If you’ve ridden a smart trainer with some level of consistency, you’ll know that it’s a different kind of ride to that which you experience outdoors. Virtual you, riding in a virtual world, racking up virtual sweat points to buy a virtual new bike. But while there’s a lot of virtual stuff happening, you’re acquiring real fitness, real improved strength, and real frustration at the fact that you don’t’ have a real-ride feel. That’s where the Rockit fits in…
Most smart trainers don’t offer any side-to-side movement. Some offer a tiny bit, but not what you’re used to when you’re looking to maintain your rhythm on a climb or charge towards a Sprint or KOM prime; or a virtual race finish if you’re a podium chaser.
Like many other South Africans, Ross Pennell found himself spending a lot of time on his smart trainer during the hard Level 5 South African lockdown. He also felt frustrated that he couldn’t get a real-ride feel from his bike. His Wahoo Kickr is a great smart trainer, but it doesn’t offer any sideways movement, so standing to pedal means changing the way you ride. The rhythm that’s so important on a long climb – and which allows you to seamlessly alternate sitting and standing – is missing.
Instead of staying frustrated, Ross decided to do something about it and designed and made Rockit, a firm wooden platform on which you secure your smart trainer, enabling a side-to-side motion and a more natural ride feel.
We’ve been testing the Rockit for a few weeks. It’s pretty easy to assemble but you need two people when it comes to securing and tightening the sturdy rubber straps with zipties.
Ross sent us one to match the Tacx Neo 2T smart trainer we’re using. Each smart trainer brand/model requires a slightly different Rockit to ensure optimal fit and perfectly centred balance.
The Rockit platform is made from S/BB Graded Baltic Birch Plywood, sanded and treated to be scratch proof and splash resistant. It’s beautifully crafted and finished. Really classy actually. The rubber straps are super strong and the instructions that come with the Rockit are easy enough to follow, but include a dose of humour, which most will sense and appreciate…
The ride experience
How much do you change your riding style to suit your smart trainer’s limitations? For those that sit a lot, probably not too much. For more experienced riders, likely a lot! Standing doesn’t only happen on climbs. You also stand to sprint and, no matter how experienced or conditioned you are, you stand from time to time on flats to relieve pressure on your backside and the ‘sitting cycling muscles’ (and your mind).
When you stand to pedal you naturally sway the bike from side to side, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, but it’s this movement of the bike that allows you gain the most powerful – or most comfortable – position in relation to the bike.
The Rockit takes a bit of getting used (took us two rides) because it offers a very different feel to being locked into one position, which is what you deem to be normal because that’s all you’re used to.
The ease at which your bike sways feels weird initially and you almost feel like you’re losing your balance. Almost, then it reaches its limit and you start rocking back to the centre… But once you expect it, you start to incorporate it into how you ride and it becomes your ‘new normal’ (yeah, we’re sick of that term too).
Standing to climb on the Rockit is relatively intuitive, but standing to sprint requires a bit of thought in terms of gear choice and establishing a rhythm. But once you have it locked into the part of your brain that manages co-ordination, it’s there for good.
The Rockit comes with a riser block for the front wheel. This raises your front wheel to be a similar height to your rear wheel so that your bike remains level. It has a wide-ish groove which allows for just enough front wheel movement when you’re in full ‘sway’.
While the Rockit’s sideways movement is to be appreciated, it doesn’t permit that ever-so-slight front/rear movement that happens when you stand on the pedals. Many may not even notice, so it’s not a major thing, just something we picked up.
The cost of the Rockit is R3500-00. Some may feel that it’s steep, but not if you compare it to the pricing of other products in this category.
While relatively simple in design and function, the Rockit is symmetrically balanced, durable and reliable. The beautifully crafted wooden platform adds a more natural ride-feel to your smart trainer sessions, enhancing your comfort and efficiency. And it’s made in South Africa.
Style: Fits most smart trainers