Pain Cave Displays

There’s a thread on our Reader Forum right now about how to configure the Pain Cave displays. I’m going to show you some pics of my workshop and how I’ve set it up, after a lot of trial and error. I’m beyond certain there are better, cleaner, sexier Pain Caves out there. I’m not the Cave expert. Maybe a Pain expert.

Let me start with the following exhortation. Run Zwift off of an AppleTV 4k if you want clean and cheap. This is a computer. It’s $169 if you pay full list price.

Just, make sure it’s a 4k. AppleTV 4k. There’s a non-4k and you don’t want that. And no, an AppleTV 4k isn’t true 4k.

If you want the full gaming rig on which to run Zwift, that’s a nice idea and our Travis Rassat explains how he built his. But you get a pretty full featured Zwift experience with the AppleTV 4k.

I have one of these AppleTV 4ks for every “workstation” in my workshop and at present there’s four of them. The workout devices you see in the images here are not mine. They’re loaners. I own only the displays, the AppleTVs, and the cables. Alas, I don’t own the actual smart trainers and the treadmills. They rotate in and out, and I write my reviews.

But there are some rules or at least best practices. An AppleTV assumes you’re going to use a separate display, and you can get a 50” TV set for $300 and a 43” for half that. TVs are cheap. There’s no real good reason not to just go AppleTV 4k and a large TV dedicated to every workout device: treadmill or smart bike trainer. One nice benefit to this: You’re set for company. If you have a friend over, and he or she brings a trainer, the AppleTV + TV set + HDMI cable for a friend will set you back $300 to $500, depending on whether you’re a big or medium spender.

Now, about that TV and where to mount it. I favor just behind the treadmill, if for running, with the bottom edge of the TV a little below the top of the treadmill’s display. Remember, your head is well above the treadmill display, and you’re looking a bit downward. My monitor looks like it’s mounted a little low until you’re up on the treadmill, running, and then you see that it’s just about right.

I use an articulating wall mount. I don’t favor a tripod. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll have a TV “event” if you go the tripod route. I know whereof I speak!

If you can’t mount it on a wall, then I recommend something like this TV cart from Uline, at just over $200; here’s one for about $20 less; and here’s another that’s downright affordable. A Forum User on that thread found one at Walmart for $69.

For cycling, my TV sets are placed on or close to the floor. If I’m riding a tri bike, then it’s pretty much at floor level and tilted back. If I’m riding a road bike, I might have my TV a little higher, maybe a foot off the ground, and tilted back but not quite so much.

At left is a tri bike, mounted on a Saris H3 smart trainer, the whole thing sitting on a Saris MP1 platform. The TV is almost at floor level because it's a tri bike (a Cervelo P3X). In the center is a Wahoo Kickr Bike, it's a road bike, and that's why the display is a little off the ground. I just want the TV to be looking squarely at me when I’m looking squarely at it. At right is another treadmill, a Trueform, and you can just see the bottom of the monitor, mounted just below eye level when I'm on the mill.

My Pain Cave is not especially pretty, but this is my set up for testing treadmills and smart trainers. This is the relationship between device and display that's easiest for me.