Update: The CycleOps Hammer has since been replaced by the Saris H3, though frankly, the only meaningful difference is noise. Here’s the link to my full H3 in-depth review.
It’s Hammer Time.
The Hammer is CycleOps’ answer to the highly competitive high-end direct drive trainer realm. Or said differently, it’s their answer to the KICKR.
It feels like an eternity ago that the Hammer was announced. In reality though, it was a ‘mere’ 7 months ago, in early May, when CycleOps held their media event and announced both the Hammer and Magnus trainers. At the time both were set to ship by summer’s end, but like almost every other trainer company this year, those plans hit a few snags and delays set in.
Still, Hammer is now shipping and slowly becoming available throughout various distribution channels (the Magnus has been shipping a bit longer now, but is also backlogged too).
The Hammer is the first resistance controllable direct drive trainer from CycleOps, but hardly their first trainer. In fact, they had resistance controllable trainers out well before Wahoo and their KICKR. It’s just that in those days the trainers only worked with their respective apps. Here’s a look at those days. But more than that, this trainer is really a step forward for the company in becoming a legit competitive trainer offering again – both in the higher end realm with Hammer, but also the mid-range realm with Magnus. For this post, I’m focusing purely on the Hammer.
As usual, I’ll note that CycleOps sent me the trainer as a loaner to try out. Also like usual, I’ll be sending it back to them upon completion of these trainer reviews. That’s just the way I roll. If you found the review useful, you can pick up the CycleOps Hammer and other gadgets from Clever Training at the bottom of this review. In doing so DCR Readers save 10% and support the site. Plus, you’ll get free US shipping. Win-win!
With that – on to the trainer!
What’s in the box:
First up is cracking open the not-bite-sized box. Though, pretty much par for the course insofar as trainer boxes go. Inside you’ll find the trainer lying on its side looking up at you.
As someone who has unboxed his share of trainer boxes, I appreciate boxes that don’t require you hold them upside and wait for the trainer to slowly slide out the bottom clunking on the floor like a dead body.
Inside, it was wrapped up in plastic. This is another nice touch, in particular for trainers that use foam packing material (this one doesn’t). For example the lower end Tacx trainers use a Styrofoam that easily cracks and splinters into a million pieces, which you’ve got to then painstakingly clean up as it static-clings to your unit. I mean, not that I’ve had to unbox a dozen or so of them or anything.
Here’s what that looks like sans-condom:
Next, inside we’ve got enough power cables to plug in half the neighborhood. Or, half the world. There’s one cable for each country type, along with the power brick that connects to the trainer itself.
There’s also some manual paper stuff. One tip is to take this serial card (which contains your ANT+ ID) and tape it to the outside of the power brick (I’ll show you a pic later), that way you can always remember which cable is which. Another life lesson learned from having too many trainers.
One interesting omission compared to every other trainer out there (especially ones over $800) is the lack of an additional quick release skewer. I suppose many people have an extra one of these floating around, but still, it’s odd. I’d recommend picking up one for $9 or so from Amazon or your local bike shop. You can also just use your existing quick release skewer from your bike, though many people prefer just being able to loosen the skewer on their wheel and move the frame to the skewer on the trainer.
Next you’ll find additional thru-axle adapters, depending on the exact axle type you have on your bike. You do not need to purchase additional adapters or skewers for thru-axle bikes, as it’s included in the box (unlike the KICKR or NEO).
Here’s what all this jazz looks like sitting by itself on a table looking like a lonely puppy:
But, there’s a secret compartment I’ve still yet to show you. But a guy’s gotta have his secrets, right? More on that in a minute.
Setting It Up:
The Hammer is pretty easy to setup. It doesn’t require any assembly of the body itself, though does require you install a cassette on it. As frequent readers know, one of pet peeves in life is that trainer companies (except Wahoo) make you go out and buy a cassette. The cassette itself isn’t that expensive – usually about $50-$60 for the Shimano Ultegra one that I bought half a dozen of each year. But it’s the extra tools you’ll need. Again, these aren’t super expensive either – another $20-25 all-in (a cassette locking tool, wrench, and chain whip). But all in you’re talking in the $70-$85 range more than you expected. Note that Wahoo is the only one that includes a cassette in the price (pre-installed). Of course, you can swap it out for your own.
As such, your first order of business is installing said cassette. It’s easy enough, and will likely take you 5-10 minutes if you haven’t done it before. If you’re a frequent cassette flyer, then you’re likely looking at 2-3 minutes.
When it comes to cassette types, the unit accepts Shimano 8-11 speed cassettes.
Further, on the thru-axle support, it has 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).
Once your cassette work is done, your beauty awaits:
At this juncture you’ll want to grab that power plug and get things situated. The Hammer does require power to provide resistance. Without it, I’ll just sorta provide very low resistance (under 150w), and a brief higher resistance pushback if you try and sprint. This is akin to virtually all other higher-end trainers except the Tacx Neo.
Finally note that the power adapter works for 110-220v, so you can use it anywhere on earth. And if the space station operates on 110/220v, you can use it there too.
Like most trainers these days, the trainer-specific usage is silly simple. That’s in large part because most of the complexity has shifted to 3rd party apps, and going wireless has largely eliminated much of the setup and day to day complexity. With the Hammer, you simply mount your bike and start riding.
Of course, first you might want to deploy the Hammer party trick, which is its hidden front wheel block. When you first get the Hammer, it looks like this – all folded up:
However riding the trainer like that would be pretty darn unstable. Instead, you’ll want to fold out its legs, which unlock via the small yellow buttons along the edges:
You can adjust each leg’s foot, in case you have wonky-ass uneven floors like me.
Once you’ve opened up the legs, you’ll find that secret held inside: The front wheel block.
You can then place this small plate under your front wheel, which can help minimize twisting from the handlebars. Magic!
Now in the event you need to move the unit around, it’s got a handle up top that’s easy to grab:
As noted earlier, along the back is the power port, and below it lists your ANT+ ID. In general you won’t need this unless you have multiple units in the room. But still, it’s super-handy to have. Once plugged in you’ll get a small status LED along the top of the trainer that can be easily seen while riding it.
Of course, the main purpose of buying a resistance controlled trainer is of course the ability to automatically control resistance and power levels. This typically takes two common forms:
ERG Mode: Setting a specific power level – i.e. 225w. In this mode, no matter what gearing you use, the trainer will simply stay at 225w (or whatever you set it to). The Hammer has a maximum wattage set point of 2,000w.
Simulation Mode: Simulating a specific outdoor grade – i.e. 5% incline. In this mode, it’s just like outdoors in that you can change your gearing to make it easier or harder. Wattage is not hard-set, only incline levels. The Hammer has a max simulated incline of 20%.
There are variants of these that different trainer control protocols utilize, but basically everything gets back to one of those two ways of controlling a trainer. From a usage standpoint, different apps will focus on different things. For example, Zwift in regular mode will be setting the incline/grade, while TrainerRoad and Zwift in workout mode will be using ERG to set specific wattages.
When it comes to ‘road-like feel’, it’s always fairly subjective. But essentially people are looking at the inertia and how it feels – primarily when you accelerate or otherwise change acceleration (such as briefly coasting). A key driver of this is the flywheel size. Be it physical or virtual, flywheel sizes tend to be measured in weight. In general, the larger the flywheel size the more road-like feel. The Hammer has an official flywheel weight of 20LBS/9KG which is the highest of any flywheel out there today in a direct drive electronically controlled trainer (by almost double).
As I’ve said numerous times, for me personally, it’s hard to separate the fact that I’m riding indoors from outdoors. It’s still a trainer, and I’m still looking at a wall in front of me. My brain can only turn that off so much. Overall I think the unit’s got a pretty good road-like feel, and it handles well when I crest the top of hills in Zwift, or even feels like soft-pedaling while going down descents. Additionally, rolling into a sprint feels pretty good. Not spectacular, but most trainers don’t feel spectacular – even at this price point.
Now it used to be that you’d use apps by trainer companies to control your trainer. But these days that’s far less common. The vast majority of consumers go with the vast collection of 3rd party trainer apps. Though, CycleOps actually does have a pretty legit training suite, which I cover a bit in the next section.
However, for all apps you should visit my recently released trainer app guide – which covers over 20 different training apps, the majority of which will connect to the Hammer just fine due to the adoption of standards by CycleOps in the Hammer. With that, let’s talk standards.
App & Protocol Support:
The CycleOps Hammer is one of two new trainers this season from CycleOps (the other being the Magnus), and both of which are the first dual-protocol trainers that CycleOps has released. Prior to this they had both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart versions, but never one version with both protocols combined.
Further, these would be the first trainers that CycleOps has released that supports the ANT+ FE-C standard that was introduced some 18 or so months ago. This would actually make for one of the last of the majors to adopt FE-C. Which isn’t to say that CycleOps ‘had’ to, since they already had opened up their protocol to virtually all apps – so the net difference is pretty minimal for them. Instead, it just makes it easier for newer apps to get these trainers compatible.
In any event, all this means is that it’ll transmit across ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart, while also allowing resistance control across ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart. Resistance control is what enables apps to specify what resistance level the trainer is at, such as wattage and slope.
The CycleOps Hammer supports the following broadcast and control standards:
ANT+ FE-C Control: This is for controlling the trainer via ANT+ from apps and head units. Read tons about it here.
ANT+ Power Meter Profile: This broadcasts as a standard ANT+ power meter (with speed in the case of the Hammer)
Bluetooth Smart Control: This uses the CycleOps variant of BLE control, the same as their other Smart Trainers starting back with the PowerBeam lineup. There is not yet a BLE trainer control standard (soon!); so each company does their own thing.
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter Profile: This broadcasts as a standard BLE power meter, with speed as well.
Note that the Hammer does *not* broadcast cadence across any channels.
Within these standards you can basically control or connect to the Hammer from just about any 3rd party app or device out there. If an app doesn’t support one of these protocols, it probably sucks horribly. Zwift, TrainerRoad, Kinomap and dozens more support these. As do head units like Garmin, Wahoo, Lezyne, Stages, and more. The power of using standards! No pun intended.
In my usage of the Hammer, I’ve utilized it with: Garmin Edge 510, 520, Garmin Edge 820, Edge 1000, Fenix3, Zwift (Workout & Regular Mode on both iOS and PC), CycleOps Virtual Training App (iPad and iPhone), and TrainerRoad.
Still, once calibrated you can do your workout just fine:
I had no problem doing calibration however within the CycleOps Virtual Training (CVT) app, and then using Zwift and TrainerRoad. You can see it showing as an ANT+ FE-C source in the below completed workout.
Note that Zwift has never (oddly) supported calibration of any trainers within their app. This is somewhat ironic given that Zwift is the only app that from an integrity standpoint actually stands to benefit from calibration. All other apps if you don’t calibrate you’re only harming yourself, whereas with Zwift you’re effectively harming other competitors (and/or perhaps yourself too). Still, Zwift sees the trainer just fine and you can otherwise ride it just fine and dandy, be it the desktop via FE-C, or the iOS app.
For example, here I am using the new Zwift iOS with Bluetooth Smart control over Hammer:
While I suspect we’ll see TrainerRoad soon support the Hammer calibration natively, you can see it in process within the CVT app. CycleOps Virtual Training (aka Virtual Training) is actually compatible with virtually every trainer out there, even ones not made by CycleOps. It’s also got about the widest collection of functions in an app. It does real-course videos from around the world, structured workouts, and even replications of various outdoor races/courses. Plus, you can upload your own stuff there too if you have an action cam, allowing you to re-ride it later.
Within the CVT app, you can also save and store the bike settings, as well as trigger that calibration function that I mentioned earlier:
When you do a calibration of the Hammer, it takes a…umm…long-ass-time. 120 seconds to be precise. Actually, it’s slightly more than that, about 136-138 seconds. See, you’ll start by spinning up to speed:
And then you’ll stay at that speed for 120 seconds.
Finally, upon the conclusion of 120 seconds – you’ll stop pedaling and let it coast to a stop. It’s this coasting time that they’re actually measuring. Note that this calibration procedure is exactly the same as the Magnus trainer that also came out from CycleOps this fall.
The good news though is that in talking with CycleOps, they’ll be slicing that calibration period down significantly. In the beta firmware update I tried today, it’s down to 20 seconds for standard ANT+ FE-C calibrations (no matter the app/device), and in an upcoming firmware update they’ll match that on Bluetooth Smart calibrations. They noted that the 120 second calibration period originally came from the older PowerBeam series, and was simply something that hadn’t been tackled yet for the new line. A 20 second calibration is on par with virtually every other trainer out there.
The trainer will remember calibration values from other apps, so you can quickly use the CVT app on your smartphone to set a new calibration value.
Measuring the sound of silence. One of the most requested things y’all ask me to do with trainers.
Let’s get this out of the way: The CycleOps Hammer isn’t silent. It’s not like the Neo (which costs $400 more). But it’s not noisy either. It sits in the same ranking as the new Wahoo KICKR (KICKR2) as well as to some degree the Tacx Flux. It’s not as quiet as the Elite Drivo though. You’ll of course hear it in the video below and decide for yourself. Still, it’s better than any of their past units, better than the original Wahoo KICKR.
First however, something to note about noise testing. Someday I’ll write all about trainer sound and noise testing. I’ve learned a lot over the years, and the more I do the more I realize how hopeless it really is to give folks a truly accurate view of the sound levels in videos (let alone measure them). There are a massive number of environmental factors that truly do have a huge impact:
– The room materials (which can make trainers quieter or louder due to echo, noise dampening, etc…)
– The size of the room
– The exact distance of the camera and/or decibel meter
– The mode of the decibel meter
– The type of mics used
– The sound levels of the mics used
– The exact position of the mics relative to different sides of the trainer
– How the mics capture different tones
– How I edited the audio (normalized levels)
– The speed of the trainer
– The cleanliness of the drivetrain on your bike
– The shifting accuracy (tuning) of your bike’s drive train
– Whether or not I remembered to turn on the @#$@# mics
– And other items I’m likely forgetting
Any one of these items can make the entire trainer sound dramatically different. I think I might put together a funny video showing just this some day. Maybe I’ll pretend to be different people on YouTube, just to demonstrate how different I can make a single trainer sound. All of which makes doing repeatable tests over the course of years very difficult. So instead, I’m going to focus on ‘in the now’ type tests by showing two trainers side by side in as close of conditions as possible.
In the meantime, I’m going to continue using my handy dandy decibel meter stoplight (this first video explains how it works, while the second video shows the Hammer):
To demonstrate how this trainer sounds, I’ve stacked it up against the KICKR2 and the Elite Drivo. I go side by side with them in the same space, so you compare them in like conditions. Note that I have a separate video comparing the Tacx Flux, Tacx Neo, and Wahoo KICKR2 – in case that fancies you. But the below video is all about the Hammer.
As you can hear, it’d be hard to pick a distinct winner between the KICKR2 and Hammer when it comes to noise. They’ve virtually identical, with just slight differences in tone.
Next up we’ll take a look at accuracy, specifically power meter accuracy. The CycleOps Hammer claims a stated accuracy level of +/-3%, which is slightly beyond other trainers in this price ballpark. Some are slightly better at +/-1% or +/-2%, but that wasn’t in the cards here for the Hammer.
In my case I was looking to see how it reacted in three main areas: Zwift, TrainerRoad, and ANT+ FE-C control via Garmin. However, I also validated accuracy in CycleOps’s own CVT app. The actual apps don’t much matter (at all), but rather the use cases are different. In Zwift you get variability by having the road incline change and you being able to instantly sprint. This reaction time and accuracy are both tested here.
Whereas in TrainerRoad I’m looking at its ability to hold a specific wattage very precisely, and to then change wattages instantly in a repeatable way. There’s no better test of that than 30×30 repeats (30-seconds at a high resistance, followed by 30 seconds at an easy resistance). However, my legs and workout structure decided to go with slightly longer 1-minute intervals this time. Not that it matters too much since you see the impact of accuracy shifts in the first 5-7 seconds for these tests anyway.
So we’ll start with TrainerRoad. In TrainerRoad the Hammer is utilizing ERG mode via ANT+ FE-C control. This means that TrainerRoad tells the trainer a given wattage level, and the trainer should hold it. After all, that’s the entire point of ERG mode – very specific wattage levels. Whereas other trainer modes are used when you want to simulate a specific gradient (such as in Zwift…but more about that in a second).
Here’s the workout I selected (requires a TrainerRoad account to view, but it’s shown below in this screenshot):
And here’s the high level data, in this case showing it smoothed at 20s. We see a bit of disagreement between the units, at the higher end, partly because they measure in different places, and partly because of the +/- 3%.
If I look at the early peaks, it seems to hit those pretty close to spot on.
But remember I mentioned smoothing? I do that to make it easy to pick-out accuracy issues, as power data is normally pretty noisy. Except that in the case of ERG mode, it actually shouldn’t be noisy, it should be very ‘tight’. Here’s what it looks like unsmoothed:
Woah, that’s not good. What’s up there? That kind of variability is perfectly normal outdoors, but not indoors in ERG mode. It’s fluctuating +/- 50w or more, a trend I see reflected on the power meters as well. To be clear, it’s *accurate* during those periods, it’s just not holding the wattage set point it should be (i.e. 300w). Instead, it’s like a drunk driver that can’t keep in its lane.
So, I circled back to CycleOps and let them do some digging. A short bit later they came back with a firmware update. They found that in my case the speeds I had used in ERG mode were causing a bug which led to the high variability of the ERG set point, producing the drunk-driver effect. So they shipped over a beta firmware update to address it. Here’s the results of that quick test:
And then below on the Analyzer, both at 0s smoothing (left) and 20s (right) smoothing to match above graph styles:
(Note: You see a few minor dropouts in the graph on the Hammer, this is a case of an ANT+ dropout to that Edge 510, as it doesn’t show on the TrainerRoad data stream. One of the reasons I often duplicate data recording on multiple devices.)
As you can see, now it’s nice and crispy – as it should be. Boom, almost perfect! That firmware update should be released shortly to the public, after they do a few more rounds of testing to ensure this didn’t break anything else. Again, the issue wasn’t that the power wasn’t accurate, but rather that it just didn’t hold the designated ERG point correctly.
You’ll notice a very minor difference above between the first four and last four intervals. I changed my gearing to change speed, since that can impact results. You’ll see the last four are a tiny bit cleaner than the first four. CycleOps says they’ll be tweaking things a tiny bit more over the coming days to get it a bit cleaner. The change mainly impacted how they were using wheel speed previously.
Next, we’ve got Zwift. In Zwift you can either be in ERG mode (workout section), or simulation mode (general Zwift). I tried both actually, mostly because I was curious how Zwift ERG might differ from TrainerRoad ERG. But first, the regular Zwift riding mode wherein I just wandered around Zwift for 45 or so minutes. After which, I plotted the data:
That’s some really beautiful alignment there (shown above at 10s smoothed). Even zooming in on the sprints, it does really well. Keep in mind that max power in a sprint is often a function of how/when it’s recorded by the head unit. So seeing slight variances between units is 110% normal. Note the below data was collected on production firmware, not beta.
Next, a quick look at the Zwift workout mode, from a workout this morning lasting about 30 minutes:
Well then, that looks pretty. Check out that max power – all incredibly close on those short sprints (the above is shown smoothed at 5s). You see a slight bit of difference between the power meters in the first two intervals (at the 5/7 minute markers), but then things settle out really nicely. I’m not terribly worried about that, as settlement in accuracy over the first 8-10 minutes of any trainer is normal – even the ones that say they don’t need to settle usually do. You can click on that link above to dig into this set further as well.
So where do things end up? It seems that in general the accuracy side is pretty good. I had one weird calibration run, which I didn’t fully realize until later on, which resulted in this odd set here. I’m about 90% certain that’s because something went amiss mid-calibration that I suspect is related to a flaky wall outlet I had temporarily plugged it into while filming my sound levels video. It dropped the connection towards the end of the calibration and I’m wondering if it actually set anything at all. Either way, I’ve never had that happen again or before – so I’m considering it an anomaly related to the power issue (since I lost all connectivity to it).
But if I ignore that, and look at successful calibrations, or heck, no calibrations at all, it matches very nicely with the other power meters on the bike. Obviously they’ll need to release that beta firmware update to address the ERG set point, but I don’t have any concerns there. It sounds like they just want a few more days to validate things before releasing it to the wild.
(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy sections were created using the DCR Analyzer tool. It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well, more details here.)
So which trainer is your best bet? Well, that’s an extremely complex topic. One that I dedicate an entire post on each year as part of my annual trainer recommendations guide. That guide came out a month or so ago, and is available here.
At this point I have ridden every trainer coming out this season, all of which I now have final versions of. Here’s the higher-end versions that compete with the CycleOps Hammer
CycleOps Hammer: Final In-Depth Review (this post, duh)
Elite Drivo: Final Production In-Depth Review
Tacx Flux: Final Production In-Depth Review
Tacx NEO: Final Production Unit ridden for a year, post here
Wahoo KICKR2: Final Production In-Depth Review
When it comes to accuracy, all of these units are pretty darn solid. I’d give slightly higher marks to the Elite Drivo and Tacx NEO, but we’re talking the tiniest of margins there.
If you’re looking for silence, as noted the quietest trainer is simply the Tacx NEO. There’s really no comparison there. The second quietest would be the Elite Drivo, at least because the tone/pitch isn’t as high as the Hammer/KICKR.
When it comes to apps, the Hammer has a slight advantage of Elite in that many apps have previously supported the PowerBeam series on Bluetooth Smart, which means they also work on the Hammer/Magnus. The Wahoo KICKR/KICKR2 has slightly more support on some fringe apps, but for all the big apps it’s a wash.
In any case, I’ve added the CycleOps Hammer to the product comparison tables. For the purposes of below, I’ve compared it to the Wahoo KICKR2, Elite Drivo, and Tacx NEO. But you can make your own comparison tables here, and compare it against any trainers I’ve ridden:
|Function/Feature||CycleOps Hammer||Elite Drivo||Tacx NEO Smart||Wahoo KICKR V2/2016|
|Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated April 2nd, 2022 @ 3:07 am New Window|
|Price for trainer||$1,199USD||$1,199||$1,369||$1,199|
|Trainer Type||Direct Drive (no wheel)||Direct Drive (no wheel)||Direct Drive (no wheel)||Direct Drive (no wheel)|
|Available today (for sale)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Wired or Wireless data transmission/control||Wireless||Wireless||Wireless||Wireless|
|Power cord required||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Flywheel weight||20lb/9kg||13.2lbs/6kg||SIMULATED/VIRTUAL 125KG||12.5lbs/5.7kgs|
|Includes cassette||No||Yes (11 Speed SRAM/Shimano)||Resistance||CycleOps Hammer||Elite Drivo||Tacx NEO Smart||Wahoo KICKR V2/2016|
|Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)||No||No||Yes||No|
|Maximum wattage capability||2,000w||2,296w @ 40KPH / 3,600w @ 60KPH||2,200w @ 40KPH||2500w @ 30MPH|
|Maximum simulated hill incline||20%||24%||25%||20%||Features||CycleOps Hammer||Elite Drivo||Tacx NEO Smart||Wahoo KICKR V2/2016|
|Ability to update unit firmware||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Measures/Estimates Left/Right Power||No||Paid option (9EUR)||No||No|
|Whole-bike physical gradient simulation||No||No||No|
|Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)||No||No||With accessory||No|
|Can rock side to side (significantly)||No||No||No|
|Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)||No||No||Yes||No||Accuracy||CycleOps Hammer||Elite Drivo||Tacx NEO Smart||Wahoo KICKR V2/2016|
|Includes temperature compensation||Yes||N/A||N/A||Yes|
|Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)||Yes||N/A||N/A||Yes|
|Supported accuracy level||+/- 3%||+/- 1%||+/- 1%||+/- 2%||Trainer Control||CycleOps Hammer||Elite Drivo||Tacx NEO Smart||Wahoo KICKR V2/2016|
|Allows 3rd party trainer control||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supports Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control Standard)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Data Broadcast||CycleOps Hammer||Elite Drivo||Tacx NEO Smart||Wahoo KICKR V2/2016|
|Transmits power via ANT+||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Transmits power via Bluetooth Smart||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supports Multiple Concurrent Bluetooth connections||No, just one||No, just one||No, just one|
|Transmits cadence data||Yes||No||Purchase||CycleOps Hammer||Elite Drivo||Tacx NEO Smart||Wahoo KICKR V2/2016|
|Wiggle||Link||Link||Link||DCRainmaker||CycleOps Hammer||Elite Drivo||Tacx NEO Smart||Wahoo KICKR V2/2016|
Again, remember you can create your own comparison tables here and mix and match trainers till your heart’s content.
It’s clear that CycleOps/PowerTap have found their stride in the past 12-18 months. Last year they’ve announced and started shipping the popular PowerTap C1 & P1 power meters, and now this year they followed that up with another double – the Magnus and Hammer trainers. All of which support dual-ANT+/Bluetooth Smart connectivity, giving you choices on the apps and devices you use. And most importantly, all are solid products – including the Hammer.
While I would have liked to see CycleOps aim for a slightly higher accuracy rating (+/-2% instead of +/-3%), it appears that in practice they’re already achieving that anyway. And quite frankly, I’m more focused on actuals than theoreticals. The upcoming beta firmware I tested should resolve the outstanding quirks I saw in ERG mode, which will round this out to be a a very solid trainer option.
When looking at the growing flotilla of trainers in the ~$1,200 price range (KICKR/Hammer/Drivo), you’ll find it really comes down to nuances. One might have a slightly different road feel, or a different noise pitch. While another might have barely different accuracy specs or thru-axle support differences. And another may fold up one way vs a different way, or be supported better in one specific application vs another. It’s almost to the point of being a wash between them, if not already one.
With that – thanks for reading!
Found This Review Useful? Or just wanna save 10%? Here’s how:
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CycleOps Hammer Trainer (older edition)
Saris H3 Trainer (current)
Saris TD1 Trainer Desk
Saris MP1 Motion Platform Crazy Thing
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Saris H3 Trainer (EU/UK/AU/NZ – Wiggle)
And finally, here’s a handy list of accessories that most folks getting a trainer for the first time might not have already:
|Apple TV 4K (2021 Edition)||Amazon||There's no better bang for your buck in getting Zwift (or FulGaz/etc) on your big screen TV than Apple TV - it's the primary way I Zwift. Even if you don't have a 4K TV, the 4K version has more powerful graphics than the base, worth the extra $30.|
|Basic Trainer Mat||Amazon||This is a super basic trainer mat, which is exactly what you'll see me use. All it does is stop sweat for getting places it shouldn't (it also helps with vibrations too).|
|Elago R1 Apple TV Remote Silicone Case with Strap||Amazon||I use Apple TV for Zwift the vast majority of the time, but also just for watching YouTube/Netflix/etc on the trainer. The Apple TV remote sucks though. This $8 case fixes that, it's a silicone strap that makes it easy to grab, but also has a strap to easily place on the edge of your handlebars. Boom! Note: Not compatible with 2021 Apple TV Edition.|
|Front Wheel Riser Block||Amazon||Here's the thing, some people like front wheel blocks, some don't. I'm one of the ones that do. I like my front wheel to stay put and not aimlessly wiggle around. For $8, this solves that problem. Note some trainers do come with them. Also note, I use a riser block with *every* trainer.|
|Honeywell HT-900 Fan||Amazon||I've got three of these $12 fans floating around the DCR Cave, and I frequently use them on rides. They work just fine. Sure, they're not as powerful as a Wahoo Headwind, but I could literally buy 20 of them for the same price.|
|Indoor Cycle Trainer Desk (RAD/Lifeline/Vinsetto/Conquer/etc...)||Amazon||This desk is both a knock-off of the original KICKR Desk, but yet also better than it. First, it's got wheel locks (so the darn thing stays put), and second, it has two water bottle holders (also useful for putting other things like remotes). I've been using it as my main trainer desk for a long time now and love it. Cheaper is better apparently. Note: Branding varies by country, exact same desk.|
|KOM Cycling Trainer Desk||Amazon||This is by far the best value in trainer desks, at only $59, but with most of the features of the higher end features. It's got multi-tier tablet slots, water bottle holders, non-stick surface, adjustable height and more. I'm loving it!|
|Lasko High Velocity Pro-Performance Fan (U15617)||Amazon||One of the most popular trainer fans out there, rivaling the Wahoo Headwind fan in strength but at a fraction of the price. It doesn't have smartphone/ANT+/Bluetooth integration, but it does have secondary outlets. I've been using it, and a similiar European version lately with great success (exact EU variant I use is automatically linked at left).|
|Tacx Tablet Bike Mount||Amazon||I've had this for years, and use it in places where I don't have a big screen or desk, but just an iPad or tablet on my road bike bars.|
Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the unit (though, no discount/points). 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.
first commnet! but I don’t really have a comment…….
Great work as always Ray
Great review, thanks!!!
Glad to hear that CycleOps is so responsive, and especially glad to hear that they’re changing the calibration step down from 2 minutes! It’s kind of a bear to have to start a workout with what feels like a 2-minute interval!
As always, thanks Ray! Can’t wait to read through this and get the conversation going 🙂
do u need to calibrate every single time???
I actually haven’t found that to be the case. I did some rides with no calibration and it was just as accurate as those with calibration. Still, as a general best practice I recommend it.
good initial review of the trainer. happy the accuracy is less than the advertised 3%.
personal pet peeves
why your trainer reviews do not mention WARRANTY information. when buying a top end trainer manufacturers should offer a warranty period to complement the high price they charge for them. i believe wahoo/elite/tacx have one year limited warranties on all there products. cycleops??
stability of the trainer. how stable is hamer vs neo/kickr/drivo when doing a full out sprint. is it this bad
link to youtube.com
I agree about the warranty information. Cycleops web site says lifetime warranty on the frame and 1 year on the electronics. But if I spend >$1,000 US on a trainer, I’d like to think I would be guaranteed to get more than one year out of it.
Generally speaking warranty is based on where you live. For example, in Europe a 2-year warranty is required for consumer goods for EU countries.
The reason I haven’t included warranty in the past is kinda simple: Nobody’s ever asked for it before (ever).
Secondarily, it’s also generally speaking 1 year in the US, and 2 years in Europe. As such, it’s mostly a great equalizer.
As for sprinting tests, I didn’t have problems once I tightened up the screws. Out of the factory I found the screws for the arms were a bit loose, so I just tightened them up and all was good. It’s hard for me to comment either way on that video, since I can’t see what the rider is doing. Meaning, are they going crazy left/right trying to tilt unit, or? Which is to say I can make any trainer do wonky stuff with enough force when out of view of a camera.
thanks Ray. so the euro’s get trainers(neo,flux,drivo) at a lower price + better warranty. nice 🙁
btw cycleops put up a video on facebook showing the manufacturing of a hammer/magnus. good QA. surprised every trainer is tested before shipping. happy not all usa products are made in asia(wahoo)
link to facebook.com
No, just to clarify – the warranty is based on your country of residence, not actually the vendor.
As for manufacturing in Asia, it’s honestly irrelevant from what I see. What matters is the manufacturing partner a company chooses, and how well they implement quality controls. One can make products in the USA and still deliver crap. Inversely, one can make products in Asia and deliver high quality goods. Apple being a good example in Asia, and I can think of specific examples of USA made products that are less than ideal.
Further to that point. Companies often separate hardware from software in different countries. Or, may be good at one side versus another. That can ruin a beautiful product even if the hardware is perfect or the software is perfect. Two peas in a pod thing and all.
we need shimano to enter this trainer space. as more electronics are added to cycling industry the failure rate will go up.
link to bike.shimano.com
link to cycle.shimano-eu.com
notice on dura-ace/xtr premium product the longer warranty period.
i had a di2 battery fail on my 9070 trek. battery was 2 years old. replaced. no drama.
The CycleOps warranty (in the US at least) is:
Hammer and Magnus Indoor Trainer:
Frame: Lifetime (with the typical limitations of being “free of any defects in material or workmanship”).
Electronics: 1 year
Here’s the direct link to the assembly video:
link to facebook.com
The Hammer is covered in the first half while the second half is the Magnus.
I’m guessing SRAM cassettes will work, correct?
Yes, works great with SRAM cassettes.
This video shows the installation process of the cassette onto the Hammer and he does mention that SRAM cassettes are accepted. link to youtu.be
Thanks for the thorough review as always.
bad luck for Zwift on the space station… lol… probably wouldn’t work very well without gravity anyway. The ISS operates at 160VDC with some systems running at 120VDC via DC-DC converters. so no AC anywhere. link to nasa.gov
In your opinion, would you say the Hammer is worth the extra cost compared to the KICKR SNAP? I posted the issues I was having with the SNAP in your SNAP review section. The gist of it being that I ended up sending the first unit back for exchange and, having the same issue on the 2nd unit, was about to send it back for a refund when a reader posted a fix that not even Wahoo told me (to upgrade the firmware to a newer beta version). That fixed it (even though I have 3 friends with SNAP trainers running without issue on the older production firmware). Evidently the latest ones manufactured need the firmware fix for some reason (my friends had all purchased theirs at least a year ago).
Anyway, the fix came, of course, AFTER I ordered a CycleOps Hammer (which, BTW, should be here today). I ended up getting both the SNAP and the Hammer at discounts so the difference in cost for me is $420. Is the Hammer worth the extra cost? I doubt I will ever hit 2000 watts (or even the 1500 watts of the SNAP) but I might, rarely, do the 20% incline vs the 12% of the SNAP (there are some 20%+ grades near where I live that I can recreate on the trainer with my Garmin 520). Regarding accuracy–the SNAP matches my Stages power meter pretty well, but there’s no way I’m doing a 10-minute spindown every time I ride to calibrate it (I also have to turn the knob 3.5 times after touching the wheel to get the spindown time under 15 seconds, per Wahoo). I would be willing to do a 20-second calibration every time with the Hammer (but I doubt I would do it every time). The lack of support for Android with the SNAP is also annoying since I don’t have an iOS device (and had to borrow a friend’s iPhone to do the advanced spindown, although I’m guessing I will never have to do that again; just standard spindowns). You already mentioned “road feel” so I’m guessing they both feel similar in that regard, even though the Hammer has a much larger flywheel. I like that, with the Hammer, I don’t have to worry about tire pressure, tire wear, or knob tightness (just get on and ride). The SNAP does hold ERG mode perfectly in Zwift (at least, it ‘reports’ it perfectly; there are no up and down little spikes like my Stages reports but the SNAP, like the Hammer and every other trainer, I think, that reports power, does not have/use an actual power meter).
So, just trying to decide which one to send back or sell. I already have a prepaid shipping label to send the SNAP back so that won’t cost my anything; but to send the Hammer back I would have to pay $50-$60 in shipping. Any thoughts are welcomed and appreciated! 🙂
If the Hammer only costs you an extra $420, I would be all over the Hammer. I have a greater than 1 year old Snap and the lack of Android and the Spindown pita would be worth the dollars. In fact I have gotten to where I do not calibrate my Snap…if the numbers look reasonable compared to my P1s…I leave it alone. One thing I do now is leave it plugged in. That seems to help power stability.
Thanks, Chris. Yeah, I got the SNAP back in November at the 20% discount for $479 and just recently got the Hammer at 25% off for $899 so there’s the $420 difference. I’m leaning towards keeping the Hammer but still, $420 is a lot. I’m thinking I could keep the SNAP and sell the Hammer and make a little money so, in essence, making the SNAP even cheaper. I’m just not convinced the Hammer is worth the extra money (but I haven’t ridden it yet so I couldn’t tell you).
curiouss where you got the hammer, new, for 25% off….thats an amazing deal, do share!
There were a few deals around Black Friday in the 20-25% off range. You won’t see those again for some time.
when are these “smart” trainers gonna offer an app similar to comutrainer’s/Wattbike SpinScan?
Some already do – such as the Elite Drivo/Kura.
Though, I’d also argue that such metrics that both give aren’t terribly useful in the grand scheme of things. There’s virtually no studies that can prove (or even suggest) that focusing on upstroke and/or balance actually does anything. In fact, there’s plenty of data more recently showing that attempting to influence your pedal stroke/style/balance actually negatively impacts your total power output.
The singular exception to this can be injury recovery (balance/left/right), and some fit metrics, but those fit-related metrics need to be closer in to the power production point, typically done at the pedal (which is why you’ve seen PowerTap partner with folks to provide that higher level data). It simply can’t be done at the trainer with merely a cadence sensor.
yes, power is important, but if only generated from the quads, or hamstrings not good, having SpinScan and muscle use graph can certainly can assist in preventing over use of certain muscles… spread the work load around so one can run a marathon after a long bike ride. instead of having one muscle/group filled with lactic acid.
Ray, do you know what sort of clearance there is for larger cassettes and longer cage derailleurs? I was thinking of going from 11-28 to 11/12-32 and I may get a long cage derailleur to do that. Although a bunch of people say they run an 11-32 with regular cage derailleur.
I rode the Hammer this morning with an 11-40 cassette and a medium cage mountain bike rear derailleur. As far as an 11-32 with a regular cage derailleur, that can be hit or miss. Since you plan on doing this, might as well buy the cassette, test, then pick up a new RD if needed!
Thanks for the response. I’ve actually had mine for a few weeks now. Had my road bike on there with the new 11-32 cassette (10sp) and the same regular cage RD I’ve been using. No issues, but definitely a tight fit.
I’ve got an 11sp tri bike that I use too. 11-28 cassette on that one and haven’t had any issues. Hopefully I can make an 11-32 cassette work with the regular cage for this bike too!
So no comment on how responsive the Hammer is in Zwift (for example) when you hit the hills? My understanding is some trainers are slow to ramp up the resistance and you really notice it on the short hills (rollers).
I’m also still hoping you’ll start doing at least some basic testing of torque or max resistance at low speeds which would be more meaningful than the dubious “max simulated grade” figure. I realize you can just gear up since apps like Zwift provide essentially unlimited virtual gearing, but for the sake of comparing one trainer to another I think this would be useful information.
Virtually instant on Zwift, no lag issues. Honestly, I haven’t seen any recent trainers that are slow to respond. Some older Elite ones had that issue, but even that’s been resolved through firmware updates.
As for max-resistance, it’s honestly not something I have the capability to test, as I can’t hit more than about 900-1000w. I’d have to build out some sort of power testing rig. It’s something I’ve looked at doing, but gets more complex. If I were to make something, it’d honestly be more geared towards testing power meters than trainers’ max power, since that’s usually where I see issues as most people can’t hit above 1,000w anyways on trainers.
Good to hear the Hammer is responsive/dynamic in terms of controlling the resistance.
All of these smart trainers rate max power dissipation at fairly high speeds, right, like 20 MPH so I would expect max resistance to be a lot less at, say, 5 MPH. If you can crank out 900W for 10 seconds that should be more than enough to determine if the trainer can effectively simulate a 20% incline for a 200 pound rider. According to bikecalculator.com 500 watts would propel 200 pound rider & 20 pound bike up a 20% grade at 5.27 miles per hour. All that said… I presume the higher end direct-drive trainers like the Hammer, KICKR, Neo, Drivo aren’t going to have any difficulty achieving 500W @ 5 MPH. But how about the SNAP, Magnus, and Flux? Would be interesting to know what they’re really capable of, how they compare. Not a “make it or break it” metric, but maybe a useful data point to add to the mix.
I think you’re confusing real world speed with trainer speed. The 20mph is used as that roughly the speed of the rear wheel when pedalling at around 50rpm in your highest gear. So to simulate hills you usually have to get your rear wheel spinning faster.
The benefit with ano electronic trainer is that you also have a brake so you can get a certain wattage without having to spin the flywheel as fast. But the brake will only be able to provide so much resistance hence why they quote max watts at a given speed as that is a more realistic demonstration of what the unit can do during workouts you’re likely to use it for.
For example, on my KK (Dumb trainer so limited in low cadence watts) the max resistance I can get at 55rpm is around 380w but if I’m doing sprints (i.e. high cadence) I can get 1500w out of it as the rear wheel is spinning so much faster hence the flywheel is adding to the resistance due to its inertia.
I’m not confused at all. I’ve already acknowledged that you can simply shift gears to get more resistance and that apps like Zwift provide you with “virtual” gearing that is basically unlimited.
Mainly, I am questioning the whole concept of “maximum simulated inclined/grade” that manufacturers are publishing for these smart trainers. This is a dubious spec. As it’s directly dependent on rider weight, it’s meaningless to say this trainer can simulate X % grade (without stating what rider weight the figure is based on).
OK, I think I’ve officially beat this horse to death now. 😉
So I would like to see some kind of well-defined benchmark, metric, or spec that gives the consumer an idea of how much resistance (torque, basically) the trainer can develop at lower speeds. Why does this matter when you can simply change gears? Well, it matters about exactly as much as the dubious “max simulated incline” spec matters. If the ultimate goal of a smart trainer is to simulate real world riding as accurately as possible, the ability to produce realistic “hill climbing” resistance at lower wheel speeds has to be a part of the equation.
Manufacturers are stating max wattage (resistance from the brake) at 20 MPH but few are publishing max wattage at lower speeds. So why not publish max wattage at 10 MPH or 5 MPH? This information could be useful in painting a more complete picture of the trainer’s capabilities and how it stacks up to the competition.
Just to be clear, some manufs do actually specify the rider weight/speed as part of their charts. I know Tacx does on all their public stuff online. In fact, they actually create a little chart showing it.
And I believe Elite also specifies it too.
Thank for pointing that out. I can’t find the Tacx chart, other than stumbling upon a link from another DCR reader that doesn’t “work” (in the sense of getting me to a page that has the chart).
I did find a power vs speed graph for the Elite Rampa, which is EXACTLY what I would like every smart trainer manufacturer to publish. Sadly for the Rampa it’s quite anemic at low speeds. No wonder in the manual for the Rampa their example is a 130 lb rider going 15 MPH in order to simulate 10% slope.
Interesting, looks like Tacx revamped their website, and the nifty graphs that used to be on each product page are now gone. Bummer.
I found some references to them via Google Image search, but can’t seem to figure out where they went to. Here’s a Tacx forum thread that has an image of one of the curves:
link to forum.tacx.com
The text is in French on that screenshot, but it’s pretty easy to discern what’s being shown.
Yes I get the point about gradient, the rider weight should be specified (as Ray says it sometimes is). But what’s the point specifying the max wattage at 5mph? The numbers they quote are surely to g8ve a rough idea of limits, spinning the wheel at 5mph is not, or is no where near a limit of the trainer?! Even in my lowest gear that would mean pedalling at 50rpm. So unless you’re intending on doing a workout solely in your lowest gear that spec is totally irrelevant.
Apologies, think my brain has just clicked i! Your point I guess is specifically about using in something like Zwift where Zwift tells the trainer the grade and it sets it. Hence the need for the slow speed. Apologies, I don’t use Zwift anymore and when I did it was on my KK so Zwift just took the power value and works out the speed from the w/kg. I wasn’t thinking about the fact it sets the grade setting for smart trainers 🙂
I actually came here to ask the same question as Bradley. What exactly does “incline” mean? Of the 4 mid-range trainers you mention in your latest trainer roundup, only the Rampa Elite gives any info that one could use to actually figure out max incline (the power vs speed graph). Rampa claims it can simulate a 10% grade, but digitizing their chart and using a little math, I come up with ~5% max grade before I saturate the trainer. I’m 170lbs with a 20lb bike. For a 135lb rider and 16 lb bike, you’d saturate at about 7% grade. 10% is a pipe dream if their chart is correct.
Interestingly enough, as power output increases, so does max grade before saturation. For me, 100W = ~4% grade
200W = ~5% grade
300W = ~5.75% grade
Although Wahoo Kickr doesn’t give any info about incline, you posted in the comments of that review that it can absorb 250W@5mph. That is equal to a grade of ~12% (for me) while Wahoo only claims 10% capability. For comparison, the Rampa can absorb ~85W@5mph, assuming their chart is correct.
At the same time, incline is only important if you want to simulate riding up steep hills while on the trainer (which I’d like to do for a mountain century this spring).
Also, it’d be nice if you could get the manufacturers to give you flyweight inertia instead of weight. Since inertia is roughly related to diameter^4, the actual weight of the flywheel is less important than the effective radius. If I take two cylinders of steel that weigh the same, but one has twice the radius as the other, the cylinder with 2X the radius will have 8X the inertia.
Thought about it some more. The Kikr Snap watts vs. speed is linear from >5mph. So is the Rampa Elite and the Tacx Vortex. Thus, you can compare max incline between products given a certain power at the same speed.
Kickr Snap, 1500W@20mph (~12% grade @250W) – Claims 10%
Cycleops Magnus, 1500W@20mph (~12% grade @250W) – Claims 15%
Tacx Vortex, 950W@20mph (~7.5% grade @250W) – Claims 7%
Elite Rampa, 720W@20mph (~5.75% grade @250W) – Claims 10%
So, the Kickr delivers more than promised, the Tacx is nearly right on, and the Cycleops and Elite claim more than they can deliver.
Appreciate your comments, Jeremy. Did you find a power vs speed graph for the KICKR SNAP? There may be a range of speed over which the wattage is linear for any given smart trainer, but I wouldn’t assume that applies universally or at extremely low or high speeds.
Aloha from Kona,
I got the Snap data from this post by Ray: link to dcrainmaker.com
The Snap, Vortex, and Rampa were all linear above 5mph up until their max rating. The only trainer that showed data below that speed was the Rampa, where is was non-linear until it hit 0.
Another review did low-speed testing to see how much a few trainers could take at a slow speed (~7.5mph) link to athletictechreview.com
That reviewer showed the Magnus could only hold 200W vs the Kickr’s 340W. The Vortex was dead last at 100W. These numbers disagree with Ray’s numbers in the first link, as the Snap should be able to hold ~450W at that speed according to the data from Ray and the Magnus should be able to equal the Snap if they both take 1500W@20mph.
Another interesting thing the reviewer did was come up with minimum power available vs speed.
link to athletictechreview.com
link to athletictechreview.com
Interesting discussion —
In layman’s terms does this mean most if not all smart trainers do not accurately support certain training modes under various conditions?
Or simply put — smart trainers are not that smart. Some are dumber than others depending on variables (speed, power, simulated incline, body weight, cadence, etc).
I think “Or simply put — smart trainers are not that smart.” is a bit off the mark.
Mid-range trainers have to ability to simulate a rider and bicycle’s drag profile on a flat ‘road’ up to a level exceeding most cyclists output. They can also simulate going up an incline of varying degrees. Lastly, they can simulate going slightly downhill, depending on the speed.
High-end trainers add the ability to power the roller to simulate steeper downhills and generally have higher incline capabilities. Unless you want to pay for this added improvement, a mid-range trainer will fit bill just fine, IMO.
All the above is for something like Zwift in Simulation mode where you are trying to simulate a bicycle on a road. For TrainerRoad in Erg mode, the whole incline and decline thing is not really applicable. The trainer is set to X watts, and you are in whatever gear needed to do so. There are still some limits though. Pumping put 500W in granny gear will over-power a mid-range trainer and spinning out in 52-23 gear at 100W for a recovery will end up being >150W because you’re above the ‘min’ range. Shift to a reasonable gear and it isn’t an issue.
Glad I’ve got at least 9 months to make my choice now there are so many to chose from 🙂
Scratch that, just seen the £ cost and this is more than the Tacx Neo :-/ looks like we lost out on this one 🙂
Could you add a line to the table about which ones could be used by those of us who like Italian drivetrains. Since you specified, “When it comes to cassette types, the unit accepts Shimano 8-11 speed cassettes.” I’m assuming it can’t be used with Campy cassettes, correct?
According to the Cycleops how to video uploaded yesterday, 11sp Campy setups will work with a shimano cassette because the spacing is the same.
According to the CycleOps video that I watched just now, the Hammer has a Shimano free hub, and 11sp Campagnolo cassettes are compatible with that free hub.
I have a 1st generation KICKR, and a feature I really value is the ability to use my Stages power meter as the source of truth for power. I simply tell the Wahoo Utility the ANT ID of my Stages, and then I’m totally dialed in when comparing road biking vs. training. Do any of the other trainers support this?
Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that is dependent on the softwares capabilities. I believe that’s what TrainerRoad’s power match is for.
Not really… for example, erg mode works off my Stages… So when I erg mode to 200 watts, I’m putting out the exact same effort as if I were on the road putting out 200 watts. Also, if your app is controlling the trainer, it’s hard to have the app talk to another power meter… not impossible, as in “anything can be done in software,” but things really aren’t set up for that use.
Bottom line: I was asking Ray if any other trainers (plus or perhaps because of app functionality) have this feature I value.
link to support.trainerroad.com
True. You can check others in DC’s recent trainere app review:
link to dcrainmaker.com
I have the same arrangement but I’ve stopped using the Stages to control the KICKR with TrainerRoad because it gave me erratic readings. While the KICKR gave me higher watts for any given effort it is at least stable.
In this picture I disabled the Stages about 20 minutes in. You can clearly see the difference.
Do you not have this problem?
Ignore the first 10 minutes. I believe that was single leg drills. Another problem with left only power meters.
Kickr Gen 1, using the Wahoo Fitness App. Kickr configured to get power from the Stages power meter. Looks ridiculously stable, rock solid, etc. The spikes in the middle were due to me putting erg mode to 400 watts and locking up at a low cadence. (Ouch.)
And, apologies to Marc. Yes, Trainer Road is doing the power match itself. In my configuration, I think (but don’t know for sure) that erg mode is implemented in the KICKR itself.
So…to recap a bit:
A) Wahoo in their KICKR products has the ability to natively connect to an ANT+ power meter and match that power meter.
B) TrainerRoad also implemented this functionality (actually, TR did it first). So did PerfPro. CycleOps
With TR and PerfPro, they’re effectively in a continuous race to correct the power on a second by second basis. Sometimes this works…but not all the time. That’s when you get the wonk you see.
In general, I’d recommend folks instead just figure out if the power really is different – and to some degree focus on that first (figuring it out/calibrating/etc…). Unless we’re talking a dramatic amount, then I’d probably leave the feature off.
That is where I’ve ended up. Easy enough to compensate for a known difference.
I know you state you can’t really detect differences in inertia between layers or find it important but I feel that is a function of erg mode rather than trainer. A neo set in slope mode in tri profile is relatively a joy to use while in erg mode it is horrible. I can hold 30w+ more in slope and even changing profiles within slope mode makes a huge difference if cycling on the tri bars. I went from 20mins tops in hold to indefinite just with the increase in inertia giving to small movers in my legs a break like outdoors.
Give it a try I’ll be amazed if you don’t notice a significant improvement while on tri bars. Not such a big deal in road bikes.
I would like to live in a world where I call a company with a technical issue and “a short bit later they came back with a firmware update.”
You rock, Ray!
They buy the Hammer. The Powertap people have fantastic support. I own 2 Powertap hubs, a set of P1 pedals and now a Hammer. They have always handled any of my questions or problems quickly and effectively. Their support was the deciding factor for me when I went looking for a new smart trainer.
Stage-Right Ray cracked me up at 7:40 of the sound comparison video! 🙂
So if you had to choose either the Elite Drivo or the Cycleops Hammer as your only smart trainer, which one would you choose?
Sounds like a typical first-gen immature product with lots of potential problems down the road for customers.
O.k., my case is special:
1) 1st gen BSX customer (no further explanation required)
2) 1st gen P1 customer –> I’m now on my third pair. The two previous pairs had died and got replaced (which is a slow process in Germany. You have to deal with the importer Sportimport. That’s why I’d be cautious to get another product from CycleOps/Saris).
3) 1st gen Wahoo Kickr customer with massive accuracy issues
Delays hitting the market. Firmware bugs. Firmware clearly not mature (120s calibration). These are all not good signs. I’d be cautious.
First of all, thank you for (yet another) great review.
A comment on the whole “road feel” aspect of the trainers you test: You tend not to put that much emphasis on that in your reviews, stating that you can never forget that your are indoors, and rightly so. But one thing I have experienced is that my FTP is always significantly lower on a trainer compared to the road by up to 15% or so. Is that something you experience? If so, do you see any differences between different trainers as to how close you can get on your “road-FTP”? That would be a good way to quantify the road feel.
I’m sorry to suggest that you do a full-out FTP test for every trainer review 🙂
The lower FTP is mostly due to less cooling from moving air and not being able to move around as much (both position on bike but also general movement of bike). So it’s more a specific issue of indoor training than a trainer issue if that makes sense?!
Sure that’s part of the equation, but with added fans for cooling etc. that is not really an issue. There are quite a few articles about this phenomenon. Sure the lack of the stimuli, cooling and more dynamic position on the bike has an impact, but It seems as if the trainer gives a different type of resistance, lacking what some refer to as “micro-rest” compared to an outdoors ride:
link to home.trainingpeaks.com
I was wondering if the latest generation trainers (I’m on a Tacx Genius) offers any changes on this subject.
It’s actually more of a human issue. You’ll find endless debates on this on Slowtwitch and other cycling/triathlon sites.
What’s interesting though is that while some people have a harder time hitting FTP indoors, others have a harder time hitting it outdoors. I actually fall into that camp, it’s far easier for me to hit various wattage targets indoors on ERG mode than outdoors.
Kinda just like some people’s pee smells after eating asparagus, and others don’t. Roughly.
But even in that article they say the three things to consider are temperature, position and psychology. The first part of the article seems to be more about the impacts on FTP in terms of the accuracy of the trainer.
But the idea of micro rests is interesting. I’ll have to do some reading on that as it’s not something I’ve seen before.
I initially had the same issues with lower FTP. However, once I got the room temperature down to 60F and installed a 30″ fan, this issue went away. Now I can do better indoors since I can do a 20 minute power test with no road variations, turns, cars, etc. I have found that I do slightly better on my Tacx Neo than my old Wahoo Kickr. In both cases, I am using power from my Pioneer power meter on the cranks, so device calibration or accuracy is not a factor. I have concluded that the slight side to side movement that I get on my Neo may be making a tiny difference.
Har! Actually the pee is the same. It’s just some can smell it and others can’t, regardless of who’s pee it is.
I’m having the same issue and was also wondering whether a direct-drive / newer trainer would close that FTP gap a little.
I did the same test protocol a few weeks ago and I got 12,3% higher FTP outdoors. Same power meter, using a fan indoor. That was about 35W for me. I’d like to use my outdoor FTP but since I’m using TR every weekday, those intervals are too hard when using my outdoor FTP. When it would be around 10W, it would be doable.
I’m using a very old Tacx Satori (non-electronic).
Looks good but as someone else says, the cost of this is coming out the same as a Neo.
How do you figure? Are you comparing MSRP to MSRP or “sale prices”? Us vs Euro?
At MSRP in the US, the $1200 Hammer is much less expensive than the $1600 Neo.
In the UK the Hammer is more expensive. Damn Brexit!!!!!
Price related comments in these reviews are becoming less and less meaningful because of market variations. Quick check on wiggle yesterday had the Hammer at 1500 euro vs 1400 for the drivo and 1100 for the Neo. So while an American is asking if the Neo provides 400 dollars more value than the Hammer I’m wondering who in europe could possibly justify paying 400 more for the Hammer.
It’s the core reason I gave up on trying to compare and make price-specific recommendations for Euro folks, or really any currency. Too much changes too quickly. Be it based on currency fluctuations, or even just demand/availability of a product in a given market.
Demand significantly impacts European pricing, because there is no MAP, so retailers won’t tend to discount much until supply catches up.
I can get the Neo for under £1045 (Tacx, via Amazon) and the Hammer for £1080 (SygmaSport). Sort of pushes the Hammer out
Nothing to do with Brexit, its always been the case in the UK.
I was joking about Brexit 😉
I’d love to see dropout spacing compatibility added to the comparison chart. It would suck to buy a trainer of this pricepoint, only to find out it doesn’t support using your new steed with Boost 148.
Is there a way to calibrate the Hammer (and Magnus) without paying for a monthly service?
You can use the Virtual Training software for free and still calibrate it.
Thanks, that’s good to know. The CycleOps website makes it look like there’s only a subscription service and 2-week trial.
Yeah, they don’t make it very obvious at all.
Would be nice for users to know that it is there and then they can possibly pick up a subscription if the see something they like in the software after calibrating.
So I’m clear, you can still calibrate after the 2-week trial, without paying for the subscription, yes? Or is it that you can just use the trial to do an initial calibration. Thanks.
I feel a little burned by cycleops. I bought an ANT+ power sync several years ago for trainerRoad and sufferfest workouts. Sufferfest has switched to an app based platform that is FE-C and looks like the new TrainerRoad update will not work with Cycleops power sync or pro. Glad to see that cycleops is now opening up their platform, but this slow change leaves trainers that are several years old with very limited options. And, the fact that they took this approach when they had other options seems to reflect the companies philosophy about the market. Am I wrong to expect a 1000 dollar trainer to be functional for more than 5 years?
Ray, you wrote: “Which isn’t to say that CycleOps ‘had’ to, since they already had opened up their protocol to virtually all apps – so the net difference is pretty minimal for them. Instead, it just makes it easier for newer apps to get these trainers compatible.”
Am I wrong about power sync and power pro loosing accessibility?
No, that can’t be. I’ve not heard anything about TrainerRoad pulling PowerBeam/PowerSync support. It’d make no sense. Obviously, they can’t add ANT+ support to iOS sans-dongle, but nothing should regress.
I’ll circle back with them just to validate, but again, can’t see them making any move to reduce their customer base.
link to trainerroad.com
I talked to TR customer support about this and there were no known plans to change. They are supporting PC but not MAC. My 2015 TR app still works, but I’m worried with a few more OS updates it won’t work.
We continue to support the Powerbeam Pro and Powersync via Bluetooth Smart on all of our platforms, and ANT+ support for both trainers is still supported through our Windows app.
Let us know if you have any more questions!
– Jonathan from TrainerRoad
Johnathan, why did you guys decide to drop Mac support for ANT+?
If you’ve got an original ANT+ only Powerbeam pro the only trainer road app I can get to work is the original original windows version. New windows app detects PowerBeam Pro OK but it’s very unreliable whilst doing a workout (it drops connection frequently and/or at random when starting a block it ramps the power that high that it grinds to a halt).
It simply came down to an issue of demand. Looking at how many devices we have to build for across all four platforms, we are forced to be as efficient as possible. Looking at the data, the large majority of PBP users were on Windows, hence the support. That being said, there is no technical limitation here, so if demand shifts and it is justifiable for another platform, we would prioritize building that support appropriately.
As a last resort, PBP & Powersync via ANT+ is still supported on our legacy apps.
To follow up on my previous comment, and Chris’s point, I know this approach leaves some of you high and dry, but I hope you can understand the reasoning. There are a TON of devices (each of them unique) to support, and it takes quite a lot of resources for each platform. I hope that makes sense!
Chris, have you reached out to firstname.lastname@example.org about this? Wireless communication is always a bit more tricky than normal with the PBP, but your issues sound extraordinary. One of our support staff should be able to get you closer to finding the root cause of these issues.
I have put more than 400 miles through the Hammer since I got it early last week. I also have a KICKR2 so I have the king to compare the Hammer to. Hammer does have that signature howling sound of the KICKR but the with a lower tone, definitely better than the KICKR in this regard, but far from being quiet. The Hammer does feel very smooth but not much of a difference in “road feel” than the KICKR with a lighter flywheel. I have actually encountered several problems with the Hammer already. First and foremost, the resistance lag and it is slow to respond to a gradient change in Zwift. It is especially bad climbing up the escalator with the London route, as the resistance kicks in only 1/3 way up and then the resistance is still there once I get to the top on the flat. For a longer climb like on Box Hill, it is less noticeable but the problem is there nonetheless. The second problem is the amount of resistance, as 15% resistance seems much harder with the Hammer vs. the KICKR2. With the KICKR2, I have been able to grind up to the last section of the top of Zwift mountain at around 5-7mph with Trainer Difficulty set to 100%. With the Hammer, I get stalled immediately when I hit the last steep section of the climb as I can barely turn the cranks. There was an instant on the second day where the Hammer made some racquet noise like something was grinding and colliding inside. Fortunately, I have not been able to reproduce it. In Zwift, with the KICKR, there is a unique feature that allows me to lose the flywheel descending and then catch it back at will, which is very fun and addicting. I cannot reproduce this desirable phenomenon with the Hammer, as once I lose the flywheel, I have to wait quite a bit for the freewheeling to slow down before I can catch it. I think KICKR is so fine-tuned and optimized that it seems to work so well in Zwift. On the other hand, the Hammer will need some more fine tuning to do before it can get to the KICKR’s level in Zwift.
I’ve been very happy with my KickR2 and lucked out on purchase timing using the REI discount (20%)+dividend (and purchase dividend). I’m sure as both hardware and software platforms mature, we’ll see some cool advancements (eg. VR, etc.).
Thanks Ray for the excellent reviews and articles!
For the resistance delay, you may want to upload your log file to Zwiftalizer, and see if you’re having a communications problem – as that sounds like a classic interference issue (where resistance changes are delayed, which is basically the system retrying over and over again).
As for 15% being tougher than KICKR…honestly, at 100% difficulty setting, 15% should feel like hell. Barely pedalable hell to be precise. If it’s not, then you’re a really solid cyclist (or you have a sweet gearing setup). 🙂
Thanks Ray for the suggestion. I tried to relay this problem to CycleOps earlier this week but they were clueless. Perhaps key people were on holidays at the mothership. I have also posted this problem on Zwift with no response.
Keep in mind though I am also using KICKR2 with Zwift and do not have these resistance problems. If it was a communication issue with my ANT+ dongle then I would expect to run into the same thing with my KICKR2. Obviously, my dongle is working fine, as I have logged hundreds of miles with the KICKR2 and Zwift with the same setup.
FYI, I ride a single speed bike with a 69in gear on my trainers. I ride the same bike outside. I love to grind up a 15% grade hill slowly usually around 5-7mph both outside and inside.
One more problem with the Hammer I forgot to add, which is related to the calibration. Initially, it took forever to calibrate the unit, as I had to get up to like 40mph before the spin down to begin. This week I can’t calibrate it at all, as every time I do a calibration, I get a lot of resistance from the Hammer, it was so bad to a point where I can’t even turn the cranks. It feels like instead for the app to send a calibration command to the Hammer, it sends 20% gradient resistance to the trainer instead. WTF?
All in all, I have not been pleased with the Hammer with all these problems even though it is still working okay. For the money I would expect it to be a premium product out of the box. It seems like CycleOps tried to push this product out the door for the holidays and thinking they would address these problems after the holidays. They better fix these problems quickly if they want to sell more units this winter, as in another month or two, it won’t matter as I would expect most trainers around the world will be collecting dust waiting for the next winter.
Something is wrong then. It shouldn’t be 40MPH to get spin-down to trigger. It’s 18-21MPH that you need to maintain.
Not sure what’s going on, maybe something got damaged or otherwise messed up – but I’d definitely hit CycleOps support again. Else, I suspect they might reach-out in the coming days as they return from the holidays. I know they’re keeping an eye on comments here, though of course given the holiday it may take a few days to catch-up.
Fwiw, you will not receive a dividend on an item when you use a 20% off coupon at REI.
At this point in time if you had a Hammer on backorder would you switch the order to a KICKR2?
Assuming firmware updates resolve calibration or any reported issues with the Hammer, is there anything the Hammer can do better than a KICKR2 other than no need to purchase a thru-axle kit?
If you can live with the noise and do not use a thru-axle bike then the KICKR2 would probably be a better choice. KICKR2 has been working perfectly in Zwift for me. If I didn’t have a KICKR2, I probably wouldn’t have noticed those resistance problems of the Hammer in Zwift posted above. The high pitch howling sound of the KICKR may be a deal breaker for some people though. When I first got the KICKR2, it sounded like a taking off jet engine, and I actually got sick from the sound for my first ride on it. The sound had faded some since but it is still screaming like a low speed table saw. The Hammer has a similar sound but with a much less intrusive tone, perhaps like a quiet vacuum cleaner. I bought the KICKR2 with a 10% discount while I paid full price for the Hammer.
With that said, the Hammer actually ticks a lot of my boxes:
-It is quieter than the KICKR2
-It is perceivably smoother than the KICKR2 (not that the KICKR2 is rough or anything like that)
-The Hammer is made (or at least assemble) in the USA
-The Hammer is compatible with most bikes including many mountain bikes out of the box
-Last but not least the main casing is a cast aluminum not plastic, but those extension feet are indeed plastic
One more thing, the Hammer came with a front block, which is not needed as the height of the trainer is the same as the height of a typical 700c bike. My bike has a level top tube and without using the front block, it is dead level with a bubble leveler. I actually prefer to have the front end of my bike move slightly when I am riding hard, as that is the way my bike would behave out on the road.
Interesting points. Thanks for sharing.
I have a similar issue with delay as you have mentioned but it’s on my Magnus. The exact spot on the escalator. I can count to five before the resistance ramps up to 15% and I’m off the escalator for 5 seconds before the resistance ramps down. Overall this is not really an issue as you are riding up the escalator the same distance it’s just a bit of a mind game as you see your guy on the flat (or hill) and it’s either too easy or too hard.
Gosh I thought I was crazy with the only one having this resistance delay problem. Glad to hear you have the same problem, as it confirms how lousy it is with the resistance responsiveness of the Hammer in Zwift. I tried for days diagnosing the communication problem allured to by Ray and I almost went nuts doing so. The delay/slow response is there the whole time, it just becomes obvious at the escalator because it is so short and steep. If you come over my house to ride my KICKR2 in Zwift I would bet that you would say WOW with its responsiveness to a terrain change compared to the Hammer. I know I am beating a dead horse here but it is very unnatural to ride the Hammer in Zwift knowing how responsive it is supposed to be with the KICKR2.
Regarding “… I can barely turn the cranks.” I had the same experience with a Magnus. At 130% FTP, I could barely pedal which is ridiculous because I can generate that power on the road and on rollers. On the Magnus, pedaling at that power made my knees hurt.
I sent it back.
I have a Kickr2 and I have Zwift at 100% difficulty to make it feel more real. That 15% gradient is hard but I have a compact 34/32 and stand on the pedals.
I also use the Bkool app and use the same technique on a 20%+ climbs and I don’t think I’m that good up hills… but that’s why I’m using a smart trainer to get better 🙂
I’ve just ordered a Hammer and the latest firmware updates should have fixed the issues some people had. I’ve had the same Zwift problems with 3 different trainers but it’s OK now on the Kickr2 and I reckon it was just Zwift and not the trainers themselves.
Thanks for the review. Just one quick question that never crops up!..do you know what the Maximum User Weight is for the Hammer (assuming it has one). Only i nearly went for an Elite Drivo before Christmas only to find hidden away that its MxmUsrWght was 113kgs (about 17.7 stone).
Im built like a rugby player and weigh in about 18.7 stone so i held off on the Drivo.
If you have any info on the MxUsrWght for this (or the Kickr2/Neo etc) that would be greatly appreciated. I cant seem to find it anywhere online.
300 pounds with out bike.
Nice review Ray. First day with the Hammer, replacing a KK using my Quarq to show power in training mode in Zwift.
I had hoped to run the Hammer through my iPhone 7 in BT with Tickr HR strap, HDMI cabled to the TV. Zwift would not see the Tickr, not a huge deal but learned I would not be able to use the Sirius XM (or any music I assume) and hear the music in my BT earphones. iPhone relays the sound back to TV and I couldn’t figure out a way to to split it.
Ok, back to running Zwift on my Macbook, cabled to TV. Only thing, can’t use BT as Zwift on Mac will ‘see’ the Hammer in BT but not connect. Pop the Ant stick back in and use that to connect to the Hammer (or Sarris as it says as Ant). Actually using the Hammer is a nice change from the old KK Roadmachine…not that loud and the feel is about the same. As for holing certain wattage in workout mode…its…iffy. I’ll have to run it a few more times to see if it will work for me.
Hope the new calibration update is released soon!
The challenge with Bluetooth Smart is you can only have one concurrent connection. Thus, your iPhone hitting up the TICKR breaks that for Zwift on your Mac. Same goes for Hammer, only one concurrent BT connection.
Your best bet would be to pickup a cheap ANT+ USB stick for your Mac, so you could connect via ANT+ there, and then on Bluetooth Smart for your iPhone. Unless I’m misunderstanding how you have things connected.
I tried the iphone first via BT with Hammer and Tickr. Hammer connected thru BT but Tickr would not be seen on the Zwift IOS app.
On the Mac I have an Ant stick as that is what I used with my Quarq all these years. On the Mac the Tickr is seen but BT on the Hammer is seen but can’t be connected. The Hammer can be connected thru Ant (seen as Saris, not as Hammer with the Ant for some reason)
Will I be able to connect both a TICKR and the Hammer to my iPhone at the same time, through BT?
Yes, you can.
In fact, the screenshots in my post show exactly that occurring. 🙂
After playing with it I found that if I put on the Tickr before opening Zwift on iphone it will connect
It appears the Hammer thru-axle adapter set allows you to add an adapter to the trainer then use the thru-axle skewer from your bike to mount the trainer. That would mean the Hammer is truly “thru-axle compatible”.
Your review implies you need an additional standard QR skewer to mount the bike. Are you sure about that?
The KICKR requires a separate accessory kit ($30) comprised of a standard skewer that clamps a thru-axle frame to the trainer using inserts included with the kit.
That’s a big difference if you don’t need anything extra to mount a 142×12 thru-axle frameset to the Hammer.
Which description is correct?
I was referring to the fact that it comes with no quick release skewer at all – regardless of bike type. Meaning, you need that for the bike to stay in place. Or, you can use your existing skewer (sorta a pain in the butt)
If you look at the Wahoo kit, it still has the skewer, whereas the Hammer has all the other parts in that picture of the Wahoo kit.
The Hammer has a real thru-axle system and mine came with 135×5 and 142×12 and 148×12 end caps along with those traditional 130×5 caps. It didn’t come with a 5mm traditional skewer nor a 12mm thru-axle skewer though so I had to use the one from my bike, which I think is a better arrangement anyway.
KICKR and NEO do not have a real thru-axle system and they force you to buy an additional Mickey Mouse kit, which comes with a longer 5mm traditional skewer and adaptor caps for 142×5. These two trainers do not support 148 to my knowledge. Being a thru-axle fan, I hate this arrangement with these two trainers for the fact that you have to buy an additional kit and they are not even real thru-axle. F**k this sh*t!
Doesn’t the Tacx Neo & Flux both support 142 & 148 with their adaptor kit much the same as the Kick’r?
Caiman — Thanks for confirming what I thought. Hammer is a true thru-axle compatible trainer. The others are not. The extra kits required for KICKR, etc. are after-thought solutions.
Ray — You need to update the description next to the thru-axle adapters photo to indicate the thru-axle skewer from your bike is used, not a standard QR skewer like the one you link to on Amazon.
You don’t need to spend $30 for a mickey-mouse accessory kit. The trainer mounts to your thru-axle frameset directly just like it should.
Thanks. I’ve re-worded that section to make it a bit more clear. In original wording it was a bit muddy as I was combining two different thoughts (general skewers, thru-axle compatibility), when in reality they should have been separate paragraphs to minimize confusion. Hope this helps!
Installing a through axle on the Hammer is kind of a pain though. Every time you put the bike on. If you have a tool-less through axle like my Giant road bike or my mountain bikes you can’t spin the handle–it hits the frame of the Hammer. I have to unbolt the handle from the axle, thread the axle in by hand, then use the handle like a box wrench to tighten it up. Otherwise I’d need to switch to a bolt on axle, which means buying an axle and then going to the garage to get the tool, the back to put it away. Kind of a pain–if they had just made enough room for the <3" handle to spin 360 it would have been fine, instead there is <2" of room.
It's not the end of the world but I kind of expected these "details" to be already thought of and taken care of, especially in a $1200 "premium" trainer. One of the main reasons I bought this one was in the hope that it had the best through axle compatibility, I really liked that all the bits came in the box (for 142 and 148). It was easy to install the through axle end caps.
That’s particularly annoying, seems like an oversight. I haven’t put my MTB on the trainer yet but I intend to.
I saw that problem but I didn’t have a problem with my Shimano XT 142×12 thru-axle skewer. I know a skewer like this one is designed with the handle turn perpendicular to the axle but I do not have a problem spinning the skewer with the handle in an in-line position or at a shadow angle. Obviously, the lever must be closed pointing up.
For those that do not have a Hammer, the casing is offset to the left right below the axle to accommodate for the spacing of the electronics and the flywheel. The NEO had a similar casing to bike interfering issue which they fixed with a 2017 casing. There is also a similar problem with the KICKR2 with the handle around the dropout of area of the bike. I had to remove the handle completely in order to fit my bike in as the left dropout was hitting it. Nonetheless they all have a casing interference issue so the Hammer is not alone. With that said, it could be better though.
I am only familiar with a DT Swiss thru-axle skewer. I had to rotate in 180 degree increments to mount on the Hammer but that was easy to do.
Do other brands not allow you to pull on the lever and rotate it?
If your thru-axle skewer doesn’t allow spinning at an angle or rotate the lever while tightening you will need purchase an extra one that does.
Admittedly, most thru-axles aren’t like that one. That’s the first time I’ve seen one like that. Typically they either rotate up like a typical QR handle, or they allow you to set the angle of the lever, like a DT Swiss. If that’s a truly fixed handle, then that’s an odd method Giant has come up with there.
I have a TCR Adv 2 disc and looking at purchasing either the Kickr2 or Hammer. My bike being a thru axle, I was a bit disappointed that Wahoo support couldn’t confirm 100% compatibility with their adapter (although I kinda understand this bike was just recently released.)
Another thing is that the Kikcr uses these slot in adapters into the frame so you can use a normal thin QR skewer. Any one know of the long term effect of that adapter to the threads in the frame? Any issues of mucking it up in the long run?
Hence, now, the Hammer seems to be the best solution for me.
JD, that’s not true of the normal DT Swiss thru-axles. You probably have the detachable head with DT Swiss what the call Plug-in so you can use any 5mm allen key. The Roubaix comes with the non-detatachable version so I had to order this:
link to jensonusa.com
Never mind I now see what you mean You can pull the skewer and do half turns.
To clarify the thru-axle/QR issue —
The Hammer does not come with any QR lever. You’ll need to use the skewer from your bike or purchase an extra skewer for use with the trainer.
The Hammer does include adapters for common thru-axle sizes (ex. 142/12) that mount onto the trainer. Once the adapters are mounted you use your own thru-axle QR to clamp the bike to the trainer.
Other trainers like the KICKR include a standard QR lever. However, an extra charge accessory kit is required if you want thru-axle support. That kit includes spacers to fit thru-axle dropouts so you can use the standard QR lever included with the trainer to mount a thru-axle frameset.
IMO the Hammer is superior in this regard since they designed their trainer to accept standard QR or thru-axle QR levers. Their thru-axle adapters effectively convert the Hammer into a thru-axle unit. There is nothing extra to buy unless you don’t like using your bike’s QR skewer.
Correct. For the Hammer, I am using my own 142×12 thru-axle skewer to mount my bike, hence it is a true thru-axle system. For the KICKR and NEO, I cannot use my 142×12 thru-axle skewer even with their “thru-axle” adaptor kits, I must use their traditional but longer 5mm skewers supplied with the kits. NEO’s 142×5 caps are actually pretty good while 142×5 caps from KICKR were a POS, as I had to modify the right side cap to make my bike fit properly. The key word here is 142×12 for the Hammer vs. the 142×5 for the KICKR and NEO, take your pick.
Ah. Extra long skewer required with the kit. Makes sense.
I am new to the direct drive smart trainer world an I am wondering if anyone has had this problem. Both with the KICKR (took it back because of the noise) and with the Hammer I am experiencing “dropouts”. These are times when the trainer seems to quit sending power signals to my MacBook Pro running Zwift. For a few seconds my power can drop to zero and I even get off my virtual bike. For some reason these occur at the base of most climbs which makes it hard to keep up on a group ride. I switched from ANT+ to Bluetooth to see if that made any difference and I think it helped some but it still occurs. Didn’t seem to happen with an old Powertap wheel on my “dumb” trainer.
Head over to zwiftalizer.com, plop your files in, and see what it says is occurring on the connectivity side. It’s always a good place to start.
Does this trainer come with an ant+ usb dongle?
No, it does not include a ANT+ dongle.
Does anyone know it this is Campagnolo compatible?
If you have 11sp campy you can use a shimano cassette as the spacing is the same. That’s from Cycleops themselves.
I’m hopeful that the firmware update mentioned in the Hammer review is ported to the Magnus as well. My first rides have been less than stellar in the accuracy department. I realize it is a less expensive product, but the power variance I have observed has frequently been outside the 5% range… sometimes considerably. Not a DC Rainmaker quality review, but here’s a summary of my first few rides on the Magnus: link to wp.me
Glad to see the higher end trainer market getting some competition, makes you wonder what the folks at Racermate aka Computrainer are doing??
I bought a Hammer today. The freehub body on mine pops right off, over the installed endcap. I must be missing a stop or bearing or something on the inside of the freehub body, because it pops out if I look at it funny. It literally happens while riding, slamming the 11T into my bike’s dropout.
Dismayed, I called Cycleops an hour before they closed. The CS rep was very nice, but not a tech & time and again put me on hold while he got help with each question. Ultimately, I sent them requested photos & videos, but they called me back to say everyone was packing up & called it a day, so they’d get back to me on Monday.
I’m pretty nonplussed about them as a company based on that. The thing was two hours old and I’m looking at a snow filled New England weekend. If this type of service is all they’re willing to offer, I’ll just return it & support another company. Super bummed, because it otherwise looks & rides beautifully.
A company selling a product internationally should have a 24/7 help desk.
No need to answer calls around the clock, but how about next-day support by email?
It appears Cycleops (Saris?) lacks an easy-to-use help desk, knowledgebase, or community forum. There’s a few FAQs and contact page that mentions 3 business day response time by email or phone support 8am-4:45 pm CST on weekdays. That’s not going to earn many points with consumers.
Wahoo Fitness is using Zendesk with phone and chat support on weekdays.
How do the other trainer brands measure up?
CycleOps has been great to work with for me in the past…. so good, in fact, that I’d buy a product from them that might be just a little bit less impressive compared to the competition, just because I know they’d take care of me.
Turns out my Hammer was flat out missing a bearing & spacer/sleeve from the freehub body. LBS sorted me out in 5 mins with a replacement and it’s working perfectly.
I can totally understand the manufacturing oversight. Mistakes happen. The customer service issue I had is far less easy to overlook. Hopefully I just had an unusual experience. More importantly, hopefully I won’t have to need anymore service, poor or otherwise.
I emailed support on 12/20/16 for the poor accuracy of my recently purchased Magnus, and received the automated response that they’d respond in the order the received the request. Since I had NO actual response to the problem, I sent a follow up email on 1/3/17. Another automated response, and of 1/7/17… nothing. Truly the worst customer service I’ve experienced on an exercise related product.
What is simplest way to check for missing bearing/spacer/sleeve?
Or is there side-to-side play where there should be none?
The freehub body is held in place by the end cap, which is threaded onto the axle. If you remove the end cap (with a wrench) the freehub body should slide right off the axle. The pressed-in bearing should be visible from either side of the freehub body. Since you are asking this question I suppose you already bought a Hammer.
By the way, my Hammer made some racquet noise again for about 5 min this weekend but then it was silent and smooth again. I was hoping it would break so I would have a good reason to send it back.
Also, there is still no firmware update to fix any of the resistance problems that I have. They must still be on break and they don’t know how to fix it. The resistance delay really makes it unrealistic to ride, especially with climbing a short hill and through rollers. Cyclingnews had a short review of the Hammer and they had the same issue, which described towards the end of the article. They described it as a power drop at the start of the climb on the escalator, which essentially a resistance delay problem. If you do not have enough resistance, your power will not be sustainable and will drop. Surprisingly not many review experts including Ray noticed this problem. Titanium Geek also had a review out and didn’t mention this problem. Nonetheless, you really have to ride Zwift with the KICKR2 to truly appreciate how responsive it is supposed to be.
link to cyclingnews.com
When you say “some racquet noise” do you mean a loud racket or ratcheting noises like gears shifting?
I notice Titanium Geek mentions 2 months testing on a pre-production model. It appears Ray also had a pre-production unit at one time. I wonder what refinements were made between then and now.
Hopefully any issues reported are not mechanical and can be resolved with a firmware update (the sooner the better).
It was a clunking and cracking sound inside the casing that is not easy to diagnose. If it was reproducible then I would have someone ride the bike while I listen to the sound to see where it is coming from. I was going to grab my phone to record it but then it stopped. I ride a single speed bike with a dead straight chain line with no shifting at all so my drivetrain is near silent compared to the typical howling sound generated from the trainer. My setup is actually perfect to evaluate these trainers with road simulated riding, as it takes the shifting variable out of the equation so I can just keep concentrating on pedaling and feeling the resistance responsiveness of each trainer based on the terrain.
I’m not sure about Titanium Geek, but I had a production unit for this review.
For Magnus, I had a pre-prod unit early on, followed by a production review.
I suspect the reason that neither of us saw it…is simply that it wasn’t happening to us. 😉
In the *VAST* majority of delay’d power application cases for Zwift/etc…, it’s likely to be connectivity issues. One should look at tools like Zwiftaziler to see if there’s an issue there.
Just following up on my experience. Since my LBS sorted out my freehub body, my trainer has been great. It’s stable, smooth & tracks beautifully with my Quarq. There are some little things, like how clunky their software is & the above mentioned uncertainty about firmware upgrades, but overall it’s terrific. Far better than the Gen 1 Kickr I owned.
That said, the customer service still makes me wish I never supported this company. As I mentioned prior, I emailed the rep who was supposed to be helping me to say how disappointed I was in their service. That person just decided that, since my LBS sorted me out, he need not reply further at all, let alone acknowledge or address my concerns. I’ll be following up with the head of customer service, just to hopefully explain what happened to someone who hopefully will care.
Did the sound ever come back? I just got this trainer last week and on my third workout, while doing a route in CVT, power readings started cutting off. Then I heard this ‘clunking’ sound inside the trainer. Sounded like something on the wheel got detached and hitting another.
Eased off on the pedals, sound disappeared but had to cut the workout short due to the power readings becoming erratic.
Had the dealer look at the trainer but they said everything checks out.
Clunk/cracking/drop problem was more prevalent during first two weeks (months ago).. Now it is occasional with little noise and seems quick to recover. However, have had to end a couple workouts due to repeated drops.
Also have intermittent problem with calibration roll down (failure) which is apparently addressed in latest firmware (released today). Was told to calibrate when bike is first mounted but shouldn’t need to recalibrate between rides if bike remains mounted for days.
I bought an Elite Drivo last year september, I did 4000 km’s in it. After approx 3000 km, I started to hear a strange ‘squeching’ sound from the trainer, always immidiately before stopping. Yesterday it finally stopped, no resistance, something’s broken inside, I heared a really strange cracking sound, like cracking some cogs on a cogwheel. Now I’m emailed to the company, waiting for an answer.
But why post here? This is the CycleOps Hammer review. Different company, different product.
Still no sign of the updated firmware to fix the erg issue, and the CycleOps website doesn’t (appear) to have a web page anywhere to describe firmware versions, so I’m not even sure if I’m on the latest version. I emailed customer service but no reply so far (but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt).
Will the calibration timing be a firmware update or a new app version?
I’m on 31.025, according to the CycleOps iOS Virtual Training app. Nothing indicates that that is the latest version.
Instructions say to go to the website for a step-by-step guide to updating firmware. I can’t find anything. I’m sure it’s straightforward but without instructions, how can I know?
I have the same firmware version. There is no option in VT to update the firmware. Perhaps it will detect and update the firmware automatically if there is one available, who knows?
Thanks. Good to know. Instructions (somewhere) would be useful. We are pointed to the website but I find no pertinent information.
Yes 31.025 is the current version. We hope to wrap up testing this week and release version 31.026 shortly after
Hi Eric. Thanks for that. I’m very interested in getting this update, since Erg mode at the moment is kinda difficult. It’ll average around the set wattage ok, but any changes in cadence take a while to reflect in the power output, so the set level wanders around continually. So, it’s like slope mode but with a fixed gear (if that makes sense).
In the screenshot that Ray posted with the update applied, the power still seems to be very variable around that set point – not as tight as I’d expect. Are my expectations wrong?
link to media.dcrainmaker.com
An example, from TrainerRoad last night:
link to trainerroad.com
And here is what I would expect it to look like – guessing this is a Kickr or a Neo:
link to trainerroad.com
The review mentions a couple tweaks were made in a beta firmware update which was installed during testing.
1. Where do you view the firmware version in the Windows desktop app?
2. How do you update the firmware when a new version is made available? There is something under the File menu called Synchronize Now. Is that it?
having the same issues some others with Zwift in ERG mode. As the training block progresses it becomes harder and harder to turn the crank. This is all with a calibration with the CVT app before the ride. I called Saris and asked if they had any info and their answer was they test everything through their training app and a little w/ Zwift and TR. They recommended building a workout with their app and see if the same issue occurs. Sounds like a lot of extra work to find out if the unit is not working correctly.
I would think there would be some diagnostic in their app. Or at least someone willing to offer some guidance besides “use our app and see if it works right”. I got a great deal on this trainer but I really wish I just kept my Kurt Kinectic.
I have the exact same issues. It’s not dependent on Zwift, CVT or anything else. When you get to a certain power or resistance the trainer feeds back too much torque, slowing your cadence and feeding back ever more torque. It can be solved with smart testing and firmware update and rewrite. Cycleops won’t admit that though.
good to know I’m not the only one. How did you implement the smart testing and firmware update?
The only people who can “solve” this with “smart testing” and firmware update, are CycleOps.
I see no reason, if it’s a problem with the Hammer, that CycleOps wouldn’t admit to it, and fix it. On the contrary, they need to fix it to ensure the Hammer has a good reputation, and sells well.
I didn’t. But I’ve used several other smart trainers and know these problems can be overcome with some smart programming. Not possible to update firmware at the moment, although this is touted as a feature.
I’m sure that they will update everything sometime, dunno when.
I have a couple questions. Just bought myself a hammer and so far I LOVE it! but I have a couple questions I can’t seem to find anywhere else:
1. I’m having trouble getting my garmin edge 510 to connect to the speed output on the trainer (as in it can’t find it, even if I manually input the ANT+ number). any suggestions?
2. Does virtual training default to trainer control based on a paired powermeter (I have P1 pedals) or is there a setting I have to adjust?
3. is there a way to set crank arm length in Virtual Training for the pedals to make sure they record properly?
Thank you in advance!
1) You need to connect it as a power meter, which then includes speed. It doesn’t transmit separately a speed channel.
2) No, it would use trainer control based on the app controlling it.
3) I haven’t looked…
Ryan, as long as you set the crank arm length using a Joule or Garmin the value is saved in the P1’s so you should be set. You cannot currently set the crank arm length in CVT but we are working on adding that ability.
Great review! Thanks for putting in all the leg work testing these trainers. I’m really interest in the Hammer and this confirmed my thoughts. It was down to this and the Kickr. The TA and multiple axle adapters sealed it.
Any one using FULGAZ with the Hammer? I got one a week ago and cannot get the app to control the resistance. The app gathers the data but will not change the resistance in response to climbs and the like.
Sent FULGAZ a note and they have not tested it yet but thought it would work based on the software that controls the Hammer.
Got a quick reply from Mike at FULGAZ, what great customer service. It appears that the Hammer does not currently work with their program.
The text of the reply is as follows:
As luck would have it, I’ve just been for a ride with the person who wrote the Wahoo trainer connection software.
The hammer uses Wahoo’s protocols, but it receives this data on a different channel than the KICKR. The bad news is FulGaz won’t control the KICKR at the moment. The good news is Wahoo will fix the code to make it work. (We use their device connection software).
I can’t give you a timeline on getting this done, but I will let you know when a version is ready for testing
Any update on the ERG firmware issues for this? Looking at backordering one of these, or possibly getting a Drivo or KICKR2. Don’t need it till about Feb. 5th, so not concerned about a short delay.
I am curious as to why they’re still out of stock. Are they holding off on shipping more till they get the firmware sorted? A little communication would go a long way. Like I said I don’t need it right away, but if it’s much longer than that, it won’t really be worth it, it will end up being springtime.
The firmware hasn’t been updated yet (I didn’t check today though). But I’d have hoped it’ll be done by the end of this week (was told by the end of last week).
To be fair, it does work ok, it’s just slow to update to the set power, and doesn’t hold it. But it’s still more or less fine to use. Just not ideal.
However, if you don’t need 148×12 (which is why I bought it), I don’t know if there is anything special about the Hammer that would have made me buy it over a Neo or a Kickr.
If you click the Amazon or Clever Training links both indicate the Hammer is in stock and shipping.
I am more curious about what is the relationship between Cycleops and VirtualTraining?
Where are you supposed to go to find support articles and a users forum for both the trainer and the software? So far all I can find are some FAQs.
Is there some site where cyclists go to discuss specific trainers and training apps?
The manual for the Hammer is pretty much “plug it in and you’re set to go” but if that is not the case is it unclear what to do next. I would like a detailed manual for the Hammer and Virtual Training.
I bounced back and forth between Neo and Hammer and ended up going Hammer because I run a medium cage 11-32 shimano and read there were issues with that setup, and I’ve always had good experiences with Cycleops in the past. I received the unit yesterday, had my first ride this morning, and it was great. I did have a couple of questions about the CVT app, power sync between videoand unit, and called in to Cycleops this morning. I was on the phone with a tech in 1 minute, and they confirmed that the calibration will be shortened significantly, and there’s a firmware update that will address the zwift issue that people have mentioned having prior to a ramp up a hill. At any rate, I’m pretty pleased at this point in time. Would a NEO be better? The additional capabilities are quite interesting and I’d like to try one at some point. But, I’m pretty pleased at this point with my Hammer.
Great review Ray!
From what I can tell on the Windows desktop app the firmware update only appears when viewing the connection to the Hammer under Settings and only if there is an update available. Otherwise you won’t find an option to check your firmware version.
The update must run automatically too because I don’t remember clicking on it and now it’s not listed. However, calibration completes rapidly now.
The firmware update I did was via the CVT mobile app. In my case they had added me to a group that had access to the beta firmware.
Yep, still no firmware update. On the one hand, I’m glad they aren’t rushing it out – I have no desire to brick my trainer because they screwed something up. On the other hand, how long have they had to fix the erg problem? It’s 3 weeks since this review went out, and the review itself says that they fixed it in beta firmware and they just wanted to do a bit more testing. Might have been nice if erg mode had worked properly in the first place, no? They had months to get it right while they were sorting their manufacturing issues out.
I saw and installed a new VT update for the desktop last night but I didn’t have a chance to do a spin down, which supposedly fixed per your feedback. I didn’t find anything to update the firmware with this new desktop VT so I assume the new firmware is still not out yet. I didn’t see any update for my Android.
Isn’t this a sad world we live in, as we always seem to be waiting for something to be fixed even after paying a premium for it. We are all being tricked to be beta testers.
Calibration is now only 15 seconds in my tests.
You want the firmware update and are running the Windows desktop app select Settings, Bike, Bike Trainer, click or tap on the trainer entry Hammer  and if a firmware update is needed it will be installed.
If you are not sure if the desktop app is current, select File, Help, Check for Update in top left menu.
So is there no way to update firmware from the iOS app other than getting this double-secret beta access? Doing so on a PC of course requires an ANT+ stick, correct?
So have you gotten a chance to test if the firmware update also corrected the resistance issues in Zwift and ERG mode?
Only the desktop version of the Virtual Training software had an update out but no new firmware (reside on board the trainer) released yet, at least I did not find any as of today.
I already have the firmware update. How else could calibration have changed from 120 seconds to less than 15?
The firmware updated automatically when I clicked on the Hammer under Bike Trainer listing in the CVT desktop software for Windows.
That was days ago.
I gave up trying to figure out where to view firmware version, but there was a brief “firmware” message when I clicked on Hammer. Now it’s gone. Perhaps it only displays if you need a firmware update.
It would help if there were actual PDF manuals for the Hammer and CVT apps with detailed instructions and descriptions. I could not find any.
As to the new 15 second calibration —
Instructions are similar to the prior 120 second method but there is no prompt to ride for X seconds. Only a prompt to maintain 19-23 or 20-23 mph. When you reach that range a few seconds later you are instructed to stop pedaling. What is odd is the resistance lowers as soon as you reach the lower threshold. You are suddenly pedaling easier before the prompt to stop pedaling appears. Is that similar to how other smart trainers calibrate?
Pretty certain you haven’t had a firmware update. The calibration time is a function of the desktop software, not the firmware.
In saying that, unless CycleOps start publishing this information somewhere, who is to know for sure.
Getting somewhat annoyed that the firmware isn’t updated, the bugs aren’t fixed and no-one is saying anything. Maybe I’ll return the Hammer and get a Kickr.
You could be right (no firmware update) but here’s what happened to me –
Got the unit 10 days ago, installed the CVT desktop app for Windows, ran for a few days with the 120 sec countdown calibration procedure. Starting poking around in the app for firmware button. Couldn’t find it and gave up.
Started the app up one day last week and saw a software update was available. Installed that and starting poking around for the firmware function again. Didn’t notice anything different until I clicked on the Hammer entry under Bike Trainer. Suddenly a message flashed by about “firmware” and then went away.
Afterwards the calibration changed to 19-23 mph, no countdown, completes in less than 15 sec. There is no way to tell if a firmware update actually occurred since there doesn’t appear to be a function to display the firmware version.
You should be able to use the CVT mobile app to check the firmware version. Here’s what it looked like prior to the beta update becoming available. Of course, the beta update only showed for my account because it was a registered beta account. But you can at least see in the app where to check firmware versions.
What version of firmware do you have? The desktop version of VT does not show it, but the Android or iPhone does. I updated my desktop VT but I am pretty sure the firmware of my Hammer didn’t get updated. If it is like the KICKR2, the firmware must be downloaded explicitly to the brain of the trainer in order for it to update. It is not really related to the VT software but it does require an app to download and to update.
Since it is taking so long for them to work on the firmware update, it does not seem too good to me. Perhaps they have a chipset issue, which cannot be easily addressed by a firmware update alone. If the trainer had a slow on-board processor, then it would explain for the resistance lag problem. Hope that is not the case here, as it will be problematic and costly to fix.
31.0025 confirmed on iPhone app so no update yet.
It appears the change from 120 sec calibration to 15 sec was a change to the desktop software only. I’m positive I saw a “firmware” message flash by during the update, perhaps just checking the onboard version.
Do you really need a smartphone to update the firmware when a new release is available?
To be honest I am not having any issues training on the Hammer with CVT.
I am selling my Hammer for $500 shipping (US only) included if anyone is interested. Winter is coming and I plan to get Kickr 3. Email me at vml1648+caiman@gmail if you are interested.
While I’m banging on about getting Erg mode to work “properly” on the Hammer, I’d be interested to know how it compares to the Neo.
It seems clear that the Kickr controls power very precisely in Erg mode, and (I believe) the Neo reacts somewhat slower to changes in cadence.
So, the question I’d like answered is – does the Hammer work the same way as the Neo, or is it “broken”. I’d like it to behave like the Kickr (that was my expectation when I bought it). But this review put doubt in my mind and then said it was “fixed”. But, if it is a deliberate decision to be the same as the Neo, then I’ll have to think about it.
My experience is that when I want to change cadence, the power will either spike (if cadence goes higher) for a few seconds, or drop alarmingly (if cadence goes lower). It makes it quite frustrating to ride with, though I’m getting used to it. I’d prefer it to be a bit more responsive, though it doesn’t need to be as tight as the Kickr.
I feel like I’m talking into an echo chamber here, somewhat, though.
Looking at the hammer construction, do you feel there will be cosmetic damage where the cassette rotates on the plastic? both the kicker and neo have a large rotating plate directly behind this?
Jason, there is plenty of space between the cassette and the cover behind it. We have not seen any contact or interference here.
Emailed support about the time table for the firmware update and was told they are hoping to release it on Wednesday. This was dependent on Apple and I’m assuming their approval process for apps.
Hello all, I’m happy to report that the firmware update v31.31 for the Hammer is now public and live!
This includes two primary fixes. First the one that DC Rainmaker mentioned in his post above. Secondly, we have also addressed some accuracy concerns when using the Hammer in ERG/Target power mode. You should find that the power will track much better to the requested targeted power value.
Here is how you can update:
CycleOps Virtual Training on PC: link to cycleops.com
PowerTap Mobile via iOS: link to cycleops.com
You’ll know the update is installed when you see the new green blinking light on the trainer. This is the updated “ready to be paired” indicator.
Is there an update for the Magnus too? Can we use the android app to update?
Yes, there is an update for the Magnus as well. Same update process as I mentioned above. We have a little work to do but yes, we are working on adding firmware update capabilities to Android CVT.
Will trainers shipped from here forward come with the update already installed?
So this update fixed ERG mode, which is good.
Was any work done on the delayed responsiveness when hitting ramps in Zwift, as described by Caiman on post #97?
Post #174 suggests that Cyclops were possibly working on it.
Marc, yes all new production from us will have this installed.
Mark, It should help, at the same time we are continuing to keep an eye on this.
Awesome! Thanks, Eric. Hoping to get mine soon, been waiting since 12/21. Can’t wait to use it!
Good to hear. I’ve been waiting for mine also. Maybe you could get the batch to Colorado Cyclist sent out a little quicker. They’re saying Feb. 10th for receiving them.
Did not know a green light was possible on the unit. How many colors are there?
A detailed reference manual PDF for the Hammer sure would be nice, complete with how it works, diagrams, explanation of terms, operational tips, etc. Somewhere at the factory all of this is already documented. Why not post a consumer version? Not asking for trade secrets, but a LOT MORE info than the “plug-in and go” booklet in the box.
Did not realize red was a color either until firmware update attempt. In my case the Windows desktop app crashes and closes when it goes to red. Tried Win10 and Win7 PCs with Bluegiga dongle. Ended up using Power Tap on an iPhone which also had issues. However, the app includes a boot recovery mode which fixed the problem and installed latest firmware. Good to go now.
No secret, JD. You can find the document explaining the new light combinations on our manuals page at cycleops.com
link to cycleops.com
Why on earth should you need two separate documents???
Your LED light guide SHOULD be in the “User Guide”!
Considering you posted a link to electronic documents, you should include the LED info in the actual guide immediately.
Then work on replacing any printed documentation included with the trainer once your current supply of obsolete documents are spent.
The lack of complete documentation (or at the very least posting a link to the proper online resource for info that is more likely to be updated) SHOULD be included in any product sold.
Expecting the customer to go out on their own to find it when the included documentation falls short is ridiculous.
We agree, this change just came about in the latest firmware update. We’ll be adding it to the manual as well.
Thanks for the link. Made the mistake of clicking on the booklet link first then saw the separate LED guide that’s been added. Good info to know.
Just to be clear I think you need to provide two docs moving forward. One is the quick setup booklet you get in the box with LED info included. This guide covers quick setup and operation in various languages. Next would be a separate online technical reference guide that gets into at lot more details. English only should be fine.
Will any BlueGiga BLED 112 dongle work or is there something special about the Cycleops BlueGiga dongle?
Bluegiga is the brand of a Bluetooth USB dongle. You can purchase it from several sources.
Correct, there is nothing special about ours, but it must be the Bluegiga BLED112.
I got the Bluegiga BLED 112 dongle and ran the update. It now says the firmware is up to date. However, now I can’t even connect to Zwift. When I first turn the trainer on I get a green flashing light followed by a solid purple light. It does seem to connect to CVT but not Zwift.
Update from post #211.
It is not a solid purple light. It is a solid white with a blue hue when viewed from the side. (I am colorblind and my 4 year old led me astray. My wife confirmed blue hue, but white when you look straight on). Regardless, I’m not getting that anymore.
I have reinstalled Zwift a couple of times. It did work briefly, but now I can’t connect again. Zwift seemed to work with the solid white light. The trainer comes on with flashing green. If I connect to CVT it will change to solid blue. If I try to connect to Zwift it just stays flashing green. It still says firmware is up to date so I can’t try to update the firmware again. I did email Cycleops support as that is probably a better a forum for this at this point. However, if someone has suggestions my ears are open. I currently have a $1200 brick after updating the firmware.
Steve, you mention that you are getting a solid blue light when connected to CVT, so you must have it connected via Bluetooth. What device are you using with CVT. Also what device are you using to run Zwift? and trying to do bluetooth connection there too?
You mention that is does connect to CVT, do freeride/workouts/routs work there? Lastly you said something about seeing a white light? That would tell us that it’s connected via ANT+, have you done it this way?
I have been able to connect to CVT with both Bluetooth and ANT+ (not at the same time of course). I haven’t tried to do any freeride/workouts/routes there since my free trial period is over. I can only get a signal for ANT+ on Zwift, but it won’t connect. It did connect to Zwift via ANT+ after my first reinstall on Zwift when I had a white light. Now all I get on Zwift is the green flashing light. Zwift shows the ANT+ broadcasting, but doesn’t connect.
Freeride is Free, I’d jump on in and give it a go, it’s basically an ERG mode where you can manually increase or decrease targeted power. It would at least confirm that the trainer is working properly. As for connection to zwift You do want to be sure the hammer has a green blink as you attempt to connect it. If you have a solid white or blue on the trainer already it wont work because the trainer would already be connected to a device, so be sure all other connections are stopped. Do you happen to have any other software on your computer that use ANT+, Maybe Garmin software? I’ve seen some garmin software be rather aggressive and take control over an ANT+ stick while preventing other applications from using it properly. Just be sure they are closed and not even running in the background.
I will give Freeride a try when I get home tonight and check to see if something is running in the background. I definitely had the green blink when trying to connect to Zwift. Is this a change with the firmware update? All I saw before the update was blue blinking. Thanks.
Yep, you can see what each light combo means at the link below.
link to cycleops.com
Thank you for all of your help. I think I am up and running now. There must have been something running in the background as you mentioned. Thank you for the chart on what all the lights mean. That was a huge help in knowing what was going on. I think that an email with information like that to everyone that has their trainer registered would be helpful for future updates. Thanks again for your help.
New update works great! Very happy with my Hammer now.
Thats great, thanks for the feedback.
Excellent. Thank you both JD and Eric.
hello, is it possible to use the tacx app with the hammer?
No, not for firmware update management. You would need to use one of the two upgrade options I linked to in post #193
I updated my firmware via the iOS PowerTap app. The update was a bit odd, in that it couldn’t enter some sort of “Boot” mode a couple of times & I had to click on that listing as though it were a device in the PT app.
Ultimately, I was seemingly able to update. I got the green light and my app says my Hammer’s firmware is “up to date.” But my spindown with the CVT app still takes 120 seconds. I thought it was updated to 15?
The spindown time is determined in the app, not the firmware. It’ll take an app update before that number is changed.
The firmware fixed issues with the Hammer unit itself, like response time in Erg mode.
Michael, You must be using bluetooth with CVT. The rolldown is a function of the software not the firmware in the trainer. We have already updated the CVT software rolldown for ANT+ connections but still need to get this applied to bluetooth connections. I don’t have an exact ETA on this currently but keep an eye out for future updates.
Ah, so if I use my ANT+ connector with CVT, rather than Bluetooth, then I’ll get a shorter rolldown? Excellent. Saves a bit of pedalling.
I’m hoping that TrainerRoad integrate their in-app calibration with the Hammer soon, then I’ll be able to just use one application (except for firmware updates).
What trainer do you select to get a Hammer to work with TrainerRoad?
Is the Hammer not listed only because calibration isn’t supported yet?
It shows up at ANT+ Trainer. Works fine.
Occasionally, it shows up as Hammer. Apparently TR just shows whatever is being broadcast from the trainer.
It’s not officially supported yet but I’ve been told it’s working fine (and it is). Not sure if it’ll reliably show up as Hammer in the device list when it is supported though.
Eric… CVT keeps crashing when I try to update the firmware. Any ideas why? I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled the program but just the same.
The trainer is great and feels better than my Kickr2 without the firmware update but I would still like it.
Also my rear mech is touching the casing in bottom gear on my new Hammer and won’t align properly making a terrible noise. The mech is straight… see photo.
I assume you are using the iOS CVT app to update the firmware.
Use the boot option to update the firmware instead of the firmware update button.
I’m using the CVT program with Windows 10.
I have the BlueGiga Dongle, it recognises the trainer and says the firmware needs an update and I start the update but the program crashes after about 5 secs. I’ve tried 3 laptops (Win7, Win 8.1, Win 10) and it crashes on them all.
I like the trainer but might be sending it back as not too happy about the rear mech touching the case. It’s an 11 speed 105 Shimano that’s very common, so shouldn’t be like that. The Tacx Neo has been redesigned for problems like this.
I have my Scott Addict back on the Kickr2. Loadsa clearance 🙂
You must use iOS app to update the firmware or likely apply the boot option from there.
I posted this earlier (see #203 above).
OK see it now! But I haven’t got an iPhone or Mac and not buying one just to update the firmware, Cycleops need to get the CVT program working properly on Windows.
Too much hassle to update the firmware. Everything should be easy and simple for the paying customer. The Kickr2 firmware updates are easy using their Wahoo app… WHEN they give it an update!
The Hammer felt OK without the firmware update anyway, but if it’s there… 😉
I’ve just received the following message from Cycleops…
Thank you for contacting CycleOps. We just released a beta that addresses the firmware update from PC CVT, see below.
Official public beta of VT Desktop 4.2.1 build 17:
– Fix of FW update for Hammer and Magnus
– Hot calibration
– Fix of multiride screen with streamed video
link to storage.googleapis.com
Unfortunately, there is not a solution for the derailleur at this time. If you have any more questions do not hesitate to contact us.
Thanks for the update!
I cannot believe that Cycleops released the Hammer with the clearance issue it has on a very common rear mech like a 105 Shimano.
The Hammer feels better without the firmware update than a Kickr2 I also have, but the rear mech clearance problem will mean I have to return it for a refund to my supplier. I will wait until next year when you fix it like Tacx had to do with the Neo.
I am so disappointed 🙁
I’ve been turbo training for a long, long time – years. I don’t think I’ve ever put the bike into the smallest gear. Ever.
And on a smart trainer, in Erg mode, there is no need to change gears – so stick it in a bigger gear.
Hey guys, yes we found a bug in the CVT desktop app that a few people have run into. Below is a link to a just released beta version of CVT that should fix the firmware update for you. We should also have this version fully tested and released before the end of next week.
link to storage.googleapis.com
Kevin, Can you email me some more pictures of your bike.
That better not be the case. My Hammer is supposed to arrive today, and I don’t own, or plan to own any iDevices.
On the derailleur clearance issue, I guess this is one case where still being on 10sp will work to my advantage. Definitely an issue that should have been caught during testing though.
It’s std 2015 Scott Addict 30.
I’ve just installed the CVT beta update and the firmware has been updated sucessfully 🙂
I don’t use ERG mode. I just like riding. And when I go up 15%+ climbs I need a very low gear 😉
Fair enough. But I bet you’ll find you can still avoid the smallest gear – just set the resistance a bit lower.
I have to say though – if you just like riding the trainer, and don’t use erg mode, then you missing out on a lot of potential.
Out of interest, what was wrong with the Kickr2 for you to swap it for the Hammer?
True. Even for the steepest hills on Zwift, you can always just put the difficulty slider to where you wouldn’t need the easiest gear. Glad you mentioned that, now I know it won’t be something I have to fret about when I eventually upgrade to 11spd.
But I shouldn’t have to change the app resistance setting so I don’t have to use my lowest gear… not when I’ve paid £1000GBP. I always have the resistance at max so I get the best ‘reality’ ride. I have 11 speeds and want to use all of them.
I’ve still got my Kickr2 (which is good, but not perfect) but wanted to try a Hammer as I knew it would be good when I heard about them last year but a bit pricey. I read a review (link to bikeradar.com) that confirmed that the ‘feel’ of the hammer was exactly what I was looking for from a smart trainer. I thought buy one, try it and if it ain’t as good as expected, send it back.
It feels just as good as expected today without the latest firmware but the rear mech kills it for me. I could remove some of the plastic casing where the mech rests but that would invalidate my warranty. Or bend the mech out a bit… wouldn’t take too much. I will see how it feels with the firmware update tomorrow.
I had a Bkool Pro for over a year and looked at the direct trainers as I was getting wheel spin on steep climbs and was one of the main reasons for getting one.
Newbie to this stuff so bear with me. What does ERG training entail?
I see some structured workouts on CVT. Should those vary the resistance automatically or do you make the effort to hit the target power output?
I also see where Free Ride allows you to dial in power resistance but not sure how useful that is without some sort of plan.
Are there options that let you maintain cadence while resistance varies automatically during a workout or do you need something like TrainerRoad for that?
Quick question for you Eric. The trainer came with a spacer for a 10spd cassette, and the cassette (Ultegra 10spd 11-23) also seemed to come with a spacer, I presume since most new wheels now come with 11spd freehub bodies. Am I correct in assuming that I just use one of these spacers? Is there any preference for which one to use, the red one that came on the Hammer’s freehub body, or the metal one that came with the cassette? Or am I totally wrong and I’ll need to use both spacers.
Hi Ray, This is a great review and this looks like the trainer which meets all my criteria but the price point is just too high.
I am looking for a smart trainer with support for 142×12 through axles as I use my trainer with my MTB.
Do you have an article somewhere which looks at support for through axles in particular?
The spindown time is determined in the app, not the firmware. It’ll take an app update before that number is changed.
The firmware fixed issues with the Hammer unit itself, like response time in Erg mode.
Maybe look at the Magnus?
Simon, you can consider this thru-axle conversion and use on a wheel-on trainer if the wheel-off ones are too expensive for you.
link to cycleops.com
Did the firmware upgrade using IOS last night. Didn’t go smoothly but it did update. I forgot to do a new calibration and I am not sure that was needed but when i rode Zwift in just free ride (no workout), which is how I always ride the resistance was all over the place and didn’t match the terrain at all. It was horrible. I performed the calibration and will see if it improves any tonight. This is through IOS on my Iphone 7 plus mirroring it to my TV.
After reinstalling Zwift and doing the calibration everything worked perfect last night. The Hammer seemed to be much faster and responsive to terrain changes.
I had my new Hammer delivered this morning and have fitted the bike but the rear mech is touching the casing in bottom gear.
The mech could do with lining up a bit better but it won’t move over as it’s hitting the casing already. I have taken my bike straight off my Kickr2 which has lots of clearance. I’ve just used the spacers that it came fitted with for a QR skewer.
Anybody had similar problems?
Add another spacer if the one included for 8/9/10 cassette is not enough.
My Ultegra derailleur touches the casing on 11spd Ultegra cassette in low gear but shifts fine. Could easily be resolved with a spacer but issue doesn’t bother me.
I tried the included spacer but the 11 tooth top gear is off the splines and not located securely. I am sooo disappointed that a stupid thing like this stopping me from keeping it as I love everything else about it.
If I didn’t have a Kickr2 I probably would put up with it, but I shouldn’t have to on a trainer that’s cost me £1000.
I will wait until next year when they redesign it like Tacx had to do with the Neo.
I agree, it’s unusual, we have many people riding 11spd without issue. I’m hoping we can still find a solution for you when you have a moment to email me email@example.com
Hey Eric, Any progress on a new firmware beyond 31.031? The current one works well for ERG workouts, but really doesn’t work for Zwift racing. We are at a pretty severe disadvantage when the power troughs (and drops to zero watts) happen in game. This is what happens in Zwift (shown in picture). The speed drops off dramatically when the power troughs happen. this may not be an issue for JRA, but it’s a game-ender when it comes to racing. Thanks.
Andrew – Yes, working on it, I’d expect the next update to address this. Wish I had a good ETA for you but we need to ensure it’s dialed first. I’ll definitely be posting here when it’s available and may be looking for people interested in testing a beta version before it’s public.
I might be interested in the beta. email sent
Just got a Hammer. In Sufferfest, TrainerRoad and in CVT, on MacBook and iOS, it isn’t holding power. To keep power steady I have to pedal faster and faster, to the point where a 2 min interval leaves me spinning out at 130 or 140 rpms.
At the end of my first workout, it suddenly became impossible to turn the pedals over, released a bit, then repeated, for 2 minutes! Did that again today too, in a warm-up.
Cycleops has been polite, but they say because the flywheel has so much inertia that I’m unconsciously increasing legs speed. Can’t see how that, even if it were true, could have a bearing on either of my issues so far.
Nothing but frustration at this point.
Anyone have suggestions?
Sounds like calibration is not working or the fact that it won’t calibrate means the unit is defective.
Have you checked the firmware version?
Have you tried a boot recovery?
If you select Free Ride in CVT and dial that up without feeling resistance the unit is not working.
Did a firmware update right away.
Spin down calibration seems to work fine. I did it in Sufferfest then the 120+ sec version in CVT a few times.
Not sure what you mean by boot recovery. Would I do that through the iOS app like the firmware update?
I have a couple of big road rides on the weekend but will try the Free Ride in CVT on Mon.
Thanks for the help.
So what is the current firmware. Just got my Hammer and got it hooked up. It says firmware revision is 31.026 and there’s no option to update it in the Virtual Training program, the button for Firmware Update just isn’t there where it’s supposed to be.
I used the firmware update in the Powertap app on iPhone. On “Settings” page; 3 orange lines to the left of the title, then 3rd from bottom of resulting menu.
Sorry, mine is 31.031 then in brackets, (27.031)
If you are using an Ant+ dongle, it will connect to the Hammer and work perfectly, but no firmware button shows. You have to buy a BlueGiga dongle and when you use this instead of the Ant+, the button shows. I had to buy a BlueGiga dongle but only cost me £10GBP. Why Cycleops make you have to use a BlueGiga dongle I don’t know!
link to cycleops.com
The Bluegiga dongle is only necessary for the Windows desktop version of CVT. I believe it’s because Windows bluetooth implementation varies between OS versions and only later model PCs support a BLE standard. The Bluegiga dongle provides that BLE standard regardless of the model year of your CPU or OS version. The dongle also works well with other BLE apps for Windows
The Windows CVT app has an update due out next week (currently beta) that resolves the issue updating the firmware.
I borrowed an iPhone to update my firmware a couple weeks ago and used the boot recovery mode on the PowerTap app since the firmware button caused an error (red light).
I had an email from CycleOps VirtualTraining News on Friday saying the CVT update is available now… link to support.virtualtraining.eu
And the beta version worked perfectly… see comment #240
It seems I now understand the runaway cadence issue I was having last week.
I was able to pedal this morning at different, steady cadences, and have the power remain stable.
It seems you have to be very careful to back off just a little bit at the start of each new power level. As you spin up to the new power, the flywheel is speeding up, and will continue to do so if you continue to apply the same power you used to get there. It feels like going over the top of a slight rise onto a slight downhill, not a flat, or like getting a slight tailwind.
If you’re following your power, as displayed on screen, it always dips for just a couple of seconds as you reach the new level. It APPEARS that you need to increase your effort a little bit to bring the power steady. Then the trainer adjusts again, the screen displays a slight dip, and you increase cadence again, and again.
You really need to get used to how gradually the flywheel looses speed.
All of that may be true, but after you’ve ridden it a couple of times, you won’t have to think about it, or adjust your level. Just pedal, concentrate on whatever cadence you need to hold and it just works.
I have one on the way. I really hope it’s better with the new firmware, because it’s unusable when a workout has shorter intervals currently, even more so if you’re supposed to vary cadence. Today I was doing the Week 5/Day 1 of the 12 Week Winter (Advanced) plan on Zwift, and it had intervals of 1 min at 88%FTP at high cadence, 135rpm, followed by a rest interval of 2 min at 73%FTP at 85+rpm. The trainer had a heck of a time trying to adjust the resistance fast enough when the hard interval started as I had to increase my RPM, so for the first 15 seconds of the interval I was closer to 300-400watts instead of 220W. It was just as bad on the transition to the rest interval. It just couldn’t add resistance fast enough to give something to pedal against since I was trying to slow down my cadence to 85rpm, pretty much every time it would end up reading 0 watts, and my guy would stop and unclip until the flywheel slowed enough that my 85rpm would register power. In both cases, I would get the red FAILED flash on the screen. These were no problem with my PowerTap wheel, and my Fluid2 trainer. So far this seems like a downgrade except for the noise. I’m really hoping the firmware fixes this, and I’ll post updated results after, but I’m surprised they even let it ship like this. It makes me wonder if they even had someone try this with the workout mode on Zwift or TrainerRoad. /rant
A separate comment on an issue that impacts my workouts, is if you stop pedaling for any reason during a workout, like to reach down and turn a fan up or whatever, Zwift will assume you can’t hold the required power and it will disable ERG mode, turning your smart trainer into a dumb trainer. Currently, there’s no way to get it to reenable the ERG mode on the Hammer without bring up the workout screen and clicking Workout again, but this starts the workout over at the beginning, which sucks if you’re halfway through, or even if you’re almost through your warm-up and starting to need more fan. It would be nice if they just let you toggle it, or at least let you lock out that option or give you some more control over it, so it never disables ERG mode. This is on Zwift and Cycleops, so separate rant… /rant
I haven’t tested, but apparently if you continue into the next interval, Zwift is supposed to restart ERG at the new one. Only a partial solution if it works as I’ve seen it described.
The ERG issue is purely on Zwift. TrainerRoad does not suffer from the issue. It is a programming issue on Zwift side, regardless of the trainer used.
Do you mean you have a replacement on the way because the firmware on your unit wouldn’t update?
What are the steps to test ERG mode using the CVT desktop app?
I had a problem yesterday on a route that went to 10.5%. Resistance was changing as expected until I started riding out of the saddle. When incline went from 9% to 10% the resistance suddenly went slack with a cracking noise. I back pedaled a few times and resistance kicked back in.
No, I just have a BlueGiga dongle on the way because it’s the only way to update the firmware if you’re not trapped in Apple’s walled garden.
I’m not really interested in using the CVT app, so it doesn’t matter to me how the ERG mode on that works.
Switching to out of the saddle is another situation where the trainer can’t seem to increase resistance enough to keep power on at the lower RPM. Basically anytime you have to change cadence, either switching to standing or vice-versa, the adjustment time is annoying. The drop in cadence for those intervals was so large, 120rpm>85rpm, that I was worried Zwift would disable ERG mode since the trainer wouldn’t let me put out enough power at the cadence I was supposed to be doing. Luckily it didn’t, but it was a concern. I’ve learned to use the pause button now to avoid the ERG disabling if I have a reason to stop pedaling on purpose.
I haven’t had any cracking noises. I just think the response needs to be tightened up, hopefully the new firmware does that.
I borrowed an iPhone to update the firmware before the desktop app update was made available. Only took about 10 minutes and you don’t need a license for the PowerTap app to use it for that purpose.
I don’t like Zwift but was going to test ERG mode in CVT to see if the same issues you describe. So far I have only used the routes function to ride courses with videos. I tried the FTP test but that does not change the resistance for you,
I’m too old to match your cadence or watts but am curious what ERG mode does.
It does appear cadence changes can adversely affect power resistance. In my case switching to out of the saddle dropped cadence to 60 rpm from 100 rpm seated.
I finally received my BlueGiga dongle yesterday. I wish Amazon had them for Prime shipping. Anyway, allowed the software to update when I opened it. It had a message that the update for the PC CVT software had a new firmware update available. The PC update went smoothly. I then went to settings/bike/select trainer, I did click the button to use the bluegiga dongle instead of the built-in windows bluetooth controller. Selected the Hammer, clicked on it, clicked the check firmware button. It did it’s thing and said there was a firmware update available, I selected yes to install it, and it started to install. It took a little while, I started playing a game to pass the time, but once I had killed the boss on that level, I looked back to check and the firmware update was complete, and the screen showed the new firmware version.
This morning, I did a 10 minute warm-up, then opened CVT to do a calibration and was a little surprised that the only calibration available was the manual zero calibration. I did it though, then got back into Zwift to do a workout with lots of semi-short intervals (30sec-2min). The Hammer reacted to the changes great. It was able to keep the watts where they were supposed to be without me having to shift to help it. It didn’t cause me to fail any of the intervals. On intervals shifting from 350W to 125W, it was able to make the transition in less than 5 seconds. I do wonder how it will do on some of the 8 second sprint intervals, where I’m going from 180W to 1100W, but I’ll just have to check that the next time I do one of those.
It tracked the power really well during the intervals too, with a maximum variance of +/-5W but more often +/-2W. The most difficult thing to do still remains to be reducing cadence, as the flywheel just keeps spinning with so much momentum. All in all, pretty good so far. It seemed to react well during sim mode on Zwift when I was doing the 10 minute warm-up before the calibration too. I like it now, barring any problems with short sprint intervals.
I don’t use Zwift for structured training so I am not sure my comment will apply, however if you are truly in erg mode then the gear you are choosing is irrelevant to the power. The trainer simply adjusts resistance to insure that your power output matches the target.
Some people insist on running it in the big chain ring which just causes the fly wheel to spin faster than necessary and exaggerates problems such as you and others are describing related to flywheel inertia. If the flywheel is spinning slower the trainer can compensate for changes in cadence and power faster.
I do all my structured training in trainerroad using only the small chainring and have none of the issues you describe. I have used the Hammer with Zwift but only in course mode. Works fine for me.
Also with any smart trainer Erg mode + short max effort sprint intervals = crappy experience. Use slope mode if you want to do hard short sprints as realistically as possible.
I truly appreciate your reviews of noise levels. But I have noticed something that could be more of a factor than taking a decibel reading. Its vibration. I had the originl kickr a year ago and noticed that when using the kickr it produced a vibration that would create noise throughout the house. Not good. If playing a recording of the kickr sound through a stereo system, the sound did not travel through the house like it did when actually riding the kickr.
Besides the noise created by vibrations it also was something I could feel through the saddle. Not good. Especially on epic rides.
Could you possibly describe vibration levels in each of these units? There are instruments to measure vibration and oscillations. I think this would be a great addition to your reviews.
I have a road bike with disc brakes and a thru axle (135/10mm). This is the only trainer that I could get to work with it. Most offer a skewer type adapter but they don’t work with my bike. Some (like the Tacx) do not have clearance for the disc brake caliper. The hammer had a change out adapter piece on the trainer and it allowed me to use my through axle with zero problems and had plenty of clearance for the caliper. Very pleased.
I’ve had the latest firmware update for about two weeks now. In general it works pretty good. The only shortfall is in the shortest intervals, like 8s sprints. Part of that is just the way Zwift workouts are programmed though. An example is in the 12Week(Advanced) training program, there are 3 hour Endurance workouts with 8secMAX sprints every 15 minutes. I do like these workouts. It makes it a lot easier to get through the 3 hours with it broken into little chunks. The problem is the workouts are coded such that Zwift is just asking the trainer for 300%FTP during the 8sec sprints, while you’re supposed to be going for max. As a result, once I hit 810W it starts lowering the resistance trying to keep me at that level, so I end up spinning at 135rpm and only hitting 850W or so, instead of the over 1000W I usually get for those. The solution I guess is to just not use ERG mode for those workouts and shift to get the proper power output.
I did have a weird lockup of the power reading one time before and one time after the new firmware update. The first time, I was just cruising along doing an Endurance workout in ERG mode at 180W, and the power reading suddenly just pegged at 175W. It wouldn’t move whether I started sprinting, or stopped pedaling. The resistance stayed about 175W also. I tried un-pairing and re-pairing the power meter (ANT+), but finally just finished the workout because it was close enough. Yesterday, it happened at the end of a sweet spot interval, the interval was at 255W, and when the interval ended and switched to recovery at 185W, the power meter reading still said 255W, and the resistance stayed the same. I didn’t bother trying the un-pairing and re-pairing this time, (in hindsight, I should have tried unpairing and repairing the Controllable Trainer, instead of the Power Meter) instead I just closed Zwift and reopened it. While it was reopening, I went ahead and unplugged the Hammer for a few seconds and plugged it back in, just in case. I just wanted it fixed so I could continue my workout. It’s a really intermittent issue. It’s only happened twice now since I got the Hammer at the beginning of February. In both instances, once the Power reading locked up, the graph at the bottom of the screen that shows your power over time got completely straight for the locked-up portion instead of having it’s usual minor variation. I took a bunch of screen shots I can post, though they’re on my laptop at home.
Overall, it works great. It’s had that one weird lockup issue twice, but otherwise has worked as it should once I updated the firmware. I think the sprint issue is just as much an issue with Zwift and is probably the same on any smart trainer. I think the workaround for that is simply to not use ERG mode for those types of workouts. It would be nice if Zwift gave you a way to enable/disable ERG mode during a workout.
So I’ve had my Hammer one week, updated to the latest firmware (x.031) and just have to say that I’m a bit disappointed with the responsiveness on Zwift. It does not seem to cope with sudden changes in gradient and takes about 2-3 seconds to apply the correct resistance. This was really noticeable on Libby Hill on the Richmond course, where the resistance is hardest a few seconds after you hit the peak +20% gradient.
Furthermore on the same course, twice in the same race it stopped reporting all power when it hit the bottom of the 23rd street climb, so my avatar come to a complete standstill and unclipped even though I was IRL stomping on the pedals. So both times I just watched everyone else just pedal away from me. This loss of power was recorded both on my Garmin and on Zwift, and both times when I had decent ANT+ connection according to Zwift Analyzer. This seems to be the same issue that was highlighted in Titaniumgeek’s review.
I think this slow responsiveness is baked into the software. In ERG mode it seems sensible if you are doing very large change in power, since you may want to give yourself 2-3 seconds on transition and not hit a wall, except this is of no use for sprint intervals.
I wonder if this is something between the Zwift and Cycleops software? My Magnus takes 5 seconds to react to Zwift incline changes. During Zwift workouts in erg mode it’s ok not great. I just recently started using Exert on my Garmin 820 controlling the Magnus and the responsiveness is shockingly quick during changes.
The lag seems to be a Zwift issue – it happens with a lot of trainers, not just the Hammer.
What is problematic with the Hammer is that it reports power troughs when you ease up on the power – so sometimes if you ease up a little then it will report zero power output for 2-3 seconds.
You can see a power trough going to zero in DCR’s second-to-last power chart above.
I’ve experienced power troughs when changing down gears on Zwift. I’ve also had power troughs on ERG mode on Zwift – where I had a workout that required me to drop my cadence at the same time as it dropped resistance – so my avatar stopped and Zwift turned off the ERG mode. I’ve had power troughs on TrainerRoad where I dropped my cadence as well.
The problem with the troughs is that it completely breaks Zwift. When you hit a steep hill and you ease up a little by changing to a lighter gear, you get zero power just as the hills slows you down. So often you just end up coming a grinding halt. So it means that the Hammer cannot be used on races on Zwift and also often does not work on workout mode.
I’ve reported this to Cyclops but so far no response from them – but it’s only been a week so maybe they’ll get back to us on this..
I’ve received a reply from CycleOps. They are working on new firmware that will quicken the response to hills and which will solve the power drop problems.
They don’t as yet have an ETA for this. From their emails they seem confident the issues will be solved.
Hi Mark – have you heard anything from Cycleops since you posted this? I’m reaching the limit of my tolerance now with 3 workouts in a row ruined by power drop-outs
No I have not received any further reply, but I did actually tell them that I would wait patiently until it is done so I am not expecting any further updates. They did offer to put me in the beta testing programme but I declined because, where I live, I wouldn’t be covered if the beta bricked my unit. You could try asking Cyclops Eric about this – he participated further up on this thread.
At the time I communicated with them they said they were extremely confident of a fix, but could not give an ETA. That was only three weeks ago which included some public holidays, so I wasn’t expecting a release of the firmware yet.
But I share with you the frustration. It is extremely difficult to be patient on this. On Zwift the power drops usually happen on the Watopia Esses or in the London escalator – usually just at the end of a group ride. So usually you are racing at the rivet just before the end, start sprinting up a hill, get a power drop and watch your race group disappear into the distance with no chance of you catching up. You end up feeling that the effort you made in keeping up with the group over the previous 60 minutes is completely wasted.
I did finally notice the power drops also. I had assumed when people said they were easing up and it dropped to zero, that perhaps they were easing up enough that you’re not pushing against the flywheel, but I was doing sprints going back down to endurance and had noticed it drop to zero and stay there even though I was definitely pushing against the flywheel, so the next few I tried to really sort of stay on the power after the sprints. I was easily pushing over 300 watts against the flywheel, and it still stayed zero for a while. It reading zero didn’t effect my workout at all, it was just annoying and I was trying to see if I could let the power down more slowly, but it would do it consistently. I was doing 10 sec all out sprints at about 1000-800W, I had ERG mode turned off, so I could actually do all-out sprints, I had power averaging at instant (or 1 sec, whatever the option is in Zwift that is not the 3 sec option) and it happened after all 10 sprints. After the workout I kept riding around in Sim mode for a while and I had the power dropout on a hill also. I almost never ride around in Sim mode so I thought that was wierd. I do use a USB extension cable for the ANT+ dongle, so I wouldn’t think it’s signal dropout, especially since it just happens after big changes in power. I do expect they’ll fix it soon, and it mostly doesn’t actually have an effect on my workout’s effectiveness.
This chart in the review above illustrates the power drop more clearly. The Hammer reports zero power immediately after easing up from a sprint while the other power meters are reporting power.
link to media.dcrainmaker.com
Am experiencing the same issue you describe but on CVT Windows desktop app.
On a sim ride (CVT route) if I get bogged down on a steep section (10% for me) and ease up to spin slowly while standing the resistance suddenly drops to zero. You have to stop pedaling and wait for resistance to kick back in before continuing.
On other sims the connection drops intermittently throughout the ride for 15-20 seconds at a time. There’s some resistance but CVT is recording zero watts and speed.
Needless to say those session stats are skewed badly.
The problem isn’t apparent on structured workouts but I’m not doing not anything hard for those, just tempo rides.
One thing that I had to investigate quite a bit, and which doesn’t really get much focus: the Hammer seems to be the only direct drive trainer out there that will allow you to use a mountain bike with a 12×148 thru-axle (i.e. Boost “standard”).
Just got my Hammer today and can confirm it works with a Boost rear axle.
I did the spindown calibration in TrainerRoad via the ANT+ Trainer device screen. TR didn’t complain, but would that give accurate results? Or do you have to do it via the CycleOps app?
What does “Prompt when HOT calibration is ready” do in the CVT app for Windows under Settings, Ride Settings?
Hi all, just curious if anyone has issues with creaking at the rear dropouts and potential solutions. I fiddle with the skewer making sure it’s tight but not too tight. The creaking isn’t an all the time thing and I partly suspect it could be related to fit and my body mechanics (getting fit this coming week so maybe that’ll help)
I get creaking on occasion. To fix it, I make sure all contact surfaces are very clean and free from dirt and such. I install the bike and make sure to apply downforce, then tighten the skewer a bit on the tight side. Interestingly, if I have minor creaks, they seem to disappear over time.
So, if I get a stages (or other crank based power meter) the annoying drop outs will stop occurring? Last night on Zwift was frustrating, I had multiple drops when going downhill to sudden uphills, like on the radio tower. I want to love this trainer but I’m starting to regret not getting a Neo. The cost difference will be negated if I have to buy another power meter to make this thing work right. I want to do some races on Zwift but it will be pointless, since I will get dropped whenever there is a sharp uphill after a down.
Is there any word when Cyclops is going to have an update? All I got from them in an email was they are aware of a communication problem with Zwift.
Haven’t been on my Hammer in over a month.
What is the current firmware version as of today (June 7 2017)?
Is there a detailed explanation of how smart trainers operate under the hood?
Is it possible the reported drop problem cannot be resolved through a firmware update?
31.031 as of 2/1/17
New firmware out today.(yesterday in USA). 31.032
Release notes only say that it offers “Improved trainer rolldown calibration”
Anyway, I updated my unit and tried Zwift in London. Went up and down the escalator 5 times. I didn’t experience any serious power drops. I may have experienced minor ones which showed for less than a second when displaying instantaneous power – those they were minor and could be simply due to variation in power; I’m not entirely sure. In any case the power drop issue seems to be improved, at least based on my sample of n=5.
There still seems to be about a two second lag when hitting the escalator before you feel the resistance. I’m not sure how much of that is Zwift and how much of that is the Hammer.
Thanks for the shout out on the firmware update.
I do have the calibration roll down issue occasionally plus intermittent drops.
As to the 2 second lag, that also occurs with the CVT app in ride mode. It doesn’t matter much since it occurs at both start and end points for changes in slope. But I can see why that would be an issue on Zwift group rides.
I haven’t noticed any lag in CVT structured workout mode.
Perhaps they could address lag for simulated ride apps by adding a read-ahead setting for slope changes (0-3 sec).
Does anyone else have experience of using this to race with Zwift following the latest firmware update? I’m torn between this and the Kickr 2 but I race a lot on zwift so fast reaction to gradient changes is critical for me..
If you race, the Hammer is way more stable than the KICKR when sprinting. It’s like night and day. As for the power drop behavior, I would consider adding a real power meter to the equation. It’s worth it just for the improvements to your outdoor training/efforts.
Thanks – I already have a 4iiii power meter, I’m just concerned about the lag issue reported by some owners in zwift when reaching hills/rollers.
I tried 3 times on the London escalator today with the new firmware. Failed all three times, same zero power stoppage. Even tried going harder up it. No dice. From what I can tell, the major change with this firmware update is that the resistance is lower for Zwift (meaning the gearing choices are somewhat closer to reality than before, but still maybe 2 gears off, used to be 5 gears).
All, we are aware of this happening in Zwift and are working to correct it.
In order to correctly address this we have determined that two updates are necessary.
1st – The update that was just released 6/26/17 for improved rolldown calibration
2nd – This update we are still working on but will have advanced cadence detection
Neither of these will fix the Zwift issue solely but are both necessary to fix it correctly. This second update is being worked on right now and will be communicated out the same as the one this week. I always dislike to promise an ETA of these releases due to the variability of testing and ensuring it’s ready for public use but I’d say that it’s likely an update that will be available in August.
You are all welcome to contact me directly if you have any questions firstname.lastname@example.org
OK – so I’ve tried out the Esses on Watopia. The new firmware does not eliminate power drops. I’ve tried without and with calibration before the ride. Having ridden the Esses multiple times, either way. Each time I get at least one instance of power drops.
The drops, when they happen, seem to be a bit shorter than before. I can’t verify that though.
Any update on the zwift power and lag issues?
The CycleOps folks dropped a comment up above about two weeks ago. Linked here: link to dcrainmaker.com
Ray – do you know when the power lag issue in Zwift is going to be fixed? Do you have a contact at Cycleops you can put some pressure on for a firmware release date?!
This comment from cycleops Eric is the latest I have seen.
“In order to correctly address this we have determined that two updates are necessary.
1st – The update that was just released 6/26/17 for improved rolldown calibration
2nd – This update we are still working on but will have advanced cadence detection
Neither of these will fix the Zwift issue solely but are both necessary to fix it correctly. This second update is being worked on right now and will be communicated out the same as the one this week. I always dislike to promise an ETA of these releases due to the variability of testing and ensuring it’s ready for public use but I’d say that it’s likely an update that will be available in August.”
Yeah – I’ve not seen anything since that either. Does anyone else have any more up to date info?
I shot over a note a few minutes ago asking for some clarity.
The CycleOps folks say they’re on target to release that 2nd update by the end of the month, ahead of/at Eurobike.
That’s great, will you be testing this yourself ahead of the official release Ray?
Yup, I have access to them as of last night, and will try and squeeze in a test in the next few days (somewhat slammed with other trainers at the moment).
Ray, that’s great. Look forward to reading your analysis.
Any news on the latest firmware update? Was it released at Eurobike?
So it’s been 3 months since I bought my Hammer. I’ve been using it heavily and have a few observations about the unit.
For the most part I love the unit. It’s sturdy. It’s more stable than any other trainer I’ve used (KICKR, KICKR Snap, Neo, Drivo.) It’s quiet enough for my needs. Spindown calibrations seem to be more accurate with the latest June firmware.
Now for the outstanding issues.
– Everyone knows about the the Zwift power drop issue. I’m sure it’ll be fixed relatively soon, before the next northern hemisphere trainer season.
– The damn stickers peeling off. This bugs me more than it should.
– At some point when ramping up my power, I can definitely feel a slight buzz from the belt drive.
– My power brick buzzes when the trainer is in stand-by and it chirps continuously when the trainer is active/green.
– After 1-2 weeks of inactivity, my trainer will not wake up. I have to pull cord and plug it back in, then it works again.
– Here’s the big one. After a 1-hour Zwift ride averaging 230W with 3 sprint points, my trainer started making noises. It was a gritty sound as if I was running a bad chainline, but I know it’s not coming from my bicycle components. It was especially noticeable at low RPM, and eventually I started hearing a rhythmic ticking noise too. I got off the trainer and pedaled slowly with my hand. The grittiness was there while pedaling and while coasting. Toward the end of the coast-down, the final clicks of the freehub actually turned my pedals over. I think there’s a bearing going bad, but I’m not 100% sure yet. I’ll keep riding it for now and see if it becomes more noticeable.
Please reach out to me directly email@example.com. I’ll send you some new decals for the trainer, that should not be happening. You are correct, firmware is coming to address the zero watt instances where you go from a downhill to an uphill. I believe the noises you are hearing may be the freehub, I’m happy to replace that too.
Please add yellow stripe or chevron decals for the top of the feet.
It is fairly common to setup the Hammer on a black mat. The extended feet are virtually invisible in a dimly lit room and easy to trip over especially for house guests. Ouch!
Hi Eugene, i just noticed you have a similar issue to me in so much you can feel a buzz when applying pressure to the pedals. Did you ever resolve this or just live with it?
I’m suddenly having the same issues as the guy above.
I have had the Hammer since end of Dec, 3-4 rides a ride and all have been great after the first firmware update. I ride connected via ANT to a PC (bike is 4ft away from ANT stick), calibrate each ride through the CO PC app, then fire up Zwift. Last 2 rides the CO PC app wouldn’t calibrate…would spin and spin and no stop would occur, so I have used the BT app on my iPhone to calibrate and that is in the 20 sec or so as usual. Once Zwift starts have been multiple power drops during the last 2 rides.
Last night’s ride was an easy recovery at 170 watts and suddenly resilience became harder and harder. Watts still showed 170 but it felt like a 300 watts. I stopped the ride, shut down Zwift, the PC, pulled the plus on the Hammer, then reconnected. As the Hammer freehub/fly wheel was spinning I could hear what others have said…’knocking’ or ‘clunking’ coming from inside the unit…a gritty click click click as the wheel slowed down.
The CO PC app kept saying Calibration Failed after 10 sec or stating it. I used the iPhone app and it calibrated then started the CO app and did a free ride. Watts were jumping all over the placer with stable easy riding, then app paused the ride. Stopped everything again, pulled plugs on all electronics and still have the gritty clicking/ knocking sounds inside the unit.
Restarted the whole thing again and got the PC app to calibrate, started Zwift and rode for 10 min with only 1 power drop. Off the bike I listened to the unit and it still had that louder gritty clicking/ knocking sound. Not sure if it would be the freehub, flywheel, belt or what. Maybe there needs some grease inside the unit? I’m wishing I didn’t give away my old dumb trainer if I needed a replacement. I’ll reach out to CO to see what they say.
I try to update my Hammer with the app on an iPhone. When it´s connected, it says my Hammer has v. 31.025 but there is no option for update to 31.032.
How can I update my app on my iPhone to the latest version?
Mine worked last night. updated no issue. I did have to use the powertap app not the CVT app tho.
I’ve had power dropouts since day 1 on my Hammer both on Zwift and CVT. Zwiftalizer isn’t too bad and I’ve tried to eliminate all sorts of interference. Cycleops have said they will replace my unit under warranty but I’m wondering if all units experience the drop to zero watts? Or am I just unlucky? Like others here it happens where there are substantial changes in gradient. It’s fine on the flat.
I believe that it will apply to all Hammers.
I know a few people who have not noticed it but I believe it’s either because they use a lot of ERG mode or they’re just free riding on Zwift instead of racing so they might not notice it.
But there are plenty of reviews where the power drops occur:
– James Gill at Titaniumgeek picked them up
– DCR’s review up above has graphs with a power drop
– DCR’s review of the 4iiii Precision Pro has loads power drops on Zwift when he uses the Hammer as one fo the comparison power meters
link to dcrainmaker.com
– Shane Millar’s video on Youtube shows a graph with loads of power drops which he attributes to connectivity issues.
CycleOps Eric above told me by email that he would be 100% certain they would have a firmware fix for this. That was back in March, but when I chased up for it in June he said they were still in Alpha. He’s mentioned above that it will come out soon – hopefully this month.
I really hope this can be fixed. It’s a bit of a concern that no one noticed during testing prior to release. Now I’m not sure if it is worth swapping my unit out or not.
Another “professional” review came out today. There is chart in the review that shows power drops on hills (Chart D for the Hammer in the link below,showing the Hammer with zero power for a few seconds just before there is a big increase for the hills).
link to cyclingtips.com
Thanks Mark. I read it earlier and today received my replacement Hammer. Guess what? It does the same thing.
We are waiting until around Fall for the 2nd of two firmware updates that CycleOps claims will correct the problem.
Until then, I try to make sure to keep steady pressure on during the cresting of hills and only relax after that. Doing that process, I seem to be able to minimize the power drops in Zwift.
You guys having issues in Zwift might want to try out the new calibration feature Zwift just rolled out. I tried it with the Hammer and the calibration was successful. I don’t know if it solves the problems, today is supposed to be a rest day, and tomorrow is longer intervals where it isn’t usually affected. Anyway, it’s on the pairing screen, there will be a little wrench icon next to the power meter, click that, and it will lead you through a roll-down calibration. Very simple. It recommends using the trainer for 10 minutes first so it’s warmed up. Hopefully a rolldown calibration in Zwift will solve some of the Zwift related issues. Looks like Zwift is going to try to partner with Cycleops on selling Hammers directly, so it’s in their best interest to get it working.
I can’t think of a single reason that the Zwift calibration will correct the power drop issue. All it does is set the calibration scale for power measurement on the trainer. It does not alter the power measurement properties of the trainer in any way.
That has to be done by CycleOps and is planned in the 2nd of their firmware updates. Until that time, we will suffer the issue no matter how we calibrate the trainer.
Possibly, but since it’s free to try, you may as well give it a shot.
I do wish the Hammer actually had a power meter instead of just estimating power based off of a load cell. If they were actually measuring power, it wouldn’t read zero while you’re still applying pressure to the pedals. This makes me want to buy an additional crank or chainring based power meter just so I can see if it’s even accurate, let alone getting rid of the power drops. Sadly, I have a Powertap wheel as my on road power meter, so that doesn’t really help me with the Hammer. Part of me thinks it needs a hardware update (to include an actual power meter) to solve the problem rather than just a firmware update.
Wahoo deliberately dropped the strain-gauge based power meter for the KICKR2 because they had significant issues getting it to read correctly in all cases. It had to do with the fact that it was mounted on or near the resistance unit and was affected by the belt drive and gear ratios. In fact, I think they issued a firmware update for the KICKR1 that would essentially ignore the strain gauge and use the resistance unit to measure power.
All that is to say, a strain-gauge based power meter could be nice, but there is no guarantee that it would solve the problem (not to mention possibly introducing new ones). There are several models of trainers measuring power quite accurately in similar methods to how the Hammer works. It is very possible and I hope CycleOps will have it fixed in the next firmware release.
The real key here is to accurately measure and interpret the results of the info from their power measuring device.
I just got back Hammer set up again after some time off. I updated the firmware to the most recent update and I’m having issues on Zwift. This morning I connected quickly to test it, with the Hammer set as the control and my PT P1 pedals set as the power meter, and it wasn’t changing resistance as the road changed on the London course.
Has anyone experienced this issue recently?
In general I’m pretty happy with my Hammer. One thing I’ve noticed though: it has difficulty with sudden changes in resistance. So, for example, if you’re using TrainerRoad, are operating in ERG mode, and you have short sprint intervals, the Hammer will very gradually raise the resistance, and often you won’t be able to hit your wattage targets before the interval is over.
More problematic is when it encounters sharp reductions in target power. A target drop from, say, 500W to 300W takes significant delay to finally stabilize at the lower target wattage. (Perhaps it has to do with the massive flywheel)
If you’re just doing long, constant intervals without any punchy high-wattage efforts, things are fine.
The delay up and down in power is typical of all electronically controlled trainers. The exact amount depends on the brand, model and amount of change between ERG power levels. It would be a bad thing if the power changed instantly. Our bodies would likely not handle those abrupt changes very well.
That being the case, it is best to run those short on/off interval efforts in a standard Resistance mode rather than ERG mode. TrainerRoad has a quick switch within the workout so it’s easy to switch if there are mixed sections within your workout.
And yes, the large flywheel on the Hammer also makes the power decrease compensation a bit slower. I overcome this by using a low relative gear in ERG (small front ring and large cog on the cassette) to keep the overall flywheel speed low. It spins down quicker this way compared to a higher gear.
The other way is to use the Resistance mode and it reacts quicker to pull the resistance in line.
All of these drop-out/ zero issues seem to be with people using Zwift. Do they happen on normal Erg workouts going between effort levels, on something like TR?
They actually seem to have gone away for me on Zwift now, since the new calibration feature on Zwift was implemented. I’ll see a zero drop on my Garmin, reading the raw data from the Hammer, but Zwift power stays where I’d expect it to be.
I don’t use Zwift and don’t plan to.
I haven’t used the Hammer in a few months. My drop-out issues were infrequent but occurred in CVT (now called Rouvy) on course routes that involved sharp inclines (8-10%) that killed cadence and required out-of-saddle jumps. Also experienced sudden drops on at least one structured workout that included rapid changes in effort while seated.
I haven’t tried the new firmware yet but may get a chance soon if rain from Irma lasts for days.
Otherwise weather has been too nice to ride indoors.
The zwift issue seems to be the delay in ramping up/down the resistance. It takes about 3-4 seconds for the resistance to kick in either in ERG mode or when getting incline/resistance info from Zwift. In ERG mode, it is nice that the resistance doesn’t hit all at once but in ‘game’ mode, it takes away from the realism and shows as a delayed reaction by the trainer. This is most noticeable on the stairs. In addition (also on the stairs) when there is a big change in resistance, the power from the trainer seems to ‘zero’ out for a short bit and when climbing, it can bring you to a dead stop until the power kicks in again.
Both of these issues should be able to be fixed by firmware.
This has nothing to do with the dropouts of course. I switched from ANT+ to BT and I haven’t been getting dropouts any more (knock on wood!).
Ray, which gets your vote kickr 2017, hammer or neo and why?
It’s a bit complex. With KICKR 2017 having improved thru-axle support, that’s a case there if you want to go and get the CLIMB later on this year.
With the Neo, it’s all about silence (and the road feel stuff).
In some ways Hammer lost it’s ‘unique selling point’ with the better thru-axle compatibility – so that hurts a bit there.
Thanks Ray, makes sense. I guess there isn’t really any reason to choose the Hammer over the Kickr now so it’s between then Neo and the Kickr. Probably worth waiting a little for some more in depth reviews of the climb to see if it will actually improve training.
Do you have any news on when the Hammer firmware update that was to come out around Eurobike will be released? I believe this was to address Zwift power dropoffs. I am trying to decide between the Kickr and Hammer, but would first like to see what impact the upcoming firmware update has on the performance of the Hammer.
Just checked, they’re saying it should push out next week.
Thanks for the update. I’m going to hold off on making a decision on which trainer to purchase until we see what impact the upcoming firmware update has on the performance of the Hammer.
Firmware has now been released. The link below will provide update directions for those that need it.
link to cycleops.com
Can’t wait to see user feedback on this latest firmware update. I have been holding off replacing my Computrainer until this firmware was released.
I’m curious how it measures cadence?
I’ll download it tonight to try it. I wish I had seen it yesterday. My workout today would have been great for testing it, 20x10sec@200%FTP, rest 20sec@50%FTP. Those big change short intervals use to give the old firmware a hard time, though it had gone better with prior updates. I look forward to trying it out.
It probably calculates cadence based on the inevitable variance in our power delivery through the pedal stroke.
I suspect it’s the same method they use on their PowerTap hub (which delivers cadence), and likely the same as many other trainer builders that offer cadence without a dedicated sensor.
That is correct, we read the peaks and valleys in the torque and it translates nicely into cadence.
I just updated to the new firmware. Figured I should try to calibrate it again after the update. Using the Rouvy app, the calibration keeps failing on the spindown portion.
Anybody else having this issue?
I was having that issue with the previous firmware. Haven’t downloaded the latest yet. I’ll give it a shot once I do. Luckily the new Zwift rolldown calibration worked for me. It was sort of weird that Cycleop’s own calibration wouldn’t work.
It wasn’t working with the Android app so I tried using the iPad and the calibration worked. I haven’t figured out the Zwift calibration on the iPad yet…
I have PC. I’m not sure if they rolled out the calibration for the Ipad app right away.
The update has NOT fixed the power drop issues in Zwift.
I loaded the latest firmware via Rouvy. Then I loaded TrainerRoad and performed a calibration (my typical process is to do this 10 minutes after riding, but I did it right way for some reason).
I loaded the Freeride 120 workout in TR and paired it to my PowerTap P1 pedals.
Then I launched Zwift, paired the Hammer as the power, cadence, and controlled trainer.
I set Trainer Difficulty to 100% and selected the Figure 8 route.
I had TR with the workout in minimized mode (using the P1 pedals for power) and slid it up to be close to the power display on Zwift (using the Hammer for power).
The power tracked very close between the two power meters and applications on flat and climbing sections. I was initially excited and hopeful based on the close tracking between the two from below 100w up to 300w in normal riding.
I experienced the first power drop rolling through the Esses in reverse. I wasn’t sure of the trigger, but I saw the power drop over 100w lower than the P1 pedals. It took a second or so to equalize. Essentially the same problem as before, but I kept riding to see what was happening.
I got the second power drop while climbing the Watopia wall. It happened after the first half where you get the reduction in slope. I always grab 3 gears and accelerate to try and hold the same wattage (~300w) as on the steeper sections. The flywheel accelerates as you’d expect and you roll back into the steeper section on the second half of the hill. I got the power drop as I down shifted to easier gears to match the grade.
It seems the source of the issue when you have a sustained effort (like a climb) and then get a relief in the form of decreased grade or even a downhill. Then you understandably increase gearing and speed for these sections. When you experience a steeper section following these reliefs, you will see a power drop around the moment that the resistance increases and you drop gearing to match that grade.
It is very repeatable as I learned the issue, I can do it pretty much on demand as described. So, they still have work to do to fix the problem.
I am very unhappy about this as they have had more than enough time to solve the problem. Considering that Saris has PowerTap under the umbrella, I would expect better power reporting than this.
I am also seeing very optimistic power from the Hammer on sprints. I routinely hit 1000-1200w on my P1 pedals, but them Hammer seems to show 1300+ in those situations. I wish I was that strong, and prefer a higher value than lower, but it doesn’t hold to their apparent precision claims.
I am wondering why they can get their power estimation better than this? Does the KICKR, or other trainers with estimated power like this, suffer from similar issues? I am about ready to buy a KICKR for comparison and see for myself.
These drops occur at a very bad time in the sense of racing and doing group rides on Zwift. I am fortunate that I also have P1 pedals and use those for power in Zwift since the Hammer is unreliable. But I am very disappointed that the Hammer, at $1200, can’t report power more reliably than it does. It is far to expensive a trainer to be suffering from these issues.
I will gladly post a video showing this issue if CycleOps is willing to watch it and learn what we are really experiencing here. This problem should really be solved.
Chader – I would like to speak with you more on this. We have been unable to reproduce the error on the new firmware.
You can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Look forward to hearing from you.
Email sent just now.
I ran a test last night and got a total of 8 power drops while riding the Zwift Esses back and forth. I got it to drop at least once with each pass (and even two drops in two runs) through the Esses.
It occurs as described above, after carrying speed down a hill, shifting up to maintain power level, that increases wheel (and flywheel) speed, then experiencing the next hill that requires a downshift to maintain the desired power and cadence.
I’ve sent the videos and ride files (comparing Zwift with the Hammer & TrainerRoad with P1 Pedals) to Saris for review. Hopefully they can learn how to reproduce the issue and see if it is possible to fix the problem.
Here is one video demonstrating the problem:
link to youtu.be
I don’t use either of those apps but I noticed watching your video that the cadence is all over the place on Zwift while TR appears steady within the range.
If the firmware fix supposedly involves cadence monitoring is the fluctuating rpm the root cause of the problem?
Or does it just mean both cadence and power are getting dropped?
To clarify what I didn’t mention in my video post:
I had the Hammer running in Zwift for Power, Cadence, and Controlled Trainer. Power was set to instant (no smoothing) and I had Trainer Difficulty set to 100%.
I did the zero offset for the P1 pedals (dual sided) using TrainerRoad. The video shows TR running with the power and cadence from the P1 pedals. Power was set to instant (no smoothing).
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Yes, the cadence is wildly erratic at times. It seems to be mainly during “startup” when you begin rolling from a stop (what you see in many of my videos), but also happens at other times.
I noticed that the odd cadence values do tend to coincide with the power drops. It looks really strange at times to be cranking out power that I feel (and see via TR and the P1 pedals), but see such a big disconnect on the game since the Hammer cadence is so far off.
I don’t know if the cadence variability is part of the problem, but my limited understanding of typical power calculations leads me to believe it could certainly be a factor.
But, since the Hammer is not using a strain gauge to measure power, they may be doing something different that does not rely on the cadence value directly. I expect that they are measuring voltage and such through the resistance brake to reverse calculate the power value. In theory, it seems practical and seems to work well as shown by the majority of the power readings being generally inline.
You will see points in the video where the Hammer (Zwift) lags behind the pedals in power measurement. That is to be expected to a point since the P1 pedals measure about as close to the power source as possible.
The Hammer is measuring somewhere after the drive belt (I am guessing power related to the brake specifically). So the Hammer measurement is at the extreme other end of the link between the two areas (pedals vs resistance brake). That gap can lead to differences depending on drivetrain losses and internal losses via the trainer.
I discount the differences mainly because the lag seems to be about the same on the front end of a change and at the back end, so the average probably works out much the same. The major difference being a few seconds differential between the two.
To reiterate, all of the above is speculation on my part based on a limited understanding of power meter function and electrical wizardry, not to mention what CycleOps is actually doing to get their power values. I could be wrong on some or all of it.
All that said, I love the function and feel of the Hammer most of the time, other than the obvious flaw of the power drops. Outside of Zwift, it is essentially perfect. But as it stands now, it is a problem for those using one that don’t have the luxury of a separate power meter and trying to stay with another group of riders in Zwift.
It is possible to ride without the drops happening. I have another vid that shows me rolling the entire Esses with no shifting. I got no power drops, but the effort and cadence variation to ride that section that way is not really practical for me (and I am guessing many other riders).
Shifting in the way I do in the video is just a natural way to ride undulating terrain (inside with Zwift or outside), so I hope I’m not being unreasonable to expect there to not be power drops in those moments. Clearly, a true power meter continues to see the power I am expending in those moments, I’d just like the Hammer to match that performance.
I commend CycleOps being open to asking for help and data from an “average Joe” like myself that has an issue with their product. Their customer service is on the top of the spectrum.
The latest firmware update released last week has enabled cadence reporting.
Yes, as already discussed in the thread about the firmware update above (see posts 359, 360, 361 in particular).
It works fine with you are steady and doing consistent riding. However, it is slow to respond initially from a stop and falls off greatly when you are experiencing large swings in resistance (up and down in the rollers in the Zwift esses) where you don’t maintain a steady pressure on the pedals.
Any significant drop in force registers as a drop (often to zero) for cadence. It looks funny in Zwift when you are still putting out real power but the avatar is coasting. I suspect this may be related to the power drop issue I am experiencing too.
Does the use of an external power meter for reporting power alleviate the issues with Zwift dropouts?
Yes, when I use my P1 pedals as the power source, I get no power drops. That is how I discovered the issue. I nearly always run Zwift and TrainerRoad simultaneously. I use the P1 pedals for one and the Hammer for the other. Which one is connected to which app has always varied depending on the ride or testing I am doing.
I saw my avatar slow and stop on occasion (when the Hammer was driving Zwift). So I started watching more closely and saw repeated instances of the power drop from the Hammer in Zwift while the P1 pedals in TrainerRoad showed consistent power.
But the separate power meter is not a “solution” in my mind when you already have a $1200 trainer that drops power (and subsequently, you get dropped in rides and races).
There is no reason this shouldn’t work with accurate reporting for the price of admission. I am hopeful that Saris can figure out how to read the power accurately in these instances.
Definitely agree that there should be no issues with a $1200 trainer, however, for those who do have a power meter on their bike then the Hammer is an appealing choice due to its build quality.
Have you experienced any issues when using Trainer Road with the Hammer such as dropouts or lag at the start/end of short intervals?
How do the power numbers from the Hammer compare to your P1 pedals?
I haven’t done the same level of testing with TrainerRoad and the Hammer. I have used it, and haven’t noticed any of the same drops, but I just haven’t looked that close to know with any certainty.
Based purely on general observation, I don’t think it suffers the same issue. But I should test that some time more deliberately. It will be easy now that I can consistently reproduce the power drop problem.
I will try that next time I ride and report results
To add, the consequences of the drop are instantly apparent in Zwift since it is propelling the avatar based directly on the power data. So the drops show in a huge way when riding in a pack.
On TrainerRoad, all you will see is a drop in the power data line. So, the impact of a drop is easier to miss.
Since you don’t do any free-riding in TrainerRoad, I wouldn’t expect to see the drops there. I exclusively do structured workouts in Zwift’s Workout Mode, and I don’t see any drops at all anymore with the Hammer, not since about three firmware updates ago. I’m sure if I did more free-form riding in Zwift, I’d encounter the same drops that Chader is.
I found similar issues with the new firmware. The avatar never stopped completely (an improvement!) but definitely went to a zero power and zero cadence state while I was pedaling steadily. Here’s what the plot looks like on the steep 23rd street climb in Richmond.
I should also mention that I wasn’t just pedaling into zero resistance when the dropouts happened. I was pushing against the increased resistance from the steep climb, so the flywheel was not spinning down at the time.
That seem similar to what I have had.
Andrew, do you also have your trainer difficulty slider set at 100% or is it at the default 50%? or somewhere else…
Are both cadence and power always provided to Zwift through the Hammer connection?
What happens if you run the same drop test with a separate cadence device for rpm?
@ Don: I have experienced the dropouts at 25-50% Trainer Difficulty setting (in addition to the 100% used above). I commonly use the lower settings in races.
I chose to use 100% for this round of testing because I feel it makes it more likely to see the issue.
@JD, that is a good idea.
I can’t say for sure, but I usually ran my Zwift using the dedicated CycleOps Cadence (magnetic based unit mounted to my chainstay and crank arm) and still got the drop outs.
But that is worth testing deliberately since it is easy to change and I seem to be able to reproduce a drop on every pass through the esses. I will try that the next time I get on Zwift.
Okay, I agree with you. I would expect it to exacerbate the issue. Have you tried it at 50% or whatever with the new firmware?
For JD, I use a separate cadence sensor for Zwift. I’ve never had any cadence drop issues. It’s just a regular Garmin speed/cadence sensor. The speed signal isn’t used now, although I did use that back when I had a dumb trainer. I stopped having the power drops once I used the new Zwift calibration feature. A weird thing is, I did a ride with my Garmin also on during one of the rides after using the new Zwift calibration, and every so often, I would look down and notice my Garmin, which was getting the raw ANT+ feed from the Hammer having a drop to zero, but no drop happened in Zwift. It could have just been an actual ANT+ signal drop. I used to get the drops after sprints during workout modes when trying to transition to lower powers for recovery. Even if I purposely stayed on the power and knew I was still pushing like 400-500W. That problem is resolved now. Though it seems to hold onto the resistance longer after an interval is complete (that could be in my head though…)
Chader: Have you tried using the new rolldown calibration in Zwift since the new firmware came out?
I did 2 races after the firmware update with TD @ 50%, but I was using my pedals for power to avoid the drop issue. So I need to retest everything at 50% with the Hammer as power data.
I tried to run the rolldown in Zwift the first day after the update, but it would not complete. I only tried it that one time. I have had it work other times before the recent update.
My lack of success on the first try after the update is probably not related to the update itself. I find the Zwift calibration to be a bit more flaky right now. That is why I like to use TrainerRoad for that purpose at the moment.
I have it set to 50%.
I am planning on purchasing either a Hammer or Kickr. My one concern is with the noise of these trainers. Currently I have a Computrainer and a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine. How would the Hammer/ Kickr compare to the CT and KK with respect to noise?
I’ve had a Hammer for the past six months which I returned due to a hardware fault, I’ve now had a KICKR17 for the past 2 weeks. Previously I had a KK Road Machine.
TD;LR – I would take a Hammer only if:
– you already have a power meter OR
– you are 100% certain they have fixed the Hammer’s software OR
– you can get one for about $200 less than a KICKR
Otherwise get a KICKR.
On noise, both are similar. You will need to ride in a separate room with a door closed so that loved ones do not hear you – but a closed door is all you need. A set of earphones is all you need to block off the noise entirely when you ride. When pedalling, the Hammer is slightly better if only because it has a lower pitch. When coasting the freewheel clicking is much, much louder on the Hammer. My downstairs neighbour has never complained about the noise on either.
I replaced my Hammer before the latest firmware. There were a number of software flaws in the Hammer – if those have not been entirely fixed then I would definitely choose the KIKCR. Particularly, it has suffered from reporting power drops on hills – something for which CycleOps took SIX MONTHS to send a firmware fix, and it seems some people are still experiencing it. I cannot stress how frustrating those power drops are.
Responsiveness to Zwift on the KICKR is much quicker – almost instant.On the Hammer there was about a 2 second lag from getting to a hill until there was the increased resistance. Again I am not sure if this has been fixed with the latest firmware.
After changing from the Hammer, I do notice that the KICKR has a less realistic road feel, which seems to be due to the lighter freewheel. The Hammer is a lot heavier which makes it more stable as well, but it isn’t too heavy to move around for storage.
For the record – I did suffer hardware failure on the Hammer – it suffered from clunking, crunching sounds when under high torque. From what I have read on other forums this apparently is the most common failure. In most cases this can be easily fixed with CycleOps sending through a replacement freehub, but in my case even that did not help.
I have also experienced the Hammer overheating on long simulated ascents – when that happens it turns off all resistance and gets a red flashing light. It does require a very long simulation (i was riding uphill for about 1 hour 20 minutes). I have not done any similar simulations yet on the KICKR.
Thank you for the detailed response. Since you had a KK, I would love to read your impressions on how the Kickr compares to the KK relative to noise levels.
KK is much louder. It’s on a different scale
I too joined the ex-Hammer owners griup when I returned the second Hammer to the bike shop and they replaced it with a Kickr 16 (at their expense). I’ve had the Kickr for a few weeks and haven’t had any real dramas with it. Having spent money on a trainer I didn’t fancy spending even more on a separate power meter.
That was supposed to be group!
Is it possible to record heart rate using the hammer. I use rouvy for training at the moment and like the fact that cadence was recently added. I have a Garmin heart rate strap and was hoping this would work with the hammer. As an MTB rider i never thought i would enjoy trainer but 2 months in and this is really change my whole workout and training schedule.
You need to link your HR monitor with the same device you use for Rouvy. The HR needs to broadcast in ANT+ or BT, whatever your device is capable of accepting.
You connect it as a sensor, just like you did with the Hammer.
Thanks realised that my Garmin HR strap only has Ant+ and the iPad Mini i use only has Bluetooth. Cheapest option for me is to buy the Wahoo TickR, with is Ant+ and BT, for £39.99 with i have done so will give that a try.
Thanks for the advice.
I have a hammer and really like it but I’m confused by the calibration. I can calibrate through trainerroad or rouvy and it works well. I’m just curious as to what the number actually means/does. I also want to verify that my numbers are approximately what I should expect to see. If I do the calibration cold I get a 15.something, if I do it after about a 10 minute warm-up I get a 16.something and if I do it after a hard hour it get a 19.something.
Thanks in advance for any knowledge shared!
Just read through this review. Excellent depth as always, Ray. One question, and maybe i missed it in the text if you adressed it: Can i also run this unit without the ‘smart’ control, as if it were a standard fluid/mag trainer?
Hoping someone can indulge me in a little question. I’ve noticed a sound during spindown that I’m trying to figure out if it’s normal or something to have checked out while I still can under warranty. Here’s a link to a video I made today during spindown, but it’s really only at the end once the flywheel (or whatever) is coming to a stop, just curious as to whether it’s unusual or not, thanks everyone!
link to youtube.com
Hi, I have only had my Hammer for a week. My issue is that when I stomp down on the pedals, for example sprinting or pushing uphill, I feel a buzz through the pedal on the downstroke. If i ease off the pedals it goes away. It isnt constant and doesnt effect the way the trainer works, but it is annoying and its enough to notice each time. Happens even if trainer isnt plugged in.
Has anyone else experienced this? The buzz/vibration remains even trying a different bike and I have also installed a different cassette so I think I have eliminated the issue coming from my bike.
I’m also experiencing exactly this and I’m curious if you found a solution.
Yes, same issue here as well. Only while I do feel it on the hard grinding efforts, I usually notice the vibration most when I’m in the small ring and turning easy watts, like during a recovery workout. It comes and goes. I experienced it with the Powerbeam Pro, the Magnus, and now with the Hammer. I used to think it was the tire losing traction, but now with the direct-drive Hammer I would assume it is a Cycleops thing.
New Hammer & Magnus firmware update:
36.040 (Current), released December 19, 2017
* Reduced the occurrence of reported zero power during large deceleration events.
* Reduced the occurrence of power dropouts on hills in Zwift.
* Fixed a bug that caused some users to see power variation during acceleration.
* Increased the responsiveness for the Hammer when the grade changes while riding a route.
link to cycleops.com
Ha, mine is working fine, but I was just thinking this morning I wonder if any additional firmware updates have come out, since it’s been a while. I’ll have to download it tonight and do a calibration so I can try it out tomorrow morning. Lot of intervals tomorrow, so should be a good test, although I’ve haven’t really been having the power drops anymore since the last update.
Thanks for the notice!
Thanks for the heads up.
Gradient changes are about a second quicker now.
Haven’t had any power issues since the prior firmware update.
I am still perplexed on how calibration works on these devices.
With Rouvy (formally CVT) you pedal under load to reach 19-23mph for a defined period then a prompt appears to “keep pedaling” at same speed for additional seconds while resistance drops (hard to do smoothly since you are spinning). Next you are instructed to STOP and wait for the flywheel to spin down.
I don’t understand why resistance drops during the “keep pedaling” stage. Is that how calibration works on other apps and smart trainers?
My calibration worked the very first time on the Cycleops Virtual Training, then stopped working after the first firmware I got after that. It never worked at all on the Rouvy. It always seemed like a wierd calibration to me too. It tells you to keep pedaling, but it doesn’t say anything about if you should maintain the same speed or same power, and the resistance drops so fast it’s hard to not pedal too fast. Then, during the stop wait for the flywheel to spin down portion, just when it’s almost done, I get a “Test Failed” message, with no good explanation of why. The power also stayed at 4-6W during the spindown portion, even if I unclipped and stepped off the bike. It seems like Rouvy support is in Europe, so they would get back to my email at 2:20AM sometimes, so that wasn’t helpful.
Luckily the Zwift calibration came out right about that same time, so I’ve just been using that and it works great. More straightforward, no keep pedaling part, and it seemed to improve the Zwift response.
So I updated the firmware and notice that in ERG mode (in trainerroad) the watts seem to vary quite a bit from the target wattage. The resistance levels seem stable throughout intervals and I meet the target watts of the intervals but seeing watts go up and down (sometimes by a lot) kind of psychs me out. Basically a power smoothing thing, if I understand this correctly. Anyhow just thought I’d post for cycleops to note.