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CycleOps Shows Off New Indoor Trainer Moving Platform

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This year at Eurobike it’s all about the very unique products. Be it the Elite Fuoripista or the Tacx Neo Bike Smart, companies are throwing out products that are pushing the boundaries of what we know of as indoor training products today.  And in this case, CycleOps is taking what is mostly a fringe garage idea – rocker plates – and looking to see if they’re the next best bet in elevating the indoor trainer dream cave.

Of course, rocker plates aren’t new to 2018. They’ve been around a few years in varying forms.  In fact, even before all that we had the Kinetic Rock and Roll trainer, which rocked side to side on a large frame.  Rocker plates took that concept and allowed one to put the entire bike plus trainer on it – enabling that side to side swaying motion.  However, such plates largely existed in the realm of DIY garage products, save a handful where the makers have branched out into selling small batches of them online.

The other challenge was that such motion wasn’t always super realistic.  In some cases the bike was actually moving opposite what it should, and in others the lag related to different responsive materials didn’t mimic outdoor riding as much as one hoped.  It was certainly different than a static trainer…but not necessarily the same as the open road.

In any event, that’s what CycleOps is hoping to change.  Do note that this is halfway between a real product and a concept one.  The company says they’re definitely treating it as a product that they’re hoping to release down the road, but there isn’t a timeline set.  But they’re also trying to gauge the market and determine whether there’s demand for such a product…and if so – at what price point.  Thus, what you see here is still fairly early in the product cycle. So much so that it doesn’t even have a name.

What it is:

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Of course, while CycleOps hasn’t given it a name yet, I have: The CycleOps Thing.

The CycleOps thing is essentially the granddaddy of all rocker plates.  Not only does it rock side to side, but also front to back as you accelerate.  It does this through a series of four different touch-points across two moving platforms.  Think of it roughly like two slices of bread with a bunch of rollers and springs between them.  Atop that upper slice of bread is you and your trainer.

Note that I said ‘your trainer’. Not ‘a CycleOps trainer’. That’s because the CycleOps Thing will work with any trainer on the market.  The company has added small slits into the design to allow straps for a variety of wheel-on and direct drive trainers.

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And in the case of their own trainers they’ve even etched out little feet landing pads that you can see below:

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This universal compatibility is a very different design choice compared to Wahoo and their CLIMB device, which is only compatible with Wahoo trainers (and even then, only recent ones)

On the front end, the wheel has a small adjustable wheel lock/block to keep things all on the straight and narrow up there:

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If you’re familiar with either the Kinetic Rock & Roll or other rocker plates, you know that sometimes getting alignment is a tricky thing.  You can end up slightly tilted to one side or the other.  With the CycleOps Thing there are two ways to address that.  The first is the ability to increase/decrease tension on the various springs on both sides.  This also helps with lighter or heavier riders and getting the right resistance levels.

The second is a counterweight along the back, that allows one to quickly shift the weight accordingly to level things out.  This is ideal if a trainer isn’t balanced from a centering standpoint compared to the bike. Trainers generally weren’t designed to be perfectly centered weight-wise on a floating platform, but rather designed for stability on a chunk of hard ground.

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The unit rocks side to side on a set of springs that sit atop rollers.  So the side to side motion comes from the springs on the rollers, while the front/back motion comes from the rollers sliding foward and back.  Here’s two shots from the first prototype I rode:

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The niftiest part of all? There’s zero electronics in this setup. It’s purely mechanical. That means there’s one less device to charge and firmware update.  Or at least, that’s the way I look at it.

Riding it:

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I’ve had a chance to ride two sets of these over the last month.  The first was an earlier prototype set while I was down in Florida, and the second was a later prototype set here at Eurobike.  The first looked a bit more homemade, while the second was clearly a bit more polished.  Still, neither are anywhere near final production levels – in particular with respect to materials.  The final production units (assuming CycleOps ends up there), will be a molded plastic that folds in half for easy transport.  They envision something roughly the size of two wheel bags in terms of end-state size.

Still, they believe what they have today represents something very close mechanically and ride-feel to what they’re looking to produce down the road.  So, I gave it a whirl.  The best way to see that is this video though:

Overall, I’d say that the first minute or two it takes a little bit of getting used to.  After all, your mental world of trainers staying put is thrown out of alignment.  No matter how much we want to believe we’re riding outdoors, the reality is that we’re still indoors staring at a wall or TV.

Once you do get used to it though, it feels more natural than the Kinetic Rock & Roll.  It’s not quite as side to side smooth as riding rollers (but then again, that’s more difficult for most people).  But overall I think it feels like a better experience.

What I’m looking forward to though is spending lots of time riding it, perhaps even with a KICKR and KICKR CLIMB atop it.  Fear not…that’ll happen very very soon.  So hang tight for some more detailed thoughts there.  But first impressions are certainly positive.

Going forward:

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As I alluded to at the top of this post, there isn’t a super-clear avenue or timeline going forward for the CycleOps Thing. It sits in the realm of half-concept and half product in progress.  Like others at Eurobike, it sounds like CycleOps is looking to find whether there’s interest in this space, and more importantly – at what price point.

The company says they’ve actually done a fair bit of research with academic folks (and have shown me the data as well) digging into where and how people’s touch-points with the saddle are influenced in different riding situations (outdoor vs indoor, other plates vs this, etc…).  All by hooking up a bunch of sensors to people’s butts.  So while this project may appear to manifest itself as merely two large slabs of moving bread plastic, there’s more behind the scenes than meets the eye.

Personally, I think companies like both CycleOps and Wahoo should be rewarded for trying new things in the indoor trainer space that just aren’t yet another $599 mid-range trainer (though actually, CycleOps did that too with the barely updated Magnus 2, now called M2).  Some of those things won’t be for everyone – and that’s just fine.  But sometimes they’ll stick the landing – like the Wahoo CLIMB has seemingly done.  And I suspect if CycleOps can get the pricing right here, the platform’s ability to hold any trainer will carry it through much further than they probably realize.

Another good example about how even when no actual electronics are involved, being ‘open’ is often the best way to go.

With that, I’ve just gotta find a way to fit it in the DCR Eurobike RV to take back home for further testing.  Anyone got any bungee cords?

Thanks for reading!

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28 Comments

  1. Andrew

    Hi Ray

    This is really interesting. If this in essence introduces so dynamic instability into trainer riding similar to rollers but without the peril this could be great.

    Most triathletes will have spent a winter on a stationary trainer and realised that the bike rocks around more when on TT extensions and whilst this won’t solve that it seems like it would help improve some basic level control whilst on the road.

    I think the issue here will inevitably be price – I see it as something that might list at a couple of hundred (as it’s effectively just engineering) but I suspect cyclops would want closer to 500 (I.e. as closer to Kickr as they think they can get away with). At £200 i’d buy, up to £300 I’d be tempted but above that it’s hard to justify!

    • Chader

      Good observations. Yes, I really enjoy the added muscle activation and balance required with a proper rocker setup. I’ve been refining designs for several years.

      I started the Zwift Rocker Rocker Plate group, as a place to discuss DIY designs (plenty to review there) and these eventual commercial models. Please join if you’d like to see our work and possibly learn how you can make your own for a reasonable effort and charge.

  2. portemat

    I think this looks like a great product – adding some movement to trainers is certainly good.

    At a sensible price, I would definitely buy one. As to what is sensible… that is a tough question. I think the previous post has it about right. Up to £300 or so is very tempting. £200 is a definite buy I’d say!

  3. Here is a good short view of the plate in action today at Eurobike 208.

    link to instagram.com

    • Chader

      That demo displays what I consider incorrect pedal to lean timing.

      Proper method is bike leaning away fro the foot at the bottom of the stroke. I find it is common for new rocker riders and often with setups that have the leveling springs set too stiff.

      I find dropping the leveling force requires a more normal balancing and riding technique like outside.

      Here is an example of various ride efforts.
      link to youtu.be

      Here is a video focusing on the proper lean to pedal timing. (The technique starts at 1 min)
      link to youtu.be

  4. JimL

    I am more excited about this than I thought I would be. It’d have to be under $400 USD for me, maybe. I have never been much excited about a rocker, but this maybe would do it for me more than other rockers out there so far.

  5. Chader

    Very cool. I like the concept and am excited to see the final product and pricing.
    We have seen some DIY rockers with fore-aft motion too. I even made a Franken-rocker with one of my Rockit Launchers mounted onto the sled from my DIY motion rollers.

    It’s an interesting blend of motion and stability combined with the benefits of a great smart trainer. I like the feel about the best of my various work on fixed & motion rollers, as well as various versions of rockers.

    It takes a bit of adaptation, but once you do, the feel is pretty darned close to road. I may end up with a Wahoo Climb, and that mix may just make a decent riding simulator.

  6. The new hometrainer, the evolution. I wait the presentation

  7. Matthew

    Here’s my input on pricing: ar $200 it’s a definite buy, at $300 I’ll think about it, significantly more I’ll pass

  8. Chris

    So how about a Kickr and Kickr Climb attached to this thing? Or even maybe a little lazy Susan type thing between this and the Climb so you can “steer”?

    I have a little homemade rocker panel I use with my Computrainer. I really love the idea of the Climb though, and now a lower priced Kickr Core…

    • Chader

      Several of our DIY builders in the Zwift Rocker Plates FB group have added turntables under the front. The best is to add a centering spring, that makes it return to neutral, like the trail feature does on a real ride.

      Many of our members also made full-length rockers to add the Climb. Now that it appears to be close to shipping, I hope to see people get one and continue the steps towards making the ultimate indoor cycling simulator.

    • I’ll likely do a video next week with the CLIMB on it….just for fun. CycleOps is just as interested as well in how it works.

    • Chader

      Excellent!
      I am very curious to that mix 🙂

  9. Martin

    Aby word about their new trainers: H2 and M2?

    • Chader

      According to the post on BikeRumor:

      “The new CycleOps H2 and M2 replace the Hammer and Magnus indoor cycling trainers with newer versions that have more accurate power measurement, better ride feel, and improved cadence detection. That means you won’t need a separate cadence sensor to get all the data you’d want from the device.

      They’ll be available in September. Retail price is $1,199 for the H2 direct drive trainer, which claims a +/-2% accuracy. The wheel-on M2 will be $599, which claims a +/-5% accuracy in interpreting your output.”

    • Yup, more on them shortly. In fact, the H2 is what’s on the platform there.

      In short though, it’s mostly a new paint job.

      Sure, there are the updates noted above, but these are really rather minor updates – and almost none of it is going to make a dent compared to new units from other companies.

    • Chader

      Yes, sounds like they are very incremental updates at best.

      I also wonder how much is possible via firmware update vs new model/hardware, for those with existing units?

      Interested to hear more details and depth from here.

    • Martin

      how ’bout new Elite Nero trainer?
      Have tried it?

      ps.
      To be honest, I look forward to hear (read) from you about new Vantage V and M, but I guest we need to be more patient 😉

    • Chader

      The bit of info I have seen on the Nero looks great. Quite a nice upgrade from the Quick Motion rollers.

      What is the hint on the Vantage? Brand & product type?
      Inquiring minds…

    • Nero: It wasn’t ridable yet.

      Soon. And I’ll likely cover it in some manner once I can ride it.

    • If it’s little more than a new paint job, that’s pretty disappointing. I realize CycleOps got that deal with Zwift which surely is helping them sell trainers but otherwise I expect Wahoo to eat CycleOps’ lunch with the new KICKR Core and ’18 models. Hammer and Magnus are still good products but CycleOps doesn’t have a compelling story for them vs the competition… neither better price, more features, or better performance.

    • Martin

      Vantage M and Vantage V are new, upcoming Polar watches

    • Chader

      Ahh. Got it. Thanks 🙂

  10. Marko

    Did riding your bike on this make the bike feel heavier? Was the movement swift and effortless?

    • Chader

      That is a good question, and I want to hear his thoughts.

      Based on my experience on motion rollers and my roll-only and full-motion rocker plates, it is best to keep overall weight to a minimum. As with anything, more mass makes directional changes slower and more difficult.

      On motion rollers, this can lead to a “hop-off” in a sprint if the bike and rollers don’t react at the same rate. That is not an issue with a trainer based rocker platform, but any extra mass still has a similar effect. Ideally, you want as little extra mass as possible while still providing the support and motion that is desired.

    • It didn’t seem appreciably so to me. The top portion of this prototype was just plywood and a thin metal frame, whereas the bottom was far more beastly.

      The final version will be a molded plastic that should save more weight as well.

  11. Andrew

    Looks really good, got hammer and home made rocker already.
    I agreed with others Price will be key to this-
    Many who want movement have home made products already (worse product but I’ve made it value), so a big upgrade won’t float.
    Others won’t be keen at a higher price as well.
    Gp lama seems to be, too into other brands and too long on static turbo to get it, perhaps when his older with sore knees?
    All round it needs to be £300, maybe &£350 at a push, at that and multi brand compatible- will sell in volume (there’s lots of direct drive turbos owners out there now)
    Really hope they make it at the price point.

  12. Eric

    I’d buy this but the price would need to be at or below the cost of the rest of the trainer, so e.g. sub-$1500. Also durability and ability to maintain it would be key, as shipping the entire unit back for service would be prohibitively expensive. I don’t think there’s any way to sell something like this for less than $500, at the end of the day it’s physically large and has numerous moving parts that need to be manufactured to some degree of precision.