We look at the steer gear options for e-Racers

There are lots of options in the e-cycling platform market and each will suit different people for different reasons, Rouvy has the best scenery, WahooRGT has the best racing, CADEsport has the best skill factor and Zwift has, errrr, the most people. MyWhoosh is free and there are more training based apps such as BKool.

We haven’t tried them all yet, but we have our favourites based upon our own preferences. It is a competitive market and there are disputes as hardware and software suppliers jostle for position. Wahoo are currently suing Zwift and debates ensue amongst consumers as to where it is all heading. It would be easy to assume that hardware may becomes software specific to certain platforms, but this would not seem a good step for the players in the market as things currently stand.

This latter point brings us to the current excitement about steering being added to Wahoo RGT. This is a good development, but not a new one, both Zwift and CADEsport beat them to it and Muoverti may yet have something to say.

Zwift made a bit of a hash with the steering introduction, by making it hardware specific with a deal that meant that it only worked on Elite Smart Trainers and only featured in certain races. Not surprisingly it failed as nobody was going to by a new smart trainer for a limited amount of races with a limited amount of people …. especially Zwift riders, given that it’s primary selling point is that a lot of other people are on it rather than its technical prowess.

So, for a while it seemed that steering was on the back burner, but then along came CADEsport, an embryonic innovative platform with big ambitions. It has braking, steering, crashing and a whole load of other great innovations in the pipeline. It is a game changer. But when a game does change, the agile react and WahooRGT are following as the ‘best of the rest’ it seems at the moment.

Before we discuss the offerings, let’s be clear, steering on both Wahoo RGT and CADEsport is not steering around corners, but changing lane on the track. That’s about it at the moment. But it has the advantage of taking better corner lines, lining up Team Time Trials and overtaking can be more skillful.

CADEsport must have studied Zwift’s failure and seen its shortcomings and therefore went for a keyboard and phone app option, meaning most people won’t need to buy something new to join in. We think that more bespoke kit is going to become the norm and Wahoo RGT’s new STEER (pictured top left) is a pretty good design at the first attempt. It works in conjunction with a Wahoo/Garmin mount, holds the phone and has paddles at the side to operate it with your thumbs from the handlebars. By tipping the phone up and down from the sides, the bike will steer, alternatively, you can use keys on your laptop if within reach. The stumbling block here is the £99 price tag, which is likely to put a lot of people off.

Both Wahoo RGT and CADEsport also have options to use your smartphone touchscreen (pictured top left and middle right retrospectively), but our experience is that sweat is likely to be a problem here and the screen may not respond when wet.

In contrast, CADEsport’s phone app swivels from side to side, so you could just have it on a flat surface. We have also used it by putting the phone on a phone-mount on the handlebars and turning the handlebars. To do this, you’ll need your front wheel to be able to turn, which ain’t happening on a Wattbike. On a wheeled bike you can actually put two pieces of paper under the front wheel and the wheel will turn, although we have also used the Elite Sterzio Riser (pictured bottom right). We believe that CADEsport may be developing some phone housing kit, but we have no idea what yet!

However, we have what we think is the cheap solution to reaching the current optimum as this area of e-racing evolves, it’s the three button mini-keyboad (pictured bottom left). We set this up with a USB lead to a PC (Bluetooth versions are available) and went into the hotkey settings in CADESport (ShiftQ) and allocated Button 1 to steer left, the central Button (2) to Braking and Button 3 to steer right. It worked superbly using our thumbs and whilst we suspect that better designed solutios will evolve, for between £10 and £20 on Amazon and eBay it was far cheaper than both the Elite Rizer and WahooRGT STEER.

Finally, what is the experience? We would suggest that the Wahoo RGT and CADEsport versions are not quite the same thing but we love both of them. CADEsport is full of new ideas and is breaking new ground in many innovative ways, and can be a bit of a culture change for the unadventurous. But key to this is that it creates challenges on the courses that other platforms simply don’t have and it has devised its steering with this in mind. Meanwhile, WahooRGT has been the place to be for quality racing for those in the know for a while now. Racers are its key audience and the way RGT heve set up the steering is superbly engineered with this in mind.

Both platforms have lanes built into the course, you can’t see them on CADEsport but you can work out where they are as you steer across. They are also hidden on Wahoo RGT until you steer, at which point a marker on the road appears to indicate where you will ‘land’ from tilting the steering. The longer you leave your hand on the steering, the further across the road the target marker moves. The transition is exceptionally smooth. CADEsport is designed for quick hops across tracks to avoid obstacles on some courses, so moves in a way more suited to that.

We are delighted that two of our favourite platforms are surging ahead and paving the way for more immersive e-racing, exciting times lie ahead!