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The Trainer Updates of Interbike 2016: STAC, Kinetic, Tacx, CycleOps, Elite, CompuTrainer

As expected, Interbike was pretty quiet as far as new trainers go. Only one company introduced a new trainer: BKool, with all remaining companies having already introduced new trainers at Eurobike a few weeks ago, or over the course of the summer.  For example, all of these Eurobike and related new trainer announcements this season:

Elite Drivo Trainer In-Depth Review
Wahoo Fitness ‘KICKR2’ Trainer In-Depth Review
A look at Kinetic’s new Smart Control Trainers
Hands-on: The new Tacx Flux Smart Trainer
Hands-on: The CycleOps Magnus Smart trainer
Hands-on: New Totally Silent STAC Zero Trainer
Hands-on with Elite’s new Drivo, Kura, and Rampa trainers
Hands-on with new CycleOps Hammer Smart Trainer

Here’s the two dedicated posts I put out this past week at Interbike on trainers:

Bkool Announces New Smart Go Trainer
Wahoo announces KICKR Studio platform for local bike shops/studios

However, there were still numerous trainer tidbits to be had at Interbike this year that didn’t make it to the full post level.  Even if some of them were only one-line updates.  That’s the purpose of this post.  With that, let’s get rolling.

Kinetic Smart Control Trainers:

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It’s been a few weeks since that whole situation hit the fan (deciding to ignore both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart standards for trainers/power/speed/cadence and making their own that’s incompatible with most apps and all devices on the market today).  As of this posting, there’s been some 177 comments posted to that piece, with the comments easily taking the cake on the most anti-company comments I’ve seen in 9 years writing this blog.  Previous crap-hitting-fan situations from Garmin and Strava didn’t have anything on this catfan.

All of which ignores the shocked disbelief by everyone I’ve talked to on the show floor within the industry.  Be it competitors or random industry bystanders, nobody seems to be able to make sense of it.

But Kinetic had promised to put out a blog post two Friday’s ago that would explain their position in better detail.  Unfortunately that never happened.  So in the most awkward moment of the show, I checked in to find out when that might happen.

At this point, it doesn’t sound like that post will happen (nor does it sound like any changes are planned).  Kinetic says they’re focused on getting the trainer shipping.  Speaking of which, the Kinetic Smart Control units should ship out in mid-October.

CycleOps Hammer & Magnus Shipping Updates:

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CycleOps announced two new trainers this summer – The new higher end Hammer, and the mid-range Magnus.  The Hammer was announced way back in May, while the Magnus was announced at Eurobike.  Check out those respective posts for all the details.

Hammer Shipping Update: This is seeing a wee bit of a delay from their previously planned August release.  This summer they ended up changing quite a bit under the covers from the unit I first saw at the launch event.  All for the better though: They reduced the (already low) noise further, as well as changed the leg design slightly, which increases stability.  That had some impact on timelines, but the bigger impact has been a manufacturing supply chain issue.

In a nutshell, one of their suppliers produced a huge batch of crap for one specific part (the vast majority of the pieces of this part that came off the assembly line were cracked and unusable).  The person in charge at that supplier has since been shot, and the body buried in an undisclosed location.  But that has resulted in a pretty big shift in timelines, with the trainer not likely to start shipping to consumers until November.

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Magnus: While the company waits for the new parts to resume large-scale production of Hammer, they’ve temporarily shifted production focus to Magnus.  That’ll start shipping in a touch bit over two weeks, around mid-October.  Things sound like they’re pretty much set and ready there.

I think the Magnus will definitely be in the running within the crowded mid-range trainer category.  As I’ve hinted at before, for this $500-$600ish category, it’s likely to come down to personal preferences on the minor differences between the many similar units made by Elite, Tacx, Wahoo, BKool, and CycleOps.

Elite Kura Shipping Update:

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Back in May, Elite announced three new trainers, plus a set of rollers.  You’ll remember I released the Elite Drivo In-Depth Review almost two weeks ago, which is their top-end trainer, one that’s been shipping for almost two months now.  It’s awesome.  Then there’s the Elite Rampa, which is their mid-range offering (designed to compete against the Wahoo KICKR SNAP, CycleOps Magnus, and Tacx Vortex).

That unit has also been shipping for a bit over a month, and in theory a unit is waiting for me back in Paris when I get home next week.

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But finally, there was the Elite Kura, which is their direct drive unit that includes the same power meter technology as the crazy-accurate Elite Drivo.  The major difference though between the Drivo and the Kura is that the Kura is not resistance controllable, but rather you change gearing to change resistance/wattage levels.  Oh, and the Kura ended up with a black case – which looks super-sleek (first photo above).

That trainer (Kura) should start shipping next week.  I don’t currently have it on my radar for an in-depth review, but we’ll see how the remainder of the fall goes.

One cool software tidbit they were showing for their Kura and Drivo trainers is a new update to their training app that allows you to analyze your pedaling stroke data:

DSC_0837 DSC_0835

You can display the data in different formats, and even choose to have the pedal strokes analyzed at a single revolution standpoint, as well as have them shown as either overlaid (same clock positions), or as per they are on the bike (opposite clock positions).

DSC_0839 DSC_0841

Unlike many other pedaling analysis pieces, this one even allows you to record the data, which is kinda handy.

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Of course the main appeal of this kind of data is in the fit studio realm more than day-to-day usage during training.  The app update should hit your mobile devices next week, assuming no last minute snags with the approval process.

Tacx Flux Shipping Update:

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Tacx only announced one new trainer this season – the Tacx Flux.  Well, ok, they also announced that 8,000EUR Magnum trainer that I still need to publish my post on.  My video on that is here.  Of course, they did announce a number of software updates to the Tacx NEO trainer earlier this summer.  Plus, they released a slightly updated ‘2017’ version of NEO, which simply changes the outer shell to be compatible with more bikes (that’s it, all other minor production changes were incorporated within the earlier NEO’s over the past year, most in late 2015).  Those 2017 models have already started shipping, and have a tiny 2017 sticker on the SKU/part label on the side of the box (picture of label seen here).

As for Flux, that was announced at Eurobike, see all the details in this post.  That trainer is incredibly appealing since it’s $300 less than the Wahoo KICKR, at only a minor hit on accuracy once warmed up.  Right now Tacx says that they’ll start shipping to retailers/distributors around the last week of October, so arrivals start the first week of November in Europe, and a bit later in November for other continents (simply due to transit time).

Oh, and in case you missed it before, I did finally post my Tacx Flux video – which is available below.

With that, onto the next trainer company!

STAC Zero Shipping Update:

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It’s been a couple of months since I last talked about the STAC Zero trainer, which is that totally silent trainer that launched on Kickstarter. It’s silent because it’s essentially your rear wheel pedaling in thin air – it doesn’t touch the trainer (aside from the mount).  It’s crazy cool.

Since then they’ve refined the design a bit from what I showed, mostly just cleaning up the edges and making things a bit prettier.  They’ve also significantly cleaned up the power transmitter hardware on it (that transmits your power via ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart).

DSC_0764

In fact, they had an app there to show that power transmission from the unit, compared to a Quarq and PowerTap power meters in real-time.  It was cool (both the app – Tour de Giro in a special mode) as well as the data, and the three units agreed beautifully from easy pedaling through hard 600w+ intervals.

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As for shipping, they’re on track to start shipping out the first batch of units next week for arrival in October, followed by the power units shipping out in late October for arrival in early November.  Or basically, they’re actually shipping on time (or within a few days of it).  A rarity in both the Kickstarter and as of this year, the trainer company realm.  Very cool (both the trainer and their ability to ship on time…well, within a few days anyway).

CompuTrainer Updates:

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As with most vendors in the space, I made a quick stop by CompuTrainer to see if there was anything new from the company.  Right now they’re getting closer on the WiFi integration via a new handlebar controller that was announced last year at Interbike.

But beyond that – nothing else new from RacerMate.

With that – thanks for reading!

Preemptive: I’ll be pushing out my annual trainer recommendations post late next week.  I know many of you have been asking about it multiple times a day.  While I wanted to wait to get final versions of all these trainers in, I’ll have interim recommendations within it. Though those recommendations may change as final units arrive (I’ll update the post if so).

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51 Comments

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  1. On Kinetic… sometimes greed is blinding.

    On the Stac trainer… that thing is so cool! Can it change the resistance itself when riding Zwift? Or are you still having to change gears to up the resistance? I don’t exactly want to call it a dumb trainer, because it is broadcasting your power. But is it receiving power commands and acting on them?

    Reply
    • We don’t do variable resistance, so you still have to change your wheelspeed to vary the resistance wattage. We wanted to keep things nice and simple for the 1.0 release.

      It works really well with Zwift. We did 270km in Zwift during interbike, including metric centuries on Wednesday and Thursday.

      Reply
    • Paul S.

      I don’t see the extra weights on that wheel. Are they no longer needed, or just out of the picture?

      Reply
    • A version that would electronically control resistance and mount to the bike itself, for example in place of either brake, to work with any roller (or even outdoors?) could be interesting… the only current options for controllable rollers seem to be Elite and the announced inside-ride but I’d prefer one with more inertia…

      Reply
    • ian r.

      Not Greed though just awful business sense of the market. I like many have a Garmin head unit and want to use that to measure my training session. I have the old KK and looking to upgrade, guess which one I won’t be buying now ?

      my £350 or so will be going towards another company now

      Reply
  2. Finn

    Elite trainer names are still so funny for a Finn. Kura means crud in our language. And the Rampa, it means crippled. 😉

    Reply
  3. Ray

    I’m really interested in the STAC Zero. I decided to “wait and see” during the KS campaign since the savings weren’t that impressive to be a KS backer (and I’ve been burned on KS projects before). Pending positive feedback from KS backers I’ll be looking to pull the trigger once it hits retail.

    Reply
  4. Luis R De Freitas

    your computrainer pics is a prime example why they keep losing sales… (cables everywhere)

    Reply
  5. Doug

    The Elite Rampa looks like a great wee unit. It hits a good feature/price point for me but I’m waiting for the DCR State of the Trainer annual address before pulling the trigger…

    I’m Interested to see if the Wahoo Kickr Snap at £100 more (via a check on google shopping) is worth the extra investment or STAC get FE-C sorted out

    Reply
    • Hi Doug

      STAC is likely not going to be shipping a computer-controlled variable-resistance unit a la the kickr/computrainer/neo until fall 2017 at the earliest. We have many plausible ideas for how to do it, but it won’t be this fall since we’re focusing on the 1.0 release.

      Our ANT+ PM (power readings, but not automatic resistance adjustment or erg mode) will be shipping this fall.

      Reply
    • across

      @Art @ STAC
      Assuming, at some point down the road version of STAC with computer-controlled resistance is done, would that be available for free for owners of STAC v. 1.0 (just a matter of firmware / software upgrade), or that’s not the plan / not feasible, and in such case even owner of STAC v. 1.0 would have to buy new trainer?

      Reply
    • It is _likely_ we’d offer the computer-controlled system as a bolt-in upgrade to the stand, since I can’t see us changing strain gauges, and that’s the silver metal piece that the resistance unit dangles off of.

      But take that with a grain of salt, as we have only started _very_ preliminary investigations into sensors and control systems for the computer-controlled system.

      Reply
    • Barry D.

      Saw your setup at Woodstock and it looked pretty impressive. Although I will skip the 1.0 release, love my Kickr and hard to justify new trainer right now, I will much more tempted with a 2.0 that works similar to the Kickr.

      Good luck with the release of Stac 1.0!

      Reply
  6. Steven K.

    That’s it, I pulled the trigger on the New Kickr.
    Was in between the Hammer and the Kickr but that new delay (plus the lost trust in any of their release dates) would bring me way into trainer season.
    Sorry Cycleops, but you will have to wait another few years until I might be buying my next trainer.

    Reply
    • Dean

      Yea, I’m bumming on the hammer too. Not only am I worried about the date slip but overall initial production quality. We are trying to get our whole (very amateur) team to use either Hammer or Magnus since our shop has always had good sales and relationships with Cyclops and so many of us have fluid trainers laying around everywhere. I may still wait it out, but not much longer. By end of October I want an order in and by early November I want the new rig in the gym. Elite looks cool too. Not a fan of the whining noise a Kickr makes even if it is not as bad on KII. I’m way into music and whining sounds drive me nuts.

      Looking forward to you final summary review Ray!

      Reply
    • Dean

      BTW enjoy your new KickrII Steve!!!! They are all good at this point.

      Reply
  7. Dr_LHA

    Regarding Kinetic. OK, so it’s pretty stupid to not support ANT+FEC, IMHO.

    However, you say that they’re not following Bluetooth Smart standards as well, but I didn’t think there was a standard protocol for controlling Bluetooth Smart trainers, is there? So KK are faced with the decision of either implementing someone else’s non-standard protocol, or rolling their own.

    I know (as an KK Road Machine + inRide owner) that they had a lot of issues with Wahoo’s firmware on the inRide giving drop-outs in the past, so I think I understand why they went with their own software protocol. You get the impression that they probably fell out with Wahoo (maybe because Wahoo competes with them in the trainer space), and Wahoo tends to control the market in Bluetooth bike stuff. For the record, I own a lot of Wahoo products, so I’m not on KK’s side here, just reading the tea leaves.

    I do think that people are being a bit harsh on KK about this, I know for my own training (using TrainerRoad and Zwift with an iPhone) it sounds like using their trainer would be just fine, and I’m not sure how ANT+FEC support or “standard” Bluetooth would improve my situation. That said, I understand their (potential) customers aren’t happy, and they need to address that to have a successful product.

    Reply
    • Chris

      I tend towards “disbelief” over “harshness”. And frankly on this website it has to be expected. I would venture to say that many to most reading this already own a smart trainer. When the time comes to replace/upgrade, the choice is drop in replacement from multiple vendors or learn a new proprietary protocols/methods to connect. If one is buying for the first time, does one figure it out on their own or utilize the vast knowledge of the web? (Note: customer support is usually my last resort because of the pain involved).

      Ask Sony how that proprietary thing works against many others supporting competing technology. Does not matter if it is “better”. Smart trainers are now commodity products. Improvements are now incremental and not revolutionary.

      And to top it off, a KK rep stated multiple times he would post by Friday (3-4 weeks ago) the reasoning for KK’s path…still waiting. I was interested. No longer.

      Reply
    • I have no issues with them wanting to do their own BT control (since everyone has to, to some degree), my beef is that they’re ignoring the BT standards for everything else, as well as the ANT+ standards for everything else.

      Wahoo doesn’t really ‘own’ the market anymore in BT bike stuff. They may make some of the best, but these days it’s all just common protocols. Everyone (Tacx, CycleOps, Elite, etc…) just use all the standards.

      Reply
    • Ray

      I think the attitude towards KK is because after the introduction of the kickr and the subsequent change in the market– Now consumers want to be fully connected. Consumers want to be able to buy X product and it work with A, B, C and not to mention the D, E, F, G and so on products. For many people a Garmin headunit and/or sensors are a staple product for their training so the choice to not support Ant+ is particularly frustrating to consumers who want to be fully connected.

      Yes, it doesn’t quite make sense that those same Garmin devices aren’t compatible with other protocols, but people already have bought those over the years since Garmin was the first to get majorly adopted. Over time this may change since consumers may opt to buy more connected sensors/headunits but until then implementing a trainer that doesn’t support Ant+ is just going to continue to be frustrating to consumers.

      Unfortunately until KK comments on the “why” behind their decision the fire is just going to keep on burning.

      Reply
    • Dr_LHA

      Ray, so are you saying that there is a standard protocol for Bluetooth Smart trainer control? If so, who defined it?

      Reply
    • The ‘to some degree’ comment is in reference to many of these companies basically implementing variants of the Wahoo API.

      However, I actually like the Tacx approach the best: They simply took ANT+ FE-C and encapulated it in a BT tunnel. So basically the app responds just like FE-C would, except with simply a minor encapulation of BLE.

      Reply
    • Dr_LHA

      OK, but that still sounds like it boils down to doing it the Wahoo way, or your own way.

      Although the idea of encapsulating ANT+ FEC into Bluetooth Smart is a neat solution, it’s still in no way standard.

      Of course this is the problem with designing on Bluetooth Smart in the first place, they’re not good at defining protocols for cycling use, unlike the ANT+ (for obvious reasons).

      I suppose this all boils down to what I think was your main point of the previous article though, which was that if they supported ANT+ FEC, and their own Bluetooth standard, it wouldn’t be that much of an issue. I agree.

      Reply
    • Basically.

      Though, to be clear: There are BT Standards for BT Power, BT Speed/Cadence, BT Speed, and BT Cadence.

      I want them to follow those as well (which everyone does). They don’t.

      Reply
    • Dr_LHA

      Agreed, and let me tell you when they transitioned the inRide pod from the Wahoo firmware (which seemed to just work with most things) to their own firmware using a non-standard protocal, it was a huge pain in the ass, as it took a long time for apps like TrainerRoad to be updated to support it.

      Reply
    • eric

      @Dr_LHA: Took a while but… do you remember how the original inride pods had such unreliable connections… they swapped all the shipped pods to something that followed a different standard and the new stuff works really well. I don’t know the details but from my perspective took their product from bad to good.

      I really like the company for their support, so will at least consider their product. Looking forward to actual review of their smart trainer (and specs!)

      Reply
    • Dr_LHA

      @eric: Honestly, I never had an issue with my original inRide pod.

      Reply
  8. Kiara

    Great updates from Interbike! I’ve been riding my (beta) STAC trainer for the past coupe months and am really happy with it. Excited to see the progress from the STAC team. Way to go!

    Reply
  9. Gary Patrick

    That STAC Trainer is really intriguing. My question is, how close do the magnets need to be to the rim, and how do out-of-true wheels affect the operation? Is there a recommended maximum lateral runout that still yields acceptable performance?

    Reply
    • Hi Gary

      My old PT rim that we did lots of PM testing with was heinously out of true (it had loose, jiggly spokes) and the Zero still performed well. It does better and is easier to set up with straighter rims, but I was able to do 600-700W with a reasonable cadence without having magnet/wheel hits.

      Recommended distance between magnet and wheel surface is 5-10mm.

      The production versions will have the same beaded-looking covering you can see in the closeup, which is an abrasion-resistant covering. So even an out-of-true wheel whacking the magnets shouldn’t make any noise or degrade the wheel/magnets.

      Reply
  10. Duane

    And here I thought perhaps RacerMate had an actual update for the CompuTrainer. Things never really change over in their world.

    Reply
  11. Craig Santelman

    What is the best solution for those of us that had been using a non-smart trainer (Kinetic), a PC (ant+ dongle), and a TV (hdmi from laptop)? I don’t want to look at a phone screen to run a workout (TR and/or Zwift)…

    Reply
    • Craig Santelman

      I forgot to add I’m looking to upgrade to a smart trainer this winter.

      Reply
  12. Christian

    Hi, since there is no trainer reco page for 2016/2017 yet, I wanted to know what you would recommend to purchase after Euro/Interbike right now?
    1. Should one buy a trainer right now?
    2. In EU in the sub 300-350EUR market, what would you recommend?
    3. Smart trainer a must, still the Tacx Vortex (nothing can compete with that even after the 2016 fairs?)
    Keep on publishing the YouTube reviews, that way I discovered your site actually.
    Thanks, Christian

    Reply
    • graham r

      Its coming next week – so not much longer to wait :)

      “Preemptive: I’ll be pushing out my annual trainer recommendations post late next week. I know many of you have been asking about it multiple times a day. While I wanted to wait to get final versions of all these trainers in, I’ll have interim recommendations within it. Though those recommendations may change as final units arrive (I’ll update the post if so).”

      Reply
  13. Eric B

    KK smart trainer upgrade price = Epic Fail. Homestly though been very hapy with my KK road machine but the pricing to upgrade is just plain dumb. Not crazy about their ant + decision but can get over that.

    Reply
  14. John

    I feel sorry for anyone who’s been living under a rock and unknowingly buys a Kinetic “smart control” trainer this season.

    Reply
    • Laurens Bloem

      Just cought up on the discussion with the proverbial hitting the, er…., flywheel. I can understand how the decision might have seemed a good idea in a boardroom at some point.
      What I don’t get is a company listening to their potential customers (and very happy existing ones!) who would like you to reconsider and then replying with ‘go away, what do you know?’
      Odd, and a recipe for bankruptcy if you ask me. Or dwindling sales at the very least.

      Reply
  15. Happy runner

    Please delay your trainer update as long as possible. It always seems to provoke very cold weather.

    Reply
  16. Tim

    I never understand how/why larger companies forget the importance of good old fashion communication. Startups do it for survival, but every company should have an Art @ STAC sitting on DCR threads. Good on you fine sir!

    Reply
  17. Dan

    Kinetic is still in business?

    Reply
  18. Jacques

    Hi,
    Does anyone knows if the 2017 updated Tacx Neo is compatible with the Cervelo P3 ? I seem to recall a comment saying that the previous one couldn’t fit…
    Many thanks in advance!

    Reply
  19. Hamish B.

    I see cycleops tweeted powersync trainer as $499. The website says it is electronically controlled and has power meter built in.

    Not sure what is different to the magus, perhaps accuracy (and price), anyone?

    Reply
    • Hamish B.

      Rereading, looks like it’s an end of stock run out. Powersync is either ant or BT but not both. Doesn’t say whether ant includes fe-c standard control protocol.

      Reply
    • Correct, it’s a close-out/clearance. It doesn’t include FE-C.

      Reply
  20. Paul C

    Any update on when your trainer recommendations will be out? Waiting to pull the trigger on a Tacx Neo… Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hamish B.

      hi @paulc, what’s the neo got that makes it more desirable to you than a kickr ? (not selling, just interested.)

      Reply
    • Paul C

      For me a big part of it is that I want the quietest trainer I can get. Also able to do a higher incline and simulated downhill(I’m not sure how useful that will be though). Ordering it from Europe you can get close to the Kickr price as well.

      Reply
  21. Steven

    I love my Rock & Roll trainer as I can ride longer without leg pain. So I have to think twice about moving to a smart but fixed-base trainer.

    Here is a thought: Didn’t Kurt make or used to make the CylcleOps trainer frames at one time? Are the resistance unit mounting bracket measurements similar? If so, you could mount the Magnus unit on the Rock & Roll frame. Magnus is $49 more than the Kinetic upgrade unit but you get all the protocol flexibility. Problem solved.

    Reply
    • @Steven, Powerbeam resistance unit is direct fit to Rock and Roll version 1 & 2 (I have run it on both) and Computrainer fits fairly simply.

      Reply
    • Steven

      Works with Magnus unit! Bolted it on last night. I am a happy camper with my Rock & Roll Frankentrainer!

      Reply