What Is a Cycling Rocker Plate and How It Works? (Ultimate RP Guide)

what is a rocker plate? An RP with a bike trainer and Simplon road bike

A cycling rocker plate is an indoor cycling accessory that allows your trainer to move from side to side. Some rocker plates also feature a fore and aft movement.

These additional movements bring many benefits, such as improved comfort when cycling indoors, making your ride more realistic, and reducing the strain on your frame.

But there is more.

Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about rocker plates.

Abbreviations used: RP – rocker plate, RPs – rocker plates

How Do Cycling Rocker Plates Work?

Cycling rocker plates usually consists of:

  • Two plates (top and bottom)
  • Leveling/suspension mechanism like inflatable balls or springs
  • Fore and aft movement mechanism (bearings, rod)
  • Other parts (bolts, screws, elastomers, hinges, etc.)

The exact parts vary depending on the rocker plate type and manufacturer.

Detail of a rocker plate fore-and-aft mechanism (front side view)
Detail of the front of a rocker plate

The principle of rocker plates is simple – allow your bike trainer, and therefore your entire bike, to swing from side to side.

Rocker plate - Side-to-side movement
Rocker plate side-to-side movement | Source: Saris

More advanced rocker plates also feature fore and aft movement, making your ride even more realistic.

Rocker plate - Fore and aft movement
Rocker plate fore and aft movement | Source: Saris

Why Use a Rocker Plate?

The main benefits of rocker plates and the reasons for using them are improved riding comfort, better engagement of core muscles, more realistic and engaging ride, and reduced strain on a bike frame.

Below is a short summary of my other article on why use a rocker plate.

1. Improve Your Riding Comfort

If you are interested in a rocker plate, you have probably spent some time cycling indoors already.

One of the things that I hate about it is the discomfort. I experience numbness or saddle sores.

As you pedal and your pelvis roll from side to side, the fixed saddle position acts like sandpaper.

That’s where rocker plates come in. They allow the trainer (and, therefore, the bike) to swing from side to side. So the bike follows a more natural motion, reducing the stress on your intimate areas.

2. Force You to Engage Core Muscles

The swinging motion of a rocker plate will force you to keep your balance. How can you keep it? Engage your core muscles.

Based on this article from Cycling Tips, core training has no proven performance benefits. However, strengthened core muscles can help prevent injuries.

Additionally, core training is a part of the training of many cyclists and bikers in the world. For example, see the following video of the legendary Nino Schurter.

Nino Shurter is doing a lot of balance and core strength exercises

3. Make Your Ride More Realistic and Engaging Rides

I think you will agree with me that indoor cycling is far away from riding outside.

The additional motion, especially if the rocker plate also features fore and aft movement, makes indoor cycling more realistic and engaging.

One note, though: Rides out of the saddle are slightly different on a rocker plate than outside and take some time to get used to.

4. Reduce the Frame Strain

Although carbon frames can easily handle indoor training, as Zwift Insider explains, rocker plates reduce the frame strain by allowing the bike to move.

It is a bonus that may not have a big impact (there are no real-world tests available), but it is a benefit that I could not fail to mention.



How to Choose a Rocker Plate? Which One to Buy?

When choosing a rocker plate, you should consider features like:

  • Rocker plate type
  • Side-to-side motion range
  • Side-to-side motion adjustability
  • Trainer compatibility
  • Fore and aft movement
  • Price
  • and more…

I recommend you check out my ‘How to Choose a Rocker Plate‘ guide, where you learn about every feature in detail.

You can also visit my summary of the best cycling rocker plates on the market.


Cycling Rocker Plates FAQ


Summary

If you are serious about your home training and want to take your indoor cycling to the next level, a cycling rocker plate is a must.

It will significantly improve your comfort, make your rides more engaging, fun, and force you to engage your core muscles.

Convinced? Then browse the best rocker plates on the market.

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