Turbo Trainer vs Smart Bike: Why A Smart Bike Is For You

7 min read

When comparing turbo trainers to smart bikes, each one has its own individual features. There are many benefits of smart bikes and turbo trainers, from data accuracy, to ease of use. See the benefits of each, to identify why a smart bike can help you improve your cycling.

know the difference between a smart bike and a turbo trainer

Turbo Trainer vs Smart Bike Comparison

Feature comparison

Wattbike Atom Smart trainer

Turbo trainer

Set up Plug & Play. Requires a road bike, 5-10 mins to attach.
Connectivity Bluetooth, ANT+, and FE-C. Bluetooth, ANT+ (model dependant).
Data accuracy ±1% accuracy across the full power range of 0-2500w. ±1-2% accuracy across a power range between 0-2500w (model dependant).
Metrics measured Power, speed and cadence. Power, speed and cadence (model dependant).
Additional metrics measured Connect to the Wattbike Hub to capture 40+ additional metrics on your Zwift session. None.
Resistance type Automatic magnetic resistance with Real Ride Feel technology. Varies between magnetic and direct drive. Resistance needs to be applied manually.
ERG mode Yes. No.
Gear shifters Using the Wattbike Hub - Choose from 5 different groupsets: compact, semi-compact, climbing, 11 speed or 22 speed. Campagnolo/Shimano/SRAM 9/10/11 speed (model dependant).
3rd-party app compatibility Yes. Yes. Limited functionality.
Bike required No. Yes.

Smart Bike Overview 

Smart bikes are more than an exercise bike. A smart bike is a highly innovative and technical piece of training equipment made to improve your cycling technique and physical performance. The term “smart” refers to the many data points you can harness, in addition to its connectivity capabilities. For example, a smart bike can record your pedalling technique, power output, cadence, and allow you to connect to third party apps, whereas a turbo trainer will require additional accessories to track your cycling performance.  You’ll be able to ride solo, take part in virtual races in iconic landmarks, or pedal against your friends - all from your own home.

a turbo trainer can help you train indoors with your road or mountain bike

A smart bike is designed to help you accomplish your training goals. Whether you’re preparing for a big event, or simply want to improve your fitness. Smart bikes are designed to be used indoors, for an optimal workout, to help you meet your targets. Thanks to their indoor design, a smart bike is ideal for winter cycling training. That way, you can stay in the comfort of your own home, while enjoying a rigorous workout. No more wet rides or muddy tyres!

Turbo Trainer Overview 

A turbo trainer is a piece of equipment which you slot your road bike into, in order to recreate cycling in a static position. You’ll need a road or mountain bike in order to use a turbo trainer. There are two main types of turbo trainer: 

  • Wheel-on turbo trainer - To use these, your rear wheel remains intact, and rests on a platform. 
  • Direct drive turbo trainer - To use these, you’ll need to remove the rear bike wheel, and connect your chain to the turbo system.

The turbo trainer then provides resistance, meaning you can pedal while the bike stays in one place. A turbo trainer is a great way to get started with cycling indoors, and gives you multiple uses for the same bike.

smart bikes let you train indoors and let you use your bike outdoors

When you compare a turbo trainer to a smart bike, you’ll notice key features missing. Whether you’re looking to record your pedalling, cadence, or power - the model of the trainer makes a big difference in what you can measure. While a smart bike can help you feel connected to your cycling data, with software such as the Wattbike Hub.

Benefits of a Smart Bike 

When choosing between a smart bike or a turbo trainer, there are many benefits to a smart bike. From data harnessing, to how easy they are to use. A smart indoor trainer allows you to use smart bike compatible cycling apps to connect your workouts to the real world. Cycling training apps enable you to race at home, while viewing the landscape of real routes in the real world. You’re able to choose a plan, and the app and smart bike mimic the gradients of the race or ride you want. You can go it alone, or connect and ride with friends.

smart bikes let you train indoors and let you use your bike outdoors

With accurate data readings on a smart trainer, you can track your progress, to ensure every session counts. Easily store your indoor bike trainer, ready for when you get the urge to hop on and complete a workout. A lot of smart bikes may have a smaller footprint than a turbo trainer, meaning they’ll take up less space in your home. That way, you won’t need such a big floor mat, but they’re there when you need them. 

Another benefit of a smart bike is that your road or mountain bike is still in action when the weather means you can enjoy outdoor training. While a turbo trainer requires your bike, a smart bike trainer enables you to have on-road and off-road workouts ready at a moment’s notice. When the urge hits, you can be pedalling away in no time!

Why You Might Want to Upgrade from A Turbo Trainer

If you’re likely to avoid a workout because it’s too much effort, then perhaps upgrading from a turbo trainer is a good idea. If you get the urge to train, but remember you need to bring your bike in from the shed, clean it to avoid muddy tracks across the carpet, connect it to your turbo trainer, andthen begin your session, you’re likely to leave it for another day. A turbo trainer will leave your road or mountain bike out-of-action, meaning you need to connect and disconnect it to switch between off and on-road cycling. 

Turbo trainers also leave much to be desired when it comes to adaptability for multiple users. If more than one person wants to train indoors with the turbo trainer, you need to swap out the bike for each person who wants to ride. Smart bikes are adjustable for multiple users. This means you can more easily change the pedals, handlebar, and saddle position for everyone in the house.

with data collection and less hassle - upgrade to a smart bike today

Another reason to upgrade is the potential to damage your bike while using the turbo trainer. Connecting the tyre and chain to the turbo trainer could cause you to unintentionally damage your bike, making it unfit for riding out on the road. Turbo trainers also have a habit of being noisy, meaning you’ll have to time your session when the noise won’t be an issue for others, and it can be frustrating cycling with such a racket. Whilst changing your bike over, resetting the gears, and keeping it clean for indoor use can be a real way to discourage yourself from training. 

Enhance Your Training with the Wattbike Atom Smart Bike

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

Essential Smart Bike Features

Recreate a real-road feeling from the comfort of your own home. The Atom has built in electromagnetic resistance, which adjusts automatically to the elevations of your chosen ride, or workout. Alternatively, you can swap to ergo mode and the smart resistance is adjusted to correspond with the power output required for each interval. With built-in shifters you can change gear at the push of a button. With 22 gears available and customisable virtual gearing, training on a smart bike is unbeatable. 

Unparalleled Data Collection

Within a ±1% range, the Wattbike Atom delivers a new level of data accuracy to make it the ideal cycling training partner. You can harness the way you pedal with Wattbike’s detailed Polar View recording and Pedal Effectiveness Score. This helps you improve your pedal stroke with live insight into your left and right leg balance during your pedal revolutions. Additionally, discover the importance of Functional Threshold Power, and how to improve. 

See each ride in detail in the Hub app to see measured feedback from each indoor training session. This means you can analyse your performance and make every one of your Wattbike workouts count. It’s like having a personal coach at home.

 the unrivalled data and features of the Atom is the ideal smart bike for you

Collaborate with Third Party Apps

Take your training to the next level with the help of smart bike compatible cycling apps. With virtual cycling routes to tackle, and data you can link with the Wattbike Hub. Choose the ideal partner for your exercise routine:

  • Zwift - The indoor cycling training app which helps you reach goals in a virtual world with an online community.
  • Fulgaz - Recreate realistic rides and achieve goals on real-world terrain with cutting edge coaching.
  • TrainingPeaks - Pairs you with accredited coaches to walk you through your fitness plan every step of the way.
  • TrainerRoad - The personalised, AI-powered cycling training app is designed to support you and your goals.
  • Rouvy - The app which gives the feel of cycling outdoors through structured workouts, tests, and community leaderboards.
  • Strava - With features made by athletes, the fitness social media allows you to track and analyse your workout. 

The smart bike harnesses the power of these apps with a smart device holder, making it easy to connect. Whilst a turbo trainer doesn’t have this capability. The effortless compatibility of the smart bike means you can be more motivated to cycle with the interactivity and data capture provided. Stay inspired and on-target by upgrading to a smart bike from a turbo trainer.

Trust the Pros who Trust Wattbike

Back in 2011, Strength and Conditioning Coach at the All Blacks, Nic Gill, asked about trialling some Wattbikes with the team. With our data-driven and made-to-measure philosophy, along with the sheer robustness and accuracy of the Wattbikes, they quickly became the secret weapon of the training room. We are now the official supplier to the All Blacks and Black Ferns. With dedicated workouts on the Wattbike Hub created by Nic Gill, and other dedicated athletes, you can trust our smart bike to help you meet your targets and reach your goals. 

Why Choose Wattbike?

You’ll love Wattbike for the same reason our athletes do: accelerated gains in performance, thanks to our dedicated training programmes and performance tests. From the comfort of your home, you’ll find tailored insights to your training every time you ride. From winter workouts to real-world cycling events, find everything you need to take your workout to the next level.



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