters than the Atom, you still end up with something that feels at least 10 years out of date in “tech” terms. I wonder if they will “modernise” their flagship models as at the moment it is odd that their “best” product would seem to be also their cheapest.

  39. Tim Grose

    I use a Wattbike Pro fairly often at the gym. Would never buy my own as cannot replicate even my road position net alone TT one. Crank length and (lack of enough) fore-aft adjustment main problem.

    The new Atom seems great apart from this one very important detail.

    But would be great to have the Atom at my gym except this seems somewhat unlikely given they are only offering home warranties and an allen key adjustment hardly seems practical for commercial use.

    Will there be a new Pro/Trainer model I wonder as, at the moment, the price of these seems ridiculous given it has not changed given this new somewhat more attractive proposition.

  40. Phil A

    Was curious. Is the seat post angle adjustable, or is it closer to a road or tri bike? I know that makes a big difference on how riding in aero feels on the bike, and actually how the different leg muscles are used.

    • It is. You can see it within this photo here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      It allows you to adjust the pitch.

    • Tim Grose

      Not sure I understand there. Seems to have a reasonable amount of fore-aft adjustment. That angular scale though of +/- 40 degrees – is that saddle tilt or something more subtle?

      Wattbike Pro position (for me at least) is certainly a road position and even with the fore-aft adjustment as far forward as it will go both on the saddle itself and on the “adjustable” rail it still feels further back than my own road bike. Maybe I am “odd” because 1.95m tall though.

  41. Sean

    I have no internet wifi in my garage can I use Atom in there for Zwift etc ?

  42. RunningMatt

    I think Smart Bikes ‘could’ be a game changer when combined with Zwift loaded on something like Playstation or Xbox. Imagine picking up a Smart Bike bundled with a PS4, already bluetooth paired and a years Zwift subscription.

    With products looking like the WattBike I can imagine many more homes have a smart bike bike inside rather bikes and trainers being confined to garages/sheds/pain caves.

    • Tommy

      Why a console over the iPad or equivalent? The console doesn’t have a screen but is just a pricey. Its also hard wired so would have to live where your bike does or need extensive set up each ride.

  43. Tim RPM

    Can you use ANT+ to use this Atom bike with a PC or laptop with a suitable dongle? Or does it only work with little tablets and phones for the display?

    I’m lucky enough to have a PC in my winter bike cave, and I’d rather have all the rides from Veloreality, as well as PerfPro to train with, on a decent sized monitor. On the website it only lists iOS and Android under ‘connectivity’ but this seems like something they would have thought of…

  44. Nate T

    Are you expecting more players to enter this market in 2027/early 2018 with a shipping product? For someone with a small house that has to squeeze their bike and trainer into an already cramped office, this seems like it could be a perfect fit! Just wish it was easier to adjust… would help with selling to the wife if she could easily use it too!

    • I expect many options by fall 2018. But likely not many before then. I expect some of those will pop out sometime next summer, sorta like trainer announcements have shifted towards summer. Especially with Eurobike moving to mid-July next year (all companies I’ve talked to said they’ll shift announcements to be present at Eurobike at latest).

  45. sam

    Any idea when it will be available in US?

    • Przemek

      Ray, do you think the base can be detached so that the whole thing fits through a narrow opening to the attic (or any other narrow entrance…). If it does not, it is a no-go in my case. Won’t fit !

      Btw – how did they ship it to you ? Additional cost or pre-arranged for testing purposes ?

      Thanks,
      Przemek

    • I’ll measure it in the morning (or try not to forget anyway), as well as double-check and see if there’s some other bolt/etc to detach. I’d guess off-hand though that if you can fit a bike handlebar through the entrance, you’ll be able to fit this.

      As for shipping to me, they sent one of their employees over in the truck seen above from the UK to France. The same for pick-up. They had me assemble it without him giving any technical assistance, though he recorded video of a lot of my thoughts as I did so, so they could get me feedback on some of the manual related stuff for setup.

    • Daniel

      Just placed my order for an Atom, and look forward to having some fun with it. I’ve been riding and training with power for a while, so this should be a nice addition to my training suite. I suspect I’m 6-8 weeks from delivery of the Atom, but a discussion forum has been created here : link to groups.google.com

      It would be nice to connect with other Atom owners, and “soon-to-be” Atom owners as we explore the device and its connectivity.

    • Przemek

      Ray, any news re removability of the base ? Also, is it possible to completely pull out the handlebars – in my case it is not the matter of narrow doors but a circular stairway. So getting anything bulkier up through it is a bit tricky.

      And.. was the box heavier than 55kg ? The bike is 46kg, according to their website at least, so total package ready for shipment should not be more than 55kg, I suspect. Thanks !

    • Daniel

      A little bird told me the shipping specifications are 105cm x 57cm x 95cm and 47kg.

      I suspect the shipping weight is indeed closer to 55kg, but them dims should be accurate.

    • Yes! Sorry, meant to circle back.

      Ok doing some poking, you can definitely remove the silver base. I didn’t do it – but the screws are all there and looks pretty clear cut. You can also remove the handlebars (since you can swap them out). If you remove both those parts, it’s skinnier than I am when I turn my body.

      I didn’t measure the box weight. But I’ve got another unit coming next week or so – so I’ll measure it then.

  46. David Veatch

    Unfortunately, it’s unavailable as of yet in the United States. Attempting to add myself to their notification list results in: “An error occurred. The reason was ‘internal server error’.”

    Has anyone else in the U.S. seen this? I’ll try again tonight, regardless.

    • Not sure on why their e-mail list isn’t working. But as noted in the post they don’t expect delivery to the US till late 2018.

    • David Veatch

      Thanks, sir. I missed that in my initial read – too much multi-tasking.

      I’ll keep trying to get on their notification list, but clearly there’s no rush.

      Excellent pre-review, by the way. Thanks for all your hard work!

  47. Andy Kerr

    Hi Ray

    As a long term user (but not owner) of Wattbikes (both pro and trainer), I have the following question:

    The one real downside of the original wattbikes was the magnetic resistance and lack of controllability and consistency of the magnet dial. Are the steps between the gears on the Atom consistent?

  48. John

    Hi Ray, thanks for the great review. I was sounding my wife out about getting one and she stumped me with a question. “How does this differ from an old exercise bike in the gym (the electronic type)?” I know the benefit of a turbo is having that familiar bike set-up but this loses that (somewhat). ANT+ and FE-C open up data/app options but other than that, is the benefit just road-feel/inertia? Help me answer this please! Thanks – love your work!

  49. Anthony Wright

    I’m thinking of replacing my current bike/wahoo kickr set up with this (to avoid the faff of moving my bike around) but I currently run zwift on my macbook and use a projector for the display – clearly the atom is set up for phone/tablet use but will it connect to any bluetooth enabled device like a macbook ?

    • Anthony Wright

      my apologies – i can see this question has already been asked and answered on 6th Sept – think i’m going to pull the trigger

    • Dave

      Totally feel the same way…and I wouldn’t get actually murdered by my wife I’d be ordering one right quick. Getting a Speed Concept on and off a Kickr is actually a bit of a hassle (well, getting the rear wheel back on the SC is). I’d really like a “get on and go” replacement.