[Just as a head up: My 2013 recommendations can be found here]
In time for the winter season (northern hemisphere), or the bulk of the southern hemisphere training season – I’ve got my full list of trainer recommendations. Before you dig into my specific recommendations, spend a moment to understand how I got to these conclusions and why I selected the models I did.
How I made my recommendations:
First and foremost, I only recommend trainers I’ve actually used. There are undoubtedly many other good trainers, great trainers even – especially in the sub-$400 range out there. But, even with some 6-8 trainers currently in my possession, I simply can’t try out every one on the market today with any reasonable level of detail or authority.
Some of the trainers below have just come on the market (or are about to), and thus, I haven’t had as much time trying them out as I normally would. Due to this, I’m branding this the ‘Early Edition’. I asked you all last week if you wanted me to wait until I’ve had more time with some of them, and you all said you’d prefer to get the recommendations now, and more detail later. Ask and you shall receive!
When I look at recommendations across all products I make, I try and recommend products to you in the same way that I’d do to friends and family. I keep it simple and explain exactly why I feel a given way. The new entrants into this market over the last 60 days have fundamentally shifted the upper range of this market considerably. And this isn’t just my opinion. I see and hear this near daily within industry discussions, but also simply on forums, sites and elsewhere.
I defined the price ranges to align a bit to how the products are priced competitively. For example, if I had made the price range $500-$1,000, and then an additional $1,000+ range, it would have grouped together the $550 LeMond Fitness Revolution with the $999 Wahoo KICKR. Which wouldn’t have take into account that realistically the $999 KICKR competes very easily with $1,500 trainers. So, I arranged them based on how they best fit against each other. Ultimately, you can cross-compare categories if you’d like, but I think these ranges align fairly well to your price requests.
And finally, note that I tend to focus on trainers that have some element of technology in them. It’s not that I think that all non-technology trainers are the same (cause they aren’t…well…except that most are), but it’s because that’s just what I happen to review the most here.
General things to look at in a trainer:
There’s a lot of things to look for in a trainer – but some are applicable across the board from a sub-$100 unit to a $1,500 unit.
First and foremost, it needs to be sturdy. The more plastic involved, the less likely it’s going to last over time. Take for example, the CompuTrainer, otherwise known as the rock. A tank really. I’m certain I could throw that in front of a semi-truck, and it’d probably be fine. As such, those units last 10-15 years (or more). In fact, I don’t know anyone who’s ever broken a CompuTrainer frame. Some electrical components eventually wear out, but the frame is astoundingly sturdy.
Second, look at the attach point to your bike. I’ll start with the ones that leverage a skewer of some sort and don’t require removal of the wheel. In these cases, try to find one that has a ‘quick-release’ mechanism for quickly locking the trainer into place. One that doesn’t require you to endlessly spin the tightening lever and try to find an exact spot each time. See below for an example of a quick lever:
In the case of trainers that you attach your bike directly into a cassette mounted on the trainer (LeMond/KICKR), be sure that it’ll be compatible with the existing setup you have. There are only a few edge cases where this occurs (primarily higher end), but just be aware of them.
Third, look at how stable the platform is. The smaller the base of the trainer, the more likely it is to tip over (and you along with it). And while tipovers are extremely rare – they are a problem on lower end trainers ($50-$150). This can be further compounded when the trainer mounts the wheel higher up – meaning a higher center of gravity. It’s not hard to get a situation where you try and reach for a TV remote control or something off to the side and fall over. None of the trainers I’m recommending have this issue, but in general, keep it in mind.
Sub-$200 Price Range:
I’m going to start with the cheapest trainer I know of…and ironically, the first trainer I ever owned. Yet, it’s still the one I’d recommend to folks on a tight budget.
Little Red (aka: Performance Ascent Trainer aka Performance Travel Trac Comp Mag + Trainer) – $99:
As noted, this was the first trainer I bought in DC, and, it’s actually still a trainer I have at my parents house in Seattle. For the vast majority of basic use cases, it works quite well. The trainer can be found only at Performance Bike (big bike superstore in the US) for generally $80-$100. If it’s not on sale this week, it will be next week (a rule of thumb at Performance Bike for everything).
It does not have adjustable resistance, instead, you adjust your gearing to increase resistant. Further, I found that it maxes out at about 300 watts. For most riders, that’s not a terribly big issue. If you aren’t sure if you can output 300 watts, I’d wager a bet that you can’t. Folks that can output 300w tend to know it. I ran into issues where during certain interval sessions, I’d effectively hit the ceiling on resistance of the unit at around 280-300w.. But for steady state workouts and everything other than those top-end workouts, it works great. Plus, it’s tiny and lightweight. Here you can see me using it outdoors:
Now, it used to be called the “Ascent”, but best I can tell, the “Travel Trac” is simply the new Ascent. Everything looks identical on it, just a new paint job. By the way, this is the Performance Bike house brand, so you won’t find it anywhere else. Performance bike likes to rebrand trainers all the time for reasons that defy logic. Same trainer, new name.
Like I said – same thing from what I can tell beyond a new coat of paint, and definitely the best low-budget option.
Performance Bike Travel Trac Century V Fluid Plus (~$150):
Next up is a slightly more expensive model from them that offers controllable resistance. It’s fairly basic otherwise like Little Red, but you can use the resistance control cable and lever that specifies resistance from your front handlebar. You simply wrap the cable around such that you don’t get it caught in your bike, and you’re good to go!
I used this quite often in brick workouts in DC at the track. As well as before sprint triathlons and the like. It doesn’t require any plug-in or anything, and is easy to transport.
Unlike the $99 Ascent, this one can easily handle over 300w during workouts, so there were no issues for any of my higher interval workouts. I don’t have any good individual photos of it that I can find from my stockpile, and I gave it to my neighbor before the move – but it’s still a great little trainer.
I often took this with me travelling when going by car, because it easily fit in the trunk. For example, here I took it to a ski area in West Virginia and did my workout there.
The primary reason you’d buy this trainer over the cheaper one is the resistance control (which you’d otherwise do simply by shifting gears), or because you need higher wattage resistance. That said, it seems to be missing of of Performance Bike’s site right now – so perhaps it’ll show up again. They like to constantly re-brand/re-label their trainers.
$200-$500 Price Range:
In this price range, I only have experience with a single unit, thus, it’s all I’m going to recommend. But, even if I did have experience with other units, I’d probably still recommend this – read on to find out why.
Kinetic Kurt Road Machine – $330US:
This is an interesting trainer for a few different reasons. First, is that it’s well built. Second, is that it’s fairly stable within the power curve, and thus works well for predicting power through various apps and accessories.
And in my mind, the ONLY reason you’d pay $330 over one of the cheaper options is because you want to integrate it with a platform that provides power estimation. In this case, Trainer Road (there are others though). They’re an online platform (with a client software that gets installed) that has workouts and integration via ANT+ to your existing devices. Grab your bike with an ANT+ speed/cadence sensor, stick it on a trainer, and then it’ll record the whole thing.
So why does this matter for the Kurt Road Machine? Well, Trainer Road supports a concept called Virtual Power, which means that they have a known resistance curve of a given trainer (many trainers actually, listed at that link), and can then semi-reliably predict power. By semi-reliably I meant that they can generally be fairly precise, but not fairly accurate. In other words, session to session you’d get consistent numbers – but those numbers may not map to the correct wattages if measured using a direct force power meter.
(Above: Trainer Road would fit into the leftmost box, while a conventional direct force power meter would generally fit into the rightmost box. Btw, I can’t remember where I saved this chart from months ago – but I believe it was Tom A. (power meter guru). So thanks Tom! And, if it wasn’t you Tom, thanks and sorry to whomever it was!)
Take for example a rider that’s riding at a reliably measured 200w output. In this case, with a PowerTap (direct force power meter) he may show 200w day in and day out. But with Virtual Power, he may show 220w day in and day out. The key is, he’s showing the same thing each day (assuming he’s outputting the same thing of course, just an example).
Now there’s a TON of debate out there as to whether power numbers matter as long as they are consistent. I’m going to stay out of that debate. Ultimately, number accuracy only matters if you change cycling power meter measurement devices (i.e. go from Trainer Road VP to a Power Tap). For many people, over the course of their riding career, they will likely do that. Thus, ensuring accuracy over time is important for those people.
For the purpose of being within the confines of Trainer Road and Virtual Power, it’s not terribly important. But again, it’s up to you to determine how applicable that is to you and your use cases.
At any rate, back to the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine. This is the trainer that the Trainer Road guys recommend as their best balance between reliability and cost. And thus, it’s the one I picked up. And therefor, after playing with it – it meets all of my standards defined earlier on in terms of reliability/stability/etc…
I will say however, that if you don’t plan to use Trainer Road or a similar service, then honestly I wouldn’t spend the extra cash.
However – here’s where it gets interesting. It’s also one of a few trainers that supports the Kinetic inRIDE Bluetooth Smart accessory. This accessory allows the trainer to transmit power information (including roll-down information for calibration) to Bluetooth 4.0 compliant devices, like the iPhone 4s/5 (and iPad 3 aka ‘New iPad’). It can also transmit to Trainer Road over Bluetooth Smart (BTLE) as well). Expect to see other apps support it as well over the next 3-9 months.
Ultimately, this is an interesting way of getting power information that should be more reliable than Virtual Power (because of the roll down piece) to your computer or phone for recording.
Now, this additional accessory costs about $200 – a wee bit high in my opinion. Though, it does include a Bluetooth Smart HR strap in it. I’ve got one of these on the way to me (shipped out a couple days ago), and will get some more time with it shortly.
$500-$800 Price Range:
This is a bit of an odd price point for trainers, as there aren’t actually too many options once you leave the low hundreds, before you hit closer to a thousand dollars. But, this trainer does fit the bill.
BKOOL Trainer (Euro folks only!) – €500:
I had a chance to play with the BKOOL trainer back at Interbike, and one arrived on my doorstep about a week ago. I’m pretty excited about the potential here with this unit. The BKOOL trainer is about half the price of most other rivals on the market with similar capabilities. Its core feature set allow you to ride courses, routes and against competitors (both in real-time and in stacked rankings separately). The package isn’t quite as polished when it comes to user interface in the software app, but once you’re in a course video that doesn’t matter too much as the video quality itself is great.
And while it does estimate power, it’s just that – a bit of an estimation. Because there is no roll-down procedure, there’s an element of trust in that you have your tire at the exact correct pressure and that the unit is correctly setup such that the power numbers are accurate. I haven’t had the chance yet to do any power meter metric comparisons on it, but that’s on the near term radar. In my mind though, for the price (€500), this is primarily an entertainment and ‘make the time go by’ tool rather than one to use specifically for power training. It’s still a great tool for general training on a trainer though, no doubt about that. It’s just that if you’re relying on the power number, you’ll want to be wary of that number specifically. Everything else is solid.
Additionally, I love the fact that the video (course) library is a Netflix streaming style model – all you can eat for $10 a month. So much better than other companies charging $100 per video. Because really, how often can you ride the same course over and over again?
Now the only catch here is that the trainer is currently only offered in Europe – but since they were at Interbike last month they are fishing for a US distributor. Hopefully that shakes out for them.
Note: I had originally planned on putting the LeMond revolution into this category (albeit with some caveats). However, given recent information (see Q&A below), I have removed it from my recommendations.
$800+ Price Range:
This price range is where things get really interesting…
If you had asked me prior to Eurobike what my recommendations were, they’d be vastly different than today. But, it’s no longer August, and thus the game has shifted. Specifically, the price and features have shifted. The introduction of the Wahoo Fitness KICKR has fundamentally changed this game. And I know you hear me mention it a lot – but it’s because it’s changed so much in this segment. It dropped the price of a resistance controlled trainer from $1,500+ (lower cost Tacx Bushido aside) to sub-$1,000. It added the ability for anyone to develop apps against it on any platform (iPhone/iPad/Android/Windows/Mac/even Linux). And it added both open ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart (no other trainer had/has that, as Tacx was used closed ANT+, and only does one-way ANT+ for the open piece).
Thus, if you’re spending anywhere in this range….
Wahoo Fitness KICKR – $999:
Now, here’s the bad news. The KICKR isn’t quite available today. Not till just into January (pre-orders starting sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with deliver ~30 days from pre-order opening date). But time delays aside, if you were to buy a trainer in this general price range, it’s what I’d recommend.
That said – if you can hold out till post-Christmas (perhaps pickup one of those $99 trainers in the meantime) – this is the trainer to have. It’s effectively future proofed by supporting both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart, meaning it can connect to your existing ANT+ devices and broadcast power meter metrics (for example, to a Garmin FR310XT or Timex Global Trainer), as well as do the same directly to Bluetooth Smart compatibility devices. For example, down the road I’d expect Polar to release a Bluetooth Smart compatible watch that can take Bluetooth Smart power meter inputs – it would connect to that too (assuming Polar followed the standards, but I’m certain they will since they chair that portion of the BT SIG board). In fact, just yesterday Polar released a Bluetooth Smart phone app, though today it only supports the Bluetooth Smart HR unit…but I’d have to assume expandability is on the radar.
Next, it’s an open platform. We’ve got apps like the Strava demo app that allows you to ride any Strava segment on earth and compete against it (though, today, it won’t allow you to post your results from the trainer). You can read and see that in action at this link in the videos. But any other companies can develop apps against it. For example, Training Peaks could develop an app to automatically transfer workouts that coaches specify straight to it. Possibilities are endless. No more being restricted to buggy or old software that comes with most trainers these days.
Ultimately, the product still has to come out (on time), and it still has to be bug free. But just waiting for it (and my review) won’t likely hurt you. Which, is how I look at it.
Tacx Bushido Trainer – $900-$1,000:
While the KICKR isn’t available today, the Tacx Bushido is – and it’s a good little trainer with a full computerized offering. The Bushido also has some specific advantages over the KICKR. First is that it requires no wires (the KICKR will offer a car adapter though), so you can take it anywhere and ride anywhere. Plus, with no wires, it’s generally cleaner to setup.
Second, the Bushido offers a far bigger video riding library than the KICKR appears staged to at start. Since the KICKR is dependent on 3rd party apps, it might be a bit of time until we see that really expanded out (through folks like Kinomap). They’ve also got a good collection of folks already using the platform, which means that there’s more folks to ride with in multiplayer scenarios and the sort.
Third, the Bushido doesn’t require taking off your back wheel (like the KICKR). For some, that’s a pain in the butt.
And of course, they do all the usual stuff like allowing you to create workouts, ride in a virtual earth setup, and record your data and publish it to various services via standardized file formats.
Overall, the Tacx is a solid trainer if you’re in need of a trainer today. And their upcoming iPad app should add to the portfolio as well.
What about trainer tires?
I commented on trainer tires a while back in a Weekly Mailbag post, so here’s what I said then – which still applies today.
I train everyday on the stock wheels and tires that came with the bike. Just normal tires and normal wheels. In fact, I don’t even bother to swap out for a separate trainer tire. Why? Well, my thinking is that I spend 3+ days a week on a trainer, and the last thing I want to deal with is swapping tires or wheels every time I go inside to outside or the inverse (I’m kinda lazy that way). Further, when you step back and look at the total cost of triathlon or cycling, and the total cost of simply getting a new tire each each due to wear – the new tire is pretty low (between $30-45).
Now, if you’re riding race wheels with expensive race tires – you’ll have to balance the much higher cost of most race tires.
Why didn’t you recommend XYZ trainer or software instead? It’s way better!
As noted above, it’s likely because I haven’t used it. I’m pretty strict in that I don’t recommend things I haven’t used or know a lot about. I know magazines love to, but I don’t. Sorry!
Why aren’t you recommending the CompuTrainer? And what about RacerMate One?
I’ve bought two CompuTrainers myself, and still use them. But at this point, I can’t justify recommending the purchase of a full-price CompuTrainer to anyone. Perhaps used at a solid discount, but not full price. Ultimately, I feel their Racermate One software isn’t competitive in the market place today, nor what’s coming down the road with 3rd party apps for platforms like KICKR. At $1,640US, it’s the most expensive consumer trainer out there, yet aside from Spinscan, has less functionality and features than everything else. And Spinscan really isn’t super-useful for the majority of folks (I do understand a small number of folks like it of course).
What about the LeMond Revolution Trainer?
LeMond Fitness sold their business to Hoist Fitness about two weeks ago. Since then I’ve been on a bit of a path to figure out what’s going on with the Revolution Trainer – which got quite a bit of attention last year for its realistic feel.
Well, I made a lot of phone calls today. First, starting with my usual LeMond Fitness PR contact. No longer there. Then to a known engineering contact at LeMond Fitness – also, now gone. Then, since their website said to “Call for Availability” for the Revolution Trainer, I did that. Turns out that put me in touch with the Hoist folks. The Hoist person that answered the phone explained that the Revolution Trainer wasn’t part of the sale deal, and that she’d take my number and down the road they’d call back once things were cleared up.
So now I dig around and find an old PBX number in an e-mail years old for LeMond Fitness, where a person answers (woot!). Except, she’s never heard of the Revolution Trainer (having been to their relatively small building, I’m somewhat boggled by this). I explain that’s a bit odd and is there anyone else she can ask. She puts me on hold and asks around and clarifies that Hoist now owns that piece as well. She was helpful though, in that she explained only about 2-3 people are left at LeMond to effectively clean things up, and everyone else was let go and is gone. But, she gave me the name of the marketing person at Hoist to call.
So, back to Hoist I go, this time asking for the marketing person – who was quite knowledgeable. Turns out the initial Hoist person was mostly correct. Hoist technically bought the Revolution as part of the larger LeMond deal, but has no plans to offer it for sale. Instead, they’re looking to sell the product line back to Greg LeMond. What Greg does with it is anyone’s guess. I’d wager sell it to another company.
But, in the meantime, you can’t order one, nor is there any clarity on when you’d be able to order one, or from who. Further, the development team has been disbanded, so there’s no likelihood of continued product enhancements there. Even if a full team was magically stood up tomorrow, the soonest I’d expect anything new would be Interbike 2013 at best, but again, it doesn’t sound like it’s anywhere near that point. Hoist will help you out if you broke something on your current trainer, but beyond that – their hands are tied.
Which, brings me back to why there’s no way I’d recommend it at this point.
What about the CycleOps PowerBeam Pro:
CycleOps is in a tough spot right now. On one hand, they were/are competitive with the likes of the CompuTrainer (high end), in that they have a resistance controllable unit that’s durable and does exactly what it says it’s going to do. And, they’ve just released their new software suite to go with it (which is actually pretty solid). However, the price is what’s hurting them. They’re just too expensive compared to KICKR, and without as much openness or integration as the KICKR.
I have no problems with the product (full review here) – it’s just that price-wise it’s a tough recommendation in today’s marketplace.
Any tips or suggestions on where to place remote controls/jelly beans/bike computers/etc while on a trainer?
Yup, you’re in luck. I’d recommend either a simple 4-cup OXO measuring cup (silly, I know, but clips onto almost all road bike bars and triathlon bike aerobars – awesome). Or, you can build your own like I did here in this post.
Do you use a trainer pad/mat (floor protector)?
Yup, it’s just a generic ones I picked up at Performance Bike way back when. You can find endless numbers of them online or at your local bike shop – usually around $30. You can also just use a towel, just be sure that if you’re on carpet that you change the towel regularly, otherwise it’ll eventually stain the carpet below (sweat going down into it). Here’s the thing, don’t overspend on this – that’s silly. You don’t need a $70 trainer mat. As long as it’s waterproof (thus, sweatproof) and offers some padding to lower sound profiles, that’s really the key thing.
What’s the quietest trainer?
So I did a lot of testing on this a few weeks ago. Each trainer, multiple iterations, videos, differing speeds (which is what control sound levels on trainers, not resistance/wattage) – and did them all in front of a decibel meter (measures sound). I think I did them for three hours in total. I suspect my poor neighbors below thought civil war had broken out above their heads.
But here’s the thing: They’re all within about 1db of each other at their peaks (and about the same across the rest of the profile). Well, except the LeMond Revolution – which was 20db higher and topped out at 100db, which is literally the same as a jet engine. No joke. Of course, everyone knows it sounds like a jet engine – but this literally proved it.
What about one of those bike protective thong cover things?
No, sorry, I don’t cover up my bike. I’ve spent a A LOT of time on my bike, pouring a lot of sweat – many multi-hour rides. But you know what? I’ve never seen any adverse issues due to it. Perhaps I’m lucky, perhaps it’s not normal. Either way, I don’t use one.
In general, for US folks, I see three trainers to choose from. At the low end, there’s a plethora of options – in my case, I prefer the simple and basic Performance Bike trainers (who can beat $99)? At the mid-range, you’ve got the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine (and optional power meter accessory). And at the high end, you’ve got the Wahoo Fitness KICKR. For the European folks, you’ve also got the BKOOL in there mixing it up in the mid-range trainer arena.
I’m not a big fan of buying into technology that I see as declining or otherwise sliding backwards – whether that be because the company isn’t innovating or simply because they don’t appear to be there anymore. Further, I’m not a big fan of overpaying either (for brand or otherwise). Hence why I’d rather pay $1,000 for a trainer than $1,600 for a trainer with a different brand.
Ultimately you’re not going to go wrong with any of the trainers I’ve recommended here. Nor, with most of the trainers I’ve reviewed previously. For example, if you find a CompuTrainer on eBay for $500 – absolutely, that’s a good deal – grab it and use it for the resistance/wattage control and measurement tool that it and has been. For $1,000? No.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to drop them below. Thanks for reading!
Various links to pickup trainers:
At this point, most of the trainers I’ve listed above aren’t offered through platforms that help support the site (Amazon/Clever). No worries though, here’s where you can pick them up.
Performance Bike $99 Trainer: On PerformanceBike.com (again, wait for a sale)
Performance Bike $150 Trainer: Seems gone from Performance Bike currently (it’s likely to show up again)
Kurt Kinetic Road Machine – $329: On Amazon.com and CleverTraining.com
Kurt Kinetic inRIDE accessory – $200: Not yet available for order, will be on Amazon and CleverTraining.com and Wahoo’s site.
BKOOL Trainer – €500: On BKOOL.com in their product store (Euro folks only)
Wahoo Fitness KICKR – $999: Not yet available for order, will be available through Clever Training though as well as on Wahoo’s site. Unclear on Amazon.com.
Tacx Bushido Trainer –~$950-$1,100: On Amazon.com and CleverTraining.com
As always, anything bought through CleverTraining.com via the links above gets you a flat-rate 10% off (all products/brands) when you put in coupon code DCR10BTF (must use link & coupon code) as it’s exclusive to readers here. Amazon through the links above supports the site, but no discount for ya.
Thanks for the support!
First of all, thanks for the in-depth reviews. I have decided on acquisitions based on them more than once, with no regret.
Secondly, I workout in a gym here in Brazil, for several reasons. Besides the mandatory weight workout, I use the treadmill (of course), elliptical and stationary bike.
Concerning the last one, I have noticed more than once that you advise not to consider the speed/distance markings on indoor biking, but usually in the context of trainers.
Since I have noticed that, at constant, or approximately constant, cadences, the computed speed is directly related to intensity level on the machines I use, what kind of value should I attach to that computed distance/speed?
My question is linked to my absolute incapacity of getting the same speed of a real bike outside the gym, mostly because I can´t rotate the d* crank fast enough, and couldn´t set the resistance level as high as I can on the stationary bike…
Even if you can´t answer my question, since it is quite specific and you have major time constraints, I would like to thank you again for the excellent blog, and wish both of you success in the bakery. If you are going to be “sampling” the production in that kind of scale you may want to think about increasing your workout load, such as maybe carrying a 10-20 kg bag when you go running 🙂
Exceptionally timely and – as always – very useful.
I’d like to know which trainers have adjustable legs. They’re all designed for flat and level floors (laminate / wooden / smooth tiles). I train on uneven concrete and it can be a pain to level Oxted the trainer so you are upright on the trainer and not leaning to one side.
If the floor is all lumpy, then the trainer wobbles excessively and in turn, creeps forwards along the floor!
Just in time for xmas. Thanks for the great suggestions!
Long time reader and always send training buddies here who like stats. I just picked up a Real Axiom from Nashbar for 518 bucks with shipping and it is pretty sweet. The Col du Galibier is a granny gear for half the climb and the rollers on the other video are good. Same base as the Ascent and the Travel Trac. Great price point with some decent options out there. New courses are coming like New York Grand Fondo and Mt Evans CO is out. Geo located riding as well. Still need more time to play but gonna try online racing with a buddy in Utah (Maryland here) and let ya know. Very surprised so far.
Hey adam. Just got one myself. Software a little squirrelly. Did you ger your hr working? Whats your tske on the power measurement? A good est?
Just a little note.
At the moment you can get the “old 2012” models of the TACX Flow 2220 with Tacx Trainer Software 3.0 Multiplayer for around 360-400 Euros, which is extremely cheap.
It fits well between the sub 400 and the sub 1000 euro models.
This model is currently exchanged by the Tacx Flow 2250 (Same hardware, but Tacx Trainer Software 4.0 Basic). As TTS 3 is pretty stable nowadays, it make sense to catch one of the old ones (even if you consider ot get TTS 4 Advanced later).
Just a little hint from me 😉
Hi Ray, this is a perfectly timed review, I need to purchase my first trainer soon. However, I don’t see an important point being covered or mentioned, and maybe it’s no longer relevant, but all trainers I tried (from people who lent them to me), were not compatible with 650 wheels. They were just not adjustable, so I would like to know whether any or all of these trainers will work well with 650 wheels. If you mentioned it and I missed it in your post, I apologize. Please remind me, thank you!
The Girl has 650’s, so I can confirm some of them as being compatible:
– Both Performance Bike Trainers
– KICKR (no wheel size issues)
Unknown but will try/validate:
Fantastic useful review and perfectly timed! Thanks again. I’m hoping you’ll consider doing a similar rundown on the current power meters that are now available (that market has been changing a lot too and hard to keep up with).
Ririnette- FYI, I also ride 650’s and have no trouble using the Kirk Kinetic. You need a block for the front wheel to raise the front higher, but that’s the only modification required.
In reply to Ririnette, the Kinetic people have an adapter for smaller wheels. I did a bit of digging around their website and found the following: the basic Road Machine will fit wheels from 22″ to 29″ outer diameter (about 560 mm to 735 mm) and the adapter changes that to go from 16″ to 21″.
If it’s any indication, I have a road machine and use it with 700 wheels and the resistance unit needs to be put almost all the way back on it’s adjusting screw.
According to Trainer Road at link to trainerroad.com the “Travel Trac Century Fluid” is supported as “(Beta)”. Does that negate the reason for buying the $330 trainer over the $150 one? Just curious, thanks!
Hmm, that’d be interesting. I wonder if there’s a naming/branding alignment there. In theory, they can’t do Virtual Power on adjustable trainers (which is what that is). Perhaps if you’re setting it on a known adjustment setting.
If it does work out, then yup, it could. The question then becomes one of how accurate/stable is that compared to the Road Machine – which may be why it’s currently in beta.
Perhaps Nate or Reid from TR will jump in…
Still anxiously awaiting your Tacx Genius review (or preview!!!)
Thanks for all your work!
A cold Canadian.
Given the LeMond seems dead, I’ll probably just skip putting together that post and go straight into the Tacx Genius next (first in, first out).
If TrainerRoad would be able to integrate calibration in their software (as discussed here: link to blog.trainerroad.com) there would be no need for the inRide accessory, is that correct?
And on a different topic: when are the garmin colored bands going to be available internationally?
I think is a bit sketchy to recommend something that is not even on the market right now…
In essence, I’d say so – at least with respect to TR. Not applicable to other apps/software packages of course (or inRIDE’s own app).
I can undersatnd that.
Ultimately though, I’m fairly confident with KICKR based on a lot of time spent with it at Interbike and Eurobike, and even more time spent talking with the team at the ANT+ Symposium as well. We’re talking about something that will likely be in my hands for review/testing before Thanksgiving – so not something like a power meter coming out next Summer.
In the case of inRIDE, it was basically a done product at Interbike – just manuf at this point.
I ultimately go back to the way I do recommendations – which is recommending here in the same manner as if I was recommending to a friend or family while sitting on a couch. Given the current space out there, there’s simply no way I’d not recommend KICKR (or at least waiting for it and seeing how it shakes out, which is what I outlined above).
Otherwise, I’m recommending technology that’s available today, but in 2 months is going to be significantly behind the curve.
Again, just my two cents…
Excellent article Ray, thanks for taking the time to do it.
I have owned / own a Tacx Flow, Computrainer and Tacx Fortius.
I agree with your points about the CT, its time has passed. I would avoid Tacx since they milk their users by charging for every s/w update and are definitely NOT open to working with others.
If I lived anywhere near Wahoo HQ I would be sleeping on the pavement outside to be first to get hold of the KICKR — it answers almost every question and then some. And its open too.
Hope Paris is treating you and your wife well — aside from the miserable weather 🙂
Thanks for the pre-review. I have owned a Travel Trac Fluid for years and have been happy with it.
I was considering picking up a computrainer this winter and it is nice to see that they have some legitimate competition.
Thanks for the great review. Everything you says matches perfectly with my experience. Have had a computrainer for many years and finally got disgusted by the dated software and expense. Could no longer recommend it to friends. Same hardware as 10 years ago, just a higher price!
Last year I picked up a Bushido which seemed promising. There are many things I like about it but I have had lost connection issues and the software has had plenty of problems. Now that they have moved on to TTS4, TTS3 issues are no longer fixed. And TTS4 definitely seems like a way for them to milk more money out of you. I have had enough issues with my Bushido that I can’t recommend it to friends either. Great system when it works though.
I will almost certainly get a kickr when they are released, if nothing else, for the promise of an open platform. I want to support that.
Ray/Tanner – On some adjustable resistance trainers, TrainerRoad uses different profiles for each “click” on the adjuster. For example, look at the TravelTrac Fluid +, they have a 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 profile to correspond with the setting on the trainer.
I’ve got that trainer, and it took me a while to figure that one out 😉 .
Also, if anyone is interested in the Performance brand ones, keep an eye on their instore clearance piles, I picked up the Fluid+ for $25 that way!
I’ve had a Computrainer for more than a decade, and like you have been both pleased with its durability and tired of the outdated software. RacerMate is finally coming out with a new version of the software but it’s too expensive and *already* looks a decade out of date.
Fortunately I discovered ErgVideo and it’s rejuvenated my love for my CT. Their software is far superior and the ride library is extensive (although expensive.) With a solid choice of 3-5 good ride videos you’ll have a comprehensive training foundation.
If you can get a used CT for a good price, invest in ErgVideo and you’ll have a complete package.
Thank you so much. I’ve just started shopping hard for an inexpensive trainer as I didn’t bike at all last Nov-Feb (thank you Lord for a mild winter that let me resume early). I had actually thought of emailing you this question because my budget just doesn’t allow for the $500+ range!
Newbie here for trainers and in the US…really appreciate the post.
Looking at getting one relatively quick since winter for us is near.
I am training for my first half-ironman in July 2013 and would like to know which one may be best for me.
I do not have any option besides aero bars on my road bike…no speed sensor/cadence sensor/power meter. Basic setup is road bike configured as best by LBS to fit me and installed aero bars.
I do not know my power/watt – I just use my Garmin 410 to help with tracking my routes and speed.
I want something that I can use indoors and am not sure if I should go with “Lil Red” – Little Red (aka: Performance Ascent Trainer aka Performance Travel Trac Comp Mag + Trainer) – $99 or go up to the Kinetic Kurt Road Machine – $330. I am not sure between these two since the middle option Performance Bike Travel Trac Century V Fluid Plus (~$150) is not apparently being offered as of now.
This is my first winter riding season that I am going to be going through so any advice would be appreciated.
I could spend the extra $40-50 to get the ANT option with Trainer Road and buy the Garmin GSC 10 Speed/Cadence Bike Sensor and then I guess I will have the ability to sync my current Garmin ANT to have this data uploaded.
Anyways as a totally newbie I am stuck between these two and just need the extra push to purchase one.
Excellent info as always. For the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine inRIDE, how does that compare to their previous Kinetic Wired Power Computer? Is it more accurate/precise; differences? Also, for the inRIDE is it possible to connect to a PC via BT; is there software that is available to install onto a PC. Thanks…cheers Steve
@Pete: The 1up USA CPR A-2000 (link to 1upusa.com) has independently-adjustable front legs. They may or may not help your problem, as the rear feet are on a solid axle. The separate legs took a little longer to set up until I marked my desired settings with a permanent marker. The CPR A-2000 competes with the Kurt Kinetic fluid units.
Thanks for the review, i just have one last question before i buy my trainer. I can get a new 2013 bushido for 529 euro or a kurt for 389 euro. So they are almost at the same pricepoint, what is the better choice ?
Hope you can answer.
Any recommendations on Rollers?
Great blog keep up your good work.
That summary is excellent! I agree that the Wahoo Kickr looks very promising indeed.
I’m a Lemond Revolution user (with TrainerRoad), although the product may be in “no-man’s land” right now, I’d like to add my 2 cents.
The direct drive system (like on Wahoo KICKR) has got to make the virtual power numbers on TrainerRoad more or less stable in comparison to other tire based trainers, as the tire-trainer tension can really affect the accuracy of your virtual power. This is worth noting to the potential TrainerRoad users. To me this makes it one of trainers that yields a better power value particularly when considering cost.(it’s also less “fiddley” in that sense, you’re not left guessing whether the tire-trainer tension is correct)
Yes, it’s noisy. I’ve always worn headphones when riding my trainers anyways, so the added noise doesn’t phase me much. It is not a trainer for apartment dwellers.
I love your reviews, very helpful. I’m looking to replace my Turbo Trainer and found this set of reviews. My question….have you tried the Elite Qubo Digital?
Helpful advice as always, but I would add one thing. I’ve been ‘riding’ my trainers for nearly 20 years (and yes, I am tired now). Trainers with the hinge at the top (and with the friction wheel on the bottom with a spring) rarely work well IMHO. The ones to purchase have the hinge on the front at the bottom, and allow the weight of the bike and rider to push the rear wheels onto the friction wheel. On these trainers you can really push much harder than the other sort. Elite make this style of trainer, amongst others no doubt.
Hi Ray – great round up. I have a computrainer and am considering jumping ship for the wahoo fitness traininer come January. Given it is similar to the LeMond, what is the noise leve like. I know you don’t have the unit yet, but based on what you saw at InterBike. Thanks!
i’m traing with lemond revolution and i’m really satisfied ofit but i’ve done a terrible mistake. i’v purchased it without the power pilot!!
do you thing that it could be avaible somewhere?
tx a lot
Ray — do you know if Wahoo KICKR will work with Campagnolo grouppos?
Basically is it going to be possible to replace a Shimano cassette with a Campy cassette?
TomNYC. The trainer will come standard with Shimano and we will also sell a campy adapter.
Rey, thanks for this. I have been waiting for a review like this for a very long time.
I know Powerbeam and Computrainer allow the unit to put out load (constant wattage) or slope (constant friction or resistance). What about the others?
You mentioned that you thought the PowerBeam Pro is too expensive. At what price do you think it competes with the others?
Thanks for your excellent review.
I purchased a Tacx Bushido earlier in the year based on the review you did at the end of last year.
The trainer hardware is well designed and the self-powered concept is excellent. However the head-unit is simply diabolical. I find it buggy, hard to program, and prone to spontaneously locking up & rebooting. I am hoping that the upcoming iPad app will mean that I never have to use the Bushido head unit again.
Similarly the Tacx TTS software is terrible. I recommend that prospective purchasers spend some time in the Tacx support forums so they will get an idea of the problems.
Another issue is that the Bushido cannot measure power consistently. The power measurement is not temperature corrected and it drifts as the electronic brake warms up. It’s not uncommon to see a drift of 10 to 15% within a single training ride.
Tacx has addressed this by releasing a firmware upgrade that allows the head unit to set the resistance based on a reading from an ANT+ power meter (SRM, Quarq, PowerTap etc). Unfortunately there is a quite a bit of latency with this system, so the resistance of the electronic brake takes a while to adjust to changes in effort.
As an aside – all of the Tacx products are significantly cheaper in Europe (once you take off the VAT). Around sux months ago I purchased my Bushido from bike24.com in Germany for 420 Euros + 20 Euros shipping (approximately 570 USD in total). But that was six months ago and the price has gone up since then (it is now 550 Euro + shipping).
Thanks for putting this review out.
Quick question with regards to the Kickr and accessories. I do not own any Apple products (nor do I plan too) and use a garmin 305 for running.
How much of a problem is this? Would I need to upgrade my phone or my gps device to make them compatible with the Wahoo? I do own a Samsung Galaxy S2 so it does have some apps that show compatibility with the trainer, but I am unsure if this is adequate.
I emailed Wahoo about this awhile back as I too was interested in the KICKR. It appears you are out of luck unless you want to buy an Apple product. Here was my question and their answer to me:
Megan Powers (Wahoo Fitness Support)
Dec 19 10:03 am (EST)
Yes you would need some kind of Apple product to control the KICKR.
Dec 18 06:10 pm (EST)
My current trainer just bit the dust. I was hoping it would survive until the Kickr came out but no such luck. I am very interested in the Kickr but want to make sure it will work for me. I do not have an iPhone, iPad, Macbook, or anything you say can control the resistance. Does this simply mean I won’t be able to control it? I do have an Android phone and tablet but don’t see any Wahoo apps.
She’s somewhat mistaken. Or, limited in her understanding of the potential.
Today, Wahoo only supports the Apple products. But TrainerRoad will support it on PC. Right now they’re working out some Blutooth Smart issues, but ultimately, they’ll get solved.
In order to use the trainer you need a device to control the resistance. At launch it looks like it will only be Apple products or via a PC using TrainerRoad.
We do hope to support some Android devices in the future, but we have no timeline on this (its a little out of our control).
You could connect your Garmin, but you will only get speed and power readings, you would not be able to control the resistance. The trainer would behave like a regular resistance trainer. Eg. Higher speed = Higher resistance.
Thanks for posting the update on LeMond Revolution. I bought it last November after breaking my left elbow in a cycling incident. The trainer has been working well but i am wondering now who will be providing the lifetime warranty support, just in case that’s needed.
Hey Ray. Great post. Thank you!! I actually have the Ascent little red trainer.. I like it OK.. just not as smooth as I’d prefer.. then again I’m not a huge indoor rider… what I’d more prefer is something quiet. I have it on a mat, but it’s still louder than I’d like. What is your recommendation for a quiet trainer?
Are any of the trainers you tested “fluid” based? Are they all “magnetic”?
I ask because it is understood to make a huge difference in terms of noise levels. And to a few of us, that is a top feature in a trainer. We need a QUIET trainer. Any thoughts?
Kurt is fluid based.
Anyone know a good place (cheap) to buy the kurt kinetic road machine in australia? or a place that would ship to australia with a resonable postage fee.
Whats your take on rollers? could you please possibly do a review on the,?
Ray, thank you for all the work you put into these reviews. You helped me pick up my trainer – a Kurt Kinetic Road machine from Clever Training.
@Pablo, I know the Road Machine is a fluid trainer, the Tacs and the Wahoo KICKR are probablly not, as the resistance is controlled externally (PC, Apple device).
Really? Nothing else to say about noise levels?
here in italy many bike shop told me that the production of revolution will restart (or maybe it’s been already restarted). could you please confirm this ??? have u heard something ???
thanks a lot
Thanks Mark and Steve, glad you enjoyed!
RE: Tacx Units
Agree, the singular issue I see with the Bushido line is what you noted as well, the level of the software can be hit or miss.
RE: RE: TrainerRoad on TravelTrac
Awesome, thanks for that tidbit! And well done on the $25 deal!
RE: Stuck between Lil Red & Road Machine)
If this is your first winter, I’d go with Lil Red + TrainerRoad, and then re-evaluate for next winter. I went my first winter with Lil Red as well, and it worked out just fine. Enjoy and good luck!
RE: Kurt Road Machine inRIDE comparison
Hmm, that’s a good question, I’ll check with them on that. As for the PC side, down the road there will be. I suspect TrainerRoad will support it as soon as there is a BT4.0 dongle WITH Windows drivers (that’s actually the catching point right now for them).
Hi Mike Lab-
RE: Bushido at 529
Get the Bushido at 529, that’s easy. 🙂
No recommendations on rolllers, simply because I haven’t spent enough time on them to give an informed opinion. Sorry!
RE: KICKR Noise
While they look similiar (to the LeMond), they are dramatically different. Teh KICKR is rather quite, on par or if not quieter than other trainers (probably quieter, since most noice comes from the wheel contact). While listening to it on the show floor is was definitely quieter than any other trainer, but everything sounds different on the show floor…
RE: Elite Trainers
I’ve got an offer from the Elite folks to test out some of their units. I’d love to do that, once I clear out the other units I have here. Really, space is a big problem for me now in Paris (at least when you have 7+ trainers at once).
Yup, those went into the distribution channel, so I’m sure if you poke around some you’ll be able to find one. You could also try calling Hoist Fitness and see what theymight have.
RE: Constant wattage
Yes, all of these do, with the exception of the sub-$500 units.
RE: PowerBeam Pro ideal price
Hi K & Pablo-
RE: Quiet Trainers
It’s an area I’m going to try and focus on more in an upcoming post. Much of what I’m seeing though is that they’re all about the same (within 1-2db). Wish I had more there.
I’d be wary of that. As of last week, they didn’t have an agreement for selling that portion of the company back to them. Nevermind the support and development side. Thus, even if they sold back the company this afternoon, they’d still have to hire folks for support and future design, as well as distribution, etc… Then they’d have to get them built in Asia, shipped on a boat to their (now gone) US distribution point (was Woodinville, now ?), which is 30 days by ship. Then from there somewhere else. I just don’t see all those things happening anytime soon at any speed. Just my two cents.
Thank you so much for your reviews, they’ve have helped a lot in the past and will in the future.
I have one question about the trainers you’ve tested. In the category 200-500 dollars, you told that it was the only unit of that category you had any experience with. I’m mostly interested of the 500 + categories, but what I’d love to know, is which ones have you tried? You gave your recommendations on each group, which were the ones that didn’t get a recommendation?
Thank you again for your effort on helping us all here, and have a nice autumn 😉
I’ve used all of these units in some way, shape or another (in the case of some of them, less than for a full review, which I noted).
The units that didn’t “make the cut” would be the LeMond Revolution(for reasons noted), the CycleOps PowerBeam Pro (also, for reasons noted), the Tacx Genius (I haven’t reviewed it yet (sitting next to me), but I don’t yet see the additional cash being worth it given the new entrants.
I found information about noise and how quiet different trainers are. This was apparently provided by someone from Wahoo.
“1) Noise: we did several tests using an iPhone decibel meter App in a *fairly*controlled environment (trainer in room alone, iphone same distance away, etc.). We tested the KICKR, Kurt Road Machine, Lemond Revolution, and CycleOps Fluid 2. At 10 mph, the results were KICKR 64, Lemond 74, CycleOps 63, Kurt 68. At 20 mph, the results were KICKR 73, Lemond 85, Cyclops 69, Kurt 80. Note, the db scale is logarithmic so 12 decibels is quite noticeable (EDIT: 70 vs. 80 decibels is TWICE AS LOUD… thank you google). “
Link to original source:
link to forum.slowtwitch.com
Seems like Cyclops Fluid 2 is the way to go if less noise is a big consideration for you.
Hope this helps.
More on noise. From the interweb:
“An increase of 3dB is a doubling of the “strength” of the sound”
So 1 or 2dB do matter. Especially if you have a baby and wife (or husband) sleeping.
I have to agree with some comments on the TACX Bushido. Great peace of kit and the resistance was realistic but with the diabolical head-unit and software in the equation it was for me unusable. I sold mine on eBay and replaced it with a Minoura 170 and TrainerRoad. Yes, there is a power profile for each position on the remote resistance.
As BKool are doing a trial option (to us in France anyway) I’m trying to play with that. First impressions aren’t great. The inability to download your ride from the bkool on-line system to upload into TrainingPeaks or Strava means you still need your Garmin or phone collecting data.
I was also disappointing it didn’t pair and record from my DFPM but it does state that somewhere.
Two nights of faffing around and not got a ride in yet but I have a support ticket open with them at the moment.
I’ve tried some 500+W spurts and the body-weight roller adherence seems to be holding out but that plastic won’t have the same friction as tarmac so we’ll see.
Thanks for the discount code, i have made the purchase at Clever Training.
Great news! I just saved 10% buying through Clever Training. Best price around with free shipping and no tax for me. Thanks Ray.
Clever Training just contacted me. They won’t ship to Australia 🙁 my order was canceled, im very disappointed, was so excited about my new trainer now i had to just buy the Cycleops jet fluid pro
Hi Ray, great article thank you. I have been looking at a trainer of some sort for a good while and am about to build an office/training room for myself on the front of the house so I’m starting to think about what sort of trainer I’d like to put in there. I’m torn between getting a full stationary bike and a trainer that you hook your bike into, in other words as an example, the Cyclops 4100 Pro vs Wahoo KICKR. I like the idea of having a dedicated machine that I can just step onto rather than having to go and get my bike and set it up in the trainer each time. I could put a dedicated bike in the trainer and leave it there but my wife will want to use the trainer and she definitely won’t want to be messing around with bikes, wheels and chains etc. With a dedicated stationary bike like the 410 Pro, she’d just have to adjust the seat, bars and then go. WAF is definitely a factor in the decision. Obviously, I’m in the market for a trainer with VR features as well as reliable power data for improving my riding. I currently go to a training centre where they use Watt bikes and while I wouldn’t contemplate buying a Watt bike, training on them has certainly improved my performance. I have a Garmin Edge 800 and use Strava and I’m a bit confused as to how I will put all the pieces of the puzzle together. Spending $900+, I’m not wanting to get it wrong.
Do you have any advice firstly between the dedicated stationary bike vs the stationary trainer? Sure the bike will be more expensive but getting a dedicated bike to sit in the trainer will cost money too and not be adjustable. Are there Stationary bikes that you can comment on or recommend?
Thanks in advance
I understand what you’re saying. What I noted above however is that MOST of these trainers were within 1-2db.
That is actually not a human-audible doubling of sound. There’s quite a few sites out there that explain this. I quickly just uploaded one of my sound test files, without any of the on-screen information added (hence why I haven’t posted them yet). You can see that between say 69 and 70db there’s no real massive increase. And there’s definitely not a doubling from 70 to 71db. In fact, it’s almost not noticable.
link to youtu.be
I haven’t tested the Kurt yet, but my other results were similar with the CycleOps at 20MPH to theirs. Again, LeMond trainer exempted here, as that was crazy loud.
Ultimately though (and this is the important part) – tires actually make a FAR bigger difference in sound. The trick is though, figuring out which tire is best.
Sorry about that, bummer to hear they won’t send down under. 🙁
RE: Stationary bike vs stationary trainer
On the first question, from a bike fit and benefit standpoint I find that if you’re doing any sort of endurance training, training on the bike you use outdoors and in a race is critical. I’d never dream of doing indoor riding on anything other than my tri bike, since that’s what I have to ride in a race. Fit is really important there (hotel gyms excluded).
In that case, that would still allow you to use your Edge 800 and similar apps whether indoor or outdoor.
Just my two cents.
I find the blue Schwalbe trainer tires make a *much* quieter hum than any road tire. If you care about the noise they’re very effective. I put them on an old wheel with a worn out rim and just switch the wheel over which takes < 1 min.
Thanks for adding more info on sound. Curious about the Wahoo trainer, as you mentioned it seemed quiet and it eliminates the tire noise. When do you expect to have a review of trainers that’s final/complete? Thanks again.
maybe you can help me (you or someone who bought the lemond revolution).
I’m looking for a firmware update for the power pilot (i think the last one is the v63) but the ftp site only host broken files. Could you please help me with this issue?
tx a lot
Review will depend a bit on when I get the KICKR to test. I’m out of the country for two weeks begining next Saturday (until just after Turkey day). So unless things are to me at least a few days before then, it’s unlikely to be until early December.
Working on getting the BKOOL and Kurt Kinetic Trainer ones done before I head out though – since I have those cooking and up.
RE: Firmware update
Eek, I don’t. I just looked. Usually I’m good about keeping those. What I’d do is head over to Slowtwitch and in the forums there’s a big long LeMond PowerPilot thread, I’m betting money that someone has it there.
link to forum.slowtwitch.com
If you get it, shoot it over and I’ll post it somewhere for others to benefit from.
thank you for the support. In that forum i found a great guy who send me the firmware. I’ve already update my power pilot without problems.
If you tell me how i’ll send you the firmware in order to make it avaiable for other revolution users.
Hope things gonna be solved at Lemond Fitness /Hoist Fitness because in 4 day no one has answer to my requests even if the product has a lifetime warranty.
Awesome! Here’s my e-mail: email@example.com
Thanks to Fabmas, I’ve posted the firmware file here: link to sites.google.com
Thank you so much for your detailed reviews. As an engineer, I love the thoroughness and comprehensiveness.
I’ve been looking at three trainers, and can’t decide between them: the TACX Genius, the Elite RealPower CT, and the CycleOps Powerbeam. I read your test of the latter, and your test of the TACX Bushido, but I can’t find a good review of the Elite RealPower.
And I just found out about the Elite E-Motion roller based trainer…
Please could you provide a timing update on when you might post a review of the Tacx Genius. I am near “pulling the trigger” on buying one to fight the winter blues / flab but given how excellent your in-depth reviews are, I am really reluctant to buy one before I have read your views vs. alternatives. I have been on all the Tacx messageboards and am well versed in the complainst about the extra cost of TTS 4.0 and general bugginess of the software, but I’m a sucker for the potential interest of the VR display. I would add I am in no way as serious an athlete as you, but I get bored easily, which would be a key factor in my choise of trainer!
Thanks in advance and hope you’re enjoying Paris.
Thanks so much for the great review! I am about to open a group riding center in the NewYork area with 8 computrainers, but am concernbed about computrainers becoming dinosaurs (if they haven’t already) Do you see another option to group indoor riding? I love the group computrainer classes I attend but am wondering if the kickr or someone else will be coming aout with something newer and better for group rides. Any thoughts? Thanks!
For those looking for the little red Ascent trainer, Nashbar now sells it.
link to nashbar.com
We are interested in group session and currently working towards a solution but at this stage I don’t have any more detail. Feel free to contact us directly for updates and more information. (Sales@wahoofitness.com)
Wahoo Fitness – KICKR
In addition to reaching out to Murray, the TrainerRoad guys have hinted they might be onto something. See this Facebook post here:
link to facebook.com – Ensure to read the comments on it.
Personally, if I were opening a CompuTrainer style studio, I’d wait it out. The potential for awesome apps on KICKR is huge, whereas the CT world is slowly dying off around it. Just my two cents. Though I do realize if you’re trying to hit some timelines for this calendar year, that might be really tough.
Hi Ray and Murray
Thanks so much for your responses! I am a bit hesitant to wait another year, as I understand TR is working on a way for individuals to train with others online in a virtual group setting, before doing a platform where a group of users share one screen while training in the same physical location. I am wondering what you think about using perfPRO with the CT’s for now, and adding a few stand alone KICKR trainers that people can use with TR until a multirider platform is fully functional.
My thoughts and needs reflect those of “Big Rich” (Post #68) exactly, so this is one more request/plead for your Genius review.
Based on the depth of your reviews of other trainers I’m sure it will be what I need to make the plunge into one of your top rated trainers.
Thanks for all your hard work and unbiased opinions
Thanks for the in-depth reviews. Have you ever considered reviewing the Pro-Form TDF trainer? The one that they advertise non-stop during the TdF? Was just curious how it compares to the others.
What do you think of the Wahoo Kickr vs Cycleops Powerbeam at the same price point? The Powerbeam is $1,039 at some stores right now.
That’s a tough one. Does that $1,309 include the software?
are you considering this trainer: Elite Qubo Digital (link to elite-it.com)?
It looks good and is ANT. For 399 Eur seems to be an interesting possibility. I would appreciate your opinion or if feasible a full review.
Thanks for your great reviews and keep going.
It’s on my medium-term radar. First up is BKOOL this week, then Tacx Genius, and mixed in there the new CycleOps software.
The Elite folks have reached out to me, and offered me anything I want to review – I’m just limited at the moment by space and time.
Yes the 1,039 on the Powerbeam Includes the software but know control unit so you would be stuck with a laptop.
Any update on this? Wahoo’s website and facebook has no updated details. As far as I know there was no pre-order yet. I doubt they will be in customers hands by early January but I am no business/logistics expert. I just wish they would give us some kind of update even if it’s bad news about a delay or something.
I think we’ll have a fairly concrete answer within about 7 days. Just my guess…
There is currently a Travel Trac fluid trainer, sans control cable, at Performance. I have one, and it’s $169. I like it a lot.
Any update on the wahoo kickr trainer? i have seen websites pushing it out to February… sucks, i wish it would ship on time in jan; guess not. i was really looking forward to training indoors in the cold.
Can you tell me when your Tacx Genius review will be published? My imminent purchase of either a upgrade i-Bushido or i-Genius will depend on it!
I’m hoping this week, but it’s dependent on a few things aligning up.
To clarify, in my opinion, the biggest question you want to ask yourself is if being able to turn left/right on your trainer is of importance. IMHO, at this point, based on the execution in the product (TTS 4.5), I’d go with Bushido instead. I just don’t see the steering being terribly intuitive or useful at this point. Perhaps down the line, but not today.
Additionally, the Genius does simulate downhills, which is cool – but not a showstopper for me.
Many thanks for clarifying your opinion – having read your very in depth reviews it is valued very much. You actually confirmed what we were thinking; turntable steering is not natural and downhill drive not important, we want the trainer to get fitter for sportives so are happy to pedal downhill as well as up! Upgrade I-bushido now ordered along with new laptop with dedicated graphics card!
It seems like Nashbar.com (might be a sister site to Performancebike.com) still has the Ascent trainer for sale with the original name and colors
Awesome reviews Ray.
Still deciding which trainer to get with all the leftover Christmas money I have lying around… /sarcarsm
Any chance you’re going to review the Tacx Booster trainer anytime soon? I’m interested in this one since it was the trainer of choice for many pro teams during the Tour de France and Olympics. Not sure if that’s because it’s actually a good trainer or Tacx pulled some amazing marketing maneuvers to get their trainers in place.
Hi.. Great site, I love how thorough your reviews are!
Does anybody know where I can get a trainer similar to the cheap “Little Red” in Ireland, or failing that, in the UK or Europe where shipping might be a little cheaper?
It should be noted that only the powerbeam pro with GPS option actually comes with a head unit. The lower end version only comes with Virtual Trainer. The Virtual Trainer does NOT allow you to operate “power-based” interval workouts. You must by the Joule GPS (or other Joule head unit) to develop in the power agent software. On that basis, it is the same price as the computrainers.
It depends a bit on which version you buy – a new post-Sept 2012 unit, or a pre-Sept 2012 unit. Which is when they made the switch.
That said, it is a change I’m not a fan of. I’ve got an upcoming post about it as part of the Virtual Trainer software review.
Just an update. After calling to return the powerbeam pro, the customer services rep offered to send a Joule GPS for free, so thumbs up on their service. Additionally, I asked how many others complained about this issue….he indicated he had only one other person (who know if its acurate, but fwiw I found it interesting). He did say they may be putting that functionality into the virtual trainer software, but didn’t know for sure.
It would be really interesting if you have time (and place!) to test the new Elite Qubo collection as it seems that reviewers have two main comments, in the very few reviews in forum:
a) The system is quieter; so quieter that you can listen Homeland/GoT without headphones. As you are the only internet decibel reviewer; it may deserve a comparison!
b) Elite Qubo relies on ‘gravity’ system instead of full blocking; it seems that people like or hate it
It’s soooo cold in Paris today; perfect weekend to test it! And if you need place; i’m not so far away so i can keep that stuff if you have the courage to carry it to Longchamps 🙂
I’ve actually been e-mailing with the Elite folks quite a bit the last 24 hours. Our current plan is the second week of February they’re going to send me the new ANT+ enabled rollers they have (also resistance controlled). Then, towards Interbike they’re going to send me whatever they feel is their top of the line product at that time.
I think that’s a good blend for now.
To reduce noise I put on a pair of over-ear (not on-ear…found that doesn’t work quite as well) noise-cancelling headphones and plug into whatever I care to hear instead of the whir of the trainer. Sweat can be an issue, and weight’s a consideration, so look for lightweight ones that have remove-able earpads that you can toss into the laundry. Oh, and as long as you’re in Paris, if you’re interested in the most decadent cup of hot chocolate you’ve ever tasted, try the little outdoor cafe near the Orangerie…they make it with Valrhona chocolate.
are there any trainers which broadcast ant+ power data / cadence / speed to a garmin/ etc device? 🙂
Elite Digital ones feature ant+ but there are no further specs on this…
The Wahoo KICKR does (though, not cadence, but power/speed).
I noticed – you mentioned one of the factors – loudness. When buying mine – I used friends advice for Minoura trainer, that is not based on wheel resistance, but instead – resistance is applied to the rim! You can check it here –
link to minoura.jp
It is not highly sophisticated – still – it allows me to train while watching TV, in one room with my dearest, without being shouted at! 😀
When is the 2013 edition of this post available! As they say in some show… Winter is coming ! Need to get ready with the right gear! I would not buy something without your point of view first!
Yup, I’m looking at the first week or two of October for this year’s update.
Great review, but what I find most interesting is that out of alllll the Strava segments in the world, you pick the siest key tri route. And then I check strava,a nod there you are! Ridiculously small world. Is it good or bad that I can pick out a strava route in a blurry photo?
I’m new at this indoor trainer …I’m going to try the travel trac would you suggest the travel trac com mag ..or the travel trac fluid …thanx
Avid reader on most of your reviews on any cycling related stuff. I’m in the market for a good home trainer $1100 max budget, at first I was interested in getting a cycleops indoor bike 100 or 200 series. then read your review of the wahoo kickr and completely change my mind .. is the wahoo better than the cycleops indoor bike with in my budget ?
As it stands today, the Wahoo KICKR has far more flexibility. Thus, I’d go that direction.