Indoor cycling became more prominent than ever in 2019, but Wattbike CEO Richard Baker believes the 2020 Olympics will be a catalyst for even further growth…
This year is going to be an outstanding one for the cycling industry. From our predictions, as well as a recent report from Strava, 2020 is going to be a year where we see more people than ever choosing to ride indoors. Smart bikes will become more commonplace as part of cyclists training, with riders choosing to train on them instead of spending the time connecting their road bikes to physical trainers, and new innovations in training and hardware are sure to stem from the Olympics this summer.
The use of e-sports and online training platforms will continue to grow and capitalize on the incredible, exponential growth it saw in 2019. We’ll see more people doing events online, whether that be from mass participation events or racing at elite and national levels and using the unprecedented amounts of data to enhance their training and performance across the board.
Lastly, we’ll also see the diversity of cycling events increase with the rise in gravel and adventure riding. In short, 2020 is going to be an incredible year for cycling. Indoor cycling options will continue to make the industry more accessible to all and will in turn (and as an added bonus) lead to greater participation from cyclists across the world.
Why do you think 2019 has seen a surge in indoor cycling?
A large part of the surge stemmed directly from the Olympics in London in 2012. Because of the success many athletes saw at those games, the true value of indoor training to really improve performance was realized. Riding indoors was also seen as a last resort if the weather was bad or time was short. With a broader understanding of how to train with power and the real value of it, coming out of the 2012 Olympics it became easier to educate cyclists on how to significantly improve their performance in a safe and time-efficient way.
The rise of e-sports and awareness of training apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad and Sufferfest have also had an incredible impact on the popularity of indoor cycling. Now that athletes are able to access outdoor-calibre training in their own homes and on their own time, the number of riders choosing to ride indoors has grown exponentially.
In addition, the number of options available for indoor training has greatly increased, making it extremely accessible for riders at every level, no matter the time of year. Cycling studios have broken into the in-home space, and cycling-specific companies, like our team here at Wattbike, have continued to push the technological boundaries of indoor training, releasing new advancements and tools for training like the Real Ride Feel technology and Pedaling Effectiveness Score (PES) that is part of our offering.
Do you expect this to continue this year?
We do. In fact, with the greater awareness of the performance and social benefits of indoor cycling, paired with the growth of the e-sports industry, we anticipate even more growth this year.
From a technical perspective, we also anticipate that more providers and trainers will start to focus on and incorporate data and performance information that can be utilized by riders. That way, an indoor ride can be just as beneficial as an outdoor one, if not more.
How will the Olympics have an impact on the industry in 2020?
The Olympic Games have always had a positive effect on cycling and exercising in general. Worldwide events that showcase a range of sporting opportunities always tend to have a positive impact on participation. Track cycling is extremely exciting right now, with a host of countries extremely close in terms of performance, it should make for a really entertaining spectacle, which will certainly help get more budding cyclists into the sport.
53 of the 57 London 2012 Olympic track cycling medal winners trained on a Wattbike. This type of success, endorsement and advocacy meant a shift in our business. As a result, in 2015, we had many of the national bodies purchase or hire our bikes in order for their athlete to be able to train in holding camps and throughout the Olympic campaign, again, driving further advocacy of our brand and products.
What’s next for Wattbike?
At Wattbike, we pride ourselves on being a high-growth company on what we consider an aggressive and ambitious global expansion track.
In November 2019, we launched our direct to consumer business in the U.S. With this launch, we’re working to have a much deeper focus on the U.S market across our brand and consumers, as well as with our commercial business, supplying elite sport organizations like USA Cycling, the NBA, NFL and NHL, the military, collegiate sports and fitness clubs. We have also recently launched the Wattbike AtomX which is a commercial version of the Wattbike Atom. This means that the fitness club members can have access to a fully connected Smart Bike to continue the training they do at home.
We’re continuously working on expanding, refining and innovating our products and trainers so that Wattbike continues to be at the forefront of the indoor performance training space and cycling world. We’re looking forward to a great year!