A smart controllable trainer is not required to get all the training benefits from the SYSTM app. A variety of non-controllable trainer setups will also work:
- A smart non-controllable trainer, or stationary bike, is one that will share data with the app, but the app cannot control the resistance automatically.
- A power meter used with a classic trainer will also share data with the app, but resistance control will necessitate shifting gears on the bike.
- A classic trainer setup using Virtual Watts will allow the app to be configured to calculate power based on speed from a speed sensor.
In each of these cases, the rider will need to match both cadence and power to the on-screen targets by shifting gears (or adjusting tension, in the case of a stationary bike). It can take a bit of time to master this skill, but eventually, you'll know exactly what gear you need to be in to meet the targets on the screen. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Overshooting or undershooting targets will happen!
My trainer has different levels- how do I choose?
Some classic trainers will have different resistance levels that can be manually set using a lever attached to a wire, or a selector on the trainer itself. Each of these levels will add a different resistance to the trainer, allowing you to reach higher power targets, but may limit the ability to spin at lower power. You will need to select a level that:
- is supported in the app (check the Virtual Watts settings in the app or the Connect your Trainer (Compatibility Tool))
- allows you to reach your maximum power targets and your minimum power targets for recovery.
To determine the range that each level has, select the level on the trainer and put your bike in the easiest gear. Keeping the cadence steady at ~80RPM, pedal for at least 30 seconds. Shift gears one at a time until you get to your hardest gear. Once you're in your hardest gear, an all-out effort will give you the maximum sprinting power that you can obtain in that power curve. If you find that the trainer does not offer more resistance, then you've exceeded the power limits for that level. Try a higher level on the trainer (if one is available). The lowest gear should give you a power reading that is below your recovery target. The highest gear should exceed your maximum power output.
Maintaining a Wheel-On Trainer
While you don't need a smart trainer to use SYSTM, consistency in your trainer setup will ensure consistency in your training. To ensure that your power is always measured in a consistent manner, you'll need to ensure:
- that your tire pressure is always the same
- that the tension on the back wheel is always the same
Variations in tire pressure and wheel tension will cause inaccuracies in the values reported in the app.
If you remove the bike from the trainer, be sure to set it up exactly the same when you put it back on. Depending on the trainer, a quarter turn on the tension knob can add a significant amount of resistance.