Still on the Zwift learning curve, I came across device which claims to produce a more realistic feeling when pedalling, providing a little side to side motion. It is also, supposed, to relieve stress on the rider (especially the rear end) and on the rear drop-outs where the bike attaches to the trainer.
Rocker Plates (that’s what they’re called) can be bought and start at around £150 and then just get more and more expensive. Some high end jobs even allow some fore and aft movement.
Digging a little deeper, and I discovered that it is (fairly) simple to knock up a rocker plate at home. A nice little DIY project.
First off, I needed to measure the bike and trainer and produce some high-tech CAD drawings (yeh, right!)
I sketched out what was needed and I remember seeing some scrap MDF that I could use.
I ordered some hinges and some suspension units from Amazon on next-day delivery.
Armed with my plans and a circular saw, I set about cutting out two coffin shaped pieces.
In reality, I cut out ONE coffin but the remaining MDF wasn’t large enough to make a second.
I had a re-think and decided that the top could be a more cut down version as long as the turbo trainer’s feet and the bike’s front wheel were supported. This could just about be eked out from the material available.
With my parts having been delivered and my two pieces of wood, I set about constructing my very own rocker plate.
The base was prepared and two hinges were attached with the hinge pin running down the centre of the board (I had to make a slight depression for the hinge to sit flat).
Blocks of wood were attached to the hinges and the upper board lined up over the base. Pilot holes were drilled and the two pieces screwed together.
I was happy to see that the top board rocked smoothly about the centre.
Having done what I could downstairs (where there’s more room) I carried the project up to the cave. I have decided that the office / exercise suite will be known as The Cave (not pain cave – I hate that expression).
Now was the time to insert the suspension. Initially, I placed one ‘unit’ on each side and rocking the top met with some resistance. I added two more and this seemed like the right amount of dampening – I can always adjust these later.
So what are these suspension units and what makes them so special?
The ready made units feature inflatable bladders that can be blown up to to give the required resistance.
The cheaper alternative – tennis balls – is what I’d be using.
Next job was to mount the trainer. The two outriggers have adjustable feet and by unscrewing these and inserting a threaded rod I was able to bolt through the board locking it all together with a couple of washers and nuts.
The front wheel riser was fixed in place with a screw but this needs to be uprated as the screw came loose after a few minutes testing. I’ll probable nut and bolt it.
The bike was re-fixed to the trainer and the gears checked for proper operation.
I even drilled a hole trough the top plate for the power cable.
I have an ANT+ dongle on a USB extension positioned near the turbo which I will fix below the top plate to protect it from mechanical damage, sweat and oil (add to the to-do list).
The whole contraption was positioned next to the desk and resting on the foam mat to provide some noise reduction.
The top bar is now a few inches higher up so I may have to look at getting / making a small step to facilitate me getting my leg over.
I clambered aboard and spun the pedals to get a feel and all seemed good. A slight side to side motion was evident but not too much that I was going to get sea-sick every time I rode.
With everything working, I tidied up in preparation for my Wednesday Wobble group ride.
In the pre-ride banter, I explained that I would be trying the rocker board and if I suddenly stopped; it had failed.
I was one of the first to join the ride (that’s me, centre stage) and spent the time making sure that everything was to hand – Drink, towel, companion app running on my phone.
I spin the legs easily to get them ready for the ride.
At the allotted time, about twenty of us set off for a gentle ride around London.
This is an easy paced ride and I tried my hardest to stay in the main group throughout the hour ride. On the whole, I managed but did find myself out in front a few time so I had to soft pedal until I got caught.
Again, a very enjoyable ride, covering sixteen miles with a short cool down at the end (best place for it really!)
The rocket plate worked a treat and the ride felt much more natural. An added bonus is that on the corners, I could lean a little which felt good.
Now that I have proven the concept, I will make a few modification and give the whole thing a lick of paint. I have ordered some non-slip tape for the base and a couple of Elite stickers for the top.