In the smart bike trainers market, wheel-on and direct drive smart trainers have been the choice for many cyclists. They are easy to setup, ride and can get the job done without having to worry about falling off the bike. However, these bike trainers lack the real feeling of riding a bike. Many companies tried to improve that by introducing bigger and more precision balanced fly wheel to better simulate real world inertia. And some companies went as far as simulating the surface of the road and down hills. However, all these advanced trainers still lack the ability to make your bike move with you like it does on the road.
Rollers came very close to that by allowing a rider basically just ride their bike and try to balance the bike just like you do when riding outdoors. However, many cyclists and triathletes avoid rollers because they are harder to ride and require smoother pedaling and a lot more concentration, otherwise you will end up falling off and possibly injuring yourself.
InsideRide wanted to change that with their E-Motion rollers. The E-Motion rollers is priced at $900 as a stand alone roller (manual) or $1,200 with the smart resistance controlled unit. With the smart resistance, the E-Motion is priced in the same ballpark as top of the line direct drive smart trainers such as Wahoo KICKR and CycleOps Hammer.
I purchased the E-Motion and the resistance unit myself and this review isn’t influenced by a sponsorship or any type of promotion.
What makes the E-Motion rollers different is the patented “free motion” technology base. The rollers will move with you making riding and standing a lot easier than conventional rollers. When you are riding outdoors, your bike is moving with you and shifts back and forth and the E-Motion rollers try to simulate that same motion. That’s why you will notice that riding the E-Motion is the closest thing to riding your bike outdoors.
The other main feature that sets it from other rollers is the front bump wheels. These are two wheels that look like roller blades wheels placed on the side of the front drums to prevent you from riding off the rollers. According to Inside Ride, “It’s not possible to ride off the drums. You can try as hard as you want and it won’t happen”. That doesn’t mean you can’t tip over which I managed to do few times.
Similar to conventional rollers, you still need to learn to balance yourself, however, because the E-Motion is not fixed to the base due to the “free motion” technology and front bump wheels, you just need to learn to trust it. It took me few rides until I started feeling very comfortable on it. In fact, it is my main trainer that I use for most of my rides for the past five years.
Additionally, the E-Motion has two bumpers to hold the rear wheel in place and prevent the bike from lunging forward when getting up for a sprint.
- Real road feel
- ANT+ FE-C + Bluetooth
- Patented free motion technology
- Ease of use
- No need to worry about removing wheels or cassettes
- Optional front fork
- Reliable and very well made
- Noise level
- Power accuracy
IN THE BOX
The trainer comes in a large box fully assembled. All you need to do is take it out of the box and start riding. The resistance unit comes as a factory add-on for an additional $300 and it will arrive installed. If you already have the E-Motion roller (Model H), you can purchase the smart resistance control kit separately for $330.
If you purchase the smart resistance unit separate as an add-on to upgrade your current E-Motion, then it will come in its own box and you will have to assemble it. The assembly is simple and you will find full instructions included. An ANT+ key is also included with the smart resistance unit.
What’s in the box:
- Resistance unit
- Power cord
- ANT+ USB Key
A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON THE RESISTANCE UNIT
InsideRide tried to build a smart resistance unit for a few years now. Their original attempt came to a halt because of “compatibility issues”, according to the company and the project was canceled. You can read all about it here.
Instead, InsideRide decided to use Elite’s Resistance unit made for their Qubo Digital B+ trainers and modified them mechanically into a belt drive so they can be mounted on the rollers. So don’t freak out when you get the unit and realize it look exactly like the Elite’s resistance unit.
SETUP AND CONNECTION
If you purchase the E-Motion with the resistance unit installed, then all you need to do is unbox it, adjust the front drums to fit your bike and proceed to the calibration process.
If you purchase the resistance unit as an add-on to your current E-Motion, just follow the installation instructions in the manual and you should be up and running in less than 30-minutes. Basically, you need to remove the current resistance and install the new resistance unit on the opposite side of the rollers.
CALIBRATING THE TRAINER
There are two different levels of the calibration process and the one you use depends on your desired level of accuracy.
The advanced calibration requires your own power meter to take 3 wattage readings at prescribed resistance levels and then write the values to the unit. The Elite myETraining app will do this for you automatically. All you need is your power meter paired to your phone or tablet and your InsideRide E-Motion paired as “Qubo Digital Smart B+” trainer in the app.
Once everything is paired, then you will go through the calibration process. First, you need to pedal for 10 minutes, then the app will adjust resistance and fill out the values for P1, P2, and P3 for you.
A little friendly warning: The first part of the calibration (P1) will increase resistance all the way. Be ready and try not to fall off the rollers.
The second method is by using the quick calibration method. You just need to email InsideRide and they will send you a spreadsheet. Or you can send them the device id and they will send you back the default settings for your unit.
To do a quick calibration, start by riding the rollers smoothly at 25mph with zero resistance and take a wattage reading with your power meter. Enter that value into the “new values” in the P3 column in the spreadsheet. The calculator will then generate new P1 and P2 values.
If you do not have a power meter, you can simply enter your current values into the calculator and then enter a new P3 value (which is 20-30 watts larger or smaller than the current P3). Then let the spreadsheet calculate the new P1 and P2 values.
It’s really not as hard as it sounds. The most difficult part about this whole thing is using and navigating the Elite app.
Now done with calibration and onto riding the rollers.
INSIDE RIDE IN ACTION
I have been using my InsideRide for over five years now and the new smart resistance unit for the past month.
The Qubo max slope is 6% but on the rollers you automatically gain another 2% due to natural rolling resistance, so the max slope is about 8%.
I have used the E-Motion with TrainerRoad and Zwift. The pairing process was simple and I had no issues pairing it with either app.
You can also pair the unit to Zwift via Bluetooth. This is more important now than ever with the popularity of Zwift on Apple TV. Here is a screenshot of my Zwift on Apple TV pairing screen:
With Zwift, I have used the rollers for a free ride and a structured workout. Free riding on Zwift, the trainer responded to changes in slope very well. However, don’t expect the rollers to match slopes above 8%. After that, you can adjust your gear to increase resistance if you want to make the climbs harder.
On hard resistance of climbs, similar to wheel-on trainers, you might experience some tire slippage. You can try to eliminate that by keeping tire pressure low or possibly try specific trainer tires like the Kinetic or Cycleops ones to improve grib on the rollers.
As for accuracy, please note that I ran the calibration against my power meter. However, the resistance unit still does not know your actual power and rely on virtual power. However, with a good calibration, that virtual power will come very close to your real power numbers.
Here is a power graph from a longer ride I did on Zwift. As you see, InsideRide’s virtual power seems to follow the numbers from my power meter. It reads a little bit higher which seems to be the case with all virtual power but the numbers were within 5%
Now you probably wonder why does the power you get from the resistance unit important if you have your own power meter. Will, it might not matter if you just free ride or like to adjust resistance manually.
But if you like to use ERG mode for your structured workouts, then it does matter. Zwift does require you to pair your trainer as the power source to enable ERG mode. TrainerRoad, on the other hand, does not.
So here is another ride I did using ERG mode with some longer intervals at tempo. You will notice that InsideRide numbers are basically a straight line. This is because the trainer will just broadcast your target numbers and not your real numbers. This is the case using TrainerRoad and Zwift Workout.
Looking at the results in the table below, my actual power came almost spot on to my target power. This goes back to my point earlier about making sure the trainer is properly calibrated if you like to use ERG mode.
|Target PWR||Actual PWR|
the E-Motion isn’t your quietest trainer out there. It can be a bit loud, but not too loud to wake anyone up in the house and no one complained about the noise for the past 5-years. The noise level is similar to a quiet wheel-on trainer x2. The reason for louder noise coming from the rollers is because unlike a wheel-on trainer with only the rear wheel spinning, you have two wheels rolling on two drums.
There is also some noise coming from the resistance unit when you go at a faster speed with lower resistance. That noise seems to go away with lower speed or more resistance.
I have been using the E-Motion rollers for over 5 years. Long before I started reviewing smart trainers and long before TrainerRoad and Zwift came out. It made riding indoors for me a lot more entertaining and challenging. My cycling improved treamendously since I started using it. Since then, the E-Motion has evolved from manual rollers to smart rollers compatible with a variety of apps. To this date, I find riding it a lot more entertaining and time passes a lot quicker.
InsideRide also offers a floating front fork stand for $150 as an option.
If you are looking for something that is different than your traditional wheel-on or direct drive trainer then give this E-Motion a try.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The E-Motion and the smart resistance unit is available as of today and can be purchased directly from IndiseRide for $1,200.
|1||PRICE||$1,200 w/Smart Resistance|
|4||3RD PARTY APPS SUPPORT||Yes|
|8||ROAD SURFACE SIMULATION||No|
|9||ACCURACY LEVEL||+/- 2% w/power meter calibration|
|10||NOISE LEVEL (1-10)*||6|