The BKOOL trainer is unique in the market in a number of ways. It marks the first trainer I’ve reviewed that includes an all-you-can-eat flat-rate approach to riding videos shot outdoors, while indoors. It’s also the first resistance controlled computerized trainer at 500€. And, because of that fancy little symbol (Euro) you see there – it’s also the first unit I’ve reviewed that only available today in Europe (Update: Now available worldwide).
But, they’re working to change that – so let’s dive into the unit a bit and see how it enters into the larger trainer market.
Back in October the folks at BKOOL sent me out a unit to try out. Ultimately, the unit will go back – like everything else I test. All products are returned to the companies (really, I simply don’t have room for this many trainers even if I wanted them).
Speaking of which, like all my reviews, they tend to be pretty in depth (perhaps overly so) – but that’s just my trademark DC Rainmaker way of doing things. Think of them more like reference guides than quick and easy summaries. I try and cover every conceivable thing you might do with the device and then poke at it a bit more. My goal is to leave no stone unturned – both the good and the bad.
Lastly, at the end of the day keep in mind I’m just like any other regular athlete out there. I write these reviews because I’m inherently a curious person with a technology background, and thus I try and be as complete as I can. But, if I’ve missed something or if you spot something that doesn’t quite jive – just let me know and I’ll be happy to get it all sorted out. Also, because the technology world constantly changes, I try and go back and update these reviews as new features and functionality are added – or if bugs are fixed.
So – with that intro, let’s get into things.
Here’s how you’re going to start off the whole BKOOL system experience – with the unit still fresh in the box:
From there you’ll go ahead and take the main white box off, which leaves you with the innards hanging around. That brown box to the right in the photo below isn’t related. It’s just photobombing the picture.
I continue to be happy with trainer companies that don’t require me to put any trainer parts together myself in their final packaging – and this is true of the BKOOL as well. The whole thing is pre-assembled:
Let’s quickly dig through what’s in the box.
First up, is a trainer skewer. If you don’t already have a trainer skewer on your bike then this takes care of that problem. If you’re like me and already have one you can continue to use that skewer instead. Nothing special about this skewer. The reason you do need a trainer skewer though is that most regular skewers have plastic ends which will otherwise break when you try and lock it in the trainer. And that would be bad. Very bad.
Inside you’ll also find a dedicated ANT+ cadence sensor in there. Note that this is a cadence-only sensor, and not a Speed-Cadence combo sensor. From my testing, I can pair to a speed/cadence combo sensor, but it actually doesn’t correctly seem to pickup the cadence portion. Kinda silly since that’s the most common sensor on earth aside from a heart-rate strap. (Update: A later software version has fixed this issue, combo speed/cadence sensors now work.)
Anyway, onto the trainer itself:
This is the resistance unit. It’s where all the magic happens. Unlike most trainers it’s actually firmware updatable, which you’ll likely notice when you first install the software.
The trainer does require external power. You’ll see that the below is a European plug, which is logical since it’s only sold in Europe today. Though, the unit accepts 100-240v, so it will work just fine with a 99 cent converter in the US. You can also see the standard ANT+ USB stick in there too, which is how the trainer communicates with the computer.
In addition to the trainer stand, you’ve also got a front wheel stand. Nothing special, but it does the trick and keeps your front bike wheel pointed forward.
Ok, with everything all unboxed, let’s get onto the setup piece.
The first thing you should do is to put some sort of trainer mat down. This is beneficial not only to protect your floor (unless you’re in a garage), but also because it typically reduces the sound of the trainer and vibrations. Once that’s done, plunk the trainer down on top of it:
You’ll notice on the back there’s a spot to plugin that power adapter they gave you. Now would be a good time to do so:
We’ll tackle that USB port you see there a bit later.
You’ll notice the trainer itself doesn’t actually have any support beams for the clamp system. If there’s not a bike there – it’ll just rest on itself:
See how if I then start to pickup the clamping portion, it rotates forward:
Now, I’ll continue rotating it forward until it aligns with my rear bike wheel (I’m assuming you’ve put that trainer skewer on there already).
Go ahead and clamp it in. The left system will lock it all in place in a split second. Probably one of the easiest trainer clamps to date I’ve seen in this area. Note that the clamp may feel a bit tight when you try and lock it. Just keep pushing, it won’t break. Well, hopefully anyway.
Once you’ve got it clamped in place, the rear wheel will simply rest against the roller. No downward pressure here or tightening the roller. Your body weight will do that.
What you do what to do however is ensure your tire is inflated properly. For most tires, that’s usually about 120psi. In my case, for these particular tires that was all the way up to 160psi.
Now lots of folks ask about dedicated trainer wheels. Trainer wheels are sorta a ‘religious’ topic. Some love them, others don’t bother. I fall into the ‘don’t bother’ category. In most cases you’re likely going to replace your tire (the rubber part) about once a year or so anyway from a tread perspective. At least if you’re putting on a fair number of miles. For me, the cost of tires are generally pretty cheap ($20-$40) – compared to the hassle of swapping out wheelsets or tires onto wheels each time I ride on a trainer (2-4 times a week). Again, to each their own.
I will point out however that I was surprised with how much tread comes off on this unit. Now perhaps because the unit is stark white – whereas every other trainer is dark, and no other trainer has a natural ‘catch’ for the material. But I thought it made for an interesting photo.
So, everything is setup when it comes to the physical unit – let’s move onto the online piece.
The primary interface to the BKOOL as far as preparing workouts goes is actually online. In fact, the platform is fully integrated into an online account where your profile information, planned rides, and ride history is stored. It’s through that interface that you’ll add and create sessions that you’ll ride later on the trainer and desktop software. Think of the online site as a shopping cart for trainer sessions.
Within your online profile you’ll also configure display options as well – such as metric vs. statue, time zones and languages.
There’s really a ton of options here, more so than most online trainer integrated platforms that I’ve seen.
Of course, probably the biggest decision you’ll be making is just which subscription level you want to buy into. Unlike most trainer platforms, BKOOL doesn’t charge upfront for the trainer software, or videos or courses. Instead they have a Netflix model where you may monthly for unlimited access.
Essentially, the core functionality difference between Silver and Gold is the ability to use Real Videos. And quite frankly, that’s more than worth the 5€ euros a month (about $6-7US). Keep in mind that most trainer platforms charge about $100US per video. This is unlimited videos (to the extend their library has anyway).
With that, let’s dive back to the client software. You’re going to install a small piece of software called BSIM on your computer. This software has two components. The first is a desktop tray app that sits there and watches your online account for changes and synchronizes them to your locally installed desktop client. This includes your scheduled rides, history, etc…
Additionally, this software enables firmware updates to the BKOOL system.
Once you’re done setting it up online, you’ll want to be sure that you’re firmware is up to date. The trainer itself supports firmware updates, and you do so via a USB cable. Now the only complaint I have here is that the USB cable they give you is pretty short. In my case, the computer is near the front of the bike. So that means I needed an USB cable extender to make it all the way to the back of the bike. I suppose I could have just dragged things around – but having an extender cable is always handy.
You can see once I’ve connected the cable that the BSIM tray and update software will detect the connection to the trainer and illuminate the nifty icon in the graph:
You’ll also notice that the ANT+ USB stick is plugged in as well. This comes with the BKOOL platform, and enables wireless connectivity to the trainer. The USB cable to the trainer is only for firmware updates, whereas the USB ANT+ stick is used for continuous operation (in other words it always needs to be plugged in). You can watch the BSIM utility to see the state of workouts that need to be sent to the server. Typically this happens instantly, but if for some reason your internet is down, it’ll just queue up. Fear not, as long as you have some sessions sync’d to the trainer, you don’t need live internet connectivity for all tasks.
With everything set, we’ll go ahead and open up the actual BKOOL application, which is where we can start our sessions from.
You’ll see it has three main areas. The first is single player, then multiplayer, and then configuration. We’ll tackle configuration first since the options are pretty limited. Remember that most of the options you actually configure online ahead of time.
What you see above is about all you get within the app itself (except the ability to toggle Google Earth on/off, which is not shown in the above screenshot). The only additional accessible option is to pair devices, which you can do via the ‘Indoor Pairing Devices’ screen, which takes you to the below:
A pretty straightforward pairing menu, with your common ANT+ sensor types. Note that it doesn’t pair to an ANT+ power meter, instead, it will only pair to the heart rate and speed/cadence sensor types. Also note that it’s only reading sensor data from those, and doesn’t transmit the data back out to ANT+ head units. Meaning, your Garmin or similar device won’t be able to pickup signals from the BKOOL. Personally, I’d love to see this – as it really makes for a much more flexible training platform because it allows end users to control their training data on the device of their choice.
Back to the main menu we’ll go.
From here, we dive into the Single Player options. This will now show sessions that are either ‘in queue’ for me to complete (ones I’ve added online), or, ones that I’ve marked as favorites. You can see some of the sessions in this flipbook style screen contain simple non-graphical workouts (like the one labeled Barcelona), some are Real Videos (like the one to the right), and some are more game-like – such as the Velodrome one.
I’ll dive into each of these types in a few sections.
Finally, we’ve got the Multiplayer option.
Once in here you’ll see the available multiplayer sessions currently being hosted on the server. These can be scheduled ahead of time, or launched at any time. In the case of the above, I simply clicked in to see what was available and was able to then join the above noted session with two other riders in it. Again, I’ll cover all this in a minute as we dive more deeply into those sections.
Trainer Accuracy (Power/Wattage):
Before we dive into all the details on how the different trainer modes work, let’s take a short detour about accuracy, as it’s one of the most common questions I get about the trainer.
In vast majority of situations, most high-end trainers are highly accurate (speaking about the industry as a whole). This is primarily because there are far less variables than on-bike power meters – such as temperature drift, part configuration, or limitations on space. Typically when I measure accuracy I’m doing so against multiple on-bike power meters. In some cases, other 3rd parties have long-since established accuracy of a trainer (i.e. the CompuTrainer), so doing so in a less scientific manner than those testing entities is a bit silly. But for newer entrants on the block where such data doesn’t exist – I try to take my best shot at it.
The challenge though with the BKOOL is that it doesn’t actually save your power meter data into a downloadable format. Thus making the whole process a wee bit more difficult. During the ride, and upon completion of the ride it provides your instant/current power, as well as your overall averages. So my initial comparisons were fairly limited in that I was just looking at visual tracking comparing power meter values on my bike (via head unit) with those on the trainer via the screen.
And in general, these averages were astoundingly close. I say ‘astoundingly’, because unlike most trainers- the BKOOL trainer does not have any calibration mechanism. There is no standard roll-down test like those offered on most other electronic trainers. Thus, they can’t compensate for differences in tire pressure, or other measurement accuracy factors. So I was highly skeptical as to how accurate the trainer would actually be.
But after getting on it and placing the power meter display right up next to the power meter numbers from the BKOOL, I was blown away at how well they tracked:
In fact, they were almost always within 5%. I found that they were closest on climbs (lower speed efforts), and they drifted more at higher speed efforts such as descents. Constant efforts on flats would be pretty much treated the same as climbs – assuming you weren’t just light-pedaling.
Ride after ride, the numbers ended up surprisingly close:
Below: Power2Max at 210w, PowerTap at 210w, BKOOL at 204w:
Below: BKOOL at 208w, PowerCal on FR910XT 208w, PowerTap on iPhone at 213w, Power2Max (older) on Edge 800 at 212w
(Remember: All power meters displayed here have accuracy rates +/-2% – thus it’s possible any one or multiple of them is inaccurate. All are calibrated at the start and 10-minute markers. Except the PowerCal, it doesn’t really do calibration in this sense.)
But, I was curious – how close were they when it came to instant-power at a given point in time if I lined up the two units on paper in graph form? So I reached out to the BKOOL folks and asked if they could export out my ride files. The data is all there behind the scenes, it’s just that today they don’t have an export function on their site (they have committed that it’s a feature coming soon). No problem they said, and sent me the XML files.
Unfortunately, you know you’re in deep trouble when even Golden Cheetah can’t open up your cycling file. While this was fairly straight forward XML, it’s not something GC was able to parse (it’s what I use for all data comparisons as it allows me to normalize the data against other sets). I’m going to poke at it a bit more to see how the second-by-second data looks. But hopefully, they’ll get the XML function up and running and export to something like .TCX which everyone supports (also an XML variant, but one that’s effectively an industry standard in the cycling world).
Update June 4th, 2013: The BKOOL System now supports updating of files to the following formats: Indoor Sessions: .fit Outdoor Sessions: .fit, .tcx, .gpx (Shortly coming to both: .HRM) – it does require a gold subscription however.
A few other things I noticed. First is that if you do a standing climb (or any standing), your accuracy immediately goes out the window. The reason being is that the BKOOL trainer depends on your weight on the bike to hold traction down on the rear roller. So you see that you’ll get highly underreported numbers (i.e the BKOOL might report 125w, and I could be doing 400w).
The wheel doesn’t lock down onto the roller, rather, it floats based on your body weight. By standing up, you shift your weight away from the rear wheel (since your seat is roughly above your rear wheel), you’re decreasing force holding the whole thing together. As soon as that happens I see both skipping of the trainer wheel, as well as loss of accurate power meter figures.
Again, the primary purpose of the BKOOL trainer is keeping you fit while training indoors, and doing so at a much lower price than others – focused on entertainment. Thus, at half the price of the other units out there, I expect less on the accuracy side. But even with expecting less, it certainly exceeded my expectations.
A detailed look at using the BKOOL Trainer in different modes:
There are several types of workouts that you can execute on within the BKOOL training platform. Each one offers a slightly different experience depending on whether you’re aiming to train somewhat solo, or train more in a group setting. And then from there, the experience differs whether you’re looking to replicate something found in real life, or just looking to get in a good workout.
I’m going to walk through each of the types of sessions that you can emulate.
Now all of these session types are pre-configured online ahead of time. Meaning that in order for you to ride the trainer you have to have some forethought and prepare your ‘Session’ ahead of time. However, you can do what I do which is to mark all of them as favorites. That way if I happen to forget, I can still access one listed as a favorite. Otherwise, once a session is completed it’ll be removed from the home screen on your trainer.
Again, starting with the online piece first, via the BKOOL website. All sessions (think planned workouts) start out via the first two steps, which are selecting “Create Session” from the left-hand pane, and then selecting the ‘Indoor’ session type. From there, you’ll choose individual. Of course, I’ll talk about multiplayer a bit later.
Now that the baseline is set, let’s dig into each of the options presented to you after the above screen.
Workout Session Type: Individual
Workout Category: BKOOL Session
This particular session type is based on me first selecting an ‘Indoor’ workout, which means I’ll be executing it on my trainer (versus on my phone for outside workouts). From there, I can choose the elevation profile of the workout. Essentially you’re creating a filter for the system to find the perfect route for you.
After specifying the elevation profile, you can then specify the duration in either time or distance. I’ve found that the minutes estimates are actually fairly reasonable. Occasionally I’ll beat them by a couple minutes, but they tend to work out fairly well.
Note how if I change from a flat to an alpine workout – both with 50 minutes, it knows to shorten the duration. Alternatively, I can just set a given time by selecting the bottom.
Once you’ve clicked ‘Continue’, it’ll come back with a few options, depending on the distances provided. In the below screenshot, I changed the length of time to 15 minutes:
Lastly, it’ll allow me to personalize the session. Again, session essentially means ‘Workout’ in BKOOL terminology:
Above you can see the session settings on the main tab – such as a time trial versus free ride, as well as being individual or multiplayer.
On the opponents tab, I can go in and add virtual opponents and specify how good they are. There are varying levels from Elite to Professional to different more age-group focused levels.
I can create alerts, though strangely the values are locked to 5 increments (i.e. 135, 140, 145). This is moderately annoying as most peoples heart rate zones (or any zones) don’t tend to be locked to a given 5-step increment (especially heart rate). On the bright side, the warm-up and cool-down options are appreciated.
By clicking the ‘Change Terrain’ tab, I can change when it looks like virtually. In my case, I’m going with Dirt. It’s the fall (ok, it was when I started writing this) – cyclocross season and all. Don’t overthink this tab, it just changes the color of the elevation profile. It’s not doing anything fancy.
As noted, the only thing this really does though is just change the graph color.
Lastly, we have a map of where this particular route was actually pulled from. Remember that it’s simply selecting known routes, and thus, every route comes from somewhere on earth.
Once we press Save Session, it’s ready for us to ride. From there I’d switch to the trainer app and startup the single-player session and choose the session above.
Once you’ve selected the course to ride it’ll first give you a 10-minute warm-up. You can cancel this at any point by simply not pedaling. In the case below, you’ll see a slightly different course shown, but it’s the exact same workout format as above. Once you’re ready to start riding after cancelling the warm-up, you’ll be in the regular mode and ready to begin.
As you ride you’ll find your metrics shown along the bottom of the screen, as well as in the upper right corner.
Bottom (from left to right): Current heart rate (BPM), Average Heart Rate, Current wattage (Watts), Average Watts, Current Speed, Average Speed, Current RPM, Average RPM, Current Calories Burned, and Calories/Hour.
Top right: Current time, then estimated time to completion, followed by distance to completion, followed by current incline/decline.
You’ll notice above that the text is red in the km/h box. That’s because I’ve just crested a hill and am going downhill and am currently exceeding the estimated pace for this particular workout. Anytime I’m above or below the estimated paces I’ll let me know. And also, as noted above, you can change this all to statue instead of metric (MPH instead of KPH).
Within this workout mode, this is about all you’re going to see. It’s about as simple as it gets. You can see above a random photo I took showing the current power (206w per BKOOL) compared to the power on the Power2Max (214w). Pretty good.
Once you’re workout is complete, you’ll get a bit of a summary screen. All of this information is also available later on online, as the workouts are synchronized just after completion.
Workout Type: Velodrome
In this category, you’re on an emulated Velodrome. To start off, you’re going to specify either how many laps, or how many minutes:
From there you can configure how the session will work. Be it free ride (start and go), time trial (only shows you opponents times at various points), or Running Start (allows you time to build up prior to start).
I can add either automated opponents, or take ones from the right hand side and just simply drag them over:
Finally, I can specify alerts like above, but I can’t change terrain or maps (meaning, there’s no ability to switch to different velodromes).
Once that’s done my session is scheduled and ready to go:
Once I had it queued up on my computer, I was ready to roll:
As you enter the session you’re able to start with a warm-up, as all BKOOL sessions allow for.
It’s bizarre – I never though I’d actually enjoy riding in a computerized velodrome. But…this was surprisingly addicting. No, really, for real. I set out to just do a quick test ride of this section since I didn’t think it would interest me. But sure enough, I ended up doing a whole bunch of these for fun.
In this particular instance, the robot kicked my butt. But given I was screenshotting and taking photos at the same time, I don’t feel too bad. Next time robot…I’ve got ya.
Afterwards, you’re afforded a cool down.
Workout Type: GPS Route
This allows me to utilize a GPS route from a past or previous activity – be it one that I’ve recorded myself, or one that someone else has uploaded.
I can then specify if I want fixed time or fixed distance. I prefer distance, so I can race against previous attempts of my own:
At this point it takes me to here, which makes no sense:
Now, in this mode by default the end resultant isn’t any different than the previous section. The only training difference is that you’re riding against a known GPS route somewhere in the world. Otherwise, it’s just like above.
But, the newly released functionality this week that changes this is the Google Earth mode. This mode enables you to see the course as if you were within Google Earth. I played around with it a bit on one of my GPS routes (oddly enough, from running this past weekend in a 10K race), but it provided a good completely random sample of how things might look.
In general, the terrain was pretty sparse. The blue line is my current/planned track. You can clearly see the roads and some terrain, but it’s pretty slim.
It seems as though I may have picked a fairly sparse area (though, this is pretty much in the heart of Paris). You can however see some buildings off in the distance – for example, the Eiffel tower. There aren’t any configuration options to increase density, so it’s a bit of a ‘however is shows up’ experience. Since this feature is just now available (literally in the last day), I’m looking forward to seeing them fine tune it.
Here’s a video they put together, that shows you the potential in a few others areas. As you can see, some areas are solid with great coverage, and other areas are a bit slim:
Now I’ve personally never found too much excitement in the current implementations (across all vendors) in Google Earth trainer riding, it’s just not clean enough yet for me – it doesn’t pull me in. But, to each their own. I’d much prefer to see real life videos. Which…just happens to be the next section. 😉
Workout Type: Real Videos:
Videos are perhaps the most valuable use of the BKOOL Training system, simply because they’re all effectively free after you’ve paid your monthly subscription. Like I’ve said elsewhere – a bit of a Netflix approach.
To start off with, we’ll choose ‘Video’ from the list, and then dive into ‘Find videos’.
Then I’ll specify a distance or time based duration parameter. After which we have two options. The first option will change the speed of the playback based on your cycling speed. You go slower, the video goes slower. The second will simply take you along for the ride. Think of the second option as being tied via a rope onto the back of a car.
Once you’ve selected your video playback methodology of choice it’s time to select the video itself. Here’s a handful of options shown based on the parameters I’ve entered. You can see a quick screenshot on each one. In general, you’ll find most videos are Spain based – likely due to the company being based in Spain.
After selecting the video, you can go ahead and configure the usual options around opponents/alerts/etc… along the bottom.
Finally, once you’re done you’ll want to click ‘Save Session’ to save it into your library.
Once that’s completed, you’ll be able to open it up on the desktop application and choose it (or any other video you’ve saved) as a session to ride:
Like other sessions, there’s an initial warm-up that’s offered. After which, you can ride as normal.
The details shown on the screen are largely the same as other workout types within the platform. The only difference is that the text boxes have a transparent aspect to them to avoid overshadowing the video too much:
Overall, I’m fairly impressed with the videos. The above screen may not be the pinnacle of video quality, but you’ll see in later shots, it’s more than sufficient.
Below, you can see my setup where I have the video off to the side, easily within view.
As I noted earlier, I think the real strength of the BKOOL system is the unlimited videos at this price point. Now, most of the videos are within Spain, so I do believe a broadening of the video library would be ideal – inclusion of races, and other non-Spanish events would help it to appeal to a more worldwide audience.
Workout Type: Multiplayer:
Last but not least, multiplayer. Multiplayer enables you to ride against other riders, either within a video setting or one of the other session types.
In this mode, you can choose all of the same workout types as before. Once that’s complete, you’ll specify the length of the activity in either distance or time – just like before. Ultimately, that’ll give you options to choose from:
Finally, you’ll specify a time for the session to start. For the most part, these will be created just ahead of the actual ride time, as you can’t specify dates in the future – just times in the future.
Once that’s all set, you’ll go into your multiplayer session and find the active sessions which you can join:
After starting your session, you’ll see your ranking against other riders in the top corner. You’re position along with how far back is displayed:
If other riders join, they’ll be added into the screen as well. For the most part though, the only thing that’s different in this mode versus single-player mode is that you see the small ranking chart in the corner.
The one aspect that was a bit of a bummer was that there’s no indication overlaid onto the screen that you’re coming up onto someone or about to pass them. Meaning, no virtual cyclist is displayed. It’s merely that you overtake the person listed within the rankings.
Take for example the below shot. At this point I’m either overtaking or just overtaken another rider. But beyond the ranking chart – nothing else is shown within the video. Obviously, since it’s a real video from outside you can’t exactly just put a real person there. But it would be nice if there was some sort of overlay that shows as you pass a virtual cyclist – especially useful if two cyclists are pushing hard and trying to edge each other out.
Since we’re on the multiplayer feature, now’s a good time to mention groups. Now groups aren’t explicitly part of multiplayer, but they’re roughly related. Groups are ways that people can compete together or against each other in a team fashion.
You can create a new group within the platform, or you can join other groups. You can see some of these groups below have hundreds of members on them.
Groups are typically tied to events – like a league. In the case of the La Vuelta 2012 league, the riders are given a set time period (Days) to complete various portions of stages – ultimately helping them in rankings:
Overall, it’s a cool concept and one that’s clearly caught on within the groups – given the pretty impressive participation numbers – there were nearly 100 people that finished this one particular stage. The stages are in more reasonable bite-sized chunks (picking the best parts) than the full stages in real life. But of course that’s up to the race organizer, so you could make them just as long and painful if you wanted.
Other Workout Types:
Finally, just to briefly mention that in addition to everything else I’ve mentioned above, you can also go ahead and do some basic FTP type tests within the platform also:
From there they’ll help you define your various zones and then display those zones within the workouts.
Importing GPS tracks into BKOOL:
In addition to utilizing the existing courses and routes within the BKOOL platform, you can also import GPS tracks and re-ride them. For example, I could import the track file for Ironman France (Nice) that’s freely available from any number of courses (MapMyRide, Garmin Connect, Strava) and then create a session from it. Further, I could then re-ride a Google Earth session based on that, as seen above.
Importing Sessions (other activity data):
Importing sessions is slightly different than importing tracks. Importing sessions is used when you want to add an outside ride (or from some other device) into your BKOOL history. In this way, it’s offering a method to import in something like a race into the BKOOL training log. Essentially anything recorded outside the BKOOL system.
In doing so the one minor benefit here is that you can then also ride these courses later on. Further, I’ll point out that I’m fairly impressed with the parser they added, it’ll consume just about most of the major devices out there today (Garmin/Polar and their various file formats). Not too shabby.
At present, the only method for viewing history is doing so online, and it’s somewhat limited. Within the online site you can dive into your past rides, and get high level graphical information about the ride. Additionally, you can also get some baseline metrics such as speed/distance/power and heart rate. You’ll dive into the ‘Your History’ page, and you can use a basic calendar view to divide up weeks/quarters/years and look at the results within that. Take for example this week back in October:
From there I can click on a given activity and get more detail about it. Along the side of the activity I have little pop-outs that will change the size of the graph, display more detailed information (such as below), and show zone information.
If I remove the pop-out, you can see the graph below it. I can also expand the graph to full screen:
In addition to seeing my own history, I can also create associations (friends) with various folks on the platform. In doing so I see their activities in my feed, sorta like a Facebook or Twitter feed. It works fairly well – and offers a good incentive to keep from slacking off when said friend does daily multi-hour rides….
In general the level of detail in history is sufficient for basic logging purposes and the ability to remember roughly how you did on a given activity.
However, the real limitation here is that they don’t support any exporting of data out of the site. This is a pretty significant limitation, as you can’t then export the data to other platforms (Training Peaks, Strava, etc…). I pushed them a little bit on this, and it sounds like they’ll be offering it shortly. Their primary goal was getting out this week’s Google Earth update, and now that that specific development effort is behind them, they’ll be working next to add an export mechanism for activities.
Update June 4th, 2013: BKOOL has now added export functionality in the following formats: Indoor Sessions: .fit Outdoor Sessions: .fit, .tcx, .gpx (Shortly coming to both: .HRM)
Trainer Market Comparison:
You can utilize the below comparison table that’s dynamically updated over time (so as features change via firmware) to compare the different trainers that I’ve reviewed. Note the key part being ‘I’ve reviewed’. There are no doubt many other great trainers on the market, it’s just that if I haven’t reviewed it, I don’t feel right including it based on some marketing fluff.
Also, as you’ll probably notice, these are higher end trainers. If you’re looking for lower-end options, see my general trainer recommendations post.
|Function/Feature||BKOOL Trainer||LeMond Revolution||Wahoo Fitness KICKR V1/2013||Tacx Bushido||Kurt Road Machine (with inRide)|
|Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated April 29th, 2021 @ 8:10 am New Window|
|Price for trainer||€500/$650||$499||$1,199||$940||$199 + $340|
|Trainer Type||Direct Drive (no wheel)|
|Available today (for sale)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Available today||Available today|
|Wired or Wireless data transmission/control||Wireless||Wireless||Wireless||Wireless||Wireless|
|Power cord required||Yes||No||Yes||No||No|
|Includes cassette||Yes (11 Speed SRAM/Shimano)||Resistance||BKOOL Trainer||LeMond Revolution||Wahoo Fitness KICKR V1/2013||Tacx Bushido||Kurt Road Machine (with inRide)|
|Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)||No||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)||No||No||No||No||No|
|Maximum wattage capability||1,200w||2500W @ 30mph||-||3,000w|
|Maximum simulated hill incline||15%||Features||BKOOL Trainer||LeMond Revolution||Wahoo Fitness KICKR V1/2013||Tacx Bushido||Kurt Road Machine (with inRide)|
|Ability to update unit firmware||Yes||PowerPilot Yes||Yes||Yes||inRide Yes|
|Measures/Estimates Left/Right Power||No||No||No||No||No|
|Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)||No||No||No||No||No|
|Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)||No||Accuracy||BKOOL Trainer||LeMond Revolution||Wahoo Fitness KICKR V1/2013||Tacx Bushido||Kurt Road Machine (with inRide)|
|Includes temperature compensation||No||Yes||Yes||-||No|
|Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supported accuracy level||+/- 10%||+/- 5%||+/- 3%||-||+/- 2%||Trainer Control||BKOOL Trainer||LeMond Revolution||Wahoo Fitness KICKR V1/2013||Tacx Bushido||Kurt Road Machine (with inRide)|
|Allows 3rd party trainer control||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)||Yes|
|Supports Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control Standard)||Yes||Data Broadcast||BKOOL Trainer||LeMond Revolution||Wahoo Fitness KICKR V1/2013||Tacx Bushido||Kurt Road Machine (with inRide)|
|Transmits power via ANT+||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Transmits power via Bluetooth Smart||No||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|Supports Multiple Concurrent Bluetooth connections||No, just one|
|Transmits cadence data||No||Purchase||BKOOL Trainer||LeMond Revolution||Wahoo Fitness KICKR V1/2013||Tacx Bushido||Kurt Road Machine (with inRide)|
|Chain Reaction Cycles||Link||Link||Link||Link||Link|
|Wiggle||Link||Link||Link||Link||Link||DCRainmaker||BKOOL Trainer||LeMond Revolution||Wahoo Fitness KICKR V1/2013||Tacx Bushido||Kurt Road Machine (with inRide)|
Remember to click the ‘Expand Results’ button as it’ll show a gazillion more rows than the quick preview above.
Overall I’m fairly impressed with the BKOOL trainer given its price point. When I first heard of it and saw it at Interbike, I wasn’t convinced there was a market for a trainer that had limitations around lack of calibration options. But once I got it and started playing with it, the accuracy is close enough for most users needs. No, it’s not 100% perfect, but it’s pretty good for the money.
Further, this trainer ultimately isn’t targeted at the power meter junkie. From a price point it’s targeted at folks that want a way to pass the time away during the winter on a trainer. It has a good collection of videos and rides, and the ability to import GPX rides into Google Earth means you can download anything you find on sites like MapMyRide and Garmin Connect. Which is pretty much any ride/race/route on earth.
From a price standpoint, at 500€/$650US, it’s a good buy. But how does it compare with more expensive trainers? Well, aside from accuracy there’s a lack of graphics polish that’s present in other platforms (for example Tacx and CycleOps). The BKOOL graphics seem a bit sparse, be in in simple menus or just general views while riding. So if you’re comparing a Tacx Bushido to this unit, no, they aren’t in the same league. Like Minor League to Major League ball. But at the same time, with the Tacx system you’re paying for every video you ride, whereas here it’s all you can eat. And on the CycleOps system while the videos are all you can eat, you’re still paying upwards of $349 for the initial software buy-in (plus nearly double the cost of the unit itself). It’s simply a game of choices and budgets.
– Considerably cheaper than most trainers in this category
– Good blend of entertainment and training details
– Ride videos are all free with monthly package
– Accuracy is actually pretty darn good, despite lack of calibration
– Ability to join race leagues, teams, competitions (and compete online)
– No roll-down/calibration procedure available for power meter
– Can’t export workouts (Update: As of June 4th, 2013, added)
– The online site graphics are a bit rough
– The desktop software is fairly limited in configuration
With that, thanks for reading! As always, feel free to leave comments/questions below and I’d be happy to try and answer them as best as possible.
Found this review useful? Or just wanna save a bundle?
Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.
I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers an exclusive 10% discount across the board on all products (except clearance items). You can pickup the BKOOL Trainer from them (as well as accessories). Then receive 10% off of everything in your cart by adding code DCR10BTF at checkout. By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get a sweet discount. And, since this item is more than $75, you get free US shipping as well.
BKOOL Resistance Controlled Trainer
Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the unit or accessories (though, no discount on either from Amazon). Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells). If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top. Though, Clever Training also ships most places too and you get the 10% discount.
Finally, I’ve written up a ton of helpful guides around using most of the major fitness devices, which you may find useful in getting started with the devices. These guides are all listed on this page here. Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!
Youhou, what a wonderfull surprise this morning !
I was waiting for this article. Now I’ll read it carefully.
Thank you, and merry christmas. 🙂
Thanks for the detailed post. The one thing that wasn’t completely clear to me is the restrictions in an offline environment. Can you cache the video’s for offline usage? Can you setup trainings without network connection? etc…
btw, it would be cool if they’d have a velodome-movie you could ride with instead of the top-down view.
I’m interested in the same subject (my training room is in the attic.. and there’s no network access 🙁 )
And what about third parties RLV files (I’ve got some Tacx movies, there are a tons of free RLV available) Can I use them with the trainer/software?
No, you can’t use 3rd party platforms/services for real videos – only those provided by BKOOL.
Do u leave the trainer skewer on all the time, even when riding out doors?
I do. Why not?
Indeed, I do as well. No issues. Some find that it may not be as light or efficient. But for me, the simplicity of just leaving it in far outweighs it.
More cons: it’s available for a part of Europe only — some largest countries: Germany, UK, Spain, Italy; maybe a few more, but not much; the rest of EU “is not Europe” 🙁 Make sure you can buy subscriptions before you buy the trainer. It seems they accept credit cards registered in a few countries only, no PayPal option.
I was waiting for this review too.
5% error,but with a minimun of 2% nowadays I see it as a half price for 3% error (maximum)
I target it for my birthday (christmas is already chosen 😉 )
Would be a great Chirstmas song…if only I was on the non-US side of the pond. 😀
Great review. BTW you are featured on Slowtwitch:
link to slowtwitch.com
Do you know if and how this would integrate with Trainerroad?
No, not today anyway. In order for the TrainerRoad folks to be able to integrate with it, one of a few things have to be known/available:
1) An established power curve
2) Ability to communicate/control it
In this case, it’s private ANT, so BKOOL would have to open it up to them (possible). The power curve isn’t possible because resistance is changeable by the end-user, so TR wouldn’t know that it was changed. That said, I think if users ask BKOOL for them to integrate with TR, I’m sure we’ll see it happen.
Great review, as all ways – but in the comparison to the Tacx Bushido, you primarily focused on the software part – how does the hardware match up to the Tacx trainers? and others?
Hardware wise they’re both pretty sturdy. I actually slightly prefer the attachment point on the Tacx to teh Bushido.
The BKOOL is a bit awkward to carry around because things flop around a bit, whereas the Bushido ‘stays put’.
Of course, the BKOOL doesn’t force the back wheel down on the trainer, so stuff like standing (from a riding standpoint) doesn’t give you accurate data, whereas on the Tacx it does.
And lastly, the Tacx doesn’t need a power cord, whereas the BKOOL does.
Hi RM great reviews on the Bkool which I’m thinking of getting myself, already created a group on Bkool site, there was one thing that wasn’t mentioned, I’ve seen some of the vids about the Bkool, there’s a small black box which I think comes with the kit, on Bkool site this can be used outdoors, simply put it in your back pocket and that’s it… Does this record the rides outside or just monitors your speed .. cheers
I’m a Bkool user really disappointed with the power measurement accuracy.
In my opinion, it is a major fault that you have not checked in depth. The higher is the slope, the worse is the accuracy. Surprised you haven’t checked it properly.
I have some data in my blog if you are interested: link to donostri.net. It is in Spanish, but I could trasnlate it to English if you needed.
Anyway, interesting review.
Thanks for dropping by.
Just read through your review, good stuff, and I agree with much of what you’ve written (which seems to generally come to the same conclusions as I around where the device is aimed at).
On the power, actually, I did some videos where it was pure climbing, and I was keeping track of both values at once. As I noted above – if I was doing any standing – the values immediately separated significantly. But for seated accuracy, they actually did track quite closely. Again on downhills, not as much, but for climbing it’s where I found it the most accurate in my case (against two additional power meters).
At any rate, more data is always good. I too just wish they would add in a roll-down calibration method.
Hi DC, maybe you just had optimal tire pressure erc. and thus did not need the calibration and the accuracy was good. For other persons this might me different.
On the other hand inaccurate power could be find for people who already have another PM on their bike, which they can use for tracking purposes.
Hi DC, maybe you just had optimal tire pressure erc. and thus did not need the calibration and the accuracy was good. For other persons this might me different.
On the other hand inaccurate power could be find for people who already have another PM on their bike, which they can use for tracking purposes.
Pretty disappointed with the power measurement here too! It is definately accurate if you keep it at a 2% slope, but as soon as you get onto a hilly bit, then the accuracy is out the window. It’ll over-read by a good 15% according to the powertap.
But I guess at least you can do an accurate power test as thats done on the 2% slope
The main problem for me in the UK is the awful connection to the http://www.bkool.com server. Its down probably 3 time out of 10, so I can’t set up a session or do any multiplayer or video streaming stuff. Its down again now and was down yesterday at this time too (4pm UK time)
I contacted the guys about it back in November and they told me that some server upgrades were coming…. but thats clearly not happened!
It’ll also seem to loose connection with the PC from time to time (maybe 1 in 10 of my sessions) and your power reading and speed will hang, yet it’ll still read the cadance and HR fine, so its not the dongle or a PC issue. You can stop pedalling and it continues with the video and the ‘hung’ power reading for anything from 20 secs to 5 minutes or can still be going once you’re out of the shower. I’ve already swapped it for another unit and tried it on 3 different PC’s so I’m pretty sure its a bug in there.
Anyone else have this issue…?
I recently got one of these, but need to get a new laptop to run the BSim, can anyone recommend a make and model that will run the Bsim system without and problems.
To my big surprise Bsim (incl. video mode) runs OK on my old EEE netbook. I think it will run on any laptop you can buy new today.
Operating System: Windows XP Home Edition (5.1, Build 2600) Service Pack 3
System Manufacturer: ASUSTeK Computer INC.
System Model: 1000HE
Processor: Intel(R) Atom(TM) CPU N280 @ 1.66GHz (2 CPUs)
Memory: 1016MB RAM
Long time reader of your blog here – keep up the good work.
Thinking of buying a Bkool but stalling for two reasons :
Bkool won’t allow use of Powertap data instead of estimated (by Bkool) software power.
Not sure if I can upload own route from outside (via a Garmin) plus GO Pro footage to create own video.
Can you confirm this?
Earl rise, you can upload from most things inc. the Garmin, plus you can also create a profile on gpsies.com or similar.
Despite its few niggles, its a great bit of kit for the money. I’m using mine to train for the Haute Route and its just the thing to make you kill yourself on the turbo day after day without boredom – get one 🙂
I think you got the red speed numbers wrong. I see the numbers go red, when the screen numbers differ from the speed of the rear wheel as seen on my Garmin. In other words the red numbers are to compensate for the BKOOL not having a motor to drive the wheel on descends. I reckon the speed is estimated from the delivered power, rider weight and slope of the downhill.
“You’ll notice above that the text is red in the km/h box. That’s because I’ve just crested a hill and am going downhill and am currently exceeding the estimated pace for this particular workout. Anytime I’m above or below the estimated paces I’ll let me know. And also, as noted above, you can change this all to statue instead of metric (MPH instead of KPH).”
Managed to pick up one of these quite cheap on eBay and I must admit after a few early teething problems I’m very impressed. Most impressed with how accurate the power measurement is – I’m using with a Powertap and the figures are very close as measured by the Bkool – and the smoothness of the turbo. At the moment I’m using for intervals so haven’t really explored the videos available but did have a short go at the Col de Madeleine and it seemed suitably hard.
Intend to posts a you tube review when I get chance but if anyone wants any further information post a question.
I’ve recently bought this trainer, and subsequently bought a second hand powertap pro+ rear wheel. I find that power readings are fine and track closely for small inclines, but once the gradient goes over 3 or 4% then I am seeing the Bkool power readings differ significantly for example on a 6-7% climb bkool = 233W, powertap pro+ 168W that;s a difference of over 50W which is a bit more than 5%. That’s for seated climbing at a steady pace, my tyres are usually 90psi. Maybe I should use higher pressures? I am new to using powermeters so find it all a bit confusing. Is the problem the bkool trainer or the powertap hub, not sure if there are any calibrations I can to with the Ptap. It’s zero when coasting so seems ok. Any helpful comments most welcome!
168W on a 6-7% climb seems very little to me or are you doing 6km/hr, I guess the BKool figure is right
Rob, the Bkool is always way out when the going gets steep;) Get to a 10% hill and it can read at least 20% higher than both my SRM or Powertap. Which do you trust? a £2000 powermeter that the pro’s use or a £300 turbo trainer? 😉
Its accurate at 2%, so just do your power numbers at that incline and ramp up the gears.
168 W 7% 6 km/h makes you 120 kgs on bikecalculator.com !
What “Sue R” is reporting is consistent with what I see on my Power2max power meter, and also what is reported above by “wallace78”
@Uffe and Mr_Dave
Thanks for the math. I’m in need of a 2nd trainer besides my KK road machine which I ride with a PT pro+ setup with PerfPro.
The Bkool still has some nice features and since I’m based in Spain I can pick it up for 314 eur ex. subscription!
I bought a Bkool unit two days ago and Im running some tests. Tough I don’t have a power meter the first thing I did was to upload a little part of a track with a 6% climb I did some days ago and tried to “copy” my pace (easy, I only had to follow my own “ghost”). The results: while on the road I was at 173ppm on average, with bkool it was at 143ppm.
I have to try again with a flat track and see what happens. I hope it works that way, as people say, otherwise I don’t want this device.
In conclusion: it’s a trainer just to have some fun while you train. After that, if you want to track your workouts, trust only your HR file. And I’d like to see the ANT+ implementation for trainers soon, being able to run 3rd party apps. It’ll be much more valuable with that.
after reading your ticket, I asked and received the BKOOL home trainer for a one month test
with Gold subscription.
I started to train with a gpx trace, and after some minutes of pedaling the
simulator (BSIM) show a window asking if I want to end the session. After that, everything looks
like not working anymore. If I continue to pedaling, the system show nothing.
I’m just wondering if you have experienced a similar behaviour and eventually how you fixed it.
Thanks for any your feedback.
I just picked one of there up today in Australia. Ive noticed the one i have has a different roller on the trainer to the one in this article. Mine has a grooved silver coloured steel roller. I wonder if mine is a new model and this is an amendment to prevent slippage when standing ? Or is mine maybe an older model and the one in article is the new model?
ok update to my previous post. Turns out Bkool have recently changed the roller to a serrated metal one to minimise tyre slippage when standing and pedalling, which was resulting in drops in power. They also claim: “slightly reducing tyre wear compared to previous model roller”
I confirm even today the bkool is not yet available in small countries (Luxembourg in my case). I just don’t get it, what is the problem as they do not have a physical presence?
Last week I had the chance to test the BKool unit intensively. I urge everyone to do the same because I was very disappointed with its performance when climbing.
It doesn’t come close to the real feel NOR intensity….
Its a nice gadget but not suitable for serious training uphill.
I needed a second trainer for the holiday home so decided to buy another Kurt Kinetic Road Machine (5 turns of the adjustment knob and 9 bar gives accurate power readings with a Continental GP4000S)
Hello readers, interesting debate around powermeters, despite the errors I see between powertap hub and the Bkool estimated power (error gets worse the steeper the incline is) I still think this is a fantastic machine for training for alpine climbs. I used this to train for the Etape and I thought it was invaluable, so long as you understand its flaws. This seems to be similar to something Taxc virtual reality turbo trainers went through as a friend of mine recently bought a new one and found all the old power readings were far too low on her old taxc machine. I would love to see Bkool sort this one out as I think their product is a real winner.
To the gentleman in an earlier post who did a power calculation for 168 watts @ 7%, I am quite small, only 55kg and would be climbing at a steady 14-15km/hr at that power output. I could sustain 220w but only for an hour; I’m not getting younger or faster unfortunately!!
Excellent review, it sounded so good I went and ordered one myself! Unfortunately mine didn’t ship with a USB cable, do you know the type I would need to buy separately to connect the turbo? It looks like a mini USB to me but I can’t be sure.
Assuming you’re talking about the USB cable that connects to the trainer, it’s this one:
link to amazon.com
Similar to an old-style printer USB cable.
thanks for the in depth review. i`ve been looking at investing in a turbo trainer with more features than a standard turbo so i can tailor my training with a bit more structure. just going to to scour the `net now to try and find the best deal.
I wonder whether you can write workouts alone with intervals. currently i use the Tacx Satori and Garmin 800. I prepare on Garmin intervals with multiple repetitions. Does this also allows bkool?
I’m looking at this unit, but I’m confused because it says it can’t ship to the US, but I see it on amazon for $650. Can I not purchase this if I live in the US? Are there any support concerns?
Distribution to the US market just opened up a few weeks ago. I’ll be sure to correct the post above. Note that if you pick it up through Clever Training, you will save 10% and support the site. Cheers!
Wow, lightning fast reply Ray! I really appreciate it! I’m torn between this unit and the Kurt Kinetic+inride. (I’d love the Kickr, but can’t fork that one right now!) The two would be in about the same price range, and If I don’t plan on paying the $12/month subscription, does that completely undermine the value of the BKool? Or do the free BKool services still make it a preferable option to the kinetic in your opinion?
I’d go BKOOL honestly. The upcoming ANT+ firmware update will open it up to tons of apps, though many will initially be paid, albeit at varying price points. But, some will likely be opensource by next summer or so.
Thanks for your advice. That’s what I was hoping you would say!
Appreciate your insight and all the tips provided in your replies and your blog as a whole!
It would be nice to see Bkool vs Elite Qubo digital review.
Ray I’m looking to get a trainer for this Christmas and I´m wondering as to which CycleOps, TACX and Elite models does the BKOOL trainer compare to in terms of feature set?
Has the OS X version of the desktop software been since made available as mentioned in your article?
Of the three brands which do you recommend in terms of software feature set and future possible “open” expansion?
Hi, friend is testing Bkool trainer. But he can not start session. He uses the garmin cadence.
I’d suggest he ring up BKOOL support and have them troubleshoot. That’s definitely the quickest path to getting it working again.
hi, we found the problem. trainer was to far from the laptop. i used it for the first time yesterday and i am impressed so far. i am awaiting option to add your video.
I am confused, ,,, in the comparison chart, under features it says;
RESISTANCE: CAN SPECIFY WATTAGE LEVEL (I.E. 200W) NO for the BKOOL but YES for the KICKR
but then in your 2013 recommendation you say that the BKOOL can control resistance just like the KICKR.
Can you please confirm whether this is a typo?
quote The key item that tends to make a high-end trainer…well…a high end trainer, is that it’s resistance controlled. Meaning that it controls the resistance on your trainer, rather than you changing gears (though, you can do that too). So it can simulate the terrain automatically, or hold a precise 225w. Your choice. All trainers in this section have this capability, as does the BKOOL trainer in the next section. end of quote
Sorry for the confusion.
As of today (December 13th), the BKOOL can be controlled using their software and can control the resistance of the terrain to follow terrain. They are releasing an update to their app that allows you to specify a wattage value, though my understanding is that is more spring-like.
However, they are also (separately) going to be updating the trainer for the ANT+ resistance control spec, which they’ve already demonstrated. That will allow it to work with any app, including ones which allow controlling a set wattage value (i.e. 225w).
Finally, in the case of the KICKR, the BKOOL software can control the resistance of the KICKR, but only just like it controls the BKOOL trainer – to simulate terrain. Not yet to a set value.
Sorry for the confusion, I’ll add a bit more context in the 2013 recommendations.
thanks a lot for the very clear reply.
I dont know which continent you are on right now, but your always on top of it it seems, at whatever time of the night or day! many thanks again
regards from Congo
Is there a possibility that I can prepare a specific training based on watts?
No, not yet at this time (not to be able to set watts).
Do you have any idea when the BCool trainers will start to use the new open Ant+ protocol & how long before it comes out of Alfa? We have the highest quality rides on the market but until now only Lynx, Computrainer & Kickr users can ride them with full grade control…
If anyone has a BCool trainer & wants to try our software maybe it will work anyway if it shares the same protocol as the Kickr? http://www.veloreality.com software is free & there is a couple of short Demos from Alpe d’Huez & Galibier. Would be very interested in knowing if its compatible or not! link to facebook.com has some screens. Software is less then 5MB & runs from its own exe so nothing to install, but you need a 64bit fast PC to run our full HD films that are made with expensive cinema kit.
Downloaded and started your software. Also downloaded both the free sessions. I can start and play the video sessions but riding speed is very slow (video runs veeery slow and watts are only just above 50) with no resistance on the trainer. Please give me specific directions for testing if you want to know more.
Mine arrived today from CleverTraining (thanks for the discount code!). Looks like they have changed the USB port on the trainer – mine has a mini USB.
Anyone else getting Google Earth plugin errors? How to fix? I have the latest version of the plugin.
Just got one of these for Christmas, was very excited until I learned that the Bsim software is not compatible with Apple MacBooks. It was a bit misleading as well considering they have the Apple logo on the side of the box. I’d be interested to know if anyone has found a way to overcome this problem without the need to install Parrallel on my Mac and then buy Windows as well?
I’m in Australia.
I just got my BKOOL yesterday and it is extremely disappointing!! Even before I sat on my bike or started using it!
Listen to this: I bought my BKOOL in Italy, shipped it to France, then from France, DHLed it to Congo, Central Africa where I was lucky to get it out of customs before the New Year.
Now I am setting it up, and guess what? Congo (my IP address) is not supported by BKOOL, and therefore I can not get the GOLD subscription. And then things start cascading…. I because I have no GOLD subscription, I cannot DONWLOAD my data!! I am so furious…. I dont even mention I can t do video rides now. But my data!!! It’s mine and I want it.
So then I start looking around other platforms that I could use the BKOOL on. Well guess what, Trainer Road wont support the BKOOL and wont give you the power curve for this one!
Now I am down to trying to hook up my Sporttracks live recording with Power Trainer plug in so that I can get my training recorded while going through the training programs of online platforms…
anyway, this is insane I think. Just because they would not accept me paying from Congo, I have now acquired a trainer for outstanding features that is does not have and would have been better off with a stupid basic tacx…
What if I paid my subscription form anyother country and want to use the trainer from any other country in the world like they still stay on their site.
Don t get me wrong, I know the reasons why I chose this one trainer, and I was so excited about it. But now, I am like, this sucks!!
thanks for reading me, I needed to vent this off…
Eek, sorry to hear that. But, I think it’s actually an easy fix. Hit up BKOOL and have them unblock Congo. I suspect it’s not on purpose (though I could be wrong). I find they’re very friendly people and pretty reasonable.
As for TR, no, it wouldn’t be able to have a profile today, because it’s computer-controlled. That said, I think very shortly as soon as the BKOOL trainer implements the beta for public use of the ANT+ Resistance Control protocol, I’m sure we’ll see it supported near immediately by TR as well.
Ray, thanks for the tip! Those guys are awesome!
I wrote to them with some ranting, as you suggested, and they quickly replied back offering me a two weeks free GOLD subscription until they get Congo sorted out into their list of countries !
Very reactive, very pro!
I have not tried it yet with the New Year eve and all, but I am happy and exicited.
again, thanks for the help, and great new year to you!
I got the Bkool a few months ago based on your great review.
It worked fine until I bought a new laptop. (The old laptop is really old and slow). I have downloaded the Bsim plus Directx and all seems to work except for the resistance on the trainer which doesn’t alter according to the on-screen profile. I’m getting frustrated now because Bkool haven’t replied to my messages asking for help! Do you have any ideas please?
I started to have the same problem some weeks ago; the Bkool support said me to avoid any interferance (mobile phone) between laptop and trainer… I haven’t tested yet but may be it could be the key to fix such issue.
I have had this for a while now and love it.
Does anyone know f this can be put in ‘manual’ mode so I can use it with training DVDs, ie sufferfest, chris Carmichael etc.
No, not quite yet. As of today (December 30th), the BKOOL can be controlled using their software and can control the resistance of the terrain to follow terrain. They are releasing an update to their app that allows you to specify a wattage value, though my understanding is that is more spring-like.
However, they are also (separately) going to be updating the trainer for the ANT+ resistance control spec, which they’ve already demonstrated. That will allow it to work with any app, including ones which allow controlling a set wattage value (i.e. 225w).
Finally, in the case of the KICKR, the BKOOL software can control the resistance of the KICKR, but only just like it controls the BKOOL trainer – to simulate terrain. Not yet to a set value.
In regards to the updating. I’m (agressively) waiting for Bkool to update their firmware, so their trainer can become compatible with TrainerRoad (TrainerRoad told me they are waiting for Bkool).
But I’m not quite sure how the update process will commence? Will I be notified by the Bkool software, that I need to connect the trainer with USB to start the update process? Or will I need to try connecting the USB cable once and a while to see if the firmware starts updating?
Historically the upgrade process has been driven via USB for BKOOL, though, that could be different in the future. If you subscribe to the blog, I’ll definitely make note of it when BKOOL publishes.
Also though, if I remember correctly the little BKOOL software notifier will pop-up that an update is available.
You wouldn’t happen to have any insight to what the status is for the Bkool implementation of the ANT+ Bicycle Trainer profile? You’ve seen it yourself in a working state at Interbike more than a quater of year ago, so I would think that the current version should make it fine as a public beta release?
As TrainerRoad answered me: “We’ll support Bkool when they support the ant+ bike trainer profile. It isn’t even available from ant yet, though. We’ll keep everyone abreast of any updates!”
It was supposed to be released in beta approx Dec 15th, I’ll get an update on Tuesday from ANT+.
Any news? (as I wrote – waiting agressively ;))
Just as a heads up, I posted the BKOOL CES related announcements here: link to dcrainmaker.com
Yep. Saw it. Thanks a million and keep up the great work!
How is the noise compared to the Wahoo kickr?
Cracking review and advice…so if i read correctly i can use my existing spd cad sensor from my garmin
No, as of earlier while I can pair it to that sensor, it wasn’t reading correctly from a combo sensor. Something may have changed since then however, but as of then, it wasn’t working.
I’m using my Garmin Speed and Cadence sensor without any issues.
Perfect, great to see they’ve fixed that issue! Thanks for chiming in!
(I’ll update that section in the review in a second).
I’m also using my Giant ANT+ RideSense Sensor with no problems. Both speed and cadence!
the amazon link in the article is for a product “no longer available” but this link is for another amazon vendor
link to amazon.com
Strange, looks like at some point some vendors split the SKU, which is sorta annoying as now there are multiple SKU’s of the same product. In any case – updated the tables – appreciate the heads up!
Great review thanks!
Can you advise how ‘natural’ it feels compared with riding a bike on the road (apart from standing up), and how intrusive the noise level is?
Not as natural as some other trainers on the market. But those other trainers either have less functionality/features (such as the LeMond Revolution Pro, which can’t be controlled), or cost twice as much (such as the KICKR).
A previous comment mentioned not being able to use the trainer with a macbook computer? Is it true there is no functional support with apple? If so, do you know if they have any plans to potentially change this?
Thanks for the helpful review!
That’s correct. It’s planned for later this spring. See a post from CES titled ‘BKOOL’ for a bit more detail there.
I find the PC setup tedious. On one side I like that it has PC integration but sometimes I just want to get on and ride… an Ipad control unit would be a great addition. Other than that, its a great piece of kit that helps pass these miserable winter months indoors.
just found out BKOOL is finally available in my country 🙂
– is there a cheaper or better alternative to the training mat they offer for EUR 55?
– how good has to be the PC in order to run the videos? (Only have 5-6 year old Mac and laptop…)
I’d search on Amazon.de or similiar. I find 55 Euros for a trainer mat pretty high. It’s just a mat, anything will do – heck, even a Yoga mat.
5-6 years old may be a bit tough. I do believe BKOOL lists specs on their website.
I completed my first session on a bkool today. The workout took more than 2 hours to show up on the website, only to learn than export to other formats is no longer available (at least for interval sessions, as their website reads). So I cannot get my ride out of their site ans into Sporttracks.
Very dissapointed, to say the least. I do not understand this step back, in the opposite direction of ANT+ profile adoption.
Maybe you should update again, to avoid misleading potential buyers looking for a (currently) open system
Are you on their ‘Gold’ plan? It looks like they’ve allocated export to that plan these days.
Yes, I am using the two month gold plan in-the-box coupon.
I just read in some spanish bike forum that this is happening since october at least, apparently they removed exporting in some update…
Confirmed by the people in BKOOL “interval workouts cannot be exported”.
I won’t bother to check if velodrome or video sessions can. This is not what they advertise in their website and elsewhere, I was careful enough to check here and on their site. Now I feel I’ve been cheated (I am NOT including you here). And to make things worse, they don´t offer a solution, or timeframe for a fix ( other than a vague “in the coming weeks”).
Ruined my experience because of their half baked website, but they better get it working before they implement the ANT+ trainer profile or everyone will run elsewhere!
In talking with them a short bit ago, you can export time based sessions, but not distance ones. They’ve never enabled exporting distance ones. As you noted above, it’s coming up here shortly (for adding distance), but an exact date hasn’t been defined.
As for ‘getting it right before they implement the ANT+ profile’, actually, it’s sorta the opposite. That’s the entire point of the profile, you don’t have you use their website or software. You can use any of the 3rd party apps, some of which have better exporting (well, most of which).
That’s my point. As soon as the profile is implemented, you’ll see me (and I suspect many others) looking for other software options, unless they drastically improve their site.
I hope you do a brief overview of options once the profile is published 🙂
oh, and for the record, my session was time-based… I asked them which type of trainer sessions can be exported. No answer so far.
Thank you for a thorough assessment of the Bkool trainer. Two things I need clarification on:
– Is it watts alone or the ratio between watts and cadence that affect the outcome/end time?
– How does tire pressure affect the outcome? What is the optimal tire pressure?
Excellent review of the kit which has encouraged me to by one. Mainly looking for fitness training without the boredom and with the weather here in the UK at the moment it seems the right choice at the right price. Not too hung up on accuracy as it’s all relative so an improvement is just that.
Bit late for guy with issues in Congo but you can get round this problem of ip address not recognised by using software like SecurityKiss Tunnel.
Essentially this routes your internet connection via another country which will likely be recognised. There is a free version which limits the data amount transferred or you can pay. It’s not expensive and it will bypass firewall blocks. The paid version offers various servers through which you can route your connection so for example BSIM would see France or whatever you pick. It’s simple to set up and use (I managed it and I’m a silver surfer, well greying anyway)
I’ve used this successfully on downtime within a public service network that had a paranoid setting on its firewall and it worked a treat.
Keep up the good work. Great apartment by the way. I’m a little envious!!!!!
Update on the Bkool trainer. Mine has just arrived. On registering the free 2 month subscription there is currently an offer to get 12 months at half price. Bargain.
Impressed so far though I was shocked at how poor my bike fitness currently is.
Still with another 3 weeks of rain forecast plenty of indoor sessions look likely to remedy this. :):):):)
BTW the best price I’ve found is £329 at http://www.thetriathlonshop.co.uk. A bargain at that price. :):)
Having used my BKOOL trainer 5 times a week since November last year i’m very impressed. However during a session a few days ago the resistance suddenly became constant and far too hard for the terrain, i re booted the the laptop, tried another route, re installed Bsim but non of these cured the problem. Even the warm up 10 minutes is far too difficult to be of any use. I have e mailed the help line but i think i have got them stumped as they are going to ring me next Wednesday, hopefully!
Does any body have any idea what is wrong and how to rectify the problem please?
The help desk logged in to my computer and tested the equipment and concluded the magnets had failed and I’m now in the process of getting a replacement trainer…………..
Sorry if this is a clueless question but new to this subject: could I use 3rd-party videos (Sufferfest is the one I was interested in) with this system? Or would I just watch the Sufferfest on another screen and monitor how the workout was going on my PC?
Also, based on the comments I’m reading, it seems like maybe really serious users have some concerns about the BKool but more casual users (ie, me) will probably be happy with the unit. Does that seem right? Just ordered one today, but now getting a little nervous as I scroll through some of the grouchy posts above.
Hi, great reviews. I’m considering buying a Bkool Trainer and would like to use it to re-ride MTB trails which I have recorded on Garmin (data) and Gopro (video). I.e. on rides where there are no Google street view images available.
Do you know if the Bkool supports this?
My BKOOL trainer has just developed the same problem as David Burns describes above. I will get in touch with them too and see what they say. I reinstalled BSim but not tested it yet. Hope it’s not a fault, just gone over the one year warranty and it’s a large item to put on the post for repair!!
I see no fix for the inaccurate wattage when compared with my powertap meter when climbing medium gradients. I will inquire direct with them about that too while I’m at it. See my earlier posts for details.
Anyone tried using a tiedown or similar on the trainer to keep a constant pressure on the roller when you stand to pedal?
Any updates on what the status is for the Bkool implementation of the ANT+ Bicycle Trainer profile?
It’s been ~5months since your CES Roundup update. Would be awesome if this could integrate with 3rd party apps such as trainerroad and kinomap.
I asked them last week and they said they were still working on it and didn’t have anything to announce yet.
Although it was asked earlier i don’t think anybody has been able to answer yet.
What sort of internet connection do you need. Can you cache the video’s and rides offline. I have only a mobile internet system no fixed wire or cable broadband and at various peak times (school kids out) it can be slow. I could not garrantee to stream a video of even low quality at such times.
Great review like always. As far as I know , one day is 24 hours,How many hours a day do you have …..to do all these reviews and the rest of your work. You are the king.
Thank you for all the thorough reviews
Has anyone heard news about the mac version or ant+ trainer profile?
I bought the trainer a year ago and the mac version was listed as “almost ready” then and late last year their Ant+ Trainer Profile was supposed to be in beta. I tried contacting BKOOL but they’re not responding.
Yeah Ray, have you got any news from BKool aout the Ant+ trainer profile?
The fact it was coming up “very soon” was definitely part of my purchase decision, but nothing seems to come up.
Do you know anything about this?
thanks for all
I’ll be meeting with them in just a few days next week at Interbike (looks like on Wednesday). Should have plenty of news from them on various fronts to share then as part of announcements they’ll be making.
Great! Thanks alot!
Can you change the resistance on the bkool without using the usb stick
No, you need some form of application of control it.
Just downloaded the new 3D trainer software for Mac. Initial look is promising but having issue with mouse / button click miss alignment. Anyone else? Also waiting on the Ant+ profile
Looking to grab one of these as a first turbo, Is it now compatible with MAC? I take it with Michaels comment they have it sorted now.
Ray – any advice on how to get one of these in Paris? The website claims they don’t sell online in France (wha??), and my old Cycleops broke…don’t want to shell out $1000+ for a replacement, so trying to figure out a suitable replacement that can get shipped.
If anyone has any ideas, please advise.
I’ve recently opened a bike shop in England, and i’ve just confirmed the first order of the new 2015 Bkool trainer. We will be shipping to europe, so send us an email if you are interested and we will get one out to you as soon as possible.
Bad software – hate it, hard to use and very annoying to try to figure out simple tasks like setting up a session the way I want it. No idea how to set up a session other than for today, no idea how to adjust any aspect, all I can do is find a session roughly like I want and use that. Website totally different to when Ray reviewed it above.
I’ve just got one and there are no instructions on how to set it up. None of the pages look anything like what you have here. No instructions anywhere on the net. No utube setup videos, no responses from bkool on my questions. I am unsure what to do next, other than return it. Any suggestions.
Add power to the trainer.
Insert Ant+ USB-dongle to PC (driver should autoinstall).
Install software from Bkool: link to bkool.com
Great review but am having big problems using the BKool.
I insert the Ant+ USB-dongle to PC but the driver does not install, instead it picks up the Garmin Ant+ driver, and when I try to manually pair it asks me to insert the USB stick, any ideas?
It shouldn’t matter if the stick is using Garmins driver. I used to be able to have the ANT-stick installed permanently into a USB port and it was always perfectly detected when I started the Bkool app. However, since the new Bkool software was released, I am experiencing detection issues… Now it is never detected when i start the Bkool app. 🙁 I have to remove the ANT-stick and re-insert it. Then, after a couple of attempts it is detected. Sometimes it seems it help to try another USB port.
Bit frustrating that, I seem to have got it working in the past if I keep on retrying for over half an hour every time I use the Bkool. Surely there must be a big problem if two people already have this issue.
No, it just means two people have an issue.
In my experiance dealing with the ANT+ USB stick since Garmin introduced it about 6 or so years ago, 99.999999999% of problems with it are based on the PC/Windows/Mac side. And almost always due to drivers or a specific USB port (trying a different USB port helps). The second leading cause is when people have the Garmin ANT Agent running in the background (or, Garmin Express).
Got it working at last, took out the Garmin Antenna Driver and closed the PC. Opened it again and inserted the stick, this time round it installed the correct driver and works all the time. Well yesterday it did!
Could you describe “Took out the Garmin Antenna Driver”? In the Device Manager, or? I’d like to try myself.
When I come to think of it, I think my detection problems started when Garmin ANT Agent was uninstalled and I started using Garmin Express instead… Garmin Express also won’t detect my FR610 without some USB juggling – this also used to work smoothless with ANT Agent.
I read somewhere that Bkool have had problems with Garmin drivers and I noticed that my Bkool USB stick was using the Garmin Ant driver. I uninstalled all the garmin programmes including express, then did a restart. Once it was up and running again, just inserted the Bkool USB stick and the driver for this was installed automatically. All started working smoothly after this. Not sure what will happen when I setup my Garmin Edge 500 on the laptop again, though I will probably use a different laptop for my Garmin to avoid a repeat.
It’s worth mentioning that the bkool android indoor training app has been released. It’s not yet completely flawless (for example, the average power seems to include warm up, which it doesn’t do on the pc), and in some areas, it focuses too much on style vs function (on my 8.4″ tablet, it is sometimes hard to read the distance / time numbers in the top bar, for example, I imagine it would be difficult on a smaller screen).
However, it is very usable and stable, synchs automatically (or can be used in offline mode). It took a long time, but they finally delivered.
Does anyone know if it is possible to retrieve a workout that the new PC version of the BKOOL Indoor Trainer application subsequently lost? i.e. does it backup the workouts to a file on the PC?
I completed the Mont Ventoux video ride (Bedoin route), saved the session which completed successfully but it has since never appeared on my activity page or profile.I’ve tried emailing BKOOL but as yet no response.
There are no issues with my internet connection as I am on fibre.
I had a similar problem with the mac version. I was first told that the session “has surely been sent to the website” and to wait 48 hours. Then when it still wasn’t there after 48 hours their reply was “If you can’t find this session, it is surely lost. Sorry in that case.”
I don’t know if the PC version is different but on the mac version they have no recovery options. Hopefully they will add some sort local session backup in the future.
Thanks for your reply, I appreciate the info as I’ve had nothing back from BKOOL at all.
That’s really disappointing, so what happens if during a workout you lose internet connectivity and then it recovers? is there a gap in your workout stats?
I’m not sure why it does not stream to a FIT file locally on the PC as well which is deleted after say the next workout is completed.
Normally it wouldn’t be a big problem but the Ventoux wasen’t exactly easy! 🙂 I guess I’ll be using my Garmin as well in future during TT runs.
It used to work like that. If you lost your connection then it would upload your workout next time you opened the app. I haven’t had internet issues while using the new software but it feels fragile. I wouldn’t be surprised if the app just stopped your workout and lost all data.
Feels like they rushed the new website/software to have it ready by interbike. Hopefully they’ll fix it soon.
For now I’m also using my garmin as a backup and hoping for a software update (or even better; a firmware update with ant+ trainer profile).
Apologies I didn’t see your reply until now.
I’ve now lost internet connection a few times (thanks to a faulty Cisco Aironet device) since the latest update of the BKOOL Indoor app v.2.13 and can confirm that my workouts are synced ok at the end, obviously this is great!
However, I now have a new issue and its largely annoying, I’ve tried three seperate routes (maps only):
Morzine to Avoriaz (recorded by me during a real ride via the BKOOL app) and more recently (today) Stelvio Pass.
On three occassions well into the ride the prompt just pops up on the screen “Do you want to end the session now?” with only the “Yes” button accessible, mph and resistance drops to zero on the BKOOL Indoor interface dashboard, RPM / cadeance is ok, BPM / HRM is ok, Power / Watts is ok – even though I am still getting mph, cadeance, HRM / BPM etc on my Garmin) and there is absolutely nothing I can do to continue.
Today I had planned to complete Stelvio Pass (GuTiX – 15.6 miles) but no matter which map I use (from two different users), it stops at exactly the same point (I took a photo of it), twice I restarted it and the third time I just gave up – it completely ruined my workout as I felt great at the start and would no doubt have completed it.
Does anyone else have this issue? It doesn’t seem to happen on a video ride.
I’m seriously starting to consider the Wahoo KICKR, its also been almost 2.5 months since I uploaded Morzine to Avoriaz (recorded using BKOOLs own app) and its still not in 3D (despite logging a ticket).
Other than that, its a shame because I enjoy using it, its fantastic training for the big climbs if you don’t live in such a generously mountain populated area.
Based on your honest review, I just bought a BKOOL Pro model for $650 US (on Amazon). Very excited to try out the all the new software features.
I have a question regarding the routes available, since i am a newbee to cykling 🙂 started with my first race bike this summer, i would like to know if there are routes for people i my category “easy” to start of with.
I have bought the BKOOL Pro model wich i should have by the end of this week.
I am by no means an expert but this is what I did when I first started using it:
1. Position on the bike is important, as is comfort, riding on the turbo / BKOOL is not the same for me as it is on the road, you have a lot more flexibility on the road, make sure you are comfortable and take your time getting used to it.
2. Make sure you are properly hydrated (obviously) as sweat will pour off you unless you are training in an ice cave / igloo 🙂
3. Invest in a fan(s)
4. Cover up the bike with a towel, sweat is known to be corrosive (this is a matter of opinion I guess but I don’t want to ruin my bike so I put a towel over it), same for the floor under the bike
5. Choose your location for the BKOOL TT wisely as it will decorate the area surrounding the unit in tyre shavings
6. When you choose a route, choose something flat to start off with to get the hang of it, you can do this by refering / hovering your mouse pointer over the little triangular / ascending graph inside the pic of the route you want to select / ride when searching. It says, easy, hard, extreme etc.
Just take it easy until you get the hang of it, you could even just do a few laps of the Velodrome. Obviously make sure you bike is secure and stable mounted on the turbo trainer itself before you use it!
Hope these help.
Can’t recommend the BKool Pro Trainer. First ride (simulated Alpe D’Huez) resulted in loud grinding screeching noise from resistance unit. Metal filings and shavings found on floor under the resistance unit. Retried two more times with the same result. Emailed BKool and no response whatsoever after 5 days on how to resolve these issues. Am returning to retailer for full refund. Trainer appears to be poor quality and no apparent quality control exists prior to release to market. Do not buy!
i just bought the bkool trainer. it works fine and it is sillent comparing to tacx flow.
i just cant use it like i use the tacx when i dont hanna use it with as a simulator or with a previous file i created. is there or will there be a way to adjust the resistance of the trainer while ridding. that is really important when doing sufferfest videos.
Best regards and keep up with the excellent work and reviews
I just read comments #98-105 about being able to export session files to 3rd party training sites. I use SportTracks and would like to be able to log my training sessions there as well. Does anyone know if that is possible today and does it require any specific subscription?
Thanks for all the great reviews Ray!
You need the subscription (96 eur / year or 10 eur / month) to export anything from the site.
Sadly the bkool is very crippled without a subscription (no export, no 3D, no bookmarking sessions, no training plans, etc).
Thanks for the help, it is greatly appreciated!
Hi great review
It have one of the 2015 pro. Great overall. Couple of gripes.
* noisy over 40cm (documented before). Tech support haven’t replied to email from three weeks a go.
* cannot choose wi fi only. Use with my phone in the shed. Sometimes loose wifi (without a message) and next thing I know mobile data allowance being eaten.
* user interface is a little funky. Not very intuitive. You get used to it but could be better.
Overall though would recommend
Interesting stuff and made me quite interesting…my ‘normal’ turbo is just so boring that I’m more inclined not to use it!
However, just a few questions before I commit.
Is there any noticeable difference in the 2015 model and the earlier one?
At the moment, the Pro is listed at £470 and the Classic at £280. The only differences I can see are slightly lighter, slightly quieter, and more stable. Is that all the difference (apart from the colour) between the two? Doesn’t seem much for an extra £190.
Thanks for any input.
I have had the Classic for about 13 months. I think that the only new feature on the Pro that you missed is that the shifts in resistencelevels should be smoother. Weather this is true or not I don’t know. But I can say that I personally have no issues with how this is working on the Classic.
Hi, yeah huge price difference, I had the classic, very unstable out the saddle on the steep climbs 13%. My motor failed, and I had to be sent a new one the pro model, has they had ran out of classics, the feet side out making it wider….better for the climbs.
Kiitos DC hyvistä vinkeistä ja perusteellisesta työstä! Hieno peli tämä BKOOL kaiken kaikkiaan;)
Using the iPad app for bkool, I have a problem with the power readings and uploading to strava. First, I’m new to power meters and started small with a powercal strap after reading your review. It works great for me and the readings are consistent between most apps is use (whahoo fitness, cycleops vl virtual trainer and Zwift) but are about 50% less with the bkool iPad app, even when I use the wahoo app simultaneously to compare. Haven’t heard back from bkool yet but do you have any idea if this is a calibration problem and how u can fix it? Also, is there anyway to get my indoor bkool rides to upload to strava? Thanks.
The classic is on sale here in NZ right now – do you know if there are plans to open up the Ant+ system so that it will link to apps like trainerroad?
I know I could use my own cadence sensor and poer meter with TR, but it would be great if the bkool would work natively with it.
I bought the trainer more than a year ago. Mostly because of the promised ant+ profile. I wouldn’t recommend it. I’ve contacted BKOOL three times about the ant+ profile. First to get an expected launch date and then twice just to hear if it’s still a planned feature. Not a single reply.
Right now BKOOL only has one feature without a subscription: Replay a session from their website. You can’t adjust resistance as you go, you can’t pause the session, no video, no 3D, no export, can’t favorite sessions, etc.
It’s looks like their new business plan is subscriptions. Opening the platform to trainerroad and others would endanger that. They probably choose to forget about the ant+ promise and are hoping everyone else will as well.
If you have a power meter then you’ll be better of just getting a cheap trainer with an adjustable brake.
I’ll second that! Same story. Purchased the Bkool in december 2013. Although happy with the hardware (classic) I made the final decision on the Bkool trainer based on Bkools promise to support the ANT+ trainer profile (and that they were even participating in it’s creation). I was VERY disapointed when they abandoned this promise just as the profile was nearing it’s completion.
The Bkool softwareplatform is missing more of the basic features and combined with the lack of the ANT+ profile this makes the trainer a crippled product for any serious use. If I was getting a trainer today I would definitely not choose the Bkool again!
I have had the bkool for a month now and enjoy, but it doesn’t seem to want to upload, I use mcafee, uploads from my ipad if it doesn’t crash, when I contact them they direct me to help. perhaps they don’t realise the computer idiot that I am and need more then they offer, but apart from that very happy, use the outdoor app when out and route on computer by time I get cleaned up.
Now since the new upgraded software my graphics are very poor in 3d mode and video is very jerky! ive got the pro modal has the previous classic broke, has well has a pro model! 3rd one now! Anyway the real weather and ride angle cam plus other things in my opinion has caused problems with my lap top! I’ve lowered the resolution, 600×400, video normal or low, but the 3d graphics get pink buildings! and the road is see though! It was ok before the second software upgrade!…..the lap top graphics card are not up to the job the basic Intel ones are very….basic! Either a new lap top or a tower stack and a amd graphics card or similar dedicated for the bkook trainer.
If you have not already, go contact Bkool through email. Better yet, go to Bkool USA’s Facebook page. They are usually quick to respond there.
Hi thanks I’ve gone on three Facebook page there gona pass my message on.
I just got a white Bkool Classic delivered. There have been some minor design changes. There is no USB or micro-USB port anymore for firmware updates, I assume they are now done over-the-air. The black wheel drum is now a light metallic color with fine ridges (same as on the Pro model). The USB stick is now a tiny module (ANT USB stick from Dynastream Innovations).
What a pain this bkool has become, I have built a duel core lap top for this, windows Xp,sp3, anyway the ant device not found when I scan, the ant is in the device manager on the lap top, and drivers are there, the bkool not picking trainer or ant! It works on my other net book with windows Xp on. (But Poor graphics) .
Any chance another (Garmin) application is blocking access to the ANT+ stick? Such as the Garmin ANT Agent, Garmin Express, or similar? Only one application can access the ANT+ stick at a time.
I’m just about ready to dump my BKOOL for a Wahoo Kickr…
No I only have the one trainer, the bkool pro, I’ve e mailed the bkool support, thanks
Right, I have had bkool support e mail me, they told me to uninstall the ant driver and reload it, still no device found, yet it’s in the device manager, they told me to reload windows Xp, I have done this, what a pain reinstalling all the drivers, downloaded bkool and guess what, no ant device found! I have even pulled the driver file off another lap top which works with bkool, but still no ant device found, when scanned. So fusstrating!!,,,,,
Bkool support is rubbish! I’ve been exchanging e mails on the above problem, this week, they told me to wipe the hard drive and reload windows Xp, did that still no ant found! I’ve had a e mail now telling me Xp not supported! So why bother to tell me to try different things, they fobbed me off because they don’t know.
I use my Bkool trainer for interval workouts and I follow the workouts from my Garmin 920xt or Edge 810 (custom workouts, where I leave my trainer resistance constant and only vary gears, cadence and power).
This set up works great, but I don’t have the power stats recorded in my Garmin file.
I recently read that some trainers can now be controled by third party units, what left me wondering if, with the Bkool Classic embarked technology and the Connect IQ development tools, it would be technically possible to develop an app to read and record the trainer power readings directly in the Garmin file?
Unfortunately BKOOL seems to have taken the road of keeping everything private – making it super-difficult.
While technically one could develop a Connect IQ app to read the private data stream, it’d be a fair bit of work since it’s totally private. That said – definitely hope someone does!
in fact I think the one most suited and interested in developing that app would be Bkool people. I also sent them a message asking about that and will share their answer here.
Hi can people post what lap tops or Pc’s specs there using for bkool, has I want another lap top or Pc’s solely to run the Bkool, I’ve upgraded to window 8.1 , on my advent quantum q200, but graphics not goid enough!
I think the graphics is some thing to do with Windows direct X, Windows 8.1 only goes 11.2. Windows 10 is direct 12.
Has anyone got a ipad 3 with IOS9 working with the latest version of the bkool ipad sim yet?
I get grey screens on events, Unable to enter the settings menu, unable to look at details of any event.. cant bring up the GEAR menu…
Does this app actually work?
Another problem update software bkool, now my trainer and ant are not detected! The motors on green light, the ant his not showing in the Usb ports, tried othe ports, it was ok 22nd December, tried it on anther lap top it’s the same. What a pain the things useless! Just paid them £78 renewed my subscription!….
Omg bkool support are you less the talk to you like a child! Have you tried another sub port…etc etc.ive reloaded Windows 8.1 , what a pain, reloaded bkool software still won’t pick up the ant or trainer! It was OK before the update on 22nd December! Every time they up date there’s always a problem! I bet it’s so thing to do with the new FEC mine don’t show it even after the update, old pro machine?ive emailed bkool had a right rant told them I want a new one mines still under warranty, Iam on to I ride the importer this week, see if they can help, they sent me one last year mine…..broke!
Right had bkool on the phone today, they remote connected to my lap top from Spain, was easy to do….but my usb ant has failed, there sending me a new usb ant stick! If you can’t get the ant to work the trainers useless! So it a thumbs up for bkool support! ?
Iam still waiting.. For a ant usb stick for my bkool under warranty From Spain….there is NO bkool usb sticks in the uk! All out of stock, I have tried to buy one only to be told they come from bkool Spain….what a pain.. My bkool trainer is useless….has the weather here in uk is terrible! I have missed using my machine….
It gets worse! They sent me a new ant stick…..but its a WAHOO one for a iPhone or iPad!….unless tw@ts.. I’ve emailed them! Only took two days for a response….Iam ready to explode! I have to wait for another USB the right one now!….so if you get a VR trainer make sure you can get the spares sourced from a local company in the uk…otherwise you left in the lurch like me!.. I’ve had 2 classic bkool trainers 1pro modal current, a new chest HR has mine packed up, now I need a new USB ant stick….oh and had to spend £100 on upgrading to Windows 10 because the bkool graphics was crap on a xp and win 7 Lap top, after the bkool software updates…
What a messing about! I’ve had to ring up I ride uk, there the importers who deal with warranty issues, had a word with a lad there, he’s sent me s USB ant! Very helpful they were, now back on the trainer! Seems ok for now! Just has well, weathers crap here in uk. Still waiting fot bkool to send me a USB stick, the proper one!
My Bkool classic has flywheel issues. It is damaged and I can’t use it anymore. I think the magnet has damaged is. I don’t now how or why. Anyone else has this issue also?
Jan-Willem (The Netherlands)
Hi Ray! Great review as usual.
I’d like to make two questions:
1) how does the bkool go compares to the Elite Rampa?
2) does the bkool go works with zwift?
My BKool Classic is dying. 🙁 I know the easy answer is “it’s 8 years old, get a new trainer!”, but I’d like to salvage this if possible, trainers are expensive, and this one has worked well for me.
It actually still works for now, but when the ‘requested’ power drops below 90w (a recovery or cool down), it makes a continuous loud electronic buzzing sound, accompanied by loud clicks. It’s been getting progressively worse and more frequent.
Lately, it’s started making those sounds right off the bat when I plug in the power (normally when I do that, it makes a brief and quiet buzzing sound and one quiet click).
So I’m wondering if anyone else has experienced this with your BKool Classic, and if you were able to fix it. Maybe something is dirty (rubber?), and I just need to crack it open and clean it? Maybe an electronics repair specialist can apply their craft and get me rolling again?