Remember when SRAM acquired PowerTap and we all scratched our heads as to why, because they already owned Quarq from an earlier acquisition? Well, maybe it’s because they, like us, saw the potential for getting into the indoor bike trainer business. While they may have missed the first wave of frenzied fitness purchases spurred by stay-at-home orders, operations like Zwift, Rouvy, Kinomap and others means the indoor cycling market still has plenty of runway.
This recent patent filing from SRAM shows a modular indoor cycling trainer, which we’d guess would get the PowerTap branding over Quarq. Or, at least, use it’s technology to put the power meter into a hub-like unit rather than a crank-based power meter like Quarq.
The patent filing mentions two key differentiators that could set this bike apart from other cycling-brand offerings. First, modular construction that assembles easily and makes it smaller and lighter for shipping. And, it means that parts (like the drive system, electronics, etc.) can be replaced or upgraded in the future.
This also means they could offer an inexpensive, friction-and-weight-based flywheel system that’s driven directly by the cranks, or a belt-driven, electronically controlled resistance unit that’s offset from the crank’s spindle. Either way, they could build “smart”, electromagnetic- or friction-based resistance control into it.
Second is the console screen. While it’s only loosely mentioned, the illustrations show it as an integral part rather than a tray for placing your tablet or phone (but it also mentions options for that).
Assuming they integrate a screen, those two features could differentiate it from standalone indoor cycle trainers from Stages and Wahoo, which lack a screen and are built with a solid, one-piece frame.
Modular and swappable seats, handlebars and pedals let multiple riders share the same bike.
If the bike comes in under $1,500 to $1,800, and uses an Android-based or similar platform that allows for 3rd party apps, it could potentially give users the ability run anything from Peloton’s App to Zwift to Rouvy to Kinomap to just spinning and binging Netflix.
What do you think? What other features could they add to make this replace your bike-on-trainer setup?