Using the Computrainer in Ergometer Mode

posted May 16, 2011, 6:55 AM by Donald Vescio   [ updated Sep 12, 2011, 8:12 AM ]
You don't have to connect your Computrainer to a computer to get an effective indoor workout--Computrainer's hand controller enables you to develop precise ergometer workouts that with maximize your cycling performance in a time effective manner.

Your Computrainer can be used as a tool that simulates outdoor riding, or as a precision ergometer. When in Computrainer's ergometer mode, you are forced to generate a specific level of watts, regardless of your gearing or cadence.  In other words, if the Computrainer tells you to produce 200 watts, you will have to produce 200 watts, whether you are in your large or small chainring, or whether your cadence is high or low.  Computrainer's ergometer mode is ideal for creating structured interval sessions that force you to perform as a proscribed level of intensity.  There's no easy pedaling in ergometer mode!

Below are simple instructions that will get you started using your Computrainer in ergometer mode.  I'll post additional entries on ways in which you might want to use this mode.  Note that no computer connections or special software is needed to perform a calibration or to use either ergometer mode described below.


Calibration (do this prior to every ride--this calculates the rolling resistance for your ride)

  1. Move load generator roller to rear wheel.  Generally, I'll move the roller until it touches the rear tire, and then tighten by 1.5 turns or so.
  2. Turn on load generator
  3. Press F2 to go to manual ergometer mode
  4. Press plus key (top-right blue) until watts reads 120 (watts will be displayed top-right of the hand controller)
  5. Warm-up for 5-10 minutes
  6. Stop, press blue plus and minus keys simultaneously to enter calibration mode
  7. Hand controller will read three zeros top-left.
  8. Accelerate to 25+ mph in a smooth and controlled fashion.
  9. Once your speed is above 25 mph, sop pedalling and let the rear wheel  coast to a stop
  10. Check the hand controller--the value top-left should read between 2.00 and 3.00.  If below 2.00, tighten load generator against rear tire.  If above 3.00, loosen load generator against rear tire.
  11. If between 2.00 and 3.00, press the F3 (bottom-center) button to record calibration value. 
  12. If either below or above the 2.00-3.00 values, adjust load generator as outlined above, press the blue plus and minus keys simultaneously, and accelerate to 25+ mph to recalibrate. 
  13. Continue adjusting load generator press-on force and coast downs until you achieve a value between 2.00 and 3.00. 
  14. When you reach a value between 2.00 and 3.00, press F3 to record your calibration value.



Manual Ergometer Mode

Important notes: Watts won't vary with your gearing or wheel speed.  what this means is that shifting won't make a difference to the amount of watts that you need to produce, as the load generator will compensate for any changes that you make.  As a general recommendation, use a fairly large gear when running the Computrainer in an erg mode--large chainring, small rear cogs are preferred, as these combinations will keep wheel speed fast enough to moderate rapid compensations in resistance in the load generator.

  1. Perform calibration procedure, as outlined above.
  2. After pressing F2 to record your calibration level, press F3 (top-center button) to enter manual ergometer mode.  
  3. In manual ergometer mode, note the value top-right on the hand controller--initially, it should read 50, which refers to 50 watts.
  4. Use the plus and minus keys to adjust watts.  Again, watts will be displayed top-right of hand controller.  
  5. Important notes: Watts won't vary with your gearing or wheel speed.  what this means is that shifting won't make a difference to the amount of watts that you need to produce, as the load generator will compensate for any changes that you make.  As a general recommendation, use a fairly large gear when running the Computrainer in an erg mode--large chainring, small rear cogs are preferred, as these combinations will keep wheel speed fast enough to moderate rapid compensations in resistance in the load generator.


Random Courses
The Computrainer hand controller also will generate random "courses" to better reflect the conditions one experiences on a long ride outdoors.  The random course function is a good feature to use when doing endurance rides inside.  

Important notes: Watts won't vary with your gearing or wheel speed.  what this means is that shifting won't make a difference to the amount of watts that you need to produce, as the load generator will compensate for any changes that you make.  As a general recommendation, use a fairly large gear when running the Computrainer in an erg mode--large chainring, small rear cogs are preferred, as these combinations will keep wheel speed fast enough to moderate rapid compensations in resistance in the load generator.

  1. Perform calibration procedure, as outlined above
  2. After pressing F2 to record your calibration level, press Reset (the orange top-left button) to enter manual ergometer mode. 
  3. Top-right on the hand controller's screen, you will see a value of zero.  This is okay!
  4. Random course options fall into 10 unit blocks, with each block differing only in terms of duration of the session.  
  5. Blocks run from 0 - 9, 10-19, 20-29, etc.   Sessions in the 0-9 block are shorter in duration than sessions in the 20-29 block. 
  6. I tend to recommend that the final block of 50-59 be used for endurance sessions, as this block is unlimited in length (you can go as long or as short as you like).
  7. Within each block, the intensity of the workout increases with the numeric value.  For example, workouts at levels 50, 51, and 52 will have minor variations in load, which makes the workout session relatively easy.  Levels 55, 56, and 57, on the other hand, will have much greater variations in workout load, which will make the session much harder.  Remember, when resistance increases, you just have to pedal harder--shifting won't make the load any easier!
  8. After you've pressed the orange reset button as described above, press the plus key to scroll up through the workout levels.  Workout levels will be displayed top-right on your hand controller.
  9. After you've selected your workout level, press the F1 button (bottom-left button) to start the timer.  Once the timer begins, the CT hand unit will begin generating random courses for you.  
  10. If you find that a random course is either too hard or too easy, adjust with the blue plus and minus keys.


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