COVID-19 turbocharges the rise of indoor cycling
The global pandemic has been somewhat of a perfect storm for many parts of the bike industry; on the one hand, demand for bikes and cycling products is higher than ever, and on the other global supply chain bottlenecks and other issues have impacted the ability to manufacture and deliver them.
This is maybe especially true in the sphere of indoor training. Not only are some of the products reliant on some of the parts – for example, chipsets and electronic control gear – that have seen the most disruption in their supply chains, but at the same time lockdowns fostered the perfect conditions for a switch from outdoor riding to indoor training. At the same time we saw the gamification and general acceptance of indoor riding and racing quicken its pace. Zwift attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in funding in 2020, and at the same time the UCI established esports as a legitimate arm of cycling, with its own regulations and world and national champions.
Wahoo (M0302) has been very active in pursuing partnerships both in the new esports sphere and also in more traditional racing. The brand is an official partner for the UCI esports World Championships, will see all finalists competing on the KICKR trainer.
Colin Eustace, Vice President Global Marketing at Wahoo, told the Taipei Show Daily, “Indoor cycling has seen continual growth over the last 5 years and the pandemic certainly created more awareness of the benefit and convenience of training indoors and the entertaining software apps such as SYSTM and Zwift that create an engaging and immersive experience.
“The KICKR, which is now in its 5th generation, continues to be the leading smart trainer in the market, used by professionals and amateurs alike. In addition, the KICKR BIKE has been a strong addition to the line-up which has really resonated with those looking for the most convenient features to make virtual training as realistic as possible.”
Wahoo has also recently become the partner for the UCI World Championships, and in the warm up zone for the races you’ll see the company’s new product, the ROLLR. The ROLLR uses a narrow two-roller setup for the rear wheel that’s linked to an adjustable Safety Tire Gripper for the front wheel that will accommodate tyres up to 2.1” in width. The wheelbase is adjustable, and the ROLLR can pair with an on-bike power meter to transmit power data to a third party training app. Wahoo will be offering the ROLLR bundled with the new SPEEDPLAY POWRLINK ZERO single-sided power-measuring pedals.
Wahoo says that it hasn’t been too adversely affected by supply chain issues. “We’ve built a robust supply chain and been able to ensure the KICKR as well as the rest of the Wahoo line up such as the ELEMNT range remain fully available during the growth the whole of cycling has experienced”, Eustace told us.
Giant Group (M0820, DigitalGo) have been making the Cyclotron mag trainer for a number of years, and it’s a versatile unit that will fit wheels from 24” to 29”. The magnetic resistance is adjustable through the use of a bar-mounted control, and the folding steel frame provides a stable base for training whilst also being easy to store. A through axle adapter is available for bikes that don’t use a quick release rear wheel.
Direct drive trainers, where the rear wheel is replaced by a flywheel, are the most common way of providing smart control, where a third-party app can control the resistance at the pedals. The Xpedo (Wellgo J0418) APX smart trainer features an 8kg flywheel, which helps to give the trainer a smooth road feel when in use. Xpedo claims that the trainer is also very quiet, at 55 decibels at 200W, so you’re less likely to disturb other members of your household when you’re training. The APX smart trainer can provide resistance of up to 2000W at an accuracy of +/- 2%, and simulate a 20% climb grade. It features ANT+, ANT+ FE-C, and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity and will work with all major training platforms. The folding design of the frame means it’s also easy to store.
Garmin Tacx (M0312) continues to be a major force in the indoor training market with a wide range of options, from models such as the wheel-on Boost all the way up to the Company’s well-established and range-topping Neo 2T direct drive trainer, and the Neo Bike Smart indoor training bike, which utilises the same resistance unit built into an adjustable gym bike frame. The Neo 2T and Neo Bike Smart can both be used independent of wall power, which means that they’re a great option if your training space is a long way from the nearest socket.
Yuen I (I0206, DigitalGo) is offering a range of three traditional wheel-on trainers, which use a pivoting frame that allows the rider’s bodyweight to load up the roller for good contact with the tyre. All three trainers have adjustable resistance; the 812 Corso Lite uses an adjustment knob on the resistance unit itself, whereas the 812A Corso Evo and the 812B Corso both get a bar-mounted remote resistance control. All three trainers are rated for a maximum rider weight of 100kg.
Lee Duo Trading (L0926) are the distributors for Feedback Sports, who continue with their Omnium rollers. The Omnium is a popular choice for race or event warmups, as its super compact fold size makes it extremely portable. It’s also a great option for working out in a small living space. The narrow double rollers and the adjustable fork mount give it a very small footprint. There are two versions of the Omnium currently available: the Omnium Over-Drive uses a progressive resistance unit that allows for harder efforts, and the Omnium Zero-Drive gets the minimal resistance of a traditional roller setup.
Unite Creative (N0618, DigitalGo) Is a company that has felt some of the effects of the disruption due to the pandemic. “Due to the diversion of the supply chain to work and the interruption of port transportation due to the epidemic, the cost of chips and key components has skyrocketed, and the shortage of foundry materials has led to delays in delivery and shipments”, the company’s Steven Chiang told us. “The key components must be purchased at a premium for production but the selling price is maintained at the general set purchase cost for sales.
“Bike trainer production was finally handed over to Taiwan’s own factory for consistent production. In addition to avoiding a large number of uncertainties in export tariffs made by China in the Sino-US trade war, it is also sold under its own brand, and it is offered to Taiwanese consumers at a price with the same level of specifications.”
The trainer in question is the T-Sox Soarcise trainer, a direct-drive smart trainer with a 4kg flywheel and claimed accuracy of +/- 3%. The trainer can produce 2,000W or resistance and replicate a 15% incline and is ANT+ and Bluetooth equipped to enable it to connect to all major training platforms. Wheels from 24” to 29” are accommodated, and the trainer has a maximum rider weight of 114kg.
Geng Hung GH Bike (K1132) is offering its GH-565 rollers, which are a folding design using a ramped roller design to keep the rider away from the edges of the trainer. Inside the rollers there are cylindrical bearings which GH Bike says will ensure many years of trouble free operation. The rollers are very adjustable, and will cater for wheels as small as 18”, and the folding frame design makes the rollers easier to store and transport.
Ya Cheng YCT (K0332) is another company making traditional rollers, with two models in the range, the YCT900 and the YCT1000. Both of the trainers use a similar design, with a centrally-folding frame and adjustable rollers for different wheel sizes from 20” to 29”. The more fully-featured YCT1000 gets a central frame brace for extra rigidity, and the front wheel roller is adjustable without using tools. The front roller of the YCT1000 also features a raised bumper on top of the ramped cylinder design to further guard against the wheel escaping the roller.
Xplova (K0426) has established itself as a player in the smart training market, with the NOZA S trainer getting favourable reviews over the past year. With the ability to generate 2,500W of resistance and simulate an 18% gradient, it’s suitable for even the hardest workouts, and it’s compatible with wheels sizes from 24” to 29”. The 5.9kg flywheel gives the NOZA S a high quality riding feel, and the belt drive internals mean it’s also quiet, at a claimed 58dB. Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity mean you can link up to your training app of choice, and Xplova also offers its own app, Xplova Workout, which allows you to complete training plans and keep your trainer’s firmware up to date. Xplova says that the NOZA S is accurate to +/- 2.5%.
Cycle Chris (N1206) Finally, Evolo offers a substantial range of wheel-on trainers built around both magnetic and fluid resistance units. There are options for fixed and remotely controlled resistance with the magnetic trainers, and also a variety of frame styles including standard foldable and gravity frames, where the rider’s weight makes the roller contact the wheel.