Urge to ditch the ERG

I’d like to hear from folks who regularly train on TR without ERG mode or smart trainer.

I used to train on rollers and on a traditional turbo, then added a powereter toy bike. Went the whole hog and bought a smart trainer but thinking of ditching the latter, mostly due to the technical issues. It got me thinking: perhaps I would be better off training without ERG mode, and finding some of that focus and discipline I will need out on the road. I know most of us love and maybe are addicted to ERG, so I am really keen to hear your thoughts especially if you’re a regular on TR but not using ERG mode!


In the last two months or so I dialed back my ERG usage and now I’m not using it at all. I was initially just trying to reacquaint myself with having to actually focus on holding power because I’ll be doing more outdoor rides “soon”. Prior to that I used ERG mode exclusively.

Currently I prefer it for all sub-threshold work, which for me is most of my riding. I can play with cadence or get a more “honest” gauge of how I can hold power.

It’s just personal preference, and perhaps almost entirely mental as metabolically there is no difference.

Also, wahoo sucks lately so keeping it simple and just jumping on without fuss is nice

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I train with a dumb trainer and a powermeter. I would love to have a smart trainer with ERG mode… I think… I actually never tried ut. Presently I have to put a lot of focus on meeting the power targets faffing around whith gears, resistance setting and cadence. Often having to sacrifice the best cadence in order to meet the power target. In many workout’s there are frequently small changes in power that are impossible to meet with my setup.

Try to step down the power in small increments while at the same time increasing the cadence and then increasing the power in the same small increments while at the same time decreasing the cadence (Tunnabora). It is impossible and you end up skipping all the details and just try to keep up the big picture.


Do you feel as though you’re getting the benefit that was intended? Or do you think the accuracy means you’re missing out?

I do worry that Wahoo shows an eerily steady power number, not sure how real that actually is given the fluctuations in power when I measure it on the real world.

Why would that mater, as long as the Kicker is asked to do 250watts, does 250 watts, does it matter if it reports 250,250,250,250,250 or 247,253,249,255,255,251 ? If you also record with with a another power meter, you’ll see the kicker is all over the place correcting for you cadence\power changes

If you want to ditch ERG, just do it, as long as you match the power (you would have been doing in ERG) it won’t make any difference to your training

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I do think I am missing out on the optional exercises as some of them become impossible to combine with meeting the power target. It is also difficult to stay really close to my FTP without overshooting or getting way out of the optimal cadence. However on the whole I think I get most of the intended benefits.

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My 2c…

If you are training for a triathlon or a time-trial, I can see the value in not using ERG so you can psychologically adapt to holding specific power that you might have to race with.

However, I don’t race to power. I record it, but I don’t look at it during a race. My racing to this point has all been road races and gravel races. I am going to do some crits this year, but won’t look at power for that either.

So in my case, making sure I maximize the power consistency while training is the most important to me. There are reams of video showing that ERG mode has lower power variances vs. managing your own power. Especially if you’re on the small ring.

However, if focusing on power helps you get through the workout better – then do it. I just prefer to check out mentally, go down in the well and get the work done.

Good luck!


In other words, if you have trouble pacing TT/triathlon efforts outside then turn off Erg and practice inside!


I’m doing all my indoors training using a dumb trainer (Tacx Booster) and a P2M power meter. I do have to shift around with resistance and gearing a bit but I don’t feel it negatively impacts my training one bit. If anything it lets me focus a bit on that instead of the pain in my legs.


Never had a smart trainer. Have a power meter on bike (4iiii) and Kurt kinetic ‘dumb’ trainer which is bomb proof and great. Never felt it held me back (maybe I’d love ERG mode but don’t miss what never had!).

Never had an issue doing any workout or ramp test with it. Good as gold!


For me, Erg mode forces:

  • my recovery intervals to be easy
  • me to gut out long sweet spot and vo2max intervals (and not mentally give up)

I like taking workouts outside, and would have no problem using a dumb trainer with my bike’s power meter. But Erg is nice because it forces me to better comply with workout. Nice to have, that’s all.


On my 5th year of TR - I have a dumb trainer and a PM (started out with a dumb trainer and virtual power). We also have a kickr in the house which I’ve used a few times. I prefer my set-up as it makes me think about gearing and cadence and maintaining steady watts through long sweet spot/tempo intervals.


I ride with an old dumb trainer I got as a hand-me-down. It is a kurt kinetic brand, but old enough to be painted gray rather than the modern green.

Between that and my power meter I don’t feel like I’m missing out on much. ERG would be really nice for when I want to watch a movie/TV because I wouldn’t have to keep looking at my power to make sure I haven’t dropped a few watts, but I don’t think that’s worth the $750 or so to upgrade.

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Pros of erg mode

  • Tougher
  • Keeps you on target/honest
  • Lets you focus on just putting out power (not shifting or cadence)

Cons of erg mode

  • Not realistic in terms of resistance
  • Less mental input in the cycling
  • Slower to adapt to quick changes

Pros of non-erg mode

  • Easier
  • More realistic feel
  • Faster adaptation
  • Training shifting
  • Helps you practice more steady power output

Cons of non-erg mode

  • Easier to deviate from target
  • Your shifting might make you miss your target for a few seconds
  • Power numbers all over the place for noobs like me
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I don’t have that problem using big chainring and TR PowerMatch. Also very happy with same and vo2max intervals where the goal is aerobic work (and not power compliance). I’ve written extensively about it in the big vs little chainring thread.

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Why in the world would erg mode be tougher? 300W is 300W, so if you hit the power target the way you got there really has no importance.

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It’s just the way i felt, it’s like erg mode feels like i’m on a hill where as when i’m in non-erg/resistance mode i feel like it’s the equivalent of me pushing harder on a flat surface. And i guess the ease option of being able to possibly “wuss” out makes it easier in my weird brain?

I do have a cheaper smart trainer so maybe there’s a difference but that’s how i feel on the pedals on erg vs non-erg


I think you’ve nailed it for me thanks.

It’s a good summary, but some things you listed are subjective and not everyone will experience the same!


especially with different levels of fitness and different trainers and bicycles. totally agree!