Newbie Expectations In ERG mode

I’m brand new to using a smart trainer…I got tired of our old electronic exercise bike and decided to upgrade (I’m using a Direto XR in case that impacts the answer). I’m loving The Sufferfest App and my first couple of workouts. However, the experience is not matching my expectations, and so I’m hoping to get feedback from folks that are not new to using smart trainers to see if what I experience is the way it’s supposed to be or not. :slight_smile:

What I’m experiencing is when I’m doing a video (e.g., Joyride) and it transitions from like a 90 RPM / 60 Watt section to a 90 RPM / 150 Watt section, I’m having to downshift to get the flywheel spinning fast enough to get up to 150 Watts. My expectations based on what I understand ERG mode to be (and I did verify that the trainer is in ERG mode in the settings on the app) are that the resistance on the trainer would increase so that as long as I maintained the 90 RPM, I would hit 150 Watts, so I wouldn’t have to shift that often.

Since I’m new to this smart trainer thing I’m wondering if I’ve got the trainer set up correctly; if there are communication problems with my PC and the trainer so the trainer isn’t getting the “increase the resistance” messages; or if my expectations are wrong and I’m really supposed to be shifting gears all over the place to try to match the power and cadence prompts on the screen. Is there a test/video/something where I can make sure that the app is correctly controlling the trainer? Or is this the way it’s supposed to work?

Thanks in advance for any advice, help, etc.!

Apparently, you’re not alone:

I have not read the whole post, but maybe you can find something usefull.

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How are you connecting? ANT+ or Bluetooth? What does the connection screen look like? Could you post a photo?

The minions are always brilliant and really helpful so you might be as well sending them an email to get things sorted.

Hi @kbeiii! The transition from interval to interval can take 5-10 seconds on a smart trainer, especially if there is a cadence change involved. I wouldn’t expect you to have to downshift with the trainer you’re using. I’d like to dig into this deeper with you, but troubleshooting in the forum is difficult. I’d like you to send me an email at please?

There’s a forum post here that might give some helpful tips though:

Thanks! I did look at that article and I think those guys are a little bit beyond where I’m at. I don’t think I’m a savvy enough user to worry about the watts jumping around a little; I’m more concerned about the “macro” when it’s supposed to get harder (more watts) or easier (less watts) and I don’t feel any change at all.

Thanks, Therese, I’ll send an e-mail. I took a look at the link above and I’m thinking that my targets might be too low (I haven’t done one of the tests on the trainer yet, so I’m still doing the defaults). I’m going to try to the 1/2 monty tomorrow and then see 1) if my targets adjust and 2) if they do, I notice a difference.

The answers have been really helpful already, though, because they’re confirming that I shouldn’t have to be shifting gears in erg mode to hit the wattage targets. Here’s hoping I don’t have bum trainer! :slight_smile:

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There’s a lot on debate on how you should approach that. I’m in the ‘you shouldn’t’ corner, but there are threads about it that take a different stance.

My take on that is, that it depends on the trainer. Just pick a gear that has the least drive train loss (either big or small chain ring and a middle cog) and stick with that. You might want to ‘anticipate’ big jumps in power, by upping the RPM a little in advance and then settle back into what it is supposed to be, if there is any RPM requirement.

These two threads should give a lot of insight into ERG mode for newbies:

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The replies, pointers, and links have been really helpful. To summarize for any other complete newbies to smart trainers (like me) that may read this thread:

ERG mode for the most part is designed for the rider to be in a static gear (with the trainer controlling the resistence). Links in this conversation thread offer some nuances to this general rule.

ERG mode takes some time to take effect, so don’t expect sudden changes in resistance like you might feel if your only experience is punching the “level” button on stationary bikes in the gym.

If your FTP/MAP/etc. are low, the variations in resistance may be difficult to detect during some of the videos.