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In Depth CompuTrainer Review

Over 18 months ago (September 07), I bought a CompuTrainer as my primary indoor trainer.  All last winter I meant to write up a review of it.  But alas, it never happened.  Until now.

The CompuTrainer is like most other trainers, except for a few key important twists.  First, it generates load (wattage) via a computerized interface.  This is done via the little control panel or via a computer (a computer is not required though).  Secondly, it connects to a computer if you want to take advantage of significant features like tracking of HR/pace/speed…and power (watts).  So in some ways it’s like combining a power meter with a trainer (from a cost standpoint).

And the last major difference is that you can ride virtualized courses of anything in the world (if there’s a GPS track (gpx file), a course can be made).  In addition you can ride ‘real video’ versions of actual courses (like Ironman Hawaii for example).  But more about that later…

It’s often said that from a cycling standpoint the CompuTrainer is the best training device you can buy.  The list of pro’s who use one is long, but would it make a difference for an age-grouper like me?  Well, after more than a year of using it…I think I have the answer.

So, here’s the in depth skinny on this (albeit very expensive) training utility.

The hardware

A few days after ordering the CompuTrainer (hereafter referred to as ‘CT’), a rather heavy white box arrives.

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Inside the white box is a whole flotilla of parts, papers and instructions.

IMGP0973

The key pieces here is the load generator (black round thing to the left of the blue piece), the console (yellow device), and the stand (blue metal frame).  There’s also a HRM strap and then the wireless receiver for that.  Everything else simply connects all the pieces together in just a minute or two.

Here’s a closer shot of the ‘control panel’, which allows you to stop/start the session, and controls resistance (load).  Note that you have to do the pedaling, just like a stationary bike.  Stop and start merely controls the timer aspects.  It comes with little clips to hook onto your handlebars and/or aerobars (you can do it both ways).

IMGP2189

Putting together all the hardware parts only takes a couple of minutes.  In all honestly, the stacks upon stacks of paper actually make the situation worse and more complex than it needs to be.  There’s numerous “Read me 1st” sheets.  A ‘super-quick’ setup guide would be appreciated.

Next comes installing all the software pieces.  If you weren’t confused before, you’ll be confused now.  And I’m a software engineer.  The best way to approach this task is to simply walk piece by piece through all of the papers.  This whole process may take a long time.  And if you do it right, you’ll finally be ready to go.

Running standalone mode

Before we get into the nifty CompuTrainer software that makes the whole thing worthwhile, I briefly want to cover the straight standalone mode.

In standalone mode, you don’t have it hooked up to a computer.  You simply have the console on your handlebar and control the resistance that way.  A timer keeps track of your workout, and it will also show you MPH, HR, RPM’s, and distance.  The reason folks would use this is for cases where recording data wasn’t important.  For example – during a bike fit, or if you have a secondary data capture device (like a Garmin).

Generally though, you’re not going to be using standalone mode too much.

Software Section:

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(Note that in the above picture, I combined non-RacerMate software on the left, with RaceMate (official software) on the right).

There’s a number of pieces of software that are included within the CompuTrainer purchase.  I’ll detail them all here, one by one.  Here’s a link to a list from there web page as well.

CompuTrainer 3D

First up…is the man.  Yes, the little silver man.

Compu3DStart

The man is what CT 3D is all about.  He owns you.  Or rather, in some cases – you own him.  Essentially you race against the little dude on 3D courses you select.  There are TONS – and I mean TONS – of courses available to ride.  Virtually every major and minor triathlon and cycling race is available for download – for free.  And if you can’t find the course you want, you can always make it yourself using any GPS file of a course or route (using this software).  You can also download GPS files for basically every place on earth from Motion Based (for free).

The software automatically adjusts resistance depending on whether or not you’re going uphill or downhill.  And it feels amazingly realistic.  When you sail downhill it feels like you’re actually going downhill.  And combined with the sorta-realistic graphics, it successfully tricks your mind into believing that.  Regrettably, the same with going uphill.  And just like being outside, you have to shift to attain the speeds/RPM’s that you would outdoors.  And also just like outside, if you fail to shift correctly on a steep uphill section you’ll find yourself stopped and sorta stuck.  The only difference being you didn’t fall off the bike (well…most of the time anyway…).

While the majority of my CompuTrainer time now is spent in the “Coaching Mode” application, I have spent considerable time chasing the little man.  You can adjust the wattage of the little man.  Meaning, you specify what wattage he is going to ride.  The default is 200w.  And then you try and beat him.  You of course can ride alone as well.  But beating him provides incentive.  It’s incredibly addicting.

Like a game console racing game – you’re told how far ahead or behind the little man is.  You can see the two lines of numbers along the button.  The red line is my numbers, the white line is his numbers.

Comp3D

Even better is that after you’ve beaten him, you can race against yourself.  Each time you use the CT, it saves your performance files – so you can keep trying to beat yourself each time.  Or a friends file if they send it to ya.  The little man then represents your last time riding it exactly as your rode it.

CourseEditor

Finally, you can also edit and create your own courses if you want to – using this graphical based editor that comes with CT 3D.

Coaching Software

The CompuTrainer Coaching Software (CS) is the bane of my existence.  It’s where I spend hours each week.  My coach specifies workouts using wattages and heart-rates and then I complete them in CS.  This is of course the most boring way to use the CT – but for my situation it’s the most effective.

ComputrainerCoaching

When using CS mode, it’s not terribly different than a normal trainer – except that resistance and data collection is fully automatic.

You can load in any of the courses from the 3D mode (such as a download of any route or ride), but you just don’t see the 3D portion.  Instead you see a continually moving line graph.  You can graph all sorts of things, and it will show you current/avg/max as well for that ride.  At the end you can save your performance files.  In my case I save them and then upload them to Training Peaks where my coach tells me what I did right or wrong.  You can also import them straight into Sports Tracks using a little plugin available (for free).

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The coaching software is ideal for cases where you want to ride a given HR/wattage/etc and also want to watch a movie.  Think of it much like a normal trainer ride – except the ability to control how much pain the trainer inflicts on you, while at the same time recording it all for posterity.

Challenge PC

I don’t have a lot of experience with Challenge PC – one of the applications that’s included in the suit.  Essentially though Challenge PC allows you to race against yourself, a pacer – or another CompuTrainer user.  So in the event you know someone else with a CompuTrainer and want to get together and have a trainer hammer-fest together on that cold wintery day – you can do so.  But you have to be physically in the same place/room.  Not across the internet (that’d be cool).

You can also adjust the pacers’ options by configuring what type of wattage the pacer will output.

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Spin Scan

Spin Scan is a feature available in a few of the different CompuTrainer software applications.  Spin Scan tracks how efficient your stroke (pedal stroke guys…) is.  It’s mind-boggling how it works.  But it’s also really fascinating to see how efficient (or not very efficient) one’s stroke is.  And it analyzes in real time each leg.  So you sit there and spin away (either just standalone, or while racing a course) and at the same time it shows you this blob-like graph that fluctuates depending on any dead spots in your pedal stroke.

spinscanpolargraph

You can also use a standard graph mode as well if ink-blobs aren’t your thing.

It’s really pretty cool to tweak your pedal stroke and watch your effective power shift.  It helps me to see where all my dead spots are.  Dead spots are places where you’re not driving the pedal on both sides, but instead letting one leg do the work (for example, on the upstroke).

Reports

One cool – but admittedly rarely used – feature of virtually all the CompuTrainer software pieces it the ability to spit out nifty printable reports showing you key stats from your workout.  I’m guessing this feature is more useful for coaches or shared-use facilities where someone is going home with a printed report of their workout and/or progress.  You can customize the logo’s, text and data shown.  Here’s a sample from last year sometime, while racing the Wildflower Oly Course.

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Real Course Video

I wrote-up a big ol’ thing on this piece last winter.  So check that out!  Of course, this is the one piece that EVERYONE is super-excited about, so I figure I’d at least mention it here.  Real Course Videos are fairly new to CompuTrainer, only introduced about a year ago.  They offer the ability to bike through actual video of a course – on raceday.  They go out and record the the entire course in high quality video and then the CompuTrainer software synchronizes your speed to the video.  So if you go faster, the video goes faster.  They record it at speeds such that it looks natural though when you ride it (unless you fall off your bike or something).  It’s very cool and makes time fly by.

Here’s a screenshot on the CDA course in town.  I have both the CDA and Kona courses, but there’s many more courses.  There’s a full list of all the courses available here.

Again, for more information and a detailed write-up on this – check out my earlier review.

IMCDA

My overall experiences with the CompuTrainer:

Since January 1st, 2008 (about a year ago) – I’ve put over 1,800 miles on my CompuTrainer covering slightly more than 100 hours.  Thus I think I’ve ridden it enough to be able to write-up a pretty comprehensive review.  So – did it help my cycling?

In a word: Absolutely.

Without doubt it is the most effective cycling training tool you can buy aside from a heart rate monitor.  If used correctly, you can develop very focused and specific workouts to address cycling weaknesses.  It ensures that I’m not just ‘spinning away mindlessly’ on my trainer – but rather getting a solid workout.  The thing that makes trainers so effective is there are no breaks.  The CT is the same way.  If I do a multi-hour Zone 2 (Z2) heart rate session I don’t get a downhill break.  I don’t get a stoplight break.  A Z2 pace may not sound hard, but maintaining a perfect cadence without a single second of break for two hours is rather tiring.

With using it twice a week from May 1st to July 12th last year I took my half-iron bike time from 2:57 to 2:27.  Or from 19 MPH to 22.8 MPH.  Now, obviously some of that also comes from long painful mountain rides every weekend.  But two hour tough trainer sessions made a big difference.

Comparison Chart, Pros/Cons & Summary

[Updated] Although this is a bit of an older post, here’s a dynamic chart looking at what’s available out there in the same functionality range as the CompuTrainer:

Function/FeatureRacermate CompuTrainerCycleOps PowerBeam ProWahoo Fitness KICKRTacx Genius
Copyright www.DCRainmaker.com - Updated November 5th, 2013 @ 10:06 amNew Window
General: Price for trainer$1,629$999$1,099.00$1,340
General: Is Software Bundled for free?PartialNoYesDepends
General: Cost of software if not bundledBase included, optional extras$5 (tablet)/$10 (Desktop)N/A$185
General: Available today (for sale)Available todayAvailable todayYesAvailable today
General: Availability regionsGlobalGlobalUS/Canada/Europe/Aus/NZGlobal
General: Connects to computerYesYes3rd Party RequiredYes
General: Uses mouse/keyboard as control unitYesYes3rd Party RequiredYes
General: Has standalone control unit (handlebar)YesYesNoYes
General: Uses phone as control unit (handlebar)NoNoYesNo
General: Can use tablet as control unitNoYesYesiPad - Q2 CY2013
General: Wired or Wireless data transmissionWiredWirelessWirelessWireless
General: Wireless between trainer and controllerNonePrivate ANTANT+ & Bluetooth SmartPrivate ANT
General: Power cord/supply requiredYesYesYesYes
Function/FeatureRacermate CompuTrainerCycleOps PowerBeam ProWahoo Fitness KICKRTacx Genius
Resistance: Can manually control resistance (increase/decrease)YesYesYesYes
Resistance: Can specify wattage level (i.e. 200w)YesYesYesYes
Resistance: Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)NoNoNoYes
Resistance: Maximum wattage capability1,500w1,000w+2,000w
Features: Ability to update unit firmwareNoYesYesYes
Features: Measures/Estimates Left/Right PowerYesNoNoNo
Features: Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)NoNoNoYes
Function/FeatureRacermate CompuTrainerCycleOps PowerBeam ProWahoo Fitness KICKRTacx Genius
Accuracy: Includes temperature compensationYes
Accuracy: Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)YesYesYesYes
Accuracy: Supported accuracy level+/- 2.5%+/- 5%+/- 2%
Software: OS Compatibility (included apps)WindowsWindows/iOS (Virtual Trainer Software)iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPod)Windows
Software: OS Compatibility (3rd party apps)Windows/Mac/LinuxWindows/Mac (via TrainerRoad)Windows/Mac/LinuxNone
Software: Has real-video type functionalityYesYes3rd Party RequiredYes
Software: Has computer-generated course functionalityYesYes (via GPS import)3rd Party RequiredYes
Software: Has Google Earth-style functionalityNoYes3rd Party RequiredYes
Software: Has Google Streetview-style functionalityNoNo3rd Party RequiredYes
Software: Has coaching mode (ability to pre-create workouts)YesYes3rd Party RequiredYes
Software: Has online multi-player racing/competitions3rd Party RequiredYes3rd Party RequiredYes
Software: Can create workout based on outdoor GPS rideYesYesYes, Wahoo Segments AppYes
Software: Can export data/history files post-rideYesYesYes, All Wahoo AppsYes
Function/FeatureRacermate CompuTrainerCycleOps PowerBeam ProWahoo Fitness KICKRTacx Genius
3rd Party: Allows integration with other software applicationsNo, but some out there.Case by case basisYesNo
3rd Party: Integrates with TrainerRoadYesYesYesNo
3rd Party: Can upload history files to TrainingPeaksYesYesYesYes
3rd Party: Can upload history files to Garmin Connectvia Golden CheetahYesYesYes
3rd Party: Can upload history files to Stravavia Golden CheetahYesYesYes
3rd Party: Can open history files in WKO+YesYesYesYes
3rd Party: Can open history files in Sport TracksYesYesYesYes
3rd Party: Can open history files in Golden CheetahYesYesYesYes
Function/FeatureRacermate CompuTrainerCycleOps PowerBeam ProWahoo Fitness KICKRTacx Genius
Data integration: Can re-broadcast power data as open ANT+3rd Party RequiredYes and No (see review notes)YesNo
Data Integration: Can re-broadcast data as open Bluetooth SmartNoNoYesNo
Data Integration: Can receive ANT+ power meter broadcast3rd Party RequiredYes (Joule/VTS)App yes, trainer noYes
Data Integration: Can receive ANT+ speed sensor broadcast3rd Party RequiredYesYesNo
Data Integration: Can receive ANT+ cadence sensor broadcast3rd Party RequiredYesYesYes
Data Integration: Can receive ANT+ heart rate sensor broadcast3rd Party RequiredYesYesYes
Data Integration: Can receive Bluetooth Smart HR sensor broadcastNoNoYesNo
Data Integration: Can receive Bluetooth Smart cadence sensor broadcastNoNoYesNo
Data Integration: Can receive Bluetooth Smart speed sensor broadcastNoNoYesNo
Function/FeatureRacermate CompuTrainerCycleOps PowerBeam ProWahoo Fitness KICKRTacx Genius
Purchase: Amazon LinkN/ALinkN/ALink
Purchase: Clever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10AKG)N/ALinkN/ALink
DCRainmaker: Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Finally, here’s a brief list of pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Keeps you engaged on the trainer – not just sitting and spinning
  • Allows you to have incredibly effective and specific workouts
  • Lets you pre-race your races via 3D mode
  • For major races, also can pre-race using the Real Course Videos – very effective at making you familiar with the course
  • Essentially gives you a power meter for your bike (while indoors obviously)
  • Will make you a stronger cyclist
Cons:
  • Damn expensive
  • The software is fairly ‘old school’ and needs a serious revamping across the entire suite.  The graphical user interface is very 1995-esque, and
  • I experience occasional and very frustrating crashes with the software every once in a while (thus losing that workouts data)
  • Did I mention it’s damn expensive?

In summary I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking at trainers in that category.  Without a doubt its made my cycling faster and more efficient, and much faster than a pair of race wheels for the same price could do.

Hope this helps!  As with all my reviews, if you have questions – feel free to post below or e-mail me.  I generally will respond (and post here) any questions within about 24 hours.  Thanks for reading!

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102 Comments

  1. This is an outstanding review. You have perked my interest while I wait for my tax refund to be deposited.

    Reply
  2. Wow… sounds like a really awesome trainer (maybe some day if I get more serious about all this triathlon stuff).

    My favorite part is the screenshot of the starting line. It takes some real talent to sit on your bike at the starting line with both feet clipped in. Phew…

    Reply
  3. Oh god, I hope my husband does not see this post! He’s brought up the idea of getting one several times just to play around with it and dissect the hardware & software components (his PhD is in virtual reality & simulation applications). I would never get to use it :-(

    Reply
  4. Love the review! MAybe someday I’ll have 1400 to spend on a trainer. Then we race!

    Reply
  5. great report and is dam expensive but is working for you enjoy the warm weather this weekend

    Reply
  6. Love the reviews, Ray. Thanks! Did you consider any other trainers before buying the CompuTrainer? Specifically TacX and the like? If so, what made you settle on the Compu?

    Reply
  7. Wow, that is a very impressive unit. It sounds like it is light years beyond my process of having Coach Troy keeping me going via a selection of various Spinervals DVDs.

    Thanks for the comprehensive review.

    P.S. I suppose for maximum effect a large flat screen tv is needed, which adds dramatically to the price.

    Reply
  8. fantastic review…
    I don’t know if you intimidated me or tweaked my interest a thousand percent….

    Reply
  9. Wow, what a great toy! I wish there was something like this for running, since I don’t bike much.

    Reply
  10. You can go broke with any hobby, the toys are out there. I hope to one day be at a level of fitness and obsession to start eying one of those babies up.

    Just a thought: compared to, say, a pair of disk wheels it seems to pack more ROI, or “more seconds shaved per dollar.”

    Reply
  11. Exhaustive review. I was exhausted after reading it. Anything that helps your training so specifically is good.

    Reply
  12. Hi Chris – sorry for the delay:

    “Did you consider any other trainers before buying the CompuTrainer? Specifically TacX and the like? If so, what made you settle on the Compu?”

    For me, the CT was mostly because I had heard much about the product from others, and I really liked thier upcoming realstic video’s (where you race on actual courses). For me that was mostly the deciding factor.

    In looking at thier site now, they’ve got some pretty cool stuff going on. I’d love to be able to review one…

    Reply
  13. Anonymous

    Sorry for the late question here – it is prompted by reading both your review of the Computrainer and Sports Track (in the 305 review). I am a long time Computrainer owner and brand new 305 owner. Have you figured out a way to get full data from a Computrainer ride into the Sports Track software? Thanks!

    Reply
  14. Yup – no problem at all. To import your .txt files from CompuTrainer into Sports Tracks, simply use this little plugin:

    link to zonefivesoftware.com

    I’ve been using it since it came out, and it works painlessly. Super easy and efficient.

    Reply
  15. Hey, Ray. I’m putting this on my Christmas list, especially after your review. Unfortunately, I’m the only Christmas elf with the purse strings. Your criticism of the 1995-esq interface cracked me up. No one would ever know you’re a software guy.

    Reply
  16. Anonymous

    Hey Ray, do you actually calibrate your trainer each time prior to riding? The manual seems very insistent about this, but for the most part it seems really time-consuming (especially when you factor in having to reset the device each time, etc).

    Reply
  17. Yup. Though, as long as I pump my tires up to 120psi each time and don’t modify the little knob a the back, it’s usually spot on.

    For me my method is that all my workouts have a 10 minute warm up period in it, so I just get on and ride – at this point if i were to calibrate the number usually shows about 2.5ish. Then at the 10 minute marker I pause, and do a quick recalibrate. At that point the number usually drops to 2.0 +/- .05 – which I consider ‘good’.

    It really is fairly important though, as otherwise your power numbers will be all off.

    Reply
  18. Would having a powertap on a fluid trainer have a similar affect? One thing is for sure it would be cheaper and could be used year round.

    Reply
  19. The CT can be used year round as well (I do anyways).

    The difference between the CT and using a trainer (fluid or otherwise) and a power meter, is that the CT allows you to CONTORL the exact power being applied in watts, whereas the CT/PM combo only allows you to read the power, and control it using a ‘more/less’ approach.

    Reply
  20. Anonymous

    what bike do people use on it? I have a P4, but don’t like the idea of putting that expensive of a bike on it and sweating all over it. thinking of using an old road bike. thoughts?

    Reply
  21. I have a P3 I use with it. My thinking is that I want to train on what I race. Otherwise, you run into all sorts of position weirdness, and more importantly, with different fits you’ll work slightly different muscle fibers.

    There are cloth thingies you can buy though that connect between the seat post and handlebars that protect the frame against sweat.

    That said, I pour sweat on my bike near daily on a trainer…and never have had a problem.

    Reply
  22. Rob

    Great post (new to your blog). I hope you plan to review RacerMate1 when it is released.

    BTW: could (should) a ‘CompuTrainer’ label be added to this post ?

    Reply
  23. Thanks Rob!

    Good point, just added it – and cleaned up labels on a few other related posts.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  24. Kind of cool to see this. pity I didn’t see it before I bought my tacx (fortius multiplayer, kind of the same product, but cheaper here).
    you didn’t mention any bugs or difficulties with the software, which makes me very jealous. the tacx is great too (tacx seems more fun but loses on the serious side), provided you can get it to work. which hasn’t been the case for the last week. I really miss it.

    Reply
  25. Anne

    My husband and I both do tri’s, so does that mean we have to buy 2 separate CT units? I guess that also means we know longer need our fluid trainers? Could we hook both of us up to one computer? We have shyed away from purchasing a CT because we are NOT good with computers and need something that isn’t going to cause us a ton of aggravation every time we want to use it.

    Reply
  26. Pieter

    Hi I also have a CT, use it for most of my rides and love it. I would appreciate if you can provide guidance on two questions on the software: The report at the end gives an average watts for the ride. Is that the same as FTP? If not how does one get that number out of CT software without having to join Training Peaks? Second question, if Training Peaks is only way to achieve this how do you actually take CT file to Training Peaks software?

    Reply
  27. So I now find myself in the company of a CT. I need some ideas on setting up the cadence strap and accompanying magnet since the space between my bike crank and the thingy the cadence sensor attaches to is to narrow. Also, is it easy to put up and break down if you have one bike or you don’t want to ride the road bike because…well it’s not the TT bike you’ll be racing on?

    Scott

    Reply
  28. Have you looked at Ergvideos? I did. I won’t pollute the pool so I will say nothing about good/bad. I would give my Parlee and Wilier away and ride a Huffy before I gave up my Computrainer. Can’t wait to try their newest software.

    Reply
  29. BZ

    I have owned a CT for over 5 years. My race performance is DIRECTLY correlated to how much \i use the CT. One problem: recently got back on, and my data recording rate now seems to default to around 6 seconds, where previously this was about 1 sec. I can’t seemt o find a setting to adjust? Any help would be awesome!

    Reply
  30. I wsa curious about how loud/annoying this is compared to other trainers you may have used. I currently have a fluid trainer that is louder than I would like it to be. I’m an apartment dweller so I also have to consider vibes/noise it inflicts on those below me.

    Since you wrote the review, have you been able to test any of the newer online features? Any thoughts on those? Thanks for the review!

    Reply
  31. I thought I would mention that this review was probably one of the more instrumental sources in making my decision a month ago to get a CT. I’ve been riding/racing seriously for over a decade and this is the smartest money I’ve spent on the sport to date. I’m no guru, but I’ll try to answer a few questions posed lower in the thread…

    @Nathan – It isn’t loud. I have a Cyclops fluid trainer and it is quieter. It is also quieter than my rollers.

    @Pieter – The provided software isn’t really ideal for post-ride analysis for more than one session. I like to use Golden Cheetah but I know many people are fond of WKO+.

    @Anne – You can connect two CT devices to one computer, but from a cost standpoint owning two only makes sense if you want to ride “together” on the virtual terrain. I’ve heard that this can be a little frustrating if you aren’t evenly matched. Most people buy extra cadence sensors and swap bikes on one CT. Just remember in the software to clarify which rider profile is active when you do the switch. As for ease of use, it is far more complex than a fluid trainer but the learning curve is manageable. Look up some good youtube video demonstrations and it will help a lot.

    Reply
  32. Hi Tim-
    RE: Bugs and such

    No worries, there’s plenty of bugs on the CT side. Though, most of them are related to HW quirkiness. Once you get it all setup – it actually tends to work quite well. I’ve got a TACX unit coming to me shortly, so should be able to compare soon.

    Hi Anne-
    RE: Two units, one computer

    Unfortunately as Duane notes, it only works if you want to ride the same course. Else you’ll need to hook it up to two seperate computers. One option would be using a laptop or something if you have that. Or, just having one person use it w/o a computer. I actually rarely use the computer portion and instead just use the handlebar unit.

    Hi Pieter-
    RE: Avg watts vs FTP

    No, these are different. FTP is essentially a high water mark measurment of what you could sustain for an hour straight with nothing leftover. The avg watts is merely your average for that ride.

    To get the FTP, you’ll need to do an FTP test – just search on it and you’ll get all the protocal… have fun. ;)

    No, you don’t need TP to do that, you can use any software – such as Sport Tracks, WKO, Golden Cheetah or similiar. GC is free, TP is partially free, WKO isn’t free, and ST is partially free.

    Hi Scott-
    RE: Alt cadence locations

    What about putting it on the other side?

    RE: Swapping bikes

    It is, it’s just a bit of a pain. Only takes about 1-2 minutes to setup from scratch.

    Hi Eric-
    RE: Ergvideos

    Yup, I have one or two around. Not bad, but I haven’t tried any of their newer stuff in the past few years – so need to catch up there.

    Hi BZ-
    RE: Data Recording

    It should be under the export settings.

    Hi Nathan-
    RE: Loudness

    It’s not loud – a bit quicker than others like Duane says.

    RE: Online features
    I haven’t tested any of the alternate online products yet, but plan to this spring.

    Hi Duane-
    Thanks for helping out in the questions! Hugely appreciate that!

    Reply
  33. John Fischer

    Hi Ray- many thanks for all of the awesome reviews! I’ll be purchasing either a CT or Tacx VR Fortius within the next few weeks (leaning towards CT right now). My question is, if you were setting up your ideal CT system right now, what type of computer/monitor would you use? I’ve seen the CT recommended set-up, but they may just be spec’ing the minimum requirements, instead of the ideal specs for things like graphics card, etc. Also, if I go the CT route, do you think I should wait until RacerMate One SW is available before purchasing?

    Reply
  34. Hi John-

    You won’t have to worry about graphics spec’s. No matter what you buy or build computer-wise today, it far excedds what CompuTrainer needs (or could utilize) graphics wise. The software (even RacerMate One) just doesn’t take advantage of anything beyond about 2003-2004 graphical capabilities. I’m relatively certain Solitare uses more grahical capability. ;)

    Enjoy!

    Reply
  35. Anonymous

    Ray,
    Your CompuTrainer review convinced me to pull the trigger and buy one. Love it, use it all the time. Now am looking at swim trainers and wondered if you will be reviewing those anytime soon? My cursory research revealed many top triathletes and AG’s are liking that vasa swimming erg – like the one Jarrod Shoemaker uses. Would appreciate your thoughts.
    Thanks
    DJ

    Reply
  36. Hmm, I haven’t yet – but I’ll add it to the list of interesting things to tackle next. Hadn’t thought of it!

    Reply
  37. Dave

    Great review! Any updates?

    Questions:

    Is wattage data comparable/accurate with traditional powermeters (SRM, Powertap, etc.)? If so, could Allen/Coggan book & training program be appropriately applied?

    Thanks.

    Reply
  38. Yes, Dr. Coggan’s books can absolutely be applied here – he’s a big fan of CT’s.

    Accuracy has been pretty well tested by others, there’s a few white papers out about it – but it short it’s within the specified spec’s (2.5%). In my testing, it matches up pretty well with the Cinqo and PT’s I have, given the small variance lost for drivetrain compared to the Cinqo.

    Reply
  39. Beitia

    Hello Ray!
    Today, August 2011, do you still feel the same about this product? If you had to buy a trainer today, would this still be your first choice?

    I’m looking into getting one soon.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  40. Hi Beita-

    In would indeed. While there are definitely other options out there, such as TACX, I think that over the lifetime of the product the CT is still rock solid. While I don’t yet have a TACX system to try out, I have heard of support related concerns from a number of folks – something I don’t see with CT.

    Hope this helps!

    Reply
  41. Beitia,

    I recommend reading up on the forums of both sites. You will see frustrations with any platform, but in my observation the CT forums are populated with questions about how to utilize the potential of the device while the Tacx forums are filled with tales of frustration getting the system to work reliably. There are exceptions of course, but this contrast is what made me incline to buy the CT.

    Reply
  42. Hi there,
    I just bought a Computrainer after trying several Tacx setups (Vortex, Bushido and Fortius).
    DC Rainmaker reviews certainly helped a lot but after looking at the Tacx system in details, I found that they are not built on par to the level of price they’re asking for.
    I had an vintage Cateye Cyclosimulator ($275.00) for several years and it is still working fine. I would definitely expect the same from a $1000 + machine.
    If you look closely at many major component of the Tacx, you will find that they’re weakly built. For instance, the release pedal is made of plastic and cannot safely be pushed with the foot. Same with the the quick release on the stand. Any honest salesman will admit this right on the shop floor. They replace them on a regular basis.
    Pressure screw for Rolling Resistance is extremely poor in quality. You simply can’t torque them to the required pressure for climbing. (I’m a machinist and robot designer so I can compare).If you climb with a Bushido or a Fortius, this will become a MAJOR issue to avoid choppyness, especially if you gear low.
    I (and the cycle shop salesmen) have never found a solution to that problem. In fact, they told me that it was a physic law limitation with the roller (at 8% grade!)and that it was intended to feel “natural”.
    I know a store that may not sell Fortius this year because of that problem.

    The same issue was fixed on the fly within a minute on the Computrainer I tried in a local gym. Then, I could climb at 12% 85 RPM without annoying slipperage.

    Every Tacx owner I’ve been talking to experience that major problem.
    The computrainer has been robustly built for that use and it is extremely easy to recalibrate on the fly at any Rolling Resistance.

    I will not put more details for now but, at a certain point, my choice became crystal clear. A review of that “saga” will be put soon on an external link.

    For now, here are a few remarks on both systems:

    Yes, CT softwares definitely sucks but the imminent release of RacemateOne will help a lot. The bottomline is that it is very acurate and does the job (in a poor graphic environment). This is why they don’t have to pay the pros to use their product!
    If you’re not a triathlete, Real Course Video will kill you with boredom but Ergvideos will still be there as an excellent solution (more on this later).

    Tacx system certainly has a much better choice of incredibly well shot video but how can you cope with Mont Ventoux on a choppy simulator?
    And what about durability, even if the local supplier has a good service? Garantee will soon come to it’s end. In my opinion, Tacx is investing way too much on it’s image and not on the product (read hardware).
    Web site is appealing, videos are so much cooler but they just don’t seem to care for delivering the good.

    These are my two cent.

    Reply
  43. Bicmaster said…Hi there,
    I just bought a Computrainer after trying several Tacx setups (Vortex, Bushido and Fortius).
    DC Rainmaker reviews certainly helped a lot but after looking at the Tacx system in details, I found that they are not built on par to the level of price they’re asking for.
    I had an vintage Cateye Cyclosimulator ($275.00) for several years and it is still working fine. I would definitely expect the same from a $1000 + machine.
    If you look closely at many major component of the Tacx, you will find that they’re weakly built. For instance, the release pedal is made of plastic and cannot safely be pushed with the foot. Same with the the quick release on the stand. Any honest salesman will admit this right on the shop floor. They replace them on a regular basis.
    Pressure screw for Rolling Resistance is extremely poor in quality. You simply can’t torque them to the required pressure for climbing. (I’m a machinist and robot designer so I can compare).If you climb with a Bushido or a Fortius, this will become a MAJOR issue to avoid choppyness, especially if you gear low.
    I (and the cycle shop salesmen) have never found a solution to that problem. In fact, they told me that it was a physic law limitation with the roller (at 8% grade!)and that it was intended to feel “natural”.
    I know a store that may not sell Fortius this year because of that problem.

    The same issue was fixed on the fly within a minute on the Computrainer I tried in a local gym. Then, I could climb at 12% 85 RPM without annoying slipperage.

    Every Tacx owner I’ve been talking to experience that major problem.
    The computrainer has been robustly built for that use and it is extremely easy to recalibrate on the fly at any Rolling Resistance.

    I will not put more details for now but, at a certain point, my choice became crystal clear. A review of that “saga” will be put soon on an external link.

    For now, here are a few remarks on both systems:

    Yes, CT softwares definitely sucks but the imminent release of RacemateOne will help a lot. The bottomline is that it is very acurate and does the job (in a poor graphic environment). This is why they don’t have to pay the pros to use their product!
    If you’re not a triathlete, Real Course Video will kill you with boredom but Ergvideos will still be there as an excellent solution (more on this later).

    Tacx system certainly has a much better choice of incredibly well shot video but how can you cope with Mont Ventoux on a choppy simulator?
    And what about durability, even if the local supplier has a good service? Garantee will soon come to it’s end. In my opinion, Tacx is investing way too much on it’s image and not on the product (read hardware).
    Web site is appealing, videos are so much cooler but they just don’t seem to care for delivering the good.

    These are my two cent.

    September 4, 2011 4:59 PM

    Reply
  44. Anonymous

    Hi there – just wondering I’m considering a VR trainer and am wondering if you’ve heard of the RealAxiom trainers? How do they compare to either the Computrainer or the Tacx trainers? Any idea?

    Reply
  45. ericalexandervos@gmail.com

    My first time using the CT was at Breakaway Bicycles in Philly where I did their RPM Training. They had us in pods of 8 racing each other on CT’s. I became so addicted I purchased one when we moved from Philly for a couple of years.

    I have owned CT for 6 or 7 years. It has never broken and crashes rarely. I would give up my Parlee and Wilier and ride a Huffy with old 105 on it before I gave up the CT. The most important components on your bike are your legs, lungs and heart. CT will make all of these parts work that much better. I can set this up and watch tv for an hour and be more than occupied. Given the library of rides and being able to compete against yourself and others, it will never get boring. I love a 50 mile ride in the real world. Yet, a good hour and a quarter is a great workout. I’ve done a couple 2 hour rides on the CT but really try and do no more than 1.25 hrs. It is harder than real life b/c there are no lights to stop at, no downhills to allow you to stop pedaling, and no easy rollers. When you are on the CT you have to pedal…even if downhill is easier than a 8% grade.

    The CT is built like a tank and the company is small enough to get quick and excellent help. I love to download other’s sessions and try to beat them. I love to try to beat my earlier efforts. I love to create rides with headwinds. When I’m lazy I love to wheelsuck off my last ride. You can create headwinds, wheelsuck, etc. Lovely.

    One thing though, the machine does not create momentum. Thus, when you go downhill you still have to pedal. It is easier but coasting doesn’t happen. This makes CT harder than real life. My wife and I are thinking about buying a second unit so we can race one another. You can buy their basic unit and still run 1-3 bikes on one screen.

    If you want proof, check out eBay and see the resale value. I would suggest finding a local training center which has CT. Go to their website and find one. Try the machine. Yes, the graphics are Atari quality but, HD graphics, effects, etc. really wouldn’t make the CT any better. The newest software is still not available. But that is really of no concern since the old one does really well.

    Bottom line, if you live in a place where weather hampers your riding, or you can’t get out easily, this will make riding inside so much nicer. There is nothing like saving your session and trying to beat it next time around. I love to see the faces of my friends when they try it for the first time and hit a 6% grade and realize that silly machine is actually doing a darn good job of replication. The reason this unit is expensive is they work, they are made by people who are dedicated to quality and accuracy, (they also make parts for aircrafts), and few corners have been cut. The documentation is so old school its odd but still a fantastic product.

    If you do get a CT invest in a second wheel and put a trainer specific tire on there. Trainers eat tires and I enjoy quickly taking a bike, popping off the rear wheel, putting the trainer wheel on, and going for a ride.

    I called to get pricing on a second unit and they told me they let you buy the CT overtime.

    Reply
  46. Tom M

    I had one many years ago running on a Commodore 64. It was a very cool idea not very well executed.

    I bought a new one in 2009. After a frustrating winter I gave up. The software was buggy and drove me crazy.

    I had a recurring intermittant problem during which the computer failed to recognize that the trainer was connected. Some days it wouldn’t work at all. Then the next day… it was fine. I finally gave up using it. The product support people were very nice but unable to solve my problem.

    If you consider how much technology has changed in twenty five years it’s ironic that Computrainer hasn’t improved much. I is stil a really cool idea with less than thrilling execution.

    Tom M

    Reply
  47. You brushed over the best part of the CT – using ERG mode. If you think you made an improvement then you should use ERG mode for a winter. It’s even better!

    Reply
  48. cmstein

    I am considering the CT or a Le Tour De France bike for indooor training. I had bought “inside ride” rollers but found I am just too much of a scaredy cat to get good enough at them to get a good workout from them, having crashed off them twice (this really being the fault of having the rollers set up for a bike with a much longer wheel base than mine, which made it dreadfully unstable so I fell 2 times before my husband looked at it and saw the problem.) In any case I have decided I want something that is anchored, not a free bike on rollers.

    I’m attracted to the Le tour bike because it actually tilts 20* up an down, and will automatically make the bike feel like the terrain you map out. But one reason I had thought I wanted rollers before, instead of a stationary bike, was that I don’t like the way ‘regular’ spin bikes don’t have drop bars or aero bars. It seems like it would be better to train on a bike set up to feel like your proper road bike.

    What do you think of the Le tour de France bike? any opinion?

    Reply
  49. any big differences from the PRO to the Lab model?

    Reply
  50. Anonymous

    This is great info – was the last push I needed to make this type of investment. Do wish CU would make it work on macs As i will also need to buy a PC.

    Reply
  51. Anonymous

    zariaman,
    I just bought a CT and I asked the same question. The difference between the pro and lab is the degree of calibration/accuracy of the resistance unit. I was told if I didn’t intend to use the CT in a multirider setup then the pro would work fine. The lab is recommended for multi rider because all of the resistence units will be calibrated evenly. You could still use a pro in a multi rider but the person on the pro would be at a slight advantage/disadvantage depending on how far off and which way +/- the unit was calibrated to. In the end it was only a 50 dollar difference so I went with the pro in the ofchance I ever do decide to go multi rider.

    Reply
  52. As a further clarification on the pro/lab models, the hardware is identical. The only difference is the degree of calibration testing that is done. I recall reading on the RacerMate forums from one of their staff that most units pass the additional testing. When you buy the lab model you are paying for their time to do additional calibration testing but the hardware is identical to most Pro models.

    In terms of resale I’ve seen the lab models hold value a little better.

    Reply
  53. Anonymous

    This is great DC.R. and All!

    Has anyone run this on a Mac through bootcamp?

    Thanks, and happy trails.

    Reply
  54. Great write-up. Need some help. I live in Florida and my wife bought a CT for me for Christmas. In three years of riding, I’ve canceled only about 4 rides due to weather. I am inclined to send the CT back and get the very hefty refund of this expensive item.

    Question – if you could ride outdoors year-round, would you spend $1,700 for a CT? I am a pretty accomplished runner and an adequate Ironman triathlete, but its a lot of money to spend in my mind.

    Reply
  55. Anonymous

    Any plans to review the Elite Real Axiom or Real Power trainers?

    Reply
  56. As far as spending $1,700 – one option would be the cheaper Tacx. I recently wrote up a review on it, and found it a great alternative to the CompuTrainer, at half the price. Check out teh sidebar.

    Regarding Real’s, I’ve got it on my radar, but nothing immediate unforutnately. Next trainer is LeMond Revolution and then CycleOps (both of which are ‘in the house’ now). Also, Trainer Road.

    Reply
  57. Winter_Rider
    I just purchased the Le Tour De France and the verdic is still out. It is definitely does not have the visual feedback like I have been reading about on the elite axiom ct or the computrainer. That is why I am on this site … thinking about changing my purchase to get better visual feedback.

    I can say that the incline/decline works well but the transition in gearing in not as smooth as I expected it to be and the adjustments (bars, seat, angles) are not as robust as I would have liked.

    I am very interested as to what people think about the comparison of these three units: ^Le Tour De France, ^ CT Pro and the ^Elite Axiom CT.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  58. Cmstein >
    I just purchased the Le Tour De France and the verdic is still out. It is definitely does not have the visual feedback like I have been reading about on the elite axiom ct or the computrainer. That is why I am on this site … thinking about changing my purchase to get better visual feedback.

    I can say that the incline/decline works well but the transition in gearing in not as smooth as I expected it to be and the adjustments (bars, seat, angles) are not as robust as I would have liked.

    I am very interested as to what people think about the comparison of these three units: ^Le Tour De France, ^ CT Pro and the ^Elite Axiom CT.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  59. Anonymous

    Anyone debating CT vs. any other higher end trainer MUST consider ErgVideos. They take the CT to the next level. Precise workouts with HD state of the art movies. Essentially, with ErgVidoes the user must keep pace with the wattages demanded by the program or the CT will bog you down. Stay up or get dropped. It has a very easy to use rock solid interface.

    CT with ErgVideo. Learn about the combination before you buy any other product.

    Reply
  60. Anonymous

    And Ray needs to review ErgVideos. I suspect the mfg. will require he buy one, but who knows. Any comparative review of computerized wattage based training needs ErgVideo in the mix.

    Reply
  61. Hi Anon-

    I have actually used ErgVideos, and do find them interesting.

    Typically I include 3rd party accessories in reviews – though in the case of this particular review I haven’t added that in yet.

    One item of note though, is that it’s also important to see how products compare with their in box contents, versus add-ons. Of course, in the case of some of the platforms out there, the add-ons are a significant part of it.

    As one who still uses CT all the time, I’m looking forward to eventually reviewing the RacerMate One software, and at that time will probably dive back into ErgVideos. Though, given the situation with respect to RacerMate One being stuck in a legal battle (between contracted development company and RM) – I may not quite wait until that happens….since it may never happen.

    Reply
  62. Anonymous

    Hi Ray, superb review as usual- i always check here before purchasing any sports technology! I was just wanting to see if you knew anything about using 3rd party software with the computrainer- in particular sufferfest videos and tacx RLV. I have heard both are possible to play through golden cheetah and someone has also created erg files you can load into computrainer software/ GC to turn the sufferefest videos into erg videos. Any experience/ knowledge about this? Seems like a much cheaper alternative to buying RLV direct from computrainer. Any ideas on this would be great. Best wishes

    Reply
  63. Anonymous

    I’ll put in a plug for Ergvideo as well. I’ve had a CT for 15 years and used it way more frequently and effectively since I started using Eergvideos (probably used it more in the last 3 years than in the first 12 put together). The software works, it’s easy to set up your rides and you can’t beat riding along with pros.

    Reply
  64. Anonymous

    Hi Ray,

    Great site mate, always my first port of call if i am thinking of buying something new to do with Triathlon. I’m from over the pond in England and there is a purpose to this post and that is the RM1 upgrade is out i believe, have you got your hands on it or will you soon.

    Russ

    Reply
  65. I know this is an old post for you but I just came across it in my search on “computrainer”. Damn expensive is right and I was trying to figure out if it was worth the hype. Thanks for the review, I think. Hubby’s not going to be happy that I want to “upgrade” my fluid trainer to this. :o)

    Happy TRIing!

    Reply
  66. This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply
  67. This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply
  68. Walter.
    I am totally new to the indoor training; can anyone recommend a good trainer with with software.

    Some people say Tacx is great others say that it’s the worst thing out there.

    If purchase a trainer, can i get any software and run with that trainer?

    Reply
  69. John V

    My experience with Tacx has been very frustrating. I have spent the last several days simply trying to register my software. It went downhill from there. Customer service at Tacx is nonexistant. I decided to go with the Tacx Bushido based on reviews of the software and the graphics which seemed superior to Computrainer. This was a big mistake. What I failed to take into account were the multitude of users who had posted complaints about support and technical problems with Tacx. I figured that I am reasonably clever and I will be able to figure out how to get it working. Well here I am, one of the “unlucky” ones who has had nothing but trouble. There are many posts from people that are happy with the Tacx and the best I can ascertain is that purchasing one is a bit like rolling the dice. At the end of the day, what I really want is a reliable trainer that will help me train more effectively. I have used a CT at a local gym for three years and it works very well, this in spite of being used by multiple riders for several hours a day. Of course this makes me feel even more foolish for purchasing a Tacx to try to save money. I just returned my Tacx Bushido with VR “upgrade” to Amazon and have purchased a Computrainer. Anyway, this is just one man’s experience. My advice is to carefully consider the value of your time and how well you tolerate frustration. Trying to save a few dollars with Tacx did not work out well for me.

    Reply
  70. Michael Ellerton

    Hi

    I’m considering buying one of three VR indoor trainers, the CT, taxc I-genius or the CyclopsPowerbeam Pro I am being drawn the CT because the of the pacer and the peddling software. I am a reasonably good TT and hold national age records and I was looking to train smarter and less of the miles (i mainly ride10s best time 19.26 and 25s best time 49.52) which one would you recommend of the three taking money out of the equation

    Thanks

    Mick

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I would take the CT or CycleOps Pro over the i-Genius. Just a stability thing (software wise). You could also toss in the Wahoo Kickr as an option.

      Looking at pacer functionality, I’d probably go with the CT. On the flip side, the KICKR doesn’t yet have it today, but I’m sure that someone will build an app for it within the next few months – which would solve that (and give you a better long term platform).

      Reply
  71. Greg Swann

    Hi, Ray-
    Great review (although a bit dated at this time) and I’m about ready to pull the trigger on a new Computrainer. I’ve had a Tacx Fortius/Imagic since 2005 and it’s given me nothing but trouble with software, hardware, and especially support. My Powerback unit recently died, and I will most likely either attempt to replace it (and the motor/brake unit), or trash the whole trainer. Do you have any recent negative (or positive) experiences with the Computrainer, thoughts about advances in software/hardware for the CT, and general advice for an old guy who just enjoys riding for health, fitness, and fun who does not compete and who only uses a trainer during the winter and during inclement weather? And the most important-what choices in cycling trainers are out there and currently available (aside from Tacx) that provide the virtual reality, GPS course making, and real life videos that make riding indoors fun and realistic? Also, now that it’s 2013, if you had to pull the trigger o a cycling trainer, what would you buy today, or would you wait for something else?

    Thanks a lot for your in depth reviews. You provide a wealth of information and a great service to potential buyers. I personally thank you for your time and consideration in providing this info.

    Best regards,

    Greg

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      In short, no, I wouldn’t recommend buying a CompuTrainer these days. Here’s my current recommendations:

      link to dcrainmaker.com

      If I had to buy something today, I’d buy a KICKR (they just announced pre-orders today).

      (I do actually still use the CompuTrainer in a lot of my testing, juts a week or two ago)

      Reply
  72. liz grant

    can you hook the CT up to a 2013 ipad?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, there’s no way to hook up at CompuTrainer to any iPad/iPhone/iPod. Sorry!

      Reply
  73. Su-Chong Lim

    From all that you’ve written, it appears that the overwhelming “pro” for CT is its hardware solidness and durability. The “con” seems to be its antiquated software and computer connectability, which, if you only want to train and sustain wattage, is less of a problem, or, if you must connect to your Mac, could be a huge issue.

    The SpinScan software seems to be a unique feature, and unfortunately, for all the aftermarket workarounds, or for Macs doesn’t seem to be available. Am I right on all these points?

    The KICKR appears to be of comparable construction solidity. The potential for 3rd party software development seems to be huge, but currently is limited, isn’t it? Does the KICKR have anything like SpinScan? Does any other trainer have anything like SpinScan? (As a newbie cyclist, I want to prioritize my smooth stroke development, and SpinScan looks like the ultimate tool).

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I would say you’ve accurately summed it up.

      On KICKR 3rd parties, it’s somewhat limited today, but it’s getting better quickly. Units out are there with developers, and the first wave of consumer units coming off the boat in the next few days will speed that even more.

      I don’t believe there’s anything like Spinscan, but over time I’ve come to realize that from a development standpoint, trying to shift imbalances between legs generally doesn’t net anything (most people actually lose wattage due to undercompensation). Developing a full stroke is slightly different however.

      Reply
  74. Ian Macleod

    DC,

    You right great reviews, thanks for that. Are you aware of a site where CT workouts and test protocols are posted and available.

    I have come into a CT and I am finding it very very complex. I am looking for ‘course’ which is essentially a MAP test protocol.

    Reply
  75. Roger W

    DC,

    Great review site and a very informative thread on CT, many thanks!. My question is really about the quality/definition of the HD Ergvideo real course videos, which I haven’t seen yet. Do you perhaps know how they would look if projected onto a HUGE screen, 10 feet across, say? The reason I ask is that we are attempting to set up a multirider environment with CT and EV, using as large a screen as the HD vids will withstand. I realise that perhaps this is a hard one to quantify, as individual tastes may vary and distance from the screen is also a factor, but thought I’d ask for comments before setting the whole thing up only to find that video quality is not up to scratch. Currently I’m awaiting a response from Paul S at EV, I will post any relevant comments here if I receive anything.

    Regards,
    Roger W.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hmm, the older ones weren’t HD quality. And looking at their page, I don’t see any indication they are today either.

      You may want to check the Racermate forums as well: link to racermate.net

      Sorry!

      Reply
  76. Roger W

    Thanks for the quick replay and link. Recent Ergvideos are definitely HD, but it seems not the Racermate ones. We had a reply from EV to the effect that picture quality on a 100 inch screen would be OK, but plan to check this out for ourselves.
    Regards,
    Roger

    Reply
  77. Salman

    I’m torn between the computrainer and the cycleops powerbeam with virtual reality software. The only thing that’s learning me towards the computrainer is that spin scan feature. I used it recently and did not notice how much lack in my upstroke which was basically non-existent and also how imbalanced I was between the output of my left leg (more) vs. my right. HELP!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Honestly, go with the PowerBeam or the KICKR. I’d really recommend seeing both those reviews.

      In the case of the spin-scan, I don’t see it as a valuable feature. A lot of folks talk about it, but a bit of recent evidence shows that by focusing on trying to alter ones stroke you actually decrease one legs power output that lowers the overall output.

      Reply
  78. Salman Abouzied

    Thanks for the comment! Well, now I’ve evolved in moving past the computrainer like you suggested. SUCH BUYERS ANXIETY! What I like with the cycleops powerbeam and VR software is that there are rides already available for free. While with the kickr, it seems as if you have to pay for a monthly subscription for trainerroad.com or kineomap.com. I don’t like that idea.. I also don’t like the fact that you have to take off the back wheel but it sounds like it’ll provide more accuracy and save me money in tires in the long run. I really just want the virtual reality component ..Can you just make the decision for me and tell me that i’ll be satisfied with it? haha..

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I’d just go with the CycleOps unit in that case – it’s all inclusive and you won’t have to worry about it. :)

      Reply
  79. TJ

    I just bought a Computrainer and was previously using a KK trainer. As someone who has had the CT for a while do you find yourself still needed a normal stationary trainer? I’m debating if I would still need the KK Fluid trainer anymore.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I don’t tend to use my fluid trainer at all once you have a CompuTrainer or similar. Not really sure why I’d use it to be honest.

      Reply
  80. marc steingrand

    Hello ray as usal your reviews and comments are great..
    I have two questions
    1. i have a powertab and a computrainer both calibarted and all going well but giving different power data..
    did you have any test on this comparing the power curve of these two units and made any conclusion?
    2. as the new wahoo Kkir is now available , would you recomend to change the computrainer? i could sell it and buy the kkickr….
    3. the trainerRoate is working good on bith units do you recomend this are you using tis onn your computrainer?
    thanks marc

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      1) The two units track power very well, and I’ve used both without any concerns in power meter accuracy tests.

      2) Yes, I’d go with a KICKR over a CompuTrainer any day these days (and do, largely).

      3) You can use TR on your Computertrainer, and it works great (I’ve done it, and do occasionally in various tests).

      Reply
  81. Bryan

    I have a powertap and the new Garmin vector pedals. Can I use both of these power meters while doing a 20 minute time trial on the computrainer?. I would like to compare the power output of these power meters to what the computrainer is telling me. Thanks, Bryan

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      There’s no problems with interference doing so – and it’s what I do all the time with testing power meters for accuracy. Enjoy!

      Reply
  82. James

    Hey Ray – I have four CT’s setup for multirider as a sort of in-home studio. Thinking of switching to KICKR, but not sure how it will compare for multirider scenarios – any tips? Also, having logged several workouts on my CT, what is it you like so much more about the KICKR? Other than no wires, no back wheel, and open API, is the ride that much different? (and I’ve read both your posts on it) Thanks!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The ride is a little bit different, but honestly I’m not one that cares too much about that piece. It’s really the software side of it, in particular the API (and being ~60% the cost) and the multiple of software apps that can leverage it. And that app leveraging is going to further explode in the next few months with the new ANT+ Trainer Profile.

      As for multirider, it’s messy at the moment. That’s actually part of the ANT+ Trainer spec, so that’ll help a ton. But it’s going to take software to catchup. You can use PerfPro right now to do KICKR Multirider, but that’s it.

      Like above, by mid-late winter we’ll see more options converging, but it’s tricky right now.

      Reply
  83. erico

    great review. I will buy one.

    Reply
  84. Anthony

    Hi

    Great review, as usual. I purchased a CT used, saved lots of $$$. Not all quite set up yet. I have it attached to an older computer using Vista and there are some small issues with that. Is the heart rate monitor Ant or Ant+? Can’t find an answer to that and support at CT didn’t know! How can I upload files from my CT into Garmin, TP, Strava? Your help is appreciated.

    Reply
  85. IronDoc

    On the system requirements for Computrainer/Racermate (link to computrainer.com), it says that you should have a graphics card with minimum of 256 MB dedicated video memory, optimally 512 MB or more. I had not looked into what this would entail, pricewise, as I primarily use Macs. I was thinking I would just buy a cheap PC laptop for $250. Turns out the cheap laptop only has 128 MB of shared video memory (but meets all the other system requirements). Now, after trying to search for the cheapest PC to fulfill this requirement, it looks like I’m going to need a “gaming” type of computer, the cheapest one being around $500. Considering that Computrainer has been around for so long, I find this hard to believe. Does anyone have any feedback about this, before I go over-spending unnecessarily? Is this much video memory needed now because of RacerMate One? Also, once it is all set up, my plan is to project my computer screen onto my big screen TV using AppleTV (which I already have) and Air Parrot. Is this the most cost-effective way to do this? Thanks for your help.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It’s primarily for RM1, though I’m not sure if it really needs that much (I haven’t honestly bothered to play with it beyond initial beta).

      For me, I use the CompuTrainer with just a cheap old computer and TrainerRoad mostly, but that doesn’t really do the whole graphics thing that I suspect you’re looking for that’s part of RM1.

      Reply
  86. IronDoc

    Thanks, Ray. I actually came up with the most cost-effective solution today. I have an old PC desktop that I don’t even use anymore since I have my Macs. I looked up the system specs and it has everything I need except the video memory, so I went to Fry’s and bought a video card with 1 gb video memory for $40 and a new wireless USB adapter for $20 so I can project using Air Parrot ($10) onto my big screen. I’m excited to get it all set up!

    Reply
  87. I actually won a computrainer in a raffle. Pretty fantastic except that it does way more than I could ever hope to understand. Do you know of a resource I could use as essentially a computrainer for dummies reference? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Unfortunately not a ton of fully consolidated things. It’s sorta all over the place. :-/

      Reply
  88. Jennifer –

    I wrote a book about 11 years ago that’s now pretty obsolete, but it was about how to better use the CompuTrainer. That said, I’ll boast that I probably know more about CompuTrainers than the owners and employees do, since none of them are cyclists or triathletes.

    Check out PerfPro Studio. It’s an ecosystem with programming and analysis, and can help you get more out of your CT and the workouts. I’m also available for consulting, and am available on skype or phone. At one point, Online Bike Coach had a global audience of frustrated CT owners. We’re more focused on the studios in Dallas at this point, but I can help you get over the ups and downs of ownership pretty well. Just send an email and we’ll get started.

    Reply

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