Pedalling is something we all do without thinking about. But like everything in cycling, it takes practice to master. Tacx’s NEO 2T Smart trainer supports cycling dynamics that help thoroughly analyse your pedal stroke. And when paired with the new Garmin Edge 530, you can now view and analyse this data in new and ever more insightful ways.
THE ANTIDOTE TO PEDALLING SQUARES
We cyclists will go to all lengths to gain an edge. In the pursuit of a few watts here and there, coaches, manufacturers, and athletes delve deep into the scientific data fields of aerodynamics, thermodynamics, and now, something called cycling dynamics.
Cycling Dynamics consists of additional power meter metrics that extend beyond the basic data traditionally provided by power meters and include greater information related to pedalling dynamics to measure:
- Platform Center Offset measures the position of the foot on the pedal and analyses where a rider applies pressure on the pedal. It’s typically used in bike fit situations to help centre the cleat position.
- Power Phase analyses the points where a rider begins and stops generating power within the left pedal stroke and the right pedal stroke.
- Rider Position analyses the time a rider spends in and out of the saddle.
Several other related metrics such as left/right power balance, torque effectiveness (how much of the stroke contributes to forward momentum), and pedal smoothness (how smooth the entire stroke is) are also available. However, they are not strictly considered cycling dynamics, as they were around long before Garmin devised the term.
COMPATIBILITY WITH TACX SMART TRAINERS
Tacx’s NEO 2T Smart trainer comes equipped with support for cycling dynamics. These features, which were previously only supported on the Tacx desktop application, are now compatible with the Edge 530 Garmin Head Unit. By pairing your trainer with the Edge, you can now view this data onscreen while riding as well as analyse it in graphical form post-ride.
To view data such as power phase and left/right balance, you’ll need to pair the NEO 2T to the Edge via the sensors menu as a “Power Meter” and “Spd/Cad” sensor. If paired as an indoor trainer, the Garmin Edge 530 will only display power data.
THE ADVANTAGES OFFERED BY CYCLING DYNAMICS
While many assume that such metrics are for the data nerds, the truth is that when interpreted wisely, cycling dynamics can be very useful for a variety of reasons.
HONING PERFORMANCE ON SPECIFIC TERRAIN
Time trial specialists often benefit from analysing their pedal stroke in detail. Over long periods on flat roads, seemingly insignificant losses in power output at any point in the stroke can quickly add up.
Likewise, anyone looking to improve their climbing game will also benefit. As we climb, different muscles fire and we generate power at different points on the stroke. Merely honing a pedal stroke for one discipline doesn’t necessarily mean that it carries over to another.
THE PERFECT BIKE FIT
A proper bike fit is essential for anyone who wants to challenge the limits of what they can achieve. Due to old injuries, existing inefficiencies, and poor posture, many cyclists tend to leave watts behind. By analysing left/right balance you may begin to clearly see where inefficiencies creep in as you change position on the bike between the flat roads and climbs.
Such imbalances in power may be due to hip flexor issues and unconscious compensation. Any glaring problems quickly become obvious as cycling dynamics provide the feedback required to fine-tune position.
HARNESS THE HIDDEN POTENTIAL OF YOUR NEO 2T
With cycling dynamics, it becomes easier for many cyclists to appreciate some of the under-utilised features on the NEO 2T–the isokinetic and isotonic modes.
In isotonic mode, The NEO will force you to apply the same force right the way through the pedal stroke. The idea behind it is to enable you to work your muscles with the same tension right the way through the stroke. It may feel awkward at first, but it will help you address any bad pedalling habits you’ve picked up. By analysing the power phase data on the Garmin Edge 530, you’ll see exactly where you lack consistency.
With isokinetic mode, the NEO dynamically adjusts the resistance to keep you from surpassing a preselected speed. It’s great for rehabilitation as well as perfecting a pedal stroke. Coaches often prescribe this exercise, and on your smart trainer, without the distractions of wind, traffic, and obstacles, isokinetic mode provides the ideal environment to perfect a pedal stroke. The cycling dynamics data rendered on the Garmin Edge 530 will provide valuable real-time feedback on how perfect your stroke is.
PEDAL STROKE ANALYSIS AND MARGINAL GAINS
The smart trainer is one of the most effective tools in cultivating the marginal gains that make all the difference out on the road. Breaking old habits is hard, but like every new skill we wish to develop, it’s always easier when we harness the direct feedback provided by modern tech. Seeing the information on a data screen before our eyes enables a much deeper bodily connection to the experience, and riders can make corrections on the go and thus bring about more favourable adaptations sooner.
By harnessing the potential of the NEO 2T and the Garmin Edge 530 together, you may well find the road to eliminating those dead spots and imbalances to be a lot smoother than it otherwise might. And who knows, maybe after a few sessions, you’ll knock a handful of seconds off your club 10 record!