It’s been just shy of three months since Wattbike announced their new Atom unit, which was designed to compete with higher end smart trainers like the Tacx Neo and Wahoo KICKR. Up till now, Wattbike’s indoor bikes have been rather pricey – upwards of £2,250. But the Atom significantly dropped that price down to £1,499, and more importantly added a flotilla of features not even found in their higher end unit.
Since then I’ve been using a near-final unit, and then more recently a final shipping production unit. Additionally, the company has started shipping our orders to customers (albeit a bit delayed). At this time it should be noted that the company is only shipping units to customers in the UK, though they plan to expand into the remainder of Europe in 2018, and other regions (notably the US) by Fall 2018. Though, the company will actually do a quote to ship you a unit now if you want, but support is then limited (and, you’ll spend a boatload, literally, on shipping costs).
In any case, I’ve now got a number of miles (or kilometers) under my seat on both units and figured it’s time to release my full in-depth review. Note that as always, this unit will go back to them soon – whenever they send someone over to pick it up. Just the way I roll.
With that – let’s get started!
Unboxing & Setup:
One of the core reasons why Wattbike was able to so dramatically reduce the cost of the Atom compared to their previous units is by effectively cutting out the middle-man (distributors and such). In doing so, they likely get about about 30% of the cost of the time. Additionally, they also cut out setup and installation type services, meaning that you’re just going to get a large box delivered from a big-ass truck or at least a big van:
When I first saw the box, I had visions of sitting on the floor of my Cave for hours putting tiny little pieces together – figuring Wattbike had saved money by deferring assembly to you. Turns out (thankfully), I couldn’t have been more wrong. Here’s what the box looks like sitting outside my front door:
I’ve done this unboxing twice now (for two different bikes), for the second iteration I decided to just do a unique outside unboxing.
Once you lift the lid off, you’ll see the bulk of the bike just sitting there:
In fact, to my disbelief, almost everything is actually already installed. I’ve spent more time putting together regular trainers than this thing. You’ll notice the seat post is in there already:
As are the handlebars, already attached.
In fact, the only things not attached live in a few boxes/parts bags floating around the box. They are:
A) Aerobars/Aerobar Pads (as well as the tablet stand that’s part of the aerobars)
C) Power cable
D) Some Allen wrenches to adjust things
Of course, most of you won’t be using the pedals, which are flats – but in the event you’re more of a cycling studio you might. With all the parts on the street looking like a city yard sale, I brought them inside and then got them down the itty bitty staircase into the Cave. I needed some help to get the bike down the stairs. It’s not super heavy, and I could have done it myself. But in doing so I also ran a reasonably high risk things would go horribly wrong and The Girl would find me squished under a Wattbike at the bottom of the stairs.
Once in the Cave, I added my own pedals to the bike. You can add any type you’d like:
Then I installed the aerobars/pads, which forms the basis for the tablet holder too:
And finally, I plugged it in.
At this point, I was technically done – save any adjustments for fit, which I’ll cover in the next section. Seriously, you can set up the Atom in under 5 minutes. 3 minutes if you know what you’re doing.
Now that we’ve got the thing all installed, let’s talk about some basic specs. These specs make the Wattbike Atom unique compared to the previous generation Wattbike’s, in particular on the tech side of things. See, unlike those previous units, the Atom is actually controllable in terms of resistance. It has a legit ERG mode, whereas previous units didn’t. Meaning, you can set an interval at 275w, which you couldn’t previously do. More importantly, you can do that via industry standards like ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth Smart FTMS, which again, you couldn’t do before. As for the all the differences, scroll down a boatload and I list them all out in a big table.
In the meantime, here’s the top-line specs on the Atom:
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, soon The Sufferfest and more)
Connectivity Broadcasting: ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart Speed, Power, Cadence
Heart Rate Data: Compatibility and pass-through of ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart to Wattbike’s own app
Total bike weight: 44KG
Handlebar controls: Electronic shifting built in, supported in Zwift and other apps.
Flywheel: Dual 4.64KG (10.2 lbs) flywheels, thus, total of 9.28KG/20.4lbs
Power required: Yes (but battery pack coming)
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.
I will say that on the second unit I received (a final production model) I had issues with the seat post staying up. It would slide down over time (a few minutes). After discussing it with Wattbike, they noted they’ve seen a few cases of this on other people’s units and have made some minor production changes to address it. The cause appeared to be the lever not holding enough grip against the seat post. As such, it would actually tear into the material, as seen below:
Wattbike sent me a new seat post that seems to resolve the issue, and are doing the same for anyone else that runs into it.
In addition to going up and down, the seat can be adjusted forwards/back, as well as an additional layer within the saddle rails itself as normal. The one caveat I’ve found here though is that I wish I could slide the seat-post forward more (or inversely, pull the handlebars in closer than I have them currently). I get that I’m an abnormally tall guy with really long legs, but I can’t quite get my fit perfect here since when you raise the handlebars, it angles forward – thus making the gap bigger and bigger (since the seat post angles backwards as it rises).
On the front portion of the bike, you’ve got the same quick-release style lever for overall height:
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.
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 both units I’ve 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). It’s a simple drilling issue, and I’m kinda surprised it hasn’t been resolved yet. [Update: Wattbike says this is on purpose, so the aerobars tilt slightly inwards, but honestly, that’s not the way it works on real aerobars/bikes, so it’s kinda odd.]
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.
While these shifters are proprietary, 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 increased the cost of the ATOM.
Now, while the inclusion of shifters are cool in theory, after almost three months of using them, I’m not super convinced of how awesome they actually are, due to a variety of reasons. However, rather than hash those out here, I talk about them at excessive length down below in the ‘Apps’ section in relation to Zwift – where the challenges become most apparent.
Oh, and before we wrap-up on the basics, 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 down the road, enabling you to bring it camping with you atop your Mini.
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.
Before we talk about apps and such, a brief word about road-like feel. Everyone always asks about road feel, but the reality is that road feel is subjective. Objectively it’s driven by things like the flywheel weight (real or simulated), but realistically that’s not always the case. You can put half a dozen very experienced and respected cycling journalists in the same room blindfolded and I will guarantee you that they’ll all have differing opinions on which trainer feels the most road-like.
In general, I often note that I fall into the camp that road-feel only goes so far for me, since my brain still knows I’m inside staring at a wall. So while I like an element of road-like feel, and know when a trainer feels like crap – as long as it gets to an acceptable level, I’m pretty happy.
With the Atom, to me it feels roughly on par with an upper-mid range trainer. Meaning, not quite as clean as a Wahoo KICKR, but better than a KICKR SNAP. Sorta on-par with an Elite Direto. Again though, that’s subjective, and I’d probably change my mind in a nuanced manner depending on the given day you asked me and what exact app and course I was riding. Just like everyone else in that same virtual 50 Shades of Grey blindfolded room would.
Looking for a quick recap of all of this? Check out my video I put together:
With that, let’s talk apps.
Before we talk about the 3rd party apps that everyone knows and loves, let’s take a brief aside to talk about the included Wattbike app. This app is basically split into two chunks: The ability to update firmware and check settings, and then some structured workouts they’ve provided for free. In my case, I was using the iOS variant of this app on my iPad.
Starting with the config/settings piece, the most important thing the app can do is update the Wattbike Atom’s firmware. On average since August this has been roughly every two weeks. That’s pretty normal for a just-released product, and it is good to see them quickly iterating. Wattbike has handily made the firmware update a portion of the app update. So that way you can see the firmware update listed as the iOS app update description in the App Store updater. Handy, no?
Once you connect to your Atom using Bluetooth Smart (which it’ll do automatically), you’ll get prompted any time there’s an update:
The upgrade process takes less than a minute – and is super simple. Just let it do its thing, once it’s done simply restart the Atom by powering it off and on.
In addition, within the app, you can check settings – and validate things like whether the left and right handlebar transmitters are working correctly, and a boatload of other nifty geek settings.
One really interestingly cool feature of the Atom is the ability to pair to ANT+ heart rate straps and then funnel them into the Wattbike app as Bluetooth Smart straps. This is useful because iOS doesn’t natively support ANT+, and thus if you have a Garmin strap lying around you wouldn’t be able to use it otherwise. You can see below how I can search for ANT+ (or Bluetooth Smart) straps, which is leveraging the bike itself. Pretty cool.
Then once paired to an ANT+ strap it’ll show up in the app as any other strap.
Which then gets to the other purpose of the app – structured workouts. Wattbike has a host of workouts in there divided up into the sections seen on the left. Each section has 3-8 different free workouts in it.
In addition, they have three plans you can pick from – which include a boatload of workouts over the course of 17 weeks.
The majority of the workouts are based on FTP, so do ensure you’ve got that updated correctly. If you’re not sure about your FTP, you can take one of the tests included, allowing you to consider throwing up to minimize Thanksgiving Dinner weight gains.
Once you’ve started a workout it’ll iterate through each of the different sections for you, automatically adjusting the resistance. This is known as ERG mode. You can adjust the intensity of ERG mode (basically increasing or decreasing resistance) using the right buttons. This is useful if you’re having a bad day.
One thing that I’ve seen some confusion on with people online is non-ideally using ERG mode. Traditionally speaking (as in, for the last 20 years), ERG mode means the trainer is automatically controlled and set to a given resistance. Your actual gearing has no impact on ERG mode. If you try and sprint, a good trainer will quickly reel you back in to the preset wattage (and that’s true here). It’s like a heavy-duty rubber band, there’s a bit of give, but not much.
Where the confusion comes in is that Wattbike has the option in the lower right corner to go into gear modes within a workout. In this mode, it’s like being on a flat road, and you have to adjust your gearing to hit various wattages. Traditionally speaking this isn’t called ERG mode by most companies (and in fact Wattbike doesn’t call it that either, as the very button indicates). If you’re in this mode, then you’re reliant on the shifting buttons and all their glory.
ERG mode nuances aside, the workout portion has four data pages you can cycle through. Each of these pages can actually be accessed by using the left shifter buttons – so you don’t have to touch your tablet. Pretty nifty. Hopefully 3rd party apps can access this soon too – as it’d be great to be able to assign these buttons in TrainerRoad or Zwift to do similar functions. Here’s the four pages to check out:
The structured workout piece works well for me, though I will say that the ERG resistance change isn’t quite as fast as TrainerRoad is. For a ~150w jump on an interval (175w to 325w), it took about 4-5 seconds to complete. Whereas in TrainerRoad on the Atom, it’s able to do about 300w in 2 seconds (I prefer that). This is really an app finesse thing, and something Wattbike could certainly tweak (just as TrainerRoad has). Here’s a screenshot of that.
Once you’re done, you’ll get a summary of the workout on the app:
Additionally, the workout is uploaded into your Wattbike online cloud account thing. It’s here you can easily share the link with others. For example, here’s the link to my workout from earlier today (if you want to poke around).
In addition, on the platform you can also add friends to follow their workouts, as well as connect it to both Strava and TrainingPeaks. I lack any such friends, so…I haven’t tried that out.
Still, for those that aren’t sure what training platform they want, this is definitely a good place to start, given it’s free.
App Compatibility (3rd party):
The Atom is compatible with most 3rd party apps today via a variety of industry standards. It transmits dual ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart, enabling it to be seen as an interactive smart trainer across both standards (ANT+ FE-C & Bluetooth Smart FTMS). Additionally, it also broadcasts itself as a traditional power meter on both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart too – enabling more simplistic pickup of data streams, such as pairing it to your watch to capture power/cadence/speed data.
Now on the ANT+ FE-C trainer control side things are pretty clean, since that standard is over two years old and most companies know how to adopt it properly. While Wattbike did have some minor quirks with it, and compatibility with certain devices, when they first started shipping, firmware updates have since solved that. So all’s good there as far as I can see.
On the Bluetooth FTMS front, that’s a far newer standard that’s really only started to see adoption this past summer (it’s basically the Bluetooth equivalent of ANT+ FE-C). As such things are a bit wobbly there, to no fault of Wattbike’s specifically. It’s just that collectively the industry is trying to figure it out together. So it’s a lot of iterating. As of right now it appears to work just fine for me on TrainerRoad and Zwift, but I expect other apps will take some time to get it implemented right. This is the same problem though that Elite, Tacx, and others are facing as well as they transition to this Bluetooth Smart trainer control standard from their existing proprietary Bluetooth Smart trainer implementations.
Insofar as figuring out which apps support the Atom, simply refer to the list of standards a few paragraphs up. As long as your app supports one of those standards, you’re good to go.
Let’s talk about some of the big apps though, notably TrainerRoad and Zwift. Starting with TrainerRoad because that’s quicker, it simply works these days. TrainerRoad has done a really good job at leading the FTMS efforts in terms of app implementation across the industry, being basically the first major app to support it. And my experience with it on the Atom (using the TrainerRoad iPad app as the controller) is great:
It responds very quickly in ERG mode, and you can see those 300w+ shifts in power, taking only a second or two. You don’t really want them to take under a second, as then it’s like hitting a brick wall.
So not to cut the TrainerRoad portion short – but all is good there for me. In ERG mode there’s no reason to shift of course, since the trainer changes your resistance for you. So you just pedal away and all is well. Happy Panda.
Instead, I want to focus on the tricky one: Zwift.
From a basics standpoint, Zwift ‘works’ just fine in terms of the ability to control the Atom such that it replicates the grade as you ride through Zwift normally. And that works all well. Where it gets complicated though is shifting. As noted earlier, within Zwift you need a way to shift (even in workout mode) to be able to adjust to the grade of the terrain. If you go up a steep incline, you need to be able to adjust your gearing for that. Similarly, if you want to sprint, you need to go into a ‘bigger gear’ to throw down more power. All of which is done via those two buttons up front on the right side (there’s also the red front buttons):
The challenge here though with Zwift specifically is the lag. See, each shift takes about 1-2 seconds to complete on the Wattbike Atom. Some might say it takes 3-5 seconds, but that’s only when Zwift shows the power values on the screen, because those are smoothed. Don’t believe me? Close your eyes, press the buttons, and count how long it takes to feel the power adjust (Hint: it’s 1-2 seconds). If you’re seeing 3-5 seconds, then your firmware is old – update it using the Wattbike app.
If it were 1-2 seconds, that’s not as ideal is sub-second shifting, but it’d be satisfactory for most. Except here’s the catch: That’s just to shift one gear. If you’re just rolling along on easy hills or heading up a longer climb, then shifting one gear at a time is probably just fine. But what if you want to sprint or attack? That might be 3-5 gear shifts. That means that entire interaction may now take 5-8 seconds. You can certainly press the button 3-5 times quickly and that’ll speed up the overall shift speed. But the problem is you don’t have a specific idea on where that shift will land you. It’s like shifting if you’re both blind and deaf – since there’s no tactile feedback and no sounds made. Not to mention that some of the gear shifts are about 20-30w as a jump – which is massive.
So how bad is it? Well, it depends. If you mostly just ride in circles on Zwift and aren’t attacking in a race, it’s not a deal breaker. For me, I don’t tend to do Zwift races, but I do occasionally make a half-assed effort for a sprint PR. In that case, I know the line is coming and I can get my gears in order. But if I were racing? No way.
So what’s the fix here? Well, I think a few things would help, some software, and probably some hardware:
A) Zwift: Adding a virtual gear box on the screen would be immensely helpful. That way I could see where I am. Realistically Zwift needs to ‘deal’ with this issue by next fall anyway, with the rash of indoor bikes coming out (like the Tacx Neo Smart Bike, among others planned). And I totally get that this isn’t really Zwift’s problem in total, it’s more of an industry problem. But since Zwift has semi-self selected/declared themselves as the indoor trainer industry leader, they get to deal with the issue first.
B) Zwift: Make some noise when I shift gears. Again, not entirely a Zwift problem, but they get to deal with it first. It’s challenging because this has to be handled out of band of the existing FTMS/FE-C standards somehow and then ideally agreed upon by everyone. But a virtual click would go a long way to knowing that the gear has actually shifted.
C) Wattbike: Making the shifters provide tactile feedback. Right now when you press them, it’s like pressing a piece of dough, it doesn’t click nor is there any feedback like the click of a keyboard. It’s just silence. So you don’t know if something happened.
D) Wattbike: Going with actual shifters. I get why Wattbike went with the two little buttons (+ red front buttons) – it appeals to a larger crowd beyond Zwifters. But ultimately, I just want real shift levers on this. I think that’d solve almost all my issues because I’d have tactile feedback, clear ways to shift from big to small ring in front (thus a big jump), and so on. I think that’d probably resolve responsiveness as well, but that’s just a guess. Wattbike says the platform was designed with this in mind (and leveraging something like eTAP shifters), but that it would increase the cost. Personally, I’d pay a bit more (as an option) to have this capability.
E) Wattbike: Allow customization of the gearing. Right now the jumps in some cases are just far too big between gears, well beyond what my regular cassette does. Wattbike says they’re working on something like this though – so hopefully that won’t take too long.
Finally, I know I’ve focused on Zwift here, because again, Zwift. But everything I say about Zwift and shifting is largely applicable to other virtual and real-world (I.e. outside riding style) apps like Kinomap and so on. All of them depend on the shifting piece.
However, inversely, none of this applies to ERG mode in other apps. None. ERG mode in Zwift is different because Zwift is wonky in their ERG mode in that they don’t actually hard-set a wattage value, but let you float (which makes this whole problem far worse actually). The rest of the world works just fine, because remember, in ERG mode, there should be no reason to shift. Just keep it in whatever gear you like and just keep rockin’. That’s the way it’s worked for almost two decades in the trainer world (despite what one app thinks).
Oh – and lastly, I should point out that I’ve had lots of conversations with both Zwift and Wattbike about this. Both companies understand the issues, and both companies are looking at solutions. Zwift recently received an Atom to test with, and Wattbike has been making tweaks for the past two months, chipping away at improvements.
Phew, got all that? Good. Let’s talk accuracy.
Power Accuracy Analysis:
I’ve long said that if your power meter isn’t accurate, then there’s no point in spending money on one. As always, I set out to figure out of the Wattbike Atom is accurate or not. Generally speaking, indoor conditions are pretty easy to handle, but I still I test there nonetheless. It allows me to dig into areas like low and high cadence, as well as just how clean numbers are at steady-state power outputs. For reference, the Wattbike Atom has a claimed accuracy rate of +/- 2% (the same as the existing Wattbike units).
In my testing, I generally use between 2-4 other power meters on the bike at once. I find this is the best way to validate power meters in real-world conditions. However, that’s a lot trickier on the Wattbike Atom because I can’t swap out the crank arms or put a rear wheel hub on there. So I was essentially limited to only one other power meter. I thus used three different units: Garmin Vector 3, Favero Assioma, and PowerTap P1 pedals.
Again, the downside here is that I can only do two units on this – and thus if there’s any major disagreements, I’d have no way of knowing which is right.
When it comes to data collection, I use a blend of the NPE WASP data collection devices, and a fleet of Garmin head units (mostly Edge 520/820/1000/1030 units). These just make data analysis quick since I can easily offload the .FIT files and it records the ANT+ ID’s of the various power meters automatically for my tools to analyze. In this case, I use the DCR Analyzer, which you can also use now too.
Let’s dive right into the first set, which is from today. It’s a workout that I did using Wattbike’s app, and is a slew of intervals, getting shorter and shorter over time. Descending intervals since the wattage amount reduces over the course of the workout. Here’s the Atom and Vector 3 overlaid atop each other (and here’s the set if you’d like to look at it):
Captain Obvious would point out these are virtually identical. Incredibly close to each other. Let’s zoom in on those 600w+ 10-second long sprints:
Check that baby out. Look at that last interval – the units are a mere 3.75w different at the peak on that one. That’s increda-awesome. And also, incredibly difficult to see in almost all testing I do. Seriously, it’s not easy to get that close on any short-duration test.
One interesting thing you may be asking is why there’s a tiny little blip at one point where Vector 3 goes above the Wattbike for a second or so:
For fun I actually pushed a bit hard for about 3 seconds randomly while in ERG mode. The Wattbike barely responded to this, but Vector 3 seemed to pick it up. To see this more clearly, I’ve removed the 3-second smoothing I applied:
So it seems there’s a tiny bit of smoothing (1-3 seconds is my guess) within the Wattbike data in ERG mode (not in other modes), which is actually kinda normal for most trainers. One can nitpick about it, but that’s a personal thing.
As for cadence, I didn’t have a ton of variation on this particular ride, so things don’t look too exciting. But the units are generally within 1RPM of each other:
Let’s now shift to a non-ERG mode workout, just a general Zwift ride around the island. Here’s the link to the DCR Analyzer sets.
Note, you’ll see some drops of the purple line on Vector 3. That’s because I stupidly placed the Edge 1030 atop my laptop with WiFi, and you can see it dropping connectivity there. My bad. When I don’t put it on my laptop, I don’t see any issues. I need more spots for Garmin mounts on the Wattbike!
In any event, with a regular ride I’m most interested in the sprints, since it’s not ERG mode and thus there’s no knowledge of what I’m about to do. Let’s look at that 700w or so (it’s actually more than 800w, but on these graphs I enabled 3-second smoothing so you can more easily see what’s going on).
Again here, the two track very closely. You see a tiny bit of difference between the two as I virtually shift the wrong way briefly and then shift again properly (that dip around 29:45). That’s pretty normal to see slight variations on sprinting – mostly due to recording rates. But at the peak, the two units are a .33 watts different. Yes, one third of one watt.
In this set of rolling hill section you see a bit more variance between the units – but we’re talking a couple watts in most cases, and at worst 10w on nearly 300w (or 3% for a second or two). Again, slight differences in recording rates typically account for this.
While I won’t dig through it here, for those that want, here’s another Zwift file – this one a structured workout (Jon’s Mix).
Finally, we’ll take a look at a workout in TrainerRoad. This workout was full of quick changes in intensity – in some cases upwards of 300w between intervals. It’s these sorts of rapid paced changes that I’m interested in seeing how things perform. Here’s the files.
As you can see, things are pretty darn clean. You see a tiny bit more variation in terms of how the ERG mode holds it steady (not comparing the units, just how it holds a given wattage). This gets to the nuances of how every app handles ERG mode slightly differently, and how each trainer reacts slightly differently.
Picking one of the sets above, we’ll zoom in a bit. You can see that it doesn’t hold it super-tight, but allows a bit of flux for each wattage level. Thus why it’s not perfectly flat. But the two power meters track very closely, despite the sometimes oscillating nature of my ability to go back and forth between 300w and 440w or so.
You’ll also notice at the end there that drop from 425w to 125w: It does it in two seconds. Super quick.
At this point, I could keep showing the same thing all day – but there’s nothing I’m seeing of concern here on accuracy. I’ve done both higher cadence work as well as lower cadence work in various workouts, and all of it is showing virtually identical results between the power meter values. Same goes for cadence values too.
I’d have no issues trusting the power values coming off of this unit. Oh, and best of all? Like the Tacx Neo, it needs no calibration, just get on and ride.
(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy sections were created using the DCR Analyzer tool. It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)
Difference to the existing Wattbike:
I put this chart in my initial preview post, but I think it’s important enough to display it again here. The chart is from Wattbike themselves, though I’ve revalidated and tweaked a few minor items to make it more accurate from what I’d consider certain things to be. Think of me as vetting it a bit as a 3rd party.
Wattbike Model Comparison
|Sale/Delivery||Wattbike Atom||Wattbike 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 fitting||Yes|
|Availability Regions||UK (warranty supported)||Global (via distributors for warranty)|
|Sales Route||E-commerse (direct to consumer model)||e-commerse and regional distributors|
|Warranty||2 years / 6 moths on wear and tyre items||2 years / 6 moths on wear and tyre items|
|Uses phone/tablet as control unit 'Device used to 'control' bike'?||Yes - Android/iOS with Wattbike App/Third Party App||Model B Monitor - connects to iOS / Adriod device via Bluetooth for App use N.b not via FEC|
|Left/Right leg balance||Yes||Yes|
|Pedalling Effectiveness Score||Yes||Yes (via app)|
|Electronic Shifters||Control app and bike. 3 button controls on each shifter||No|
|Gears||1 - 22. Across Power Curve||Air (1 - 10) and magnetic resistnace (1 - 7). Across Power Curve|
|Gradient||0 - 25%||None|
|Climb mode||Climbs available in Wattbike App ( developed with velo viewer)||Virtual climbs not compatible|
|Ability to replicate road bike & TT set up||Yes||Yes|
|Sound||70 decibels at 70 cadence||At 70 cadence in gear 5 pro & trainer are 79 decibels|
|Ability to update firmware||Yes (via app)||Yes (via USB cable & laptop)|
|Training content||Yes - tests, workouts and plans (via app)||Yes - tests, workouts and plans (via B monitor & app)|
|In built testing||Yes||Yes|
|Resistance type||Step motor driving natrual magnets to replicate the Wattbike power curve||Air & Magnet|
|Wattage range||40 - 2000+ watts||Trainer 0 - 2000 watts Pro: 0 - 3760 watts|
|Accuracy||+/- 2% - across the full power range||+/- 2% - across the full power range|
|Electronics system||Smart control wireless electronics.||N/A|
|BLE fitness machine||Yes||No|
|Heart rate||BLE, ANT+||ANT, ANT + & Polar|
|Speed & Cadence||Yes||Yes|
|Wattbike Hub||Save, share and analyse your data||Save, share and analyse your data|
|Third party apps||Yes - Any ANT+/ANT+ FEC/BLE enabled app. Custom BLE control via Zwift. BLE Exercise Machine Control support to follow after launch. Zwift, Sufferfest, Trainer Road||Yes - via ANT +/BLE Zwift, TrainerRoad and Sufferfest. Manual adjustment of resistance required|
|Data analysis ability||Wattbike Hub and connecting to Strava, TrainingPeaks and TCX export||Wattbike Hub and connecting to Strava, TrainingPeak and TCX export|
|Supports ANT+ FEC||Yes||No|
|Supports Bluetooth Control||Custom integration with zwift, BLE Exercise Machine Control support to follow after launch||No|
|BLE fitness machine||Yes||No|
|Power required||Mains adaptor OR battery pack (functionality coming in October) (5 volt 1.6amps)||External power not needed, internal generator|
|Ability to move||Yes, 2 Coaster Wheels||Yes, 2 Coaster Wheels|
|Max rider weight||135KG||150KG|
|Rider size||5' - 6'5||5'1 - 6'4 (7'1 with extra long stems)|
|Footprint||100cm (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 horizontal||Yes - vertical and horizontal|
|Ability to fit own handlebars||Yes (currently 26mm, working towards 31.8mm)||Factory fitted drop handlebars (not interchangeable)|
|Saddle adjustability (micro adjustment)||Yes - vertical & horizontal||Yes - vertical & horizontal|
|Saddle||Low profile saddle||Low profile saddle|
|Ability to fit own saddle||Yes||Yes|
|Pedals||Changable for user + Combination pedals - flat for trainers||Changable for user +E148 Wellgo (MTB SPD, Look Keo & toe cage for trainers)|
|Ability to fit own pedals||Yes||Yes|
|Tablet holder||Can accomodate from 70mm - 240mm in height||Coming 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 holders||2||1|
|Flywheel||2x4.64Kg flywheels||Magnetic- 7.5kg & Fan- 5.6Kg (13.1Kg)|
|Drive train||Chain & timing belt||Chain to Drive Belt|
|Needs calibration?||Factory set||Factory 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. And thus, more road-like feel than the Atom. If you came from an existing Wattbike, you’d definitely say the Atom has less road-feel. But if you’re coming from another trainer, you probably won’t notice it.
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 previously, 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.
Trying to compare the Wattbike to a traditional trainer? I’ll be honest, it’s tough. I’ve actually come to really like the idea of just jumping on the bike – something I thought I’d never say. But it’s a tougher battle when comparing it against higher end trainers, especially the Tacx Neo and Wahoo KICKR + CLIMB combo.
In many ways I don’t have an easy answer for you. If the shifting on the Atom was flawless, then it’d be easy to be honest. And, I’d even pay a few hundred bucks more for a crispier solution. But without that, it’s going to depend on what you do.
If you’re primarily a Zwifter, I think you’re probably better served by a traditional trainer. Whereas, if you’re an ERG mode person and looking for accuracy – it looks beautiful on the Atom. Really beautiful.
I’d suggest you check out my full trainer guide here, which dives into all the nuances of trainers.
In many ways Wattbike did what no one else dared to do: Make an incredibly tech-laden indoor bike that’s on the cutting edge of indoor trainer standards, and most importantly: Make it actually well priced. They’re doing all of this essentially a year before the plethora of indoor bikes hits next fall, from companies like Tacx and others that you know and love in the segment.
Of course, in being the pioneer on this – they’re also having to go thru some growing pains of that. Nobody has a virtual shifting standard, the concept simply doesn’t exist in the standardized trainer app world today (or didn’t until three months ago). Thus, they’re having to blaze some trails that aren’t super well defined. As part of that, the experience for virtual shifting isn’t ideal today, especially for apps that heavily depend upon it – like Zwift. Will it get better? Of course – both companies commit to that. Can they make it as seamless as a regular bike? In my opinion, not on the current handlebars, though the design of Atom is to allow handlebar swapping. How that plays out specifically, it’s not yet clear.
Probably a bigger question is: Will I buy one?
Yes, but not quite yet.
As Wattbike themselves can attest – I was more than skeptical of their indoor bike plans in general, in large part because up till now the tech in most bikes on the market has sucked. Like bad gym treadmills from decades ago sucked. But that’s not what happened with the Atom. They nailed the underlying tech – really nailed it. And surprisingly, I actually like jumping on it. It has a really high ‘just works’ factor in terms of always being ready.
Except for me, I keep going back to shifting and Zwift. If the companies can sort that out, then I’m definitely a customer and my credit card is ready. In one word, I want it to be ‘crispy’. Make it crispy, and you can have my credit card number.
With that – thanks for reading!
Been waiting not-so-patiently for this in-depth review. Thanks for the good work Ray. I currently have a Neo at home and I’m debating getting a new bike/trainer combo vs an Atom for a vacation home and this helps clarify my options. Given I’m in the US, it sounds like the shipping cost/time issue as well as the shifting ‘bugs’ push me toward doing the tradition bike/trainer approach for now. Too bad, because I’d really rather have an all-in-one solution. If they (Wattbike, Tacx, et al) can get the all-in-one smart bike figured out (and it sounds like Wattbike is very close) then this is going to be a game changer for the industry.
I am also a Neo user and was also eagerly waiting for Ray’s review. Sounds like I will also wait a little bit before buying one.
But from what I read, even a Wattbike v1.5 might solve all the little niggles that are in this 1.0 version. the solutions seem easy and cheap.
Something else that really bothers me though: Why are not ALL positions adjustable with a lever? Why mix the use of Allen keys in there? it is beyond stupid as it precludes me from sharing my bike with my family members.
Now I am waiting for the competition’s answer to this 🙂
Do I share with my wife who is a foot shorter than me. Seat.down, bars up with quick release. Allen key with handle makes it easy to whip the bars forward. Not ideal but hardly worth stressing about
I presume this is because the Atom is designed for home/personal use not for rapid changes in gyms although often I have to move onto the next Wattbike at my gym as sometimes a lever is so tight I can’t shift it.
Is an Allen key adjustment really difficult though? As long as you can access it easily and don’t over tighten it then should be OK? Bit like pedals – they come out easily with the right tool if have put some grease in the threads and again not over tightened it.
While I looked at the allen key stuff too and rolled my eyes, it’s surprisingly quick the way they’ve done it.
Plus, the two main ones (seatpost and handlebars) are levers. I suspect the challenge with doing levers for both seat fore/aft and handlebars fore/aft is the lever is pretty beefy.
I’m just surprised at the number of *different* Allen keys required. Didn’t they try to make them all the same at all?
The review was exactly what I was hoping to read. The one killer is fall of 2018 for the US…damn, was hoping for this winter/spring to get one.
Same here, I would love to have this available to train over the winter!
It is not exactly true that nobody has virtual shifting yet.
Kettler has implemented this in their proprietary solution (Kettler World Tours) since some years which works very well.
But it is a closed world and can be connected to Zwift and others only with some tweaks
Yeah, I was specifically referring to cross-platform/app standards. Others like I believe the ProForm bike also has the concept too.
Thanks for the review! At work (I’m a high-school PE-teacher) we have a Kettler Racer 9.
It seems to me it does some of the same tricks, unfortunately only within their own software realm – Kettler World Tours. Do you have any experience with Kettler ergo-bikes? I haven’t been able to find any independent reviews…
Yup, I played with one or two at a trade show this past winter. I think they’re headed in the right direction. I haven’t dug super deep into the lay of their land in terms of consumer offerings that are also open-standard.
That’s roughly where I’m going to draw the line going forward on these types of units as to whether I might review them. I think my ‘minimum requirements’ will be:
A) Must support ANT+ FE-C and/or Bluetooth FTMS (so apps can control them)
B) Must be reasonably priced
I’m not sure too many (any?) other units fit that bill today…though I suspect many will by next fall. Good thing I’m working on Cave V2! Gonna need more space!
Thats a reasonable choice. It is a major annoyance that it isn’t open platform! Otherwise it works very well. Only I would like to see a validation of the power data. Too bad you are not going to help me out on that one 😉
The last year i’ve been using a Kettler X7 with link to rouvy.com (Virtual Cycling) on a PC,after using kettler world tours for years.
Earlier today i’ve been made aware that it is also possible to interface it to Zwift trough an android APP that acts as a gateway.
I’ve not tried it yet, but just received the testing version of the APP. Have a look at link to ergo.ub-online.de
I’m using the Kettler Racer 9 (2018 version) with ergo.ub app. Currently for this bike it works with a USB-cable only, although it has BT, seems it’s for classic 2.0 BT connections only.
Using BT Rouvy for example works only as Windows desktop version. It also has the KTW desktop app, which works fine for simulation needs if I want to ride my home routes. There is also a slight delay with gear switching, at least with BT, have not tried the cable as I currently reserve it for the android ANT+ app.
As for FE-C control through the android app, this allows me to send the data to my Garmin watch and apps that support it. Gear control doesn’t seem to work currently, so I have to choose between ERG for workouts or non FE-C mode where it just sends the watts to the app. This way I can switch on the bike but loose the terrain resistance control. Without gears it’s not really possible to use Zwift for example in FE-C mode, for workouts it would work fine though.
Another limitation is that in ERG mode the bike is limited to 600W. This is a shame in Sufferfest for example as I’d have to shift manually to hit some of the high wattage for the sprints. The upper limit is 1000W even in manual mode. The downside for manual shifting also is that for example exercises like Violator some of the intervals are very fast and I’d like to focus just spinning and not shifting which could mess up my pace. I tried it on the first set with longer rest intervals and even there I could barely manage it, with a bit of practice, perhaps… 🙂
Looking forward to Wattbike atom or other similar options in the future, I could’ve waited but I kind of needed a solution right now. So the Kettler was the only option I could find that was readily available.
From one “abnormally tall guy” to another (I am 1.95m) how close to the max seat pin height are you? As I use a “normal” Wattbike quite a bit, I invested in their extra long seat pin as the standard one was not quite high enough. This works fine with an 85.5 cm saddle tip to centre of BB measurement I now use on road bikes. I actually have 5cm higher I could go. Trouble is, as you note, you also go back so even with saddle as far forward as it can go I am very laid back even for a road position. Sounds like same issue here.
Pretty much within a centimeter of it (seat-post), and then on the handlebars, it’s as far as it goes (inwards). Like you noted too, the challenge is these go further apart the higher they go.
How tall are you Ray? I’m also v. close to the max height for the Atom (6′ 4″) and long-limbed with it, so it might be touch and go for me.
And thanks for such a great review.
Isn’t increasing effective TT length with increasing seatpost height the same with all bikes? It’s not like bigger frames have the same TT length as smaller ones.
On my TT bike, if I rise the rear seat and need to increase my handlebar height, the handlebars go straight up, not up and forward.
I own one of these. You are spot on about the shifting in zwift. I did a race the other day and it was so frustrating. Otherwise it’s an incredible bit of kit
Velotron has virtual shifting
Sure. Just clarified that I’m specifically talking about the virtual shifting ‘standard’, or interop between apps in any open way.
Hi Ray, Like many others I was eagerly waiting for your review. Thanks!
Just a point re the shifters, the red tops are buttons. They let you switch between the various screens on the Wattbike Hub app whilst in a workout and I think they can also let you switch from Ergo to Gear mode and back. Quite useful.
Also, on the gear buttons, I do get a quiet click when I use them. To be honest though I use ERG mode most of the time.
For me the Atom was a no brainer for the accuracy I guessed it would have (based on the quality of the previous Wattbikes) and the fact it makes multi-user so easy. My wife and I like to train 2-3 times a week and swapping bikes between a normal turbo trainer was a pain and she wasn’t keen to do it, which meant I did all the time. She just wants to get on with a workout and the Atom lets that happen. First world problem I know but the Atom is the fix.
Does the Wattbike Hub allow you to create your own workouts, similar to TR and Zwift?
How about noise level? Does the air element add a lot of noise? Thanks
The atom only uses magnetic resistance, noise is only problem with the more expensive wattbikes which also have air resistance.
That is a remarkably aero seatpost!
Indeed. Not gonna lie, I love the design of that seatpost – especially the metallic red element.
Question about gearshifts, is this currently even supported by FE-C? I guess traditional trainers don’t need it as they only need to control the resistance and shifting is done through mechanical gears.
Spinning bike like the atom, which uses magnetic resistance, needs to simulate the gears through resistance, so when hill profile changes and modifies resistance then the gear resistance has to be calculated accordingly, sum up by the app then sent back to the bike to control the total resistance. I believe this is what adds up to the delay?
Probably not intended for gym use, unless Wattbike wants the gyms to pony up for the proper multi-way pedals (Look/SPD/cage.)
Will be interesting to see how the Wattbike Atom compares to the next Stages Cycling Bike with FE-C / FTMS control (if such a thing will even exist.)
Yeah, I’d be very surprised if we don’t see Stages port their existing bike (which is really very good) to FE-C/FTMS. It’s a logical progression.
ROFL….make it crispy….I love that…great review..I am not in the market for one of these but interesting read for the future.
With all the recent Zwift-centric posts my mind drifted to the alternative universe where the Atom is launched as the Zwiftbike with all the noted quirks and bugs ironed out. Bundled with 12 months access to a tweaked Zwift platform and marketed to the general gym-goer or spin class devotee. Zwift get the extra users and annuity income the investors seek, Wattbike gets a winning product and the users get a simple gamified fitness experience with real “wow factor”. (Boy, that coffee this morning must have been strong…)
About the Wattbike Hub Ride you posted
I see that the power line is not very smooth… take the interval starting at 23:39, it goes from 321W to 265W to 375W when it should be steady. same the others intervals.
were you in ERG mode? If I look my ride on ERG with trainerroad the intervals are almost flat lines, why this difference?
It floats a bit, which I find fairly normal.
What trainer you talking about? My guess is a Wahoo unit?
nope, a tacx-wheel-on one, don’t remember the model.
maybe because mine has a lot of internal smoothing, don’t know.
this was done yesterday
Yeah, that looks like they’re showing ‘set load’ versus actual load. Wahoo’s most infamous for this, as by default it’ll show you in apps (in ERG mode) what the unit was set for, not what it’s actually putting out.
To resolve that they added a setting in the Wahoo app menu to allow you to show actual outputted power.
Thanks for explaining this!
I can’t seem to find that setting ?
FWIW I’d always assumed it was my super smooth riding style that gave such level lines in trainer road 🙂
yeah, me too… damn 🙁
For Wahoo specifically, it’s set within the Wahoo mobile app under Sensor settings and should be called something like “‘ERG mode smoothing”. I don’t have a trainer handy at the very second.
Is there an ideal smoothing value that needs to be set up in trainerroad? Ive just come across this feature in the settings. Also how does the bike perform in ftp test when it switches from erg mode to manual?
For shifting, why can’t Wattbike support the existing Ant+ Profile used by SRAM by modifying the firmware. This would give Zwift a standard to support, so bikes with electronic shifting used on a trainer could display as well (at least with a dongle), plus for now you could just use a Garmin head unit to display your “virtual gear”. Since I believe it is all just software, that could even be used for control of the gears (although not sure you would need that).
While it would be cool, implementing the ANT+ Shifting Device Profile is probably overkill. Is the bike a 1x or 2x set-up? What cassette is installed? Is the cassette user-configurable? If so, how does “changing” the cassette affect the ERG curve? Is shifting reflected in the reported speed?
For this purpose, those things wouldn’t really matter (although would need to be ‘virtualized’ or determined) since the only real purpose is to get it to display your current gear on your head unit or ultimately Swift (or other app). Since it is already supported on head units, why not use it.
Probably because that would need more complex firmware and there might already be limitations with the console processor / memory, so would not possible to add or configure virtual gears (which would now be stored on the bike). This is because the gears would have to be applied to the ERG curve on the bike and then send back to the app to minimize latency.
It’s much simpler to deal everything on the app side and just get the gearshifts from the bike, then just tell the bike to produce as much resistance. But then there is the delay to get that resistance on the bike.
Anyway that’s just my thoughts with limited information. Would be good if someone with real information could shed some light on this.
Great to see a company finally executing this. Hopefully this will change the way current companies like Schwinn, Spinning, Kaiser, Matrix, Stages, Peloton etc do manual magnetic or pad resistance with weighted flywheels and inconsistent power for group indoor cycling classes.
There was a smart guy with a good piece of technology called Powerbahn who had most of this figured out a few years ago (including the shifting) I had a demo bike for a while and it was pretty amazing. Too bad he couldn’t get out of his own way to bring this product to market.
I was lucky enough to get one of the first Atoms and have had it now for 8 weeks. Here is a brief description of my set up and how i have found the bike so far;
Initially i viewed my ride data on the Wattbike app as mentioned in the article it allows you to ride in normal mode (up to 22 gears) or ergo mode. It shows you all the usual data, power, heart rate, cadence etc and it still has the infamous Wattbike peanut only this time it has converted this into a numerical figure called the PES (Pedal efficiency score) therefore allowing you to view and in turn practice your pedal stroke in real time in an effort to ensure that you are peddling most effectively. I believe the sweet-spot is a PES score of about 70-75.
The app also has a selection of tests, workouts and famous climbs. This is when the bike really does become a smart bike as in the workout mode it will switch into full ergo mode dependent on the effort required (All calculated from your FTP which you have previously inputted into the app). The climbs are a great feature as you really suffer as you would out on the road as the resistance automatically changes according to the gradient of the climb. You track your progress of the climb on the app as it provides you with the change in gradient and how far to go etc. The app is great but i’ve found that the bike has led to me becoming a convert to the world of Zwift!
Initially i accessed Zwift via my ipad/iphone with the device being held up at jus the right height within the TT bar/holder. Very cool. I then wanted to see it on a bigger screen so put one up on my wall and upgraded to Apple TV (generation 3) and mirrored Zwift from my iphone/pad to the TV. This was great but noticed than unless i had my phone/pad charging at the same time it was eating the battery life and anything over an hour ran the risk of the phone dying during the ride. So with the Apple Tv Zwift app being launched i upgraded to a generation 4 Apple TV and now all i do is simply connect to Zwift via Apple TV (Generation 4 as a minimum). It collects all ride data via bluetooth and Ray has done a great video to show how simple this really is.
So in summary my equipment is;
Apple TV Generation 4
Wahoo Tickr heart rate monitor (The Wattbike is clever enough to read Ant+ and bluetooth but Zwift only currently recognises bluetooth (i believe) hence my reason for getting a wahoo tickr)
Easy setup (Out of box and riding it within less than 10 mins)
Very interchangeable. My wife can change it from my settings to her in less than a minute and me vice versa.
Very straight forward connection to Wattbike app, Zwift, Road Grand Tours etc
Responds brillianty to changes in gradient/workout efforts
Great Ergo mode
Wattbike aftersales are outstanding
Lag when changing gear* – Improving!!
Feel/Durability of shifters** – Early models only.
*When using the wattbike through its own Wattbike app this isnt noticeable, it only really becomes and issue when ‘racing’ on Zwift. The first 3 weeks were a really ‘pull your hair out’ experience as you were either ripping your thighs out as you hit a climb as wattage output went from say 220 watts to 550 watts as you waited for the bike to pick up that you had changed to an easier gear by which time more often than not you were by then cresting the hill and spinning out as you went back down you gears trying to put your power back down. However after 2 updates (completed via the Wattbike app, very simple) this is noticeably better, and the lag which i think originally was about 3-4 secs is now about 1 second. 1 second doesn’t sound a lot but in comparison to a standard bike on a smart trainer it is still definitely noticeable/slower. Am getting used to it and if i was 9 out of 10 on the frustration charts when it was a 3-4 second lag then am about a 3 out of 10 after the updates. Still room for improvement but they are nearly there now and i reckon they will be within a couple more updates.
**Feel/Durability of shifters
I thought id put this on as this is something that is touched upon in the article but also because i had an issue that although wattbike sorted for me immediately may be one that other users end up suffering from.
I agree with the article in that when you select a gear it would be better to hear/feel a more audible/tangible click. To give you an idea its a bit like pressing your buttons on your computer mouse but not hearing or feeling anything click or for those of us that are old enough to remember pre-iphone the change from pressing an actual button to type something to an iphone which is touch screen, they both do the same thing but at first the touch screen takes some getting used to. there is definitely a feel of something when you press the button when you change gear but sometimes (generally when your working really hard on an effort) your not sure if its registered or not. If they could make this a bit more definitive/louder then this would alleviate the occasional problem of double changing when you are not sure if the bike has changed gear or not. If Zwift are working with Wattbike on integrating the gears into their display this would also also be a game changer.
Failure of Shifters
During a race on Zwift i kept experiencing the Wattbike locking itself into a gear. It would happen intermittently and after lots of pressing up and down on my shifters it would then pick up what gear i was in and away we would go again. Some times it would take 5 clicks/changes sometime 25-30, sometimes not at all. So i would be climbing a hill at say 350 watts go over the top start the descent and nothing. No gears, no power output just me spinning at about 125+ rpm. I took a video and sent it to Wattbike who were absolutely brilliant. They took me through various scenarios on what could be causing it they asked me to carry out a diagnostic check via their app (very simple) to make sure everything was connected and talking to each other etc. After going through various possibilities they asked me to remove the rubber mounted cover from my right shifter and then press the buttons. The top button clicked (more audible without the rubber cover) the bottom one…….didnt!, it was stuck in. Hence the reason why when i was pressing (or thought i was pressing in the case of the bottom button) the buttons to change gear it wasn’t allowing me to as the bottom button was stuck. After a little bit of tweaking it came unstuck. Tt was an issue that Wattbike were aware of and believe it has only effected their first few units as they informed me they had modified the shifter on newer models. They have sent me a new shifter to fit (simple, two screws and one clip) and i’ve sent my old one back.
When you have an issue all you want is a back up service that gets you sorted asap and in this instance Wattbike were outstanding. The whole thing was resolved within 15 minutes and a replacement part arrived latter that week. Brilliant.
So in summary, they are about 99% there with this product. Overall i am very very happy with it and if/when they have sorted the lagging issue out then that’s it. Done! This will be the go to smartbike for the market.
Ben, very many thanks for posting such a detailed write-up of your experience. And if you have further useful feedback in the months head, please post about it.
A quick question: have you given the Winnats climb a go on the Atom? I’m a steep hill addict – handy as I live close to Winnats myself – and am interested in how good a job the Atom does in simulating the really steep stuff (obvious limitations aside of you remaining horizontal on an Atom…).
Yes i have had a go and am afraid to say its as brutal as the real thing (minus the cattle grid) I’ve also done Sa Colobra which was quickly great/painful.
Glad you mentioned Winnats though as i meant to mention this in my previous post. Having linked my Wattbike App to my strava account. I’ve done it a couple of times and after one of the efforts it logged me on Strava as being the 4th fasted of all time (deleted it immediately). Now the effort was a hard one but their is no way i could go that fast on the real road. So am guessing there may be some work to do with regard the calculation of power/weight/speed or lack of wind resistance etc. Am not clever enough to work out what happened but i do know am not that quick at climbing Winnats. Still great simulation of the climb though.
Maybe they’ve not factored in the semi-stationary cars and wandering sheep you often need to weave your way around!
Cracking write up Ben.
Mine is due week 50/51. As a long term Wattbike user I’m looking forward to the leap into the 21st century of Erg mode etc.
I don’t get it.. These people who designed this clearly aren’t stupid, and are clearly aware of Zwift and the shifting issues. Why would they release this in such a state? Unless they have a solid upgrade solution already in the can, they seriously jeopardize the credibility of it for the prime market and give the competitors a juicy target.
Matt i know what your saying and i understand the argument for saying that at £1500 it should be perfect straight out of the box but they really aren’t far away now and every update is improving it. When it is seamless it will be perfect. Like i said in my post nirvana will having instant changes in gear and seeing what gear you are in on the Zwift screen as you do your power, heart rate and cadence. Again i believe thay are working on this at the moment.
Perfection is the enemy of progress, or, shipping in this case.
Which doesn’t mean you should ship a crap product (and I don’t think they did). It just means that eventually you have to ship something. With the Zwift aspect, it’s likely that only until they can start shipping can they get even attention/weight to start driving changes.
I agree, but 8 seconds to downshift is really a fundamental flaw. I’ve been burnt too many times by products that were released too early and couldn’t be corrected due to some fundamental design limitation, only to be fixed in version 2 and a completely new purchase and you end up feeling like you were bankrolling their product development.
I too would buy this today if this wasn’t an issue. For now, I’ll let Ben be my beta tester ;).
I have to agree with Matt. The shifter is a core component of the trainer experience just as it is on a real bike. It can’t take seconds to shift in a real bike and it can’t take 8 seconds to shift on a trainer. The current culture of ship now fix later has run its course with this buyer.
Great article! I’m still waiting for my Atom, but it should be delivered in the next few weeks.
Can I ask for some clarification on something though…..
Can you connect an ANT+ HR monitor, which the Atom will then re-transmit as blue tooth?
For example, connecting to my laptop to run Zwift would require a BT HR monitor. But can I use my ANT+ Garmin monitor? Does the Atom re-transmit the Garmin monitor to the laptop? Or would I have to buy a BT HR monitor for it to work?
Am pretty sure that initially i tried to use my Garmin Ant+ heart rate monitor thinking the Wattbike would work some magic and convert it into bluetooth but it didn’t happen (Think its something to do with a maximum number of bluetooth signals being sent/received Power, cadence, speed). So i bought the Wahoo Tickr which works each and every time perfectly!
Hope this helps, am sure Ray has covered this previously as well.
That’s why I like this blog. Ray gives an real, honest review. – saves a lot people a lot of headaches. I’m sure the Wattbike people might have a different opinion…..
keep up the nice work!
Dan/Ben – Yeah, I tried this evening briefly with three ANT+ straps, and couldn’t seem to get it to re-pass after the app is shut down (which is what’s required to get Zwift to see it). I might be doing something wrong there, so I’ll double-check with Wattbike. I suspect it wouldn’t be that difficult to implement to be honest….but then, neither again was it when Wahoo said they’d do it 4 years ago in their HR straps.
Hi Ray, if I am using the Atom with The Sufferfest on my Windows PC with an ANT+ dongle, will I be able to transmit my HR if using the Garmin Tri HR strap, as well as having all other data transmitted etc?
No, it doesn’t appear so at this point.
Thanks Ray. That seems crazy to me, hopefully they can fix this as I am not going to bother buying another HR strap, I will just have to go without.
I received my Atom yesterday and have just connected to Sufferfest via Ant+ to my Windows app, and managed to get the Garmin Tri HR to connect first time. Happy about that.
My wife has been using a Stages SC3 bike at the gym and when riding the Atom last night, could not get used the the varying nature of the resistance, especially the dead spots when riding out of the saddle. It was very frustrating for her and for me to watch. I am not yet sure if this is just an Atom thing, or that she is just used to how the resistance works on those spin bikes. I will do some more rides on this over the coming days and report back.
Remember the Stages bike is a “fixed flywheel” bike so the Wattbike will feel very different.
Atom is a completely different approach to the Stages bike which is very much designed with RPM/Spin type classes in mind, not focussed sessions like TrainerRoad etc.
I’ve done sufferfest on the Stages. Don’t think you could do a proper Zwift ride on Stages.
Thanks Andy. I think you are right. I bought the bike so my wife could do her workouts at home and practice spin (she is a spin instructor) and so I could do my training (as I had an old Jet Black Fluid trainer). Tried to kill two birds with one stone, but in this case I don’t think she will get used to the Atom. Might end up with. Stages bike as well ?
Do you mean she doesn’t like the way the power number bounces around, even when you are in ERG mode? For example, an interval is meant to be holding you at 250watts … but the reading seems to vary between 235 and 270, and your natural tendency to compensate with more or less effort makes things worse.
It frustrates me too.
I’m used to a Computrainer and PerfPro set up at the gym where you essentially get locked into a wattage, with the very smallest variances if you change cadence, as it brings you back to the right output. And if you can’t hold the power, you can’t turn the pedals.
I believe this is about what is shown on the screen, and not a fundamental difference in the software. I.e. my actual wattage is jumping about just as much with PerfPro, it just doesn’t show it.
But I agree it is somewhat frustrating and I wish I could have it smoothed out in some way.
Essentially, I just want the set up I have in the gym at home
With the original Wattbike, I pair my Garmin and set the Power reading to 30sec average.
=no bouncing about Power reading.
Not so much the power number, but out of ERG mode and just trying to ride a consistent power, the resistance seems to get harder and easier quite often. This is exaggerated when attempting a short stint out of the saddle. I seem to be able to adjust relatively easily, but it is very off-putting for my wife. Does that make sense?
I ordered mine on the day of release, went through a couple of firmware updates and ended up sending it back and replaced it with the new KICKR.
For me that gearshift lag was a killer to use in Zwift, where I do most of my indoor riding. Excellent build quality, and great bit of kit, and if they can resolve the gear shift I’ll certainly go back and try again.
26mm handlebars? Honestly. Has anyone used that standard in the last decade?
Are you going to do a review for Technogym My cycling?
No, not at present. The price point is nuts. It’s just so far out of line of what it should be given the components (about 600-700EUR too high compared to something like a KICKR or Hammer). It lacks any of the extra goods that the Tacx Neo has, which justifies it’s slightly higher price.
Simply put, it’s not at all competitive – despite how many darn Facebook and Instagram ads I keep getting for it.
Hi Ray – as you mention the plethora of indoor bikes coming soon, any chance of a review/thoughts on the recently released Concept2 BikeErg? Have heard good things about it, has ANT/BT support, sub 1k price. Would love to hear your thoughts on it!
So, I guess I’m confused. The name ‘BikeErg’, implies ERG functionality, but no part of the specs seem to support that assumption. Meaning, it doesn’t have ANT+ FE-C or Bluetooth Smart FTMS. Also, it doesn’t allow you to set a resistance point best I can tell. Meaning, for apps like Zwift or TrainerRoad, it’s no different than a $150 trainer with no control. :-/
Interesting – I saw Zwift and TrainerRoad listed under their 3rd party apps page so I was hopeful there might have been something I’m missing! I think it’s targeted more at the crossfit world than the cycling world (C2 being a rowing machine / equipment company at its core). Quite odd that it doesn’t allow for setting a resistance point when accurately and easily showing wattages is sort of the fundamental pitch of the company, though…
Yeah, they’re compatible – but only from a transmission standpoint. Meaning, it’ll transmit power/cadence/speed, but not actually control it.
bikeerg has a pm5 highly sophisticated ‘computer’ – identical to the rowers and ski machines that have made concept2 famous.
it DOES have ANT+ and bluetooth and i am using it now with zwift.
Interesting – but, to confirm, Zwift et al can’t actually control it, just reflect what you’re doing? How has your experience been with it?
Another cracking review!
One area you havn’t covered, which in my experience can be a “deal breaker” is that the current lead time for purchase is 15 weeks!!!
I completely understand this is better than the current availability for all outside the UK, however in terms of customer demand, I would have thought it would be at it’s highest over the winter period and the inability to purchase “off-the-shelf” certainly would lead me to chose a different product – maybe just a point worth making for all those UK people sold on making a purchase after your review!
Yes – if it were available I’d be buying but as not available until the spring I’ll be getting a KickR Snap as a Christmas present. Great product and hopefully there will be lots of competing products in due course.
Yeah, the lead-time has definitely been growing, which hasn’t been helped by some of the delays in them getting started (about 3-5 weeks there alone).
I totally agree that once a company can’t deliver by Christmas, it pretty much loses the revenue for the year. We saw many trainers suffer this fate last year, most notably Tacx with the Flux and CycleOps with the Hammer. But there have been many others in the trainer history books.
Is it possible to get real distance covered using the Wattbike Hub and Atom?
Yup, it shows up. You can see it up above in the ‘Wattbike App’ section of the review, or in this link too online: link to hub.wattbike.com
Thanks Ray. What I was really wanting to ask was; is possible to get real time distance on the Just Ride screen? I can’t seem to find this parameter anywhere. Thanks
Thanks for your expert review Ray. Great as always.
I’ve recently taken delivery of my Atom, which was unfortunately damaged when I unpacked it! Not a good start.
My initial feelings were…….. a bit underwhelmed. I don’t feel the build quality is as good as the other Wattbike models. I was expecting a new version to do all the things that the Trainer/Pro could do plus some more. Although there is the added advantage of being controllable, I feel that there are several key features missing; there is no ability to create custom workouts and store them, plus, while riding in the Just Ride mode there is display in real time of the distance covered. The app needs A LOT of work, and quickly.
I’ve never ridden a smart trainer on Zwift before. I was disappointed in the reaction of the Atom to changes (or no changes in gradient). For instance, while riding at a 0% gradient I was experiencing sudden surges in resistance even though I wasn’t changing gear no inclination. It just wasn’t realistic. I agree with everyone else that the gear changes on the Atom are poor, being far too slow and unpredictable.
The Atom……hopefully a work in progress
Just to validate – you did update the firmware I assume? Not that it solves all shifting aspects (it certainly doesn’t), but it does make it better.
As for the build quality, I think it’s reasonable to assume it’d be of slightly lesser quality than the Pro Model – since obviously it’s substantially cheaper. That said, I found the build quality really solid for the most part (save the rear seatpost lever as discussed in the post).
Wattbike today noted that my concerns about the aeropad drilling being offset is by design to angle you towards the aerobars, but frankly, that’s the most nuts excuse I’ve heard. I’ve never seen that on a triathlon bike as ‘crooked by design’.
As for custom workouts, I think the goal with making it FE-C is that you do that via any number of countless apps today. Some of them totally free, like Golden Cheetah, which allows you to build and load workouts easily.
Hi Ray, yes I’ve done the recent update. This improved the speed of the shifting noticeably. I think my reservations regarding the Wattbike app is that I expected to have all the abilities on the Trainer monitor plus a little bit more
Been doing a few more races on Zwift and it is noticeable that the latest Wattbike update has improved the shifting, able to go with any attacks, no problem to respond to counters etc. They are obviously getting on top of this now and further updates will no doubt eradicate it entirely.
With regards to the heart rate monitor issue when using Zwift, you need a bluetooth enabled heart rate strap and the Wattbike wont convert an Ant+ into bluetooth. As is said in my earlier post i switched to a Wahoo Tickr, it obviously also pairs to my Garmin 520 so i now also use it on the road. Plus the flashing lights make you feel like Iron Man every time you put it on!!
Having now used the Atom for 2 months and read other comments with regards to the shifters being buttons (clicking like a mouse control on a computer) i think going forward people would be prepared to pay a premium (within reason) for proper shifters to be fitted, e.g Sram Etap/Shimano Di2 style. I understand that Wattbike are aiming to hit a price point and produce a machine that is ‘mass market’ and easy to use for less experienced riders but in all reality the majority of folk that are prepared to invest £1500 in a smart bike will also have a bike (generally a road one) that they ride and are therefore familiar with how to change gear. Having taken a look at the shifters and how they work i don’t think it would be too hard for this to be modified going forward and its something i think Wattbike should consider redesigning and offering as an upgrade. If they did i know i would go for one.
Can you shift multiple gears quickly (how long is the lag between clicking and feeling the increased resistance)?
I’m just so used to being able to drop the entire range on my Campy gear in one shifting action, I’m probably spoiled. I like the idea of not having my bike mounted all the time, but I don’t really want any compromises. I have an Elite Drivo and it works flawlessly with Zwift. Very natural feeling.
If i’m understanding you correctly, you note that ERG Mode in Zwift is wonky because it allows you to float around the target wattage, and still need to shift for grade changes in workout and ERG mode.
I don’t argue that this is not true, but i’d like to better my understanding of what is going on in Zwift workouts with ERG enabled. When i’m doing a work out, and it asks for, in example 300 watts, the resistance changes and i don’t need to shift. In fact, if i did shift and my cadence changed, it would continue to adjust the resistance.
What am I missing? Thanks!
It’s actually something I’m working with Zwift on, as they’re saying the behavior I’m seeing isn’t expected (though, I can demonstrate it on multiple different vendor units).
The problem is that it’s neither fast, nor steady. For example, I was in Zwift ERG mode two days ago and doing 420w 1-minute sets. It would float the wattage between about 305w and 470w, without holding it, even if my cadence was exactly the same.
So this issue isn’t unique to particular trainers? Also, i expect that on the zwift software it’s displaying steady watt output in erg mode, but your power meters show the wild fluctuation? Thanks for the reply. Your site is invaluable to me getting into and understanding all this.
After watching your first video I wanted to have this thing – however it turned out they don‘t want to sell it outside U.K. – they even stopped answering my request. Well if service already sucks pre-sales… maybe a turbo trainer is still the better choice.
To be fair, this was noted in the video and the post (2nd paragraph here in fact – the whole paragraph).
I took delivery of an Atom a few weeks ago and have used it for about twenty hours so I thought I would share a few observations to complement Ray’s in depth review above. I also have a Wattbike Pro/Trainer so have experience of using both. I bought the Atom because I specially wanted ERG mode which the Pro/trainer doesn’t offer.
Initially building of the Atom is very straightforward. Connecting the smart device is relatively simple but I did have some problems connecting a garmin HR strap via an ant+ usb dongle particularly using the Wattbike Hub, on Trainerroad the connection is faultless.
The Wattbike Hub offers tests, climbs, speed workouts etc. My first ride using the Atom was to use the Alpe D Huez climb workout. This worked really well with the resistance dictated by the gradient with me changing gears as the gradient increased or decreased. Perfect.
This brings me to a major disappointment with the Atom (for me at least), the gradient feature is only available in the climb workouts. If I wanted to just ride and then increase the gradient it doesn’t allow me to do this. Obviously the Atom has the functionality to allow this but this hasn’t been made available to the user yet. Also the user guide (downloadable from Wattbike) on page 10 mentions there are three action modes with the right red button :- gear mode, gradient mode mode and erg mode with the up/down buttons moving up/down the gears/gradient/erg power (5W increments). The user guide says “To switch between the modes, press the red action button on the right shifter”, this is plain wrong. In fact the whole page 10 is misleading. This may not be a problem in itself but one of the differences listed between the Atom and the Pro/Trainer is the gradient mode between 0% and 25% listed for the Atom. This may influence prospective buyers, it did with me. I contacted Wattbike about the three action modes and the gradient mode and this was their reply:- “The Gradient mode you aren’t seeing is for when you are in one of the climb sessions on the App. In a normal Just ride session you won’t see or experience that.” So it is not available to users.
A second observation concerns using the Atom on Trainerroad. Nearly all of my wattbike sessions use trainerroad. Integration is easy, however I realised that I can only use erg mode. Resistance mode is “ available” but doesn’t actually work any where near effectively to the point of being useless. I contacted trainerroad, this was their reply:- ” I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately Wattbike has not implemented resistance mode for the Atom, and has not yet decided if they will actually do so. Shifting gears on the Wattbike does increase resistance, but it does not use the same standard resistance mode protocols that other electronic trainers use, which is why it does not work within our app the same way Resistance mode does for other smart trainers.
Hopefully Wattbike implements some changes to this protocol via a firmware update, but we will have to wait and see on that one.”
A potential problem related to this for potential users is the FTP tests which should automatically switch to resistance mode for the 20 minute interval to allow the user to find their best average power.
I think perspective buyers need to be made aware of what I consider disappointments and slightly misleading marketing on the Atom. In summary I would still buy one because having erg mode was my overriding required functionality but the two disappointments could be deal breakers for others.
Firmware version – 1.01.58
Hub version – 3.2.4
Thanks for those comments, Steve. My takeaway is that Wattbike are pretty sloppy on the software compared to what I’d like to see and have under-delivered compared to expectations.
I’m discouraged by their email response to you, stating ““The Gradient mode you aren’t seeing is for when you are in one of the climb sessions on the App””, as it suggests a lack of ambition on their behalf with regards software.
I’d assumed it worked the way you did, not how Wattbike state, so this is a let down. That they aren’t apparently working to implement this cements my view re lack of software ambition and that they’re not *yet* sufficiently software-centric – this may well change, and hopefully will, but if it doesn’t they’ll eventually suffer because someone (else) will eventually nail all this stuff.
I plan to buy a high-end smart trainer setup next year, so will keep on watching. At present, the Atom isn’t buyable by my own yardstick.
thank you for this review! The noise is 70 db – is the tacx neo louder than the atom? What would be the most silent smart trainer in your opinion?
Thanks for a response, keep up the great work!
Neo usually tests around 58-63db depending on your drivetrain.
I have a connection problem. Atom works via BT and the Wattbike app fine. However when on zwift it links up via BT seemingly fine but I don’t get any changes in resistance (feedback) from the course for instance when going up zwift mountain. And no gears can be used. I’m simply sitting and spinning at 100w at 100rpm.
It sounds like in Zwift you have it paired as a power meter, but not also as a controllable trainer.
Hi yeah I think it is, it automatically highlights power, cadence and controllable trainer with the serial no of my atom. but nothing happens. Should I turn off one of them?
Yeah it does. Thanks for the tip. I’ll turn off the PM and go with trainer only.
Your review has been amazingly helpful.
Good deal. Also, as a general tip for others that might get into a similar situation – be sure your Wattbike app is closed in the background – since that’ll hold the connection. if it’s still not showing up after closing said app, flipping the power switch for a second or two will quick things up. 🙂
So you can’t connect the Atom to the Wattbike app AND Zwift etc?
That’s a shame if so, as I would normally ride on Zwift for the miles, then have a look at my data on the Wattbike app at the end to see info about pedalling etc….
If that’s the case, I presume you can’t import any data into the app afterwards?
Sorta. Wattbike has the same Bluetooth Smart limitation as any other device/trainer/sensor: Max one sustained connection.
However, the way you can get around that is to simply have Zwift use ANT+ instead. For example, on some rides above I’d connect to TrainerRoad with BLE, and then Zwift with ANT+ – thus effectively recording mileage in Zwift while doing a workout in TrainerRoad.
I’m now in my two week delivery window.
Will I get any advanced notice of delivery?
Yeah it all happens pretty seamlessly if in the uk seems to be Panther deliveries.
You get an email and then can select a day.
Is anybody using Sufferfest with an Atom?
I seem to connect ok … my cadence, power and heat rate are accurate. But I’m not getting the right level of resistance when the intervals kick in.
I don’t think it is as simple as the time lag everyone has commented on. I’m waiting. But nothing much happens.
Do I need to open the WattBike app first to check I am in erg mode? Do I need to make sure the Wattbike app is closed? To be fair, I think I have tried both and a fair bit more.
Meanwhile, it works great in gear mode on Zwift … and build quality, feel an ease of use are just great.
Are you Bluetooth or ant+ Cos I can’t get the thing to do anything through BT resistance wise on anything other than the Wattbike app.
I’m using an IPad without a dongle, and a Wahoo tickr … so all Bluetooth.
Do I need to go Ant+?
And if so, how do I can sort my set up? I have a dongle for the iPad that I used to use for virtual power on trainer road. Will that do? Where do I make the choice?
And do 8 stay with the BT heart strap.?
If it’s working with zwift your ahead of me. I don’t get why I mine won’t work with Zwift. I use Bluetooth through an iPad. But can’t get it to offer any resistance or make the gears work!? Don’t understand why the variability from person to person. Some are saying ant+ works better I was going to try that.
RE: Sufferfest – They can only control Wahoo KICKR trainers at this point unfortunately…end of story. 🙁 They’re saying sometime this winter they’ll support other trainer platforms.
These do work just fine over Bluetooth Smart only. In general, when I see Bluetooth Smart issues on trainers (any of them), it’s almost always because another app has taken control of it. Remember, only one concurrent Bluetooth Smart connection is allowed to the trainer (Atom in this case). Be it the Wattbike app, or another app. Validate all those apps are closed, and also try switching on and off Bluetooth on your tablet/phone/whatever, as well as flick that red power button for a second on the Wattbike to ensure it’s killed the connection.
You *can* control your Atom via The Sufferfest App using ANT+.
We’re working on Bluetooth control now.
Ahh, good point, should have clarified that I was referring to the iOS/BT.
Dave / Ray
That’s great. Thanks so much for the replies
Just to be absolutely clear. It WILL work today with ANT+
So I simply use the dongle on the iPad and turn on ant+.
But do I also leave bluetooth turned on for the HR strap, or am I best to use an ANT+ strap and turn off Bluetoot?
I’m interested in the Wattbike – as a HIIT platform… Not so much as training for performance cycling.
I essentially am looking for an indoor exercise bike with an open platform.
One concern I have is that the comment about raising the handlebars shifts them forward. As a 6’1″ person with some lumbar spine issues…
The (much) more expensive indoor exercise bikes I’ve looked at in the past allow a more upright “spine-friendly” posture from what I can tell.
Am I over-thinking the Wattbike design? As much as I’d like to have the lumbar health to train like a real cyclist, that ship has sailed on my lumbar discs.
Really nice review, Ray, and I’m impressed with it’s features. Two things are putting me off:
The sound is a bit too whiney. How would it compare to my Kickr?
There’s currently a 15 week wait and they want the full payment now!
I’ve been complaining about connectivity with BT on here. Thanks for all the advice. However recent firmware updates from both Zwift and Wattbike have fixed my issue and I’m now Zwifting with the best of them!
very helpful article
Pressed button too soon … anyway, am writing to seek advice on whether the Atom would suit me and my wife for general fitness training. I’m taken with the intelligent iPad integration but wonder if the Wattbike Atom is too specialist for me? Can the handle bars and saddle be adjusted to use the bike as an “upright”? I appreciate most of the folk here are dedicated athletes and expert at all the terminology. Thanks in advance for your advice 🙂
In terms of a work around for not seeing gears in Zwift (which is really REALLY annoying) I read or heard somewhere that it is possible to use WattBike hub on your phone while using Zwift on your iPad/PC. I think it was on the GCN review. I can’t get this to work, i think because i use an iPad for the main device, which connects via BT, and i’m trying to connect with my phone via BT. The bike seems to have an issue connecting to two BT devices, which i guess is a limitation of BT.
My phone is ANT+ ready, but the Wattbike app doesn’t allow this connection type. I guess if I was using an ANT+ dongle to a PC for the main device, then I could use the phone with BT?
As a side point, I can’t get an ANT+ HR strap to connect via the bike to Zwift. This only works to the Wattbike hub. I also have issues with my TICKR connecting to my iPad if i turn the bike on first, because its paired to the bike and then the iPad cant connect. A pain.
I use the Wattbike app on my iPad, and Zwift on my laptop (macbook).
My Tickr HRM and Wattbike connect to the iPad via BT.
They also connect to the laptop (Zwift) via Ant+ (so you need an Ant+ dongle for the laptop)
I have the Wattbike app fully working with all data, and likewise on Zwift too.
So it is possible.
I find I have to connect to the Wattbike app first, before connecting Zwift, to get everything running smoothly.
What kind of ant+ dongle do you use. Went on eBay and there seems to be a thousand different types. For huge variation in price. Very confusing.
Thanks for your review. Ive just taken delivery of mine & loving it. Interestingly, you mention that you connected to Zwif and in the screen grab you show heart rate being captured. I can’t get the heart rate to link to Zwift form the watt bike and watt bike support say its not supported. Any clues?
In my case on the iPad I simply connected directly to a Bluetooth Smart strap. At present they don’t relay HR via ANT+ up to the BLE connection for 3rd party apps.
Hi Andy, if you connect via Ant+ rather than Bluetooth, the HR will connect fine.
“Though, the company will actually do a quote to ship you a unit now if you want, but support is then limited (and, you’ll spend a boatload, literally, on shipping costs).”
Did anyone actually try this? I live in a major EU-country and wanted to ask them about it but their contact form only got me a response by my local dealer, who said international shipping would absolutely not be possible during the trial period (i.e. 12 months).
So now I’m curious if this is actually true or if he just wants me to wait so he can profit on my order then.
Hello DC, I have some problem to find indoor bike similar to the ATOM Wattbike.
Unfortunately he ATOM is not available in France.
I am looking for a product compatible with garmin connect thru an edge 1030.
Target use: raining days, cardio training, “rehabilitation” after injury.
Your help will be appreciated.
I’m a complete newbie to indoor trainers. I don’t have a lot of space and this seems fantastic space wise. I’ve only just gotten my ‘mountain bike (cheap, few years old, hardly ridden)’ out of storage last Summer and I’ve done a few very short rides. To my shame I have no clue how to take the wheel off so those roller/trainer things are useless to me.
Is the Atom the only all-in-one indoor bike? I’ve done a little searching online but keep coming back to this. I want to give Zwift a try as well as using Strava (which I’ve been using for about a year now).
(Apologies for being the ‘newbie’…!)
1. Zwift has just added a gear indicator for WB Atom users (rolling out over the next few days).
2. WB have very significantly improved the Atom’s gear shift speed.
Interested to hear any feedback over the next few weeks from Atom/Zwift users…
The addition of showing the selected gear is one we’ve been asking for and it is certainly a great addition/improvement. With regards to the improvement in shifting I am still trying to work out if am suffering from some sort of placebo effect due to the excitement of the gear addition but I immediately felt they were quicker in this mornings ride. In fact I would go as far to say they were instant. To the point of actually being quicker than a traditional bike or even Di2 setup.
Multi shifting was also instant and the days of going up and down 3 or 4 gears quickly on the hoods followed by a 5-8 second lag are just a distant memory.
Well done Zwift and well done Wattbike. It’s now the benchmark for the next generation of ‘Smartbikes’…….however……..if I could just add that if their was an option to fit my own Di2 shifters so I am truly replicating the same setup/feel as my standard road bike then I would. Apart from that though everything is now as it should be!!
This is fantastic news. I placed my order back in November (waiting to read reviews of people using them for a while with some updates). I hoped that Zwift would add & that WB would speed up…fantastic to hear the positive reaction (my delivery is scheduled for late Feb…15 weeks has felt like a LONG time)
Thanks for the comments, Ben. Cheers.
I have had an Atom since December. It worked well up until a couple of weeks ago when all of a sudden the actual resistance was way higher that the power reading being given. My FTP is 270w. All of a sudden, I am barely able to hold a 260w reading for one minute, and cadence starts dropping significantly through that minute as I struggle to maintain power. Obviously, HR goes through the roof. Even holding “170w” is tough. By my reckoning, a 200w reading is more like high 200s. And 260w more like 400w.
The engineer came over, did a zero reset on the app (I had had problems with the app hooking up to the bike too to read the diagnostics), said the gearing/power felt normal and left. Their was a clear suggestion I just didn’t know what wattage should feel like (despite having ridden an original Wattbike for the past 18m, and ridden regularly with a power tap, vectors, and more recently Stages.
I think WB just think I am being pathetic, rather than noting I rode it for a month, totally happily, before suddenly encountering a clear problem that makes it effectively unusable.
Has anyone else encountered anything similar?
Did you get this sorted? I’ve just taken delivery of my Wattbike Atom – completely new to power and stationary trainers – but comparing the effort/numbers to anticipated average efforts (compared to similar riders with power meters) and my own Strava estimates = appears orders of magnitude different (like missing a trailing zero!), along with ‘feeling’ (and sounding) like I’m peddling through gravel?!
Simon, WB are replacing it. They currently stand by their engineer (understandably, as all the have are diagnostics which point to no problems). I assume someone will give it a proper ride once they get hold of it, and they’ll soon see there is a real issue with my bike. I hope they’ll let me know the issue just out of interest. I can’t fault their customer service. But I can also provide comparison sessions at the same outputs from different power meters vs Atom, and show something is clearly not right.
I am more than happy to have a replacement Atom, as mine was great to ride for the first five weeks, and I had absolutely no problems. The power vs reading was fine through that period.
I have noticed when riding without a power meter that Strava’s estimates are way out compared to my reality. And riders in similar brackets with power meters all have vastly different numbers to me. I don’t think you can read anything into either of those iro any of your own numbers. But if used to riding with power you should know whether things are right (whilst realising any power meter may have a reasonable difference from another). But 220w reading may feel like 200w or 240w, but def shouldn’t feel like 100w or 400w.
I also remember when I first rode with power years ago, I was mortified by my readings!
If you know someone with a power meter you could nip out for a ride from that would give you a good benchmark for comparison.
Anyone knows when they will start shipping to the rest of Europe (Sweden)?
Can anyone tell me the most up to date firmware version ? I’m on 1.01.68. Just got the bike today and things not good at all 🙁
Colin the latest update is 3.3.1467 Ive been a user of the Atom since October and think this was the 5th update they have launched and i can genuinely say this latest one has sorted out all the issues. The gear shifting is now nice and crisp and responsive on changes to gear when climbing and descending. No more lagging!
Have a watt bike and this sounds great as really love my old bike but need the crispy shift if going to do the virtual ZWIFT thing
The script on on of the photos states that you wish the seat could be adjusted forward more, or that the handlebars could be adjusted more, towards the seat. As I am 5’8″, and I’m assuming more short bodied than you, do you think us shorter folks may feel too stretched out?
Nearly ready to hand over cash but still concerned about the shifting issue. Wrote to Wattbike for reassurance and the reply was:
“The gear changes have greatly improved since the release of the Atom about 5 months ago, so ensure you are looking at more recent reviews as the firmware has changed. We are bringing out some new firmware shortly which should once again improve this. There will always be a slight delay as it is a magnetised resistance system.”
I wrote back and asked them to signpost me to more recent reviews and the answer was:
“We don’t have links to reviews to hand, but we have made gear change improvements so I’m sure this will be reflected in more recent reviews.”
Does anyone feel that they’ve cracked it?
Latest update to the Wattbike app (Version 3.3.1467) has resolved all issues relating to the minimal delay in the changes of gear and the spiral of death that some users were experiencing in ERG mode. Basically they have finally got the product up to the level that you would expect. It is now just like changing gear on a standard road bike.
Well done Wattbike you did what you said you were going to do.
Have you had any firmware updates since March and how is the Atom going? I sold my 2016 Kickr at the start of the summer and am now looking for a replacement. My intended usage is mostly TrainerRoad.
Has anyone solved this problem
you have a planned training peaks session, say: 10min at 55% FTP, 30min Zone 2 with 5 efforts at 370W, 10mins coold down
you have a garmin edge 520 or similar
you have the atom with the wattbike hub
but you DONT WANT ERG mode.. you will use the gears to get your cadence and power where you want it but want to download your session to a device so you dont have to keep looking at it on your phone say…
Ray – any thoughts on the Bkool bike? Looks like closed standards again… they must not read your blog.
And Wattbike I dont understand your distribution logic. I would have loved to buy an Atom – I could not in Paris. And by the time you ever get here, there will be competition from Bkool, Wahoo and others. Shame.
When I looked at it back at Interbike, it seemed like a bowl of confusion. I haven’t really heard from them since last fall about it or where it stood. And more specifically I couldn’t get clarity on how exactly they planned to make the resistance changeable from an FE-C standpoint. It seemed more spin-bike than computerized bike.
Thanks Ray – will wait for more options 🙂
My Atom has been working fine, until yesterday. The gears shift to maximum resistance, without my control. ERG mode is fine. Any ideas on how to fix?
This is in Zwift by the way
Sounds like your rubber moulding on your right shifter has moved and is catching the micro switch. Remove it and try Zwift again that should work. If it does refit and pull down to make sure it’s not catching the switches.
That is one ugly weld (the grey one).
The lack of USA availability is really unfortunate… I’d buy one tomorrow if I could. And no real word on when it will be available here. I understand setting up “shop” on another continent (service, dealer network, etc…) isn’t easy, but jeez Wattbike, the USA market isn’t exactly tiny.
Hello, I’m new to all this “sub-world” of awesome bikes. I have a general question that regards this but also this type of bike. You mentioned that in ERG mode the bike adjusts resistance by itself when for instance trying to mimic a real course (let’s say for example the climb of Alpe D’Huez). So far so good but in my short short experience I got to see that diferent people cycle different. In my specific case I seem to prefer lower RPM but with higher resistance/power. How do we adjust for these specific preferences when using a bike like Atom and in ERG mode? Thanks in advance.
By the way, great review. I’ve really enjoyed it.
That’s the thing about ERG mode, it always adapts the resistance so that regardless of cadence you always get the same power output. So if you pedal slowly it will increase the resistance to give you equal power output compared to pedaling faster with lower resistance.
For any owners of the original Wattbike (Pro/Trainer) the tablet holder listed and “Coming Soon” in this review is now available, I used mine for the first time this morning, works a treat!
link to wattbike.com
Any word on US availability?
I have an Atom and I think it works pretty well for most purposes. However, buyer beware as it does not seem to work with my iPhone 8 plus or models above this (I have also tested on iPhone Xs). Wattbike have been less than helpful with this I am afraid. They blame the problem on an iPhone bluetooth problem (my phone connects with all other bluetooth devices). Has anyone else had similar problems?
Woodway is now the US distributor for the Wattbike. They don’t post a price, but I emailed for a quote. For the 2000W version, it came back at $2975 plus $357 for shipping to me (Woodway is in WI, I’m in NC). I was stunned. I knew it was going to be bad since “if you have to ask”, but I really expected something closer to $2k than $3k based on the pricing quoted above last year in Europe.
Not sure I can pull the trigger at this price, even though as nearly as I can tell this is the ONLY “stationary” bike (ie. something that’s adjustable easily for different sized people) with ANT+/BLE and thus TrainerRoad/Zwift support. I was using a Cycleops Pro 400, but everyone has dropped support now and you can’t replace the flywheel with a computerized trainer because it’s a 120mm track standard, not a standard road or MTB spacing, and no computerized trainer I can find supports that. *sigh*
Sigh, I am dumb. The quote I got is for a Wattbike Pro. Woodway doesn’t have the Atom nor a timeframe on getting the Atom.
My biggest issue with Wattbike is the distributors. They have one distributor for all of the USA (Woodway) and they funnel all sales through regional managers. I’ve been trying to buy a Wattbike Pro for months now and am giving up because the regional manager will only communicate with me MAYBE once every couple of weeks (phone or email) and isn’t very forthcoming with any details (or accurate details, “i think…”, “i can look that up…”, “maybe…”). I am not certain if service also has to go through him but if so I want no part of it. For a spin bike I would rather get something mechanically really nice like a Stages and outfit it with Vector pedals. Yeah, i’m not really interested in the computer controlling my bike, that’s OK, I just really wanted the SpinScan.
I emailed the Woodway NE Regional Manager who replied promptly, and said there is no time-frame for USA availability, and based on conversations he’s had with Wattbike there’s a good chance it will never be available ?!?
Looks like no Wattbike Atom’s coming to the U.S. in 2018. How about for 2019?
Thanks for your review!
The Atom if finally available in South Africa.
Just a few questions please:
Do you know if the delay between gear changing on the Atom and the actual change when on Zwift has improved?
I currently own a Tacx Neo and enjoy sprinting. I am considering switching to an Atom due to the frustrations of slippage at high wattage on the Tacx Neo. I reach 1800 watts on the original Wattbike as well as the Wahoo Kickr. When on my Tacx Neo, the trainer has slippage issues above 1200 watts. Tacx have said they are looking into the problem but I am aware that I am not the only one who has brought this up with Tacx. Tacx claim their Neo is rated up to 2200 watts but yet the same issues occurred when my trainer was replaced with a new one. The last thing I want to do is replace my Neo with the Atom to have the same issues. Do you know how the Atom does at high wattage sprints on Zwift?
Lastly, I understand that for the use of the Atom, a smart device like a smart phone or iPad is needed. I want to confirm that when connecting the Atom to Zwift, I am able to do this via my laptop with the use of ANT+?
This, just as all the other, review is awesome. You bring balance to a world of reviews which just often seems a little skewed. Looks like the couple of things you reported on regarding shift speed have been fixed in updates so time to pull-the-trigger?? Oh no hold on I’m currently on assignment in Barcelona and they are not shipping the Atom to Spain yet ☹️
Any news when I can order in Spain or is a road trip back to UK needed?
I’ve had this constant issue with the clock in the Wattbike Hub being slow compared to my Edge 520 and other reliable time sources. For example. If I jump on my Atom and “Just ride” for 60 min my Edge will show 60 min but the Wattbike Hub will show approximately 59 min.
I’m still verifying that it isn’t my iPad that I’m using that is the issue before I contact support but thought I’d check if anyone else had this same problem?
Same for me
Hi – I have just purchased some PowerTap P1 pedals and am seeing huge discrepancies in power compared to the Wattbike Atom I train on.. in some cases more than ~10% but so far not less than and the P1’s always register lower watts.
Did you have any issues when doing this review as the graphs all show the power data from the Vectors and not the PowerTaps. Did the data align when reviewing the Atom?
Thanks in advance
No issues with the P1’s, I know I’ve got a few rides with them here and there.
You may want to start with this post as a quick guide: link to dcrainmaker.com
Thanks for the fast response… since unboxing them when calibrating I am unable to get a reading of less than ~18 sometimes higher and have seen readings in the high 20’s… I have seen a lot of reviews / forum discussions that talk about the P1’s giving a calibration reading of ~ 4-8 but it it starts to stray outside of this then something could be wrong.
I have only had the P1’s since the 2nd Feb and have never had a reading lower than 16 so think they could have an issue.
I purchased a Wattbike Atom primarily because I needed the small footprint. Overall I am disappointed.
The main issues for me are:
1. There seems to be no support for doing a threshold power test with software prompts to spur you on. This is because;
(a) the Wattbike app does the test in erg mode which is patently ridiculous as you need to dial in your lactate threshold to do the test but you don’t know this as this is the point of the test.
(b) I can do an FTP using Trainer Road. All works well during the warmup but when it gets to the test it switches into something called gradient mode which is not supported on the Wattbike. Same issue with the test on Zwift. No resistance and no power output.
2. Oscillation. In erg mode there is a low frequency (less than 1 Hz, around 4s) variation in resistance with sudden changes in target power. This is represents a failure to correctly apply basic control theory to the control of resistance. A commonplace physical analogy would be driving a car with worn dampers.
3. Rouvy does not support the Atom. You can set it up as a generic “desk bike” but resistance is purely determined by the gear and cadence and not by any virtual gradient.
4. The Zwift experience is poor. I have not noted sluggish “gear changes” per se so maybe that issue has been largely eliminated. I think the problem stems from point 2 above. A sudden increase in virtual gradient causes the resistance to overshoot and be too high for a handful of seconds, and similarly a sudden decrease the opposite with resistance being to low momentarily.
5. It does not have a smooth quality feel when pedalling. The thing is also rather noisy and no real improvement over my old cheapo Tacx (dumb) turbo trainer.
Many of the problems above are firmware related and could be improved or fixed. Unfortunately I have reservations because of:
6. Customer service is not very good. There are long delays in getting a response then the reply is limited to only one of the points raised. I don’t feel that they genuinely engage with the problems encountered by their customers or that they care. This does not fill me with any confidence that the problems above will be addressed and corrected in firmware over time.
> “TrainerRoad uses Ergo mode only to support their programmed training sessions”.
This is not true. Trainer Road uses what it calls “gradient mode” for the 20 minute threshold test. You basically warm up in ergo mode and then it switches to gradient mode to complete the test. The Wattbike then fails to allow you to alter the resistance. It is then far too low at optimal cadence with a power output of around 100 Watts.
Zwift does support gear mode but if I use a Today’s plan threshold test imported into Zwift exactly the same happens – warm up in ergo mode is fine – then I am in some mode where I am unable to change gear / increase resistance / power output at optimal cadence.
In short, third party FTP tests are not supported by the Atom.
> “Further to your question regarding a non-destructive FTP test…”
How I choose to obtain an approximation to my threshold values should be my choice (Wattbike Atom and software does not support abbreviated tests and I am unable to perform tests on third party apps/sites as they fail during the test part of the workout where they do not use erg mode).
Can you confirm whether or not the Wattbike App uses erg mode for the actual test part of the FTP? (I presume not as it is evidently not possible to conduct an FTP test in erg mode unless you happen to have dialled in exactly your FTP for erg mode, in which case it is not a test!)
I have some (hopefully) constructive suggestions for improvement:
Can I suggest that you modify your erg mode so that below a pre-set cadence it bails out and reduces resistance. Pretty easy to do in firmware and would improve the whole experience. There is no point keeping cranking up resistance below say a cadence of 60.
Can I also suggest that you look at the math behind your erg mode as it has an unpleasant low frequency oscillation in resistance with a cycle of around 2-3 seconds. Did you engage an engineer with a good knowledge of control theory when developing your firmware? (I worked for Dyson on the DC06 robot vac)
Here is a video just to hear the noise the thing makes (Ignore the inverted pedal clip banging on its downstroke on the far side)
If this is normal fine. It is a lot more raucous than I had expected.
All the best
Thank you for your e-mail and please accept my apologies for the delay getting back to you. I have just heard back from our digital team regarding your ticket and they have confirmed that unfortunately, our Atom currently does not support resistance mode. Therefore, to perform an accurate FTP test you will need to conduct this using the Wattbike Hub Application, as opposed to FTP tests within third-party applications such as Zwift, TrainerRoad or similar.
Further to the above, I will pass on your comments regarding future improvements to our product team, who will look into these further.
Note the incomplete / inadequate customer service response.
It is a real shame as I can’t see that it would not be possible to fix the software issues. From a mechanical pov although it is noisy and rough feeling it seems robust and has a small footprint.
Thanks Andrew – really useful review. I had 2 Atoms for very short time before sending back. Both had the oscillation issue (or feature) which made the bike unusable as the variation in Wattage was large. Customer service experience was reasonably positive even if they couldn’t deliver something I felt was worth keeping. Hoping that a version 2 or a competitor might arrive as the basic concept is exactly what I want.
I am confused! Is it really the case that the FTP Test on the Wattbike App uses ERG mode? How can that be? I thought that the point of ERG mode is to hold you to a particular power level. If so, how can you *test* your FTP is the unit is trying to hold you to a particular power level. This makes no sense to me!
Is it really the case that you can’t use the Wattbike Atom to carry out a 20-minute FTP test?
Am I missing something?
Would love to understand more about this. Can anyone help???
See the customer service response from Wattbike in my post #175. Unless things have changed with firmware updates you can only do an FTP with the Wattbike App but not with a third party site as they use “resistance mode” which is not supported on the Atom. All works well during the warm up right up to the point of doing the test – then it fails as resistance falls to zero and you can’t adjust this manually. This is true of TrainerRoad and Zwift. My understanding is that the Atom uses erg for the FTP which as I have previously pointed out is absurd. You can measure your FTP as long as you know it before you start! This could have all been rectified so do let me know if this is no longer the case.
No matter the mode that an FTP test uses, at the end of the day you still have to pedal and put out the watts.
Using SIM/resistance mode more closely mimics the out-door reality of having to mentally push that wattage and correct gearing/cadence in order to hold power up.
Whereas ERG mode takes that piece away, and as long as you pedal, you’re putting out that wattage (for better or worse).
So yes, most people would say that doing it in SIM mode makes more sense for replicating an outdoor FTP test. But at the same time, it’s just changing the medium. When you change gears it’s simply reducing your wattage. Not terribly different than pressing buttons to reduce ERG mode wattage levels in 5w increments. Just changing one button for another.
Oh, I see! So you adjust the ERG wattage as-you-go. I hadn’t appreciated that, but makes more sense now. So you basically guess what your FTP is and adjust up/down during the test. Makes more sense now, thanks!
Do your first FTP test using the trainer road ramp test.
This was, when you get into regular testing you know where to pitch your FTP.
Advice I’ve previously had on a straight FTP test is to go 7 minutes just below what you expect, 7 minutes at what you expect and last 6 pushing it as hard as you can (without failing! – which is easier said than done!)
The problem with erg mode is if your cadence drops the torque you have to generate increases. This is bad in so many ways. You are right that in the Wattbike app you can dial up and down your target power. This is not so with third party apps that use resistance mode to conduct the test. You warm up then it fails at the point where you start the test which is frustrating.
Anyone know anything about the Schwinn Classic Cruiser? Hardly any information available. Yes, it does not offer automatic resistance, but it’s only $499. Seems like great fit for someone on a tight budget that just wants a compact indoor setup for Zwift.
a professionally constructed honest review with far more content than others
a enjoyable experience. do you have a review of the new 2019 atom T 3
Looks like the WattBike Atom is still not available in the USA as of 06/13/2019
Anyone hear any hints of it’s arrival?
Anyone try buying while in UK and personally shipping to USA address? or will are there restrictions?
As always, DC Rainmaker making decision making so much easier. Thank you for the unbiased, articulate, detailed and genuine reviews on all things fitness tech. Jim
I see that Wattbike have released a firmware update to fix Zwift issues – have you had a chance to ride it and what are your thoughts now? Has it improved things enough to justify a purchase against the top end turbos?
Hi – we have a number of WB Atoms and having used them for some time, noticed a significant difference in the perceived effort on each at the same reported power output. By ‘significant’ I mean that in terms of RPE a ‘5’ on one might be a ‘6’ or even ‘7’ on another bike at the same reported power output. This is all in ERG mode, controlled by TrainerRoad on iPad/BLE, all Atoms with latest firmware.
Recognising something was not right, we attached a set of Garmin Vector V3 pedals (L+R) (same set on each bike) and completed the same workout on each bike. We’re not expecting Vector pedal based power measurements to be the same as those measured by the Atom but we DO expect the relative delta to be within 2-3% across all bikes.
For these tests, TR powermatch is switched off and the Vector data is being picked up by a Garmin 1030/ANT+. Power measurements are averaged over 2 minutes to account for any ‘blips’. Pedals are re-calibrated on each bike with some 10/15 second sprints before each test.
In short, the Atoms are all over the place (35W+ relative delta between the bikes at ~250W). The only thing that is within +/-2% claimed tolerance is the ‘precision’ (i.e each bike appears to be consistent) but the accuracy (i.e. the power reported vs whatever ‘actual’ power might be) can’t possibly be +/- 2% given the difference between these bikes. This test matched the subjective findings from the RPE tests.
The engineers at Wattbike gave us some tests to complete and said they thought the bikes were fine… I have no idea how that could be the case given our findings (even just the RPE test indicates a problem).
Subsequently, Wattbike have, somewhat begrudgingly, taken the Atoms to have a look at them.
I wondered if you or any of your readers have had similar experiences with the Atom. Given how important ‘accuracy’ seems to be (every manufacture clearly highlights device accuracy), I would expect a large number of complaints and forum rants if this issue affected a significant proportion of Atoms.
Looking at your review back in Nov 17 (link to dcrainmaker.com) it seems like you were getting a high level of parity between Vector V3 and the Atom. None of our Atoms are even close to that.
I have a Wattbike Atom and last winter I put my Vector 3’s on it. For me the values between the Wattbike and V3’s were good, within tolerance. However like I’ve written above I have another issue where if I use the bike for exactly 60 min my Wattbike Atom hub app shows something close to 59 min, consistently lagging behind approximately 1 min per hour.
I’ve had similar issues with my Wattbike Atom, I assumed power readings would be highly accurate but when compared to my Garmin Vector 3 pedals the power figures were way out. (+/- 20% seems fairer!)
I guess the majority of users do not have other power sources to compare to and just assume their Wattbike Atoms are spot on?
Disappointed with the differences in readings from multiple tests, I assumed the Vector 3 pedals were perhaps more likely to be faulty? However when I acquired some Favero Assioma pedals and tested them with my WB Atom, the power readings correlated with the Vector 3 pedals readings nicely over differing power ranges.
I’ve raised the issue with Wattbike technical support but they were no help whatsoever other than running a few tests and inferring that it is not possible to compare power readings across different power meters? How did you get them to take the WB Atoms away?
Scott, we had similar thoughts about the variety of Wattbike users – there are probably a number who just ride the Wattbike, some that have no outside power meter and then people like us that are keen to have some parity between indoor and outdoor riding.
I think it is fair to say that most people will not be in a position to conclusively demonstrate a power accuracy issue. Because we tested multiple Wattbikes with multiple Vector 3 power meters, we were able to show without any doubt that something was not right with the Wattbikes. Much like pedal versus crank or pedal versus hub – you would expect some difference between power meters – maybe a few watts but not dozens of watts and such disparity between Wattbikes.
My guess would be that the Wattbike support team deal with a large number of bogus power accuracy issues – most obvious example being disparity between outside single sided power and wattbike/zwift power..
In simple terms they eventually agreed to collect the bikes after being unable to argue with the data produced in our tests.
They have subsequently tested the bikes and accepted that there does appear to be some sort of logic board issue. They have now returned the Wattbikes with replaced logicboards.
We will be re-running our tests in the next couple of weeks to confirm that all is well. We’re making the most of the remaining good weather at the moment so only one wattbike workout has been completed… based on the data from that single workout – I am encouraged!
I should say on a positive note that I did a pretty significant amount of training on the Wattbike last year and have been impressed with their convenience, quality and feel. All power meters experience bugs at some point – the most important thing to me is how the supplier deals with those problems and it was unfortunately a bit of a struggle to get to the right outcome.
Have you, or anyone else for that matter, done this testing on any other Wattbike models like the pro/trainer?
A word of caution as the owner of my 4th set of Vetor 3s and a Wattbike Atom… I wouldn’t be questioning the accuracy of anything in comparison to the vector 3s. Its like trying to decide if you trust Donald or Boris!!
Andy – agreed – you’ve always got to be aware of any assumptions being made when testing equipment. This is why we did both an RPE test and power meter tests across multiple Wattbikes and checked the Garmin Vectors against other power meters. We’ve got a fair number of miles between us and know what 150,200,250,300,350 watts should feel like, subjectively, over a few minutes.
It’s definitely fair to say that all power meters (and any other electric/mechanical device) are subject to faults and it would be good if there was an easy way for the average rider to determine whether a device is working properly or not. I suspect manufacturers could not possibly test all devices as it would be too time consuming and so use some sort of random sampling strategy.
I’m surprised with the issues you’ve had with the Garmin Vector 3 as we have several and have had no accuracy issues with them at all – they all read within a couple of watts of each other at 250W which is within stated accuracy.
My only complaints about the Vector 3 would be i) the design of the battery housing (need lube to fix drop outs and the screw thread will wear over time, no matter how careful you are) and ii) the incomprehensibly slow firmware updates.
How many sets of Vector 3s do you need to get through, until you realise that it’s probably your Wattbike Atom that is actually as trustable as Donald, Boris, Bill or Hillary?
I correlated my Vector 3s with some Favero Assioma pedals and have used both since with a Tacx Neo2 and the power numbers match up decently. The Wattbike Atom’s numbers however did not even feel right let alone match up with any other power sources.
For clarity, im on my 4th set of Vectors due to the pedals having faults. Not errors, complete 100% no doubt problems.
I’ve never had the need to compare my vectors to the atom as the atom is working fine.
Shame about your Vector 3s faults, but at least they give you new ones to try. My Wattbike Atom is also working fine, it’s just not vaguely accurate.
I’d be glad to try a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Wattbike if they want to take the first one back. I’d even pay for it to be repaired to a point if it was accurate. Unfortunately Wattbike seem to think within 20% is tolerable. I could sell the item on too but I think that’s unfair to the new owner.
Until then I will rely on my Favero Assioma pedal power data indoors and use the Wattbike Atom as a dumb trainer.
hey… did the replaced logic boards fix the power reading accuracy?
I’ve just taken delivery of a new wattbike atom, I’ve done 3 workouts on it so far this week and I swear blind the power output is underreporting, resulting in harder efforts for me to maintain target power. I have been using my road bike on rollers with assioma power pedals for a year, I have workouts on that to compare with the wattbike.
An example workout is a “Active Recovery” Zwift workout, did it a week ago on the rollers and today on the wattbike. Today it feels as though I’m pushing out 20-30 watts more than it says on the screen, sweatier, heart rate 10bpm higher on avg, higher max heart rate by 14 bpm, overall definitely felt harder, for what is just a zone 2 recovery spin!
I need to do some further tests and try out the power pedals on the wattbike, if anything to reassure myself it is fine.
Still not available in the US. It’s a shame, as it competes very nicely with the Kickr bike from a price point perspective.
Go take a look at this.
Can any Atom owners tell me if its possible to download a workout from Trainingpeaks to the Atom, either via the Wattbike app, or by loading it to a Garmin edge device and letting that run the unit ?
I export Trainingpeaks workouts to Zwift (*.zwo) to use with my Wattbike. I don’t believe you can import into the Wattbike app directly. Trainingpeaks should automatically sync to your Garmin and appear in your workouts on the device. If you use Android you could use my companion Android app and Drew’s Intervals on the Edge.
link to apps.garmin.com
I am on IOS im afraid !
In terms of the Garmin export, this is what I currently do with my Kickr (which has blown up) So I was wondering if the wattbike will allow you to run the workouts from the Garmin, like I do with the Kickr at present.
Any idea if this is possible ?
You can set up TP to autosync with your Edge.
link to trainingpeaks.com the
If for some reason workouts in your Garmin Connect calendar are not synced you could export as a *.fit.
link to help.trainingpeaks.com
Hey Drew, thanks for this.
I do have the autosync enabled. What I am asking, and have not made very clear is if the workouts from the Garmin will work on the Atom, so if I download my workout from TP to my Garmin, can I then run the workout on the Atom, like I currently do with my Kickr ?
I don’t think I understand your problem (or why your problem is a problem)
My understanding is that there is basically the concept of a “head unit” which consists of some hardware and software that interacts with sensors and does and displays useful stuff. The Wattbike app running on some device (smartphone or tablet) forms a “head unit”. A Garmin Edge running a native app or CIQ app is just another “head unit”. Zwift running on my Mac or my Android smartphone is yet another head unit. The Wattbike is simply a cluster of sensors (cadence, speed, power) connecting via bluetooth LE or Ant+ to the head unit of your choice. You have many possibilities:
You can use your Garmin Edge as the head unit (your TP workouts should sync once you have set this up).
You can export workouts from Trainingpeaks to Zwift and use Zwift running on some hardware as the head unit running structured workouts from TP.
With regard to your particular question. As far as I am aware it is not possible to import workouts into the Wattbike app so that you can use this device + app as a head unit running a structured workout from TP. Why do you want to? Is the issue the lack of erg mode if using the Edge as your head unit?
Seat Post Issues
Just wondered if anyone else is having the same issues as me.
No matter how hard I tighten the seat post clamp, the seat post slides down 5-10cm over a 30 minute session. I’m certainly not light (240 lbs) but I am not heavier than the recommended maximum. They sent an engineer to replace the “shim” around the post with an updated, longer version – it solved the problem of the side-side movement but hasn’t solved the bigger problem.
I am in 2 minds whether to ask them to come and pick it up and take it away!
Anybody with thoughts on maintenance of the drive train (chain)? Wattbike says it “…is designed to be almost maintenance free and should withstand heavy usage”. However, I would assume some lubing is required, and at some point the chain will wear out. I look forward to your comments/experiences.
just to clarify, my question relates to the Atom.
From what I understand, the chain is used for load measurement and to drive a belt .. so you won’t get the sort of chain wear you would normally expect due to the components in your drive train..
It’s always best to follow the manufactures guidelines. Anything else may result in it not working “as expected”. link to support.wattbike.com
Max’s question was specifically about drivetrain maintenance which Wattbike say nothing about in their support documentation so far as I can see.. from the quote in his question I believe he has already found the service document…
Max – specifically around lubing – we have had to do nothing with ours.. if you want it to stay in good condition, follow the advice regarding sweat!!
Yep, the Wattbike page I linked to covers all necessary maintenance on the Atom. If it isn’t there it isn’t necessary. If you screw around with the bike and it stops working correctly they might not cover it under the warranty so best to keep it simple and just do the maintenance they recommend. Why make life harder…unless you just like doing maintenance and fixing things I guess?
“Yep, the Wattbike page I linked to covers all necessary maintenance on the Atom, If it isn’t there it isn’t necessary”
hmm.. I think “if it’s not there then seek advice” (as Max has done) is also a sensible philosophy.
Documentation is often inadequate, incomplete, full of errors or out of date. Even in the best case, the purpose of self-service documentation is to reduce the number of tickets raised on the service desk and so covers the most common questions.
The only bad questions are those that are clearly covered in publicly available documentation with no valid reason to doubt veracity. There is no specific answer in the documentation to the question posed (“almost” maintenance free is pretty ambiguous) so one could make an assumption either way … or … seek advice.
Personally – I’ve assumed that lube is not required due to the way the Atom is designed and the target audience… but I could definitely be wrong. Thus far (~2 years in) – not wrong.
I always think about the warranty first. Specifically, in my gym we have some equipment where the manufactures have made very clear that they do not cover tinkering or improper use/storage. Thus if something does go wrong I want it documented that I did everything THEY told me to do after which they just come fix it. Beyond that I guess it’s up to your best judgement. Just read the fine print first.
I dont have an Atom but the Wattbike Pro service in my region is very good and the techs go above and beyond to make sure they dont have to come back. Even though I do all of the work on my outside bike I dont like unnecessary work on the gym equipment because I have better things to do with my time. So far so good for the most part, everything working like new! I think Wattbike makes good hardware but I question the software sometimes and their documentation flat out sucks.
what cable could i use to charge the head unit (model B monitor)? other than the one suplied – could i just buy a propriety one of ebay?
Help … I have just started using Rouvy via IPad with my Wattbike Atom. Does anyone know how i can see what gear I am in, or have a workaround using another device. I have a Garmin – is that any use?
Can anyone comment on whether the niggles around the gear shift and Zwift raised in the review have been satisfactorily resolved?
Conscious of the fact that the review is > 2 years old and that many changes will have been made on both the Wattbike firmware and Zwift platform in this time.
My likely use case would be to use Zwift to run workouts from Xert Online – anyone got any experience with this trio in real life?
Wattbike Atom (next gen) has just been announced. New electromagnetic unit promises better Zwift performance. Hopefully Ray will do a review soon. In the UK this is £1k less than the Stages Bike and KICKR Bike, making it a serious proposition.
Wondering if it’s essentially an Atom X?
Have asked Wattbike the same question!
Are you getting the new Atom due 1/7/2020 for review?
We are looking at purchasing a Smart bike for our workplace (offshore oil and gas facility) and I have been comparing the Watt Bike and Tacx Neo.
I spoke with the supplier for Watt Bike and he said to me that this was bike is only programmed for single person use…
I am unsure what he means by this and hoping you might be able to explain?
Hi Jade – as with everything, this all really depends on how you intend to use the trainer – how often, who is sharing it, what training software you intend to use etc.
I wouldn’t agree that the Atom was ‘programmed’ for single person use – but it isn’t suitable for many regular users either. You pair the bike with your tablet or mobile phone and use an app such as Wattbike’s own app, Trainer Road etc… you may start to encounter hassle/issues if you’re also sharing the tablet/mobile (due to having to log in/out, refresh data etc).
Unfortunately – the Atom is not made from materials that will allow for frequent adjustments to the saddle/handlebar height and fore/aft – we found that those parts wear quite quickly.
If cost isn’t a factor, the Tacx Neo Smart Bike looks great (if you can actually buy one) but I couldn’t comment on those same frequent adjustment issues or other issues with multiple users.
If you’re thinking of doing structured training or using Zwift (or both!), I would recommend the smart bike as the Atom does seem to struggle with ERG mode (where the app controls the power) and is nowhere near quick enough when responding to changes in power (the new Atom fixes this apparently but is not available yet).
I hope that helps,
“Make it crispy, and you can have my credit card number”
Hope the new version is crispy.
Les prix indiqués sont un peu,voir même très loin des prix du marché
Si on veut un Aton avec cette tige de selle c’est env: 5000 TTC à 5500Euros
I suspect your mixing up with the ATOM X, which is a commercial edition that includes a screen as well. This, it’s more expensive.
Hi, has anyone any idea how to distinguish updated 2020 model from previous one? Just received new Wattbike but I don’t know if it is updated model or not.
Just curious, 2000W resistance will be enough for the near future.
The easiest way I know of is that the power plug connector port on the original ATOM is on the back top portion of the bike, whereas on the ATOM 2020 is underneath the bike in the back (so not exposed to the ‘sky’).
Thanks a lot! So it is old one even if it was ordered in late June.
The instruction leaflet and some very minor details differ from my rental unit in Dec 2018 so I wasn’t sure.
I’m due to take delivery of my 2nd gen Atom in just over a week. Was hoping to have seen your review before it arrives.
I’m sure you’re a busy guy, but I note that you’ve had your unit for a while now and other than a brief note several weeks ago, we’ve not heard any more.
Have I missed the review or have you been too busy (or is your test bike not fit for purpose)? I’m worrying that it is the last!
All the best.
I know you posted this reallY comprehensive review some time ago but I have an enquirer regarding noise from the “step motor” adjusting resistance in the drive system.
Approx a month ago I
Purchased an Atom and after a week of ownership I enquired with Wattbike customer support about the noises (clunking intermittent sounds with the power on and cranks turning) and they have just concluded that the noises are normal and to be expected. They say I will not be inducing any damage continuing to ride the machine.
Their diagnosis sounds plausible: more frequent at low rpm and not constant nor linked to rpm (a once per rev or multiple per rev incidence). It comes and goes, and only ever when the unit is powered. However, it sounds decidedly low tech and somewhat poor quality. A mate with a WAHOO kickr couldn’t believe how agricultural it sounds. In comparison to my previous very cheap BT spin bike it is indeed
Did you experience the same clunking noises? I cannot find any other references online. Almost sounds like chain slap (but isn’t) and is probably amplified by the plastic housing. I’m very unimpressed given the cost.
Thanks if you can shed some light.
A really useful review, I would not have found the issues with windows unless I read this, which is important as I’ve just got a surface pro. Further reading implies an ANT+ dongle will be necessary which is no biggie.