First look at the Kinetic by Kurt $200 Bluetooth Smart inRIDE power meter trainer accessory

NOTE: My full inRide In-Depth Review has been recently posted (click here), with far more detail and analysis than the below post.  Enjoy!

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This is definitely the week of power meters, and there’s no shortage of new products – for both Bluetooth Smart as well as ANT+.

Here at Eurobike, Kinetic introduced a power meter accessory/attachment (inRIDE) for their existing trainers – which adds highly accurate power meter measurement to a Kinetic trainer for about $200.  This data can then be transmitted to Bluetooth 4.0 compatible devices (like the iPhone 4s and Motorola Razr).  At which point you can use your favorite Bluetooth Smart compatible training app to record and analyze the data.

The sensor itself is about the size of a few Starburst candies and operates on a single CR2032 coin cell battery.  They expect about a year of battery life before you have to shell out another $5 for a new battery.

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For installation, the unit mounts with double-sided tape to the back of an existing Kurt Kinetic trainer.  The following Kinetic trainers will work with the unit:

Kinetic Road Machine
Kinetic Rock and Roll
Kinetic Pro Trainer

You may be asking about other trainers.  In theory, if the trainer could support a magnetic that stayed absolutely still, and if the power curve was known, and if Wahoo Fitness worked with that vendor, they could probably produce something similar.  However, at present this is just for Kinetic trainers.

You can see the unit below mounted to the back of the Rock and Roll trainer:

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The unit is measuring the speed of the roller  In each of the trainers above, there’s a small divot that’s always been on the back of the trainer roller.  You can see it in the photo below as a small circle about the size of an pencil eraser.

By placing the small magnet in the unit, the sensor effectively becomes a speed sensor.  With the speed, it’s in turn able to predict power based on a known power curve.  A power curve means that a given speed, the wattage will always be a specific wattage (regardless of gearing).

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From there the unit transmits the final power wattage (as well as speed) per the tentative Bluetooth Smart power meter device profile.  At this point, applications and devices that support Bluetooth Smart can pick it up.

Kinetic has partnered with Wahoo Fitness to rebrand the Wahoo Fitness iPhone application for Kinetic (free).  This enables you to to pair to the trainer (just like you’d pair a normal power meter).

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After wirelessly pairing, your data will be transmitted to the iPhone 4s (or other Bluetooth 4.0 device).  You can see below the screen showing the rider in the middle of the workout.  You can also pair existing ANT+ sensors with an ANT+ key, as well as other Bluetooth Smart sensors.

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In order to test the integration across the Bluetooth Smart protocol with 3rd party apps, I kidnapped the TrainerRoad guys from a few halls away and took them to the Kinetic booth.  They’d never tried pairing with the new accessory before – so it was a bit of a fun test (well, fun from my standpoint, I’m not sure they were excited about the potential live demo fail).

Once TrainerRoad opened up, the pairing process was essentially no different than other sensors that TrainerRoad supports (such as ANT+ and Bluetooth Low Energy, as well as the CompuTrainer).  Within a couple seconds it showed up as paired.

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And a minute later I had suckered one of them onto the trainer to ride it.  In the photo with the laptop being held below, the upper left number is power (146w).  He also strapped on a Wahoo Fitness BlueHR Bluetooth Smart strap as well, which TrainerRoad picked up too.

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You’ll note above that cadence is displayed.  The Kinetic trainer transmits virtual cadence – which is an estimation of cadence. In many ways, this estimation is not terribly different from that of what the PowerTap does today.  At casual glance is seemed reasonably accurate.  Though, more tests will be in order once I’ve got a unit.

I shot this brief 30 or so second video showing them spinning up and throwing down some watts.  You can watch on the TrainerRoad screen as the power updates.  Note in particular the reasonably quick drop-off when he stops pedaling (again, upper left corner).  That said, keep in mind that they are still working within beta firmware – and they are still actively developing.

TrainerRoad and Kinetic Road Machine outputting power via Bluetooth Smart and inRIDE

The majority of the guts of the unit are ‘powered by Wahoo Fitness’, and thus the same guys working on the Wahoo KICKR trainer are supporting Kinetic in this effort.  The power meter accuracy is within +/- 2%, but the Wahoo team is aiming to try and improve that (though that’s still pretty impressive).

The goal is to have the inRIDE accessory pods available starting in October.  They will be officially priced at $225, but will be generally available for $199US.  However, that does include a Bluetooth Smart HR strap as well.  So basically, power, cadence, speed and heart rate for $200 (well, plus the trainer).  This rebranded the Wahoo BlueHR strap (which costs normally $80). So obviously, if you’ve already got the trainer – this is significant.

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Note that unlike the Wahoo Fitness KICKR trainer, this won’t allow you to control resistance – but instead, just reports accurate power.  Resistance on this trainer is controlled by your speed.  Nothing changes in that area.  For those that may have been using the Kinetic trainers previously with TrainerRoad with VirtualPower – the key difference here is going from estimation of power to more accurate readings.

I’ll be grabbing a unit at Interbike in three weeks to take home, since I bought myself a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine trainer last winter to test out.  I’m really jazzed to see how this shapes up.

As always, if you’ve got any questions – feel free to drop them below and I’d be happy to try and get the answers.

52 Comments

  1. Great Review, This might be a silly ? but would the power reading change if you have the heavier flywheel? is there a setting / conversion, or just take the extra weight off to do power tests?

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  2. Hi. I have the older grey road machine, will this work with that, I wonder? I should ask Kurt, I guess.

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  3. Anonymous

    you didn't mention it, but isn't there rolldown calibration for this unit? So it will adjust the power curve based on the resistance of the tire against the fly wheel?

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  4. Anonymous

    How is this power calculation any different from what Trainer Road already does when you set up Trainer Road with a KK as your trainer? I get virtual power from Trainer Road using my KK, speed/cadence sensor...how does this compare?

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  5. To me this looks about the same as VirtualPower. Speed->Power calculation is done on unit, not in PC, but that's about it. There would still be tire pressure and temperature drift probems, making the 2% accuracy claim a bit hard to believe.

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  6. tms

    Very interesting that the power drops to zero so quickly. The old power computer they had simply mapped RPMs to power, but this unit is obviously using a more sophisticated algorithm. It would be interesting to figure out if they're doing that the right way (ie modelling the acceleration/deceleration characteristics of the flywheel and turbulence in the fluid so power is accurate when changing speed) or the lazy way (if virtual cadence = 0 then set power to 0)!

    Either way, if they make an ANT+ version of this I'd be all over it (provide me with power with my existing head unit), but with Bluetooth it's of limited utility :( With that said, $200 is a bit pricey for a reed switch, microprocessor and BT radio.

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  7. I'd much prefer ANT+ support. That way I can just log it all on my Garmin.

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  8. Anonymous

    Ray, I've been following all the EuroBike posts. There is a TON of stuff. Next week any plans for a quick summary of all the goods? Or what to keep an eye on in the next few months.

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  9. "$200 is a bit pricey for a reed switch, microprocessor and BT radio." You aren't paying for a reed switch, microprocessor and BT radio. I see this sort of argument all the time, particularly with regards to power meters. It's nonsense.

    Sales, marketing, distribution, retail, duty, tax, research and development, manufacturing, etc. The physical components are the least expensive part of all of that.

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  10. Another great review! Though I'd question "highly accurate". I used to design trainers and your other commenters are right to question losses at the tire/roller interface, which make a huge difference. There's always a ton of variability with fluid fill (trainer to trainer) and temperature (varies during any given ride). Will you get a chance to ride it this winter? I'll bet it's way outside of 10% over a month's training.

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  11. I gather the improved accuracy from the usual speed -> power equation comes from the fact that it's using flywheel RPM instead of a bike wheel RPM. The higher RPM of the flywheel gives you better resolution and also the ability to react more quickly to small changes in RPM.

    In any case the big issue here is going to be temperature drift. On any mechanical (even fluid) resistance unit, temperature changes are going to lead to changes in resistance. The problem is worse in the first few minutes of using the unit - after that temperature tends to level off or at least the changes become more predictable in relation to resistance level.

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  12. Hi All-

    Just to answer a few questions. I reached out to Wahoo to get clarification. Where quoted, it's there exact answer. Otherwise I paraphrased:

    RE: Calibration-

    From Wahoo: "At the show it was not implemented, but we have added an automatic roll down. Anytime you go above 23mph, it will set an internal flag. When you drop below 20 it will start a timer and when you cross 6 stop it. If no pedaling is detected and the period is below a set threshold, we use it as a new rolldown. This combined with a repeatable curve lets you get power accuracy that should compare well with existing power meters."

    RE: Larger flywheel

    There is a difference, and thus it must be set/known to use the larger (or smaller) flywheel.

    RE: Older Grey Road Machine

    Getting clarificaiton on that piece from Kinetic - hope to have an answer Monday/Tues. They're validating it's the same power curve.

    RE: Difference to Virtual Power in TR

    "This is really the same as Virtual Power with the addition of spindown to correct for the offset due to rolling resistance and power due to acceleration is also calculated, so it maintains accuracy while you speed up and detects zero power when you coast. Acceleration is also used to calculate cadence."

    RE: Creating the same thing for ANT+

    Wahoo noted that technically this is possible (even possible to do it in one unit for both ANT+ and BTLE. It would be up to Kurt Kinetic to decide whether or not there's a market for that.

    Obviously, if you believe there's a market - this would be a great place to make that known. Both companies are actively watching this post.

    Thanks all!
    (And thanks to Wahoo for getting me back quick answers on their way home from a long week at the show)

    Reply
  13. tms

    "Sales, marketing, distribution, retail, duty, tax, research and development, manufacturing, etc. The physical components are the least expensive part of all of that."

    True, but a cadence sensor is of similar design and has those costs as well. The firmware is certainly more sophisticated, but that's a big price delta and I'm not seeing that level of complexity here (eg iBike only charges $40 for code that does the same thing).

    A conventional power meter, on the other hand, requires elaborate mechanical and electrical engineering work and a lot of custom tooling that isn't present here. You're not just attaching some electronics to an existing part, you actually have to design the entire crank/hub/pedal/etc. around those electronics.

    With that said, if it was ANT+ I'd certainly strongly consider it. It's just that at that price, other options like Trainer Road or iBike's products start to look like nicer alternatives. If it were in the $120 range, I'd likely pick it up in a heartbeat.

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  14. Just to echo others in this thread. If this was ANT+ I'd be all over this. I'm planning many more years use for my Garmin 800, I don't use an Iphone to train.

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  15. Toby

    You guy's seem harsh on this product!

    I think for $200 is good. The 'pro' power meters are more like $2000 so $200 seems good value.

    I understand it's a bummer when you've invested a ton of money in training computers that support a protocol. It seems BTLE is the future communications protocol for sensors so if it were me I'd be investing in that.

    I can see Garmin dragging there feet to support BLE as they invented ANT+, maybe Whaoo will do something cool like a BTLE to ANT+ converter so you can use your older gear with new stuff.

    Since all my gear is Polar, I'm going to have to suck it up and buy all new stuff as there isn't a hope that they do something cool like that.

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  16. RAY,
    To Kurt:
    1. Validate it for the "older" trainer. These trainers are built to last and are doing so. Not interested in buying a new trainer to get virtual power...I'd likely go with a different product. Also, make sure either flywheel is supported on the older trainer.

    2.ANT+...athletes homes are saturated with ANT+ capable devices, BTLE...not so much.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  17. Kinetic...in addition to Ant+ already mentioned above...I already have a heart rate monitor, so I don't need that either.

    And to be honest, now that I've thought about it for a while...no ANT+ is a deal breaker...too much invested to go to BTLE.

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  18. Add me to the list of people wanting an ANT+ version. ANT+ makes this product much more attractive.

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  19. Toby

    I agree with Bryan on the HR strap, it seems pointless. Most people that would buy this would already have that?

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  20. tms

    Ahh, missed the fact that it came with a HR strap, unbundle them and the price is a *lot* more reasonable :OP

    As for BTLE vs ANT+, it's a simple matter of the fact that many of us have ANT+ head units so a BTLE sensor is of little to no use. For those with BTLE setups who are looking for power, this is a great idea - I just don't fall into that camp. Make an ANT+ (or dual stack) version and unbundle the HRM and I'll pre-order one as soon as I can ;)

    While I could probably use this with my phone, I really have little interest in having to use two different head units for indoor vs outdoor riding. Aside from making switching back and forth more time consuming, it also means different workout file formats and software. With ANT+, I could just drop the bike into the trainer, select a different bike profile on my Garmin Edge and be up and running.

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  21. Like others above have said, this would be great if it were ANT+ compatible. I'm invested in ANT+ sensors and am not particularly interested in using my phone as a head unit. (My HTC Android doesn't have BTLE anyway, though maybe the next phone I get will.)

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  22. DS

    They need to have an ANT+ version. Most riders who are interested in monitoring power will already have an ANT+ head unit or GPS watch that detects power.

    By contrast, riders using an iPhone are (generally speaking) probably newer riders, or less advanced, and therefore less likely to be interested in power. This just looks like a mismatch of product and user.

    I do have an iPhone, so I could use this, but I track all my workouts on an ANT+ unit, and download from there to Training Peaks. I don't want to have to dump data from two different pieces of equipment, or use two different web interfaces to monitor my progress.

    And if they're going to make it ANT+, they need to unbundle the HR monitor -- I don't need a BLTE HR monitor, and I don't need another HR strap. Again, anyone who wants to monitor power will already have a HR strap.

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  23. Anonymous

    Boro,
    ANT+ would make this so much easier for most methinks

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  24. Anonymous

    Also keen for ANT+ power sensor, not interested in paying for a new HR monitor

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  25. Ed

    ANT+ would guarantee a purchase to go with my kurt kinetic trainer!

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  26. Anonymous

    This NEEDS ANT+ for me to be interested in it. My phone only supports Bluetooth 3.0 so I couldn't even use it.

    With ANT+ support I'd highly consider it. I also would prefer a retail version without the heart rate strap to make it cheaper.

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  27. Ken B

    I'm also interested in Ant+ only. I don't have a newer BT device and don't plan on getting one just to support this power meter.

    As an owner of a new Rock and Roll trainer I'd be very disappointed to see Ant+ not supported. Kurt would be missing a huge chunk of its target market if they ignored the millions of us with Ant+ devices.

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  28. Old grey kinetic? Any response from Kurt.

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  29. Sorry, their answer slipped by in an e-mail. Yes, they confirmed (specifically) it will work with the old grey unit. Additionally, they noted that it will also "work with any past or present road machine, rock and roll, or pro trainer".

    Enjoy!

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  30. I'm late to the party here, I know... but one more vote for an ANT+ version of this device, please! Looks like right now, I would have to invest in an iphone to be able to use this meter, and that just ain't gonna happen, at least not right now. Seems to me the smart thing for KK to do would be to offer a combo ANT+/BTLE device. IMO they're shooting themselves in the foot and limiting their pool of potential customers by only offering BTLE. Hopefully they will listen!

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  31. Anonymous

    DC, Any updates from Kurt about an ANT+ version? I think the comments here make it pretty obvious what the customers want.

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  32. Definitely need ANT+ as an option, and packaged without the HRM, since ANT+ head units already come with those. Also Echo that I'd rather keep using the devices I have and not have to spend a ton of money to buy new stuff. People who have ANT+ PMs on the bike have everything else ANT+ and buying a new technology is not reasonable. $200 then becomes 3-10 times the cost.

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  33. Another request for ANT+ compatibility. You'd think this would be a no-brainer for the Kinetic folks! Either that, or if the Kinetic folks won't play ball with ANT+ (is this like Beta vs. VHS all over again???) maybe Garmin could step up and add the logic to their Edge head units to do the power calculation, eliminating the need for a separate sensor. The Garmin unit already has access to rear wheel (and therefore flywheel) speed, using the Garmin ANT+ cadence/speed sensor, so it should just be a matter of adding the code to the firmware to calculate power based on the known power curve of the trainer. Voila! Virtual power on your Garmin head unit without having to buy more hardware!

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  34. rumpole

    Two things and I guarantee that I would buy one of these, and then never have to worry about switching wheels:

    1. ANT, as this way the data can go to a Garmin head unit (this seems like a no-brainer to me)

    2. Unbundle the HR strap. For 150 I would buy it tomorrow.

    Even as it is now, I'm considering it, until such time as the KickR or equivalent is in the budget. I think we're going to see a trainer war soon between the powerbeam, the CT, and kickr. (And I don't care who wins :-))

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  35. Anonymous

    +1 to ANT+ support. At a minimal increment incost, it becomes a huge selling point to KK. And I don't' even have an ANT+ head.

    More open market = more open choice = more :) on customers.

    Looking forward to this!

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  36. Anonymous

    Another vote for ANT+ and no heart rate strap. I don't want to pay for another head unit and I already have a heart rate strap.

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  37. Anonymous

    What are they thinking by not offering this with ANT+? And only offering it with a heartrate monitor included?

    These seem like really bad decisions.

    I don't have an Iphone and have no interest in owning one. I do, however, have a Garmin 500.

    Regardless of whether or not it is offered with ANT+, why not just use Trainerroad? Doesn't it do the exact same thing, for only $10/month, as well as offering workouts and cool graphs?

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  38. Anonymous

    I have a garmin 500, an iPhone 3GS and an iPad 2.
    I like this device but Bluetooth Smart doesn't work with any of my hardware! With no Ant+ it looks very limited!

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  39. Anonymous

    Like others have said ANT+ would considerably increase the potential market but as a Garmin and IPhone 4S owner, I've got both bases covered.
    There wasn't much mentioned about software features in the preview. Is the front end simply a configurable display or does it have built in workouts and/or the facility to run your own 'ramp' test? That feature in itself would be a large selling point.

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  40. James McDiarmid

    great review thanks DCR! I already have a KK turbo trainer and this power meter looks like a great addition.
    I would also prefer ANT+ and the HR strap to be unbundled - I own so many HR straps I've lost count!

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  41. Dwight

    It seems like KK is ignoring current KK owners with existing Ant+ devices who would much rather use those devices than their Smart Phone or have not seen the need for a Smart Phone. Are they only looking at new customers and that use Smart Phones?

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  42. Gary

    Just have to comment on the Kinetic inRide. Received my unit yesterday, and after some initial confusion on my part (great support by Kinetic!), used it for a few workouts. This thing is SWEET! It was easy to install, syncs up quickly, and for someone who has only trained with heart rate, it was nice to affordably be training with power. The app has numerous data screens and functioned well on my iPhone and iPad Mini. Couldn't be more pleased!

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  43. Dave Killen

    Waiting for my unit to arrive and really looking forward to I getting it. I'd love ant + but pretty happy to run it as Bluetooth as I have the iPhone. Looking forward to reading your full review.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Review shortly. Have the final production software now, and the issues I was experiencing in the beta phase have definitely been resolved. I'm seeing accuracy within 1w in many cases (against both a PowerTap and a new Power2Max).

      Reply
  44. Matt Haigh

    I'm in the ANT+ camp, I don't see iPhones etc being a viable weatherproof everyday bike computer as an alternative to my Garmin 800 and its sensors which I can use on the road or on the trainer.

    Even if the Garmin was BTLE compatible I don't see the in-Ride offering much of a benefit over my Garmin / TrainerRoad virtual power combination for structured training, next move when I make it will be to a power-meter.

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  45. Rainmaker

    Hi All - Please note, the full review is now available here: link to dcrainmaker.com

    Reply
  46. Mattias

    Add Ant+ and this would be much more interesting.

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  47. Tate

    Sounds good, if the power algorithm takes into account angular velocity AND angular acceleration of the flywheel. Obviously accelerating the flywheel requires more power than its instantaneous velocity and this should be able to be adapted into the calculation. I'd be keen to hear if it does already.

    ANT+ is a must have.

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  48. Tate

    Just read a bit more about the unit being able to sync with online training programs. In that case I dont see a need for using the garmin with ANT+, and the iPhone would work great and look better.

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  49. Alecia

    Do you know of a power meter with ERG mode that will work with the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine - preferably for iPhone?

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    • Ray Maker replied

      A power meter will determine your wattage output, examples being one such as PowerTap, Quarq, SRM, etc...

      The inRide is like a power meter in that it determines your wattage output, but doesn't allow you to specify a wattage (i.e. 200w). That requires a resistance controlled trainer, the cheapest of which start at about $900 (Tacx Bushido).

      The only iPhone controlled trainer on the market today is the Wahoo KICKR ($1,100).

      Reply
  50. Gordon

    Hi,

    I am very confused with the best trainer to buy. Required features are computer/phone controlled rides, price conscious, heart rate, power, cadence etc.

    The Kinetic seems to tick all the boxes unless you have a better suggestion.

    Reply

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