There are some things that I cannot compromise on when shopping for an indoor exercise bike. The ride must feel smooth and as real as my bike, the gears must change smoothly, the software must have ANT+ for Zwift and heart rate monitoring, and the entire setup must not be intrusive in my home. The Wattbike Atom was sent to me for review. I didn’t just focus on the non-negotiables because I am a serious cyclist, but I also considered how it would feel for average consumers. Let’s talk about why the Atom is my favorite indoor bike trainer and how it compares to the popular Peloton in certain aspects of ride experience.
Wattbike – What you get
The Atom arrives almost fully assembled when you open it. It seems impossible for this trainer to be almost ready to ride from the outside. It was just too small. It was all I had to do was lift it from the box and move it into my training area. It was simple enough to do this on my own. I had to simply cut the sides off the box, place the bike (less than 100 lbs) on the skater wheels, and then roll it out of its box.
Only a few pieces needed assembly, including the optional aerobars with tablet holder attached and the pedals. An Allen key was provided and I was ready to go in no time. After attaching my preferred clips, the aerobars, and setting the handlebars and seat to my measurements, it took me less than five minutes to get on the bike. Wattbike’s website makes it simple to determine your measurements. Knowing my measurements made the setup easy. You will also receive instructions by email after purchasing the bike. I didn’t have to tape down or cover the cables to avoid tripping. It was very easy to connect to Zwift with Wattbike’s built in ANT+. Wattbike has its own app that provides impressive stats during rides if you don’t use Zwift. These will be covered later.
The Wattbike: What we like about it
A Wattbike’s main advantage is the indoor cycling. You don’t need to worry about weather or traffic, you won’t get flat tires, and you don’t even need to wear a helmet or bicycle glasses. What makes the Wattbike Atom worth riding?
Upon examination, we were impressed by many aspects of the Wattbike. The lightweight aluminum frame weighs in at 97 pounds and has up to 22 gears. It is only 100 inches in length. I like the gray, black and red color scheme. It blends well into my office background. It is easy to move from its corner to where I want to train and doesn’t require me to bend over to lift it off the ground if I get tired.
The Wattbike features are very customizable, which is important as riders come in all sizes. The crank length, which is 170 cm (standard), is not customizable. This is a shorter length than normal, but I am seeing a trend towards shorter crank shafts. Although 170 may still be too long, the difference should not be significant. It’s up to you to decide if that’s a dealbreaker for you, but I doubt it is for everyone. The power cord was also shorter than it should have been if the bike was to be placed in the middle of a large space. However, it was sufficient for my needs.
It is said that the bike can adjust for up to four users. This means that you would only need to make minor adjustments for each training session. You may also want to replace the handlebars and seat with your own. This is possible using an Allen key, although you won’t want it to be a tedious task. Wattbike’s state-of-the-art electromagnetic resistance gearshift system is also included with the Atom. This works seamlessly, whether you adjust manually on the handlebars, or via the Zwift or Wattbike app.
Wattbike Connectivity and the Ride Experience
Zwift aside, connecting to the Atom was the easiest device connection I’ve ever seen. I was able to ride my favorite course in under a minute after opening the app. The Wattbike is an option when you want to create your ideal Zwift setup. Wattbike saves money because you can use your own device instead of a screen with a built in screen. However, you don’t have an USB port to charge any device that you are using. Wattbike’s app was something I did not expect. It allows you to track your pedaling efficiency and other things.
Once the bike has been plugged in and adjusted to its handlebars, your iPad will be securely tucked into its holder. You’re ready for your first Atom ride. When you begin your first ride, which I did via the Wattbike app in an ‘easy ride’, you will notice the sound. The Atom is rated at 70 decibels according to Wattbike. I was surprised at how quiet it was when compared with indoor trainers. Although new trainers such as the Tacx Neo 2T and Saris H3are incredibly quiet, the Atom is still a bit louder than old spin bikes. I could listen to the music through headphones, without having to turn up the volume. I even managed to watch the TV without subtitles so I could follow the instructions.
The Atom’s riding experience was the best surprise. It is a far superior indoor trainer to other indoor trainers. I found the Atom to be more enjoyable than my road bike. The bike is rigid and static, so it doesn’t move. Two water bottle holders are a great idea for longer rides. I can keep one for electrolytes, and another for water. This is a small but important feature that makes a big difference.
One thing to be aware of: When I ride in the tri-bars position, my hands reach beyond the handles under my iPad. This is not a major issue, but it is something to be aware of for anyone who uses aerobars. As a heavier rider than most cyclists, I noticed some slight slippage in the seat while I rode. Although it was not severe enough to cause me to have my bike stopped and I had to raise the seat, I noticed that the seat had dropped a millimeter.
Although the buttons at the front of the handlebar for changing gears were simple to use during my first ride, I noticed that they were not instantaneous and did not make any noise or vibration to indicate that they were registered. This seems like a small adjustment that could be made in a firmware upgrade. We will wait to see if Wattbike receives other reviews.
Wattbike vs. Peloton. Wahoo kickr bike
How does the Wattbike Atom stack up to the more well-known Peloton? Peloton is a well-known brand that has a loyal following due to its easy use and popularity of workout trends. But the Wattbike Atom?
For those who want more in the realm of cycling. The bike arrived almost ready to go, so it was easy to put together. The Peloton setup fee would have been a significant expense. Although the Wattbike will cost a little more initially, it will save you money over the long-term. Because I can customize my riding experience with my own device, I have never wished for a built in screen like the Peloton. Wattbike offers more stats after a workout, which is great for athletes and serious cyclists.
The Wahoo Kickr Bike is a new entrant in the similar market. Wahoo has been producing smart trainers for many years. But now they have entered the stationary bike market. They make a bike of high quality that resembles a high-end roadbike. It is also quite costly.
The Wattbike Atom indoor training bike is the best option for cyclists who want to feel like they’re on the road.