Need help? Email

Smart Trainers Explained

What is an electronic trainer?

An electronic trainer is a smart trainer with a load generator that can be electronically controlled. For a full list of supported smart trainers, consult our Equipment Checker

Smart trainer modes

Smart trainers can be used in either two or three modes (depending on the type of smart trainer you own). The terminology for each mode differs between manufacturers, but the functionality of each mode is the same. 

Resistance Control (ERG) Mode - This is the most commonly used mode as TrainerRoad can automatically control the trainer's resistance in accordance with the workout's profile. There's no need to shift in this mode as the resistance will change automatically. You can learn more about using ERG mode here

Standard Trainer Mode - This mode mimics the functionality of a fluid trainer. Fluid trainers have non-linear, exponential power-to-speed ratios (power curves) that are simulated in this mode. This mode often includes a variable resistance setting that can be electronically adjusted. Note: Not all smart trainers have Standard mode functionality. 

Resistance Trainer Mode - This mode mimics the functionality of magnetic trainer with a linear power curve. This mode includes a variable resistance setting that can be electronically adjusted.

Some trainers do not support all three modes. TrainerRoad will display the modes that are supported by your trainer when you pair your trainer. 

What do we recommend?

For most training sessions, we recommend using ERG mode. In this mode, smart trainers constantly adjust resistance to match TrainerRoad's target power - no shifting or cadence adjustments necessary. ERG mode allows you to focus purely on the workout at hand. 

That said, there are a few special cases where using ERG mode is not recommended.

1. FTP testing intervals - Test intervals inside of one of our FTP test workouts will need to be done in either Standard or Resistance mode. Since these intervals should be done as hard as you can, we don't want ERG mode limiting your power output. Don't worry though, TrainerRoad will automatically switch your trainer out of ERG mode during test intervals. 

2. Sprint intervals - ERG trainers perform a brief ramp up to an interval’s target power. For longer, less-intense intervals, this ramp-up is hardly noticeable. However, this ramp is more pronounced for short, high-intensity intervals. If an interval is between five and 20 seconds, riders may want to consider riding in Standard/Resistance mode to avoid any lag time in reaching their target watts.

What is the default mode, and how can I change modes?

All smart trainers default to ERG mode when first paired. However, you can change your trainer's mode easily from the devices screen of the application. Simply click or tap on your trainer to open up the device settings, and select the desired training mode. 


In the desktop app, you can also change your trainer's mode mid-ride from the live workout screen. 




Have More Questions? We Can Help!

Contact Support