The original Wattbike is approaching its 10th anniversary, and can now be found everywhere from gym floors to British Triathlon’s performance centres. The £2,250 price means it’s commonly used commercially, so the Atom is Wattbike’s attempt to move more into home-training territory. Hence a price closer to that of a high-end smart trainer, although at £1,499 it’s still a considerable investment.
Those who have used a Wattbike Trainer or Pro will find the Atom looks and functions far more like
an actual bike: with magnetically-controlled resistance there are clickable gears, drop bars and TT extensions (the bars can even be swapped out for your own), and a moveable seatpost with Allen key adjustment to move the saddle
back and forth, all built on a solid aluminium frame. The bike comes with flat pedals and toe cages on
the 170mm cranks, but you can remove them and install your own clipless pedals just as you would a normal bike.
The Atom has no screen. Instead there’s a mount to place a tablet or smartphone so you can use it with the Wattbike Hub training app or a third-party app of your choice using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth/ANT+ connectivity. Basically, this is a must as it’s the only way you can see which gear you’re in, among other things, pushing your spend even higher if you don’t already own a tablet or smartphone. Wattbike Hub lacks the entertainment of Zwift and the detail of Trainer Road, but there’s still a tonne of data to analyse and you can use the controls on the underside of the left drop bar to change page. Using the Atom with Zwift, you can’t see the gearing so you can find yourself madly clicking during big efforts while the Atom is readjusting itself. This slight gear delay is something we’d like to see improve with further updates, plus better integration of the Atom on the Zwift platform.
Power accuracy is claimed to be within 2%. After numerous tests and graph-plotting against Favero’s Assioma dual-sided pedals with the same claimed accuracy, the Atom is shown to be consistently reliable, if slightly on the generous side of 2%. Noise levels are adequate, peaking at 71 decibels during an all-out effort, which isn’t nearly as quiet as the Tacx Neo at a claimed 60db, but not audible enough to be annoying from another room.
Overall, then, the Atom is a fine home-training investment with little maintenance needed. And thanks to the easy adjustability, it can become an even better one if multiple people in your household want to use it.
Verdict: Highly capable trainer, but with a couple of issues that need ironing out 80%
This review appeared in the January 2018 (346) issue of 220 Triathlon. You can subscribe to the print magazine here or if you prefer a digital issue or live overseas click here