Watt Bike Atom Review (Stylish & Stable)
The Watt Atom Smart Bike is another of those new smart bikes that have so recently taken the world of indoor cycling by storm. For those who are looking for an upgrade in this department or simply want to explore what some of the smart bike options are, we are going to examine the types of benefits that this bike can provide.
It is an expensive bike, which happens to be a tendency of those bikes with the title of ‘smart bike”. However, some are more expensive than others. The question that you need to ask and the one that we are here to explore is “Is it worth the money?” The Atom smart bike comes in right around the price of $2,600.
It might not have the flashy screens of Pelotons or some other spin bikes, but it certainly does a good job of integrating technology to get a solid amount of exercise out of it. Now let us hop right into our WattBike Atom cycle review.
Wattbike Atom Comparison!
This is where I regularly update the Watt Bike Atom review to let you know if there are better options for the price on the market. Currently, in 2020 this indoor bike is unique and one of the best smart indoor bikes.
But I personally prefer to buy the Stages SB20, at least until the company addresses the loud noise, redesigns the adjustment system (it requires tools to the fore/aft adjustment), and adds multi-length crank arms. (Hopefully, they will either improve this model or release a new model in the near future)
With that being said, if only one person uses the bike (without daily/frequent seat and handlebar adjustment) and he/she is fine with the 170mm crank, I believe they will enjoy the ride the Atom spin bike has to offer. You can rest assured the WattBike Atom will offer you some fun indoor rides.
Watt Atom Bike Technical Information:
- Watt Atom Technology
- Pedals and Q-factor
- Atom bike flywheel
- Atom bike resistance
- Drive system & gear ratio
- Handlebars and seat
- Watt price and warranty
- Shipping and assembly
- Watt Atom Smart Spin Bike pros
- Watt Atom Smart Spin Bike cons
- Weight: 97 lbs (44 kg)
- Width: 19.7 inches (50 cm)
- Length: 39.4 inches (100 cm)
- Height: 59 inches (150 cm) at full extension
- Max User Weight: 300 lbs (135 kg)
- The tablet holder can accommodate from 2.8 inches (70mm)–9.5 inches (240mm) in height
- The Atom Smart Bike does require a plug for power
The Watt Atom Smart Bike does have a very solid technical build that will deliver a satisfying ride to whoever is on board. The unit does require to be plugged in for power, which shouldn’t be too big of an issue for those who plan on using it indoors. Unfortunately, that does mean that taking it for a long drive out into the mountains might be a bit of a poor choice. The tablet holder that comes along with the bike does quite well at holding just about any sized piece of technology.
Since this is a smart bike, it needs to fulfill the basic conditions of what makes one of these bikes “smart”. It has an ERG mode that is programmed into it that allows the resistance levels to change based on whatever workout you happen to be choosing. Thanks to the Wattbike app that comes with the bike (more on that in a bit), there are a good selection of these workouts to pick from.
That means that you will have plenty of chances to use this ERG mode and experience the automatically changing resistance levels. Another piece to note about the actual design of the Atom is how easy it is to move around. It comes with transportation rollers and is not all that heavy or large. Not a game-changer by any means, but it is a bonus that should be noted.
Watt Atom Smart Bike Technology:
- The Watt Atom Smart Bike can measure with a ±2% accuracy across the full power range of 0-2000w.
- The Wattbike app that comes with the smart bike is the “intended” one for people to use
The Atom Smart Bike doesn’t necessarily look to completely revolutionize the game when it comes to the technology that has been integrated with the bike. Instead, Wattbike has looked to do the simple things right along with producing their own app that allows users to make the most of their smart bike.
The app has two main functions: updating the firmware and settings that are on the Atom, and allowing the user to access the preloaded workouts that come with the bike. The first of these two functions is definitely the most important, as it allows the developers to make sure that the smart bike continues to run and act the way that it is supposed to. The upgrade process takes less than a minute and should not interfere at all with your planned workouts.
The second aspect of the app is only slightly less important. It offers an absolute glut of workout plans and lessons that you can choose from. That way, if you are one of the people who needs to follow along with a lesson or plan instead of simply getting on and winging it, you have a guide right in front of you. Once you are done with the workout, it provides a nice little workout summary at the end.
The Watt Atom Smart Bike has ANT+ FEC and Bluetooth Smart Control. It also has ANT+ FEC/ANT+/Bluetooth Smart Control in regards to third-party apps. The Watt Atom Smart Bike does a good job of fulfilling the modern demand of needing to connect to both third-party apps and their own through just about every wireless connection possible. TrainerRoad works very well on this bike, allowing you to use your preferred app of choice if you find yourself dissatisfied with the Wattbike app. Zwift has been reported to work slightly less well with the bike. The major issue is that there is lag between when a shift occurs during the workout.
If you are shifting along rolling hills or regularly shifting, this lag can add up to 5-8 seconds. While this might not be too big of an issue for some, it can really disrupt the flow of those who prefer to partake in races on the popular app. The only other issue here is that it seems like the variety of third party apps that work well with the Atom is somewhat more limited than some of the other smart bikes available on the market.
Q-Factor and Pedals:
- The Watt Atom Smart Bike has a Q-Factor that measures at about 160mm
- There is only 1 arm crank measurement; at 170mm
- The pedals that come with the bike are flat pedals with toe cage fitted as standard
The Q-Factor that comes with the Atom Smart Bike is a bit of a different one compared to many other spin bikes. Usually they range in between 140-150mm, but Watt has decided to go for a factor that feels much closer to that of a mountain bike than a regular road bike. There is only one arm crank measurement, which might be a downside for some.
For those who are unaware, the Q-Factor of is the distance between your feet while sitting on the bike. Some other spin bikes have a bit too much room in between your feet, making it feel like a very unnatural and sometimes uncomfortable experience. Similarly, too little and you will find it impossible to pedal.
As mentioned, the Q-Factor here is a bit larger than those of other smart bikes, though it isn’t so large as to make the ride uncomfortable. It might simply take some getting used to. The pedals that come with the bike are pretty standard, having a toe cage for those who would prefer to use them. These pedals do the job, but are also interchangeable if you have your own preferred pair (like the ones that are Look Delta, SPD-SL or SPD-compatible).
Watt Atom Smart Bike Flywheel:
- There are 2 10.2 lb (4.64 kg) flywheels, which adds up to a total 20.4lbs (9.28kg)
There isn’t too much to say about the Atom Smart Bike’s flywheel…except the fact that there are two of them. This is certainly a different approach than the majority of indoor cycling bikes, which usually have either a single flywheel in the front or a single flywheel in the back. Of course, there are exceptions like the Tacx NEO Smart Bike that simply has no physical flywheel, instead of replacing it with a virtual one. The Atom goes in the complete opposite direction. Instead of removing a flywheel, it doubles the amount of them.
This flywheel does play a part in how the “road feel” of the Atom performs, but that is also hard to objectively measure. It does the job that is asked of it, but otherwise doesn’t go above and beyond to make itself particularly different. This can be taken as both a positive or a negative. Some might be expecting more from a smart bike and its systems, while others might simply be looking for a flywheel (or flywheels in this case) to do the job without extra bells and whistles. A final point to note about the flywheel is just how quiet it remains during all workouts. You might think with two flywheels, the noise would increase, but that simply isn’t the case.
Watt Atom Smart Bike Resistance:
- The Watt Atom Smart Bike has a smart electromagnetic resistance system (apps can automatically adjust it)
- The Watt Atom Smart Bike has a max power level of 2000 watts
- The maximum simulated incline level is 25%
- The minimum simulated incline level is 0%
- There are 22 different resistance levels to choose from
The resistance system on the Atom Smart Bike does a good job of allowing you to easily switch between the 22 different levels of resistance that are available by default. You have the option of manually changing the resistance through shift buttons on the bike hoods, though the part that qualifies this bike as “smart” is its ability to switch resistance levels through an app. Whether it is the Wattbike app or some other third party app (like Zwift), these levels can be changed that way.
As for the actual changes during the workout, there are a couple of aspects to note. The shifts are not instantaneous and are more subtle than you might otherwise expect. This isn’t a huge issue, but it should be noted as a possible weakness for the smart bike. The resistance can also be a bit too easy to change if you are riding with your hands on the hoods. A simple brush or accidental touch can end up shifting the resistance level even if you don’t want to.
Handlebars and Seat:
- The Watt Atom Smart Bike comes with a one size saddle
- That saddle can be adjusted between 57 cm and 87 cm in height and 0–8.8cm in terms of the fore/aft
- The handlebars can be switched out
- The handlebars can be adjusted between 53.5cm–76.5cm for height and between 0–7.5cm in terms of the fore/aft
The handlebars of the Atom Smart Bike aren’t exactly anything to write home about. They have the nice ability to be switched out if you have your own preferred set. If you prefer to keep the default handlebars, then they will be adjusted for most riders to fit comfortably. Otherwise there just isn’t a whole lot to note about the handlebars. They do the job.
The seat, similarly, isn’t anything too special. The amount that it can be adjusted is impressive and should allow for a wide variety of riders to make use of the Atom. The hash marks also allow for some very precise measurements on how you want the saddle to fit. Another part to note about this seat is that it doesn’t adjust like other smart bikes. Instead of being done with quick-release knobs or levers, the Atom requires Allen wrenches for a few of the adjustments. This can make it rather inconvenient if multiple people of different sizes are going to be using the bike.
Drivetrain and Gear Ratio:
- The Watt Atom Smart Bike comes with a chain and timing belt
- The gear ratio is electronically customizable and has 11 different gears in addition to the 22 levels of default resistance
The drivetrain on the Watt Atom Smart Bike is a bit different to those of its competitors. Usually the default choice is that of a carbon fibre or some other non-chain belt (or if you are Tacx you pick a virtual belt to go along with your virtual flywheel). The Atom smart bike comes with a chain and timing belt. This differs from a regular chain belt because the chain is used for load measurement and not to solely power the flywheel. This lightening of the load enables it to avoid the sort of maintenance issues that normally plagues spin bikes with just a chain drive system. The only sort of maintenance that it might require is the occasional check if there is some sort of unusual noise coming from the bike.
In terms of the gear ratio that is available on this bike, it follows a pattern set by the Wahoo KICKR smart bike rather than that of the Stages SB20. It allows the user to electronically customize their settings, with 11 different gears added in late 2019 to the firmware of the smart bike. They are primarily settings that range in the mid to high range of resistance, as that was what was being demanded of the developers. One can switch between the default 22 resistance settings or the 11 new ones.
For those who are unaware what we are talking about when we are referring to the gear ratio, we will go over it. Many indoor cycling bikes (both smart and non-smart) have a small pulley belt and a big belt ring that is attached to the flywheel. For every turn of the big wheel, the small pulley turns however many times the gear ratio is set up for. On fixed systems like the one of the SB20 (5:1), for every turn of the big wheel, the small wheel would turn 5 times. The Atom takes a more flexible path akin to the KICKR, as we mentioned before.
Watt Atom Smart Bike Price and Warranty:
- The Watt Atom Smart Bike costs a retail price of $2,600
- There is a 30 day money back guarantee
- The Atom Smart Bike comes with a 2 year warranty
The Watt Atom Smart Bike costs $2,600. That is cheaper than two competitors in the smart bike market (the Tacx NEO Smart Bike and the Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike), while delivering a competitive experience with both. This is certainly a boost, as one of the biggest issues with the KICKR is that it doesn’t deliver the sort of value for the money. Meanwhile, since the Atom is much cheaper, it does not need to provide the same sort of absurd amount of features to be worth it.
The warranty is another part that needs to be considered when making an investment of this type. After all, for most people, two and a half thousand dollars isn’t exactly pocket change. Wahoo in particular have a problem with this on their KICKR, which makes it pleasing to say that the 2 year warranty that comes with the Atom is much better. It still isn’t perfect, since we would prefer it to be a bit longer, but it certainly matches the price a lot better than that of Wahoo. The 30 day return policy is also nice if you find something immediately wrong or unsatisfactory.
Assembly and Shipping:
- The Watt Atom Smart Bike comes mostly assembled
- The finishing parts assembly process should take about 5 minutes with the accompanying video
- Shipping usually does not take more than 1-2 weeks
The Watt Atom Smart Bike does not come fully assembled like so many other spin bikes do these days. Instead, it comes mostly assembled, with only a few bits needing to be added on. These include the pedals and the device holder. Thankfully, the process of installing these pieces does not take long at all thanks to the manual that comes with the bike (or the video on YouTube). Even if you are extremely mechanically limited, the process really shouldn’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes.
As for the shipping, it should be pretty straightforward. It should only take 1 or 2 weeks to arrive if everything goes as planned. Thankfully there is nothing going on in the world that might delay any sort of packaging or interactions. Nope. Nothing at all that could interrupt daily social life. Nada. Nein.
Watt Atom Smart Spin Bike Pros:
The Wattbike App:
The Wattbike app is definitely one of the highlights of the Atom smart bike. It allows the firmware to remain up to date and keeps all the settings that you could want in a single, designated place. The part of the app that allows for the user to make use of the extensive workout programs is also a spectacular boost to those who want to follow along with effective pre-programmed exercise routines. Finally, the app also delivers all of the necessary information in a display that is easy to understand for every user imaginable.
The Stability of the Ride:
The general feel of the ride on the Atom smart bike is another positive that has to be acknowledged. As we mentioned earlier in this Watt Bike Atom review, it is somewhat hard to justify saying that it has an extensive “road feel” (especially in comparison to the Tacx NEO smart bike, which can simulate the feeling of riding across cobblestones), however, it does a good job of making the ride feel smooth, stable and comfortable. The shifting of gears here feels a lot less “natural” than those of outdoor bikes, but that doesn’t mean that it feels bad. In fact, you might even appreciate the comparative smoothness.
The Value for Money:
The combination of the price and warranty that comes with the Watt Atom smart bike does make this a much better bike than it otherwise would be. If it had a similar price to that of the Wahoo KICKR, then this would be a firm negative. However, it seems fair to say that the price for this bike as it is to be a pro.
Watt Atom Smart Spin Bike Cons:
The Fore/Aft Adjustment requires a Wrench:
As we mentioned, this isn’t so much of an issue for those who plan to keep this bike in one setting for all time. However, for those who do intend on frequently changing it for different workouts or those who are going to have different users in one household, this has to be acknowledged as a negative. It simply seems to be a strange design choice that didn’t need to be made.
The Shift Buttons Are in an Odd Spot:
Again, as we mentioned before, the shift buttons are in such a place as it makes it a bit odd to actually press them. With just a simple brush of the hand, you can accidentally throw off the entire measure or tempo of the exercise you are currently performing. Nobody wants to do that. Again, not the largest issue that will destroy all credibility with the bike, but it is a downside that needs to be acknowledged.
The Zwift Compatibility and Crank Length:
A two for one to finish off the cons, the fact that the cranks cannot be adjusted or customized does seem a bit odd when just about all of the competition allows for such a thing. If you are not a fan of the 170mm length crank, it seems that all the Atom can do is shrug and say “Too bad”. Then there’s the lag issue that the bike has with the Zwift app (Hopefully by the time you are reading this Watt Bike Atom review, it will be resolved via software updates). Not a huge issue, but for one of the most popular exercise apps that are available, you would hope for seamless compatibility. Thankfully, there is not such a problem with others like TrainerRoad.
Last Word on the Watt Atom Smart Bike
There are quite a few of the aspects from the Atom Smart Bike that should be praised. The stable and enjoyable ride that it offers is first and foremost on that list, since at the end of the day, that is what these bikes are here to deliver. You will be sure to get a good bit of exercise on this machine while also allowing you to do so quietly.
The Wattbike app also does a good job of making sure that the user feels like they are getting the most out of the Atom. There is a minor hiccup when it comes to the Zwift app connection, but it is otherwise a terrific piece of software. The dual nature of it offering workouts and updating the firmware of the bike are brilliant.
The only thing that one needs to decide for themselves is whether or not this smart bike has enough to offer. If you really want something that goes above and beyond in the realm of indoor cycling, then it might be best to look elsewhere. However, if it is simply an indoor cycling bike that has the capability to change resistance settings electronically with some nice little added features, then it will fit that niche quite nicely.
The Watt Atom Smart Bike does not revolutionize the world of smart bikes. What it does do is deliver an extremely solid experience of one of these smart bikes for an extremely reasonable price. It isn’t perfect, and has some growing and evolving to do until it reaches the (admittedly) extremely high standard of some of its competitors. However, this is a good start and we can only look forward to what the future holds for this smart bike. Overall, a good smart bike, but don’t expect a world-beater.