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Testing on an ERG Trainer

Erg Mode vs Slope/Resistance Mode

Building on the information found in our Erg Mode Explained article, assessing FTP on an electronic trainer has to be done in the appropriate mode: Slope or resistance mode (depending on your particular trainer).

Fortunately, TrainerRoad switches modes for you when you assess your FTP via our 20-Minute Test or our 8-Minute Test.

 

Why Erg Mode is Bad for Assessment

If an electronic trainer is left in Erg mode, any test workouts won't assess FTP improvement because the workout will scale the assessment interval(s) to the FTP listed in your profile.

To avoid this, the assessment needs to take place in Slope/Resistance mode in order to allow a rider to work at his/her own pace rather than having the trainer determine a pace based on the input FTP.

In the case of a first-time assessment for a new TrainerRoad athlete, using Erg mode could be even more problematic since the default value for a new rider's FTP is 200. This standard value will likely be too high or too low unless your fitness happily coincides with the default 200 watts.

When you assess your sustainable power using one of our two test formats, TrainerRoad's workout player will automatically switch to Slope/Resistance mode just prior to each test interval.

If you wish to use a higher or lower Slope/Resistance setting, you're free to adjust it yourself and it makes no difference if you use different Slope/Resistance settings from interval to interval or test to test.

By switching to Slope/Resistance mode, you're allowed to go hard without being forced to maintain the calculated Target Power that would be forced on your legs in Erg mode. You can pace according to your current capabilities such that you ride as strongly as possible for the assessment interval(s).

 

Ignore the Graph

During the test intervals, totally ignore the graph's recommendations.

Whether you're above, below or exactly in line with the graph makes no difference. It's important that these assessment efforts are not restricted or guided in any way.

We're simply trying to get a reasonably-close estimate of your Functional Threshold Power, something we can't do if your electronic trainer is limiting your power. 

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Comments

  • Avatar
    Andrew Greif

    Does TR automatically switch to slope mode for the Spinervals 27.0 20 minute test too? I've got a buddy using Wahoo with the Spinervals workout and he was saying for the first 2 minutes of the test it starts with a huge power spike and is cycling the resistance that drives a much higher power until about 2 -3 minutes into it when it seems to go to slope mode.

    Spinervals: http://www.trainerroad.com/cycling/rides/897541-Spinervals-27-0-Threshold-Test
    8 Minute Test: http://www.trainerroad.com/cycling/rides/521120-8-Minute-Test

  • Avatar
    Asger Højland Jensen

    I would really like you to erase the blue target blocks when changing to slope mode when testing ftp. Or maybe make them sky high. The thing is that in reality, for me at least, it is hard to ignore the target line when I am actually riding quite lose to it. This can make me under or over achieve...

  • Avatar
    Darden Mueller

    @Asger: Unfortunately you're not able to erase the blue intervals. The intervals are placed as a point of reference. You should try your best to ignore the power targets! Sorry there isn't a better way around this. :(

  • Avatar
    Frank Gagliardi

    I just purchased the Whoo Kickr Snap. I tried to do the 20 minute fit test but by when I get to one & five minute fitness tests, it prompts me to keep my cadence very high. However the resistance automatically increases to the point that I cant get my cadence above 50-60 and I end up completely wiped out rather than sufficiently warmed up. Suggestions?

  • Avatar
    Chad McNeese

    Frank, if this is your first test in TrainerRoad, you might want to do the test in Slope mode. That would allow you to adjust gearing and resistance unlike the way ERG mode works. It could be that the ERG power is too far from your current power and too much demand at that point in the test.

    Maybe after you get your real FTP from a test in Slope mode, the test could run better for you in ERG mode the next time.

  • Avatar
    Simon Colley

    Hi Chad, i use the iphone app with a kickr for the 8 minute power test. I am finding myself inbetween gears when the kickr switches to slope mode (to low a gear & too high a cadence or too high a gear & too low a cadence) - Is there a way to change the slope in the app so that I can use different gears ?

  • Avatar
    Larry Sussman

    Hi Simon, on our mobile app there should be a Slope mode adjustment in the "Devices" tab under the paired KICKR. You should be able to toggle the slope and resistance of the trainer between levels 1-10. Let me know if this helps you get comfortable and settle into your desired rhythm for the 8 min FTP test! :)

  • Avatar
    Yursil Kidwai
    Hi, I believe when I attempted to start in slope mode, the test eventually switched me back to Erg on the non test intervals and then back to Slope during the tests. Is there a proper way of ensuring the test does not ever attempt any mode switches? I'm thinking the best way to go about this is to unpair the Kickr totally.
  • Avatar
    Asger Højland Jensen
    @ Yursil If you unpair the KICKR and then pair it as a power meter only, then TR will only read the KICKR's power output, but won't be able to control it.
  • Avatar
    Asger Højland Jensen
    This is the same method I use to ride TR and Zwift at the same time: I am running a TR workout on my iPad, which controls resistance via bluetooth, while Swift, running on PC with an ANT+ stick, is just getting the reported power numbers from the KICKR. This way I can do Trainerroad's excellent workouts while having something pretty to look at. Actually it sometimes helps me hang in there, when I have other riders to follow, catch up to or break away from, in Swift. I know it has absolutely no effect if I ride harder because the TR workout is setting the speed at which I ride in the virtual world, but I'm apparently dumb enough to fool myself :-)
  • Avatar
    Yursil Kidwai
    @Asger thanks for the idea. I actually have a second power meter which is very reliable and I am already pairing to that for power reading purposes. I probably should do a setup similar to yours so I can get Zwift credit when training anyway! @TrainerRoad another feature which might be interesting for FTP would be to structure a FTP test with Erg mode to hit a power number that is a goal. Pacing is the hardest part of a FTP test for me right now, and the Erg mode would eliminate it as an issue. I already have a base FTP to work from. Knowing if I test that I am hitting exactly X Watts higher than before might be useful in some cases.
  • Avatar
    Alexander Smirnov
    Hi, TR team, 1) Is "Slope" mode is the same as standart (level) mode? (I have only erg, standart and resistance modes) 2) During the 20min interval TR switches kickr to standart mode? With what lavel? Same switching for 5 min pre interval in "20 min test"?
  • Avatar
    Alexander Smirnov

    Hello?!)))

  • Avatar
    Larry Sussman

    Hi Alexander,

    Sorry we missed this one!!
    1) You're correct, "Slope" mode is the same as "Standard" mode. On the KICKR it's called "Standard" but it functions the same: 10 different power curves (0-9) that you can work against.
    2) During the testing interval of an FTP test, the KICKR will be switched into "Standard" mode, level 3 by default. This is the same for the 5 min opener in the 20 Min Test workout.

    Let us know if this helps, Alexander! :)

  • Avatar
    Alexander Smirnov

    Thank you)

  • Avatar
    Ryan Hovland

    Thanks, this post helped me out a lot.

    Just curious why the info here isn't included on the workout detail page before you start the 8 minute test workout. It seems like crucial information if you want to get an accurate assessment. When I first tried the 8 minute test, I was confused why it was kicking me out of ERG mode when the intervals began, as ERG is what I'm used to. Once ERG was automatically turned off, the default slope setting was too easy for me and it wasn't obvious that I should just manually increase it and completely ignore the graph.

  • Avatar
    Asger Højland Jensen

    @Ryan
    I agree with you that there should be more info on what is going to happen when the intervals kick off. Maybe introduce small opener to prepare the rider for the task ahead.
    But you shouldn't have to manually change the slope mode. You can change resistance by shifting your gears. I'm on a KICKR and the default mode is hard/easy enough for me to find a suitable resistance either on the small front ring with cassette on the smaller cogs, or on large ring on large cogs. I'm about 300 watts ftp so I think that there's enough room for stronger or weaker riders to find at suitable gearing.
    Further more, a tighter difference between teeth on the cogs on the cassette means smaller difference in cadence/speed (power) ratio, so try to be in an area on the cassette where the spacing is smallest, so that changing gears won't affect your power output too much. Or buy a cassette with a tight spacing. 12-25's are quite common.
    As my ftp changes, I do from time to time, have a hard time finding the sweet spot with my gearing and the default slope mode, and I then change the slope mode 1 or 2 steps up or down. And here, I agree with you again, it would be nice to have a shot at adjusting before the gun goes off, so to speak.

  • Avatar
    Ryan Hovland

    @Asger
    Thanks for the tip about changing gears! Maybe that's the obvious thing to do, but I didn't try it...haha. I'm used to riding in ERG mode where I typically don't change gears very much. I see what you mean though; I should have just switched gears to up my power.

    In my last test I ended up putting it back in ERG mode when I got kicked out, which I know was the wrong thing to do. I'm a beginner rider but managed to finish the test staying right on the 220 watt interval bars (I started the test with the default 200 FTP setting). Staying on 220 watts in ERG mode was really tough for me, like almost vomiting tough : ), but I managed to hold it. I'm guessing my FTP would be around 220 then? When I finished the test, it said my recommended ftp was 192, but I'm guessing maybe the FTP calculation got thrown off with me putting it back in ERG mode.

    Anyway, I'll probably just retest in a few days and try to get an accurate FTP.

    Thanks for the help!

  • Avatar
    Christian Eilersen

    @Ryan
    Your FTP is based on your 1-hours Treshold power. When you test your performance on shorter sessions, either a 2x8min or 20min FTP test in TR, the program adjust your result down by 10% for the 8min, and 5% for the 20 min test, to reflect the difference in going all-out for 8min or 20min instead of the full 1 hour. The numbers you get would suggest that you have taken the 8min FTP test - 220watts - 10% equals around 195-200w full hour FTP. :)

  • Avatar
    Ryan Hovland

    Gotcha, this makes sense. Thanks for the help!

  • Avatar
    Christian Eilersen

    Hi Trainerroad-team,
    I have an issue when doing the 2x8min FTP-test. (I am using a TACX Smart trainer)
    The session starts out in ERG mode during the first 25 min warmup phase - and switches to resistance-mode (as it should) during the 2x 8 min efforts. My problem is that TR resets the resistance setting to max (60.0) at the start of each effort, which makes it almost impossible for me to keep the pedels turning - that means I have to use the mouse to change the resistance to around 25 (which is very hard with a HR of 200.. :). This makes the first 10-20 seconds of each effort very unstable. Is there a way to set the resistance level to a default value?

  • Avatar
    Asger Højland Jensen

    @ Christian.
    I strongly recommend that you send an email directly to support@trainerroad.com or do a chat session with their support team, as this could sound as a problem specific to your setup. And oh, be sure to check that all your devices and apps are updated to newest software.
    And if you can tell which exact Tacx trainer you are using, then maybe somebody using the same trainer might have some valuable input.

  • Avatar
    Claude Samson

    Hi, I'm using a Tacx Bushido Smart and the last PC Trainnerroad application.
    I have only 2 choices for the mode... ERG and Resistance... no slope or standard mode...

  • Avatar
    Christian Eilersen

    @Asger - thanks, I will do that.

  • Avatar
    Patrick Myers

    @christian what was the outcome? I have the Tacx Neo and did the FTP test last night. Or tried to. When TR switched to "Resistance" mode for the pre-test 5 minute interval, TR went to 60 and my trainer basically came to a full stop, even in the lowest gear. My fiancee was making terrible faces as my bike sounded like it was going to come apart trying to switch gear and crank on on the pedals. I thought it was a setting _I_ had set previously somehow, so I scaled it down to ~3 and kept going. When TR switched back to Resistance 60 for the actual test, I knew it was something wonky with the software.

    Which is why I'm here; I found this thread looking for answers.

  • Avatar
    Bruce Jackson

    @christian & @patrick I have the same problem as both of you with the Tacx Neo - the resistance switches jumps to 60, and although I manually tried to change it, it didn't seem to make any difference

  • Avatar
    Patrick Myers

    The response I got from TR Support was during ERG mode before the switchover, pause the workout for a few seconds, manually switch to resistance mode and set it to whatever level, unpause and continue workout. That would prevent the jump to resistance level 60 when it ticks over. The only problem is that you'd need to do it twice. I'm going to try just setting TR to resistance mode wholesale if I try the FTP test again.

  • Avatar
    Bruce Jackson

    @patrick that's a bit of a shoddy answer - having to pause the training manually and go through all that faff is really annoying. I also have a problem that I'm running the software on a mac...which means I don't just have the device on hand, its on a table in front of me. Reaching over, fumbling with the track pad, getting the mouse of the resistance button... not ideal at all.

  • Avatar
    Bryce Lewis

    Hey Patrick and Bruce!

    Your problem arises due to the increased Resistance of the Tacx Neo (compared to other Tacx trainers) and how it communicates with the current Mac software. This is a problem we have rectified in the new Windows and iOS application, and a problem that will soon be resolved for Mac users when we release the new Mac app in the near future. The best solution for now is to use the Arrow keys to adjust the resistance to a reasonable level at the beginning of the test interval. And rest assured, a more elegant solution is coming soon in the form of our new app:)

    Cheers,
    Bryce Lewis

  • Avatar
    Patrick Myers

    "Reaching over, fumbling with the track pad, getting the mouse of the resistance button... not ideal at all."

    @Bruce Why do you think I haven't done an FTP test since the middle of June. ;)

    Thanks for the update Bryce. Looking forward to the Mac update.

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