Bike Rollers vs Indoor Trainers: Why A Smart Bike Is For You

Whencomparing bike rollers to indoor trainers each has their own features which can support your cycling training. Smart bike trainers have many benefits, from showcasing your data and how easy they are to use. See the advantages of both, and why a smart bike is the perfect choice for your indoor training. 

Table of Contents:

Bike Rollers vs Smart Bike Comparison

Feature comparison

Wattbike Atom Smart Bike

Bike Rollers

Set up 

Plug and play

Requires a road bike and time to set up

Connectivity 

Bluetooth, ANT+, and FE-C

Some have connectivity

Data accuracy

±1% accuracy across the full power range of 0-2500w

Many do not have direct power measurement

Metrics measured

Power, speed and cadence

Various

Additional metrics measured

Connect to the Wattbike Hub to capture 40+ additional metrics on your training app session

Limited to native or connected app

Resistance type

Automatic electromagnetic resistance with Real Ride Feel technology 

Magnetic resistance

ERG mode

Yes

Model dependant

Gear shifters

Using the Wattbike Hub - Choose from 5 different groupsets: compact, semi-compact, climbing, 11 speed or 22 speed

You may be able to change gear using the gears on your bike

3rd-party app compatibility

Yes

Yes - Limited functionality

Bike required

No

Yes

Indoor Trainer Overview

Indoor bike trainers are designed to enhance your fitness and your cycling performance, without having to leave the home. They can provide a more effective workout than bike rollers, because they remove the steps which may hinder your precious training time when using rollers. Indoor cycling benefits your training by recreating the great health advantages of outdoor cycling, with added convenience and efficiency. 

Convenient & Efficient

Smart bikes have rock solid stability, easy to set up, and create a tailored training experience for you and your fitness targets. You don’t have to set up your bike trainer every time you want to train. Additionally, every pedal stroke counts when you train indoors because you remove freewheeling and stopping at lights. Not only that, but indoor cycling removes the hazards of real-road cycling, such as traffic, harsh weather conditions, and ride-ending issues such as punctures. 

Smart Training Technology

Smart bikes offer an intelligent way to harness your indoor training. The term “smart” refers to the many data points you can use to refine your workout, its electromagnet resistance system and its vast indoor cycling app connectivity capabilities. All to help you calculate your cadence, power output, and pedalling technique, in order to advance your performance. The smart bikes do the extra work for you, so you’re able to focus on improving your cycling.

Adaptable for Multiple Users

You can easily adapt the Wattbike smart bike to allow for multiple users. Whether this is swapping the saddle or adjusting the seat height, handlebars, or pedals, every member of the household can use it. Whilst bike rollers will require you to swap over the entire bike for each person to use. 

Bike Roller Overview

Bike rollers are cylinders fitted into a frame, which go under the wheels of your road-bike in order for you to cycle on the spot. They can be made from plastic, an aluminium alloy, or wood. Pedalling means the rollers move under the bike, keeping you in a stationary position.

Usually, the cylinders aren’t attached to the bike frame, so you need to balance the bike on the rollers, like you would do when cycling on the road. This is different to a turbo trainer which holds your bike in a fixed position. Beginners often set their rollers up next to a wall, within arms reach, in order to use an outstretched hand to steady themselves. However, there are some types of bike rollers which require you to remove your front wheel, and the rollers only go under the rear wheel. 

Bike rollers allow you to complete cycling workouts on your bike without having to go outdoors and cycle a real route. This can make training more convenient, because you can workout whenever you want, from home. Some variations of bike rollers may feature an internal flywheel under the rear wheel, which helps to recreate resistance you’d expect from a smart trainer. 

Why You Might Want to Upgrade from Bike Rollers

Whether an indoor cycling beginner or have many virtual miles under your belt, you may want to switch out the bike rollers for an indoor smart bike. Here’s why:

Bike rollers require a road-bike - This can add a real hindrance to your training. You’ll find yourself going through a list of tasks to connect your bike to the rollers. This includes cleaning your bike to avoid tyre tracks on the carpet, removing the front wheel, and spacing the rollers perfectly. With an indoor smart trainer you can still have access to your road bike for outdoor training

Bike rollers require your balance - Balancing on bike rollers is a difficult task to maintain alongside your pedalling. Some may find this can enhance their training, whereas others may find it a nuisance. The balancing may recreate a real-road feel, but it doesn’t allow you to focus on a sprint, or offer off-saddle cycling. You won’t have this issue when you upgrade to a static bike trainer, like the Atom, which is sturdier, and allows you to really put your all into improving your cadence.

Bike rollers are notoriously loud - This can mean you are only able to workout when it’s convenient for you to make noise while training. Which may mean you must alter your training times. Thanks to precision electromagnetic resistance, the Wattbike Atom offers a quiet way to train, meaning you can fit in a workout whenever you can. 

Bike rollers tend to have a large footprint - They are typically longer and wider than your road bike, so they actually take up a lot of space. A Wattbike smart bike has a smaller footprint, at just 124cm x 50cm, which means it’s convenient for the house. You can push it to the side when you’re not using it, and it won’t take over your home. 

Rollers may cause damage to your bike - They put strain on your tyres, and using the bike roller could cause unintentional damage to your bike, making it unfit for riding out on the road. While a smart trainer leaves your road bike ready for outdoor training when the weather promises a good ride.

Enhance Your Training with the Wattbike Atom Smart Bike

The Wattbike smart bike is designed to enhance your fitness training, harnessing your cycling performance with dedicated data metrics, and to fit seamlessly into your exercise routine.

The Wattbike Hub

You can harness your performance with our dedicated cycling app, the Wattbike Hub. free to download on iOS and Android. You can select your training goals, and have access to over 100 workouts, training plans, and climbs. Not only that, you’ll find workouts catered to different aspects of cycling, to refine your performance, from improving your endurance, to improving your cycling climbing

Cycling App Compatibility

Another benefit of an indoor smart bike is the ability to connect to cycling apps. There are a number of indoor cycling apps compatible with Wattbike, which can help you harness your training. Whether you want to connect with fellow indoor cyclists, or virtually recreate real-road routes. 

  • Zwift - Chase your targets in a virtual world with an online community.
  • TrainingPeaks - Find an accredited coach to support your fitness plans.
  • TrainerRoad - Use this personalised AI-powered tool to meet your goals.
  • Rouvy - Tackleiconic cycling locations with augmented reality workouts.
  • Strava - Track, analyse, and share every aspect of your indoor cycling.

Unrivalled Data Accuracy

Within a ±1% range, the Wattbike Atom delivers a new level of cycling data accuracy to make it the ideal indoor training partner. Our unique Polar View and Pedal Effectiveness Score (PES) can help you efficiently train, and see your right and left leg revolutions in real-time. You’ll understand the importance of Functional Threshold Power (FTP) and how it can highlight performance and power improvements. Stay inspired and on-target by upgrading to a smart bike from bike rollers. 

Trusted by Professionals 

Trust the pros who trust Wattbike! In 2011, Nic Gill, Strength and Conditioning Coach at theAll Blacks, asked about trialling some Wattbikes with the team. We are now the official supplier to the All Blacks and Black Ferns. Thanks to the data-centred robustness of our indoor trainers, they’re a key part of the teams’ off-feet conditioning and pre-season training. You’ll even find workouts created by the All Blacks in the Wattbike Hub. 

Train Your Way with Wattbike 

We’re passionate about using cycling data to create indoor trainers that support every aspect of your workout. From performance tests to benchmark your ability, and top tips for cycling recovery, enhance your training with Wattbike.

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