Trainer Reviews

Hands On: The New InsideRide E-Motion Rollers and Smart Resistance Unit Review

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.

As with all my reviews on this blog, 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.

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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.

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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.

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PROS

  • Real road feel
  • Dual ANT+ FE-C & Smart Bluetooth compatibility
  • Patented free motion technology
  • Ease of use
  • No need to worry about removing wheels or cassettes
  • Optional front fork
  • Reliable and very well made
CONS

  • 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.

 

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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.

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What’s in the box: 

  • Resistance unit
  • Power cord
  • ANT+ USB Key
  • Manual

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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

The calibration is done using the Elite myETraining app which is available for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.

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.

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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 smart resistance unit is ANT+ FE-C and Smart Bluetooth compatible.

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.

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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%

EnduranceRide_Comparison

AVG PWRIFTSS
Power2Max2060.73125.7
InsideRide2100.75130.6

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.

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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 PWRActual PWR
Interval 1230234
Interval 2230233
Interval 3230231
Interval 4230231

NOISE LEVEL

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.

FINAL THOUGHTS

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.

wdt_IDFeaturesE-Motion
1PRICE$1,200 w/Smart Resistance
2ANT+ FE-CYes
3BLUETOOTH SMARTYes
43RD PARTY APPS SUPPORTYes
5MAX WATTS1,500
6MAX INCLINE8%
7SIMULATE DESCENTSNo
8ROAD SURFACE SIMULATIONNo
9ACCURACY LEVEL+/- 2% w/power meter calibration
10NOISE LEVEL (1-10)*6

 

7 Comments

  • The resistance may max out to a simulated real world of 8% but on Zwift there is a big difference in the amount of resistance being applied when you hit a hill which Zwift is showing at a grade of 8% vs say a 14%+. On a 14% grade in Zwift you are grinding so any more resistance and I wouldn’t be surprised if people started having issues keeping upright. As a note in Zwift’s settings you can adj. the intensity level of resistance under settings. Regarding noise level I find the unit very quiet once over 175+ watts, lower than that I find you start to get a little bit of squeaking coming off the belt. I’ve had no issue with wheel slippage while seated at max resistance. If I stand while at max resistance though I have noticed a little; not too bad at all though. I’m running stock rubber at 100 PSI. All in all I have been very happy with the smart resistance add-on; the experience has become so immersive.

  • I modified my rollers to keep the original wireless resistance unit in place. This required moving the front drum drive belt up onto the drums. This setup allows me to keep adding resistance once the “smart” resistance unit reaches it’s max resistance. This comes in handy on the Zwift Watopia mountain heading up to the tower. The drum belt being up on the drums doesn’t seem to be an issue. It just stays right where you put it. I also added larger roller blade wheels/bumpers so that the belt would be covered by the bumper so that it can’t be run over by the bike.

    • Randall, that’s genius! Will give it a try. Don’t need the additional resistance but would love the additional flywheel to give it a better road feel.

      Have you found a way to keep the rear wheel from rubbing the new resistance unit on the left side? That’s the only issue I’ve seen with the system.

  • Hi Tariq – Thank you for an excellent analysis of the Inside Ride rollers with the Elite Qubo resistance unit. After reading your review in the early summer, I purchased the rollers with the Qubo, and I’ve been using them for about 3 months.

    Early on, I used only Elite’s app for workouts, but about 2 months ago I started using Zwift. Linking to Zwift was easy, and I’ve logged close to 750 miles so far.

    But one problem I’m having I wanted to ask you about. There is a very noticeable clicking noise coming from the Qubo that is almost constant. This happens on flats, and also when I climb on Zwift. I’ve tried sliding the resistance bar in the Zwift settings, and no matter where I set that bar, I still have the clicking.

    I weigh 152 pounds, and my unit was shipped with the following P values, which I have not changed.
    P1 262
    P2 314
    P3 326

    Today I warmed up, and rode with Elite’s app for a few minutes. I had it set to no resistance and I got 325-330 watts to ride at 40kph, so it seems that the calibration is spot-on with the P3 value.

    Have you ever experienced this clicking? If so, have you found a solution?

    thank you

    Dave Petrie
    New York, NY

    • Hey Dave,
      I haven’t experienced any clicking sound from the unit. You might want to reach out to InsideRide support and hopefully they can help you out.

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