Many times you feel like it might be comfortable to ride a bike outdoors but difficult while riding it inside with Trainer. In that case, you need to look through the difference between the use cases.
When we mount a bike onto a typical trainer, it becomes rigidly clamped to it, disallowing any motion. It exerts excessive pressure on the support tissue and discomfort on the saddle. This is because there is no shift in the demand on the muscles and tissue around them. However, while riding outdoors, we experience natural motion as the bike remains unrestricted in use. Hence, the bike & saddle movement is flexible & dynamic which leads to higher saddle comfort and lower pressure on the sit bones & soft tissue.
To inspect the above theory, you can check the saddle pressure mapping test- Rocker Plate Testing & Results in this video: https://youtu.be/2LF5lkYdbCc
What is Rocker Plate and why it is needed????
Some of you might be new to indoor cycling or planning to buy the best indoor cycling training equipment. While some might be already using a trainer but still looking for a better indoor riding experience. Thus, basically, the race between all the manufactures of Indoor Cycling equipment worldwide is to strive for the better. And consequently, transform indoor rides into a more realistic road-like experience.
Smart Trainers are in demand as they gamified the entire indoor cycling experience. The technology-driven rides made many people addicted to Indoor Cycling. Yes, I did mention addictive, and not all addictions are bad. This one is keeping you fit.
A good experience in a workout makes you push harder to make it better. The desire for Betterment brings Innovation. Here comes the Rocker Plates.
Rocker Plates are two plywood plates curved beautifully in rocket/aero design and between these two-ply, there are some linear bearings to give forward/ backward movement. There are inflatable balls on either corner for sidewise lateral motion. This rocker plate is placed under the smart trainer for a more realistic and engaging feel of virtual riding. Apart from this, what makes the rocker plates experience a notch up from typical dump or smart trainers are the below benefits:
1. The rocker plates make the whole system of you, your bike, and your trainer rock together as in real riding.
2. The free rocking motion with rocker plates makes standing pedaling more comfortable and engaging in comparison to the awkward body motion in rigid trainers.
3. This allows for frequent standing pedaling breaks, adding more saddle comfort while seated for long indoor cycling sessions.
4. Furthermore, the bike mounted on a rocker plate is less stable than on a rigid trainer. Thus, to ride upright and maintain balance for a smooth pedal stroke, there is a greater engagement of the core and upper body.
With this step-by-step guide, anyone can make Rocker Plates at home and get the best from smart trainers.
This Indoor Cycling Series 5 is all about “How one can make a perfect rocker plate of their exclusive shape and design”. We at Ashwa Pro manufacture and customize Rocker Plates compatible with different models of Smart trainers. Often, we get queries from all around India sharing the unique design ideas they want their rocker plates should be. And why not, after all, it is all about one’s own experience and gratification.
Please Note – We have no intention to waste your precious time, money, and energy, We have tried our best to share the simplest DIY with material readily available on market. We recommend you engage in this task of making rocker plates only if you have firm plans, some fabrication experience, and most importantly enough motivation to complete it. We would love to share with you two different types of rocker plates, their features, and the complete process of this rocker plate DIY so that you can make one at home.
So, let’s start with – Types of Rocker Plates
Plates with Rare Only Rocking motion i.e sidewise lateral motion
This is easier to make, less time-consuming, and most importantly lightweight.
Plates With both Fore-aft and sidewise lateral motion This allows for forwarding-backward movement also. The whole arrangement of the body, bike, and rocker plate moves with the change in cadence, body movement from sitting to standing position & power stocks.
Rocker Plate 1– Rare Only Rocking Motion
1. Ply Board – There are various varieties of plyboard available in the market. One can make rocker plates even from the old door of the house. We recommend taking Birch ply(12 mm thickness), if this is not available you can use an MDF sheet(18 mm thickness).
2. Inflatable balls – You can check for inflatable balls on various online shopping websites. Their size does matter here, mini football size 1 is good to go which you may find on the Decathlon store or website. If this is not available or hard to source you can go for regular tennis balls.
3. Basic Carpenter tools – Fevicol, Allen key bolts, regular screws, and the drill machine.
4. Paint – PU paint of your color choice
5. Three cylindrical bobbins – (Male-male) or Anti Vibration mounting brackets also work great.
Below are some of the rocker plate designs for your reference, to get an idea of the basic structure and shape. The best design will be the one that you make by yourself.
The first step is to visualize the design you want. And sketch it and then redo the sketch on the Plyboard. While making your final design make sure to check the positioning of your Indoor trainer multiple times. Mark holes at pivots and clamping slots for Trainer. Since it is your first time, to avoid any modification at a later stage, it is fine to have a few more slots for clamping. Many times the trainer may not be clamped properly/ not equidistant from the center Pivots. This will cause uneven pressure on inflatable balls and that leads to improper rocking motion.
Imp. Note – Don’t Throw any offcut pcs everything will be used.
If your design is simple and you have the experience or availability of some carpenter with the required tools to give it the desired shape, go for it. Otherwise, we recommend taking the board and design to the CNC machine workshop and getting it done there to have precise cutting and holes in one go. CNC cutting allows you to engrave your logo or any design/border of your choice on the board.
Rare-only rocker plates are portable and best for smaller places.
For rare rocker plates, it is very important to make a flat wheel riser, in level or a little higher than rocker plates. A footstep is also recommended for easy mounting and dismounting. Both can be easily made from the offcut pcs of the board. As shown in the picture you just need to place the bobbins in the center and place the inflatable balls equidistant from the pivot. Fix both plates and try it a few times before you apply paint.
Rocker plate 2- A full-length Rocker Plate for both Sidewise and fore-aft motion
12 mm Birch Ply or 18 mm MDF sheet
2 – 1 x 20 mm steel tube of 1524 mm length
3 – 4 x 20 mm shaft block.
4 – 3 x 20 mm linear bearing (SCS20UU)
5 – 2 x steel alloy compression springs 135 mm x 27 mm
We will begin with the same process and policy of minimum waste and maximum utilization.
Remember you are making a full-size rocker plate which gives you the flexibility to choose from endless design options. You can desire to make a design of a Fighter Jet, a bird in an aerodynamic state, a fish, or a ship. Or anything that fits your exercise room and suits your bike.
Draw a sketch first on paper and then the same on a plyboard. In general, The Plyboard comes in the size of 4×8 feet size, a single board is good for 1 complete rocker plate. Draw and cut the two plates diagonally as shown in the image. You will be able to make maximum use of one single Board, therefore, don’t throw any offcut pcs.
As I mentioned in Half Rocker Plates: If your design is simple and you have experience or the availability of some carpenter with the required tools to give it the desired shape, go for it. Else we recommend taking the board and designing it with a CNC machine workshop. And get it done there to have precise cutting and holes in one go.CNC cutting allows you to engrave your logo or any design/border of your choice on the board.
Now place the lower plate and set the bearings and shaft blocks in a line. To place the inflatable balls, make such a bowl to have a smooth sidewise & fore-aft movement altogether. Place the upper Plate and fix it, now stand in the center of the plates and feel both movements. Adjust the movement by adjusting the air pressure in the balls for lateral motion. Also, you can adjust the shaft blocks for fore-aft movement.
Once you fix the plates, smart Trainer, and Bike, ride for some time to check the sound and any vibration if you feel. If it is more then you have to make some modifications to it.
The vibration and sound from the rocker plate may be due to the following reasons –
- The surface of the Plyboard you are using is not 100% flat or the ground surface is uneven.
- While manually cutting or fixing the screws, there may develop some band at that portion. This generally happens with MDF sheets or with poor-quality birch ply.
- The size of steel rod and springs around it are of different sizes than what we have mentioned in the requirements. It’s a game of MM. A single MM can make a whole lot of difference, and develop some noise in fore-aft movement.
- The linear bearings are of different sizes or poor quality. Or in a rare case, you have tried to fix it in the wrong way multiple times and the grease(lubrication) wiped off.
- The vibration can be eliminated by placing a trainer mat under the plates or a carpet also works.
In the end, if everything is perfect, one still has to deal with a little sound mixed up with the sound from the trainer. So it is fine if it is not bothering you. Just ride on and Enjoy the best of your Indoor Cycling Rides Now you have Full Rocker Plates.
All the above information is shared to make you understand the use and advantages of having a rocker plate. Most Importantly, how one can make these at home. Share with us your views and questions if any. We will be delighted to assist you further in making your rocker plates better.
(No BUSINESS, PURE LOVE FOR CYCLING AND COMMUNITY)
Soon we will post a video of the making of the Rocker plate on our youtube channel. You can also check our Indoor Cycling Series, an all-rounder guide to enhance your indoor cycling experience.
Indoor Cycling Series 1: This is a perfect guide to a powerful 45- minutes step-by-step Indoor Cycling Routine and Training at home with your Indoor Bike Trainer/ Rollers.
Indoor Cycling Series 2: Get detailed knowledge about the Best Equipment and Setup for Indoor Cycling Workouts and measure their pros and cons to find your ideal one.
Indoor Cycling Series 3: Record your Indoor Cycling Routines with the Best Workout Apps that come with interactive features, detailed analytics, minimal equipment, and investment.
Indoor Cycling Series 4: Know everything about the challenges, rewards, tricks, and easiest hacks for maintaining quick balance while riding on rollers.
Indoor Cycling Series 5: Learn how to connect Zwift or any Virtual Riding App with a non-smart trainer and what exclusive features you can enjoy thereafter.