Issues with ERG mode

Hi I have just started training and I am on the 3rd day. Today I did the “chasing the hour” workout. This is also the first time I have used a smart trainer and I understand that in ERG mode generally you should stay in one gear and let the trainer dictate the power levels as workout progresses. Today, even though ERG mode was set on the app I found that to keep to the power levels as it increased on the app I had to go way over the cadence that was shown on the app. The only way to make the power and to keep the cadence that was suggested was to change to a higher gear as if on level mode and lower the cadence. I was of the understanding that when the app increased say to 200 watts then I would have no choice but to keep to that power and even if I increased or decreased cadence then the power would remain constant? Not so, increasing cadence just increased the power I was producing and I could easily go above or below the suggested wattage. An I missing something about ERG mode here. Many thanks again, just trying to iron out new starter issues

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Hey and welcome!

This is usually the case but also depends on your specific trainer, your bike gearing and your power curve and the sessipn you are riding. Most of us ride mid cassette at the rear and on the small chain ring at the front to minimise the need for gear changes. Ocassionally you will still have to shift gear, e.g. for low cadence high power intervals, or for sprints or 1min efforts.
If you push big power numbers, try riding in the highest gear that the trainer can meet your recovery watts at (that the trainer’s floor or lowest resistance).


How sure are you that SYSTM was trying to control the trainer?

Putting the trainer in ERG is one thing but the trainer control icon (like lightning bolt with a little mark on it - I don’t have a good example right now but someone else might) needs to be lit green.

Note: the lightning bolt on its own just means that power will be reported by this device.

It seems to me, the way you wrote it, that the power wasn’t being controlled at all (and I assume, as it was your first time using the trainer, that it had been calibrated?).


Common noob question on here. Drop a ticket with the minions to get help ensuring your settings are correct and that SYSTM and your trainer are talking to each other.

You should absolutely not need jumping around on your cassette to be in Erg mode.



Yes you are correct that’s the way it should work 100% :slight_smile:

There are setups for people with huge power and huge gears and the trainer can’t stay low enough. See @DameLisa reply above

the symptoms you’re describing are very much like the trainer thinks it is in level mode as you have mentioned.
Can I check - what trainer are you using?
Can you screenshot the device connections screen once connected?
(And just a last double check - the trainer will alter its resistance to create the right power based on your cadence - are you waiting a few seconds for that to happen as it can take a few seconds as you change cadence for things to even out … a great example would be an increase in cadence quickly going high in power until the resistance evens out to your cadence and pedal stroke

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Hi all and thanks for all of your replies… I will try to answer them all in this one reply.

Ok, the trainer is an Elite Direto 2 and it is calibrated exactly to the factory setting number on the base and unfortunately I don’t have huge power!!. I will double check again that it is in ERG mode, which I think is the default anyway, and that the lightning bolt thingy is green tomorrow when I do the next session. I am sure though that the only symbol not lit was the virtual watts one at the end. I presume this is not a trainer issue as it is the app that switches in and out of ERG mode? I had been using the gearing mentioned by Dame Lisa but found I had to spin at over 105/110 to meet a power target of around 160 watts at a shown 90 cadence. I know there is a lag in the trainer to catch up/slow down with the app and it does seem to work a bit but even pedalling for a period of time I can easily go over or under the watts programmed into the app and this applies to the cadence as well, no matter how long I wait for the trainer to catch up. Finally, how rigid is the power target i:e if it says 200 watts will ERG mode keep it at that level exactly and not let you go over or under no matter what your cadence. I will have another play tomorrow and get back with my results. I do also have an issue with my Wahoo Tickr dropping out and in during my sessions as well but I will post that as another topic if I can’t solve it from other queries about this on the forum. Many thanks again

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Just to add. I have just had a look at the guide to using ERG mode, this is what it says and where I may be going wrong…

"Unlike level mode, where you’re trying to meet the power targets, in ERG mode, you want to meet the cadence targets. The trainer will meet the power target for you.

With fast cadence increases, the trainer bleeds resistance to avoid overshooting the power target. With a fast enough cadence you’ll feel very little resistance applied at all. You will likely experience this “spinning out” at the end of a sprint. This will also be the experience you have if you’re trying to match the power target by increasing your cadence, rather than allowing the trainer to catch up to the interval change. This will result in a sensation that the trainer has no resistance at all and that ERG is not functioning. Keep the cadence steady and let the trainer do what it is trying to do.

I have the same (or possibly a slightly different version) trainer. It took me a while to get used to aiming to hit the cadence target and let the power catch up. I think it takes around 20 seconds for largeish shifts. I need to switch to level mode for low cadence high power work with spinning recovery intervals as well as short efforts. If it’s worse than that definitely get the settings checked. And yes a bit of variance around the target is normal. At least+/- 5 to 10 W

Many thanks for that. It seems it may be me trying to match the power targets and not sticking to the cadence target and not being patient enough waiting for he power to catch up. Will try that in a moment as I have a session coming up this morning cheers!

I did the “Bande de Sauvage” recovery ride today and concentrated on trying to stick to the cadence targets instead of trying too quickly make the power targets by whacking the power up and the ERG mode did its job. The Direto isn’t too quick at responding but with a bit of patience it was ok. Must admit spinning along at a minimum of 90rpm (up to 110) is not my normal cup of tea and not the most efficient for me when power compared to HR is looked at. I am far happier and more efficient ( a lot less energy usage for a given power) at 75-80 rpm than those fast cadences. Is there a reason for setting them so high and can I just use my own preferred cadence instead? Also, on the subject of the Direto reaction time on ERG mode, I have a tough workout tomorrow “The Blender” and it looks like there are some pretty stiff/short sprints with short rests in the workout. Considering the slow reaction time of my trainer, should I do this workout in level mode? cheers

Short answer: yes. The point of ERG mode is to match power to your cadence. If you pedal at a lower cadence, ERG will compensate to hold whatever power target the effort is setting.

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What gear are you in? Smart trainers are more responsive in lower gears, I can use 39:25 for anything but low cadence high power stuff, like G.O.A.T and Power Station. The coaches know what they are doing when they set the cadence targets, If you are a grinder it’s worth learning to spin efficiently, and vice versa for spinners to learn to grind.


Hi, I think I have sorted it out now and my last ERG ride was in 36 x 19 ( “Bande de Sauvage”) a few ups and downs and it seemed to work fine. I have just done "The Blender " this morning which I did in level mode (level 1, 1%) because of the rapid power changes. I am trying to keep to the cadence targets and must admit, already the new cadence speed doesn’t feel so weird!!

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Yeah an indoor trainer is ideal for working on cadence and pedal stroke. Many of the workouts incorporate practice for both.

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I used to have a Direto. It can take time for the resistance to change. You can do most of the workout in ERG and swap to level for the pain shakes. If you’re on desk top hitting 1 will switch to level 1 and ‘ will swap back to ERG.

Just be careful with the Direto as level mode is a bit different to other trainers within SYSTM. You will still feel the resistance changing to try to keep the flywheel speed similar.

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Thanks for that, using an Android phone cast to my TV with a Chromecast. Actually I did notice a few times there just seemed to be a tad increase in resistance for a second or two now and then, thought it was me feeling weak!!! The wahoo HRM is the real pain just can’t get it to stay connected in the systm app and it drops in and out all of the time and eventually disconnects altogether and that’s it for the rest of the session. cheers

Thank you for that tip, seriously helpful (assuming I remember it…)

I’ve sometimes had that problem. Usually, tightening the strap helps. It has to be pretty tight. I’ve gotten good at reaching around while it’s on and tightening it more during workouts.

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I had problems when i first got turbo, wahoo, due to using the default power settings, spinning out. I did a power test, full frontal and it works far better, ftp was too low. There is also skill to riding a turbo, especially with short intervals, found have to anticipate cadence, keep smooth and let change hit and then increae. I did use level mode and keep upping until i did the power test, since then erg modd has been fine.