Take your indoor trainer to the next level

Wade Morgan | Tue 23rd Mar 2021 09:50

Indoor trainers have taken off in recent years and with that boom comes continuous innovation. We take a look at the hottest trends in cycle trainers including new interactive training solutions, improved connectivity and the growth of 3rd party training apps.

It’s no secret that indoor cycling had boomed in popularity over the last 12 months, and with parts of the world yo-yoing in and out of Covid related lockdowns it’s fair to say this popularity will continue into the foreseeable future globally.

If you’re a keen cyclist in NZ, there’s a high chance you will have spent a lot of time on a trainer over the lockdown periods and in particular, over the winter months. As summer starts to wind down you’re probably looking at your indoor trainer set up and wondering if it’s time for an upgraded trainer to kickstart some enthusiasm, or maybe some additional accessories to take things to the next level in 2021.

Take your indoor training to the next level with some of these items that have just arrived in time for the coming winter, or heaven forbid another lockdown!

Here’s our top list of what’s new in the world of indoor training for 2021.

Wahoo KICKR Bike pictured with trainer mat, KICKR Fitness Desk and Headwind fan.

1) Interactive Smart Trainer Bikes

At the top tier of indoor trainers, we’re starting to see more and more purpose built smart bikes arrive that remove the need for an ‘outdoor’ bike in your set up. With options now available for Wahoo, Tacx and Stages it’s a category only set to expand and evolve.

Perfectly adjustable to suit the user, you can simply adjust the fit of the smart bike to match your regular bike, and if you’ve got multiple people wanting to use the same setup, it’s a cinch to swap from one fit to another depending who’s riding.

Blur the line between virtual and reality with integrated grade simulation, realistic gear shifting, and push-button steering, making the indoor experience as close to an outdoor one as possible.

Not to mention, save your regular bike from wear, and the dreaded sweat-induced corrosion! If you get aboard one of these, there’s no need to deal with taking a bike on and off the trainer - just hop on and go!

Shop Smart Bikes

2) Direct Connectivity via Kickr Direct Connect

If you’re a keen online racer or trainer, there’s nothing worse than your trainer to network connection dropping out or being affected by interference, you’ll either rapidly go out the back of the bunch, or your workout data will be inaccurate and difficult to accurately analyse. Enter the solution - the Kickr Direct Connect. Simply plug your trainer directly into your computer or internet router, resulting in a smooth consistent signal back to your network or PC. While Bluetooth or ANT+ have their advantages, the reliability of a direct connection could save you a frustrating experience.

NOTE: KICKR Direct Connect is compatible with KICKR V5, KICKR CORE and KICK SNAP. It is NOT compatible with earlier models of KICKR trainers. Compatible with many 3rd party apps including The Wahoo SufferfestTraining App, TrainerRoad, Fulgaz and many more. Zwift compatibility coming soon!

Shop KICKR Direct Connect

3) Interactive Steering Accessories

While most online riding platforms now offer 3 dimension game graphics of some sort, the riding experience is pretty one dimensional using a traditional trainer set up.

Elite recently launched the Sterzo Smart unit that allows the user to steer their way through their chosen online world, giving the user an even more immersive experience. Pass riders more effectively while racing, and get into a virtual draft more easily as you steer your way through virtual riding realms. As virtual training worlds evolve, smart steering devices will allow you to take advantage of the new in game features as they are released.

Shop Elite Sterzo

4) Realistic Trainer Platforms

It’s no secret that training indoors doesn’t quite feel like a ride outdoors, and as such, manufacturers continue to hunt for ways to make indoor riding more realistic. Rather than fixing your bike to a set position on the ground, new products such as the Saris MP1 Nfinity Platform or the Wahoo KICKR Axis Action Feet (Available on the Wahoo KICKR V5) bring natural movement to your indoor set up for a road-like bike feel, indoors.

The new Wahoo Axis Feet bring natural riding sensation to the legendary KICKR V5 Smart Trainer by providing up to 5 degrees of side-to-side movement, enhancing bike feel and feedback.

The Saris MP1 Nfinity Trainer Platform featuring fore/aft, as well as side-to-side movement, each degree of freedom created by Saris’ Nfinity Technology is specifically calculated to mirror outdoor riding, without feeling unstable or insecure. Compatible with a huge range of trainers, the Nfinity Platform offers an extra dimension of fitness training as it engages your core and small stabilizing muscles, something that simply doesn’t happen on a regular stationary trainer setup.

Shop Trainer Platforms

5) Smart Fans

Sure, you could buy a big ol fan from Briscoes and be done with it, but there is a better way… The Wahoo KICKR Headwind fan is specifically designed for cyclists, with targeted wind output and automatic power adjustment, it can simulate wind speeds of up to 50km/hr! Not only that, smart fans can automatically adjust the fan power based on your in game riding speed or heart rate for an even more immersive training experience.

Shop KICKR Headwind

6) Third Party Apps

After choosing which hardware is right for you, the next decision is which applications will you use with your trainer? These days there are multiple options available, from interval based, workout specific systems, to high-definition POV video platforms - which is right for you?

The Sufferfest - Recently acquired by Wahoo, the Sufferfest offers a combination of real world cycling videos and structured workouts. Includes pre-set training programs, and the ability to purchase customised ones. The app also included Yoga, strength and mental toughness components, truely a holistic training platform.

Trainer Road - Just the meat and potatoes, a serious training app without the fluff, no videos, no races, just science backed training plans. Choose from a premade plan (differing depending on your goal), or create your own. In the process of being launched is Trainer Roads, Adaptive Training - this will customise your plan as you go, depending on your level of fitness, and ensure you're getting the best workout for your level of freshness, fatigue or external stressor. Once Adaptive Training is fully released it should be a game changer for those seeking maximum gains! TR have an extensive catalogue of training resources on their website, and their weekly podcast show dives deep into subjects aimed at making you a faster cyclist.

FulGaz - Bring the outside, inside, with over 2,000 hours of high-quality 4K content that’s been hand picked from around the globe, featuring many of the best places you’ll ever ride. As with most modern platforms, training plans are available and customisable, or build your own from scratch. Ride virtually with friends or simply roll through the high-res world, this is about as close to Virtual Reality cycling as possible.

Zwift - A different take on the indoor cycling experience, Zwift have gamified indoor cycling and bring not only a powerful in-game experience to users, but also a host of training plans and workouts. From pro-level race leagues to group workouts, and of course solo jaunts around it’s virtual worlds, Zwift really does offer something for everyone, it’s no surprise that its also the largest online cycling platform in the world.

RGT - Real roads, virtually. RGT takes popular real world cycling routes and renders them for use indoors. As with its closest competitor, they offer a myriad of training solutions, group rides and racing - but in its rawest form, no game functionality. Just you, your trainer and your bike.

Rouvy - A combination of Augmented Reality, and POV style video cycling routes. The AR routes take actual video footage and combine it with virtual riders and additional graphics to create a unique and realistic experience. As with most platforms, Rouvy brings together virtual cycling, workouts, group rides, and races.