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Spending time with the LeMond Revolution Fitness ANT+ Trainer

There were/are very few non-bike vendors at Interbike that actually show up at BOTH the Outdoor Demo, and the Indoor Expo.  In fact, I think PowerAde was probably about the only other one.  But perhaps that shows something about the guys from LeMond Fitness.  For a group of Western Washington folks to willingly stand in the heat under a dark tent in the middle of the desert…and try and lure people onto a trainer instead of the open road…well…that takes some guts.
(Note: I’m from Western Washington, I understand their sun-aversion).

But after they managed to get you on the trainer – I quickly realized why they were so excited to pull you into that non-heat friendly black tent.

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The LeMond Revolution trainer has been getting quite a bit of press as of late – and not just because they have the LeMond name attached, but rather because it has a very unique natural outdoor feel to it – while also being pretty much the first ANT+ enabled home-use bike trainer out there.  And it’s this ANT+ piece that got me interested.

So, what’s it like to ride it?  Well, let me get to that in a moment.

First up…

The Trainer Itself

If you quickly glanced at the trainer you might not realize how different it is compared to most trainers.  But once you stare closely at it you’ll notice one key item – there’s no rear wheel being used:

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Unlike traditional trainers, the LeMond fitness trainer replaces the entire rear wheel and cassette with its own.  Why do this?  Well, aside from cutting down on the wear and tear on your tires, it also cuts down on the little black tire/rubber dust that ends up coating anything nearby.  Double bonus!

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But more importantly, this helps to address one key area missing from many bike trainers: The feeling of actually riding on the road.  Typically on a trainer, if you coast (stop pedaling) – the resistance on the tire will very quickly stop the wheel, so much so that it generally feels unnatural and doesn’t feel as though you were just coasting to a stop as if you were normally out on a ride.

But, with the LeMond trainer, it’s probably one of the most interesting indoor trainer experiences I’ve had.  After pedaling up to speed, I just simply stopped pedaling and let the trainer just along, slowly coming to a stop naturally as if I were out on open flat road.  There’s a lot of math and science behind why and how all this happens, which this article from NY Velocity does a good job at covering – so I’ll have you head over there if you want all the deets on exciting mathematical wind resistance curves.

Suffice to say, it felt like no other trainer.  And that was the general feeling from a few other folks that stepped into the booth while I was there as well.

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Also, because it uses a replaceable cassette, you can swap just about any bike you can find in your garage onto the trainer – from road to triathlon to mountain bikes, as you can see here on the three different trainers:

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ANT+ Power Pilot Console:

Ok, before we get into the actual console – I should mention a point of minor cycling importance.  While at the booth I stumbled into Greg LeMond…who was busy signing some guy’s 24-deep jersey collection…thus because I’ve now sorta met a celebrity – that might somehow raise my celebrity status like 1/90th of a point:

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Ok, with that important note out of the way…onto the device…

The next piece of the LeMond Revolution Fitness trainer is the ANT+ components that make the whole setup capable of of measuring your power output via ANT+.  This requires two parts.  First, is the less exciting piece – the small silver attachment for the back of the trainer:

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But next is the fun piece – the ANT+ Head Unit, which displays and records your ANT+ data – including HR, Power, Speed and Cadence:

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This works via that little silver component on the back of the trainer taking into account the current temperature, humidity, altitude and then the speed of the fan blades to determine your actual power output (watts).  In addition the unit can determine your speed & cadence.  Then it takes all that information and displays it up on the power pilot head unit.  Think of the whole process like a giant calculus equation…except all without strain gauges (even if it does strain your brain to think about).

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While the power pilot is a bit bulkier than your average cycling computer, it’s also important to note that you aren’t going to ride away from your living room with it – so size isn’t too much of a concern.  Additionally, they’ve designed the mount system so it can actually mount it straight to your front wheel.  Which, once you think about it – is actually a pretty logical place for it – especially if you’re doing aero-position training.

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Also, no components of the trainer require power plugs or wires – it’s completely wireless.  The head unit runs on battery, and the main ANT+ transmitting portion connected to the trainer itself uses the power you output to generate the required electricity.

Finally, when it comes to getting your data, you simply attach a USB stick to the Power Pilot to grab the data.  From there you can then connect that to your computer and upload the data.  The data files by default are in CSV format, and can be easily uploaded straight to Training Peaks or into WKO+ (or any other program that support CSV files…which…is basically all of them).

While today you can’t go straight from the trainer to another 3rd party ANT+ head unit like a power-friendly Garmin Edge 500 – it is something that LeMond is working on based on the feedback they’ve heard.

However you can transmit the data wirelessly via ANT+ to an enabled watch that supports ‘Fitness Equipment’, like the Garmin FR60 – which will upload all that data straight to any program compatible with the Garmin fitness units (Garmin Connect, Sport Tracks, Training Peak, etc…).  Inside the data files you’ll find speed, cadence, HR, calories, power (watts) and time.  I’ll actually show a working demo of this concept in my next post.

On the workout front, you can also download workouts to the Power Pilot, including the ability to ride workouts from Training Peaks as created by your coach (or yourself).  The console will simply beep at you at the appropriate times telling you what to do next.  You can control all sorts of options such as Power Zones, % Threshold Power, HR Zones, % Threshold HR in the workout files.

One thing that it’s important to note is that this trainer won’t control wattage, but rather just report it.  Meaning, it’s up to you to control your own workouts and change gearing to meet your wattage requirements.

It’s also worth nothing that while you can use the base LeMond Fitness Trainer without all the attached gadgetery – I think that it’s just well worth the extra incremental cost at that point, especially if you don’t already have a power meter.

The trainer itself is $499, which is admittedly a bit steep for a trainer.  But the Power Pilot piece costs an additional $349US.

19 Comments

  1. Finally a person that has actually spend time on the trainer! I have got one question for you:
    How is the noise-level - is it loud or is it OK? I live in an apartment and I would like to keep friends with my neighbours :-)

    Reply
  2. I rode it out at Dirt Demo. IT. IS. LOUD. Even with the wind, three other conversations, PA announcer and music blaring around me I could hear the trainer.

    While it does have a lot of inertia, if your main factor in considering a trainer purchase is noise, I would look elsewhere...or train elsewhere.

    Reply
  3. Did you have to adjust the RD limit screw to make sure the shifting worked? Just wondering, as you could imagine that you might have to do so every time you put the bike on the trainer if your cassette is not the same as the trainer's cassette.

    Reply
  4. Ok it is apparently not completely silent :-)
    I have been on a Tacx Swing before and the noise was also a bit on the high side, when really cranking the pedals. Can anyone compare the noise to something else - I would really like to know how loud it is?

    Reply
  5. IT IS VERY LOUD AT HIGH POWER OUTPUT maybe 80-100 DB's

    Having reported that....it is by far the very best i have ever been on and i have been on many trainers.

    Reply
  6. Anything with a fan will create a lot of noise especially at high speed. There is no easy way around that. What I do like is that they use the power you generate to drive electronics. What I don't like is that they don't use the fan to cool you, like Kreitler does.

    Reply
  7. "However you can transmit the data wirelessly via ANT+ to an enabled watch that supports ‘Fitness Equipment’, like the Garmin FR60 – which will upload all that data straight to any program compatible with the Garmin fitness units (Garmin Connect, Sport Tracks, Training Peak, etc…)."

    So...In my case I think this means that I will need to import to my 310XT or 705 and then sync to Garmin Connect, and then finally sync with Rubitracks.

    Agggh...I'm on a Mac now.

    Reply
  8. Seanos

    Hi, is it possible to transmit the data from the PP via ANT+ to a Garmin 705 then to Garmin Connect?

    Or would it have to be 'to an enabled watch that supports ‘Fitness Equipment’, like the Garmin FR60'

    Reply
  9. Yup, that's the idea - it transmits it back out as an ANT+ data stream that any ANT+ head unit can pick up. That reminds me, I need to hit up those guys again for a demo unit....

    Reply
  10. Seanos

    Thanks DC, I was in two minds about the Power Pilot but if I can transmit to the 705 and download to Connect then I think I'm going to have to order one

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    Please, Please, Please get a demo unit of the power pilot and write a review about it. I have been searching all over the web for something (anything) about this unit. I already have a revolution and was on the waiting list to get a power pilot and pulled my order because they delayed the release like 15 times over a period of 6 months. I'm just wondering what kind of bugs still need to be worked out. Please let me know if you are going to get one or know of someone out there who has written a review. They have been out since March and there is isn't any reviews out there makes me wonder if it has been received well. BTW, I freakin love your site and your reviews. Thanks for all the details. Anal retentive people like me really appreciate the nity gritty.

    Reply
  12. Seanos

    Well, I got the Power Pilot but can't get it to transmit to my Garmin 705. Anyone have any ideas? Otherwise I might have to buy an FR60

    Reply
  13. Anonymous

    I am a bit confused, which doesn't take much. If I buy this unit, do I need to purchase anything else in order to get workout data sent directly to my Timex global trainer?

    I know that is a stupid question. so let's say it this way. If I spend the 500 or so to buy the trainer, whatelse do I have to spend to get useful workout feedback out of it?

    Reply
  14. Hi Anon-

    You need the PowerPilot as well.

    Enjoy!

    Oh, and I should have a unit in the next week.

    Reply
  15. Jon

    I have been using the Lemond Revolution trainer for about 9 months - I was in on the first commercial shipment last December. I have also been using the PowerPilot for about 3 months. Bottom line: I highly recommend the pair, hands down.

    And now, to the details. Road feel is awesome. It is actually fun to ride you bike on this thing for 90 minutes. Intervals are a blast, as is the rest interval, due to the coasting feel. Noise? Yes, but not load enough to bother someone in the next room if the door is closed. I bought a pair of waterproof earphones that "plug into" my ears and thus have a soundproofing effect. They completely shield the noise, and let me listen nicely to my I-Pod, the TV, or a Spinerval DVD. Noise problem completely eliminated (my fan also makes a noise, too, by the way! Can't liev without that while training, either).
    The PowerPilot can transfer the data to a memory stick, which I then load into Training Peaks and WKO+. Intervals can be analyzed, just like the data from my outdoor power meter rides. I can total my weekly Training Stress Score (TSS) from both indoor and outdoor rides. To sum up, I have increased my FTP by about 50 watts over the past 5 months by doing both outdoor group rides (which are fun and challenging but undisciplined in terms of the training plan) and the Lemond Revolution, where any interval routine can be suffered through with precision.

    Reply
  16. Anonymous

    I just got my trainer and the first time I used it my wife couldn't hear to talk on the phone in the next room when I really cranked up, but when I used it the second time today, I draped a heavy blanket over the fan and tucked in around the base. This reduced the noise to a very acceptable level without impacting the performance. I could hear the audio from the training video I was watching without a problem and got no complaint from the rest of the house.

    Reply
  17. TRIGUY_NY (Marcus)

    I recently got the revolution and the power pilot. The revolution is a great trainer the power pilot is a disaster. you can't record split times. you do not have average values such as HR and Power. Once you download the ou get these values broken down by the second. AHHHH so I have to spent a lot of time averaging everything. Then the power pilot stopped recognizing the usb stick and the sync to the times global GPS trainer does not sync the power reading. Disappointing. I tried to get info from the company but they did not return calls or emails. THe unit is not cheap.

    Reply
  18. allthatflash

    okay I have tried both the revolutionand the cycleops supermagneato pro and I find that the revolution is very very very loud compare to the cycleops supermagneato I find that the Supermagneato 4 power levels usefull rather than just 1 flat linear power that the revolution has but in all the Supermagneato is very quiet and that's the choice I'd put when I purchased

    Reply
  19. allthatflash

    okay I have tried both the revolutionand the cycleops supermagneato pro and I find that the revolution is very very very loud compare to the cycleops supermagneato I find that the Supermagneato 4 power levels usefull rather than just 1 flat linear power that the revolution has but in all the Supermagneato is very quiet and that's the choice I'd put when I purchased the cycleops. And at $399 with a winter kit it was a bargin. I have a powertap on my wheel so it had everything I need without the extra $800+ price tag.

    Reply

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