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Hands-on with new CycleOps Hammer Smart Trainer

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Today CycleOps has announced their latest trainer product, the Hammer.  Taking a cue from others in the industry on having a catchy name, the Hammer is CycleOps’s first totally new trainer in a few years.  And also their first direct drive electronic controlled trainer.  They’ve had both direct drive (the Silencer), and electronic controlled trainers (the PowerBeam) in the past – but never together as a single product.  Now those two realms have combined.

I’ve spent a bit of time on a prototype unit, toying with it for a few hours.  So let’s dig into how it all works.

The Basics:

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The Hammer comes in at the same price ballpark as the as KICKR, at $1,199USD/1,199EUR.  I think it’s fair to say the CycleOps folks see the KICKR as their primary competitor.  Then again, pretty much everyone sees the KICKR as their primary competitor.

Starting with physical footprint, the Hammer has fold-in locking legs.  This allows it to easily fold up and be slid off to the side.  The actual weight (46lbs/20.8kg) of the unit is nearly identical to that of a KICKR (47lbs/21.3kg) or Tacx NEO (48lbs/21.7kg).  This is notable because it means it’ll just barely be under most standard airline weight limits for checked baggage (50 pounds).

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However, unlike the Tacx or Wahoo trainers, the Hammer is weight-balanced with handle designed around that.  This means that it won’t flop over and take your shins out when you try and pick it up.  Sometimes it’s the little things in life…

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Speaking of little things, they actually include a small front wheel stabilizer, which has a home under the front of the Hammer trainer.  Once you close up the legs, it’ll hold it securely in place next to it.

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You don’t need the front wheel block to ride the trainer, it’s merely there as many folks like to have something that keeps their front wheel from wobbling around.

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As you can see, it’s only about 1-2cm high.

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Oh, and snapped under the bottom of the wheel holder is a small disc brake lock (for those that have them), to prevent accidental squeezing of the brakes.

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Next up is the direct drive aspect.  That’s all the rage these days in higher end trainers.  This means that you take your wheel off and throw it across the room.  Well, just the back wheel.  Keep the front one on.  The thinking behind a direct drive trainer is that by attaching your bike’s chain directly to the cassette on the trainer, you avoid wheel slippage issues.  Also, it can reduce noise (depending on design).  And it eliminates tire wear and tear.

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The Hammer supports Shimano 8/9/10/11 speed cassettes.  However, a cassette is not included – so you’ll have to shell out for that (the KICKR includes one, the Tacx & Elite models do not).  And, you’ll need to make sure you have the right tools to install a cassette.  They don’t at this time have support for Campagnolo cassettes, but are looking at it.

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The unit has thru-axle compatibility for 130mm, 135mm, 142mm, and 148mm axles, which makes it the broadest range of axles supported today (KICKR tops out at 142mm, and NEO at 135mm).  However, CycleOps says they’ve designed the axle component pieces to be able to expand beyond these sizes down the road, should new standards surface.

Depending on the design of a given direct drive trainer, it can also be a more realistic road feel.  That’s typically accomplished through the use of a flywheel (either physical or simulated/virtual).  In general, the larger the flywheel the more realistic it’ll feel.  In the case of the Hammer, it has a 20lb/9kg flywheel, whereas the KICKR is around half that at 12.5lbs/5.7kgs.  Of course, keep in mind the Tacx NEO is a simulated flywheel, and most find the road feel in the same ballpark as the KICKR.  So take flywheel weights with a grain of salt.  It’s not the size of the flywheel that counts, but how you use it.  Or something like that.

Electronics & Noise:

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Next up is the electronics side of the house.  The Hammer is dual ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart compatible, like all new connected trainers on the market.  In this case, they’re broadcasting/utilizing the following:

ANT+ FE-C Support: This is the standard that virtually all trainers are using for control by apps
ANT+ Power Meter Transmission: It’ll transmit as an ANT+ power meter, with speed data too
Bluetooth Smart Trainer Control: There is no official standard here, but most apps have added CycleOps Bluetooth Smart trainer control years ago for the PowerBeam.
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter Transmission: Same power data as ANT+, but this time on Bluetooth Smart.

At this time it won’t transmit your cadence data (like the Tacx trainers do), though, it sounds like that’s something they’re poking at for a potential firmware update.  Speaking of which, the unit can get firmware updates via Bluetooth Smart using your smartphone.

All of these electronic terms means that it’ll easily support virtually any of the 3rd party 20+ apps on the market today.  Of course, CycleOps has their own app, Virtual Training, but they were pretty emphatic during discussions that they see huge value in a vibrant 3rd party app ecosystem.  Their exact quote was:

“We want to be the Switzerland of trainers when it comes to apps”

And in that sense, they are (like Tacx).  Whereas Wahoo still hasn’t released ANT+ FE-C on their trainers, beyond beta users.

So be it Zwift, TrainerRoad, Kinomap or nearly two dozen others – all of them can support the Hammer (and most do already).

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So what about noise and sound levels?  Well, the Hammer isn’t silent, but it’s also not loud.  It officially clocks in at 64db (per CycleOps measurements) at 20MPH, and per their measurements the KICKR is 72db.  Meanwhile, also per their measurements the NEO is 58db.  Those last two numbers are in the ballpark of my measurements for these devices.  Keep in mind that measuring trainers is super-tricky, because aspects like room acoustics and just how far away you measure from the trainer make a huge (massive) difference.  I give some audio demonstrations in the video below, but keep in mind they are semi-limited by the room I was in as well as the microphones I was using.  Overall though, I didn’t think it sounded too loud.

Remember that decibel levels are not linear.  Meaning just a few decibels increase is actually quite substantial.  This explains it better.  As part of my review I’ll be diving more into noise on these trainers.

Next, the unit has a temperature compensation sensor built within it, which samples once per second.  It also has a pretty interesting cool-air intake system, which is designed to keep air internal to the trainer at a relatively constant temperature (by pulling in air from outside the shell).  You can kinda see the air in-take system here:

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While there isn’t any form of calibration per se, they do recommend a coast-down just prior to starting to ride.  The stated accuracy of the trainer is +/- 3%.

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Also, the trainer does require being plugged in, which is unlike the Tacx NEO.  While it can technically be ridden without power, it’ll top-out at about 150w sustained.  Meaning it’ll basically push back briefly on a sprint up to about 400-500w, and then the flywheel catches up and it’ll slide back to a top sustained resistance of about 150w.

However, it does not need an app to control it.  So you can use it plugged in without an app controlling it.  This will allow some apps/devices to utilize a power curve that CycleOps will publish to determine power output based on the speed at the time.

Video Overview:

Reading text not your thing?  No biggie, I’ve got videos too.  Or, one video anyway.  In the below video I show you how the trainer works, including some cool party tricks.  Plus you can hear how it sounds when you ride it in a library.  Seriously, I rode it in a library.  Anyway, click play:

Phew, ok, that was a bit longer than I expected.  Sorry!  If you’re looking for just the sound pieces, it’s about at the 5:05 marker.

Product Comparisons:

I’ve added the Hammer to the trainer product comparison database.  For the purposes of the below chart, I’ve compared it against the Tacx NEO, Wahoo KICKR, and Elite RTM B+.  But you can swing over to the comparison tool and make your own comparison chart against any other trainer that I’ve reviewed and/or spent significant time on.

Function/FeatureCycleOps HammerTacx NEO SmartWahoo Fitness KICKR (Original)Elite Real Turbo Muin B+
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated December 30th, 2016 @ 8:40 amNew Window
Price for trainer$1,199USD$1,599USD/1,399EUR$1,1991,299EUR
Attachment TypeDirect Drive (no wheel)Direct Drive (no wheel)Direct Drive (no wheel)Direct Drive (NO WHEEL)
Available today (for sale)YesYesYesYes
Availability regionsGlobalGlobalGlobalGlobal
Connects to computerYesYesYesYes
Uses mouse/keyboard as control unitYes (with apps)Yes (with apps)YEs (with apps)Yes (with apps)
Uses phone/tablet as control unit (handlebar)Yes (with apps)Yes (with apps)Yes (with apps)Yes (with apps)
Wired or Wireless data transmission/controlWirelessWirelessWirelessWireless
Power cord requiredYesNoYesYes
Flywheel weight20lb/9kgSimulated/Virtual12.5lbs/5.7kgs15.4lbs/7KG
ResistanceCycleOps HammerTacx NEO SmartWahoo Fitness KICKR (Original)Elite Real Turbo Muin B+
Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)YesYesYesYes
Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)NoYesNoNo
Maximum wattage capability2,000w2,200w2500W @ 30mph2500w @ 40KPH, 3600w @ 60KPH
Maximum simulated hill incline20%25%15%18%
FeaturesCycleOps HammerTacx NEO SmartWahoo Fitness KICKR (Original)Elite Real Turbo Muin B+
Ability to update unit firmwareYesYesYesYes
Measures/Estimates Left/Right PowerNoNoNoNo
Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)NoNoNoNo
Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)NoYes
AccuracyCycleOps HammerTacx NEO SmartWahoo Fitness KICKR (Original)Elite Real Turbo Muin B+
Includes temperature compensationYesN/AYesNo
Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)YesN/AYesYes
Supported accuracy level+/- 3%+/- 1%+/- 3%-
Trainer ControlCycleOps HammerTacx NEO SmartWahoo Fitness KICKR (Original)Elite Real Turbo Muin B+
Allows 3rd party trainer controlYesYesYesYes
Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)YesYesYesYES
Supports Bluetooth Smart control for 3rd partiesYesYesYesYes
Data BroadcastCycleOps HammerTacx NEO SmartWahoo Fitness KICKR (Original)Elite Real Turbo Muin B+
Can re-broadcast power data as open ANT+YesYesYesYes
Can re-broadcast data as open Bluetooth SmartYesYesYesYes
PurchaseCycleOps HammerTacx NEO SmartWahoo Fitness KICKR (Original)Elite Real Turbo Muin B+
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLinkN/A
Clever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)LinkLinkLinkN/A
Clever Training EuropeN/ALinkN/AN/A
DCRainmakerCycleOps HammerTacx NEO SmartWahoo Fitness KICKR (Original)Elite Real Turbo Muin B+
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Note that certain metrics are a bit ‘tricky’ to define.  For example, max wattage is usually based on a given speed, and same goes for noise levels.  Tacx, CycleOps, Wahoo, and Elite have all semi-agreed to public specs at 20MPH (30KPH).  Keep in mind that for things like noise levels, it’s purely a function of speed (not power).  And with a resistance controlled trainer, if in ERG mode, you can reduce speed (even at 1,000w) to decrease noise.

Also keep in mind that pure noise decibel levels aren’t necessarily as impactful as tone.  Meaning, some trainers can have a lower noise level, but perhaps a more whiny sound (tone) to them.  Most are pretty close, but just keep that in mind.

A Look Ahead:

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Up until last year, it was rare for trainer companies to announce trainer products outside of the Eurobike-Interbike timeframe (Late-Aug to Mid-September).  The theory was to announce at those shows, and then make them available for the northern hemisphere trainer season (winter).  But like many theories, it didn’t always work.  Trainer companies (all of them) would often be late in delivering new products following Eurobike-Interbike announcements, with deliveries creeping into December or even beyond, frustrating consumers and companies alike.

We saw hints of this changing last year.  Wahoo announced their KICKR SNAP in June, and Tacx their NEO in late July.  Both then made available in the August-September timeframe.

This year, CycleOps kicks things off with an announcement in May, for summer availability.  I fully expect the vast majority of trainer companies to follow this model this year.  It’s just so much more logical.  Announce over the next 1-2 months, and then make available by July-August.  Gives consumers time to see what kinks/quirks are in the new models, and companies to get them fixed before September.  Plus, it allows supply to catch-up to demand.  I think anyone announcing new products at Eurobike-Interbike this year will be like the guy bringing a Christmas Fruitcake to a Valentine’s Day date.

With that in mind – expect me to put together in-depth reviews of trainers as they come in.  So in the case of the Hammer, once I’ve got a final production unit I’ll get cooking on it.  This will help quite a bit in that it won’t be a massive glut of trainers in a 2-3 week period.  Oh, and keep in mind that during my test I did NOT have the chance to test/validate/inspect accuracy levels.  So that’s a huge piece that needs to be independently tested.

The good news is that virtually everyone allows you to place pre-orders now and then decide/cancel later on once products start shipping.

Thanks for reading!

Update: The Hammer is now available for pre-order.  You can do so at Clever Training, which helps support the site.  Plus, if you use Clever training you can save 10% when using DCR Reader Coupon Code DCR10BTF.  Oh, and you get free US shipping.  Enjoy!

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176 Comments

  1. David

    Sorry, but some grammatical errors really jump out at me.
    Queue = some form of a line
    Cue = some form of trigger/event
    You take a cue.
    You form a queue.

  2. Spandex Boy Wonder

    Any idea if ANT+ FE-C support will be coming to the PowerBeam too or will the PowerBeam just become obsolete now the Hammer is out?

  3. Raizo

    Seems like Tacx will be looking at reducing their Neo Smart price before the year is out if they want to stay competitive. Curious if Wahoo has anything up their sleeves in terms of an update to the Kickr… Any rumours floating in the breeze Ray?

    • Doubtful, they purposefully set their price higher than the Kickr when they introduced the Neo in an effort to show that it’s a better unit. I’m not sure this changes that approach much.

      Ray, that video suggests the freewheel click is louder than the trainer, and the pedal clip in/out much louder. If that’s the case these (all of the direct drive models) are quieter than I imagined even though you stressed how quiet they are lots of times :)

    • Generally speaking when I’ve done noise tests in the past (for years), it’s both the clicking in and freewheeling that screw up my max decibel levels in testing equipment.

      While those two actions are definitely louder on the decibel scale, I think we as cycling humans have kinda learned to mentally block those out. Versus the hum of a trainer for an hour is tougher to mentally erase.

    • I’m glad those noises are in – much more useful than a decibel number. I’d never worry that neighbours can hear me clipping in and out and that’s a good sign that these won’t bother the neighbours at all.

    • Asaf

      Personally I think this all quiteness war is a waste of time. The weakest chain in the link, at least in my case, is the fan, which I can’t do without, living in the Middle East… So noise source is first and foremost the fan, then Zwift via TV, and possibly music in the background, if I’m alone at home. The trainer noise is a trivial addition to the total noise.

    • Andy

      Completely agree Asaf. I think the noise issue is nonsense. After all, is anyone NOT going to buy one of these based on it being a bit noisy?

      I understand if you live in a flat with cardboard walls but in reality everyone blanks the noise of a turbo trainer out with TV or music earphones.

      Same with the same and weight. Once they are put down, 99% of people won’t be lifting it up every 10 minutes to put it away. Virtually everyone i know who has a turbo has it rigged up permanently, they can’t be bothered to keep moving it.

    • To be fair, aren’t the Dyson blameless fans near silent?

      (Never tried one in person)

    • Ross Cadogan

      No, on full blast the Dyson fans are still quite loud. Quieter than other fans perhaps, but loud enough that I need to use headphones.

    • Tyler

      Some additional perspective on noise…

      Some of us have children, and only get time to train after they’ve gone to bed, or before they’re awake in the morning.
      Waking them up with trainer noise isn’t an option.
      I”ll sacrifice the cooling air of a fan, if the trainer noise is low enough not to wake the kids.

      Trainer noise is virtually the only factor for me in buying a trainer.

    • Rob

      Pitch plays a big part of it too.

    • Michael S.

      Blameless? I blame my Dyson for everything! Its just asking for it with its snobby design ;)

    • Matt v.

      For people who live in apartments or shared living environments, the noise of a trainer can be a significant issue. A fan, even a loud one, is generally a problem. There is just something about the combination of the sound and the vibration of trainers that make very objectionable to some people. I have a wide variety of trainers, maybe I will do a “downstairs tennant” test someday…..

    • Patrick Myers

      The noise level is literally THE reason I bought the Neo over the cheaper and louder KICKR. My fiancee can watch TV in the same room when I’m on the Neo. She could never do that when I was on my mag trainer, and before my Neo, I even had my neighbor bang on the wall one time when I was riding at 22:00.

  4. cycloscott

    Completely understand the point you’re making here: “So take flywheel speeds with a grain of salt.” However, given the previous sentences I think you mean “weight” instead of “speed”.

  5. Nigel Doyle

    Looks great. No mention of whether there’s a built in power meter. I hesitant to buy another smart trainer after going through 2 Kickr Snaps that had awful power accuracy and ultimately I returned for a refund. So if the Hammer is accurate then it will very likely be my next trainer.

  6. AG

    Great overview video ray, thanks a lot. Very cool to see the UCI HQ library

    However,
    Thru-Axle =/= Quick Release. Not sure which you meant, but what you showed in the video was a quick release

  7. Magic M

    “We want to be the Switzerland of trainers when it comes to apps”

    Well, living in Switzerland, I don’t know how they came up with that. We are not part of the EU, we have (unfortunately) strong political forces trying to make immigration be punished by death (well not literally, but you know what I’m trying to say) and we do not have Euros, we have our own fancy currency. So looking at Apps as different Nationalititties/ Apps compatibility, I can’t see where they’re coming from. Maybe I’m too dumb to see the comparison?

    If they were hinting to Apps=big Companies saving taxes, well then they’re quit right tho. Nice write-up ray, as always.

    -Note: Wouldn’t want to live and work in another country than Switzerland though.

    • The term “be the Switzerland” of something, refers to basically marching to their own drum and not taking sides in issues. The phrase is often used in the English language, and has numerous historical meanings, from the financial world (Swiss banking) to involvement in situations like WWII, to being a diplomatic neutral ground for many meetings.

      In the situation here, it’s referring to the fact that while they have their own trainer app company, they aren’t giving it any advantage. Rather, they are allowing 3rd parties to control their trainer equally.

    • Magic M

      Thanks for the clarification, good to see that everyone (still) thinks of Switzerland being very neutral – It’s partly true, but regarding WWII, there is more than evidence my predecessors weren’t as neutral as we acted. Anyway, hair-splitting here. Looking forward to purchase a Bike-trainer (guess it will be a Tacx Vortex Smart) after Inter-and Eurobike, as you advised during your podcasts.
      -M

    • Andy

      It might also mean to be a ‘jack of all trades’ and the ability to accommodate everything.

      In the UK we have a saying ‘its like a Swiss Army Knife of…’ meaning it has everything you could wish for and an option of support all sorts of things that might occur. So when they say we want to be the ‘Switzerland of trainers with apps’ they might simply be saying we will be an open option with support for everything ‘like a Swiss Army Knife’.

      Just a thought.

  8. Matěj Novotný

    Hello Ray.
    Why do You ignore Elite’s Turbo Muin trainer? I am interested in this trainer because it is promised to be super silent.

    • I don’t ignore it. I’ve written up an Elite post every year talking about it actually. I even talked about them a few times in this post in fact.

      Given Elite didn’t announce something today like CycleOps did, I don’t have anything new to talk about.

    • Andy C S

      The Elite Muin smart trainer is actually the less expensive option out of the bunch by a nice enough margin. The MSRP may be similar but when you browse one of the webstores that have them all, the Elite Muin comes in $100+ cheaper!

    • Yeah, though, you can also then find the Tacx unit cheaper on those same stores. ;) It’s a complicated situation in Europe with trainers and pricing.

      Just as a general word on trainers, be super-careful when purchasing with some of the Elite trainers, merely due to naming. Meaning, the Elite Turbo Muin is very different from the Elite Real Turbo Muin, which is also different from the Elite Real Turbo Muin B+.

    • Stepan Bouda

      Hey, I have the Elite Fluid trainer and it is far from silent. It is in fact as loud as the tacx blue matic (magnetic) trainer I had in the past.

    • Keep in mind there are different fluid trainer noise levels. It really means two totally different things. The RTM is pretty quiet, whereas just a normal fluid trainer is not.

    • Andy C S

      To be sure, but I actually said $100 relative to Tacx, but I actually underestimated the price difference until rechecking right now. A certain big name webstore has the Kickr at 1300€, same price for the Tacx NEO and 1050€ for the Elite Real Turbo Muin B+. Ouch.

  9. Walter S

    Just after the product comparison table, when you write “And with a resistance controlled trainer, if in ERG mode, you can reduce speed (even at 1,000w) to decrease power.”, do you mean “decrease noise”?

  10. Øyvind

    Just out of curiosity, do you really have the saddle as low as in this video? It looks awfully cramped to my eyes. :-)

    • It wasn’t my bike, and was too lazy to fix it on this test bike.

      I’ve long gotten used to riding ill-fiting bikes during demo/test rides. So it doesn’t even phase me much anymore.

  11. Mike

    No cadence !!! what use is a modern day trainer without cadence

    Your reviews are the best, thanks a million for all your hard work

    • Chris Barber

      I read that it doesn’t have cadence and then wondered how a turbo trainer could even work out the cadence?

    • Cadence is something they’re looking at capturing, but it’s not broadcasting it today (Wahoo doesn’t either, FWIW).

      In the case of Tacx (and PowerTap themselves with the PowerTap hub), they basically use some algorithms to determine cadence. It’s generally pretty good, but can often be briefly tricked in quick RPM accelerations (i.e. 95RPM to 130RPM to 50RPM). For steady-state riding it’s usually spot-on though.

    • Alex

      I wouldn’t expect to have cadence calculated by a trainer. A cadence sensor is very cheap, simple and reliable. I’d rather they didn’t do it at all and provided you with a sensor (like the KICKR).

    • Mike Richie

      Wouldn’t most have a cadence sensor on their bike anyways? I would assume that would still work.

  12. John Senger

    Basic question, I know, but I assume the Hammer is dual-voltage for those of us expats who tend to move around often?

  13. David

    Cannot believe that Wahoo still claim +/- 2%

    +/- 2 to 20% more like and inconsistent in that too

  14. Perry

    Am I the only one who is a little disappointed that Cycleops didn’t shake the price game up a little bit? On paper this looks like a slightly better thought out Wahoo Kickr for the same price. I don’t know what features they could add that would make it more compelling than the Kickr, so now the only front to fight on is price. If they had dropped the price $100 – $200 they would be eating Wahoo’s lunch.

    • Gryphon

      I would suggest that you are also dealing with two different companies that may provide differing responses to customer service issues, technical support, etc.

  15. Tom

    Ray – I think adding whether a cassette is included to the comparison table (right under price) would be useful. I’m sure some don’t read through everything and would miss that this is really more expensive than the KICKR because of that.

    • Yup, there are a few items I want to add to the tables (added flywheel and max incline this morning, for these four), but also will be adding trainer weight. So ‘required stuff to buy’ might work well.

    • Mike Richie

      Maybe you could add noise level at 20 mph too. Although I guess not everyone publishes that.

    • Michael Fiola

      It depends: My new Kickr came with an 11-speed cassette which I needed to switch out for a 10-speed. Makes sense to me to let the user install their own cassette in all cases. A suitable cassette can be had for well under $50 (e.g., Shimano 105)

    • I’d agree that a cassette is often found for $50-$100 (depends on model as you noted).

      However, you do need a few minor tools to install the cassette. Cassette lockring tool ($10 online), and a chain whip ($10-$15 online). Again, not a huge deal, but just something to consider.

    • jeff

      no important at all …. but to be pedantic you only need a chain whip to remove a cassette, not install.

  16. john

    Does this unit also support wired mode? I have too much noise in my house and can’t use my Kickr due to constant dropouts. I need something compact like the Kickr for when I travel, but it must support wired for use at my house.

    • If you have drop out problems due to wireless interference try a Bluetooth smart connection rather than ANT.

      BT smart had something called frequency hoping which really helps data get through in high interference rooms.

      Also switching the channel on your router can have a huge effect on drop outs.

    • Michael Fiola

      Hey John. I had the same problem with my Kickr until I got a USB extension cable. Fixed me right up.

  17. Jairo

    Hey Ray,

    You should put something like a ” editor’s choice” or best product to buy. Also, try to include the release date and last firmware update release date too. So we can see how serious they are updating the product

    Thanks

    PS: missing when we worked together and I could chat with you on Lync. :-)

  18. Dan

    Is that front wheel holder a 3d printed prototype?

  19. Scott Turvey

    A bit off topic, but I’ve always meant to ask; what size frame do you ride? You look to use about 58cm roughly (I know some manufacturers use S/M/L etc.).

  20. Markus

    Where are these “accuracy levels” defined? At the hub or at the crankset or at the pedals?

    • There is no standard. So it’s basically whatever the company decides it is. Yes, it’s not ideal.

      I’ve talked with almost everyone in the industry about it (for trainers and PM’s), and almost everyone agrees there should be a standard. I started some drafts of it, along with some other smart power meter people. But just haven’t gotten past it being buried in my inbox.

      The industry seems rather open to the idea of having some sort of defined test protocol/standard.

  21. Michael Fiola

    Hi Ray. Thanks for the great review. In the case of a smart trainer, do we really want a very heavy flywheel? My thinking is that the heavier the flywheel then the less responsive the trainer can be to electronic resistance changes.

    • The “instantly responsive” trainer will break your knees whe simulating change of a road grade. When you hit that hill during riding for real it takes a while for you to slow down assuming you did not change your power. All because of inertia. That is what you want in trainers as well so yes you do want heavy flywheel (not arbitrary heavy but with the weight that will supply the same inertia and this depends of course on the weight of the cyclist.) Trainers like TACX NEO (or our own Lynx) have motor instead of flywheel. Not to simulate downhill but to simulate adequate inertia. Proper motors in combination with proper electronics can substitute flywheel. They can also simulate flywheel of any mass while mass of a real flywheels can not be adjusted, you just have what manufacturer put in there.

  22. John

    Really surprised to learn Wahoo still hasn’t released the Kickr FE-C firmware out of beta. I guess there are enough training apps with native Kickr support that it must not be an issue?

    • John

      In any case, nice to see new trainers shipping with FE-C support.

    • Alex Barnes

      I’m not sure why they haven’t. I’ve been using the KICKR with TrainerRoad and FE-C for a while now with great results. Probably time to get the release promoted…

    • Most apps started with native KICKR support, so there’s little app-driven reason for them to add it.

      What’s more interesting is the head unit side. Garmin has it in the Edge 520/1000, but the KICKR (in non-beta doesn’t support it). Likely because they want to drive sales of the ELEMNT.

    • Happy Runner

      Feel free to call me stupid but…..

      How do I obtain the KICKR beta firmware? I have Googled and watched the video Ivan suggested in an earlier comment.

      I installed the Android Wahoo Untility but pressing the icon 10x results in a message: “No FW versions found”

      Any help greatly appreciated!

    • Eeks, that’s the only way I know of. :(

      I think there was both a thread on Slowtwitch and on the Garmin Forums on a bit more details on how to do it though.

    • Sean Lally

      FE-C is out of beta for Wahoo as of yesterday. Wahoo!!!!

      link to support.wahoofitness.com

  23. Chad

    Can you post a pic from directly behind the trainer with a bike installed?

    They CycleOps pic on their site makes it look like the bike is off-center when compared to the legs. Might just be an illusion, so I am looking for more info/data/pics.

    • Just sifted through my other pics & leftover video. I don’t seem to have anything that has a higher view with the bike. I’ve got some lower stuff, but never above the quick release unfortunately. Sorry!

    • Chad

      No problem. Thanks for looking.

      I contacted CycleOps with my question. I will report back if I learn anything useful.

    • John

      Chad, I came across this image tonight on the BikeRumors website, it’s more from an angle above than behind, but clearly shows how the Hammer is a left-sided device.

    • Chad

      Thanks John. I found that article and picture later last night.

      I also received a confirmation from CycleOps on Facebook.

      “You’re correct in that the Hammer sits slightly off-center due to the symmetric legs needing to fold into the base and the way the pulley and flywheel stack internally. The weight still sits within the sweet spot of the trainer’s footprint and is very stable when ridden.”

  24. Rodolfo Araujo

    Hello Ray. Are you aware of any exercise bike (static bike) that’s electronically controllable and transmits power? Kind of a Wattbike but with FE-C? Thanks

    • Stages makes an indoor bike that looks pretty darn sweet (if I were to ever buy one, it’d probably be that). It doesn’t seem to show ANT+ FE-C listing, though, it may be worth reaching out via Twitter/etc to find out for sure.

      Also, you can check out the ANT+ directory, which has all the products that have certified. Simply select ‘Fitness Equipment/Gym’ in the filters on the left: link to thisisant.com

    • Michael Fiola

      Stages bikes are nice but areven not “smart trainers”. Also, btw, they don’t fit short riders real well. Reach is too long even at the minimum adjustment.

    • Thisisnotant

      I’m actually looking at getting a Wattbike, and since you mentioned the stages, I’m assuming SC3, can you tell us a little about why you apparently like it more than the wattbike and similar indoorbikes?

  25. tyrun

    There is a 142×12 adapter for the Tacx Neo. T2835

    link to tacx.com

    I´m thinking about replacing my bkool classic for a Tacx Neo. Any reasons to wait for the Cycleops Hammer or any other trainer?

    • I suspect the Tacx NEO will stand the test of time for some while (if the CycleOps Hammer doesn’t appeal to you).

      That said, I always advice against buying trainers between now and Eurobike/Interbike, especially if you don’t plan to use it much between now and then.

      On the flip side, if you’re like me and still use your trainer a bunch during the summer – then a proper trainer being ridden is better than none.

    • tyrun

      Well, i guess i´ll try to wait. Thanks

    • Davesee

      Ray–what do you watch while you’re logging time on trainer? I’m using the Sufferfest app and really enjoy it but am curious what else is out there (hearing a lot about Zwift lately). Got hit a couple of weeks ago (just bruises fortunately) so may be logging more hours on the trainer this summer as well.

    • It depends on my mood. In the early winter I’m more free-form on the trainer, so I’ll use Zwift sometimes, occasionally TrainerRoad.

      Now, I’m back into more structured training. So I’m focused on erg related sets. But sometimes to pass the time I put on TV (old Mythbusters episodes), or watch random stuff on YouTube (Tested videos are nice, as many are longer).

    • Davesee

      Liking the looks TrainerRoad–thanks!!!

  26. ian hough

    looks good!!

  27. Raymond

    Nice preview Ray, but did you like what you saw in the Hammer, or are you still partial to the Neo at this stage? The 148 axle option might appeal to certain mountain bikers.

    • I flop around trainers quite a bit, and don’t really have a huge favorite per se.

      The Hammer certainly looks and feels nice. A key test point for me will really be the accuracy side though.

  28. Luis

    Hammer: SUPPORTED ACCURACY LEVEL +/- 3%

    Powertap G3: Powermeter accuracy of +/- 1.5%

    how come with something this big they can’t achieve better accuracy????

    • It’s very common for trainer vendors to release ‘wider’ accuracy numbers initially, and then lock them down at final production run. So it’s possible we may see that here.

    • J

      Do you have a plan for how you are going to compare to accuracy of the high end options.
      The Drivo claiming +/-1% is very impressive if it follows it up. As far as I am aware the others only claim +/-3% (or at least the kickr does )

  29. Ray –

    Great update, as always! I was considering buying the Tacx Vortex Smart trainer now. Given what you mentioned about announcements coming sooner rather than later from other vendors, do you think it would be wiser to wait and see if they announce something better in June/July timeframe and make a decision then? Do you think Tacx has some good new offerings for this upcoming season in the mid-range trainer category?

  30. Chet

    Will it accommodate bikes with 650 cc wheels?
    Thanks!

  31. Just a heads up for folks, Clever Training now has the Hammer available for pre-order: link to clevertraining.com

    If you use the DCR Coupon code DCR10BTF, you can save 10%, and get free US shipping. And of course best of all, it supports the site here. Cheers!

  32. Thomas Shaw

    I am interested in seeing how this interacts with Trainer Road. From what I have read it seems that the KickR holds you incredibly accurately at the Trainer Road Set power where as the TacX Neo puts you roughly in the ball park and you can vary it about 15 W either way by slowing/increasing cadence. Any idea how the Cyclops sits with these and any input on which is the better trainer for trainer road?

  33. James White

    How have they made something so heavy, look like it’s made out of cheap plastic?

    Hope it looks better in real life

    • Gryphon

      This is a prototype unit after all, I’m sure the production units will have a better fit and finish to them.

    • You’ve got a 20 pound flywheel in there, so that’s half the weight right there… The outer shell is plastic (so is the Tacx Neo), but much of the innards/legs are metal.

  34. Eric Hancock

    I’d like to know more about this “CAN DIRECTIONALLY STEER TRAINER” category. Sounds fancy…

  35. Paul

    Hello Ray,

    How is the road feel compared to a Kickr or Lemond Revolution? Thanks

  36. Jay

    It’s on Wahoo’s web site plain as day the Kickr has +/-3% power accuracy. So right in line with this new trainer. I know, splitting hairs : )

  37. Pax

    Can you install a SRAM XX1 Cassette on it?

  38. Ric Liang

    In your comparison table it would be nice to also mention country of origin. I understand the Hammer is made in the USA, not sure about the competition. That’s worthwhile to know when making an informed purchase.

    Another great review!

    • Location where each unit is built:

      CycleOps: USA (Madison, WI)
      Wahoo: Taiwan (within the Giant Bike Factory)
      Tacx: Netherlands (just outside of Amsterdam)
      Elite: Italy (about an hour outside of Venice)
      CompuTrainer: USA (Seattle, WA)

      I’ve never thought about adding it, and in some ways I’m not sure it matters a ton. I’d much rather judge products on technical capabilities than a birthmark. Also, the country a product is built in doesn’t impact the quality of a product. The quality of a product comes down to the money invested into making the product. The iPhone is made in China, and is generally regarded as one of the most impressive pieces of consumer technology out there.

    • Ric Liang

      That’s fantastic, thanks very much for doing that, so quickly too!

      I agree, country if origin is not necessarily an indicator of quality (I too use/love my iPhone), but when comparing items online, sometimes the only differentiator may be price (features being equivalent). In such cases I really like to buy USA made whenever possible. Park Tools is a great example (though not all their products are US made).

      Thanks again for a great review and for being so responsive.

    • Raymond

      Well said Ray.

  39. Richard Albertson

    I did a quick search and didn’t see an update on this page. The day this was posted ANT+ FE-C support was released for the Wahoo trainers. Any chance you’ll post anything with your experience using this feature Ray?

    • For the most part, folks generally won’t notice any difference when using FE-C versus using the previous KICKR trainer control. It all happens at a layer below what the user sees, for app-devs.

      About the only time you’d see/notice it is when using a head unit, such as the Edge 520/Edge 1000 – since those support FE-C. Might be a good idea for a general post on the topic.

    • Michael

      so Apple has announced some improvements to Applewatch concerning fitness. do you believ this will take awake that much business from Fitbit. i still feel hardcore athletes will go with Fitbit.There is room for both AAPL and FIT among others. Anyone have thoughts on this? Thank you.

  40. Mark

    So if all three of the best were at same price, let’s say 1199$ which one will you choose and why ?

    – Wahoo Kickr
    – Tacx Neo Smart
    – CycleOps Hammer Smart Trainer

  41. Steven K.

    Has the release date slipped?
    Originally it said Summer 2016 (e.g. Clever Tr.: link to clevertraining.com).
    Now the Cycleops website says Fall 2016 (link to cycleops.com)
    Is there an update on when the Hammer is expected to become available?

    • That’s my understanding as well (that it’s slipped slightly).

    • Steven K.

      I plan to invest in a new trainer come fall.
      Torn between Kickr (loud, aging), Tacx Neo (expensive, US support?) and the Hammer (will it slip further?, is it really the good product?)
      Wonder what to do.

      @Ray: When can we expect a more in-depth review of the Hammer from you?

  42. Babyboomer

    Last year I paid $800 for a power meter. One month later the price dropped by over $200! :-( I was just wondering whether the price of smart trainers is expected to drop. I’d love to have one, but they’re currently priced outside of my comfort zone. I think the current price point is eliminating an entire segment of the market. There are a number of manufacturers competing for the space. Perhaps when there are more, there will be a price war.

  43. jeff

    – “I think anyone announcing new products at Eurobike-Interbike this year will be like the guy bringing a Christmas Fruitcake to a Valentine’s Day date.”

    so we’ll assume that Wahoo will announce KICKR ii soon ……… or?

  44. jeff

    Are the buttons/feet that are underneath the legs adjustable ? – as the trainer legs (the big ones) don’t actually rest on the floor. Or is everyone expected to have perfectly flat floors?

    • Yes they do (at least on the prototype). You can just barely can see the pods adjust up/down on the legs in a handful of photos, though kind hard without knowing to look for it.

    • jeff

      Thanks, I thought it *looked* like those pods adjusted but wanted to check. It also seems that the Hammer has better clearance (both chainstays and for long cage mechs) than the Neo. Will be very interested to see how all the options Neo/Kickr2/Hammer/Drivo compare regarding accuracy as one will be mind this Winter.

      Considering the (now multiple) choice and need for clear differentiation between them I thought you could include a Metric Score ( out of 10 ) for WABISINR (catchy!)

      : Worry As Baby Is Sleeping in Next Room :

      Score 0/10
      = Not Worried at all

      Score 1/10
      = This is “fine” – This noise level never wakes The Baby.

      Score 2/10
      = Minimal Worry, If I hear The Baby crying I won’t blame myself (or stop the interval).

      Score 3/10
      = I think this might wake The Baby, but would only blame the noise if I woke The Baby for three sessions in a row.

      Score 4/10
      = There is probably quite a good chance that the noise of the trainer (but not me understand) is to blame for the fact that The Baby sounds like they are learning to play the trumpet (badly)

      Score 5/10
      = As a loving father, I feel that this would not really be fair on The Baby.
      You get baby earplugs right?

      Score 6/10
      = Ok. This is a bit loud, it *probably* won’t wake The Baby. But The Baby needs to understand that I have goals in life greater than not soiling myself.

      Score 7/10
      = This really is not a good idea, if i try to train whilst listening to Enya that’ll be ok?

      Score 8/10
      = I thought about getting on the Trainer. The Baby immediately woke and stared at me.

      Score 9/10
      = The Girl is out. I am a terrible father.

      Score 10/10
      = The Girl has left and taken The Baby. On the other hand NEW MAX WATTAGE!

      …. Happy to be of Service

    • I thought it was funny…no reason to be rude.

  45. AC

    I live in an older building with hardwood floors and a neighbor below me. Noise isn’t much of a problem as is the vibration. If you had to pick between this trainer, the STAC Zero, and the tacx neo for eliminating any vibration issues which would you choose?

  46. David

    Ray, the new hardware looks great, and as a longer term user of an older CycleOps machine I can attest that they always has been great quality but have you or anyone else noticed a decline in reliability for the CycleOps Virtual Training software over the past year?
    I use it 3 to 4 times a week and I also upload .tcx files of external rides and am getting ‘server’ errors when uploading rides both from within and without the app with a regularity which is now becoming frustrating.
    The help desk always responds (except on the occasions when the server error also affects the help desk ?!?) and says that they have restarted the server, but I wondered if I am just being unlucky or if this is a general perception?

  47. CeeDubb

    Either that’s not your bike or you REALLY need to raise that saddle. 🤔

  48. McAnimal

    Still confused on the compatibility with the head units. Will a Wahoo Element be able to control the Hammer?

  49. matt mickiewicz

    I keep hearing delivery Fall 2016; Has it dropped yet? I’d like to order (via Clever of course), but I’d like to have it before there is snow on the ground. O’wise, I’m just gonna get a Kickr..

  50. Matt Mickiewicz

    Thanks Ray. That blows. Appreciate all you do

    • Dean

      Yea, my team and LBS had decided to focus on Mangus and Hammer. Being the captain, I have been pushing to get us all on similar trainers so we can push through the SW updates and nuances together and get our team on Zwift. I’m on with a dumb trainer now and love it.

      Bottom line I have 5 guys who pre-ordered a Magnus and Myself and one other on a Hammer and we can’t get a solid date even when we call Saris/Cyclops directly. With the advent of Zwift, trainer season starts sept 1, if it ever ends that is, and Cyclops is pissing our whole team off.

      I’m one inch away from getting a Neo and then I have a TT Trainer at the races too since it runs with no power. Grr Cyclops.

    • The dates I posted above are as good as they get. It’s not like CycleOps is trying to piss people off. They simply don’t have a solid date they can pass on until things are shipped from suppliers and validated through QC. That’s just the reality of the situation.

      In the same way it’s also the reality for Tacx with the Flux right now. Same-same, different company.

  51. Dean

    Understood and thanks so much Ray. Yes I’ve worked in R&D and manufacturing all my life I get it. As you mentioned someone got shot! Lol. Looks like the Mangis guys will be up and running soon and I’m ok on my dumb setup and will just wait out the hammer. But I will take a closer look at the Neo.

  52. Paul Colucci

    Ray-

    Do you know how many Amps the Hammer will draw when under max load? I am setting up a small studio with six trainers and have pre-ordered the Hammer from LBS. I want to run electric to prepare for installation and need to run multiple circuits (I am thinking….).

    Thanks

  53. Gryphon

    Ray, I know you’re waiting for the actual production model of the Hammer to be released before you can further review or really even recommend it over other, currently available models. However, unfortunately, if we U.S. consumers want to get the best deal on a pre-ordered Hammer, we need to be willing to pull the trigger now, or certainly in the next couple of weeks, as the various retailer discounts are announced.

    With that said, could you please: 1) quickly summarize what “under the hood” changes Cyclops are implementing since you saw the prototype, and 2) give your bottom line opinion on whether a first generation Kickr owner would be well served to get a Hammer?

    Thank you.

    • The main changes from my understanding were focused on reducing sound, increasing accuracy slightly, and making the base more stable (from the early pre-prod versions I saw). The details were slightly fuzzy, mostly because typical product development over such a long period of time often has many tweaks – but the above was the super-short version I received.

      Some (many)?) of the changes were more manufacturing focused, to increase repeatability/yield in the manuf process.

      I think it could be an OK move from the KICKR1, but without knowing the final sound levels, it’s really tough to tell. Same goes for accuracy. Given I’m still not hearing any set date for Hammer (other than ‘December’), I’d be far more inclined to go with another trainer that’s on sale at this point, then wait to find out December becomes January, etc…

    • Dean Telson

      I was so excited about the Cyclops line that I pre-ordered a Hammer and 8 of my teammates ordered the Magnus. This was October 1. Not a single Magnus has come in yet and they are paid in full. Hammer is IMHO fiction for 2016-2017 training season. Mid October after not receiving even a date for our Magnus trainers I cancelled my order and ordered a Neo and so did tow other teammates. We love them! I think what possible drawbacks the Neo has can be tweaked in firmware more than any other trainer on the market as it is a direct dive magnetic system and DC servo motors are very very controllable with software. As for the 8 remaining Magnus orders, I will be discussing the alternatives on our Sunday team ride and come Monday all orders with Cyclops may be cancelled. Unfortunately as much a we all love Cyclops, they seem to be a small company and production is late to ramp up and deliver for this trainer season. I have almost 1,000 miles logged on my trainer this fall and my teammates are fuming because they don’t even have a delivery date on Magnus. And Hammer is only going to be the focus once Magnus is shipping in quantity. Again, i love Cyclops, but they are late and they have yet to give us a date. Good luck!

  54. livio

    is it compatible with Tacx trainer software4 ?

    i already use Fortius Multiplayer with TTS4 and like very much TTS4 and Virtual Reality.
    I want continue with TTS4 and I want to know what other direct drive trainers are compatible, Kickr, Hammer, RealTurbomuin, and other.
    I can use the steering frame of multiplayer fortius and simultaneously one of the new trainers?
    or one of the new steering Tacx, genius or neo?

  55. SteveMQ

    I emailed a Cycleops technical rep & asked how the Hammer measures power. This is her response: “it uses our PowerTap technology, which means there is a power measuring torque tube (like the ones we use on our G3 hubs) build directly around the axle on the trainer. It is not an estimate but instead is a true measurement of power.”

    However, their G3 hubs have a ~1.5% accuracy rating, but this trainer is at ~3%… if it uses the same PowerTap technology, why is there a significant different in accuracy?

    • SteveMQ

      I’m torn between this & the Elite Drivo… I like the ~1% accuracy of the Drivo, without the need to calibrate or spin-down, technology that simply works. However, I own a PowerTap GS wheelset, and it has been so reliable that I absolutely trust Saris/Cycleops products. I want a trainer that has all the features at this price-range, but will last for a very long time!

    • JB harrison

      “…a true measure of power” is an interesting statement. That may be a true measure at the wheel, but not at your pedals. Much like an automobile, there are drivetrain losses. I’m not sure if anyone has measured these losses but they are real.

      Oddly, my Vector pedals read lower power compared to my Neo. I don’t mind so much because it tricks my mind into working harder on the Neo.

  56. jb

    any updates when the initial review will be done. need a new trainer by x-mas.

    flux/hammer/drivo final candidates..

  57. Kevin Mawdsley

    Sigma Sport in the UK have 5 in stock… link to sigmasport.co.uk

  58. Ivan

    Hello Ray -EXCELLENT review, both video and text! I’ll continue to use my used cycle ops fluid trainer I bought for $150. four years ago with two riser blocks and my power meter + CycloCore tapes. I can’t justify spending two cassettes for my two different bike setups for this $1000.+ trainer (one-third the cost of a new bike) On another note, I’d like to try one out for a week of indoor sprints, hill climbing simulations, etc. just to see how rugged it is. If cyclists are using fans and speakers for music or trainer vids indoors, I could care less about the noise. I’d like to see Ray kick some ass on this trainer (Sprints, side-to-side sway), etc. for 5-minutes or so to view the stability.

  59. JD

    Since you need a cassette for the Hammer what is the consensus on that purchase?
    Match what you normally ride?
    Buy something cheaper at long as same speeds? (10 or 11)
    Buy a tighter cluster since smart trainer is controlled by the software and gear range isn’t that important?

    Anxiously awaiting your updated review on the production model…

  60. Ed

    When riding the Cycleops Hammer, did you find the power number to be stable or did the power number move up and down a bit (let’s say +/- 10W)? Thanks.

  61. Luke

    Is there any way to use a SRAM XD cassette? Can the free hub body be replaced?

  62. Dave

    Question – CycleOps Hammer. Just got mine today. Went to put on a SRAM 9 speed cassette, and looks like the Shimano freehub on it does not allow the cogset to slide all the way “in”. In fact, the spacer that should be needed when using a 9speed just sits on the inner part. Looks like the splines do not go all the way to the center of the freehub. So I can’t get the smallest cog on there, yet this cassette works on my (real) bike just fine. Attaching a pic to show what I mean. (I moved the spacer further out on the hub to show how the splines end so I can’t slide the cassette all the way in, and that area on the inner part is well-smaller than the flattened part. Thoughts? TIA

    Dave

    Thanks!

    • Dave

      So I just tried a Shimano, not SRAM 10spd cassette and it fit. And it looks like the opening diameter of SRAM is smaller than Shimano, so while on the bike the gearing may be compatible, looks like you can’t use a “real-bike compatible” SRAM cassette in place of a Shimano on the Hammer.

      Comment(s) validating this (or telling me I’m incorrect and a dork) encouraged – thanks!

      Dave