DC Rainmaker

Kinetic inRide Bluetooth Smart Power Meter Accessory In-Depth Review

The inRide Bluetooth Smart accessory (tiny pod above) is the first Bluetooth Smart power meter to hit the market, just ahead of other Bluetooth Smart power meters.  Now, some might finagle with the terminology around ‘power meter’, but since it’s ultimately giving you a metric of power, I’m sticking with that term for now.

The inRide is an interesting blend of a product compared to most.  Unlike an accessory that works with every bike, it’s focused on just the Kurt Kinetic lineup of trainers.  However, in doing so they’ve been able to craft a product that ‘just works’ since it only has to work on a small subset of units.  But how does it compare to the many software applications on the market that already estimate power for the trainer using known power curves and speed data?  Well, I set to find out.

And find out I did.  It took WAY more time than I expected.  Almost two months longer in fact.  I’ve had a unit since late October, but it hasn’t been until recently that the final software version has been available.  And before publishing my results, I wanted to ensure we weren’t dealing with beta issues.

So…how did things turn out?  Well, let’s find out.

Unboxing:

The inRide accessory is of course meant to attach to one of the Kurt Kinetic trainers.  In my case, I happened to purchase the Road Machine trainer last winter, so it’s the one I’m using.  I had re-boxed it up in the move to France, so here’s some re-unboxing photos:

The Road Machine trainer comes in about two and half major pieces.  You’ve got the stand, and then the flywheel.  The ‘half piece’ are the bolts that connects the two.

You’ll attach the three parts together, and it should end up looking roughly like the below.  Any other configuration means you’re not off to a good start.

With that, our attention is turned to the inRide.  The inRide packaging is about the size of a book, and contains two major components, and then a small bag with a very important magnet and magnet holder.

If you crack open the clamshell plastic inside, you’ll see the inRide Bluetooth Smart accessory in the middle, and the Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate strap on the right.

Or, top and bottom in this case:

Additionally, you’ll find a small manual in it there.

The included Bluetooth Smart heart rate strap is actually pretty good – even if the feedback I hear is that almost nobody seems to want it (read: you want to pay less and use your existing straps).  The strap is just the Wahoo Fitness BlueHR strap rebranded with a Kinetic logo on it.  This particular strap and the work Wahoo has spent on the firmware virtually eliminate common HR dropouts/spikes from what I’ve seen in testing.

Below are the inRide components that really make this whole operation tick.  On the right is the Bluetooth Smart inRide transmitter pod.  And to the left is a small magnet and a magnet holder.

At the end of the day, the Bluetooth Smart inRide is really just keeping track of speed and then doing some math to determine power based on a known power curve (and applying the calibration value based on a rolldown).  So the roll of the magnet in this case acts exactly like that of a speed sensor normally found on a bike.  It’s just that this is measuring the trainer speed, and not your bike wheel speed.

As noted, there are some manuals included.  The one to the left is the legit manual.  The one to the right basically says not to do anything stupid with the unit.  Or not to fall off your bike.  And if you do fall off, it’s clearly your fault, not Kinetic’s.

The instruction manual is short and sweet – and pretty easy to follow.  Fear not, I’m going to walk through it all together here anyway.

Setup and Magnets:

I’m going to assume you already unpacked your trainer and have it setup.

The inRide piece is what I’m going to focus on.  Ultimately, you’re goal here is to get that magnet, into that hole.  The good news is that they make it pretty easy.

First, start with the hole:

Now take the rubber thingy, and stick it in the hole.  It only goes in one way.  So if it’s not going in, you’re doing it wrong.  Think back to putting the round peg in the round hole as a kid, not the square peg.

They recommend using a screwdriver to bonk it in.  Worked for me.

Whack!

Next, take the other end of that flat-blade screwdriver.  Attach the magnet to it (it’s magnetic, that magnet, it’ll automatically attach).  Then position it above the hole:

Push it into the hole.  See, magic –  magnet in the hole:

Now, undo the sticky on the back of the plastic transmitter pod.

Then, stick it onto the back of the unit.  Ensure that the writing isn’t upside down, and ensure it’s as close as possible to the right side of the wheel and the magnet as possible.  You don’t want it touching, but you want it BFF.

If you listen carefully, you’ll hear a little ‘click…click….click’ each time the magnet passes the sensor.  If you don’t hear this, consider putting your ear closer.  If you still don’t hear this…something be wrong.

With that set, we’re good to start using it!

(Geeky Sidebar follows, not part of the production final release)

Now in the course of testing this product I learned a few things about the magnets.  See, on the first prototype I received there wasn’t actually the small magnet holder.  Rather, just a little plastic baggie with a magnet in it.  That’s how most prototype products arrive to me, just a plastic baggie like I bought it in Chinatown.  When I plopped the magnet into the back of the whole, it stuck there quite nicely all by itself.  I spun the trainer roller a bit, did some spin-ups, and it seemed to stay – so I thought I was good with my solution.

And, I was.

Mostly.

Then one magic night came along and mid-workout I heard a small twang followed by a ding or two.  I didn’t think much about it until about 2-3 seconds later when my speed, cadence and power metrics dropped off mid-ride.  It didn’t take long to find out that the magnet had departed.  And departed for good.  See, behind the trainer was a bunch of boxes, other trainers, and this horrendous straw-mat carpet stuff that’s in our apartment.  Finding the tiny magnet proved impossible.  Without said magnet, I was hosed.

I ended up going to the hardware store and actually shaving down some other magnets to fit in there.  A lot of magnets.  It really wasn’t pretty.  But it worked!  The most important part was then adding a single piece of scotch tape to ensure no further magnet departures would happen.

At the same time as my hardware store excursion, I also went online and found some magnets that fit a bit better, they’re here (you can see I’ve placed the official magnet on top of the middle bottom magnet to show sizing):

So, if you happen to find yourself in the same situation somehow – just find anything that’ll fit in there and is strong enough to trip the sensor (you can hear it click each time it goes past).

Of course, the interesting thing here is that this starts to open the door to non-Bluetooth Smart options.  In fact, some folks playing around with Golden Cheetah have been talking about just that.  Just taking a standard ANT+ speed sensor and seeing if there’s enough data to do the same.  It would lack built-in rolldown calibration (which is what makes this entire solution interesting), though that could potentially be done in software.  But that’s a topic for a different day…

Trainers Supported:

The Kinetic inRide supports the following trainers:

Trainer #1: Kurt Kinetic Road Machine

Trainer #2: Kurt Kinetic Road Machine with Pro Flywheel:

 

Trainer #3: Kurt Kinetic Rock and Roll Trainer:

Additionally, it also supports the Kinetc ProTrainer unit.  Note that it really comes down to the magnet hole.  If its got a hole, then it can be used (or at least, they can do something with it).  The magnet is what allows the sensor to trigger your speed, hence the criticality.

The Kinetic App:

Now that we’ve got everything all setup, let me walk you through some regular usage of the complete solution.  First though, you’ll need to download the Kinetic inRide app.  Fear not, it’s free.  You can just search for ‘inRide’ and it’ll be the first thing you find (well, at present it is anyway):

App Install:

Pairing with Bluetooth Smart Sensors:

Once you open up the app you’ll need to pair it with your inRide device.  To do so, you’ll go ahead and hit the configuration button:

Then tap ‘Add New’ to start the sensor addition process:

We’ll go ahead and add the ‘inRide Watt Meter’ first, which will then hopefully find the sensor.  Be sure to give the flywheel a quick roll to make the click…click…click sound, which wakes up the sensor.  Otherwise it won’t pair.

Once it shows up, you can name it if you’d like, though since you can only add one sensor in the app – there’s not really any point.  If you happen to have the Pro Flywheel, then go ahead and click ‘On’ next to that.  Otherwise, leave things as is.

Now, repeat the same process for the Bluetooth Smart heart rate strap:

With that, you’ll see both sensors within the ‘Sensors used’ area, and you’ll be ready to roll (quite literally)!

Workout Options

Now, there are a few things you can change if you’d like to in the settings.  First, you can modify your profile information (weight/height/etc…) to get better calorie information.

Then, you can choose which pages you’d like to add to the screen.  You can modify them in any way, but you can at least turn some on/off:

Down below you can select whether or not to auto-pause (pauses the unit if you stop riding), or whether you want a countdown.

Lastly, you can also enable triggers within the app.  These typically audibly announce certain things, or trigger other items such as music playing or laps being specified.


Starting Ride and Calibration:

With all that taken care of, let’s ride.  When you first start the app up, it’ll look just like the below – likely with no watts being displayed unless you’re already pedaling:

Shortly after you start, you want to calibrate.  Now technically you want to calibrate a bit later as well – as that’s most important.  But I find that I get the best results by calibrating twice, once at the beginning, and once at the 10-minute marker after things have warmed up.

To calibrate, you simply pedal to 23MPH, and then stop pedaling.  Don’t pedal anymore, otherwise it’ll mess up calibration.  If it succeeds, you’ll get a ‘Spindown Calibration Complete’ message.  If however, your wheel is too loose, or something else amiss, it’ll give you a failure notification.  But for me, it’s all success:

Now perhaps the most important calibration is the one you do have 5-10 minutes (I find 10 minutes to be most effective).  This is perfect, as it allows you a proper warm-up (2 minutes isn’t a proper warm-up, and neither is 5 minutes).  Simply do it again, and you’ll be good to go.

I can’t stress how important calibration is.  At the end of the day, the SOLE reason you are buying inRide is for this feature.  That’s it.

Seriously.

There are probably a dozen apps out there that can utilize your trainer speed to determine the power curve, but NONE of them have calibration – which means they are typically off by 15-50 watts.  This feature is what makes it off only perhaps +/-1%.  So if you don’t use this functionality, you’re essentially wasting $200.  Again, it only takes about 15 seconds.

With that set, time to use the app!

Switching screens

Once you’re riding, the workout is really up to you from a structure standpoint.  The unit doesn’t provide any training plans, as it’s more of a training tool than a coach.  Similar to any other trainer or power meter.

The training screens allow you to view not only instant power/cadence/heart rate/speed/distance information, but also more advanced metrics.  For most though, you’ll probably hang out on this particular screen:

In addition they offer mean/max (mean maximal) power information as well on the second screen (well, technically it’s the third screen, but the first screen is really to just control music, so hence it’s the second data screen).  You can see my max numbers for the time chunks listed on the right side (i.e. 5 minutes at 216w).  This wasn’t a particularly tough workout, hence you see the drop pretty quickly at the 20 minute mean-max.  Also note the TSS, NP and IF information displayed here as well.  It’s not clear if this is ‘close to’ the official Training Peaks formulas, or if they’ve partnered such that it’s exactly the same.

The next page includes time in zone information.  You’ll note that the current information is still displayed on the left, so you don’t have to constantly swap back and forth.

Then we have a page focused more on heart rate:

With the same time in zone info displayed for heart rate as well:

Finally, you’ll have noticed there’s the big lap and pause button on each page.  The pause does exactly what you’d think it does…pauses.  The lap button will demark a lap that can then later be retrieved using just about any software out there, allowing you to further analyze that segment.

When you press lap, it’ll give you a summary of the past lap (though, oddly, not average power for that lap).

But I can swipe to the right and view the current laps (intervals) and see the stats about it.  You’ll see the current interval displayed, as then you can scroll down and see previous intervals.

Completing your ride and uploading history:

Once you’ve completed you’re ride, you can go ahead and tap pause, then stop, which will allow you to Save it.  Obviously, it would seem kinda silly not to save it.

Upon saving you’ll be given you’re workout summary details, where you can also dive into the laps if you’d like.

Then, you can click to share the workout.  For example, you can e-mail the results back to you (it attaches a bunch of file types that upload to just about any platform on earth).  Or, you can configure sharing to just take care of the uploading for you.

Below are the platforms you can configure on the sharing front.  For example, I usually upload to Training Peaks as well as Garmin Connect – since then I have easy copies of the data accessible to me.

This is one of the biggest reasons I love the Wahoo Fitness app (just rebranded here), as it doesn’t discriminate when it comes to who I can upload to.  It just does its job and uploads where I want it.

inRide Power Meter Accuracy Tests:

I’ve spent a LOT of time in this particular area.  In fact, the sole reason this review wasn’t published back during the first week of November is due to this section.  Initially during the beta portion I had a lot of problems with accuracy.  Thankfully the team figured out the root of those issues, and once that was resolved – it’s been rock-star solid since.  It was like turning a switch from bad to perfect.

That said, power meter accuracy tests are the bane of my existence.  I generally dislike completing them.  Primarily because there are so many factors that go into it from performing perfect calibrations to trying to gather data across multiple head units and power meters.  It’s not as easy as you might then when you’re trying to make it repeatable and scalable (if it was, then you’d see others doing it).  Then there’s all the slicing and dicing of the data afterwards to make it look pretty.  No such app exists that does it all for me.

For all of the numbers you’ll see below, all data is from a final production unit (actually purchased through a normal distributor), as well as the final inRide app as available on the iTunes store.  There are no beta test hardware/software figures below.

For these tests, I was using the following equipment: Kinetic inRide, CycleOps PowerTap G3, Power2Max (New late 2012 edition).

Between those three units you can pretty easily start to establish clear trending and accuracy information.  In all tests, there was a 10-minute warm-up period, followed by a recorded calibration across all power meters.  By ‘recorded calibration’ I mean that I didn’t stop recording, hence why you see the calibration spikes across all devices at the same time.  I record this data because it makes analysis much easier than trying to align gaps (read: once you start recording, don’t stop!).

Test #1:

Each test I did is essentially just a trainer workout that I had planned.  They tend to have a wide variety of components in them from steady-state to drills to warm-up and cool-down.

The results are pretty clear, it’s interesting to see the pre-calibration pieces, and then it all come together at about the 10-minute marker for calibration:

Here’s the graph to go with it.

Again, seeing fairly solid results within a couple watts in some cases, and thus easily within a couple percent in most cases.  As noted before, each power meter tends to be accurate within 2% (as rated), but which one is ‘the most absolute accurate’ on any given day is rather difficult to achieve in a normal training setting.  So if I can get three power meters to agree within in some cases 3 watts – I’m having a pretty darn good day.  Obviously, the fact that they are each measuring at different points (crank/hub/tire) should also be noted, so you will see some discrepancies there (typically you lose power as you go further from the crank due to drivetrain, etc…).

Test #2:

These were mostly higher cadence workouts working on the aerobic side of things – so some of the wattages are a bit lower.  Nonetheless, you’re seeing the same trend here:

And pretty similar here:

Cadence Accuracy

While the power accuracy is pretty spot on, I am seeing issues with cadence accuracy.  In two ways actually.

First, is that on average, it measures about 5-8% higher than reality.  If you look at how inRide is measuring cadence, it’s pretty much working at the problem backwards mathematically trying to determine what your stroke is doing based on increases in power.  So it’s already a bit of a guess.  But in this case, I see that on average if my cadence is really 80RPM, then inRide might report 84-88RPM.  It’s steady, and not jump on the screen – but steadily off.

But what’s even more interesting though is to look at the actual numbers being recorded under the covers.  That tells the real story of what’s going on.  Here are three separate cadence measurements from three sources:

Check out the Kinetic cadence – it’s bouncing all over the place, even though my cadence is holding near perfectly at 79RPM (revolutions per minute).  You see some slight fluctuations from the PowerTap cadence, but that’s also a normal for it given it’s not measuring it directly at the crank, but rather indirectly through the hub.

In my case, cadence is a big part of many of my trainer workouts, so I really wish that the inRide app would allow me to pair to other speed/cadence sensors (for reasons unclear to me, they actually removed this functionality).   Of course, fixing the actual problem of the cadence being off may be a bit harder to solve.

3rd Party Options: TrainerRoad:

In addition to the default app, there is at present one additional application that will work with the inRide – and that’s TrainerRoad.  TrainerRoad is a desktop (PC or Mac) application that guides you through a given trainer workout using power zones.  They have a platform of trainer workouts (hundreds, actually, 327 as of this morning) that both them and folks have created that you can open up and complete.  Once you complete the ride, it’ll upload it to their online site.

Now the application doesn’t attempt to keep you busy/entertained through 3D graphics or the like, rather, it’s more about hitting the exact power levels that its prescribing to you.  It has become pretty popular in the last year because of their ability to work with a gazillion trainers.  You typically will use your existing ANT+ Speed sensor and ANT+ USB stick, and based on that it can give you a ‘Virtual Power’ number for many of those trainers.  And while the virtual power number can be a bit fuzzy accuracy-wise, it does tend to be consistent (assuming everything else is constant).

With that brief overview out of the way, let’s dive into how it can connect with the inRide platform (no ANT+ required) to work.

TrainerRoad Pairing with Kinetic inRide

First is the pairing with the inRide.  Now normally (previous to this), you’d have an ANT+ stick plugged in.  But as you can see from the photo below, I don’t (which is why it says “Search for ANT+ USB”).  Meaning that everything I’m about to show is all Bluetooth Smart.

In this case, the MacBook I’m demo’ing this on is Bluetooth 4.0 capable.  In fact, most recent Mac’s are.  If you don’t have a recent Mac, you can use the $10 IOGear Bluetooth 4.0 USB adapter to get the same functionality.  And while that USB stick is PC compatible, the stars haven’t aligned yet for TrainerRoad to take advantage of that – so you’ve got to wait a short bit longer (though that is their goal).

Ok, at any rate…pairing.

To pair to the inRide ensure that your Kinetic App on the iPhone is turned OFF (killed/closed/not running).  This is critical.  Otherwise, TrainerRoad can’t connect to the inRide.  Also, be sure to spin the wheel a few times.

With that set, go ahead and search.  When it finds the unit, it’ll pair with it and then the ‘unpair’ option will appear.  You can then repeat the process for the heart rate strap.  Additionally, if you’ve picked up the Wahoo Blue SC, you can do the same there as well.

Now the cool thing here is that unlike the Kinetic app, you can mix and match ANT+ devices.  For example, if I wanted to use an ANT+ speed/cadence sensor to get better cadence data – no problem.  Or if I for some reason wanted to use any other ANT+ device, I can combine them together as I see fit:

TrainerRoad Use

This isn’t a full review of TrainerRoad, so I’m just going to move pretty quickly through these sections.

In order to ride a given workout, you’ll go to the ‘Workouts’ tab and search for a workout.  You can also do this online and sift through the workouts there.  They have both generic workouts as well as video workouts.  When I’m just doing a workout of my own, I use the ‘Free’ workouts – literally called ‘Free 30’, ‘Free 60’, etc… Which is just a blank slate of 30, 60, etc… minutes that will record the data as-is.

In the case of this, I’m going to actually do a video.  The videos pull from popular videos like Sufferfest and others.  You simply go in and search for whichever video you purchased from them.  In my case, I bought the Revolver video.  So I searched for it below, and then tagged it as a favorite so I could easily find it again in my favorites menu (the third tab).

Once I’ve selected a workout, it’ll load up the workout onto the screen.  Now videos actually show a bit different, so let me first show you what a regular workout looks like.  In this case – the ‘Disaster’ workout.  You can see the blue chunks.  These indicate differing power levels.  Everything in TrainerRoad is based on FTP – Functional Threshold Power – or essentially the max wattage you could hold for 60 minutes.  Then, based on that the workout shifts different sections as a percentage of that power.

Fear not, if things are too hard or too easy you can shift the % button at the button to scale the workout easier or harder (as I’ll show you in a second).

Ok, with that, I had my video (Revolver) all loaded up.  You’ll point TR at the video and then it will automatically pull in the video into the TrainerRoad screen – allowing you to pretty much see everything at once.

Below, I’m at the beginning during a short warm-up.  You can see the intensity level is displayed as 4/10 on the right side.

As I work through the video, it’ll automatically display the recommended intensities on top of the video itself in TrainerRoad.  These have then been converted into the workout charts that you see along the bottom of the screen.

As you go through the workout, it’ll be constantly shifting per the video.  You can see below, a case of effort of 10/10 – which in my case has a ‘target power’ of 293w, and I’m currently fairly close at 300w.

Of course, this is about as close to 100% I can get while also taking photos and screenshots of the review at the same time (assistant I have not).

If you look at the below, there’s a few things of note.  First is that I’m a bit high in the wattage – 340w vs the target of 293w.  So unlike above, that bar is now orange instead of green.  Also, you’ll see I’ve got 30 seconds left in this interval.  That’s shown both on the screen (middle) as well as lower down within interval time.  And, if you look close enough you’ll even see it in the tiny charts that I’m half-way through that interval.

You can pause the video at any time by either pressing pause on the keyboard, or you can also go ahead and have TrainerRoad use an option that triggers pauses based on when you stop pedaling.

TrainerRoad Uploading Workouts and History:

Once you’re done suffering, you’ll be given a summary screen of your workout.  From there it’ll automatically upload to the site where you can view it there as well.  In that same location, you can download the .TCX file which you can upload to any 3rd party site pretty easily.

Now, since I know some of you will analyze the below with incredible attention to detail and wonder what exactly was going on.

See, this workout was back in early November.  In my TR profile, I have it set for an FTP of about 315w.  This means that for each of those 16 intervals it wanted me to put out 400w for 60 seconds.  Perhaps that was optimistic this time of year, but, that wasn’t actually the root of my problem.

My problem was that early on at that beta stage (again, it’s fine now in production) the calibration factor of the inRide was off.  Off by about 20-30% depending on where you were (it got worse the higher your wattage).  Which meant that when I was putting out say 400w of power (as recorded by two other power meters), the inRide would say I was closer to 320w.  Which means that in order to put out 415w that was required for this workout, I actually had to put out almost 500w of power.  For 60 seconds.  For 16 intervals.

As you can see below, that didn’t happen.

Luckily, TrainerRoad has that little % adjustment option which allowed me to pull it down to a more reasonable value, which you can see I started to do on #2, and by #4 I had found a functional value.  Of course, all of the numbers below are reported based on the skewed power numbers, so I didn’t ‘get credit’ for the actual power numbers in this case.  But, I did get a funny story.  And again, it’s all resolved now, but I thought you’d find it entertaining.

One thing I do want to ensure is clear is that in the case of the Kinetic inRide or Kinetic Road Machine, TrainerRoad can’t control the trainer resistance.  That’s done by you changing gears.  Meaning that there is no electronic control that takes it from 200w to 500w – that’s you and you’re gearing/cadence that does that.

TrainerRoad with the Kurt Kinetic in Trainer Road ‘Virtual Power’ configuration

Now one big question a lot of folks have is whether or not TrainerRoad’s Virtual Power is as accurate as inRide power, and how the two compare.  Remember Virtual Power uses trainer speed and works on hundreds of trainers, no inRide required.  But there’s also no spindown/rolldown calibration capability, meaning they can’t determine the impact of tire pressure or other environmental items (such as the trainer heating up) that would impact accuracy.

Just to make sure we’re on the same page:

TrainerRoad Virtual Power = Using non-inRide speed sensor to predict power (hundreds of trainers)
TrainerRoad with Kinetic inRide = Using inRide sensor to predict power (just Kinetic Trainers)

I’m simply comparing one method versus another because it’s the most requested question I get.  That’s all.

So I did one ride where I had my PC paired using the ANT+ option to just track speed like everyone else is doing today, and then on the Mac I had it paired to the inRide which supports calibration (even in TrainerRoad).  Here’s the quick results:

As you can see, Virtual Power tracks well until the point of calibration, but that lack of calibration is what pulls it further from reality – which is particularly noticeable as the unit warms up.  Once I do the calibration on inRide (those quick spikes you see at about the 25% marker), that’s when things separate as TrainerRoad Virtual Power doesn’t know about that in the regular non-inRide mode.  Hence the differential of about 20-40w from there on out.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with Virtual Power from the standpoint of it being cheaper than a power meter and still offering some level of value in relation to the TR platform.  However, it’s clear there’s also value in the accuracy of the inRide.

Bluetooth Smart Notables:

Now there are some minor notables with a Bluetooth Smart device that you should be aware of.  Most of these aren’t an issue, but it’s important you’re aware of them (especially the first two paragraphs below) – otherwise you could be up a creek without a paddle.

Bluetooth Smart is a subset of the Bluetooth 4.0 standard.  These devices started coming onto the market in Late 2011 with the iPhone 4s, and then since about mid-2012 have become pretty standard in mobile devices.  A Bluetooth 4.0 enabled device can then talk to Bluetooth Smart sensors.  An older Bluetooth enabled device (such as the iPhone 3G) can’t understand or even talk to the new Bluetooth Smart devices.  So, it’s important you have a new device if you’re going to use inRide.

In the case of the Kinetic inRide app, you’ll need an iOS device (iPad/iPhone/iSomething).  It’s simply that the app isn’t written for any other platforms (Android/Windows Phone/Blackberry).  This likely comes from the fact that the app is essentially the Wahoo Fitness app stripped down and rebranded, and that app at present is only on iOS.  Now, iOS isn’t a requirement for the inRide.  In fact, if you look at TrainerRoad, it’s not iOS based.  It’s both Mac and PC (though, the PC part of inRide isn’t quite there yet because the drivers aren’t quite worked out yet – soon though).

With the Bluetooth Smart heart rate strap that’s included, it requires a Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Strap enabled app.  Meaning that many of the older apps that haven’t been updated actually won’t see the strap – even if they support Bluetooth devices.  Newer and more popular apps tend to support the Bluetooth Smart straps – but you may want to check with your app (if you use something different for cycling outdoors/running/etc…) to validate that support Bluetooth Smart straps.  As I noted earlier, it’s actually a pretty solid strap – so there is some benefit there.

As noted earlier, the device isn’t ANT+ capable, and despite a lot of asking, it doesn’t sound like it’s something that Kinetic is interested in bringing to market.  Which is ultimately too bad as I believe it artificially restricts how many people would pick one up.  I think what we may see instead is folks look to leverage this same concept using a standard ANT+ speed sensor (at 1/8th the price) and bring apps to market that support it (with roll-down).  Again, we’ll see.

Finally, the other notable on Bluetooth Smart is that you can’t multi-pair a device.  Meaning that you can’t have two head units connected to the same inRide sensor.  For example, on ANT+ you can pair two Garmin’s (such as a bike and run Garmin) to the same heart rate strap or sensor.  On Bluetooth Smart, it’s a 1:1 relationship.  It’s not an issue for 95% of the people out there, but for that remaining 5%, it can be.

Summary:

If you look at the inRide device’s objectives, it had one primary object: Be accurate with power measurements.  Everything else was secondary to that.  If it wasn’t accurate then it was pointless to buy.  Luckily, the power accuracy is pretty much spot on.  In fact, I’d even go as far as saying it seems easier to keep in check than some power meters are.

The secondary objectives would be ease of setup, simplicity of the app to use, and the ability to get the data out of the app and into other platforms.  In that area, it again does well.  By leveraging the Wahoo app they were able to take a ‘known good’ and re-skin it to be Kinetic.  They did remove a few things that they deemed unnecessary (such as Speed/Cadence sensor support), which is too bad, as that would have addressed the cadence accuracy issues I’ve seen.  I don’t consider those cadence issues a show-stopper for most, but they are annoying.  And supporting the Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence sensor would have provided an option for folks where it is a showstopper.

Pros:

– Cheaper than a full power meter if you already have a Kinetic Trainer
– Very accurate power measurements
– Contains rolldown/calibration functionality
– Compatible with 3rd parties (uses standardized power meter profile for BLE)
– Easy to use app (free app), good export options

Cons:

– Not ANT+ comaptible
– Requires Bluetooth 4.0 device
– Cadence isn’t super-accurate

Here’s a comparison chart that’s dynamically updated with all trainers that are either in the market that I’ve reviewed, or pending for review.  In general, I don’t put trainers in here that I haven’t personally ridden in some way.  However, because of the significant interest around KICKR in there I’ve placed KICKR in there with a bunch of TBD/TBA notations as applicable.  As information trickles in, these get automatically updated.

Function/FeatureKurt Road Machine (with inRide)LeMond RevolutionBKOOL TrainerWahoo Fitness KICKR (Original)Tacx Bushido
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated September 15th, 2016 @ 10:36 amNew Window
Price for trainer$199 + $340$499€500/$650$1,199$940
Attachment TypeDirect Drive (no wheel)
Available today (for sale)Available todayYesYesYesAvailable today
Availability regionsGlobalGlobalGlobalGlobalGlobal
Connects to computer3rd Party RequiredNoYesYesYes
Uses mouse/keyboard as control unit3rd Party RequiredNoYesYEs (with apps)Yes
Uses phone/tablet as control unit (handlebar)Yes (with inRide)NoNo (Summer 2014)Yes (with apps)No
Wired or Wireless data transmission/controlWirelessWirelessWirelessWirelessWireless
Power cord requiredNoNoYesYesNo
Flywheel weight12.5lbs/5.7kgs
ResistanceKurt Road Machine (with inRide)LeMond RevolutionBKOOL TrainerWahoo Fitness KICKR (Original)Tacx Bushido
Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)NoNoNoYesYes
Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)NoNoNoNoNo
Maximum wattage capability3,000w1,200w2500W @ 30mph-
Maximum simulated hill incline15%
FeaturesKurt Road Machine (with inRide)LeMond RevolutionBKOOL TrainerWahoo Fitness KICKR (Original)Tacx Bushido
Ability to update unit firmwareinRide YesPowerPilot YesYesYesYes
Measures/Estimates Left/Right PowerNoNoNoNoNo
Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)NoNoNoNoNo
Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)No
AccuracyKurt Road Machine (with inRide)LeMond RevolutionBKOOL TrainerWahoo Fitness KICKR (Original)Tacx Bushido
Includes temperature compensationNoYesNoYes-
Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)YesNoNoYesYes
Supported accuracy level+/- 2%+/- 5%+/- 10%+/- 3%-
Trainer ControlKurt Road Machine (with inRide)LeMond RevolutionBKOOL TrainerWahoo Fitness KICKR (Original)Tacx Bushido
Allows 3rd party trainer controlYesNoYesYesNo
Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)Yes
Supports Bluetooth Smart control for 3rd partiesYes
Data BroadcastKurt Road Machine (with inRide)LeMond RevolutionBKOOL TrainerWahoo Fitness KICKR (Original)Tacx Bushido
Can re-broadcast power data as open ANT+NoNoNoYesNo
Can re-broadcast data as open Bluetooth SmartYesNoNoYesNo
PurchaseKurt Road Machine (with inRide)LeMond RevolutionBKOOL TrainerWahoo Fitness KICKR (Original)Tacx Bushido
Amazon LinkLinkN/ALinkLinkLink
Clever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)LinkN/ALinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerKurt Road Machine (with inRide)LeMond RevolutionBKOOL TrainerWahoo Fitness KICKR (Original)Tacx Bushido
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

The way I look at it is that if you already have a compatible Kurt Kinetic trainer, then the inRide is a relatively cheap method of getting fairly accurate power measurements for it – at least cheap compared to a full blown direct force power meter.  However, on the flip side, if you don’t already have a Kurt Kinetic trainer, then you’re looking at some $550 for the whole combo ($350 for the trainer, $200 for the inRide).  At that price, it starts to become a bit tougher of a question.  For example, at $699 you’ve got the Stages power meter coming in.  And while it may not be 100% as accurate as some power meters due to simply doubling the left-leg power, it would at least allow you to train indoors and out with power (again, accuracy TBD there).  If you’re Europe based, then you’ve got the BKOOL trainer as well in that same price range (500 euros).  Of course, I think if Kinetic had offered the inRide sensor without the HR strap for $99, there would likely be a lot more people interested in them.

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?  Here’s how you can help support future reviews with just a single click!  Read on…

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 inRide below. 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.

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. 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! 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.