Rocker Plate Madness: Endurance Rockr
If you have been paying attention to the Zwift community, you know that rocker plates are the new craze. These platforms, very much like the Kurt Rock and Roll trainer, allow your trainer and bike to move side to side mimicking the natural movements of a bike on the road. The big questions some ask include: do they work and feel realistic, will they eliminate saddle soreness or numbness, do they increase or decrease power output, and do they help when standing up on the trainer, etc….?
The Zwift community has offered many DIY designs for building rocker plates, many available on Facebook through the Rocker Plates group. Most use pillow block bearings or heavy duty hinges to create a top plate the supports and “rocks” the trainer, bike, and rider. The cushioning and movement is produced by tennis balls, exercise balls, bladders, and a bunch of other creative set-ups.
Why would I decide to get a commercial model when so many folks are making their own? I am quite handy around the workshop, having spent many years making bamboo fly rods and the tooling associated with it. However, over the course of those years, I learned that sometimes it is just better to get something built right, especially in my busy world and especially considering that I have long since sold off almost all of my woodworking tools. In the long run, the time, energy, and effort were just not worth it in this DIY project. That said, I have no doubt that anyone could spend an hour online researching and buying parts and a few more putting together something nice and useful.
I just took receipt of one of the trends most expensive and promising models, the Endurance Rockr built by Chip Self and crew at Swim, Bike, Run Sports in St. Louis. At $425, it is not cheap, but considering the quality and cost of the components, I actually think it is priced appropriately. The unit is CNC cut from thick plywood and has a fantastic coating, reminiscent of heavy duty truck liner. The edges are all beautifully shaped, and it really looks great. Underneath the top, heavy pillow block bearings support a steel rod that runs the length of the unit and allow it to rock side to side cushioned by two small tire inner tubes. The rubber tubes allow the rider to adjust the unit as it rocks side to side.
The Endurance Rockr is a full length model that works especially well for people who own one of the big direct drive trainers: Tacx Neo, Tacx Flux, CycleOps Hammer, and the Wahoo Kickr. The unit has dedicated marks and cut out to attach these trainers firmly in place. My Hammer kit utilizes slots for a strap that runs up through the top plate and through the unit’s handle. This coupled with holes for the feet (attached firmly with industrial strength Velcro) allows for a pretty stable feeling unit. I am sure it will work with any trainer, but it seems optimized for these based on the cut outs, etc…
Here are some pics of the setup. In the next installment, I will share some impressions on the unit after getting a few rides in on it.