Is ERG Mode making things easier?

So I’ve been training for the last 5 months or so and have taken the FTP test 3 times and each time I have always failed to finish it and I was wondering why. Every time I was never able to sustain anything more than 200w for 10 minutes before I blow up. At the end it recommended me an FTP of 190 (ego bruised)

The thing is, I am able to sustain my FTP of 220 for 2x20, even at 2x30 with ERG mode on.

But when I decided to test it with ERG mode off… holy crap it was so much harder. I can barely hold 220 for 10 minutes. My HR neared 200bpm like if I were climbing a hill… So I don’t know what’s going on. Am I strong enough to hold 220 or am I weaker or is my trainer completely out of whack?

I am no sure what to believe.

I think erg mode is easier. Not because you actually spend less energy over time, but because you can keep the same ritme and power over the distance.

When not in erg mode, the power required varies, sometimes quite suddenly, and you need to switch gears. This variation makes it a lot harder to keep the power as high (on average) as in erg mode.

(try out the reality slider - it goes from “erg mode” on the left to “real” on the right. The same lap around Watopia is much smoother in erg mode - though your lap time might be higher. If the resistance goes up - in “real” mode - you tend to compensate with more power, while if the speed drops instead you just keep going at the power and ritme).

Not to put you off but for an FTP of 220 is 95% of an average of 231 watts over the test,(190 is default setting) The first few FTP improvements tend to be you mentally getting familiar with the test so it’s good to see you can do the watts in workouts.

I like erg mode as you can put your bike in 50x11 and with whatever rpm you stay at the set watts. Switching the erg light off in workout mode and using 3 second average requires more concentration and finding the correct gear can be tricky but shouldn’t be too different.

Try a calibration and make sure you have a compatible trainer & correct model selected.

You could also try a riders choice under the one hour workouts,This is same as freeride and a sim mode so nice and flat and is the same mode as the actual ftp test. Try to hold your 220 watts and see how this compares to erg. You can increase resistance by the app or - & + keyboard keys. (Plus 3 usually works best)


I can understand why erg mode in some sense is easier in that the power is relatively constant.  Surging really zaps the muscles.  But it is a little misleading to say the ERG mode is indeed easier.  If you were to do a completely flat route, you would not need to shift gears even when not in ERG mode.  The effort then should be similar.

One way to see would be to do the interval on trainer road, for example.

Do the interval NOT using erg mode but Standard mode.  Find the gearing that allows you to hit the power you want at the cadence you want. You may have to adjust which level to use in Standard mode to get your optimum cadence power combination.


These should give you similar results.