The Road More 'Virtually' Travelled. 

The Rise of the Smart Home Trainer; Hamster Wheel or High Performance Supercharger?

When Matt Hayman won Paris-Roubaix in 2016 the turbo trainer market revved into overdrive after it was revealed that, following early season injury, Hayman had in-fact entirely trained in his garage using the online virtual reality platform ZWIFT. Since then, the market has rapidly developed and expanded, giving great opportunities to those stuck for time or keen to take their training to the next level in the comfort of their own home.

Quality Over Quantity

The sport of cycling has seen a stark transformation in terms of how amateurs and professionals train: the new regime is based around the doctrine of quality over quantity. We are also in an era of data capture: power, heart-rate and speed can be measured more accurately than ever, using modern equipment available to everybody. Extensive testing has proved that shorter, more intense efforts offer better value and, with the rise of the smart trainer, this has never been more achievable.

At Pearson we particularly favour the Wahoo KICKR home trainer for its accuracy, compatibility, size and its lack of noise, and when paired with online platforms like ZWIFT, its potential becomes ever greater. As part of the £13.99 subscription fee, ZWIFT connects effortlessly by Bluetooth from the majority of phones, tablets or PCs, providing a host of workouts to suit those keen to take their fitness to another level, but also an interactive online platform where the user can ride with others from anywhere around the world.

By offering the chance to do a regular Functional Threshold Power Test (a test done to access the effective power-output of the individual that is achievable for a period of time), the user can adequately set a bench-mark for their training regime within ZWIFT, but also out on the open road if they have access to a bike mounted power meter.

With the rise of power metrics for training purposes, products like the KICKR give the rider every chance to train and indeed perform better, by using data in a similar way to how the professionals would do. The friendly interface of ZWIFT provides a highly interactive means of prescribed training, whereby anyone keen to do structured training can now do so without the regular cost of a one to one coach. Any bike will fit on to a smart trainer easily, no matter what type or size the KICKR merely replaces the rear wheel.

So no need to venture into the cold or dark, or to risk the dreaded double puncture when you can have an effective, high intensity workout on your favourite bike, wearing minimal kit. It's worth noting that the majority of effort will be expended while seated during each session, so a good up-to-date Precision Bike Fitting (Book Here) is essential for getting the most out of your body. 

Engaging Training

The perception of the turbo-trainer prior to this new generation of smart trainers was generally uninspiring and of mixed results, ending in squared off tyres and a reluctance to climb on the next day. Training should always be an engaging, beneficial experience and manifest results in the long-term, hence why now with ZWIFT it is more attainable and ultimately more compelling.

ZWIFT as an interactive platform gives the rider productive workouts that will as a consequence bring about better riding on the open road. By setting targets and benchmarking fitness through the power readings built into units like the Wahoo KICKR, the passionate amateur can track progression and engage in their development by having worthwhile metrics to hand. Furthermore, applications offer positive reinforcement by the presence of metrics and also the ability to synchronize with other apps like Strava where others can commend your efforts. Psychologically, using these training tools offer more value than a traditional trainer but also physically provide you with results transferable to your next race or sportive.

 

In summary the merits of the smart turbo traing are extensive. Fundamentally, the combination of metrics, stimulating virtual environments, life like resistance, community and competition, plus the ability to splurge any performance across social apps, makes the smart turbo an essential winter tool in every cyclist's arsenal. Lack of time, inclination or excessive boredom are now unacceptable excuses.

View the latest Wahoo smart trainer range today.

Written by Ryan Palmer - Sheen Assistant Manager.