A few weeks ago Wattbike kindly sent over the new Wattbike ATOM for me to test for a few days and although I was still setting up the home gym, converting the garage, I managed to move a few things around and create enough space to accommodate the bike.
Indoor cycling has developed a great deal over the last couple of years, especially with the popularity of Zwift (and other third party software such as Trainer Road, Sufferfest) going from strength to strength – more on Zwift in future posts but it’s an incredible piece of software that truly encourages hard work and sweat! Nothing like watching your very own avatar ride up to another cyclist and benefit from the draft!
My first impressions were incredibly positive, it’s a lovely bit of kit and although not a finished model (number 26 I think) it looks sharp and aerodynamic! When I first saw it, my first thoughts were I hope this is good – I want one! It looks a lot sexier than the Pro or Trainer models.
Setting up the bike is simple and anyone used to cycling indoors will know individual measurements, seat angles, height and such and get to it. Adjustments are made by the supplied Allen keys. You may also need to change the pedals, they come with basic key pedals so buying clipless pedals is a must.
Connecting the iPad (you have to supply your own iPad/Tablet/Phone) with the bike is straightforward and following two rides on the first morning, one with Zwift and the other with the wattbike app. The connection worked well, seamless in fact however I did feel as if there were a couple of niggles with it a) it took a lot more effort to get the same wattage I have been getting with the Pro or Trainer b) there is a slight delay in gear shifting and c) I found the resistance slightly strange in that there was more when I didn’t expect it i.e. 0% and when reaching the top of a gradient the resistance grew for a couple of seconds before tailing off. This was using the Zwift application.
Connections with the bike itself and heart rate monitor are very easy.
Given the small issues I had with the bike and Zwift I thought I’d try it out using the updated Wattbike App – I tried Winnats Pass to see how that was and to see the resistance! I wish I hadn’t! As a rookie, and I mean rookie, I struggled! I managed it in 12 minutes but it was tough going. The app starts on gear 6/22 and I quickly found once the gradient kicked in I’d have to knock it down – ended up at 1/22 (shows how bad I am I guess!) but it appeared more responsive to me. The resistance was tough, I think it went up to 17 or 18% but I might have missed it if it did go higher! I stopped twice!
Feeling a little more confidence from a more responsive connection I did a few more generic rides (just ride) and it definitely felt better and more tuned with the official app than Zwift but this I’m sure is down to the Zwift software. The one thing friends have commented on when they’ve been around is how damn sexy the bike is! It’s very aero looking and definitely has a smaller profile than the original bikes so if space is a consideration then this may suit your needs over the Pro. It’s very sturdy and didn’t move when I went from side to side either in the saddle or standing up doing the Winnats pass climb.
Although I’ve mentioned the gearing above one thing that I’d like to see in third party software is an indication of what gear you are in. When using the Pro or Trainer this isn’t as important because the gearing is visual but with the ATOM, apart from when using the Wattbike App, there’s no way you can tell an given the delay in response time from shifting the gears you can quite easily think the instruction hasn’t made it through and you end up with too high or too low a gear on anything but the inbuilt app. I’m hoping this is something Wattbike and third party software developers like Sufferfest, Trainer Road and Zwift will sort out sooner rather than later.
The main thing about this bike is that Wattbike are developing it purely for the home market, this isn’t a gym bike and you can’t compare the ATOM with the Pro model but the fact that it comes with a 2 year guarantee from Wattbike should alleviate any fears over workmanship. Would I buy one? Definitely, this is a lovely bit of kit. There is currently a 15 week lead time with the ATOM, an increase over the 6 week lead time a month ago. It’ll be interesting to see if cyclists used to direct drive training will jump over to the ATOM, only time will tell.
Don’t forget to take a look at Ray’s hands on experience over at DC Rainmaker.
The ATOM is priced at £1,499 – £1,559 including postage.