Why Use a Rocker Plate? Is It Worth It? 3 Main Reasons Explained!

Why use a rocker plate: A rocker plate on a wooden floor with a bike trainer and a mounted bike (view from the floor level)

This article explains why using a rocker plate is worth spending hundreds of dollars or building your own.

I will help you decide if it is an accessory you should even consider. And finally, you will also learn more about the benefits & disadvantages of rocker plates.

Are you ready to get started?

Let’s dive in.

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

When to Consider Buying a Rocker Plate?

Rocker plates are not exactly cheap, and you can spend this money on other bike trainer accessories, a power meter, etc. So, when should you consider buying it?

  1. You use your bike trainer often (e.g., 3-times or more per week) or you ride long rides indoors (2 and more hours).
  2. You experience saddle discomfort when training indoors.
  3. You want to make your indoor training more engaging.

Benefits of Rocker Plates

Here are the three most important reasons to use a rocker plate.

1. You Will Enjoy Better Riding Comfort

When I talked with friends who cycle and asked them why they don’t want to ride indoors, they mostly mention two main reasons:

  1. It’s boring.*
  2. It’s uncomfortable.

*But not so much with these indoor cycling apps!

And I agree if you don’t have a super comfy bike fit, you most likely experience saddle discomfort.

It is caused by the fixed position of the bike in the trainer. When you pedal, your pelvis tends to roll from side to side a little bit, causing friction and pressure on your soft tissue.

An illustration of a saddle discomfort between pelvis (ischium bones) and the saddle

So, how the rocker plate helps?

The principle is simple. Rocker plate’s swinging, side-to-side motion allows your bike, and therefore, the saddle to move underneath your butt, reducing the pressure.

TIP: You might also be interested in these prostate-friendly saddles.

Rocker plates help simulate outside riding conditions because when you cycle outside, the saddle makes a wave-like motion as you pedal.

A simple illustration of a bike saddle movement when riding outside
An illustration of a saddle movement when riding outside

2. You Better Engage Your Core Muscles

The fixed bike’s position in a bike trainer brings another disadvantage. It doesn’t force you to keep your balance.

This means you don’t have to engage core muscles as much. But, add a side-to-side motion, and voila! The engagement of your core muscles increases because you will be forced to balance.

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

According to this study, the performance benefits of core training were not proven, and further research needs to be done.

However, the same study suggests that strengthened core muscles can help prevent injuries.

There is something about core training among cyclists, though. For example, Peter Sagan is (except for his famous victories) known for his core training and yoga.

And Nino Schurter is another great example of a (mountain) biker who also spends a lot of time training his balance and core strength.

3. You Experience More Realistic and Engaging Rides

Riding on a bike trainer feels artificial. You mainly focus just on pedaling, not on what is happening around you, maintaining your balance, etc.

Rocker plates make indoor training closer to riding outside and also more engaging. Especially if the rocker plate also features fore and aft travel that adds another motion dimension.

But, this is a love or hate feature that gets time to get used to (more about it below).

BONUS: Reduced Stress on Your Bike Frame

Even today, people think that using a bike trainer may damage your carbon frame. I summarized multiple sources that busted this myth in this article.

However, if you are concerned about your frame’s durability, this is one of the benefits rocker plates bring.

The RP’s side-to-side motion doesn’t just relieve the pressure on your intimate areas but also on your bike frame.


Disadvantages of Rocker Plates

Rocker plates are not just about benefits, though. Except for their price, it is fair to say they are not perfect.

Rides out of the saddle don’t feel natural and the same way as outside. Let me explain.

When riding outside (out of the saddle), we use our arms to pull handlebars up and down. This synchronized movement feels different on a rocker plate.

The physics doesn’t work when you try the same technique on a rocker plate.

Check out this video from GPLama, where he explains it further.

GPLama explains the wrong riding technique on a rocker plate

The fore and aft movement also won’t appeal to everybody. If you ever tried Tacx Galaxia rollers, it is pretty similar. Some riders like me like it, some hate it. You have to try it to make your opinion.


Rocker Plates FAQ


Summary

If you do long endurance rides indoors or train often, a rocker plate will be an investment that pays off with the added comfort, more engaging rides, and better core muscles engagement.

Feel free to check out my selection of the best rocker plates on the market to find the one that will suit your budget and preference.

Do you find this article helpful, or do you have any questions? Please share it with your friends or leave a comment below.

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