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Wattbike Announces US Availability for ATOM Smart Bike

WattbikeAtom

Almost exactly two years after announcing the Wattbike Atom, the hard to get indoor smart bike is finally going to be available to purchase in the US. The company has made significant tweaks to the bike in the last two years, largely to software – but changes that fundamentally have changed the way the bike feels and acts, and now brings it very much in-line with expectations for what an indoor smart trainer translated into a single bike solution should be like.

But first, let’s talk details on this whole availability thing. See, up till now, when you tried to order the Wattbike Atom from the US, you’d get this page. Which, actually, is the case for countless countries around the globe – even much of continental Europe. About the only places you were good to go was the UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, and…South Africa and Australia. Outside of that, you got this sad panda pic:

image

Yes, oddly Australia and South Africa were in there. I mean, nothing against either location – we’ve spent our past two winters in those two countries. But out of all the places I would have expected them to expand to, they wouldn’t be top of the pile from a sales standpoint. In any case, that’s neither here nor there.

The Details:

Starting next month (October, for those calendar-challenged), you’ll be able to order the Wattbike Atom within the US. Ordering will be direct from Wattbike themselves, just as it is within the UK and other regions today. The price is a bit flexible still, but they’re targeting approximately $2,500USD. That may fluctuate depending on whether or not delivery is included, and that’s the piece they’re still finalizing in the coming weeks with various delivery services.

To begin with, they’re specifically launching in the NY tri-state area (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut). However, this isn’t so much a hard-stop ordering limitation, but rather a soft-block to ensure that one understands if outside this region that support of any parts might be delayed. Within the tri-state region they’re aiming for 3-4 days for any replacement parts.  Additionally, outside the tri-state region they’ll be working with different delivery carriers, so final delivery price may fluctuate.

Now I will point out that there’s a pretty big shift in price from the current UK pricing, which is 1,599GBP, or equal to $1,933 at current exchange rates (inclusive of VAT). That’s roughly a $500-$600 increase in price, and does make it less compelling than the relative ‘bargain’ pricing found in the UK specifically. There’s something to be said about having an indoor bike priced below Peloton’s offering.

However, as I’ve alluded to in various posts and podcasts, Wattbike has finally released this summer their updated firmware which significantly improves the feel of the Atom with respect to shifting. They’ve simplified the shifting paradigm, and it’s had a significant effect on things. Atop that, since I originally tested way back nearly two years ago they’ve now got Zwift gear indicators on-screen, again, making it more clear which gearing you’re in.

I’ll be finally dropping my updated review or something on that in the next week or two, so stay tuned for that!

The Competition:

Ahh yes, you wanted it – a complete chart of competitive specs. After all, this is the Eurobike of the indoor smart bike, and there’s no better place to highlight all these specs than the DCR Comparison Database and Charts. So I’ve slated up all the big competitors into the chart below. This chart will automatically update over the course of the day as new offerings are announced:

Function/FeatureStages BikeWattbike AtomTacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated September 18th, 2019 @ 5:42 amNew Window
Price for trainer$2,600-$2,800USD~$2,500USD$3,199$3,499
Trainer TypeIndoor BikeIndoor BikeIndoor BikeIndoor Bike
Available today (for sale)Q1 2020YesYesYes
Availability regionsGlobalUK/South Africa/Australia/Scandinavia/USAGlobalLimited Initially
Wired or Wireless data transmission/controlWirelessWirelessWirelessWireless
Power cord requiredYesYesNoYes
Flywheel weight50lbs9.28KG/20.4lbsSimulated/Virtual 125KG13bs/5.9kgs
ResistanceStages BikeWattbike AtomTacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)YesYesYesYes
Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)No (but kinda)NoYesYes
Maximum wattage capability3,000w2,000w2,200w @ 40KPH2,200w @ 40KPH
Maximum simulated hill incline25%25%20% (and -15% downhill)
FeaturesStages BikeWattbike AtomTacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Ability to update unit firmwareYesYesYesYes
Measures/Estimates Left/Right PowerYes (actually measured independently)YesYesNo
Can rise/lower bike or portion thereofNoNoNoYes
Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)Yes (with compatible apps)NoWith accessoryYes (with compatible apps)
Can rock side to side (significantly)NoNoNoNo
Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)NoNoYesNo
AccuracyStages BikeWattbike AtomTacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Includes temperature compensationYesYesN/AYes
Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)Cross-references power meter dataNoN/AYes
Supported accuracy level+/- 1.5%+/- 2%+/- 1%+/- 1%
Trainer ControlStages BikeWattbike AtomTacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Allows 3rd party trainer controlYesYesYesYes
Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)YesYesYesYes
Supports Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control Standard)YEsYesYesYes
Data BroadcastStages BikeWattbike AtomTacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Transmits power via ANT+YEsYesYesYes
Transmits power via Bluetooth SmartYEsYesYesYes
Transmits cadence dataYesYesYesYes
Indoor Bike FeaturesStages BikeWattbike AtomTacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Brake levers or buttonsYesNoBrake LeversYes
Shifting typeButtonsButtonsButton BasedNormal bike levers
Can customize shifting (Shimano/SRAM/Campagnolo)Coming in appNoIn future updateYes (Shimano/SRAM/Campagnolo)
Can customize gearingComing in appMininimalYesYes (both cassette and chainrings)
Supported Crank Lengths165/170/172.5/175mm170mm170/172.5/175mm165/170/172.5/175mm
DisplayNoNoYesSmall display near top-tube
USB PortsTwo Ports (Fast Charging)No2 USB Ports (2AMP)1 USB port
PurchaseStages BikeWattbike AtomTacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Clever Training - Save with the VIP programLinkLink
DCRainmakerStages BikeWattbike AtomTacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Oh, and before you ask why I haven’t included some products into the above – here’s the quick and dirty answers:

Peloton Bike: It’s not a ‘smart’ bike in the sense of the above, it doesn’t allow you to set a specific power level (it does tell you the current power level). Rumors are Peloton is working on such a bike, but nothing today.

SRM Bike: This was also announced today, with full smart integration. I’ve got a chat with them in a few hours. Stay tuned!

True Kinetix Bike: This will likely be in the above chart by the end of the week. They’re planning on shipping me a test unit in the next week or two, and I’ll be meeting with them this afternoon. I just want to get a clear understanding of timelines and capabilities (specifically the ANT+/BLE bits) before I add them above).

VirtuPro: It could also get escalated into the above chart, I’ve talked about it in the past. But I need clarity on when they’ll (actually) ship it with ANT+/BLE support, and realistic timelines to that. Else, it’s a proprietary solution that doesn’t really fit what the tables are designed for (the rest of the bikes here are compatible with all industry protocols).

Again, I’m more than happy to add products into the database. In general, my rule of thumb is I want hands-on time (or butts-on in this case), and I want some realistic level of clarity on delivery timeframes.

Wrap-Up:

This is a good move for the company, especially since they offer a tried and tested product that’s already in thousands of homes. As is always the case with new indoor trainers and bikes, there’s something to be said for something that’s already been proven (even if it does have competitive shortcomings).

Pricing wise, as you can see above – it’ll be a battle between them and Stages. At the $2,500 price-point Stages at $2,600-$2,800 offers a slightly more compelling product in terms of things like shifting, brakes, and steering (eventually). As well as some of the minor things like USB ports. But on the flip side, Wattbike will start shipping in a month, whereas Stages is sometime early next year – assuming no delays.

Of course, there is the reality that Wattbike could have owned this market for the last 1-2 years in the US, with no competitive pressure at all. Now they’re up against a slate of well-known competitors – albeit all of them more expensive than them. If they can play their cards right they could capture the market for people that don’t want to wait for one of today’s new entrants to actually start shipping. Hopefully they can do just that.

With that – thanks for reading!

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18 Comments

  1. usr

    Australia and South Africa are very natural choices if you want to do some carefully observed incremental rollout thing without wasting time idling until the next northern hemisphere trainer season. Same thing with UK and Scandinavia: apparently they were looking for small but trainer-intensive markets for gaining experience before ramping up numbers.

    • Potentially yes, but from a pure business standpoint of order potential – the cost of setting up all those different countries would be less than the US, which has a massively greater number of potential users.

      Either way, glad to see them in the US now!

    • usr

      The business case for an incremental rollout is to avoid sending out early production runs to a massively greater number of users. If you run into issues that only occur after months of usage, it’s much cheaper to e.g. send replacements to all your customers in South Africa than to do the same in North America. Similar logic applies to the cost of vocal forum complaints.

    • Marc Tanguay

      The US premium price appears to reflect the 25% China tarrif, assuming that most/all of the product parts originate from the PRC.

      Believe that we are seeing the same thing with price points for the Stages & Tacx bikes.

    • Andre

      “Believe that we are seeing the same thing with price points for the Stages & Tacx bikes.”

      Tacx trainers are made in the Netherlands. Ray will be happy to tell you the details.

    • The Tacx bikes are built in the Netherlands. While I’m not sure on all the parts, I know from past discussions that the vast majority of Tacx parts come from within 10-15KM of the factory south of Amsterdam.

      Stages bikes are made in Taiwan, not China.

      As for the business case for incremental rollout – that’s fine, but using South Africa is a super poor example for complexity. There are few countries on earth that are as notoriously difficult to deal with from a commercial customs and importing standpoint as South Africa. It’s far cheaper and faster to send products from EU to North America.

    • James

      Two plus years? Wattbike is toast with this strategy. Every single serious rider I know that wanted indoor adjustable trainers didn’t want to wait. They all went with fixed rear wheel trainers. Compound that with serious competition of recently announced fully adjustable trainers from Wahoo and Stages and Wattbike is facing a smaller and smaller piece of the pie. Maybe they faced technical issues? who knows… I’m just not sure what they offer now?

    • Jonathan Smith

      “Wattbike is toast with this strategy” – I don’t think you know much about WB. The Pro/Trainer models are hugely popular in gyms & used by many for bike fit/athlete testing. At least in the UK that is. They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. I have no idea the size of the company from a revenue perspective, although you could find out from Companies House. But from my dealings with them since I got my Atom 18 months ago they are great. There are a number of groups on FB & the vast majority of the discussion among owners is hugely popular. WB themselves regularly seek our feedback on ways they can improve.

      They simply weren’t ready to roll our internationally 2 years ago and that is ok. It’s a great product & competition drives the market.

    • James Baker

      Yes–I agree. WB is very popular in the UK.. They done well there and maybe that’s enough. 60+M folks… I was particularly ranting in regards to the remaining 7+ billions folks who couldn’t get a WB (especially an ATOM)… now they face extremely stiff competition from numerous products and companies…I just felt they could have had a big 1st mover advantage by releasing the products to a wider market two years ago. Competition does indeed drive the market, now WB has it in bulk. Let’s see how it unfolds. Peace 😉

  2. Bsshrt

    Any words when the Wattbike Atom will be available in other countries in Europe?

  3. Anirudh

    Wattbike had a distributor in the US:

    link to wattbike.com

    Woodway was their distributor:

    link to woodway.com

    It wasn’t convenient to buy, sure, but they had a distributor on paper.

  4. Slipstream1

    DC, called their USA distributed (Woodway) this morning and was told, ”unfortunately, availability and shipping maybe1Q next year”. It appears they continue to miss the boat in taking a competitive advantage…

  5. 555

    Hopefully they get their support network set up properly. Here in Australia it has been a nightmare. I have had my original Wattbike Pro for 5-6 years maybe more and in that time I think there has been about 6 different suppliers as agreements run out, someone else takes it on and then relinquishes it etc
    Always waiting for parts and/or a tech, not to mention the price to upgrade from an A model monitor to a B model was getting close to a Kickr base model in price.
    Having said all that I would not part with mine as I prefer to not put my road bike on a trainer and all the climb angle stuff does nothing for me, although that new Kickr bike, if it came in a lower spec ( and price ) without the climb etc, could be a suitable replacement if needed.

  6. Dan W

    UK Atom owner here. Very happy one too. The firmware updates have been really solid and it works great with TrainerRoad (my ‘app’ of choice).

    Only negative I’ve had was the initial setup – for days I thought I’d received a dud unit only to discover that the firmware it comes with is only capable of reading from a Bluetooth v4 phone (I have a recent v5 iPhone) so I had to ask a friend for an older iPhone, install the Wattbike app on it, upgrade the firmware and this brought Bluetooth v5 functionality to the Atom and so I could interact with it using my phone/AppleTV.

    I couldn’t see anything on their website about this. It was only a kind support staff member who tweeted me back to let me know. I just found it incredible that such an expensive device would leave a warehouse without the firmware installed that allowed it to connect to the majority of new phones.

  7. Sam

    Meh, I have a Wattbike Pro here in the USA and while the bike is nice I have been largely unimpressed with Wattbike as a company, particularly support and software. From a hardware standpoint the Pro is great and the only thing I would change is to have a backlit display. The app (on android) is garbage, or more specifically needs someone to maintain it. The Wattbikers1k challenge is still in there and the leaderboard never updates because “Unfortunately the leaderboard is no longer active therefore results will not show. I do apologise for any inconvenience this may cause”. When doing a workout the notifications are often out of sync. Why doesnt the app update the time on the PM? Why doesnt the app update the firmware on the PM, or at least tell me to? When contacting support I am regularly (as in every time) bounced around, told to contact someone else, or all out forgotten. It seems as if there is Wattbike UK, and if you live outside UK you are getting redirected to someone else for everything which is confusing (Woodway, maybe, depends on what I need). When I bought this thing from Woodway my regional rep sucked, but that doesn’t seem to be the case elsewhere. The Woodway hardware support is great (although what does that say that I have had to contact them twice in the first year I’ve had it, once resulting in a house call to tear it down and replace parts). Personally, if I was buying new I would buy something else. Just my two cents.

  8. Peter

    Ray, when do you expect your updated review of the Atom to be out?