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  • Indoor training machines – all in one vs. turbo
  • jonba

    Just wondering really.

    I’ve currently got a £200 smart turbo and an old ebay special set up to train on through winter. It works well for my needs. But at some point it’s going to break and given how much zwifting I do through winter I’d like a nicer set up. Given the price of the top end turbos it doesn’t seem a great jump to get something like a Watt bike atom and have a complete all in one setup.

    Does anyone have one?

    What are the disadvantages of them that mean turbos are still big sellers. Not a fan of using my nice bike on the turbo. It isn’t convenient in autumn and spring when I still ride it outdoors. Not too convinced the wear and sweat does it any good either.

    Premier Icon Garry_Lager

    They’re two or three times the cost, large, fixed, and unwieldy, may have fitting issues, and make you look like a noob.

    Although no one can see you riding it so maybe that last thing isn’t a consideration. You can see yourself, though.

    Premier Icon johnw1984

    I’m in the same boat. From what I’ve read, the firmware updates have made the gear shifting on the Atom miles better these days.

    Considering the Atom because me and my wife will be using it. We’re making do with a cheap turbo and a bike that’s a bit too small for me and a bit too big for her.

    For a better turbo and two more bikes in the house, it’s not a million miles away from the cost of an Atom, plus no faff taking different bikes on and off the turbo, as well as having to store 2 extra bikes.

    It’s a good option if you keep your turbo set up permanently anyway.


    Ride an atom.first.

    I have access to various watt bikes through work at gyms and I’m.not that impressed with the “feel” not the fit options.

    Flywheeled wheel off turbos really do come the closest to feeling like a bike.

    Premier Icon johnw1984

    Then again, I suppose it depends what you’re using it for. I wouldn’t be using it to replicate a road ride as I don’t ride roads. It’ll be used for training during the week when I can’t get the MTB out.

    Just realised that the OP looks like he rides road. I’d say a second cheaper bike and a decent direct drive would be a better bet in that situation.

    If I had the choice, I’d do that but it wouldn’t be practical at all.

    Premier Icon TiRed

    Having a bike set up fixed on a direct drive turbo is a nice thing. I’m less convinced about the static bikes, and the Atom has some vagaries about shifting that I think they’ve smoothed out. Dcrainmaker likes the Aaron and gave a far review.

    KICKR is my trainer with a full time bike mounted.

    Premier Icon dknwhy

    I bought an Atom 2 weeks ago.

    I used to have a dumb Cycleops trainer (never used it on Zwift) but bough an Atom based on similar reasons to you – limited space and 2 different sized individuals in the house that want to use it. I didn’t want the faff of changing bikes etc.

    I’m impressed with it. That being said, nothing i’ve found is truly like riding outside. Gear changes seem smooth enough and I haven’t noticed any lag over the usual lag you get with Zwift anyway.

    I really like the ergo mode where the feel of the bike mimics the on screen riding.

    Wattbike do a 30 day return policy so why not try it and then return it if you’re not happy?

    It’s a solid, decent set up. Easy to use and I don’t dread getting on it. In the last couple of weeks i’ve ridden outside once and I don’t feel like i’m missing out too much.

    I’m in Croydon. If you’re local, you’re welcome to give it a try.

    Premier Icon djflexure

    I use a Kickr, have the first gen and its not missed a beat. Set up with my old winter bike on it so sweat, wear and tear are not really an issue. The only downside is that its not particularly easy for my wife, daughter to use it. They do sometimes lower the seat and manage OK but the frame is quite big for them, I’m 6ft and they are 5’7″.

    I’ve tried Wattbikes, not the Atom, older pro versions I think, at the gym and did not really gell with them. Faff to set up (as I never remembered my settings) and the interface was not as good as say Trainerroad.

    So if it were for my use I’d definitely go for another Kickr. If it was shared I’d be more inclined to try other options to see how well they would work.

    Premier Icon nixie

    If your racing zwift then a decent wheel off trainer is a better option.


    I had the same dilemma recently and went for a tacx neo over the atom. I did have a spare bike to put on the tacx permanently though.

    I’m on my phone so will be brief and the benefits or not of each are probably well documented up thread but some things that you might not have considered:

    Weight- possibly is irrelevant to you but the atom weighed loads more than the tacx if I recall correctly, even with a bike fitted to to the tacx. If you have to ship either back under warranty replacement or whatever then the tacx would be much less of a ballache. If you’re planning on moving the atom ever, I think it would be a 2 or 3 man job? This won’t bother you at all until the day comes when you have to move it.

    Noise- I might be wrong but the atom didn’t seem that quiet to me.

    I also read that the q-factor is different on the atom (and most “exercise” bikes) but I’ve no idea if this really matters. If you’re spending a couple grand though you might want to google it at least.


    Though now I think of it maybe the atom is on wheels which is perhaps not so bad

    Premier Icon 13thfloormonk

    Then again, I suppose it depends what you’re using it for. I wouldn’t be using it to replicate a road ride as I don’t ride roads.

    Even if you think you don’t care about road feel, anything that has good ‘road feel’ will also be better for your knees, as road feel is basically inertia, means you’re not having to accelerate a flywheel back up to speed with every pedal stroke. I’m trying to upgrade an old Kinetics trainer with a bigger flywheel for exactly this reason.

    Not impressed with the position adjustments on gym Wattbikes, restricted to quite low handlebars if you’re tall, £70 for the longer stem..

    Premier Icon johnw1984

    It’s not that I don’t care about the road feel. According to the reviews I’ve read and the poster a few above, it’s actually not too bad. Obviously, it’d be better the closer it feels.

    For me It’ll have to be a compromise as two people who don’t currently own road bikes would have to use it.

    For the OP, I’d say a decent direct drive turbo and a second bike would be a better bet still.

    If I had £2k to spend on indoor riding, I’d get a Neo variant (2?) and then get an n+1 in the sales that occupies a niche that other bikes don’t cover particularly well, but will fit on the turbo… Or something that can easily be adjusted to fit other family members, if there is a plan/hope to get others using a bike for fitness.

    Premier Icon w00dster

    I’ve got a watt bike pro. Have used them in the gym for years and recently decided to get my own.
    For me it’s the ease of use. I’ve had dumb and smart turbos, but they’re not easy for different family members to use. The fit is pretty close to my road bike. I’ve not really felt that any of the direct drive or watt bikes feel road like. It’s just a way to still get a structured training session in.

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog

    Not a fan of using my nice bike on the turbo. It isn’t convenient in autumn and spring when I still ride it outdoors. Not too convinced the wear and sweat does it any good either.

    I think the perceived hassle of using a bike on a direct drive turbo is maybe worse than the reality. All you’re really doing is taking off the rear wheel and sticking on a virtual one. I use my cross bike on the turbo but outdoors as well, just about the only real annoyance is washing it down after a muddy ride, but I’d do that anyway.

    One thing that I don’t think has been mentioned is that using a trainer rather than a fixed bike gives you the option of using a rocker plate, which takes some loading off the drop-outs and makes the whole thing feel more natural and comfortable – the movement of the saddle really does help.

    And if you really want a permanently set up bike/trainer, you can just buy something cheap and second hand and stick it permanently in situ. It doesn’t need brakes or a rear wheel, just a drive-train, a front wheel and forks and bars.


    I don’t like the rigidity of an all-in-one bike or even a turbo normally as it doesn’t feel ‘natural’ – and I am not much of a roadie.

    The rock of the Tacx Neo looks good but I use a gen 1 Wahoo Kicker on a Wahoo mat but with the side supports slight wound up and with sorbothane sheets underneath, so there is a very slight rock, not noticable but enough to remove that horrible rigid feeling.

    If you are using the turbo a lot then consider just consider building ‘half-a-bike’ just for the trainer – you only need a cheap front wheel, a cheap frame with the same geometry as yours, no brakes and no gearing really if using erg mode. Or buy 2nd hand from ebay.


    My kickr rests on a ring of tire insert foam (2 quid backer rod) let’s it move and removes the slight vibrations you get at high rpm when it’s on a concrete floor.


    Nice turbo and a cheap bike off Gumtree that you can leave on there permanently.


    plus you can lift the front a bike on a fixed turbo and tilt it back against the wall to take up less space – I have my turbo between two bikes hanging from wall brackets in the garage os it takes up the same amount of space, then I lower it down to use it, with a laptop on a wall bracket that pulls out to in front of the bars, and then pushes back against the wall when not in use.

    And three fans controlled remotely by a remote controled power socket so I can bring them on line as I need them 🙂

    Premier Icon stevious

    I used to have a dedicated turbo bike when I had a wheel-on turbo – just changed saddle height between me and wife.

    Now we have a wheel-on we just swap our road bikes – actually less faff than adjusting the fixed bike. I prefer having my actual road bike so I have the exact same geometry, etc.

    I drape a towel on the bike to deal with sweat and the wear is nothing special. I’d certainly say that having to replace my chain a tiny bit sooner is still cheaper than having a while separate bike.

    Premier Icon forge197

    I’ve had an Atom for just over a year and use Fulgaz so my riding is all virtual road, the difference to my mountain bike fitness is simple beyond any expectation I had.

    I’ve recently did the Full Beast at Coed twice in one day, my second lap less than 10mins slower than my first and still had energy in hand at the end which was a surprise as it’s a fair decent and good amount of climbing.

    I also debated myself having a turbo vs all in one. I went all in one, there are a fair few old reviews kicking about the gear change (at least on mine) is quick.


    I’m about to put my Wahoo Kickr Snap up for sale if any one is after a smart trainer still

    Premier Icon ampthill

    So what the OP needs is a frame small enough to fit other members of the house hold. A huge seat post and done kind of mega adjustable stem. Maybe like this


    If I had the cash I’d buy the Kickr bike just because I love the idea of it!

    Having ridden a few normal Kickr’s- I actually think the Snap is a bit of a secret bargain. Road feel is actually better and the weight of the wheel, tyre and tube helps bolster the inertia from the already pretty heavy flywheel.

    My only gripe with Wahoo is that you can’t pair a Climb with an older Snap- because then I’d have given one a go.

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