Erg mode - pros/cons podcast

Erg mode…I love it but I will say the trainer does make the difference. My old trainer was painful with wheel on and the spiral of death that I would hit… Switching trainers to a Tacx Neo 2 and all my issues went away.

I just find erg keeps me at the right power for the workout. I can ride steady power outside or inside but I have a tendency to go harder. Erg just keeps me in check. Sure I can ride without erg but I dont see the benefit when it works.


But is this truly a skill? I’ve done hundreds of races and hard hitting group rides and I don’t think I’ve ever once thought that if I maintained a steady pace, it would have improved my performance.

(I don’t use ERG but it’s not clear to me that it’s that bad of a thing. I guess you could get the odd bird who only rides indoors and then tries to do an event outdoors never having really ridden their bike outside.)


I dont see how this is a problem with Erg mode. I learned how to pace better outside from riding erg mode inside. I dont see the difference.


This “you’re not maximizing the use of your time to train your skills” statement always comes up in the Erg discussions, and it’s cherry-picking.

When you’re on the trainer, do you practice following the wheel in front of you, throwing elbows and hitting the brakes/smashing the pedals? Do you avoid the use of modern home cooling/heating technology to moderate the temperature? Do you forgo listening to music or watching video? Do you wear a jersey/gloves/helmet with all the same gear you would be carrying on the bike? If you don’t do all those things, then you aren’t using the exact identical skills you would use on the road.


for me one reason to keeping it “more steady” is about reducing the “match burn.” For example on Saturday I stood up while going over a roller, after nearly 5 hours, and hit 900+ watts for 5 seconds. If a car drives by and a dog barks, I reactively squirt out 500-700 watts. Those quick “burns” add up. Another reason is pacing an effort to chase down someone thats gone off the front. Learning to pace those well has been helpful.

its not, you have seen the number of posts on optimizing training time and return on investment, right? That was one of the primary messages on the podcast. I’m primarily training outside, and just kept shaking my head in agreement with all of the messages on the podcast.

When I’m inside, I simply try and emulate outside as much as possible. Thats why I use sim mode, the most powerful mode on my smart trainer. It simulates riding outside. And in the process of moving from inside to outside, I went from RPE-clueless to developing a finely tuned RPE. My last sim mode workout on Zwift looks like erg mode, and I was not watching my bike computer. My outside workouts generally look like erg mode. You can argue that is a skill not worth developing, and then we can agree to disagree as its served me well.


So do you do all those other things I listed too? If not, then you don’t do as much as possible. You choose to compromise in order to train the way you feel benefits you the most. So do I. It works for us both.


After listening to the podcast it seems like most peoples questions or input here has already been answered in said podcast.

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So I ride inside more frequently then outside and in ERG mode. Outside I try to emulate what I do inside. So the opposite of you. I dont think it changes anything on how you do your work or how I do my work.

Erg mode is just something for people to pick on. It doesnt work for everyone but it does work for a number of people.


This isn’t some schoolyard bullies picking on some kid.

It’s a training tip. Nothing more, nothing less. Choose to ignore and move along. Same as Coach Chad telling you to change cadence during a workout, and you decide to ignore it.

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So, since you can’t practice every single skill on the trainer it’s not worth practicing the ones you can??

Oops I posted again

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You COULD practice several of the “fundamental skills” I mentioned. You choose not to. I COULD practice riding with Erg turned off, but I choose not to.

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Yes, actually. Insofar as if I drift over too far the side on my rollers I’ll throw an elbow at the wall to get back to center. I’m probably not the norm though. Not sure how much / if at all it carries over to outdoor riding though.

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Ha! I did think about mentioning that you need to be on rollers to practice balance, but I was scared to go down that path! Good for you. That’s a tough skill!


I was actually just about to mention this too, haha. It’s a similar topic. ERG → Sim → Rollers? I think often people get so bogged down in the “marginal gains”, like here, that they forget for many just doing anything is better. If ERG helps you, go for it. Same thing for the rollers.

Personally, I do all of my interval work in sim mode on Zwift. But if I am doing a 70% Z2 ride, it’s ERG mode. Could I ride at 230w for 2.5+ hours without ERG mode? Sure, I do it all the time outside. But, inside ERG mode is so nice to help pass the time and just zone out.


I was mostly being silly. Although it may have kept me upright in a road race years ago where the guy next to me on my inside straight up forgot to turn.

I’ve been meaning to try erg mode on my rollers for z2 rides but the times I have I’ve turned it off pretty quickly.

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I had a power meter for about 7 years. It’s off the bike now because I finally upgraded my wheels and it was a PowerTap. I’ll get one again.

That taught me how to ride consistent. Maybe a little too consistent but that’s another story.

I really, really didn’t like the idea of erg mode. I could nail my workouts indoors and outdoors within a few watts (except for those bad days) and thought doing it this way was truth in cycling.

Then I finally got a direct drive smart trainer.

Damn, erg mode is nice. It didn’t change a thing about my outdoor habits, pacing, power sensitivity, or mindset.

However, having said that, I’m not sure I’d hate going back to my old, dumb trainer either. That worked well for 20 years.

This is all low stakes.


3 hour indoor endurance ride. Resistance mode for the first 30 minutes or so. Assess how I’m feeling. Then stick it in erg mode for the next 2.5 hours, turning the bias up or down a few watts as seems appropriate if necessary.

Best of both worlds.

In other news: amusing that Kolie’s best use of erg mode (riding around on Zwift doing fartlek-style rides) doesn’t actually use erg mode. :grin:

ETA: erg mode absolute #1 use case is for indoor recovery rides for those of us who can’t resist a hill or a sprint :sunglasses:


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Might have given a listen if it was actually 10 minutes!

My n=1 is that Erg reduces my cognitive load, which helps my consistency. I know it was an Amber buzz phrase, but particularly having a more stressful job now, that I really don’t need extra to think about around my training. I pay TR, and part of that is trusting AT and AIFTP, and letting erg handle the power. I just have pick my tunes and the race to have as moving wallpaper.


I like Kolie and his content, but disagree on erg mode somewhat. If erg mode gets you working out and hitting workout goals while on the trainer then keep on. Some people dont want to conecentrate on holding power and takes enjoyment out of training. Yes, short stuff will suffer as its difficult to program those so take that point

Also, he mentions crashes after covid were due to erg mode, i think thats a misplaced cause, surely its more to do with general turbo time and minimal group rides? Put another way resistance mode doesnt teach you riding in a bunch or how to steer!