Tag Archives: Zwift
New in the family and joining the rollers, is the ThinkRider X5 Neo Smart Trainer. Didn’t take long before deciding to settle for this one, when there was absolutely no supply of any others at the LBS and a 6-month wait seemed to be the default take-it-or-leave-it response. It’s within my price bracket, the order process was seamless and shipping took 4 days to get to the door.
I’m definitely late to jump onto the smart trainer bandwagon. Late in getting one of my own. Having been involved in high performance settings as well as at a commercial indoor cycling studio, fixing blown fuses in the CompuTrainers seemed like a necessary skill to have back in the day. Just a few years back, turbo trainers definitely did not get the same reception by the local community. (Same with strength training and lab testing. Knowing your weakness can be a hard pill to swallow sometimes). Now it seems, even in pre-pandemic times, the turbo trainer has caught on. Better late than never.
A 22kg piece of machinery, assembly of the flipper-like legs were as straight-forward as bolts and hex allen key. Thru-axle compatibility is also available. Download the ThinkRider app for firmware updates and trainer calibration, plug it in and it was good to go. ThinkRider is compatible with Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy, FullGaz, Bkool, PerfPro. Zwift was the choice of software.
There is always going to be chatter about the accuracy of smart trainers, just like power meters. We each have certain things that we can be particular about, which sometimes, will appear very selective. We may tend to or tend not to believe accuracy reports from manufacturers and we should put on our critical thinking hats. If you are one who has absolutely no clue at all, the advise would be to keep it simple. Lay out the outcomes that are most important to you. For me, would I have problems pairing it to Zwift? That did require me to trust the manufacturer’s word for it. I would like it to be reliable, i.e. produce similar power resistance on erg mode every time I use it. That is fairly easy to conclude whether I can tick that box. Neither am I expecting it to have a 5-watt variability. Day-to-day individual variability alone can be 5 – 6% (Gardner et al., 2007; Laursen et al., 2004; Possamai et al., 2020). So far after 24 hr of use, it has been consistent enough for me, based on the session I’m doing and what I am expecting to be putting out. Lastly, are they going to bail out on me, when after-sales service support is required? These days it’s a hit-and-miss. Imagine getting told to repair your broken treadmill yourself.
With so many options out there, accuracy claims as a form of marketing seems to be unavoidable. Bear in mind, as a consumer, unless you request for the precise protocol, equipment, testing conditions and environment, our attempt at user validation can swing both ways. I prefer to spend time learning how to interpret and apply the data appropriately.
In summary, a pretty solid direct-drive smart trainer. If you’re keen to have a go, give the guys at Bike Domestique (FB/Instagram) a shout out. What smart trainer are you using? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Gardner, A. S., Martin, J. C., Martin, D. T., Barras, M., & Jenkins, D. G. (2007). Maximal torque-and power-pedaling rate relationships for elite sprint cyclists in laboratory and field tests. European journal of applied physiology, 101(3), 287-292.
Laursen, P. B., Shing, C. M., & Jenkins, D. G. (2004). Temporal aspects of the VO2 response at the power output associated with VO2peak in well trained cyclists—Implications for interval training prescription. Research quarterly for exercise and sport, 75(4), 423-428.
Possamai, L. T., Campos, F. D. S., Salvador, P. C. D. N., de Aguiar, R. A., Guglielmo, L. G. A., de Lucas, R. D., Caputo, F., & Turnes, T. (2020). Similar maximal oxygen uptake assessment from a step cycling incremental test and verification tests on the same or different day. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 45(4), 357-361.
I don’t know any one person who hasn’t been affected by the pandemic that is happening at the moment. Countries are handling it differently, people are reacting and responding differently as well. In Singapore, our idea of a partial lockdown, the Circuit Breaker, has recently been extended for another 4 weeks along with additional measures, which is hard to keep track because of the ambiguity of some of the measures and there seems to be additions every other week. How has your riding/training been affected? Let us know in the comments section.
If you haven’t already set up your pain cave or at least started thinking about alternatives to your training/exercise regime, now is probably a good time.
Having alternatives in your workout bag empowers you to be adaptable. It does not necessarily mean you have to permanently add them to your routine. In any case, your routine has probably gone out of the window. It’s like having a 9 or 12-piece allen key set, instead of just carrying around the 4, 5, 6 mm.
Depending on the movement restrictions that have been imposed, and the situation going on at home (Work from home, kids on home-based learning etc), if you are now unable to ride outdoors as much you would want to, the next questions are: What turbo trainer should I be getting? And what sessions do I want to be doing? It’s like going through the same decision-making process when you were getting your first bike. You can’t really be sure if you are going to continue using the turbo trainer after the restrictions have been lifted because you might realize that you hate riding the turbo all together.
Wheel-on trainers are cheap these days. Not the smart ones of course. It’s straight forward, wears your rear tyre out, fast, unless you have a spare rear wheel with a trainer tyre. Will it get the job done? Yes, if you have a power meter on your bike and some inclination on how to efficiently plan your own training, because there will be some specific workouts that will be difficult to execute with a wheel-on trainer. Or if you just want to turn those legs over, burn some calories, nothing fancy, and want to save the coin for that beer afterwards. Chances are, you won’t be using it very often if you can go riding freely.
Direct-drives are gaining popularity due to the increasing range of products and it’s falling prices. Once viewed as only for serious/competitive cyclist, in recent years because of the affordability of the non-smart direct drive trainers, it’s become a choice for riders who are drawn to the social aspect for virtual riding platforms such as Zwift, Bkool, Sufferfest, TrainerRoad, FulGaz etc. Most offer a 14-day free trial (Some less), followed by a monthly or annual subscription if you wish to carry on.
You would at the least require a ANT+/Bluetooth speed/cadence sensor. You can still get on without a smart trainer, but it would be fair not to expect the full experience. If you already have the necessary hardware, you could consider signing up for a month to see if you enjoy it and determine for yourself how likely you are to stay on.
The new standard for virtual group rides/races removes the reputation indoor training/cycling has in the past as being mundane. Gone are the days of staring at block graphs with target numbers and a timer. Before you jump onto the virtual bandwagon, have a think on whether there is something in your training/workouts you had wanted to work on, or think you should work on. Sometimes the simplest of set ups, paired with an appropriate workout focus, can reap alot more benefit.
Photo by Velo Velo Singapore
Rollers are the not so popular sibling in indoor training, for various reasons if you speak with different people. There is a reason why there are much more roller-fail clips going around than there are of turbo trainers. When you add an additional element of staying upright, putting down the power or holding an effort isn’t as straightforward anymore. In fact, pedalling hard and putting down power is not straight forward at all. Saying they are not able to provide enough resistance for your workout is possible but a HIIT or a smash-fest is not the only way to skin a 45min session on the bike. If you’re stuck with what type of session you can do to benefit you the most, it’s probably worth speaking with a coach to help you look at the bigger picture.
Ultimately, it would be nice to see more people continuing to ride their bikes outside when the situation improves, and learning to ride their bikes properly and safely. You are much better cyclist and considerate road user if you can ride smoothly, in a straight line, keeping close to the side of the road (If sharing with cars), then needing to be in the middle of the lane, trying to mash the pedals and going in zig zag all over the place.
What is your indoor set up like? Let us know by leaving a comment.