Say goodbye to the disco lights and hype of spinning studios and big-brand gym-spin classes.
We look into why riding an actual bicycle – or in this case, an Athlete Lab Adjustabike, offers better training benefits. This is in comparison over the typical stationary bike often seen in ‘big-brand name gym’ spinning classes and ‘other indoor cycling studios.’
Athlete Lab’s system was developed to train Olympic athletes – those serious about chasing that gold medal on track and road, so we know it rules! Here’s some basic info on why avid cyclists should be in the Lab training instead.
#1 Quantifying Your Training
Any session in the Lab allows athletes to check the amount of work (watts) they are generating. The system is calibrates every day with resistance adjusted 100 times a second on each bike during rides. This helps to produce scientifically accurate results.
It also displays other metrics such as averages, maxes, speed, distance, heart rate, and the number of calories expended. No more second-guessing or vague ‘going by feel’ with a resistance knob. The system tells you exactly how much power you are producing, and displays it instantly.
Additionally, the central server generates a post-session report that athletes can sync with their online training, social media accounts. They can even have it sent directly to their email accounts.
The reports allow staff, coaches, and athletes to track training performance out of the Lab.
#2 No Flywheel
Adjustabikes have NO flywheel, which means no reliance on momentum from a heavy, fast-spinning metal disc to keep your RPMs (cadence or revolutions per minute of your legs) up.
The load generator generates all resistance in contact with the bike’s rear wheel. It gives a sensation of pedaling that is as close to the authentic feel of an actual bicycle on the road. This helps to activate and condition your muscles accordingly. A direct-drive flywheel is, effectively, unnatural assistance, and forces your muscles to fire unnaturally.
Some fancy expensive spin bikes claim to be the ideal solution for indoor training by attaching a power meter
(sure – what’s happened to your gears guys?).
We ask: when was the last time you saw a pro rider warm up on a spin bike?
#3 Master Technique During Training
Adjustabikes have an actual bicycle rear wheel. This means a functioning free hub that allows riders to coast/stop pedaling altogether instead of being caught up in the momentum of an out-of-control flywheel. One should be resting on a proper recovery interval.
This, plus the fact that the bikes sport fully-functioning 2×10 road bike transmissions, puts the athlete firmly in charge of cadence control.
Even when indoors, they can hone real-world cycling techniques: from basics such as shifting gears and one-leg drills, to more advanced workouts like over-gearing and maximal-effort sprinting.
#4 Better Q-factor & Saddles
Scientific research has proven that a narrower Q-factor (the distance between pedal attachment points) leads to greater efficiency as it mimics the almost in-line human footstep.
Here’s the science bit. It’s primarily due to the better mechanical application of force through the pedal stroke, as well as reduced knee tracking variability (and thus, reduced injury risk).
Adjustabikes use standard 73mm bottom bracket shells and regular production cranksets, like those found on most road bikes. Spin bikes don’t.
Saddle design also plays a part in pedaling efficiency and maintaining hip/knee alignment. Adjustabikes can be fitted with a wide variety of saddles. Their default choices are slim-fitting, race-proven designs from premium saddle manufacturers Fizik and Selle Italia – allowing unrestricted, seamless up-down movement of the athlete’s legs in comfort.
Look at this next to the wide, non-standard crank geometry and extra-wide cushioned saddles of the typical spinning bike – there’s no comparison!
#5 No Cheating!
The numbers on-screen tell the truth. Workout intensity is not managed with the arbitrary turn of a scale-less knob or mysteriously random “effort’ scores on a disco wall. It’s measured with real-time computer readouts.
Power-based training does not mean the athlete won’t be allowed to ‘take it easy’. It means that staff and coaches can monitor performance data more closely and can advise/motivate athletes with higher degrees of accuracy and safety.
If someone is feeling down, having an ‘off-day’ or conversely, wants to work harder – no problem. The intensity can be individually scaled to match, and the workout is thus optimised on-the-go for that athlete.
If you already know all of these facts, then great! Get your friends on an adjustable instead. So we can show them why we are different, more efficient, and better when it comes to performance cycling training!
P/S: Not forgetting, they do have ridiculously good looking trainers.
Want to try it out? Book in for your first indoor lab session here.
Author: Wilson Low
Outdoor squad leader
Wilson has guided athletes of all levels to excellence in triathlon and adventure racing. With over 13 years as a competitive adventure racer and multisport athlete himself, Wilson’s approachable nature and deep desire to help others achieve their goals – along with his technical versatility, extensive cross-discipline knowledge, and international experience across multiple endurance sports – is a boost to the Athlete Lab cadre of coaches.