Air vs Electromagnetic Resistance Bikes: Which Do You Need?

February 08, 2023 6 min read

Electromagnetic and air resistance bike trainers- when it comes to Wattbikes, these are the two different resistance types to train with. Our expert guide talks you through both types of resistance, how each affects training, the benefits of each, and how they can enhance your cycling performance.

Table of Contents:

Air vs Electromagnetic Resistance: What’s the Difference?

The resistance on an indoor bike determines how hard you have to pedal in order to spin the flywheel. The greater the resistance, the harder you have to pedal. Electromagnetic resistance and air resistance are two of the ways you can train on an indoor bike trainer.

Electromagnetic Resistance

One of the most technically sophisticated ways of creating resistance on an indoor trainer. We harness the power of electromagnetic resistance in the Wattbike Atom smart bike. A magnetic field is created and controlled by electronics, which changes how hard you have to pedal. Because of this, resistance can be increased or reduced automatically by an indoor cycling training app - this is known as ‘ergo mode’.

You also have the choice of using the smart bike like your road bike with a choice of virtual gearing options. You can control the gears using the shifters on the bike, so when you’re climbing Mount Ventoux or racing on Zwift, you can use a customisable gearset on the Wattbike Atom to change the resistance, exactly how you would use your gears on a real climb.

Gear mode is another resistance mode that you can use to manipulate your resistance if you prefer a gears-based approach to your training, over an ergo style.

Air Resistance

Air resistance-based bikes use a fan to provide resistance against your cycling effort. Controlling the resistance requires the user to move a damper lever to control the amount of air able to reach the fan. So you are in direct control of resistance rather than the bike automatically doing the resistance changes.

The Wattbike Pro/Trainer and the Wattbike Nucleus both use air resistance to offer performance-boosting ways to train.

When choosing which type of resistance to train with, it all comes down to your goals, the type of training environment you want, and ultimately what you’re trying to achieve in your training. Both air and electromagnetic resistance bikes offer great opportunities to support your indoor cycling performance.

Benefits of Electromagnetic Resistance Cycling Training

Training with electromagnetic resistance can help you to improve your fitness and support your indoor training for real-road gains. The benefits of electromagnetic resistance for indoor cycling include:

  1. Smart technology - One of the benefits of electromagnetic resistance is its smart training capabilities. With the Wattbike Atom smart bike, you can ride in ergo mode which allows the smart bike to automatically change the resistance of each workout interval. This leaves you free to focus on your pedalling technique.
  2. Real bike feel - Electromagnetic resistance helps replicate the feeling of riding a real bike with the choice of 22 gears, as well as a variety of virtual gearing options. Built into the handlebars, the electronic shifters allow for seamless app control so you can connect to the Wattbike Hub, and more training apps. The resistance adapts to the elevations of the virtual route you’ve selected so using the gears will support your ride.
  3. Quiet training - Thanks to the way electromagnetic resistance works, you can commit to your training without waking up the neighbours. Using precision electromagnetic resistance, the Atom stays quiet, so you can train at any time. Whereas trainers like a turbo trainer are typically louder than a smart electromagnetic resistance bike.
  4. Quick resistance change - Electromagnetic resistance bikes have the ability to change at the touch of a button. This means your resistance changes are instant, which provides a precise and realistic riding experience.

Why Choose Wattbike for Your Electromagnetic Bike Trainer

With the Wattbike Atom smart bike, we’ve created an incredible training experience featuring unparalleled data accuracy to transform your indoor training. Alongside the benefits of electromagnetic resistance, you’ll also find fundamental features that support your training journey with our indoor smart trainer:

Unrivalled Data Accuracy

Connecting your Wattbike Atom with the Wattbike Hub, you’ll get real-time data to support your performance gains. Whether you want to improve your pedalling technique, or push your power targets, you can see this as you ride with the app. If you’re using a compatible training app, you can sync your Wattbike Hub data to appear in the TrainingPeaks, Strava or Apple Health, to ensure you’re keeping track of every ride.

Dedicated Workouts

Not only that, in the Hub, you’ll find over 100 cycling workouts, training plans and climbs to help you find the best way to achieve your goals on the Wattbike Atom. The resistance will adapt to the elevations of your climb or virtual route, to offer that real road experience.

Understand Your Training

To get the most out of your electromagnetic resistance bike, we recommend using a heart rate monitor to offer even more insight into your performance as you workout. It will help you understand how your body responds to the session, and offer more insight into how hard you should be training in each zone. You’ll also be able to steer clear of the signs of overtraining, meaning you’ll see better long term results with your electromagnetic bike.

Benefits of Air Resistance Cycling Training

Training with air resistance offers a range of benefits, from helping to support the load to your muscles, to harnessing your training no matter your ability. The benefits for indoor cycling include:

  1. Controllable resistance - Air resistance helps you control the power applied to your muscles during a workout. You can change the amount of air reaching the fan via the lever on the bike. That means you can adjust how hard it is to pedal, whether you’re doing a high-intensity interval training or a lighter workout.
  2. Perfect for recovery - Air resistance bikes offer the chance to strengthen your legs, improve your aerobic capacity, and improve your fitness. Whether looking for off-feat conditioning, or needing to recover from an injury. You can protect your knees and ankles from impact injuries and you can control the resistance, so you never overload your musculoskeletal system.
  3. Ideal for all abilities - Due to the fact that an air resistance bike has such dynamic resistance capabilities, they’re great whether you’re an indoor cycling beginner or an experienced cycler. This is why they’re chosen by the world’s best athletes, teams and coaches, as well as athletes at home, to improve their fitness off the pitch.
  4. Great for warming up - Because you’re in control of the resistance level, you can use the Wattbike on a lighter resistance load, with incremental resistance changes, making it ideal when warming up. You could start your workout in the gym with air resistance to engage your glutes and your hamstrings and get the blood pumping.
  5. HIIT & power testing - On both the Wattbike P/T and Nucleus, there are two maximum power limits of either Standard - 2000W or High - 3760W. Adapting this can help to tailor your training, no matter the type of workout you’re after. Whether pushing yourself through High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), or a slower ride to improve your endurance - air resistance is the perfect training partner.

Why Train Indoors with a Wattbike Air Bike

Instant Performance Data Feedback

The Wattbike Pro/Trainer is the chosen indoor air resistance bike by world-class athletes and coaches. The Wattbike Pro Trainer comes with a Bluetooth Performance Monitor so you can track and see live feedback of your pedal stroke and the data that is important to you - power, cadence, heart rate, for example. With in-built performance tests, the bike trainer can provide you with the power to unlock your goals and chase down those targets.

The Wattbike Nucleus provides you with the accuracy and reliability of the Pro/Trainer, but with an upgraded performance touch screen, catered to unlocking your health and performance. Customise all your activities with the touch screen, from interval training to on-demand workouts, and you’ll get instant data feedback to keep you focused. Plus, you can log in to the Wattbike Hub app on a second device to unlock even more potential. Harnessing the benefits of air resistance allows you to change how much air reaches the fan, so you’re the one in control at all times.

Trusted by Professionals

Our air resistance bikes are trusted by world-class athletes and sports teams. Supporting teams pre-season rugby training and off-feet conditioning, the air resistance provides pure, precise training.

Why Choose Wattbike?

We’re committed to providing the best through unparalleled data on our indoor bike trainers. From dedicated training programmes to what to eat after cycling, find the answer to all your indoor cycling questions with Wattbike.

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