Back in April I received an email from a company I hadn’t heard of before: Velocity Rockers. Owner Albert Knowles piqued my interest with this description of his rocker plate: “It is a 2-axis rocker plate using the linear rod and bearing architecture with 5 inch balls for the lateral movement.”
2-axis, you say? And a linear rod/bearing architecture? I was intrigued.
I’ve logged almost all of my 54,616km Zwift kilometers from a trainer perched atop a rocker plate, but I haven’t spent significant time on a rocker with fore-aft motion, or one that uses a linear rod/bearing architecture for its central structure. So I was keen to experience it for those reasons alone.
But I’m also a big fan of rocker plates in general, so reviewing new products in this niche market is one of my Zwifty pleasures. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m amazed that so few Zwifters use rocker plates because for me, while rocker plate motion doesn’t perfectly replicate outdoors, it’s waaaay more natural than a non-rocking setup. Not to mention more comfortable and easier on your frame!
Anyway, I’ll get off my rocker plate soapbox. Now that I’ve logged lots of races and miles on the Velocity Rocker, a review is in order. Let’s rock!
The Velocity Rocker arrives fully assembled, which is pretty standard when you’re talking about full-length rocker plates nowadays. All you have to do is unpack it, mount your trainer, inflate the two suspension balls, and you’re ready to ride!
Out of the box I was immediately struck with two things:
- High build quality: it feels sturdy and looks great
- Light weight: the Zwift Insider Pain Lab is upstairs in our house, and I told Monica (my wife) I would need her help hauling the plate up the stairs. But I was surprised when I picked up one end – it didn’t feel any heavier than other full-length simple left-right rockers I’ve used. Perhaps even lighter! I hauled it upstairs myself, easy peasy. (It weighs around 47 pounds.)
Once it was upstairs I placed my Wahoo KICKR 5 (still attached to my bike) onto the platform. The built in spirit level showed everything leaning left, which wasn’t surprising since the KICKR’s heavy flywheel is off-center. Adding my ever-useful ankle weights to the right side leveled things out perfectly.
I hopped on the bike to test out the initial feel, but quickly realized the two dampening/shock absorber balls were not inflated enough. So I dismounted and gave them each 5 pumps with my small handheld pump, making sure the spirit level still showed everything flat afterward. Back on the bike, and it felt great.
Inflating the balls for the Velocity Rocker was a bit more of a pain than other rocker plates, because the balls aren’t set up in a way where you can insert a needle through a hole cut in the top plate. Instead, you have to reach in between the top and bottom plates to insert the needle.
This design makes for a very clean-looking rocker plate, but as with many things clean-looking (looking at you, internal cable routing on bikes), it can make maintenance a bit more of a hassle.
Complete setup time: 10 minutes.
The Velocity Rocker is 60″ long, 34″ wide (at its widest point), and 3.5″ tall.
How Much Air?
The ideal “tightness” of a rocker plate’s side to side movement is determined by how much air you put into the two balls. How tight you want your rocker’s movement is somewhat a matter of personal preference, although I would argue that you can certainly go too tight, which can result in “opposite form” that’s a big no-no. And you can go too loose, which results in you having to work to stay upright, which of course isn’t ideal either! Read more on this topic >
Strapping It In
The Velocity Rocker comes with pre-drilled holes and plenty of velcro straps so it’s compatible with most trainers. Velocity says “Fits most trainers on the market: Wahoo Kickr, Tacx, Elite, Saris, and older trainers, the Kickr Climb and all front wheel risers.” Not sure if your trainer will work? Just contact Velocity and ask.
For my Wahoo KICKR, I ended up using five straps. One at the end of each leg, and two in the back near the blue knobs. These two straps are crucial to keep the trainer from shifting left/right under heavy load.
Your Front Wheel
One reason riders are drawn to full-length plates is because they’re compatible with front wheel risers including Wahoo’s KICKR Climb and Elite’s new Rizer. Those are certainly valid options.
I prefer to use this simple front wheel block from KOM Cycling. You could also just put your front wheel directly on the plate and even strap it in with velcro.
You may notice in some of my photos that I placed black tape on the plate below the front wheel block – this was just to make sure my wheel block didn’t scratch up the plate during testing. (It wasn’t pretty, but it worked!)
Lights, Camera, Action!
This is the first rocker I’ve tested with built-in lights. While some might say this is a gimmicky feature, I think it’s a super cool, low-cost add-on that will appeal to many.
The lights are simple LED strip lights and can be controlled on a very basic level from the on-off switch where they plug in. But if you really want to have fun, install the “Gosund” app and pair your lights to your WiFI so you can set the colors, choose a “scene” for automated color changing, or hook it up so it changes to the music (heard through your smart phone’s microphone).
The music control sounded fun to me, but to be honest it was a bit underwhelming – like the app couldn’t hear the music well enough.
The lights can also be controlled by Alexa/Google, but I haven’t gone down that road. Yet.
Someday perhaps Zwift will open up a lighting API so we can have LED lights in our pain caves that change color based on the Zwift environment or our effort level (it was done three years ago by Jon Mayfield). Until then, we can have fun with lighting solutions like Velocity Rockers and fun stuff like Philips Hue Smart Lighting.
Wheels for Portability
The Velocity Rocker ships with two caster wheels which can easily be installed by hand into pre-drilled holes in the back of the plate, allowing you to pick up the nose of the plate and roll the whole assembly around (bike and trainer included).
I didn’t really need these wheels for my setup, but I installed them anyway to test them out. If you were on a hard surface I think the wheels would be a bad idea, as your plate would swing back and forth under heavy sprinting loads. But on carpet or a foam surface like mine everything stayed put even when I was putting a lot of power into the pedals.
I did notice the bottom plate bends a bit when the wheels are installed – at least when a 185-pounder like myself was on top. I don’t think this would affect anything adversely over the long term, though.
Using the Velocity Rocker
I tested this rocker plate in a wide variety of Zwift situations: casual riding, Zwift Academy workouts, races, Sprintapaloozas, and more. Here’s a quick demo video I made running the plate through its paces:
The first thing I noticed – and to be honest it annoyed me out a bit – was how the plate would move forward and backward by just a fraction of an inch on each pedal downstroke when I was pushing harder (say, 300W or above) while in the saddle. You can see it in the demo video above.
But I got used to that motion after spending several hours on the plate, and now I’m curious if a boring old left-right rocker will feel too static!
Where I really like the fore-aft movement is when I get out of the saddle, and when I sit back down. This movement feels more natural with a fore-aft rocker, and I think it’s also more comfortable having the whole assembly slide back a bit each time I sit down.
There is some “sliding noise” when you make big fore-aft movements due to the architecture of the board. Here’s a quick sample:
To my ear, the video makes the board sound noisier than it really is. Keep in mind what you’re hearing is the noise of the board making a full fore-aft movement (around 6.5 inches), which only happens if you get out of the saddle forcefully or sit down forcefully. Smaller movements are much quieter, and even unnoticeable.
Left to right motion on the Velocity Rocker felt natural and comparable to other full-length rockers I’ve tested including the KOM Rocker RPV1 and SBR ROCKR Pro.
Velocity says their plate allows for 15 degrees of left-right movement, while KOM allows for 13 degrees and SBR ROCKR Pro allows for 18 degrees. Did I notice a difference between them? Nah. As long as the suspension balls are inflated enough you won’t “bottom out”, and many riders won’t even get close to using the full range of movement.
Wrapping It Up
As far as I know, this is the only fully-assembled 2-axis rocker currently made in the US apart from Saris’ $1200 MP1. Because of that fact alone, the Velocity Rocker is a welcome entry into the marketplace!
But it’s also a well-built product. The top plate’s finish is water (sweat) proof and seems pretty bomb-proof as well, not easily marred by cleats like some plates I’ve used. It’s priced reasonably, and the personal support from owner Albert Knowles is a nice bonus.
Where to Buy
The Velocity Rocker is priced at $675 and available on their website at velocityrockers.com. They only ship to the USA and Canada.
Shipping is free within the continental US, and $50 to Canada.
Questions or Comments?
Great review Eric and plate looks really good, shame we can’t get in the UK as upgrading my cave after having been knocked off by while out on the road by dodgy driver last week. Like the LED’s as well they do really add to motivation and fairly easy to get to data in Zwift as seen here in review by excellent Mark Lewis of my bluetooth setup! https://youtu.be/pO9ENVj-3YQ?t=623 keep up the good work cheers
Any recommend rocker plate that is compatible with Kickr Climb?
This one is compatible, as are all the full-length plates. I’d recommend any of the three I’ve reviewed thus far: Velocity Rocker, SBR ROCKR Pro, and KOM RPV1.
Seems to work very well for you in your most recent ZRL win! well done!!
Yea it did!
Nice review, Eric. You say you’re amazed so few people user rocker plates. For me, reviews make it sounds like there are so many different nuances between them that with the high costs I’d want to try before I buy, which is easier said than done.
It may be encouraging to know that, in terms of side to side rockers, I think they’re all pretty equal in terms of feel, as long as they use inflatable balls for the suspension.
I try to bring out the differences in my reviews, but in the end, full-length rocker plates seem to be pretty uniform in their feel.
Love using a rocker plate, but not sure about the fore/aft idea in this one. The (very) slight downside of a rocker is the movement is produced directly from your energy that would otherwise go through the crank. The fore/aft just seems (to me) to be a way to sap more of that power. Probably minimal – I wonder if it’s possible to experiment to see how much is lost, but if you’re racing, even a small percentage could be the difference between first and second.
Believe me, Jimmy, I’ve put a lot of thought into wondering if power is being sucked by rocker plates (left/right or fore/aft), how to measure it, etc. Thus far I haven’t figured out a way to measure anything. I can say I’ve set some power PB’s on this Velocity Rocker, though. I also think it’s incorrect to say that any movement of the rocker plate is power that would otherwise go into the pedals. Because there’s definitely lots of frame torquing that happens on a static setup, especially when you push hard, get out of the saddle, etc. That’s your… Read more »
I made my own setup where I have a set of rollers (with a fork stand) on what’s essentially a dolly that I built that’s slightly longer than the fork rollers. The dolly sits on wooden base that has tracks for the wheels in the dolly to move the whole setup forward and back (but not side to side) with elastic strapping to keep the thing centered most of the time. Occasionally, I get worried about wasted effort that could be used to turn the pedals (especially in a sprint or standing, which is where I notice the fore/aft motion)… Read more »
Sorry, I lock out my dolly wheels to block fore/aft motion not bike wheels if that wasn’t clear.
Nice review as always Eric. UK has TurboRocks Realplate React which gives side to side and fore and aft movement. My experience on this after 8 months use is similar to yours on the Velocity. Wouldn’t go back to a static set-up.
Good tip on the counterbalance weight. In your experience, are most flywheels off-centre? My Saris H2 seems to be off-centre and the frustrations trying to balance it on my lifeline rocker using the inflatable balls mean the rocker is now lying on its side awaiting a buyer. Don’t want to give up on rockers just yet though.
Yes, I’d say most trainers aren’t perfectly centered weight-wise. I’ve used kettle bells, plates from weight sets, and ankle weights to get the balance just right.
Basically, I’ll get it so it’s balanced WITHOUT the suspension balls inflated. Then I’ll inflate the balls evenly. That gives the best overall feel.
Great info thanks, one more thing do you set it up with the bike on or just the trainer initially. I guess it would make sense to set it up with just the trainer especially if you rotate bikes. Gonna give the lifeline rocker plate another go 👍
I’m not sure it really matters – I don’t think the bike will throw the board off balance. I set it up with my bike AND trainer both on the board, though, simply because I had removed them from the board as a unit, so I placed them on it as a unit also. Simples.
Wondering how this compares with the Saris MP1? This is the only other one that has fore/aft movement that I’ve even seen and is half the price.
The MP1’s fore/aft movement is, I think, superior. Quieter, with better “tension” I think.
But I’m not at all a fan of the MP1’s tight left/right movement – and it’s not adjustable! And since that’s the most important movement of a rocker plate, that makes the Velocity Rocker a better option in my opinion, even if pricing was the same.
Just got my Velocity Rocker on Saturday and as I’m I Clydesdale sized rider, I upgraded to the 7 inch balls recommended. I did a route in Neyoko last night and I’m amazed at how much more natural riding the trainer feels. I’m getting used to the up out of the saddle riding on climbs as that is taking a bit of getting used to. Also using the Saris H3 took a bit to balance it than get the bigger balls inflated to level it, but once that was done I can’t imagine going back to no Rocker plate and… Read more »