The Wattbike Atom is a high-end indoor exercise bike that, while expensive, will easily find its place in your home.
It arrives almost fully built, with only the handlebars and the seat needing to be fitted onto the bike, and you’re good to go within 10 minutes with an Allen key. One that's done, it's easy to customize thanks to its adjustable seat, handlebars and tablet holder.
This is the second-generation Atom, and it features a new electromagnetic resistance system, with 22 gears that change automatically when connected to a third-party app such as Zwift or The Sufferfest (opens in new tab). This accurately simulates different tracks, increasing resistance for steep hills and during interval workouts.
While there’s no integration with your Fitbit or Apple Watch, the Wattbike Atom syncs with phones, tablets and their associated health apps with no problems, accurately tracking cycle exercises to help keep track.
People’s workout needs have changed recently, especially for those who are working from home and no longer can, or want to, visit the gym, That's where the Atom comes in. This bike will work you hard, but keep you going through its apps and many simulated exercise sessions, while its customizations will fit many who are living together throughout lockdown, and will be a great way to keep fit indoors, even once life is back to 'normal'.
Wattbike Atom price and release date
The next-generation Wattbike Atom was released in the UK in July 2020, and is priced at £1,999. It's expected to launch in the US in 2021, and a date for Australia has yet to be confirmed.
Design and setup
One of the best attributes the the Wattbike Atom is that the bike is delivered in one piece; you don't need to spend an evening putting it together with a screwdriver and a wrench. It comes fully assembled – you only need to adjust the seat and the handlebar heights, place the tablet attachment to the front if you’re going to be using an iPad with the Atom (as we did in our tests), and put the pedals in the correct positions. All these alterations are easily made with an Allen key.
Finally, simply plug it in and hit the switch located at the bottom of the bike. It’s easy to reach, and the power cable is long enough that it can reach across a mid-sized living room if needed.
Wattbike has an app called Wattbike Hub (available on the App Store (opens in new tab) and Google Play) to maintain the bike and measure your fitness as the exercises go on. While you can use it on a phone, we recommend a tablet instead, so you have a good sized screen to keep track of the bike’s settings while also making sure that its firmware is at the latest version.
The app is a nice touch; it’s informative without being intrusive, and the design nicely reflects that of bike itself – although it does raise the question of why there isn’t a simple display attached to the bike.
The Wattbike Atom connects to your phone or tablet using Bluetooth, and in turn, the health apps found on either Android or iOS. You can aksi go a step further and use some third-party apps, such as Zwift and TrainerRoad, which worked perfectly in our tests. Connecting to a device was quick, and the apps recognized them right away, with no long setup process.
You can use the bike without an app if you prefer; the gears work with a patented feature that can generate up to 22 different settings, so you can finely tune the resistance you want to cycle against. However, you won’t know exactly which gear it’s set at without glancing at the Wattbike Hub app, and even then, switching between gears manually is slower than we’d like.
This is the second iteration of the Wattbike Atom, so expectations were high in the performance of the gears and the brakes. As previously stated, switching the gears manually takes longer than we’d like, but there's no such problem when you embark on a virtual ride that changes the gears for you. Load up an app like Zwift on your device, and you'll see the Atom really shine.
As the bike simulates the feeling of biking up a steep hill, your phone or tablet shows the gear currently in use, plus the type of the road you're 'riding'.
It's a fantastic experience, but It’s surprising that a bike of this level can't also connect to a smartwatch to gather extra biometric data, like calories and heart rate. GymKit (opens in new tab) allows the Apple Watch to connect to exercise equipment (such as indoor bikes and treadmills) to track workouts and show results in the Fitness app, it’s a shame that the Atom isn't one of the devices supported.
Another disadvantage is the lack of USB ports. You are expected to use a tablet for both Wattbike's own app and any third-party ones like Zwift, but there's no means of keeping your device topped up while you do so, and we found we needed to keep a charger plugged into a wall outlet while we rode. It would have been nice to have a port below the handlebars, to keep the wire-clutter to a minimum.
The simplicity of the Atom's setup is a real advantage if you're looking for an exercise bike you can share with one or more people. With just one Allen key for making adjustments, the bike can be adjusted to suit different riders in a matter of seconds (though our testers both found the seat a little uncomfortable on longer rides).
Buy it if
You need a motivation to work out
With the new gear system, coupled with the apps that work with your smartphone or tablet, you could easily organise a weekly schedule to aim for that target in 2021.
You’d rather work out in your home
If you prefer to exercise in the privacy of your home, the Atom is perfect, especially if you live in a busy area of traffic.
You’re planning to use it with someone else
For its price, you want it to be used as much as possible, which is where a partner or a friend can customize it to fit their build for their weekly exercises as well.
Don't buy it if
You’re dipping your toe into cycling
This is definitely an advanced exercise bike, so start with something more basic and much less expensive if you’re just starting out.
You rely on your smartwatch for fitness
The Atom works great with apps on your tablet and smartphone, just not with the device that’s attached to your wrist 10 hours a day.
You need it right away
At the time of writing, delivery is taking several weeks. This is almost certainly due to increased demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, but check out the delivery timeline before ordering.
- The best running watches and best running headphones of 2020