It’s that time of year again: Indoor trainer season.
Though in reality, that’s actually not terribly true these days. With indoor training apps and the entire experience becoming more and more immersive, more and more people are using them all year round. And the new trainer announcement season itself has stretched from late spring to just this morning (with two new entrants in the last 24 hours)
Now in the past I’ve covered all trainers, from $70 units up to $1,600 trainers. But with so many new (and really good) trainers coming out this past year, I’m narrowing that focus a bit. Instead of all trainers, I’m focusing on smart trainers. Specifically ones that transmit some sort of ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart signal (dual/concurrently), and allow control of the trainer itself.
The reason is relatively simple: While I occasionally briefly try non-smart trainers at trade shows or the like, I just don’t ride them these days. As such, all my recommendations are old there (though, the tech and trainers themselves in that category frankly haven’t changed any). You can reference last year’s post though to see some of those cheaper suggestions.
In any case, we saw new smart trainers from virtually every major brand this year, as well as some smaller brands. Some of them made big jumps, while most made more incremental bumps in specs and features. Evolutionary – not revolutionary.
While not everything that’s been announced is shipping, most things are. And those that aren’t are within 2-4 weeks of shipping. Generally speaking, I’m not going to recommend something unless I have a unit in the DCR Cave (exceptions are noted as such). So for things that are still outstanding, it’s tougher for me to recommend them at this time. I have notes at the bottom of this post for all my caveats and why-nots.
Finally, for those looking for general sports technology recommendations (watches/action cams/activity trackers/scales/etc.…), I tend to publish those late the week of Nov 12th. My goal being to wrap up all the outstanding new wearable reviews by that timeframe. There are no further watches to be announced by any mainstream wearable company this year. Trainer reviews will happen as final versions of trainers come in. I’ve already posted many such reviews this fall.
How I make trainer recommendations
First and foremost, I only recommend trainers I’ve actually used. Certainly, there are some trainers that were announced this year that aren’t yet available – you won’t find those recommendations here unless I have a unit on-hand.
When I look at recommendations across all products I make, I try and recommend products to you in the same way that I’d do to friends and family. I keep it simple and explain exactly why I feel a given way.
My goal is NOT to make a roundup of every trainer on the market.
Though I will briefly discuss why I didn’t include some trainers in this piece at the end. This is, again, my *recommendations*, not the holy grail of everything ever made by everyone. Still, I’m lucky enough to have been able to try almost everything made by all the major trainer companies this year, at least at the mid to upper end (I don’t tend to review the 183 different models of trainers from $75 to $200).
Price Ranges & Currencies:
Over the last few years we’ve continued to see major shifting in price vs feature-set combinations. For example, functionality and accuracy that used to be reserved for $1,200 trainers has slid down to $900 trainers. I had to change my price bucketing last year to account for this, and once again I tweaked things a tiny bit this year. My purpose isn’t so much moving the goalposts, as it is making the groupings more logical. Meaning, someone looking to spend $599 is probably OK spending $699, and someone teetering at $529 might be OK spending that $699 too if the benefits make sense.
Meanwhile, someone looking for a $599 trainer isn’t likely the same person as one looking at a $1,199 trainer. So, here’s the 2018 buckets, aligned to the trends of trainer pricing in 2018:
Budget – Sub-$500: These tend to be basic in functions, and lack automated controls, but some do still have some electronics. Most apps support these in a basic manner.
Mid-Range $500-$700: These are where we see electronic resistance control, as well as the majority of features and full app integration. Most of these are wheel-on trainers, except one…the new Elite Zumo.
Mid-High End $700-$1,000: This category exists because there’s a clear line in the sand between the flood of sub-$599 trainers, and the flotilla of $700-800 trainers. I just don’t think it makes sense to put them in the lower priced category, though the case could easily be made that they compete with the $1,000+ trainers (and are almost universally a better buy).
High-End $1,000+: These are the high-end trainers, and primarily distinguish themselves from the mid-range by increasing durability, reducing noise, incline/wattage increases, or just being expensive for the heck of it (i.e., legacy branding/marketing).
Now – you’ll notice the dollar signs, which in this case is implying US pricing. I call this out specifically because the whole pricing business has gotten kinda wonky, especially in the differences between US and European markets. There are specific cases where something may have a price gap in one market (i.e., KICKR vs. NEO in the US), yet be nearly identical in other markets (some European countries). Similarly, the European markets generally get a better deal on European-made products (Tacx/Elite), while US consumers tend to get better pricing on US-made products (Wahoo). All of which ignores the reality of MAP (Minimum Advertised Pricing), which exists in the US and doesn’t exist in Europe.
Next, be wary of purchasing trainers outside your home country (meaning, if in the US, buying from a retailer in Europe). This is because if you have a problem, you’ll be on the hook to pay for shipping of the trainer back across the pond for service. As one who does that regularly, it’s @#$#@ expensive. If you don’t believe me, go and look at the older 2015 trainer recommendation post, and see the river of tears for folks who have had to deal with cross-Atlantic shipping of cheap trainers they bought when things went wrong. By all means, if you understand the risk – buy where it makes sense. But do understand it’s a very real risk.
And finally, note that I tend to focus on trainers that have some element of technology in them. It’s not that I think that all non-technology trainers are the same (cause they aren’t…well…except that most are), but it’s because that’s just what I happen to review the most here.
Things to Consider:
There’s a lot of things to look for in a trainer – but some are applicable across the board from a sub-$100 unit to a $1,500 unit.
First and foremost, it needs to be sturdy. The more plastic involved, the less likely it’s going to last over time. Take for example, the old CompuTrainer, otherwise known as the rock. A tank really. I’m certain I could throw that in front of a semi-truck, and it’d probably be fine. As such, those units last 10-15 years (or more). In fact, I don’t know anyone who’s ever broken a CompuTrainer frame (ok, ignore the flywheel). Some electrical components eventually wear out, but the frame is astoundingly sturdy. I find the Wahoo KICKR in that same camp. It’s a beast component-wise. In many ways, the KICKR SNAP frame is the same way – as are the Kinetic frames too.
Second, look at the attachment point to your bike. I’ll start with the ones that leverage a skewer of some sort and don’t require removal of the wheel. In these cases, try to find one that has a ‘quick-release’ mechanism for quickly locking the trainer into place. One that doesn’t require you to endlessly spin the tightening lever and try to find an exact spot each time. See below for an example of a quick-release lever on the mid-range Tacx options:
In the case of trainers that you attach your bike directly into a cassette mounted on the trainer – called ‘direct drive trainers’, be sure that it’ll be compatible with your bike frame. There are only a few edge cases where an incompatibility occurs (primarily higher end bikes, usually of the triathlon or disc variety), but just be aware of them. Many trainer companies have printouts on their support sites where you can double-check frame compatibility on your bike.
Third, look at how stable the platform is. The smaller the base of the trainer, the more likely it is to tip over (and you along with it). And while tip-overs are extremely rare – they are a problem on lower end trainers ($50-$150) where the base is really small. This can be further compounded when the trainer mounts the wheel higher up – meaning a higher center of gravity. It’s not hard to get a situation where you try and reach for a TV remote control, or something off to the side, and fall over. None of the trainers I’m recommending have this issue, but in general, keep it in mind.
Fourth, direct drive or wheel-on? If you went back 3-5 years ago, only the most expensive trainers were direct drive and the rest wheel-on. But these days direct-drive smart trainers are down to $699, and that’s great for consumers. Wheel-on trainers mean that you mount the entire bike, inclusive of your back wheel, to the trainer. Whereas direct-drive trainers mean you remove the back wheel and attach the bike directly to the trainer (via a cassette on the trainer). This means that you generally don’t get any tire slip on direct drive trainers, and for many models you can also get away without having to do calibration/spin-downs.
These days my preference is overwhelmingly direct-drive, but I also totally get that such a trainer may be out of the ballpark of one’s budget.
Ok, we’re almost to the recommendations. But we need to all be on the same table when it comes to some of the technical terms that we’re going to talk about. Notably, the protocols and communications side of how trainers talk to apps.
In the sports world there are essentially two camps: ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart. Virtually all devices use one or both of these low-power technologies to transmit and capture information such as heart rate, power, speed, cadence, and more.
In the trainer realm, that means trainers tend to support two types of things over these protocols. The first is simple broadcasting (one-way) from the trainer to the app/device that you’re using. This is done for the following on trainers:
ANT+ Broadcast: Power, Speed, Cadence
Bluetooth Smart Broadcast: Power, Speed, Cadence
Compatible devices, such as a Garmin/Suunto/Polar/Wahoo unit can pick up these signals and record them. The same goes for apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, or Strava. Almost all trainer companies now broadcast dual on both protocols concurrently. No trainers in the 2018 guide fail to meet this requirement, to me it’s considered a baseline specification.
Next, for control there are basically two semi-standards that allow trainers to be controlled via apps:
Open/Standard Communication Channel: Via ANT+ FE-C (all trainers use this today) or Bluetooth Smart FTMS (most trainers have this today as well).
Private communication channel: Prior to FE-C and and FTMS there wasn’t a standard. So each company did their own thing. Wahoo, CycleOps, Tacx, Elite, etc… Most of these companies now support the ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart standard versions, but some of them also support their older variants to help out older apps. Heck, there’s even wired in some rare cases like the Kinetic trainers for certain apps.
For ANT+ FE-C, devices such as the Garmin and Wahoo cycling units support controlling the trainer straight from your head unit. This also means you can re-ride your outside rides (elevation changes and all) without any other software.
Meanwhile, for Bluetooth Smart there’s FTMS, which is basically the same thing as FE-C when it comes to trainers. It’s not quite as widely adopted yet by trainer companies, but is by app companies. On the trainer company side only Elite and Kinetic support it across the board, with CycleOps, Tacx, and Wahoo all having it on their to-do list (but all support private Bluetooth Smart with all major apps anyway).
Ultimately, almost all major apps support all companies’ Bluetooth Smart implementations (whichever variant they’re on). Where the issue matters more is smaller apps that may not have the time to implement all the variants. Nonetheless, here’s where things stand.
CycleOps: ANT+ FE-C on all smart trainers. Gives developers access to private CycleOps Bluetooth Smart control.
Elite: ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth Smart FTMS on all 2018 smart trainers.
JetBlack: ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth Smart FTMS on all 2018 smart trainers.
Kurt Kinetic: ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth Smart FTMS on all 2018 smart trainers.
Minoura: ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth Smart FTMS on all 2018 smart trainers.
STAC: ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth Smart FTMS on all 2018 smart trainers.
Tacx: ANT+ FE-C on all ‘Smart’ branded trainers (except Satori). Gives developers access to private Tacx Bluetooth Smart control. Very near-term plans for Bluetooth Smart FTMS rollout.
Wahoo: ANT+ FE-C on all smart trainers. Gives developers access to private Wahoo Bluetooth Smart control.
This all matters when it comes to apps – but the thing you need to know is that you want your trainer to be dual capable, and it should ideally support if you want resistance control across a broad number of apps. But ultimately, if you buy any trainer from this guide, it’ll be some variant of dual.
Budget Smart Trainers (sub-$500):
There’s been almost no appreciable shift in this category this year, so things stay basically the same as last year. And, there’s really only a few entrants in this category anyway. Only Tacx, Elite, and BKool compete in this realm from a legit smart-trainer standpoint (ones where you can control resistance).
But let me be clear – there are TONS of trainers out there for less than $500 that don’t have any smart electronic gadgets in them and work just great. Really, there are. But there’s only a few units in this price range (again, looking at USD MSRP) that have ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart broadcasting of speed, power, and cadence…AND…control of the incline/wattage.
Lastly, this is the one category I don’t have a ton of riding time on either of those units. Both of them have been at trade shows or the like.
The two options that I can recommend are as follows:
Tacx Flow Smart – 239EUR/329USD: This is without question the least expensive smart trainer on the market, though it mostly is only available in Europe (some European companies may ship to the USA). This tops out at only 6% inclines and 800w. The 800w piece probably isn’t too challenging for most people, especially triathletes, but the 6% gradient may be tricky (of course, if you leave defaults on Zwift, you’re unlikely to notice). GPLama/Shane Miller has tested this in a video, and it’s definitely worth a watch. I certainly wouldn’t recommend this for heavier riders, but it might work well for lighter riders that are mostly doing ERG work (structured workouts). Finally, the accuracy spec is only +/- 10%, which is the least accurate unit of the entire bunch. Still, for the price, as Shane says – you get what you pay for – but definitely watch his whole video.
Oh, and the Flow supports both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart and all the goodness you’d expect.
BKool Smart Go – $399USD: This is two years old now, but still a unique option. The unit replicates up to 8% grades and 800w, so pretty similar to the Tacx Flow, but with an oddly unstated (or findable) accuracy specification. Most others have found it fairly variable. I haven’t done a full review of the Smart Go, but have done the other BKool trainers and have things a bit variable. Since it’s ANT+ FE-C controllable, you’ll be able to have 3rd party apps control it like most of the higher end trainers. Note that I do get mixed reviews from folks on BKool service, so I’d probably be more likely to recommend this to someone that’s confident in their retailer (and their return/support policies). Also note that I’ve ridden it at trade shows, but haven’t spent a ton of time on it outside of those venues.
Mid-Range Trainers ($500-$700):
While this is a very specific price bracket, it mostly captures the entire mid-range market. And to be perfectly clear: They’re all about the same, except one. There are minor nuances between these trainers, for which you’ll want to look at closely, depending on your needs. Specifically, look carefully at these four areas:
A) Maximum incline
B) Maximum wattage
C) Which protocols/standards/types they transmit on (i.e., power, but not cadence, etc…)
D) Flywheel weight
That’s about the only real tangible differences between them. They all have about the same road feel (and each company will tell you their road feel is better). They all have ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth Smart control, and they all work with Zwift and TrainerRoad. Seriously, it’s mostly a wash.
Oh – and with the exception of the Elite Zumo, none of these have changed this year (well, technically CycleOps gave the Magnus a new name and paint scheme, called the CycleOps M2 now).
The flywheel weight, in theory, gives a more road-like feel, but the thing is, at these weights, it’s all kinda wimpy to begin with. I know a lot of folks want the most road-like feel, but my brain can’t really separate out the fact that I’m still inside looking at a wall going nowhere. I’d rather have greater accuracy and more app support than the mythical road-like feel.
There are also very minor differences in how you mount your bike to each one in terms of the clasp/lever, but that’s too a wash. About the only notable difference here is that the CycleOps Magnus/M2 has a nifty resistance knob that makes it easy to ensure your bike is at the same resistance setting each time. It’s actually kinda brilliant. Note above/below photo is of the Magnus, the M2 actually just arrived as I was proofing this, so I’ll add a refreshed picture of that shortly.
But no matter, all of these will require calibration about 10-15 minutes into a ride to ensure accurate numbers. With that in mind, here are your five lower priced options:
CycleOps M2 – $599
Elite Rampa – $599
Kinetic Smart Control Road Machine 2018 Edition – $569
Tacx Bushido Smart – $619
Wahoo KICKR SNAP – $599
I know a lot of folks will want some sort of concrete answer on which of the four aforementioned trainers to pick, but the reality is that they are just so darn similar. That’s obviously on purpose, the companies have largely modeled them after each other, and thus the end-state is basically the same. I’d be happy with any of these four trainers. I think the KICKR SNAP is probably the most robustly built of the bunch, whereas I think the Magnus/M2 is the most accurate of the bunch (plus it has up to 15% incline resistance, which along with the Bushido is the most of the bunch). The Rampa is the lightest of the bunch, thus the easiest to move around.
The Kinetic Smart Control (Road Machine or Rock & Roll frame) has a slight caveat on it in that I’m still in the process of my in-depth review. I’ve had a few hiccups, but I think I’m past those now. Note that I’m very specific in that it must be the 2018 edition and NOT the prior ones, as those don’t have ANT+ in them. (Note: I know I don’t have a picture here of it, it was temporarily across town in the wrong place and the wrong time earlier today, I’ll add one tomorrow.)
Oh…and then there’s the dark horse that none of you know about yet: The Elite Zumo
Yup, how’s that for a product announcement for you. It’s a $699 direct drive trainer, effectively a mini-Elite Direto. It has max 12% grade, is +/- 3% accuracy, and supports up to 1,150 watts. Here’s the comparison chart versus the Direto. Oh, and I’ve been riding it the last three weeks. In fact, my entire Zwift NYC post and video was done on it.
It’s a really solid trainer. But it’s not in this guide (yet) due to two unanswered questions I have on it. The first is a minor thing where it’s broadcasting target power instead of actual power in ERG mode (seen here). That should be a trivial software fix. The second though is a weird fake power spike issue I’ve seen on a few workouts (the power doesn’t actually spike on my legs, it just does in the transmitted signal). This may totally be WiFi interference on my part (really, very likely for this particular room), but, it might not be. So I’m trying to sort that out first. It’s not every workout, so it’s tough to narrow down and is why I didn’t release my review as planned on it this past Wednesday night.
If those things can get sorted, then this easily finds it’s way into the guide with a very solid recommendation. Outside of those two minor issues, it’s an awesome trainer. It’s surprisingly accurate, better than Elite claims (which is usually the pattern), and it also has built-in power match features like Wahoo does now. Oh, and there’s no other direct drive trainer under $749 either. I’ve got a full in-depth review ready to go (post and video), once I get clarification or fixes from Elite on it. Availability starts next week for certain retailers in the US.
Update on Zumo – Feb 11, 2019: Some of you have asked what the deal with the Zumo is. In short, Elite is still trying to sort out the firmware issues around accuracy that I noted. Specifically around the spikes I saw. The broadcasting of power issue has long since been addressed by them, but the spikes are turning out to be more complex. When I checked a week or two ago they were hoping to have it resolved by the end of February. In the meantime they’ve removed listings for Zumo in most places until they can be confident it’s resolved. Once I get a firmware update that addresses the issues and the units are back on track for sale, I’ll drop a review.
Here’s some nifty tables that might help narrow it down. Remember, you can make your own comparison tables here.
|Function/Feature||Kinetic Smart Control 2018 (Road Machine/Rock & Roll)||Elite Rampa||Tacx Bushido Smart||Wahoo KICKR SNAP (Current edition)||Elite Zumo|
|Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 20th, 2022 @ 5:15 pm New Window|
|Price for trainer||$569||$599||$619||$499||$699|
|Trainer Type||Wheel-on||Wheel-on||Wheel-on||Wheel-on||Direct Drive (No Wheel)|
|Available today (for sale)||October 2018||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Wired or Wireless data transmission/control||Wireless & Wired||Wireless||Wireless||Wireless||Wireless|
|Power cord required||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes (no control w/o)|
|Flywheel weight||12lbs/5.45kg||2.3KG||1.2kg, but simulates up to 60kg||10.5lbs/4.8KG||4.2KG/9.2LBS|
|Includes cassette||N/A||N/A||No||Resistance||Kinetic Smart Control 2018 (Road Machine/Rock & Roll)||Elite Rampa||Tacx Bushido Smart||Wahoo KICKR SNAP (Current edition)||Elite Zumo|
|Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)||No||No||No||No||No|
|Maximum wattage capability||1,800w||1250w @ 25MPH||1,400w||1,500W @ 40KPH||1,150w @ 40KPH|
|Maximum simulated hill incline||10%||10%||15%||12%||12%||Features||Kinetic Smart Control 2018 (Road Machine/Rock & Roll)||Elite Rampa||Tacx Bushido Smart||Wahoo KICKR SNAP (Current edition)||Elite Zumo|
|Ability to update unit firmware||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Measures/Estimates Left/Right Power||No||No||No||No||No|
|Whole-bike physical gradient simulation||No||No||No||With KICKR CLIMB accessory||No|
|Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)||No||No||No||No||No|
|Can rock side to side (significantly)||Rock & Roll Variant||No||No||No||No|
|Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)||No||No||No||No||No||Accuracy||Kinetic Smart Control 2018 (Road Machine/Rock & Roll)||Elite Rampa||Tacx Bushido Smart||Wahoo KICKR SNAP (Current edition)||Elite Zumo|
|Includes temperature compensation||-||No||-||Yes||Yes|
|Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supported accuracy level||+/- 5%||+/- 5%||+/- 5%||+/- 3%||+/- 3%||Trainer Control||Kinetic Smart Control 2018 (Road Machine/Rock & Roll)||Elite Rampa||Tacx Bushido Smart||Wahoo KICKR SNAP (Current edition)||Elite Zumo|
|Allows 3rd party trainer control||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)||YEs||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supports Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control Standard)||YEs||YEs||Yes||Yes||Yes||Data Broadcast||Kinetic Smart Control 2018 (Road Machine/Rock & Roll)||Elite Rampa||Tacx Bushido Smart||Wahoo KICKR SNAP (Current edition)||Elite Zumo|
|Transmits power via ANT+||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Transmits power via Bluetooth Smart||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supports Multiple Concurrent Bluetooth connections||No||No, just one||No, just one||No, just one|
|Transmits cadence data||Yes||No||Yes||Purchase||Kinetic Smart Control 2018 (Road Machine/Rock & Roll)||Elite Rampa||Tacx Bushido Smart||Wahoo KICKR SNAP (Current edition)||Elite Zumo|
|Chain Reaction Cycles||Link||Link||Link||Link||Link|
|Wiggle||Link||Link||Link||Link||Link||DCRainmaker||Kinetic Smart Control 2018 (Road Machine/Rock & Roll)||Elite Rampa||Tacx Bushido Smart||Wahoo KICKR SNAP (Current edition)||Elite Zumo|
Mid-High End ($700-$1,000):
Up until this year, this category was basically a tie between the Elite Direto and Tacx Flux. Two years ago the Tacx Flux came out at $899 and dominated the scene. Then Elite joined the crowd a year later and it dominated things for the past winter. Wahoo saw this eating into their lunch (and dinner, and desert, late afternoon snacks, and beer money), so they announced the KICKR CORE at $899.
The KICKR CORE basically took a full 2017 KICKR and made it silent, then lopped $300 off the price. This meant that you got what up until July 2018 was one of the best trainers on the market that was loved by most, for $300 cheaper – and now it didn’t make any tangible noise.
Obviously, that pretty much decimated the value prop for the Elite Direto at $899 or the Tacx Flux at $899. Elite dropped their price to $849, though I’m not really sure that helps much. Tacx meanwhile tweaked one item and changed the name to the Flux S, and dropped the price to $749. Tacx also introduced the more powerful Flux 2 at $899, though it’s not ready yet – so no inclusion here. And honestly, I’m not sure it really competes with the CORE anyway.
Wahoo KICKR CORE:
There’s really no surprise this trainer is here. In reality, if I were to pick one trainer of the year out of all of these and assign it ‘best value’, it’s the CORE. Just like last year it was the Elite Direto and the year prior the Tacx Flux. But the value is outsized on the CORE compared to those, given how much power is behind it.
Ultimately, it’s essentially a 2017 KICKR that’s been muted. If you had told someone last (2017) summer that they can buy a quiet KICKR for $300 less, albeit with no ability to adjust height – people would have scrambled for it. And frankly, that’s what’s happening this year. The sales figures I see show the CORE dominating others in the same way Elite’s Direto dominated last year.
The fact that the CORE is compatible with the KICKR CLIMB means that you can get a CORE + CLIMB for $1,500, versus just a KICKR FOR $1,200. Said differently, you can justify to your significant other that you’re saving $300.
Now one minor caveat of the CORE is there have been some teething issues. A few people have had their Wahoo chevron stickers go flying off the CORE’s flywheel, and some have had some weird internal sound issues. Wahoo support has been atop that, and given there’s likely more than a thousand of these units going out each week – I think the impacted numbers are incredibly small. Ultimately, I haven’t seen any trainer manufacturer in recent years release a perfect trainer in the first few months. This would follow that pattern.
Tacx Flux S:
Sitting at $150 cheaper than the CORE, the Flux S is basically just the 2016/2017/2018 Flux 1 with a bunch of internal changes and support for longer derailleur cages. And by basically, I mean, that’s all it is. But that’s OK. The Flux 1 was incredibly popular and for good reason. It was the first direct drive smart trainer below $1,000 when it came out, and supported all the apps people wanted. Thus, it’s an easy pick.
Had Elite found a way to reduce their Direto price to $749, they’d be in this category as well. But ultimately at $100 higher, I think at that point there’s little reason to not just get the silent KICKR CORE.
Neither the Flux S or Elite Direto is silent in the same way the CORE is. But ultimately, all those trainers make some amount of noise once you put a bike on it. After all there’s still a drivetrain of metal on metal. No doubt the CORE is very quiet, but once you turn on a fan – all of these trainers are quiet in comparison.
(Note: Above gloriously orange photo is of the non-interactive model, since that’s all I had on-hand in a functional state. Physically they appear almost identical.)
The STAC Halcyon is the unique trainer that is both silent as well as wheel-on. There’s no roller or secondary flywheel, instead, your wheel interacts with magnets to create resistance. It’s a pretty cool concept, and is neat to watch work. It can deliver the wattage that most people need (and the silence), and supports all the major ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart protocols (so apps like Zwift and TrainerRoad) and control it easily.
But there’s some notable catches. First off, it requires a bit of fiddling to get right. Both in terms of initial setup as well as general usage. Next, if have carbon wheels it won’t work with those. And finally, it’s limited to 7% grades, which is a bit low. So this is somewhat better for structured training (like TrainerRoad) rather than lots of climbing in Zwift.
The price is down to $749 today, which means it’s better pitted against the Flux S than it is against the KICKR. So essentially you’re trading off ease of setup (Flux S) for quietness (Halcyon). I’d say in general if you’re more of a gadget person/tinkerer, the STAC will appeal to you. Whereas if you just want a simplified out of box experience, go Flux. And if you have more money, go KICKR CORE.
|Function/Feature||STAC Halcyon||Tacx Flux S||Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE|
|Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated March 19th, 2023 @ 10:57 am New Window|
|Price for trainer||$749||$749USD||$899|
|Trainer Type||Wheel on (but wheel doesn't touch)||Direct Drive (no wheel)||Direct Drive (No Wheel)|
|Available today (for sale)||Yes||YEs||Yes|
|Wired or Wireless data transmission/control||Wireless||Wireless||Wireless|
|Power cord required||No||Yes||Yes|
|Flywheel weight||2.3KG/5lbs||6.7kg (simulated 25kg)||12.0lbs/5.44kgs|
|Includes cassette||No||No||Resistance||STAC Halcyon||Tacx Flux S||Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE|
|Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)||No||No||No|
|Maximum wattage capability||1,500w||1,500w @ 40KPH||1800w|
|Maximum simulated hill incline||7%||10%||16%||Features||STAC Halcyon||Tacx Flux S||Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE|
|Ability to update unit firmware||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Measures/Estimates Left/Right Power||No||No||No|
|Whole-bike physical gradient simulation||No||No||With KICKR CLIMB accessory|
|Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)||No||No||No|
|Can rock side to side (significantly)||No||No||No|
|Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)||No||No||No||Accuracy||STAC Halcyon||Tacx Flux S||Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE|
|Includes temperature compensation||N/A||Yes||Yes|
|Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supported accuracy level||-||+/-3%||+/- 2%||Trainer Control||STAC Halcyon||Tacx Flux S||Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE|
|Allows 3rd party trainer control||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)||Yes||Yes||YEs|
|Supports Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control Standard)||Yes||Yes||YEs|
|WiFi or Ethernet||No||No||Data Broadcast||STAC Halcyon||Tacx Flux S||Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE|
|Transmits power via ANT+||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Transmits power via Bluetooth Smart||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supports Multiple Concurrent Bluetooth connections||No, just one||Yes, 3 Concurrent|
|Transmits cadence data||Yes||Yes (with Sept 2019 firmware update)|
|Bridging or re-transmission||No||No||Purchase||STAC Halcyon||Tacx Flux S||Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE|
|Chain Reaction Cycles||Link||Link||Link|
|Wiggle||Link||Link||Link||DCRainmaker||STAC Halcyon||Tacx Flux S||Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE|
High-End Trainers ($1,000+):
Ahh yes, the vaulted space of the super expensive trainers. While the upper-mid tier of trainers gets closer and closer to these units in specs, the distinguishing aspects of the high-end trainers tends to be road feel and resistance ceilings (and to a lesser extent these days, accuracy which is equal/better than +/- 1%).
This category has largely remained the same for three years now (both winners and non-winners alike). And this year the two winners got even closer in specs. Previously the NEO was the silent one, and the KICKR the loud one. But now both are silent (save your drivetrain). Essentially, you’re left with comparing some minor nuances in features (and entertainment/experience/distraction ‘features’)
By that, I mean that we’ve got what I’m going to call the ‘Move it’ addendum. With the Tacx NEO that’s the ability for the trainer to simulate cobblestones and other road surfaces. It’s pretty cool in a geeky way, albeit without a ton of specific training value. Meanwhile, with the Wahoo KICKR (and KICKR CORE/SNAPv2) you can add their $600 CLIMB accessory, which simulates climbing by lifting the front of your bike up.
Like the previous category, the remaining contenders (Elite Drivo II, CycleOps Hammer/H2) are fantastic offerings. Seriously, you won’t go wrong with any of them. Period. It’s just that for most people the conversation becomes why would you purchase a Hammer/H2 over a KICKR (since the KICKR can connect to the CLIMB, and is silent), and since they are priced the same…well…yeah. For Elite’s Drivo/Drivo II, that’s a fantastic trainer with what is probably better road feel than either Tacx NEO or KICKR – and as good of accuracy as the NEO. But again, it’s tricky to recommend that to friends/family with the silent Tacx NEO 1/2 and Wahoo KICKR+CLIMB options are there.
That said, my recommendation is that either one of the below are awesome – it just depends on what you want…and what you want to spend.
Tacx NEO (1 or 2):
Above you’ll see both the just announced Tacx NEO 2 (left), and the previous Tacx NEO 1 (right). Frankly, had Tacx not announced the NEO 2 yesterday, this section would be identical. Nothing included in the NEO 2 impacts my recommendations here. Which inversely means that you can apply all of this logic for either model depending on what kind of deal/availability you can get.
Obviously, with the NEO 2 however you’ll get new internals that down the road Tacx says will unlock new features on the NEO 2 specifically. But those features aren’t known yet (nor timelines). Meanwhile, the NEO 1 is past any new trainer teething pains and is fantastic.
Ultimately the NEO is the trainer I turn to when I’m not testing other trainers. It’s my go-to. And for good reason: It requires no calibration, it’s really damn accurate, and it just works. Oh, and it vibrates. Everyone likes good vibrations. Technically they’re cobblestones or what-not on Zwift, but you get the point.
Still, I think I value most the accuracy pieces. I just don’t have to think about it. There’s not even an option to calibrate it – and nobody has seen any reason for them to include one either. It just works. It also folds up relatively small, though the lack of a handle is fairly awkward in the event you’re trying to move it frequently and for long distances. Did I mention it also looks like a ship from Star Wars? Cause seriously, that design is worth something (though, slightly less so with the new blue bottom on the NEO 2).
But of course – its biggest asset it just how quiet it is. It’s silent. About the only sound you’re going to hear is your drivetrain and a slight hum. If you want both the quietest and most accurate trainer on the market (and most powerful), this is it. If you want the most road-like feel…this might be it. It’s debatable. Everyone who has ridden this and the KICKR differs on which is more road-like. I could put 10 well-respected cycling journalists in a room and blindfold them and ride both trainers and they’d likely even have differing opinions ride to ride.
Wahoo KICKR 2018
Now here’s the thing. I consider both of these top two options somewhat equal, albeit at different price points and for different people. If you’re planning on buying the KICKR CLIMB, then obviously, get a Wahoo unit. The CLIMB doesn’t work with non-Wahoo trainers.
And yes, the CLIMB is fun to ride. I’ve been riding it on and off since February or so, albeit mostly since mid-summer with the KICKR CORE instead of the KICKR.
The KICKR 2018 got an increased flywheel size over the KICKR 2017. Additionally, the KICKR 2018 became silent over the previous models. I suspect most people can’t feel the flywheel size difference, I know I can’t. And GPLama/Shane Miller has said the same. Perhaps in certain scenarios it’ll manifest itself, but I haven’t seen said scenario. And as such, I don’t notice any difference in feeling between a KICKR CORE and KICKR 2018.
Still, if you want the ultimate in upwards indoor trainer movement, the KICKR 2018 + CLIMB is where it’s at. Not to mention the fact that unlike the more expensive Tacx NEO, you actually get a cassette included here. Why on earth the NEO doesn’t include a cassette is beyond me.
|Function/Feature||Wahoo KICKR V4/2018||Tacx NEO Smart||Tacx NEO 2 Smart|
|Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated April 2nd, 2022 @ 3:07 am New Window|
|Price for trainer||$1,198||$1,369||$999|
|Trainer Type||Direct Drive (No Wheel)||Direct Drive (no wheel)||Direct Drive (no wheel)|
|Available today (for sale)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Wired or Wireless data transmission/control||Wireless||Wireless||Wireless|
|Power cord required||Yes||No||No|
|Flywheel weight||16lbs/7.25kgs||SIMULATED/VIRTUAL 125KG||Simulated/Virtual 125KG|
|Includes cassette||Yes (11 Speed SRAM/Shimano)||No||Resistance||Wahoo KICKR V4/2018||Tacx NEO Smart||Tacx NEO 2 Smart|
|Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)||No||Yes||Yes|
|Maximum wattage capability||2,200w @ 40KPH||2,200w @ 40KPH||2,200w @ 40KPH|
|Maximum simulated hill incline||20%||25%||25%||Features||Wahoo KICKR V4/2018||Tacx NEO Smart||Tacx NEO 2 Smart|
|Ability to update unit firmware||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Measures/Estimates Left/Right Power||No||No||Yes|
|Whole-bike physical gradient simulation||With KICKR CLIMB accessory||No||No|
|Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)||No||With accessory||With accessory|
|Can rock side to side (significantly)||No||No||No|
|Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)||No||Yes||Yes||Accuracy||Wahoo KICKR V4/2018||Tacx NEO Smart||Tacx NEO 2 Smart|
|Includes temperature compensation||Yes||N/A||N/A|
|Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)||Yes||N/A||N/A|
|Supported accuracy level||+/- 2%||+/- 1%||+/- 1%||Trainer Control||Wahoo KICKR V4/2018||Tacx NEO Smart||Tacx NEO 2 Smart|
|Allows 3rd party trainer control||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)||YEs||Yes||Yes|
|Supports Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control Standard)||No, but supports most apps||Yes||Yes||Data Broadcast||Wahoo KICKR V4/2018||Tacx NEO Smart||Tacx NEO 2 Smart|
|Transmits power via ANT+||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Transmits power via Bluetooth Smart||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supports Multiple Concurrent Bluetooth connections||Yes, 3 Concurrent||No, just one||No, just one|
|Transmits cadence data||Yes||Yes||Yes||Purchase||Wahoo KICKR V4/2018||Tacx NEO Smart||Tacx NEO 2 Smart|
|Chain Reaction Cycles||Link||Link||Link|
|Wiggle||Link||Link||Link||DCRainmaker||Wahoo KICKR V4/2018||Tacx NEO Smart||Tacx NEO 2 Smart|
The why I didn’t include it list:
First and foremost, this isn’t a list of bad trainers. If you take that away from this section, then you’re mistaken. In fact, there are some awesome trainers in here. Instead, this list is to save me time answering the same question 327 times below for each trainer as to why I didn’t include them. I’m keeping these explanations short and sweet. In many cases, I’ve detailed out longer answers in posts related to those products.
CycleOps H2: This is almost the same story as the Elite Drivo II, though I think the Drivo II is both more accurate in real-world testing, and certainly more quiet.
Elite Direto: Look, this is a great little trainer – and the *only* reason it’s not in the above list is purely because of pricing. At $849, it sits $100 more than the basically equal Flux S (in terms of specs), while the far more capable (and silent) Wahoo CORE sits at $899 – a mere $50 more. Obviously, in Europe the pricing game shifts a bit. But it’s hard for me to track Euro pricing as it shifts about every 8 seconds based on whenever a given retailer decides to go even lower. So ultimately, I’d say you can kinda figure out what you value here in terms of price to features. But certainly don’t shy away from a good deal on the Direto – it’s solid.
Elite Drivo II: This is a fantastically accurate and relatively quiet trainer. Really, it is. The only challenge is that it’s up against two also-accurate trainers that aren’t just ‘relatively’ quiet, but actually silent (Tacx NEO 2 & KICKR 2018). Also, they’re up against two trainers that both have unique features (CLIMB compatibility for Wahoo, and road-feel/no-calibration for Tacx NEO 2).
Jet Black WhisperDrive Smart: Essentially they’re in the same bucket as the Elite Drivo and CycleOps Hammer. Yes, it may be quite capable, but pricing wise it’s competing against the Wahoo KICKR CORE that has more features, better accuracy, silence, and better worldwide support. Note that I do plan to have a refreshed review of this out by the end of the year based on the updates they’ve made since my preliminary review. It sounds like they’ve made some good headway, but I don’t know if it’s going to shift the overall value ratio here.
Kinetic R1: This could potentially make the list, maybe in an update later in the year. Right now I don’t have one though (they just started shipping yesterday), and so it’s hard to say for certain. The core thing that’ll be the tipping point (get it?) is the software side of the house. Kinetic has shifted platforms this year to a fully dual ANT+/BLE setup, and the underlying chipsets they are using offer some super unique indoor-training features that nobody else is doing (or even talking about). But, these are also new and going through some teething pains too.
Minoura Kagura DT (Not Direct Drive): While this almost made the cut for the mid-range trainer bucket this year, the accuracy was just a bit beyond the price point I’d expect. I think they’re getting closer on it, and depending on where you are (specifically, Japan), this may be a very good option based on the costs of other trainers being more expensive.
Minoura Kagura DD (Direct Drive): This was shown at Interbike this year, and looks really cool. But, it’s not out yet. So…yeah.
Wattbike Atom: Yes, it’s great. But it’s not technically a trainer. And while I wanted to include indoor bikes in this year’s roundup, there frankly isn’t a reason to. Tacx hasn’t released their bike yet (shipped it), and BKool’s bike seems like…a bust. Elite’s bike is 14,000EUR – so most don’t care about that unless you have a yacht big enough to play tennis on. I do like the ATOM though, and I need to re-visit it since last fall. I’m hoping to get a unit back again soon to do so, in time to do a showdown between it and the Tacx NEO Smart bike by the end of the year.
CompuTrainer: They went out of business (or at least stopped making them) two years ago. I generally don’t recommend products that don’t have a sustainable support path. I do think if you can get a used unit under about $500, and know exactly which apps you’re using and if they’re compatible – then go forth.
LeMond Revolution Pro: The company has folded and ceased operations many years ago. Like CompuTrainer, they’re out of business.
Most of this is from years past, but I wanted to repeat it for this year. I’ve tweaked things where appropriate and/or where they’ve changed.
What about trainer tires?
I commented on trainer tires a long while back in a Weekly Mailbag post, so here’s what I said then – which still applies today.
I train every day on the stock wheels and tires that came with the bike. Just normal tires and normal wheels. In fact, I don’t even bother to swap out for a separate trainer tire. Why? Well, my thinking is that I spend 3+ days a week on a trainer, and the last thing I want to deal with is swapping tires or wheels every time I go inside to outside or the inverse (I’m kinda lazy that way). Further, when you step back and look at the total cost of triathlon or cycling, and the total cost of simply getting a new tire each year due to wear – the new tire is pretty low (between $30-45).
Now, if you’re riding race wheels with expensive race tires – you’ll have to balance the much higher cost of most race tires.
Do trainer tires make it quieter?
Nope, actually, not at all. And I proved this as part of my Tacx Genius review – some actually make it louder. I’ve then further confirmed this with a few other tire companies as well. Most of them kinda silently laugh at the fact that people actually buy expensive trainer tires. Hint: Just use last season’s tire and toss it at the end of the winter.
The only benefit of trainer tires is that some tires will slowly shred tire specks over the course of the winter, depending on both the specific tire and the specific trainer. Not ideal in a carpeted living room, but not even noticed in a garage.
Why didn’t you recommend XYZ trainer or software instead? It’s waaaaay better!
As noted above, it’s likely because I haven’t used it. I’m pretty strict in that I don’t recommend things I haven’t used or know a lot about. I know magazines love to, but I don’t. Sorry!
Any tips or suggestions on where to place remote controls/jelly beans/bike computers/etc. while on a trainer?
Yup, you’re in luck. I’d recommend either a simple 4-cup OXO measuring cup (silly, I know, but it clips onto almost all road bike bars and triathlon bike aerobars – awesome). Or, you can build your own like I did here in this post.
What about that desk you use on the trainer?
Ahh yes, that desk is awesome. More on that here in my in-depth review.
Do you use a trainer pad/mat (floor protector)?
Sometimes. You can find endless numbers of them online or at your local bike shop – usually around $30. You can also just use a towel, just be sure that if you’re on carpet that you change the towel regularly, otherwise it’ll eventually stain the carpet below (sweat going down into it). Here’s the thing, don’t overspend on this – that’s silly. You don’t need a $70 trainer mat. As long as it’s waterproof (thus, sweat proof) and offers some padding to lower sound profiles, that’s really the key thing.
What’s the quietest trainer?
It’s basically a wash between the STAC Halcyon/Zero trainers, the Tacx NEO 1/2, and the Wahoo KICKR/KICKR CORE.
What about generic rollers, any thoughts?
I don’t have a ton of experience on rollers unfortunately. And there’s really only a handful of units I’d recommend – namely the Inside Ride rollers and Elite’s variant of almost the same thing.
In any event, I find that the cross-over between people who really like riding rollers and the people who really like the technology aspect tends to be rather small. Said differently, roller people tend to be more purists who don’t want technology in the way (not all of course, but most).
What about one of those bike protective thong cover things?
No, sorry, I don’t cover up my bike. I’ve spent A LOT of time on my bike, pouring a lot of sweat – many multi-hour rides. But you know what? I’ve never seen any adverse issues due to it. Perhaps I’m lucky, perhaps it’s not normal. Either way, I don’t use one. That said, Tacx released a cool one that actually has a cell-phone holder built in (with a protective plastic cover). Kinda neat.
Found this useful? Support the site!
If you’re looking at any of the above devices, you can support the site by purchasing through any of the below links. Here’s a handy table of everything mentioned above that I have a review on.
|Product||Amazon||Chain Reaction Cycles||Competitive Cyclist||Wiggle|
|Kinetic Smart Control 2018 (Road Machine/Rock & Roll)|
|Tacx Bushido Smart|
|Tacx Flux S|
|Tacx NEO 2 Smart|
|Tacx NEO Smart|
|Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE|
|Wahoo KICKR + CLIMB Bundle||Awin1||Competitive Cyclist||Wiggle|
|Wahoo KICKR SNAP (Current edition)|
|Wahoo KICKR V4/2018|
Thanks for reading! And feel free to drop any questions below, I’ll be happy to answer them.
I’ve never seen negatives from riding my bike uncovered on the trainer… until one I day I tried to remove my fork.
My sweat had seeped between the steerer tube spacers and the steerer tube. The sweat / salt crystals fused them together. I had to cut a spacer off to remove the fork.
It was corrosion as my steerer tube is carbon.
Since then I’ve mostly* ridden with a sweat catcher.
Sweat can be very corrosive, and can be made worse from training in a basement with high humidity. (sweat doesn’t dry allowing salt water to do more corrosion of the bike)
Also depends on how salty your sweat is, Ray may not have much salt in his sweat. Mine is sometimes orange which leads to annoying sweat stains but thankfully doesn’t increase rust.
Rather than the expensive bike thong thing, I bought a cheap, white hand towel and lay it over the stem and bars. White so it shows stains and bleach is not a problem. Wash when you start to see sweat staining the stem side or can’t stand the smell, whichever comes first. Also handy for willing my face between intervals.
The other best cheap trainer accessory I bought is a $2 terry cloth tennis headband to keep sweat out of my eyes, which was a literal pain.
If you don’t use a cycling computer or your phone on the bars then save your money and use a towel.
I use a towel and simply slide the towel under my ELEMNT BOLT. Problem solved! Has the added benefit of keeping sweat off the bar tape and shift levers. The only time I’ve ever had a corrosion problem from salt was with an aluminum handlebar.
+1 to this.
I’ve wrenched some bikes that went uncovered on the trainer, and while they might feel fine during regular use, they might not feel as fine when you’re replacing a headset. It was not a fun (or inexpensive) job having to chisel the headset spacers and dust caps off a Pinarello. The corrosion and fusion was unbelievable.
Even if you don’t want to buy a furry thong for your setup, I’d recommend to at least throw a towel over the front end to keep your bike from getting salty.
I’ve just bought a BKool Smart Pro 2 for £360. Perhaps worthy of addition to your budget list (next year)? It’s price vs spec is what attracted me – I’m happy with it so far.
thank you for the review, Core seems like a clear winner budget wise, but still in love with my neo 🙂
You mention the wahoo kickr has a power match feature so you can use it with a power meter. I’ve just switched my phone to Android and can no longer find this feature in the fitness app. Is it only available for iPhone people?
Hmm, I haven’t tried it on Android, but I always assumed it was on both?
link to support.wahoofitness.com
I thought by now that Wahoo was platform agnostic by now. it’s a shame they still have some features iOS only. I refuse to deal with companies that have platform bias.
I think its less about being platform agnostic, its that they gave up on that feature. Sort of like the Tickr x, its hardware is pretty capable and they added a 7 min workout app that the strap can track your movement with. (last updated in 2016 for android) Where is it now? Basically stopped new development on it and never did finish promised features like the ant to BLE bridge.
Just bought a Direto this week, maybe I should have waited for this guide! It was that or the Core. I bought it based on your and gplama’s reviews as well as a recommendation from a friend.
One thing about the price points is that as I understand it Wahoo does not really discount much. Performance was running a -20% off sale on the Direto, so in my case the final price was less than $700. For my budget the extra $200 for the Core was a big difference.
I made the same decision yesterday. Do you by chance have a Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt computer? I have been trying to control the Direto with the Bolt without much luck. Power and speed (although incorrectly) registers during workouts, but I am unable to control resistance.
I have a direto and a bolt and have been able to successfully control the trainer with the onboard team sky workouts on the bolt.
I’ve controlled my Direto with my Bolt several times both with the watts setting and the percent setting. I haven’t bothered trying to get the speed numbers correct because I record primary data on other apps and just merge power balance data from the Bolt. When controlling the trainer, the Bolt displays trainer power, not power meter.
Make sure your Direto is paired with Bolt as FE-C device only, not power meter or speed/cadence sensor.
If you want your Bolt to display and record power from power meter instead of trainer, you need to unpair your PM and pair it again. Bolt displays and records power from last power meter broadcasting device you paired it with.
I tried to get the wahoo core on Clever Training with your discount code (and as a VIP) and it doesn’t seem to want to apply the 10%. do you know if they have excluded these from the discount? In the review it says they should apply. Am I just doing something stupid?
Thank you! You’re the best. Love these reviews 🙂
Duh, just saw the line that the code won’t work, but as a VIP I can’t seem to get it to click into the discount. Anything I need to do in addition to that?
For Wahoo, it’s only points back unfortunately. But you can use those points immediately – so that’s worthwhile.
Just in time! The bottom level of my house was flooded from Hurricane Matthew and both of my trainers were placed on the casualty list. Now I can replace them with some confidence in making that decision. Thanks!
Ray u’ve mentioned the direto a lot but it’s not in the list. Is this a guide focused only on new models or simply u think is not a good choice?
The Direto is still a fantastic trainer, but when priced at $849USD, it’s hard to recommend given the more powerful and totally silent KICKR CORE is sitting there at $899USD.
Of course, local prices differ, so that’s an element to consider as always.
Direto can be found for 550€, much cheaper than any Wahoo trainer in Europe. I will probably go for Flux S.
I just added this to the ‘Why it’s not in the list’ section for the Elite Direto, might help some folks clarify my thoughts:
Elite Direto: Look, this is a great little trainer – and the *only* reason it’s not in the above list is purely because of pricing. At $849, it sits $100 more than the basically equal Flux S (in terms of specs), while the far more capable (and silent) Wahoo CORE sits at $899 – a mere $50 more. Obviously, in Europe the pricing game shifts a bit. But it’s hard for me to track Euro pricing as it shifts about every 8 seconds based on whenever a given retailer decides to go even lower. So ultimately, I’d say you can kinda figure out what you value here in terms of price to features. But certainly don’t shy away from a good deal on the Direto – it’s solid.
For those interested in a direto – 700 at mountainsteals.
link to mountainsteals.com
I’d speculate that not including the cassette on Neo prevents waste (and the Dutch *really* dislike waste).
How would they know what standard to assume? I run my both Neos at 9 and 8 speed cassettes respectively, on my old race bikes that are on permanent trainer duty. A lot of my friends do that too, on anything ranging from ancient to last year bikes.
Speaking of old gear, those two Neos I run are 3 years and 19 thousand kilometers apart. Both required, when they were brand new, one time treatment which included removal of the flywheel cover and reassembly (as both were noisy straight out of the box, unfortunately this still happens in 2018) – but afterwards the 2016 unit continues to run silently to this day.
And one more reco for anyone looking for truly silent experience with Neo. Neo is silent, but it does vibrate, especially in downhill simulation mode. I live in a 4 story wooden building, occupying the two top floors. With the turbo in the attic I could see smaller objects moving on the level below when the turbo was simulating long downhill ride. I put 3 layers of the rubber damping mats that people (should) put under their washing machines and this killed the vibration issue entirely. The mats cost around 20 euro per square meter and can be found in most home improvement stores.
Perhaps on waste, but ultimately, Wahoo sells more high-end trainers than anyone and I’ve yet to hear anyone complain about inclusion of cassette. Whereas, I often see people caveat that you need to go out and buy a cassette/tools/etc with non-KICKR trainers.
You are awesome Ray!!! I mean totally, for real!
I think one of the features of the Elite Directo that’s easily forgotten is that it has a built in power meter. That’s why I’m still on the fence about purchasing it instead of a Kickr. I don’t own a power meter for my bike and it would make training indoors easier for me. I guess since many people in the market for a direct drive trainer already have a power meter then it’s a moot point.
Now that I know the Zumo exists I’m torn. I could theoretically just purchase that and a power meter for a little more than the price of a Direto, then have power outside as well as inside.
It’s true, it does. And it’s accuracy is fantastic.
That said, I don’t pin much value on power meter versus not. I pin value on whether or not it’s accurate – I don’t really care how they do that.
We see the KICKR 2018 is just as accurate (real-world) as the Direto.
The Zumo does NOT have a power meter in it, but things are looking very solid, save the quirks I’ve seen. It lags a little bit on sprints (a bit slow), but otherwise good. Here’s an example data set (sans-spikes): link to analyze.dcrainmaker.com
Thanks Ray! The numbers seem promising. I’m patiently awaiting the review.
And silly me. For some reason I always thought that a power meter was necessary to train by power indoors. I guess it’s a moot point and smart trainers sans a power meter measure power pretty well. Guess the Kickr would be a huge contender for my money then. But Performance Bicycle here in the states is running a terrific deal for the Direto. Hmm…
Not it isn’t silly, I actually think it’s smarter because normal powermeter on bike let you get correct data inside and outside, and not less important also really compare it, of course indoor numbers tend to be slightly smaller but it’s difference from user to user. Any way you get idea.
So get this winter powermeter and use with any dumb trainer on zwift etc., next winter any direct drive trainer that can use data from your powermeter and vualla. Perfect combination.
I’m on a dumb trainer looking to upgrade, and so am completely confused about this comment (and Ray’s confirmation) that the Elite Direto has a built-in power meter. Don’t all smart trainers have this? If not, how do they measure your wattage? Or is this some unit that separates from the trainer and you can mount on your bike when you ride outside? Thanks!
Most trainers actually don’t have power meters, but rather instead just do math. And many do said math really really well.
Inversely, we’ve seen cases (such as the original KICKR) where having a power meter can actually be a detriment. In that case it was sensitive to shipping impacts, and would end up not travelling as well.
What are your thoughts on the Inside Ride e-motion trainer with the Qubo resistance unit?
I haven’t had a chance to try it with the Qubo. It’s definitely on my request list though once I can move into the new DCR space (hopefully Monday).
I’ve been using mine with the Qubo for a few seasons now and love it. They just feel like I’m riding on the perfect stretch of Rd.. Full on out of the saddle sprints are no issue at all and riding on Zwift is super engaging! I’m honestly surprised Ray hasn’t given them a proper review. Especially in light of all the recent hype around rocker plates; the e-motion rollers do a much better job simulating riding out doors. On the smart controller front I believe Inside Ride has now moved on to selling the rollers with their own smart controller unit which now support power meter pass through and come with a remote. If my Qubo add-on unit ever gives out I will deff just upgrade to the new power control unit.
Good to know – thanks.
Excuse me, what is “pass through”?
Sorry, the correct term is Power Match. E.g. you can connect your dedicated power meter up directly to the smart resistance unit on the roller.
link to insideride.com
Thanks. So the e-motions with the Qubo unit do NOT support Power Match? That’s kind of a “deal killer” in my opinion.
I don’t believe InsideRide sell it with the Qubo unit anymore. They now sell it with their own in house unit which supports power match. That being said even though the Qubo unit doesn’t support power match you can essentially achieve the same results in most apps by connecting directly to your dedicated power meter rather then using the Qubo as your source of power. You can then connect to the Qubo to control the resistance.
I am dying to see a review of the InsideRide e-motion rollers. I actually just grabbed one (or arguably my wife did) for Christmas. Have it side by side my KICKR ’17 with the climb unit.
After a few falls (ugh), I now got the special fork unit you can use to be a bit more stable and still get rocking motion and just completed my first decent indoor ride on Zwift with it. Love the way I can connect up my power meter pedals (vector 3s) and then have the resistance controlled by the unit.
Oh, and one more update – I was just going over to the InsideRide website, and they appear to have a 10% off their rollers till February 1. When I purchased before Christmas they were also on sale.
Anyway, something to think about. About to do another Zwift “ride” with the fork adaptor. Not sure I will always use the rollers, likely will take them upstate to our country house and stick to KICKR/Climb combo at my house, but still a lot of fun.
I have gone from a Tacx Vortex to a Atom Wattbike and expectingly different league but the main surprise was the difference in difficulty when came to high % climbs. So more realistic.
My main reason is for the switch though, easy setup and go, no wearing out on my main bike. No strain on the carbon chainstay for example. Plus, there is a chance my wife will use it as it less intimidating.
Definitely true, that’d be a big bump for sure.
Hi Ray, with the Neo 2 out,I already see Neo prices dropping. 1000 USD equivalent in Switzerland. I would think that might impact the recommendation?
Yeah, it’s tough. I’m basing on USD pricing, because chasing Euro pricing is impossible (it shifts by the minute).
In this scenario all things shift in EUR pricing anyway, and mostly equally when looking at the Euro brands (Elite/Tacx).
FYI- In the final table of the article, the Kickr Core link goes to the review of the 2017 Kicker rather than the Core.
Thanks for the heads up! Fixed!
If I can get a Neo for 999 Euro or the Kickr Core for 799, which would be the better deal?
That’s tough. I just went to the grocery store a second ago and I bought a few salted caramel chocolate bars for 1,95EUR each. So in this scenario, I could get 102 chocolate bars for that difference – and both trainers would still be silent (and still have a euro left over).
Really depends on whether you value zero-calibration and cobblestones, or KICKR CLIMB compatibility. Or chocolate bars.
I had to return the Neo due to incompatibility with disk brake.
The Neo and Neo 2 are also incompatible with RAT thru axle technology. To my knowledge after thorough research, Tracx is the only company who did not feel compelled to make their direct drive trainers compatible with RAT thru axles.
Ray – Thanks for the write-up. Do you by chance have an article on the specifications of spindowns on trainers? I’m always curious if I should do it on mine (Kickr Snap) every ride, or only one a week, if I need to wait to do it after 10 minutes of warming up, etc. Thanks!
I don’t. But generally speaking for wheel-on trainers I recommend doing it each time, about 10-15 minutes into the ride.
If the bike hasn’t been removed from the trainer (in other words, the knob hasn’t been tweaked), then just note the tire pressure and pump it up to the exact same pressure each time. Then you can skip calibrating until the next time you turn the knob. 🙂
I have a snap. I have my bike in a basement where the temperature doesn’t vary by more than 2 degrees F. I always pump my tires to the same pressure before every ride. I have a mark on the adjustment dial and always rotate it two turns. I calibrate the snap about once a week figuring the only variable is tire wear. I asked wahoo if this was reasonable and they said that it was.
Wahoo updated their Kickr Snap 2017 spindown instructions. Referring to their updated instructions, I asked Wahoo about this (having a 2017 Snap). My two questions were:
To calibrate a 2017 Kickr Snap should tire pressure be 110 psi per the video or the recommended tire pressure on the sidewall as stated on your site.
…and what’s this about ignoring spindown times and roller adjustment. Do you just pump up the tire and turn the knob twice for calibration??? very confusing
Their very prompt response was:
Thank you for reaching out. You should pump up the tire to 110 PSI before installing on the Snap. As far as ignoring spindown times on the first generation of Snaps there were recommended spindown times but due to improvements in the 2017 the same protocol doesn’t apply. Once you got the tire pumped up and the two full turns once it touches the tire it should be good. I do want to make sure you saw this link about completing spindowns on our support site:
link to wahoofitness.yonyx.com
Sorry to bother you but could you clean up my post #50 by deleting the beginning down to “Wahoo updated their Kickr Snap 2017 spindown instructions”
I screwed up pasting and deleting on my phone and I don’t see any way I can do it.
Cassettes are ~$50 so seems like where the trainer comes with one or not impact price a bit. The kickr core is really only $250 less for example
Otoh, hand me down cassettes from outside are free.
The chain pull from that sudden sprint over cobbles where an aging cassette slipped for the first time and you nearly crashed and would have taken down half a dozen of your friends will *never* be replicated by Zwift.
Cogs that would be irresponsible to keep riding outside can still have many of those lonely, sweaty hours in front of the TV set in then.
I’m one of those oddballs that likes the purity of rollers but also like technology. This winter I’m expecting to spend most of my time on E-motion Rollers with their smart resistance along with adding their floating front fork for my especially long rides (so I can get some motion that isn’t possible on most fixed trainers…)
Riding rollers for extended periods is far too difficult. I’ve done 60 miles, in Zwift, for just over 4 hours but don’t think I could go much longer on straight up rollers… it is a lot of work mentally and physically.
I’ve done long rides on my emotion rollers (3+ hrs.) no issues at all. Most rides I’m juggling between glancing at my computer screen and watching TV without even giving much thought to the fact that I’m riding on rollers. You will be surprised how natural they feel; they don’t require a lot of concentration. Fork stand will be useful if you are looking to turn yourself inside out on intervals. That being said I wouldn’t be surprised at all if you hardly end up using the fork stand. I have no issues doing full on sprint intervals without it. Just recommend having a decent dismount platform to put your foot down on.
Hey Ray, the review link for the stac zero is not for the halcyon(smart) version but the non controllable one.
Thanks – fixed!
When you pop off the wheel and put the bike on a direct drive trainer, do you need to fine-tune the derailleur adjustment? Or are the tolerances all standardized enough across frames and trainers that it works well right away? I don’t have space for a permanent trainer set-up, so I’d be going back and forth regularly.
I’m currently using a wheel-on trainer, but I’m getting tired of the wheel slipping on zwift climbs.
I had the same problem with my Cycleops Magnus. Using a my new Elite Direto with 10sp Ultegra 6600 drivetrain, I have not made any adjustments to the limits screws for the rear derailleur.
It’ll depend quite a bit on the specifics of the cassette and how good (or bad) the fine tuning/adjustments have been made on your bike. Most time it works just fine, but sometimes it’ll need a minor tweak.
is it possible to include in future reviews if the software update is possible by android/IOS/both.
as i’m in doubt between kickr core or tacx flux s/2, android compability is for me maybe the determinative factor in this case. and i’m probably not the only one…
PS: keep up the good work
With big respect to your work I surprised that under TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS, you hasn’t mentioned that most direct drive trainers use belt driven mechanism inside, except one – NEO I think and after my research most of belt driven units face problems because of that. And every one knows, that cars and most of random belt driven machines needs service and maintenance. For example direto users must make manual manipulation to fine tune tension on belt from time to time, flux users just change their units trough warranty with first signs of strange noise or vibration like in your and GP lama videos. It’s actually confusing that non of trainer manufactures speak about that, no comments about belt costs or maintenance periods etc.
Honestly, I don’t see it as a factor. And I don’t hear of many people that actually ever touch the belts, except in case of abnormal service.
I’ve never heard of it being common for Direto users having to make tension from time to time, and the vibrations/issues seen on earlier Flux units weren’t really belt related in most cases.
Which might answer your last question on why nobody is talking about it: Because it’s not a tangible/real issue for 99% of people. And, if you subdivide the last 1% of people, my guess is half of those will make forward progress with fixing whatever it is, but half of those will probably make it worse. 🙂
Just my two cents.
In my decision making process, the belt issue was key. Flux has a history of belt jumping off the tensioner, new kickr core has belt tensioning issues which destroy bearings, direto needs belt adjustment. All of them need calibration and spindowns due to a belt. Why replace a rubber tyre noise and inconsistency with a rubber belt noise and inconsistency?? The Neo won my (extra) money for this precise reason.
What made me go with a Drivo was that the Neo slips on sprints. I do stand still/rolling sprints and the Drivo never fail to dish out the pain. After two years, I never had an issue with the Drivo’s belts (all 2 of them).
There should be no inconsistencies with the belts, on the Wahoo Kickr at least. They are toothed timing belts, the same type that have generally replaced timing chains in cars. As long as the tensioner does it’s job, the belt will stay positively engaged with the teeth in the pulleys and provide consistent results. Five years on my 1st generation Kickr still has its original belt. The only maintenance I have done is to pull drive assembly apart, clean and grease it, and replace a bush that was showing signs of wear.
What is the usable life of the mid-high direct drive units, managing mechanical forces with belts and pulleys vs. a Stac Zero with no mechanical force applied, just magnetic fields? Nobody seems to consider this in the value proposition.
I honestly don’t think it’s something that’s needed to be considered. It hasn’t proven to be at this point, outside of rare service edge cases (which apply to all trainers).
Any advice for an off the grid trainer? ie a trainer that works well-ish without power or is battery power. I know the stac zero does it but I am not thrilled about the set up process.
Tacx NEO will self power
As will Tacx Bushido Smart. And some like the Elite Drivo II can actually go off-grind and support about 300w or so (I have the exact details in my review, as I tried it out).
That’s it. I’m officially calling the Zumo the Elite Dieto.
I’m still using a Fortius there are FEC bridges to use any app, finally free from the garbage Tacx software
In AU I purchased an Elite Drivo online about $400 cheaper than a TACX. Very happy with it. Sometimes it’s response to quick changes in power is a little slow, like a series of sprints with 10sec rests. I’m wondering how TACX and Wahoo respond in similar workouts?
“Tacx also introduced the more powerful Flux 2 at $899, though it’s not ready yet – so no inclusion here. And honestly, I’m not sure it really competes with the CORE anyway.”
What do you mean by that?
The CORE does grades to 16%, the Flux 2 to 15%. The CORE has a bigger physical flywheel, though the Flux 2 claims a larger virtual one. With the exception of the Neo, I generally don’t find the Tacx virtual flywheel quite as road-like feel as the real-ones.
Finally – and more importantly, the Flux 2 isn’t silent and the CORE is.
Thanks a lot for your reply and guide.
I just pressed the button on a Kickr Core!
Hopefully I won’t get a defective one as some seem to get: link to cyclechat.net
I have a tacx bushido smart, but it’s impossible to shift into the big chainring.
My bikes shifts fine not only on the road, but also on a cycleops fluid classic trainer. Bought a tacx skewer, but it still doesn’t shift.
Anyone have ideas on what I can do?
When you shift what happens? Is it physically blocked somehow?
The chain skips onto the big chain ring, but falls off back onto the small chainring before it is fully engaged. 🙁
The skipping continues until I shift back down to small chainring..
I saw your comment regarding rollers in general, but would you mind to share your thoughts about smart rollers?
For example: Elite Nero: link to elite-it.com 900$ or about 650-700 Euro in EU
As an owner of old Elite E-Motion I am trying to decide whether to stay with rollers but go smart (though only 5% incline) or move to trainer
The Nero’s look cool, and I briefly saw them at some tradeshow this year, but I haven’t had a chance to ride them. Also on the to-do list.
Can’t wait Ray, you could be holding up a possible purchase 🙂 or preventing grief. They do look interesting, but would like to know more from your review.
Sorry, still need to get a pair. 🙁
You have the Inside Ride rollers! I don’t know how they compare to the Elite but boy they have been really fun.
Add on the FFS (the fork system) and it makes it a bit safer when using with Zwift. Have swapped to them for the moment over my KICKR ‘17/Climb combo. Which is amusing.
Perhaps I’ll swap back if I ever spring for a rocker plate, but for now the feeling of free motion forward/back and side to side even with the fork mount is pretty cool, and I don’t mind the loss of incline.
any thoughts on the Elite Nero? It has been out a while, but I still can´t find ANY review regarding noise-level (compared to say Kickr Core) or sprint ability / feeling for racing on zwift.
Also nothing to find on the web regarding real world performance or possible problems (which had been the case with many newly introduced trainers – smart or otherwise).
Would love to see a review shortly (or by the end of the outdoor-season)!
Try on YouTube, GNC channel has a light review that gives a nice idea about it
Yeah, I keep meaning to ask Elite to send one over to give a whirl on. One of these days I’ll remember. Maybe even now…
I can not decide btw Neo and Drivo…I’d buy the first one but as you pointed out for Core there are consumer complaints about units not really silent.
Even on Tacx site it is described how to fix the possibile noise issue.
Do you know if it is finally fixed in Neo 1 2018?
Thank you for the guideline!!!!
I haven’t heard of much in the way of Neo 1 sound issues in 2018.
I’d say that any CORE units that aren’t silent for whatever reason are being swapped out by Wahoo pretty quickly.
You have the Rampa as being firmware upgradable. Any idea how to do this ? Have had a google and nothing out there since I last checked last year.
The Tacx Neo (1) has been reduced in price in the UK to £879 vs Wahoo Kickr 2018 at £999 (albeit including a cassette!). I was on the verge of buying the Kickr when this was announced. I have heard that when using the Tacx Neo with a disc brake road bike the rear caliper rubs against the casing of the Neo and to avoid a potential problem the caliper needs to be removed or at least loosened. Any experience of this scenario? It would be very off-putting even at this price.
I just returned the Neo due to that same reason. I am waiting for the Core, as I think it’s more compatible, or maybe NEO 2
You mentioned that no new watches are expected this year… what does that mean for the timing of the Wahoo Rival, will that be another year away or maybe a spring launch?
I would guess that any unannounced products would be unannounced once a company says they’re ready to announce them.
I am currently using the Tacx Flow Smart, but am tempted by an upgrade to the Elite Drivo (NOT the Drivo II) which is currently on sale for £600 in the UK. Given this price is there any reason not to go for it? I realise it is two years old and being phased out, but it seems a good deal. A bit of noise doesn’t bother me (or anyone else) given I Zwift in a garage and normally wear headphones anyway.
I must say I do not really get this “I wish it had a cassette installed”. In the end you pay for it, wether it is pre-installed or not. I am into vintage/retro bikes and my bike has a 9-speed cassette. If I buy a trainer that comes with a cassette I will end up paying twice: once for the pre-installed cassette that has to come off and will never be used and another time for a new 9-speed cassette.
Ultimately you do pay for it, but you pay less for it installed and it minimizes the junk you have to deal with.
When you’re buying it pre-installed then the company is bulking them at cost, versus you paying for it at a shop. And for most consumers (because overwhelmingly, it’s 11spd these days), that means they’ve either got to go buy the tools (more money) or may someone else to install it (yet even more money).
You can always get the elite Direto under $700 on the internet. If you are paying more, you are not really looking.
By far it’s the best value on mid grade trainers.
Elite drivo is just the best road feeling and you can get the trainer around $1100 as well.
Hi Ray, as always, a great article. I have a Trek mountain bike (Fuel Ex) with a SRAM 12 speed drive train and a boost 148 rear hub. I would like my training to include steep climbs. Any suggestions on a trainer that I can use 3x a week in between forest rides?
The Elite Direto has been available for $699 for over a month now.
For the US market (which is what matters in terms of using the $ sign), Elite actually is clearancing out their ‘older’ 2017 Elite Direto’s. There’s no physical difference between this and the 2018 ones, except the 2018 ones come with a $5 wheel block. As such, most $699 retailers have already sold out on them at those clearance prices, bringing the normal price back to $849.
I don’t try and account for every sale price out there for these guides, because it’s to fluid. If we fast forward a few weeks, Elite doesn’t expect any of those $699 (in the US) units to be available. So I can’t give them a pass on it, since that’s not really useful medium to long term. Now, if they’d stayed at $699 for Direto, then easily it’d have been in that category and leading it.
Thanks for this updated version Ray ! Amazing work as always !
I’ll probably buy my first trainer soon (kickr core), and I’m a little bit worried about much “stress” my bike frame will suffer on one of these trainers ? Do they have some horizontal slack of something like that ?
Short answer: No real-world issues.
Long answer: It requires reading through your bike manufs specific policies on trainer uses. But even once you’ve done that it’s not enforceable in any real-world legal sense. Especially as those same trainer companies have started sponsoring Zwift rides and using it in marketing. To say you can’t ride a trainer and then market with that same bike on a trainer gives them no wiggle room.
Writing something up on it continues to be on my to-do list, especially with respect to Canyon’s policies.
Thanks for the short / long answer Ray, I did not even know about those policies !
I am confused about the “maximum simulated incline” metric. Wouldn’t max simulated incline also be highly dependent on the weight of the rider (as input into the simulation?)
Is this metric influenced by Zwift’s trainer difficulty setting? If I leave the Zwift trainer difficulty setting at the default of 50% and use a trainer with a max simulated incline of 10%, will the trainer continue to increase the resistance until the grade reaches 20%?
Yes it is decedent on the weight of the rider. For example for Tacx it is 75kg of total weight.
This metric is not directly influenced by Zwift’s trainer difficulty. It is software based drtting and affects virtual incline. Trainer will change resistance accordingly to what Zwift ‘tells’ it up to it’s max simulated incline.
Most trainer companies use a default rider weight of between 70 and 75kg in their calculations for it.
Tacx shared some work this summer they’re doing around this and trying to make this more even across the board, though I don’t think that’s been published yet.
Do note that the trainer difficulty setting does impact how this manifests itself though (default 50% in Zwift).
Great write up! Do you know if/when clever training is doing a fall VIP sale. I think I am going to pick up a kickr core but 20% off would be nice! Do you see any reason to go with the kickr over the core?
I don’t see any reason to go with the KICKR over the CORE.
As for the annual fall VIP sale*, consistency is your friend in life. Both in terms of dates as well as everything else. Just sayin’…
*This sale last year: link to dcrainmaker.com
Seems like this Thursday November 8th might be a safe bet.
Just got my Core couple of days ago, reading this was like “plz dont tell me I made a wrong choice” :)))
great post like always, I remember how I found about this blog by getting to last years edition of this post via google, subscribed to all your channels since.
1 quick question if someone can help. I use both road bike and mtb on my trainer. Do I have to recalibrate each time I switch my bike? I only care about precise power output so do I need to edit my wheelbase, wheel circumference and recalibrate each time I change my bike or are those things just for optional speed/cadence calculations? thx
Nope, in this case the bike you put on it won’t impact the calibration. My understanding is that it’s really more temp swings or moving it (shipping) that could impact it.
Great as always. I am interested to hear about the freehub being as quiet as possible too. I tried out a Direto recently (not that quiet), the sound while cycling was one thing, but the freehub….. OMG! Sum total, much more noise that my Kickr Snap, with my bike that has a relatively silent freehub.
Can you also include in your silence eval the sound of the freehub?
Lots of loud freehubs when new get quieter as they wear in
Which high end trainer is the most responsive (fastest response)?
I have a Drivo I and I notice a bit of lag, but I love the road feel. Much better than the Neo or Kickr (i’m the Imelda Marcos of trainers, I’m afraid….)
Drivo II is pretty good (3x faster than Drivo 1).
NEO 1/2 is pretty fast as well.
If you look at my TrainerRoad profile, you can actually look at all the tests there for all trainers for response time. I do the exact same DCR 30×30 test each time, and generally speaking that’s going from ~150w to ~400w.
Here’s the 30×30 sets: https://www.trainerroad.com/cycling/workouts/199459-dc-rainmaker-30×30-trainer-test
Do note that sometimes my exact gearing can impact the results slightly. Or, as was the case with one trainer (the Elite Drivo II in fact), whether it was BLE or ANT+ seemed to impact results too (significantly).
Any thoughts on a trainer to share with my son? I ride an 11 speed 105 – 700C bike and my son has an 8 speed Alivio 650 bike. Unless I’m missing anything then it has to be a wheel-on gravity attached trainer – if I want to easily put either bike on (I had a Tacx Flow Smart but that required you to remove and re-attach the resistance unit to change between wheel sizes).
Yeah, I’d definitely go wheel-on in that scenario. You should be able to mix and match a 700c and 650c bike no problem on any wheel-on trainer though (as the press-on mechanism will tighten it up). For example, The Girl has a 650c triathlon bike, and we’ve long since shared trainers. More recently that’s been direct drive, but prior to that it wasn’t.
Hey, Ray — I am Girl-size with an FTP currently under 130 and a Kickr Snap. It is wildly inaccurate – sometimes 30% different from my PT hub – and Wahoo confirms it will not calibrate below about 120, making erg mode useless most of the time. I would love to discuss with you the “floor” on various trainers; you would be doing a great service to many not-yet-super-strong women everywhere.
Let me add it to my to-do list to try and find out the lower floor across the board.
I do know that’s a key selling point of the Flux 2 coming up (as well as lower-speed climb support).
Thanks, Ray! e me directly if you want to see my comparison numbers on the kickr snap.
The Kinetic Smart Control 2018 shouldn’t have made the list. Don’t get me wrong, I love using mine… when it works. The first one had overheating issues, and the resistance would lock up. Kinetic sent a replacement which was extremely loud and didn’t provide any resistance on simulated hills. Basically a dumb trainer.
Kinetic stopped responding to my emails about the faulty product they sent as a replacement. Despite being well within my two-year warranty. Radio silence.
The only difference with the 2018 model is a chipset supporting ANT+. Don’t risk it! Do yourself a favor and buy a Kickr Snap.
Sucks to hear about the customer support issues. Though, I can point to a comment somewhere here on the site for every trainer company where someone was displeased with the level of support. Thus its somewhat hard for me to remove all trainers due to a single support incident.
Instead, I tend to look at trends. For example, you’ll notice I called Bkool as concerning on support trends (I struggled to find a single good support comment for them). In fact, it’s odd to hear of Kinetic’s issues. By and large their customer support is actually really good (I’d caution that’s slightly different than some of the technical issues they’ve had with the inRide V3 for example, but that’s a different ball of wax).
Finally, note that the 2018 models are actually a bit different than just a chipset update. My understanding is there’s also some better temp compensation stuff in there as well. And even the ‘just chipset’ part is a massive shift across the board for the chipset. Like going from iOS to Android sort of shift (again, for better or worse as I noted in my note in the post above).
For my part I’ve had a similar experience with my original (ca 2016) smart control unit. It was serviceable at times for a year. But then, after continuing to have issues, Kinetic sent me a new smart control unit this spring (Shoutout to Steve!). Man, I didn’t even know how jacked up first unit was, but now the new one works fine.
Not a huge fan of all the calibrations, and I’m not sure how accurate the readings are even with a proper calibration, but the thing changes resistance and does erg and fluid mode.
The app interface is by and large pretty good. Although they recently did an update where they removed the requirement of the 10 minute warm-up prior to calibration. Nice to have removed that requirement, but it would have been better to allow for turning it on or off. Now I just have to budget an extra 10 minutes in free ride to cal before jumping into my workout. A minor thing, but the little things matter!
Hope that experience helps! Seems like the 2018 units work and function well. But, based on my experience with the app interface and unit overall, not sure it’s all worth the effort.
Also, why I have cooled any excitement for the R1. I have a feeling that release will have similar “growing pains.”
Looks like I just have this problem with mine. Bought in 2016 and couldn´t use much for the past year and a half. Now that I was finally able to do this (even with this lock up issues I was able to use it) it looks like it gave up last Saturday, after a mere 3-month use. Waiting for KK reply now on this.
Thank you Ray for all your work. Is the purpose of calibrating a Wahoo KICKR/core merely to obtain accurate power values or does it also impact the way the trainer works? In other words, If I have an external power meter, does calibration matter? Thanks
No impact on how the trainer works except accuracy.
Can the tacx neo have fitted a Shimano 8 speed cassette from what I can see it’s 9 through to 11 speed
If so will it take much converting
Reason. For 8 speed cassette is I only use a cheap Bike on a trainer a Carrera Virtuoso bike
If not compatible then I’m looking at getting a kickr snap
For the 2017 and prior NEO’s, you cannot use an 8-speed cassette.
However, from 2018 Neo’s forward you can use 8-speed cassettes.
Details here (towards the bottom): link to support.tacx.com
Graduated from the KurtKinetic smart trainer.
The Wahoo Kickr has been a great step up
Using it along with the Zwift program, and it works well with apple TV
Thumbs up on this one
Any trainer that is compatible with XD-R cassette? Obviously SRAM is gonna introduce 12-speed with XD-R next year. I wonder if the top end models support it. E.g. Tacx Neo.
CycleOps Hammer and H2 is the only one i am aware of that supports a XD-R freehub. But even then on their website they confusingly just call it out as a XD freehub not -R.
You could always go with the cheaper NX level cassette’s from SRAM which has a Shimano style fit.
But i’m with you, I’d love it for all of the direct drive people to support XD/XD-R.
Yeah, I see no reason to use expensive XD-R cassette on the trainer where weight is irrelevant and cheaper, standard hub alternatives are available. Spinning out of gears can be solved easily on the software side (Zwift “trainer difficulty” slider etc.).
If it’s really that simple I’d buy the NX.
Would 12-speed RD go too close to the Neo flywheel? The NX cassette works by dishing the big cogs towards the spokes. Could the same dishing strategy work the same on Neo? That’s my concern.
Just use an 11x cassette. The spacing on the seam 11 speed is apparently the same as eagle12, thus cassette clearance could be improved by ditching the dished 12th gear? I guess a standard 11x cassette on the trainer would therefore work fine with eagle shifters, just don’t over shift unless you adjust the stop screws
No that’s not correct. The spacing is different between SRAM 11 and 12 speed. An 11 speed cassette will not work on a 12 speed Eagle system. The mechs may be interchangeable (although not advisable) but the shifters pull different amounts of cable and the spacing on the cassette’s is different.
@Chup, yes good point about the dishing. I’m not sure about the Neo, but there is loads of space on my Wahoo Kickr and Elite Kura/Drivo. Also don’t forget that a std road freehub is wider (36.75mm) than a mtb (34.95mm) one and you’ll need to use a 1.8mm spacer to shim out a mtb cassette. With that in mind i’d take a punt that there would be plenty of space for the overhanging dish with an Eagle cassette, but maybe someone with a Neo can confirm.
Hi Ray, Just bought a Tacx Neo 2018 version. Fantastic product. Though I did a FTP test in Trainerroad, and was surprised, that my level was much lower than with my Favero ASsiomo pedals (Duo). I took a new ride for an hour and compared the two outcomes – one from TACX Neo – and one from the pedals (with a Garmin 520+). It seems like TACX Neo measures between 10-18% less than my pedals – though the curves is very similar/parallel.
Have you heard about this before – and do you know how to fix it….
BR Jens O
Quick question on the derailleur cage size and compatibility with the TACX Flux 1:
I have a Cross Bike with a Sram Apex 1, 11-42 Cassette. How do I know if the Flux 1 would work or I need to choose the Flux S instead?
Google “tacx flux derailleur” and you will find image showing what and where to measure. Shift to the gear where derailleur cage is extended the most.
For a triathlete who wants to start training with power and plans to spend some $$$ this holiday season, which would you suggest:
1. High-end smart trainer
2. Power meter pedals (Garmin or PowerTap) to be used with an old (but still working) CycleOps fluid trainer
I live in the Midwestern US and spend a lot of time on the trainer in the winter and a lot of time dodging potholes in the spring. Thanks and great work as usual.
Honestly, I’d get the pedals first! You can train indoors and outdoors with them. Also, eventually when you get around to a Smart Trainer, the ability to use “power match” or other similar features will be awesome.
I’m not sure where, but did I read that you can calibrate some trainers whilst logged on to the Zwift app?
If so could you tell me which ones please.
Thanks for your help.
Trainer Name ANT+ FE-C BLE
Wahoo KICKR Y Y
Wahoo KICKR 2016 Y Y
Wahoo KICKR SNAP Y Y
CycleOps Hammer Y Y
CycleOps Magnus Y Y
Tacx Flux Y
Tacx Vortex Y
Minoura Kagura Y Y
Jet Black Whisper Smart Y Y
if you want to line up the columns: link to support.zwift.com
If you want one trainer for all situations the STAC Zero Halycon is a top contender. Besides no-noise, a major benefit is portability. No other smart trainer folds completely flat and fits in travel luggage or a pizza delivery bag. It slips easily under a bed or coffee table in a small apartment. There are no qualms riding it in a hotel room or at a campground on battery.
You can avoid fiddling with setup by adding a training wheel with weights pre-mounted, ready to ride.
If you can afford two trainers — one a fixture in your workout room and another for travel — the Halcyon is a natural choice for trainer #2.
Also, no belts, no pulleys, no tire wear, self calibrating, no spin downs, lightweight.
… and crappy road feel.
I think it depends on the road feel. It’s really easy to get crappy road feel with it, it’s harder to get it right. But you can indeed get it right. But it still won’t match other trainers in that ballpark road feel wise.
Ultimately, it depends on what you want.
I’ve been using the Stac Halcyon in ERG mode doing a Zwift workout program. It’s easily adjustable for ERG transitions. They can range from comfortable to crazy fast. When you talk about getting the road feel right for Sim mode, are you talking only about adjusting the inertia slider in the app? Are there other tweaks you found helpful in dialing in the road feel?
Mostly actually about tweaking the weights and ensuring alignment is spot-on. Though, things are a bit different in the final product from what I tested back this spring/summer.
I upgraded my Kickstarter STAC to a Halcyon using the upgrade kit. The biggest surprise is that I haven’t yet really felt the need to put the (old style) wheel weights on, which I didn’t want to yet because there’s still a chance I’ll take that bike outside. I don’t know for sure, but they might be modulating the position of the magnets to minimize the problem. So far it’s been working well, but I’ve only done about 7 rides on it, and only 3 under FE-C control (so far simple workouts). I can’t get excited about “road feel” because I’m indoors and not on the road, but it feels like, say, rollers do or like the old fixed magnet STAC did with the weights on.
Ray, on the Clever Training site it only lists the Elite Direto II and not the original Direto. What changes did they make to the new version?
The 2018 Direto includes a $5 riser block…and, that’s it.
Any thoughts on durability/warranty?
Recently I have had some rough warranty coverage issues with a few KICKRs of the 2014 vintage and Wahoo seems to be of the opinion that most issues require the KICKR to shipped back to them. The shipping fee on that is at the very least $50 just to get a warranty process started. They were also hinting that they would probably be looking at the equivalent of crash replacement pricing… 3 to 4 years and done on $1200 direct drive trainers? what is that all about.
1 year of coverage on a $1200 product is a little pitiful.
I agree about the pathetic warranty for these. I am ready and willing to purchase a direct drive this year but the warranty alone gives me no confidence in durability.
For the asking price of $1000 I expect the trainer to be built right and that means that all issues have been resolved and that the company stands behind that assertion.
With only 1 year warranty, (or even two years for the Kinetic electronics), the message that I get is that these companies don’t have any lasting confidence in their own product.
If they don’t have the confidence to say that their trainer will continue to work for me for more than 1 or 2 years then this industry needs to seriously look into making a better product.
I’m not aware of any consumer electronic or cycling product in the US that has more than a 1-year warranty by default. There’s a handful that have done 2-year warranties because the EU requires it.
But ultimately, I’m just not hearing issues with people using trainers beyond 1-2 years and having problems. In the vast majority of cases what I see here, if someone’s going to have a problem, it’ll be on day 1, or at worst within the first 30 days.
Not discounting folks having issues at 3-4 years, but I remember having issues on my CompuTrainer back in the day and the pricing was the same there. I paid shipping on it (the resistance unit in that case, but still heavy), as well as even just a basic service fee to look at it. I know it wasn’t any less than about $125.
Anecdata; I killed two Tacx Flow Smarts both at about 18 months old. Thankfully because we’re in the EU (for the moment…) Tacx replaced both – I’ve sold the new replacement and am looking for something a bit more robust.
I suspect doing 3 workouts a week with 20-30 mins of each workout >300W might be a bit much for the budget trainers… (Why am I doing 20-30 mins >300W in each workout – because my coach told me to…)
I suppose my issue is not with the warranty specifically, but more with design intent.
It is very clear how a KICKR/any indoor trainer is going to be ridden, decently high wattage, intervals, lots of mileage/time, plenty of sweat. This is arguably a more predictable set of circumstances than a bike faces being ridden outdoors. a $1300 bicycle can be reasonably expected to last at least 10 years. This is a very premium product, on par with a power meter. There is a very reasonable expectation of durability by the customer and the products are not living up to that.
I just want some acknowledgement that these direct drive trainers are still in the relative infancy of their development and recently i am seeing durability issues that seem to be a direct result of that.
There is another issue that makes a 1 year warranty not really a 1 year warranty. For most people a trainer is mostly used in the winter, so you but a trainer before winter hits and use it a few months during the winter. Spring comes so away goes the trainer. When does the trainer get used again? When it gets cold again. That would generally fall right outside the one year warranty.
Where do people leave the trainer in the summer? In the basement. A usually hotter and more humid place. If the trainer is built well it should be fine. Maybe they use lower quality metals that rust or have other issues with sitting unused for awhile, you never subjected the trainer to this. So the first time you do when you come back to use it there is no warranty to come back to.
Thankfully I took out my trainer about two weeks before its one year anniversary so its problem should be covered by the warranty since the clever trainer receipt says Nov 9. (I think its bad bearings, but not sure)
At this point more and more smart trainers are ridden year-round.
Zwift alone has changed the behavior on that. So have structured workouts especially for anyone on a time constrained schedule.
Did you see how many people reacted to zwift increase in price by saying they’ll only pay for the months they use it? I hardly see any zwift rides on my strava feed during the summer but do in winter.
We aren’t all racers trying to be as fast as we can be, some of us bike just for fun
I’m canceling my zwift this month–I like it a lot but $15 is more than I value it. I am a bit sad as I just started importing xert workouts into zwift and that is pretty awesome. Think I’ll “downgrade” to xert on iOS and record for Strava with bike computer. Rouvy if monotony gets to me…
Rouvy’s new AR looks interesting.
3D riders on 2D videos with hundreds of HD routes to choose from.
The definition of direct drive specifically excludes belt-driven. Look it up. We don’t get to choose our own definitions. Direct drive is a well-understood and well-defined term for more than a century. My technics turnatable is direct drive because it’s directly driven. My thorens turntable is belt-driven They both play records. The “direct drive” trainers here are almost all belt-driven. By definition they are not direct drive. Why not refer to them using an accurate term like ‘belt-driven” or ‘direct-mount” instead of a blatantly false description that the industry uses to deliberately mislead?
And a tissue isn’t a Kleenex.
I didn’t invent the term, but there’s not a single person in the entire cycling community that doesn’t call them direct drive trainers. I’m not about to add more confusion here just to be pedantic.
(Funny side note: In 6 years+ years of direct drive trainers, this is the first complaint I’ve heard/seen about the language of it).
I think the term is pretty fitting as it refers to how it connects to the bike and you think of the trainer as a black box. Is the trainer directly driven though an almost completely lossless and non variable connection of the chain or though a lossy and variable connection of the tire.
So a direct drive trainer is directly driven by the bike
Ray – I recently upgraded my Kinetic Smart Control Unit on my Rock and Roll. Connection issues and incompatibility were the main reasons for the switch, but I also wanted to record power on my Garmin 110. It would give me another GRAPH, Data Geek. I received my unit from Clever Training last night, and tried to pair the two units without success. Do you know if this is a systemic problem or is it just something that a firmware update will fix sometime in the near future?
If not, then another nail in Kinetics coffin…Just saying.
It’s not yet in the current firmware version. You can technically pair via ANT+ FE-C today if your Garmin supports it (most Garmin Edge units do), then that’ll work. It’s on the short-term radar to do vanilla ANT+ broadcasting of power, but they’re waiting on some aspects of the underlying chipset to firm up a bit (which ironically, is waiting on Garmin for GFit, the module Kinetic is using).
(Note: I think there’s a typo in the Garmin 110 – can you clarify which model it is? Unless you mean the running watch Forerunner 110, which doesn’t support power unfortunately.)
It is a Edge 130 sorry. I know it should connect, but alas it does not. Is there a time line on this feature?
Gotchya. Yeah, Edge 130 doesn’t support FE-C.
However, it does support Bluetooth Smart power, so you actually should have been able to see that in the listing. Just to clarify, you have the absolute newest Kinetic Control (bought in the last 2-3 weeks)?
Yes I just received it from Clever Training yesterday!!! Was on pre-order.
I also have a Garmin 820 for outdoors, will that work?
So a Garmin Edge 820 will connect over ANT+ FE-C, so see if it sees that as a starting point. Also, double-check that you’re on the latest firmware (Kinetic). I can see tomorrow if I can make an Edge 130 find it.
I am Zwift Crit Racing tonight, although I’ll come in last, I will try the 820 then and respond. Thank you so much for the help!!! T
The Garmin Edge 820 did work with the New Kinetic Smart Control Unit. There was a caveat, however, I had to ask it to Search All Sensors, instead of Power. I tried just searching for Power first without success, however, once I searched for All then it cam up as an Indoor Trainer…Go figure!
Ahh yes, sorry, should have mentioned that.
One minor thing to be aware of though with pairing via FE-C and concurrently having another app control the trainer is that FE-C is technically for control. So you can get into a situation where two devices are fighting for control.
I’m considering my furst trainer, and I’ll get a budget unit. Do you think Tacx Flow is a better option than Tacx Vortex that you recommended last year??
Thanks a lot!!!
No, the Flow is on the lowest end of the spectrum in terms of capabilities. Bushido is quite a bit better.
But between the Flow and Vortex, would you prefer the Flow?
No, I’d go Vortex, it’s got more power behind it.
Thanks a lot Ray!
I would like to know if it’s possible to command a tacx trainer with my garmin 935 or it’s only with cycle computer like edge 1030 ?
Which of the direct drive trainers performs best at intervals for the average cyclist? I seem to find complaints for all of them, not sure if people are just picky. I was considering Drivo II but the comments in the elite forum have me worried.
One last one, are the new Wahoo’s Campy compatible?
Apologies if you’ve already covered this in the questions, Ray, but do you have a blog post where you describe the different apps or ways that you use your trainer?
Considering making the plunge. Currently loathe training indoors, but need to get more rides in during evenings.
I have a dumb question! My current ride has disc brakes. I want to purchase a direct drive trainer. Ive heard that with the rear wheel off and and you happen to hit the rear brakes, the pads will stick together and bad things may happen. Is there a certain way to prevent this? What is the common solution?
Thanks brother! I visit your site often!
My mountain bike came with little plastic inserts to put in between the pads when the wheel is off. That way the pads remain separated if you accidentally hit the brakes. You might want to look and see if yours came with those or if they’re available somewhere. Probably anything that can keep a gap between the pads (so you can pry them apart if necessary) will do.
It depends on if your disk brakes are self adjusting or not. If they are not (most mechanical disk brakes fall into this category) then there is nothing to worry about. If they are than like the other Paul suggested you can use a spacer of some kind. Another option is that some brakes have a lockout on them to lock the brake in place. My road bike has TRP HY/RD brakes and they have this so I just lock the caliper if I want to use it on the trainer…and make very sure to unlock it before using the bike outside. 🙂
ray – where is the stac zero halcyon listed for $749.00? The company web site has it listed for $799 (only place i could find it). CT does not have it listed – although i heard they will. thanks. great web site
Never really followed it before but, are there usually decent discounts on trainers for black friday? Wahoo? Tacx?
While I only skimmed the article I saw no mention whatsoever with regards to thru-axle compatibility. Shouldn’t this at least be mentioned in the chapter about attaching the trainer to the bike? As many road cyclists (myself included) are making the move to disc brakes, it’d be a huge help to have this added to the data comparison tables for all trainers.
Also, rather than a simple yes/no field, I’d also like to see specified whether the trainer has true 142×12 axle compatibility. Meaning, can the bike’s own supplied axle be used (as unfortunately many different threading standards exist) or would it require a finicky adapter from a standard QR skewer (like at least early KICKR models do if I’m not mistaken).
Most (all I think?) support thru-axles of some types today, so it’s actually less of an issue than it was just 12-24 months ago.
That said, adding in the specifics of compatibility is on my short-ish to-do list for the product comparison database. Just waiting for a (really) rainy day to go and research them all and add them in.
I have an endurance bike and I recently had to scan the market for the thru axle options: every wheel-on trainer I’ve seen will work with a thru axle adapter (there’s dozens of manufacturers – Robert Axle Project being the most reputable and thorough) because they simply reproduce the shape of the ubiquitous quick release skewer and few, if any, wheel-on’s include an adapter. The Wahoo Kickr direct drive trainers come with easy to use adapters and all other companies appear to sell thru axle adapters for their direct drive models.
As per your yes/no question, I don’t think it would be responsible for Ray to answer that at all – leave that to bike reviewers. Bike manufacturers have very different thru axles and it would be a disservice to offer an umbrella statement. Giant, for example, has a massive lever that make standard mounting impossible.
I’m looking forward to your review of the atom/neo bike.
Any chance the bkool smart bike will be up for comparison as well?
I don’t plan a review of the Bkool bike at this point. Honestly virtually no interest from folks about it. 🙁
Thanks for replying DC
That’s a shame 🙁
I quite like the idea of it being a spin bike TBH. Ive only seen two reviews on it but neither really give any real insight into power measurement/accuracy and bkool offer even less.
Any idea if the neo can be used to do eccentric training. I asked a while back if it could and they dud say that theoretically it was possible but they weren’t planning on releasing it as a feature.
Similar to this…
link to cyclus2.com
Is this to be believed? link to bit.ly
It’s been over a year since Bkool displayed the prototype at a trade show.
I’m curious about the Bkool Air to, like the idea of six degrees tilt.
I am upgrading from my CycleOps JetFluid Pro at home this coming week. I am planning on buying the KICKR Core based upon both your review and a friends experience with Wahoo’s older KICKR. Additionally, I need a trainer for when I am working away from home. I typically spend ~ 2-weeks per month at a long-stay hotel and have storage available. I have a bike there (Salsa Vaya) and want to be able to consistently follow a training plan on TrainerRoad while there. From a cost standpoint, a wheel-on trainer looks to be the best solution (hard to pul off two KICKR Cores with SWMBO).
Would you recommend keeping it “in the family” and leaning towards a KICKR Snap? I do not have power meters on either of my bikes so I’ll depend on TrainerRoad or my smart trainer to deliver that info.
Would you recommend any other avenue or set of trainers to deliver the best and most cost-effective training?
Not sure if you saw the 20% off deal I posed this morning, but…that might allow you to pickup the CORE for almost the same price as the SNAP normally…something that might pass the SWMBO test.
If so however, I’d agree the SNAP is a good option. The other might be the Zumo, though availability isn’t till early December and I still have two outstanding questions there.
Finally, you could definitely consider any of the Flux units. For example, the Flux 1 is available at $699 from Clever Training, and with 20% off available on that, a steal. Or the Flux S which supports longer cages at $749.
I am pulling the trigger on the Core this week. My 2nd trainer will be on hold until at least January when I am actually in Miami to receive it. I do not think it’s helpful to order it to my home then ship it, but perhaps that is short-sighted. I do have an REI membership, so I could leverage a discount there as well. I appreciate the advice, quick reply and your detailed reviews.
So, locally the jump in price from flux/direto to Drivo 2 is fairly small. Ultimately I’d love the neo but it’s a different bracket I can’t really do. Is the Drivo 2 a decent upgrade over the flux or direto? And should the 36 free months of e-training software with the Drivo 2 factor into the decision or is it pretty useless?
Woah, Drivo (not Direto)? Yeah, that’s a big bump in features, primarily in resistance and feel. Especially with the Drivo II response time. I’d jump on that deal quick before someone changes their mind.
The 36 free months of Elite’s software should not factor into the decision at all. I mean, maybe somebody uses it. I haven’t met any of those people yet.
You haven’t met me yet…….
But as there are still issues between the elite qubo smart b+ and zwift (BLE you peddle 140 cadence and are lucy to get 250 watts going up a hill, this stems from it originally being overgunned in the power department). Anyway the only realistic resistance I have found is on elite’s video courses on their app, so there is a minor reason for its existence.
Yeah, little LBS that’s always been could to me with pricing. I’ve spent way too much money there over the years. Keeps me from internet shopping.
For some reason he can do a good discount on the Drivo II. I think I’ll go for it. Thanks!
Lads, help me pick my first trainer. I’m choosing between KICKER 2017 and KICKER CORE, both new. The 2017 is on sale and I can it get about 100 USD cheaper than the CORE.
The main differences I see are that the CORE is silent but has less resistance (1800 W vs 2000 W) and lesser gradient (16% vs 20%). The KICKR2017 comes with a cassette (not a big deal to me). I think the 61 db max “loudness” of the 2017 doesn’t seem terrible either when I take into account fan+music+drivetrain noise. The handle or lack of it doesnt really matter to me. Anyway, I’m slightly leaning towards the KICKR 2017. Have I overlooked anything?
Yeah, I’d agree with your assessment. If you don’t care about volume, and you can get the other one cheaper, there’s no reason I’m aware of not to go with the KICKR 2017 in that scenario. Enjoy!
Thank you, Ray! Yep, I went with the 2017. The price was too good to pass up. =)
Skimming through the review, I had a moment of regret at buying the CycleOps Hammer a couple of years ago. It’s been a solid trainer; was a bit pricey at the time. But I couldn’t remember why I decided to buy it instead of the Kickr.
Then I remembered it was (and may still be) the only direct-drive smart trainer that supports my 29er MTB with Boost rear hub spacing. I know DCR trends towards the truth/crit crowd, but I wanted to flag that—I know it took me a while to figure it out.
Have any of the other trainer manufacturers added increased compatibility?
Indeed, that was an advantage years ago when the Hammer came out. But these days, all of them support all the major standards. The KICKR for example: 130/135mm QR, 12×142, and 12×148 Thru Axle – Adapters included.
Any update on when the full review for the Elite Zumo may be ready? Really wondering if it’s worth the extra $200 savings vs. the Wahoo KICKR CORE. Thanks!
I just got word an hour or so ago that they’ve got two fixes in for the two issues I was concerned about. I replied back asking what the timeframe for those were. As soon as I have that, I’ll circle back on exactly when I can get a review out.
Both issues are easy to test for – so it won’t take but just another ride or two after I get the firmware update to be able to push my largely already done review.
Hi. I am in the same boat between the Elite Zumo or the Tacx Flux S. This will be my first smart trainer and want to get one of them before the Clever Training sale ends in a few days. Based on what you know so far, which one would you go with?
I got a note this morning saying they’re at most 2-3 weeks away from a software fix. Hopefully sooner.
In the case of the Zumo, that wasn’t going to ship till then anyways. Whereas the Flux S ships now (or heck, you can even pickup the original Flux 1 for $699 right now on clearance – and you might even be able to stack the 20%, not sure on that one offhand).
It’s a summer 2018 Flux 1, so the only difference between it and the Flux S is the slightly different/more clearance on the Flux S.
Thanks for the reply. I dont mind waiting for the Zumo if you think its a better unit (with the firmware fixes). I also the clearance on the Flux S might make it a bit more future proof if I go the Tacx route. So I suppose my question is do you think the Zumo is worth it or is the Flux the better trainer?
Realistically I think they’ll be a wash when all is said and done. That’s just my guess based on where they both feel right now riding them almost back to back.
Thanks again. I actually pulled the trigger on an Elite Direto based on your and DC Lammas review. I figured it’s worth the extra money.
I was able to buy a Zumo a few weeks ago from Performance Bike as I was looking for a inexpensive wheel off replacement for my Computrainer that could also support the current protocols.
It’s a solid trainer for the money. However I am used to the Computrainer showing my actual power alongside with what the interval is calling for. Sometimes on the last few intervals I cannot hold the prescribed power and so I can see where I am falling short for those segments. Since the Zumo does not measure the power that the rider is generating it cannot show that information. It can only show the wattage resistance that it is trying to provide. Elite tech support confirmed this to be the case and made no mention of any forthcoming software fixes. It may be close to the same thing. But for me the difference is big enough that I am returning the Zumo. (Maybe I’ll look into the Flux 1)
Anyways thanks for all the great info!
Correct, that’s the bit I was referring to above. My guess is support isn’t in on the loop. I’ll check now from the product manager and lead engineer and see when the date for the firmware update is. Should be any day now. It address exactly what you noted (and what I described above).
Great.. If you could update this thread when the firmware upgrade has been released I would truly appreciate it. I’ll hold on to the Zumo for a few more days. I really want it to work as I got a great deal on it from Performance Bike (30% off).
Maybe you can help me? My old Vortex has officially died and I’m in the market for a new trainer. I’m completely torn between saving some $$ and upgrading to the Wahoo CORE, or really splurging and going all in on the Neo, and I want to take advantage of the 20% sale while I can! I’m a huge data nerd and like the accuracy on the Neo, but at the same time I know I’ll never, ever be able to take advantage of the huge power output that the Neo can provide, although 20% gradients might be nice. Would I notice the difference in power accuracy on the CORE vs the Neo? Is there a comfort level difference, given that the Neo can handle some swaying? I spend a lot of time riding indoors this time, and if there was a notable difference in comfort that would sway my decision. And honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever be interested in investing an extra $500 just for a machine to lift my bike up…
I don’t think most people would notice the accuracy on CORE vs NEO. Especially with the latest updates. As long as you every once in a while update the CORE’s spindown/rolldown, then it shouldn’t be a problem.
As for sway, there may be some sway in the Neo – but honestly, I almost never notice it. Maybe because I ride so many different trainers or something, but it just doesn’t stick out.
As much as I love the Neo – the value prop of the CORE specifically makes that hard (since you could get both a CORE+CLIMB for the same price as the NEO (on sale).
Thank you, Ray! That helps… Looks like I’ll save some $$ and get the CORE for now. Save the extra money for the holidays.
As a Finnish citytriathlete, I keep my trainer in my balcony. I have decided to update to direct drive smart trainer, thinking of Kickr or Neo. Do you have any insight on storing and using it outside in temperatures from -5 degrees to +5 degrees, or storing it outside when its -20 degrees. My worry is that it wont work in cold and even more that it will break due to moisture when temperatures fluctuate near zero degrees.
I’m mixed on it. Personally, I’d be hesitant to put any trainer where things might get condensation inside them. Over time, that’s challenging (they deal with sweat drippage just fine, but they’re designed to have sweat/water from certain angles, not nessessarily on the inside of it).
Cold-wise though, no issues with operation. I’d just be hesitant on leaving it outside year-round.
Not sure where to ask this, but I figured this is the closest. My wife and I are thinking of taking the Zwift plunge. We’ve an apple TV and would like to ride side by side. Is this possible or what are most people’s setups to ride concurrently?
Yup, totally possible.
In fact, here’s a pic on The Girl’s Instagram feed from just last week with us doing exactly that: link to instagram.com
The Instagram pic shows riding side-by-side with two logins on separate monitors.
How do you configure Zwift for one Apple TV and two rider accounts?
Ahh, sorry, I thought you had two Apple TV’s (which is what we have). It’s pretty much the cheapest option out there.
Note that Zwift does actually store both logins though, so when you start up an Apple TV Zwift session it asks you which person you want to login with, which is pretty nifty.
I was asking for Charlie Anderson. I’m not an Apple groupie or Zwombie. ;- )
I assume one rider could log into their Zwift account connected to the Apple TV and the other via their iOS device. As long as they keep pace with one another they’ll be side by side on the big screen.
How do big screen systems work at a fitness center with multiple riders?
Does Zwift support watch-only mode to display multiple riders logged into a specific event so only those riders are displayed? Preferably with each rider’s stats.
Would like to be on the same screen as my riding partner. I guess right now I would do one on the Apple TV and the other on a laptop…
Ahh, gotchya. Yeah, no method I’m aware of to getting on some screen. I mean, I know there are some TV screen doohickies and such, but that’s honestly still going to require two Apple TV devices.
Fitness centers tend to either use software specifically designed for it (such as PerfPro, Wahoo’s Gym solution, etc…), or, they just end up having a bunch of screens spliced together.
Most people have noted that Zwift has so much potential in the single-room multi-rider event space, but all of its untapped at this point.
Can you please explain why a certain trainer might work better/worse for a heavier rider when it comes to max simulated elevation? I guess I am having a hard time understanding why it would make a difference.
I understand trainer choices are a personal decision, but I’ve run into a bit of a conundrum and would love any input.
I currently have Kinetic Road Machine Smart Control unit from 2017. It works (I know, rare!), but I’m getting a bit sick of the warm-up, calibration etc.
As a bit of a primer, with the winter coming in NC I’ll be doing the vast majority of my training inside with a little bit outside on the rare nice weekend. I do NOT foresee myself using zwift or any augmented reality platforms, but I will probably be using TrainerRoad or SufferFest for structured workouts. Currently I’ve been using the Kinetic Fit app.
I’m of two minds on what to do next. One option is to get the 2018 Kickr. It would give me greater trainer functionality, remove the need to calibrate every time, and give me the portability and adjustability for uneven floors.
My other thought is to get the Garmin vector 3 pedals and downgrade to a “dumb” trainer (Roadmachine etc.) This would give me the option of doing power training outside and get power readings inside. As well, I do kind of like the idea of the simplicity of a fluid trainer that doesn’t need to get plugged in etc., lower maintenance.
However, I’m not sure if I would miss the trainer controlled resistance particularly in structured workouts.
Looking to take advantage of the recent sales, so any recommendations or advice are welcome!
I have a 2016 Kickr Snap (version 1) that I’ve had a mixed relationship with – it’s had connection issues and despite Advance Calibration, still reads 20-40 watts low, which makes for frustrating transitions between indoor and outside riding. I do however love its robust construction and I know many others have good experience with Wahoo products. I’m thinking of picking up an Elite Zumo to replace it with the Clever Training 20% off deal.
Is there any reason I shouldn’t do that? Should I be considering a replacement Snap Version 2?
I think in general the Elite Zumo would be an upgrade over the KICKR SNAP. Elite confirmed this morning they expect the firmware fix for the two issues I saw to be in place within 2-3 weeks max.
On the flip side, you could also get a Tacx Flux S right now with the same for only $50 more (before the 20% off btw). It’s got super similiar specs and you can get instant gratification.
Personally, if I had ~$1,000 to spend for a trainer and a power meter, I’d go with one of the Zumo or Flux units, and then one of the power meter meter deals such as the PowerTap P1. That gets you roughly at $1,000 (maybe a touch over) with both solid inside control and outside readings.
Thanks again. I actually pulled the trigger on an Elite Direto based on your and lammas review. I figured it’s worth the extra money.
I wish support as Wahoo was more transparent and better at communicating. I had to ship my kickr and climb back for warranty issues (unrelated issues on both, guessing bearings on the kickr and the cable on the remote for the climb wasn’t correctly attached) and was told:
I have attached FedEx labels to get your units back to us. Once we receive confirmation that it has been dropped off at a FedEx location to ship back to us, we will cross ship a replacement to you. The replacement typically arrives to you within 3-5 business days.
Fedex first scanned the packages into their system on wednesday, (dropped off at office depot on tuesday) so you would think wednesday or thursday they would send out the replacement since they said they would cross ship. Wahoo signed for the shipments at 10am on friday and still hear nothing from them and no shipments from them. (You can register on fedex and ups to know of any packages sent to your address) Be nice if they could at least acknowledge they got the trainer and went to expect them to ship out a working one. And if they are so backed up they can’t send out a working trainer don’t say they will cross ship.
This isn’t to say they are bad, its far too early to say that, and can’t say others would be better. Just that they aren’t doing what they said they would.
Got a replacement Climb on friday and they act like the case is closed with no indication of them sending a replacement kickr but did ask how satisfied I was with how they closed the issue so not sure if they plan to send it 🙁 They really should communicate better.
Here’s a “hypothetical” for you. Say you’re a middle-aged dude who rode regularly (but not a ton) for four or five years (including a few centuries), but has been sidelined for almost 1.5 due to a knee injury. Say also that you are now healthy, but a good bit overweight (say 195 lbs at 5′ 9″ish). And say that you have a dumb Kurt Kinectic and no budget for a new trainer, but that you have an ANT+ speed/cadence sensor and a dongle to transmit it to a computer. Say finally that you live where it’s cold so you won’t ride outside much before spring, but you plan to ride at least one century next year, and very possibly a two-day, 150 mile ride as well. So you need to get back on your horse asap. Which brings us to the question(s), all of which boil down to the best way for you to start riding his trainer regularly:
1. Is Zwift the most likely candidate even though you’d need to use simulated power and might need to buy and Apple TV as it’s unclear if you can set up your old computer in a place that will allow you to ride your trainer. (And you’re not 100% sure it’s Zwift-compatible in the first place.)
2. Trainer Road with simulated power and overlay with Netflix?
4. Something else?
5. Just ride the dang thing, however, whenever, because it’s better than nothing? (Assume this option is one shrouded in doubt, however, you as you assume you will get bored very quickly and not ride regularly.)
Do you risk getting bored and not using the trainer as much? So being more entertained will mean you do it more?
Yes. Entertainment in this context, however, could be having challenging workouts to focus on. I just need to do something other than think about the fact that I’m stirring on a bike that isn’t going anywhere. Just watching TV while I ride hadn’t usually done the trick over long periods of time.
Zwift has several training plans available including “Your First Century” in addition in the off-season months (Northern Hemisphere) they run Fondo and other more distant oriented group rides, which would help with motivation. In addition Zwift’s virtual power (ZP) curve from your Kinetic Trainer will be fairly in the ballpark accurate except for maybe all-out sprint efforts, compared to many other dumb trainers.
Lazy Dude —
Which is more important to you? Entertainment while spinning away the miles while losing weight or getting fit fast and maintaining fitness?
Do you prefer simulated rides (3D or video) to accomplish your goals or structured workouts (ERG)?
I think ERG on Zwift could get boring quickly. You’re basically riding the same few courses in a circle. In ERG mode you are also zoned out, not participating in any interactive simulation. I call those riders Zwombies. The dead endlessly wandering in a crowd unable to take their eyes off their handlebar screen. 😉
If you want to spend the least amount of time to get fit and stay fit I’d go with #2 — TrainerRoad’s Virtual Power.
That will work with a Kurt Kinetic Cyclone, Mag, Road Machine, or Rock and Roll and your speed/cadence sensor.
If you don’t have a HR monitor purchase a Wahoo TICKR ($49).
You can run TR in overlay mode on your PC and watch whatever you want. However, you don’t really need a PC with ANT+ dongle. TR runs great on a phone. If an Android phone without ANT+ you can purchase a Wahoo Speed/Cadence Sensor ($59) and connect by BLE. Watch your PC or TV separately with TR running on your phone.
As far as TV, videos, and 3D simulation apps go, I think you’ll discover you don’t really watch them much when training by ERG. As the workouts progress in intensity and duration anything else is background noise. You’re better off focusing on form and pedal stroke. The only times you might glance at a PC or TV screen is during recovery minutes and cooldowns or as a distraction while completing a tough interval (pain!). A portion of TR workouts also include instructions and drills during the workout.
One goal of TR is to minimize the time you spend on your trainer with the greatest benefits. You won’t be spinning mindlessly for hours while binge watching GOT. 😉 That said you can select an endurance workout on occasion and ride for hours if you really want to. That’s a good time to watch a TR podcast. They are informative even if you don’t plan to compete. For a change of scenery search on Youtube by the topic of your choice. There’s plenty of free content to watch there, cycling related or not.
Pick a TR Base Phase plan to match the hours per week you can train. Your weight loss will begin.
Continue on base until you’re ready for Build Phase. You’ll lose more weight during this phase since there’s an increase in HIIT.
When Spring weather returns put in some long outdoor rides on Sat or Sun to extend your endurance range. Use your HR monitor to stay within Zones 1/2. No power meter required. You’ll know your zone ranges (HR compared to virtual power) from your TR workouts.
Finish up with Specialty Phase timed for your event or return to a base plan to stay in shape.
Total budget: $129 TR subscription + $49 HR monitor + $59 BLE cadence/speed sensor (if needed)
Thanks. Strong feelings! I’m still on the fence. My solution may be Apple TV + replace my ANT+ heart rate strap and cadence/speed sensor with dual band options (so my Garmin 500 can read them). Then I can play with both Zwift and TR and make a decision. Interesting that no one is voting for Spinervals.
If I am going to use either Zwift or TR on an iOS device, I guess that my best bet is the viiiia heart rate strap, huh? Then I don’t have to replace my speed/cadence sensor. So I can save about $60. Am I missing a reason not to do this?
Having a trainer thet can change the resistance to what I see on screen makes it much more engaging to me so its not just a visual thing. Can’t watch normal tv as then its too easy to go slower to pay more attention. On the rower I can as there is no comfortable position to stay in
Having decided on an on-sale Neo 1 based on your recommendations Ray, just before pushing the “buy” button I found out that it’s not compatible with a number of TT bikes. Tacx have now confirmed that to be true for my Plasma 3 Premium. So the Neo is out #sigh
The key selling points for the Neo were no need for roll down/calibration, and ability to use without a power source. The latter is less of a big deal. Do any other mid to high range trainers match the Neo in terms of just being able to get on and ride? If I were planning to use power match on trainerroad so ERG resistance is driven by my power2max numbers, does this even matter?
Would appreciate any insight / guidance you can offer!
The Elite Drivo II is very close to the Neo in terms of just get on and go, and then the KICKR 2018 after that.
Are there any plans for the Zumo to be released in the UK? I note it seems to be US only at this stage, is that correct?
It’s honestly up to a UK retailer to pick it up. The margins/etc are lower on the Zumo, so it’s not as appealing to retailers. With discounting in the EU/UK, Elite basically looks at the price of the Direto and for most EU/UK retailers they wouldn’t be able to make the Zumo much cheaper.
Thank you for taking the time to give us uninformed consumers the deep insight on these trainers. Through you and GP Lama I have learned so much about the functionality/capability of the top smart trainers. Now I want one!!! I currently an Elite Qubo Fluid+ that wasn’t get much love until I learned about TrainerRoad about 6 weeks ago. OMG what I had been missing all this time!!! I am totally hooked on the training concept. I do believe though that smart trainer is the right next step but I have been really struggling with the upfront cost(hard to justify with the gains I am seeing on the trails with dumb trainer/virtual power). Direto/Kickr Core were my focus but now you “tease” us with this new Elite Zumo and I can’t wait to see the review. You’ve dropped a few links/references with respect to some of your testing thus far, can you give us anymore until the final release? Black Friday/Cyber Monday is imminent…. crossing my fingers that there might be a steal out there and would like to be as educated as possible…. Thanks again!!!
I heard from them on Sunday and they were 2-3 weeks away from a firmware update to address the two issues I saw. They have figured out fixes for both, but were working through QA/testing/etc. They noted they might be done sooner though.
Once I’ve got that firmware to try out, then I’ll go ahead and publish my review. As long as it fixes it, my review will be largely favorable. That said, if you can pickup a Direto for 20% off, you won’t go wrong and cost-wise will be pretty close.
Thanks again. With that 20% discount in mind and comparing your accuracy data (Direto/Core/Zumo) I am definitely leaning more to the Direto now.
Now I am really torn with the $799 Kickr 2017 Black Friday deal!!! Its a little more overall invest ~$100 but seemingly worth it ?????
could you please tell me, is there any big noise different between Flux 2 and Neo 2?
A fairly big difference. The Neo/Neo 2 is silent, whereas the Flux 2 isn’t. I haven’t fully tested the Flux 2, but I’ve been told it’s akin sound-wise to the Flux 1, maybe a tiny bit quieter.
Thanks a lot!!!!
I’m stuck deciding on which direct drive trainer makes sense if I want to use something that would mimic a spin class, with the flexibility of being a solid trainer, without paying for a Peloton. Does the Zumo come with a cassette? If I wanted one with a cassette, is the Kickr the better option?
Zumo doesn’t come with a cassette. Actually, the only trainer on the market that does is the KICKR. But that’s at twice the price.
With the KICKR on sale for $799, which would you go with for someone looking to keep active indoors?
Thanks, Ray, for the great reviews. You’re awesome.
At 215 pounds, I’m a heavy guy in the cycling world, would probably still be north of 200 when I’m “in shape.” It seems like the driving metric for me is this elusive low-cadence resistance/incline simulation capability.
You’ve noted that the Kickr Core does well here. Can you comment on how well the Zumo does in this area? It’s pretty appealing at that price point (plus current sales discounts), but I’m worried that it will fall short for us husky kids and I’ll be sorry I didn’t buck up for the Kickr (Core).
Ray, do you have a recommendation for a smart trainer for a heavier rider?
I’ve been riding on my old KK road machine for about 8 years now and I think I’m finally ready to upgrade to something smart. I was all set to get a Kickr Core but when I went to buy I noticed that Wahoo says all of its smart trainers have a 250lb max limit on them due to concerns about bike frame stress. That is about 30 lbs under what I weigh and, though I have never had a problem with either of my carbon frames on my Kurt Kinetic trainer, I also don’t have a good sense of how the frame stress differs with such a different mount. I don’t tend to do much out of the saddle sprinting when I ride on the trainer, but I do get out of the saddle a bit and I imagine I’m still generating a fair amount of side to side stress.
I checked around with some of the other trainers with features I’m looking for (silent, preferably has a handle and easy to set up/take down, thru axle support for disc brakes), but few other trainers specify weight limits. It’s unclear to me if that’s because they don’t have a limit or because it’s just not very common to specify it in their specs. I’m not too concerned about cost (though I was hoping to keep it around or under $1k), but definitely don’t want to deal with the additional cost of cracking the frame on my nearly new bike…
link to support.kurtkinetic.com
(notice how it talks about other trainers?)
Tacx seems to support up to 175kg
125kg I mean
I have been studying you guide to Direct Drive trainers. After considerable thought I decided on the new Tacx Neo 2, only to learn that it is not compatible with the RAT ego technology 142×12 axle. You may want to add that to your review. While I understand your argument about the Kicker including a Cassette, the fact is that it does not have integrated power, speed or cadence sensors. When you add those up the price is far higher than any of the units that have all the sensors integrated. That leaves my choices to the Elite Drivo II, Kinetic R1 or the BKOOL smart air. I am 71 years old so I don’t need the greatest % resistance for climbs. I would, however, prefer all sensors to be integrated. Can you please offer some guidance.
Do you have any thoughts on which of the remaining newer direct drive units is next in line to the Tacx Neo 2
I ordered a Cyclops Magnus but can get a Elite Zumo Direct Drive for about $150 more. If it were you, would you go for the Elite Zumo over the Magnus?
Just picked up an Elite Zumo from Performance Bike for around $500. ($799 price w/ 30% off and then 10% back in points = $504!!!!). Thanks Ray for all your hints about this unit being a strong recommendation despite the two issues noted. Wish I could’ve seen the complete review before purchasing but decided to pull the trigger w/ the discount. I look forward to the complete review.
My girlfriend is currently on my old trainer a Tacx Bushido. While she enjoys it I am thinking about upgrading her to the Tacx Flux S.
Currently she is using the Tacx smartphone app for training. She creates herself workouts and rides them while watching Netflix. So from my point of view Tacx is a good choice here because the app delivers what she needs for free. Seems like Wahoo can’t do it without third party integration and Elite seems to have a subscription model.
My goal is still to have her ride with me on Zwift or similar.
From your point of view would it make sense to upgrade from the Bushido to the Flux S?
I am a little confused by the delay of power you found on your review. For sure the Bushido is not perfect (tire slip, accuracy) but is reliable working since years.
You see I am a little skeptical with myself and any insights from you might help.
Given wahoo kickr core and neo 1 prices are currently really close, which one would you choose? Neo 1 seems to have better specs but core is newer, difficult choice.
NEO 1 for me, unless you plan to get a CLIMB.
Be careful with compatible with disk brake bikes, both my road bike and mtb could not fit in the NEO, só had to return it….so unless you plan to ride “old” style brake bikes then I see the Neo 1 has something to avoid because of a stupid design decision by tacx
Just to be clear though, that’s a compatibility issue with your specific bike though. There are plenty of disc brake bikes that are compatible.
Bad luck for me, I really wanted to keep the Neo. However I partially disagree with you, I believe that most disk brake bikes will have issues. The brakes caliper (will always) rubs the plastic cover on the NEO or the right side metal disk .
I understand that when the NEO was introduced, road disk bikes were just a rumour…. But I see the Neo 2 following the same design, and trust me, I wouldn’t mind paying more 300€ if I was sure it works with disk brake.
Yeah, I just don’t think it’s that common. In fact, I haven’t seen a single other comment where it’s an issue on this post, and don’t remember seeing any issues on the Neo 1 post either (aside from people just getting their head around it).
Have you tried using the small caliper separator (often included with your brakes) as a few others above noted they had to use for certain brake types?
I am not sure what you mean by small caliper separator. If it is the plastic thing to insert between the brake pads than I do not see how it works.
Any other change to accommodate the caliper in a way to do not make contact with the trainer, means that I will have to make adjustments every time I take the bike in or out of the trainer. The caliper must be align with the rotor, was you know.
Anyway…not a common issue….it seems…
Can you clarify the issue Nuno is reporting is specific to his bike’s disk brake location or would any bike with RAT thru axle technology have the same problem?
Once you watch a RAT video you’ll scratch your head why it wasn’t chosen as the original thru-axle design. Example: link to youtu.be
Ray: I am writing once again to ask for your assistance in choosing a direct drive trainer. I am 71 y.o. and relatively new to cycling. Because I do not do well in the cold climate where I live, cycling outside is precluded. Hence, I need to find a suitable indoor trainer. I had purchased a Cyclops H2, but honestly I found it dropped signal constantly and also gears kept slipping so I returned it. When I read your review I was really excited about the Neo 2; however, communication with the company indicated that the Neo 2 is not compatible with my bike’s (Focus Paralane Ultegra) RAT 142-12 eco thru-axle technology. Perhaps this information should be included in your review. While I understand your argument about the Wahoo Kickr 2018 including a cassette, the fact is that it does not have integrated power, speed or cadence sensors; you have to purchase those separately according to Wahoo. When you add those up the price of the Kickr 2018 far exceeds any of the units that have all of the sensors integrated which I prefer. That leaves me in a quandary, and thus my request for help. Which of the other newer direct drive trainers that have integrated power, speed and cadence is best suited for me. I have read reviews on the Elite Drivo II, Kinetic R1 the BKOOL smart air. I thought about the Kinetic R1 because it sounds technologically advanced; however, I am not sure about the rocking motion and also, they are having shipping delays which keeps me out of training. That said, I would be willing to wait another few weeks if you believe that is the better of these other units. I would really appreciate a response to this request for additional assistance at your earliest convenience. Thank You.
If you were experiencing connection drops the problem could be a noisy wireless environment that will affect all brands of trainers.
If issue occurs with another trainer try resetting your wireless router if that’s in the same room. You can also test the unit in another room to confirm if issue is location specific.
Another thing to try is switching from ANT+ to BLE sensor connections with whatever app you are using.
If PC based you can also add a USB extension cable for ANT+ or Bluegiga dongle then place that near the trainer.
Skipping gears means a cassette/chain issue.
Skipping in gear typically means you have a new cassette with an old chain or vice versa. Or a specific cog on the cassette is worn out.
If you purchased a new trainer with a new cassette I suspect you need a new chain on your bike.
Skipping between gears likely means there is a difference in cassette spacing between your bike and trainer. That can be resolved with a spacer (if room) or a turn or two on the rear derailleur cable adjuster.
Thanks for your suggestions. Certainly wasn’t a noisy router environment. As for the gear skipping it doesn’t matter since I sent it back. My question to DCR really related to which of the newer direct drive trainers is he deems best other than the Neo 2 which is not compatible with RAT thru axle technology. Money is not a factor since I already had bought the Cylops H2, I have the credit and since I was really hoping to purchase the Neo 2, I obviously can afford to buy the best unit for me. Thanks again for your thoughtful reply.
Sorry, a lot in the post and it’s been a crazy last 48 hours with the DCR Open House and I’m just catching up on hundreds of comments now.
A couple of thingy:
A) KICKR 2018 and Sensors: With the KICKR it broadcasts power and speed. I generally don’t overthink whether something uses a true power meter or not. I care whether it’s accurate. In the case of Wahoo, they actually had a power meter in the Gen1 KICKR’s, but found it often got damaged in shipping. These days their trainers are just as accurate as anyone else without one. The cadence sensor comes in the KICKR 2018 box.
B) Kinetic R1 Motion: It just depends, some people like it, some don’t care for it. I haven’t had any meaningful time on the Kinetic R1 yet at this point aside from my very brief test earlier fo ra few minutes.
C) Trainers in general: Ultimately, I think the Elite Drivo II, Tacx Neo 1/2 and KICKR 2018 are all very good (and Hammer 1/2), but it just depends on the minor differences which one is the best one for you.
What is it about RAT thru-axle design that prevents mounting it on a direct drive trainer?
Is it the lack of an adaptor on the drive side or something else?
Perhaps the comparison charts needs two additional entries — RAT Y/N and Long Cage Y/N.
Its a proprietary standard from Focus:
link to focus-bikes.com
You can get an adapter to allow it to be compatible with the rest of the world:
link to robertaxleproject.com
You may want to complain to Focus about how their bikes aren’t compatible with the rest of the world and what you can do to mount to a trainer
Long Cage would be whatever derailleur limitation is being noticed by customers who purchase q direct drive trainer and find out the hard way their bike won’t fit. 🙁
I assume there is some standard long cage format used by the major brands.
Unfortunately the Robert Axle Project option won’t help. That is an axle replacement for wheel-on trainers, not a direct drive trainer where the wheel is removed from bike.
The RAP page link mentions “Currently, some FOCUS, Centurion, Merida and Cervelo bikes”. After seeing how well the RAT thru-axle design works I cannot imagine more bike brands don’t start to offer it as an option. It appears to provide the strength of thru-axle with faster-then-standard QR skewer install/removal.
What part of the RAT design prevents mounting it to a direct drive trainer?
Could an adapter for a trainer be designed to work with it?
My bike shop today tried all sorts of adapter on the Neo 2 today. While we made it fit, chance were it wouldn’t hold. Yes an adapter can be made. In the end I went with the Wahoo. Anxious to use it tomorrow.
Well complaining would be foolish since their thru-axle system works quite well and because RAT axle technology will grow to become standard on most road and gravel bikes. For example, just recently Cervélo announced that their new bikes will be equipped with RAT thru axle technology. As of now you cannot get an adapter; but, hey, shouldn’t Tacx be the one to change. After all, virtually every other trainer company accepts RAT thru axles without adapters (e.g. Wahoo, Cyclops, Elite, Kurt Kinetic). Seems to me that Tacx made the engineering error not Focus.
Hi Ray, do all the direct drive trainers you mentioned in the article work with long derailleur cages?
My 2018 Kickr works fine with a long cage rear derailleur (9 speed SRAM X-9 in my case).
Define long cage. Mountain bike which is true long cage or road which is really medium cage
As someone who has only used a 1997 vintage Tacx trainer, I have difficulty understanding the emphasis placed on incline support in a flat trainer. Unless the trainer actually inclines the frame, in the end incline only maps back to watts, so the only thing I can imagine is that it makes it a little easier for the user to convert to the right speed + power.
I would love to hear what users of these newer trainers find in practice and what the trainers do with the setting.
For me personally I wanted to know if the trainer could handle the virtual climbs I want to do (like alpe d’huez). I can look up the gradient of the climb and if the trainer is rated for that great! I wouldn’t know how to refer power values to climbs. I think that’s the reason they give the incline numbers.
In practice, they’re a lot of fun and more interactive. The trainer adjusts the resistance (very smoothly I might add) so it stops me from cheating and lowering the resistance a little if I’m more tired. It’s also kind of nice knowing that everybody else on screen is having to work just as hard.
You can get just as good a workout with an old wheel on trainer (I have one which I can imagine ever using again) but this is just more fun.
One thing though, my trainer is only 2 weeks old so I’m still in the honeymoon phase, my opinion may change down the road.
I’ve always been mystified myself. Speed is irrelevant on a trainer, and the high end trainers usually directly measure power. I guess it helps with the gamification (which helps with the tedium); if the incline on the climb on your screen is indicated as 7%, you want to feel like you’re climbing (which is itself just willed; you don’t have to increase your power on a real climb, but you’ll go slower than you like if you don’t) and you want it to feel like you’re on an actual 7% climb.
I should have said cadence and power – and not speed
Perhaps as an experienced rider you do not feel the need for a Cadence Sensor and metrics; however, for me, as a relatively novice rider, every piece of information counts. SinceI can get both HR and Cadence from my Wahoo TickerX, I can display power, speed from my new Wahoo Kickr 2018 and HR and Cadence from my Ticker and still only have the maximum 3 blue tooth sensors. So to me, if I have it, why not record it.
I don’t think anyone is debating the value of cadence but “road” speed on a direct drive smart trainer is relative and often irrelevant since it depends how fast the flywheel is calculating speed (firmware) and that depends on what gear you happen to be in.
You’ll understand this better once you start comparing ride simulations where you change gears and cadence to match course difficulty versus an ERG workout where you stay in the same gear while resistance and cadence vary.
Your TICKR is strictly for heart rate. For cadence you either need a cadence sensor on your bike or some trainers generate cadence based on pedal stroke (watt variation).
I prefer a cadence sensor on the bike as that shows cadence regardless of how hard you are pedaling.
I’m curious to know, given that both the Stac Zero Halcyon and the Wahoo Kickr Core review so well and both noted as ‘quiet’ – which is best suited to workouts in an apartment/flat?
I can ship both models to Europe for ~€799. I feel that in terms of functionality, the wahoo is the better value. In terms of noise, are both quiet enough?
Any help would be appreciated as it is my first foray into the world of home trainers.
Generally speaking people find the STAC trainers better for apartment type situations if vibrations is a factor, because it doesn’t produce any (meaningful) vibrations. Quiet-wise, both are negligible. I’m sure the STAC is technically quieter, but that’s like comparing walking on your floors with rubber soled sneakers versus barefoot or something.
Thanks for the response 🙂 I was looking for exactly that kind of context. I guess vibrations can be damped by a carpet or mat underneath.
The only reason I am slightly wary of the STAC is weather the axle fixing and stability are good enough to rise out the saddle and really push. The Wahoo, or direct drive, seem better for that. Then there is the aspect of incline resistance, but I live in the Alpes. Better incline training can be done outdoors…
Nice guide!!! Helped a lot in deciding which trainer to buy.
But I still don’t understand one thing completely and cannot find it anywhere, or I’m just searching wrong.
But can anybody explain what’s the difference between the maximum resistance a trainer can generate (e.g. 1500W) and the max slope (e.g. 10%) it can simulate? This differs greatly between the trainers with one trainer can generate less resistance with a higher slope compared to another.
The slope number is just a fairy tale. You’re not actually climbing, so there’s no actual slope. The power, on the other hand, is actually being produced and turned into waste heat by the trainer.
But you can pretend you’re climbing. The power generated while climbing an actual slope to overcome gravity is mgv sin i, where m is the total mass of you plus your bike, g is 9.8 m/s^2 at the surface of the earth, v is your along road speed, and sin i is the sin of the incline angle. sin i is roughly 0.1 for a 10% grade (actually the tangent of the angle i is .1, but for small angles sin and tan are approximately the same). So, for a given maximum power, what the maximum pretend incline is depends on the weight of the rider plus bike. The maximum simulated incline will be smaller for heavier riders (like me). (Or to put it another way, for a given power output heavier riders go slower up a real hill than lighter riders.) Giving such a number assumes the mass of the rider + bike, and since so much of pro cycling centers around 70 kg people on few kg bikes, I’ll bet that’s what they use.
I am blessed with a wonderful Wife who is treating me to a combined Christmas and (70th) Birthday present of the Tacx Neo Smart 2 – lucky me!
My ‘problem’ is that whilst I have a AppleMac Desktop and iPhone 7, I think I need something like a 10 inch tablet to run training software, but cannot afford an iPad to keep within the family.
Any recommendations for a robust WiFi, Bluetooth &/or ANT+ Tablets at a reasonable price? Who otherwise might be able to guide me? I am UK based.
Have you considered an Apple TV instead? At least, if you’re using Zwift – it’s really the best bet. Off to the top of my head I don’t know UK pricing, but US/EU pricing is 179USD/EUR for the 4K version (which has more power for better graphics, even at 1080p).
Else, I’d be hesitant to recommend any Android tablets. Partially because I don’t know that market that well, but also because the landscape for compatibility is a mess. Inexpensive Android tablets likely won’t run Zwift (it’s in beta), though, would run TrainerRoad. Given you’re mostly an Apple family, if you’re just looking to run TrainerRoad, I’d recommend picking up a used iPad – since you’d be able to run TR that way, but also keep everything on Bluetooth Smart pretty easily.
I agree to Ray.
Was looking for an android tablet because my girlfriend is no Apple fan. But these (Huawei Mediapad M5) cost as much as the entry level iPad and performance wise the iPad is tested always better.
And with iOS you are on the better side regarding compatibility. Run Zwift on the 2017 iPad and it works stable.
Hi Rey and all other people,
I’ve read many times your article (very impressive !) to finally bought Elite Direto.
I’m very disappointed with Elite software (translation, bug, workout…). It seems that other companies have more functionnalities.
I’ve noticed, bluetooth compatibility : PC must have Bluetooth 4.0 or LTE to function perfectly. With ANT+ key, perfect !
And, I’m dissapointed that after ride with video, elevation information are missed in application (and of course, on Strava).
With this hardware, we have many free trial period on many many software. I’ve don’t activate it for the moment (I use Elite Trainning application). Business model is great !
Curious why you left the Vortex Smart out of the sub 500 category, probably the best budget smart trainer.
Generally speaking it sits around $500 (not usually under), and I guess at that point to me there are (much) better deals/trainers to be had just above it at $599.
It’s not a bad trainer, but given the usual pricing it didn’t fit into the $500 range.
In the US I paid $342 total on Amazon 10 months ago, but just checked and its strangely gone up to $410 now. Backcountry and Cever Training sites currently list it at $429. Over 500 i agree but if you can snag it at $400 or less new its a deal.
Yeah, that’s quite a bit lower. I agree at under $400 it’s very solid.
Question regarding the Tacx Neo that someone perhpas can answer.
I´m looking in to invest in a ceramicspeed oversized pylley wheel system but have heard that it wil not work if you have a Neo.
Anyone have a similar setup and can verify if it works or not?
Thanks in advance!
I can’t comment on that one specifically, though I thought Tacx’s site has a spec template somewhere you can download for the Neo to validate things like that.
Generally speaking oversized pulley’s aren’t an issue on the Neo, however, clearance inbound on some configs of eTap and certain bikes (like my Canyon) can be.
Great, thanks a lot
I recently purchased a Direto for $650 on a good sale (backcountry offered 15% off first order), but I now see the Drivo can be had from Clever Training for just under $800 with VIP. Is the Drive 1 worth $150 more than the Direto in your opinion?
That’s tough. It’s definitely more powerful and faster reacting. If you do a lot of 30×30 type work in ERG workouts you might notice, but if your ERG workouts have less massive jumps, you probably won’t notice.
If you just do regular zwifting (non-workout), you’d probably never notice either.
While my main trainers are a Kickr and a Tacx Neo, I am looking for a recommendation for a portable trainer I can bring with my foldable Bike Friday bike on short business trips. Any recommendation on something small and light? Even manual power adjustment would be fine, I just need the lightest trainer possible… thanks!
In particular, I am wondering if the Halcyon could be an option. I wouldn’t use the 2.3kg weights as flywheel, and given that I am just doing some Trainerroad intervals I think I could cope with the poor road feel?? Appreciate your opinion.
I just did an easy base ERG workout without the wheel weights for the first time and it felt fine. I’m going to leave the weights off for awhile and see how it goes.
My guess is the difference will be more noticeable on short/hard intervals or slow rpm OTS drills.
Wheel weights are likely needed to improve simulated mode (Zwift, etc.). I don’t plan to ride in that mode much if at all.
In case it is a factor for you the Halcyon has lower max watt/slope specs than the Kickr or Neo.
If lightweight for travel is your primary goal a non-Smart wheel-on trainer would also work as long as its power curve is listed with TR. See this TR article: link to trainerroad.com
Now that I think about it the limitation in your case is going to be wheel size on a Bike Friday. That will prohibit use with most trainers.
yes, STAC answered me that minimum wheel diameter is 297mm. I need to find another trainer or start a new project of a portable bike with 24″ wheels…
Perhaps Feedback Sports Omnium OD would work for you (SportsCrafters on TR’s Virtual Power list).
The Omnium OD weights less than 14lbs and breaks down into a 25x7x8″ travel bag.
The review link below indicates 700 watts @100 rpm is possible. Don’t expect to sprint during workouts. Otherwise it sounds capable for most ERG work.
link to cxmagazine.com
You’ll need to ask Feedback Sports how low the fork mount goes or if a riser can be placed under the rollers to level out your Bike Friday.
Love your site and youtube channel. I was wondering if you have tried any rocker plates and were thinking of doing a review here is one that seems to be shipping currently. link to sbrtrishop.com
Happy New Year.
Any advice for buying used smart trainers? I’m going to go check out two Tacx smart trainers Bushido and Flux (at £300 and £350 respectively). Is there anything I should check w/ respect to maintenance etc? I was excited about using the bushido to train wirelessly outside, but I’m assuming that I should just get the Flux and an extension cord since they are so close in price?
Just found a Elite Direto at a going out of business sale for $637 USD incl (no sales tax in OR) I’m pretty sure I’m going to jump on it, any opinions?
That’s reasonably solid. I’d take that.
Going out today at lunch break to pick it up. I’m super stoked, it’s getting cold and icy here in Portland, past my threshold for riding outside for any amount of time.
I have an old Elite that had video courses that you ride and my wife would like that same type of video distraction while using a trainer. Are any of the current ones capable of playing a video course that simulates outdoor riding? I am just not at all familiar with the current iterations of trainers. I do not want to buy a Peloton just to have videos!
It’s up to software not trainer to simulate video courses. And there are loads of software openly compatible with Smart trainers that can do that (for example: Rouvy, Kinomap, FulGaz, Bkool, ErgVideo, Veloreality etc.). Check: link to dcrainmaker.com
Any word on an Elite Zumo Firmware update?
I checked last week with Elite. After the initial accuracy issues I discussed above, they’ve been working since to resolve it. They’re saying right now they’re hoping to have those wrapped up within the next 30 days (so a bit longer than planned). However, in the meantime they dropped the price to Direto to compensate a bit.
Thus, I wouldn’t release a review at this point until probably early March, realistically. Give them 30 days, and then another week or two for me to test/validate.
Thanks for the update! I’m loving my Zumo so far! I see what you mean about power reporting when in ERG mode. ERG mode says 200W and Zumo reports exactly 200W. I’ve only used ERG mode once to warm up for a FTP test. Everything else has been Zwift.
I have an early (Jan 2015) Wahoo Kickr. It’s always had poor connection and some resistance instability that Wahoo were never able to help me correct. But those were just minor irritations. I recently moved to Utah and it’s generally just above freezing in my garage. The Kickr has HUGE temperature drift. At the beginning of a ride power numbers will be 100-125% too high (compared to Power2Max and Garmin Vectors) and then slowly drift down to normal over 30-40 minutes. When I asked Wahoo about it, they just said they only guarantee accuracy down to a 59F operating temperature. If it’s more than 59F outside why the heck would I be on a trainer!?!
So, my point, are there any smart trainers on this list with a min operating temperature below freezing?
I am not finding specs for smart trainers that list operating temperature range.
DCR — Doesn’t that range need to be known in order to claim +/-% accuracy for power?
When they test for accuracy do they only test within a few degrees of 70°/22°C?
It’s unreasonable to assume everyone will operate their trainer indoors at controlled room temperature.
125% would completely skew the results of an ERG workout.
I wonder what happens to accuracy if you ride your trainer in a carport during a summer heat wave.
Most trainers have temp sensors in them actually. In fact, for a Wahoo trainer if you do a spin-down you’ll see the current internal temp displayed.
As long as you do a calibration at whatever temp your room is at (after about 10 minutes or so), you’re generally pretty good. Whereas if you’re in the garage and then decide in the middle of winter it’s too hot, so you open the garage door and drop the temp by 40*F mid-ride…well…that won’t likely end well for accuracy.
I have done many spin downs, both normal and factory, at beginning of rides, after 10 min, 20 min, an hour. Nothing makes much difference. And the drift is hundreds of watts, which makes the kickr pretty much worthless for the first 45 minutes.
Like JD said, I have never seen temp specs for any trainers so I assumed that the temp. compensation would keep them fairly accurate over a human operating range, meaning at least 30-100 F (-1-38C). Apparently Wahoo does not feel that way based on their response to me. So I need to find a solution that will work, even if it is just sticking to the good ‘ol rollers.
In that case, it simply sounds like something is broke. On the older KICKR’s like yours, it’s often as simple as the little optical plate inside got bonked and needs to be re-aligned.
A quick hit of Wahoo support should get you back in biz.
I did talk to Wahoo support. Their answer:
“This is a common problem when you exceed the operating temperatures of the unit. The minimum operating temperature for the KICKR is 15 C or 59 F to ensure the accuracy of the speed and power data with these types of optical sensors. While it can be used under these temperatures, we are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any data. Let me know if you have any other questions.”
And sorry Ray, not trying to argue with you or pick on you. Just trying find solutions and a bit unhappy with Wahoo at the moment.
If there is a minimum operating temp for power/speed accuracy there must also be a maximum.
This is a consideration for those of us who intend to ride a trainer indoors and outdoors or in a garage, carport or unheated basement.
How do various smart trainers handle temperate compensation?
What other method is used besides optical sensors?
What are the pros and cons for each method?
Seems like the various brands should list power accuracy in this format: +/-2% (15°-32° C operating temp)
I’d want to know this before I bought if just to acknowledge when accuracy would be affected.
For Elite Direto owners, I’ve noticed that ERG mode, my trainer strangely change power during slope. Resistance change to hard to easy during few second. It’s happen only in slope section and repeated.
Anyone know what the situation with the Elite Zumo is? It doesn’t seem to exist, only a new thing called a Turno, which looks quite different.
I checked last week. After the initial accuracy issues I discussed above, they’ve been working since to resolve it. They’re saying right now they’re hoping to have those wrapped up within the next 30 days (so a bit longer than planned).
However, in the meantime they dropped the price to Direto to compensate a bit.
For some reason I have zero belief Elite is capable of resolving accuracy issues of the trainer without putting actual power meter in it. They have never mastered difficult art of spindown calibration, even when some trainers screamed for it (Turbo Muin, Turno, Rampa etc.)
In this case (unlike in the past), they’re working with a German university on those spikes. Note that it’s actually not so much general accuracy (that’s great), but just the specific power spikes I saw.
I’m glad to hear that.
Certainly hope something comes of this, love to read your review, and I think it’s a great affordable direct drive trainer….
I just purchased the Elite Zumo for $525 on ebay incl shipping. I’m hoping this software update really comes out. I’m hoping I made a good purchase…
Elite’s app is poor, but sufficient to start.
Hi there. Just wondering if you’re still planning to publish your in-depth review of the Kurt Kinetic smart machines (reference from your trainer reviews below). I’m thinking about the 2018 Rock and Roll (tire-on version). Thanks!
“The Kinetic Smart Control (Road Machine or Rock & Roll frame) has a slight caveat on it in that I’m still in the process of my in-depth review. I’ve had a few hiccups, but I think I’m past those now. Note that I’m very specific in that it must be the 2018 edition and NOT the prior ones, as those don’t have ANT+ in them. (Note: I know I don’t have a picture here of it, it was temporarily across town in the wrong place and the wrong time earlier today, I’ll add one tomorrow.)”
Still on my to-do list.
I was having some small issues and then got sidetracked waiting for a new firmware update. Once I got sidetracked, well…CES and whatever else happened.
DCR, great job on all the many reviews!
Been riding rollers and various trainers since the early 80’s and currently own a TACX Neo. However, I just came across the Oreka Trainer (OrekaTraining.com) which is a really interesting “smart treadmill” for bikes. Are you familiar with this product and have you had a chance to try it out? I’m trying to find out costs and availability in the US since this is a Basque company. The following is a link to a video I just saw on YouTube by Cameron Jeffers; link to youtube.com
Never heard of it till this video.
Looks semi-interesting, but if the price points being discussed at 3,500EUR, it’ll honestly die a quick death. Convert that to realistically $5K USD once they deal with shipping and stuff – it’s a tough pitch.
I suspect the bigger issue they’ll have is the same that Tacx has in terms of US introduction: Liability.
The Tacx Magnum is far smarter as far as I can tell in terms of using sensors to instantly stop, whereas this…not so much. Again, liability. But, maybe I missed something in translation.
I think it’d be great to see them succeed (at a lower price point), but I’m skeptical.
Hi Ray, if you can buy a used NEO for the same price as a new KICKR Core, what will be your choice? Of course the NEO as no warranty and the Core price include all taxes.
Assuming you can at least do a 30-60 second pedal test of the Neo first (to validate it’s in good working order), I’d pretty easily go that direction.
Generally speaking the Tacx unit is a pretty safe bet, and when things go wrong with most Tacx trainers, it’s almost always right out of the box or in the first week or so.
Thanks Ray ?
Hey thanks for this very detailed recommendations guide! I have a question for you, I have the option of getting a Tacx Flux (1st gen) for €500, but am impressed with Kickr Core and do like the idea of a more silent trainer. I’m already heavily invested in Wahoo when it comes to HR monitors, GPS, etc… Would you say that the €300 is justified, or would you say for those kinds of price differences, it’s worth getting the Flux and saving the money for something ese?
And if I can follow up with one extra question… what if the Flux 2 is thrown into that purchasing mix?
Ray: Any reason to avoid the Kurt non-ANT+ units if you are only going to connect them to Zwift/TR/etc. via Bluetooth? The entry point of $349 for a refurbed, full warranty BT-only Smart Control Unit to slap into my existing Road Machine frame seems almost too good to be true while beating most any other solid wheel-on until by about $150. Am I missing something or should I pull the trigger? Thanks!
I didn’t test the earlier ones very extensively from a accuracy standpoint. I know they had some early gen issues with accuracy, but I think mid/later ones that was resolved.
That aside, from a software standpoint if you’re just looking at Zwift/TR, then yeah, no real concerns there.
Thanks, Ray. I suppose I should’ve asked a more important question: When would I need ANT+? Only if I want to record to my Edge 500 or another ANT+ only device? Or are there other use cases where having ANT+ control as an option will be important?
Does the Zumo exist? Your link is broken and I can’t find it anywhere.
I just bought one on eBay two days ago. They seem to be sold out now. I’m guessing that Elite is holding off selling these until they get the firmware fixed.
Basically yeah, they’re held in most distributors warehouses until the firmware update is solved, which sounds like maybe later this month. But honestly we kinda hear that most months.
I think some units did go out via Performance or someone initially, but not sure.
Do you plan to review it? I plan to pull the trigger on a smart trainer soon and the idea of a wheel off for just a bit more than the Snap is quite appealing . . .
I had a Zumo for a few weeks. The plastic “grill” on the unit was flimsy and fit and finish was a bit shoddy. I did a few Trainer Road workouts on it however and other then the no true power reading issue it felt solid during the workouts. If you stayed in the “green zone” I feel the power target was still being obtained. It was also pretty quiet.
I ended up returning it and getting a Direto though. Ultimately I thought the few hundred dollar up-charge was worth it for the power meter. So far I’m not disappointed.
Definitely – in fact, the entire thing is mostly written up already. But I’m waiting on the firmware fix to see if it addresses the issues I outlined in the post.
As WQ noted, I saw some of the plastic fit/finish aspects as well. It sounded like that was a first production run issue that was resolved.
Hey what ever happened to the Elite Zumo? Can’t find info on it anywhere, and it’s not on Elite’s site
Check out the thread just above your comment.
But, good point, I’ll add in a couple lines to the post to help clarify for now.
Hi! Thanks for the review, it is a very useful article.
I’m looking to buy my first smart trainer. I would like to share it with my husband who is considerably taller than I am, so our bikes are different sizes. I can get a 2014 refurbished Wahoo Kickr (from Wahoo) for $649. Do you think that is suitable for sharing between 2 people? I am 5’3″ and my husband is 6’6″.
Thanks very much,
Thanks for this fantastic review! Well just spent an embarrassing amount of time going through all the comments, and have three main questions as attempt to buy my first direct drive smart trainer.
1. Is Feb the worst possible time to buy a trainer, looks like I should be waiting for Nov when all the deals are?
2. For mid-high range direct drive, if the Drivo1 and DiretoII are similarly priced, is the DiretoII the better option as its newer? In one comment Ray mentioned that Drivo1 is faster reacting but all comments in its in-depth review mentioned it being slow? Does that mean the DiretoII is even slower at reacting?
3. Has anyone not had issues with Kickr Core, it seems like literally all of them break and have to be returned multiple times, which is sad, as getting a climb would have been next goal after trainer.
Ps. Tissue is not a Kleenex response was LEGEND!
Hi Alvin, I have the Wahoo CORE since December 2018 (after returning the NEO due to incompatibility with the 3 disk brakes bikes I have), so far the CORE is working like a charm….
Thanks. Glad your Core is holding up. Looks like you may one of the lucky few. Leaning towards Elite’s offerings at the same pricing, either Drivo1 or DiretoII. Just will depend on the overall savings. Thank you for your $0.02.
So, I find myself looking at the recommendations one more time. My first core was DOA, second lasted two weeks, third was replaced with the updated electronics, and now the fourth is making very loud noises. Think i’m done with the Core. Now i’m thinking about the next line up…perhaps the Neo2 or other. My concern is that I won a Ceramic Speed OPWS on the rear with my etap setup (certainly don’t normally have a reason to watt-shave…). I’m concerned the oversized nature may not work on the trainers. Do you have an idea if there are clearance issues?
Dc I really appreciate the work you do. I live in the UK and I cannot find the elite zumo anywhere. I am even struggling to find it on US websites. Can you shine any light on this?
I slipped this update in a week or so ago about Zumo, though, there’s so much text above it might be hard to spot:
Update on Zumo – Feb 11, 2019: Some of you have asked what the deal with the Zumo is. In short, Elite is still trying to sort out the firmware issues around accuracy that I noted. Specifically around the spikes I saw. The broadcasting of power issue has long since been addressed by them, but the spikes are turning out to be more complex. When I checked a week or two ago they were hoping to have it resolved by the end of February. In the meantime they’ve removed listings for Zumo in most places until they can be confident it’s resolved. Once I get a firmware update that addresses the issues and the units are back on track for sale, I’ll drop a review.
Thanks for your continued checking on the updated firmware for the Zumo. I just got the Zumo a couple weeks ago. It’s my first interactive trainer. I’m enjoying the experience a lot. The power doesn’t seem accurate for a few seconds when the resistance changes but then seems to settle it ok. I don’t know how to run an FTP test because of the issue you mentioned. The reported power comes back the same as what is prescribed. Here is the response from Elite’s customer service:
“Zumo doesn’t have an integrated power sensor but calculate the power with an algorithm
During Power/ERG Mode training the calculated power is the exact and same power of the target power so the trainer transmits that power
This is not an issue of the trainer but how the trainer was developed and how it works”
I’m hoping this person is wrong. They don’t seem to know anything about updated firmware being worked on. They’ve said whatever firmware I have is the latest available.
Hmm, I don’t know if they released the firmware to address the ERG mode broadcasting issue (I know they did fix that internally, but not sure if they were waiting to push it publicly). I know they haven’t released an update yet to address the power accuracy bits.
Hi – I was hoping for some input:
I just returned my Tacx Flux, since it’s got a mechanical failure, and I’m getting to choose my replacement unit: either a Kickr Core (and 10€ back, since the Core is on offer right now), or the Flux 2 and pay 50€ extra.
There’s of course also some more expensive options: Kickr for 230€ extra (also on offer), or the Neo 1 for 350€, or Neo 2 for 570€ more.
I’m most tempted to go for the Kickr Core, or the Kickr option, but I’m unsure, since there hasn’t been a Flux 2 review yet. Any advice?
After some more consideration I think I’m buying the Kickr Core. Don’t see any good reasons for buying the Kickr. And I can always add Kickr Climb later. The alternative of paying 350€ more for the Neo 1 is the second option I’m still considering. The third option is just taking the refund of the old Flux and wait for a better deal on the Neo 2… I can probably get it for under 300€ more than I get back from the Flux on the sale we have here in march/april, that’s when I bought my Flux at 25% discount 🙂
I think your logic is sound. Enjoy!
Thanks! I’m looking forward to trying the KICKR Core. Got lucky with a campaign, and ended up getting almost 100€ in return for changing my old Flux into a new Core – quite happy with that deal!
Hi DCR’ers (and Ray)
This being the DCR trainer recommendation section, I’d just want to post this here for the community re: Tacx Vortex. It’s on sale now over at Chainreactioncycles.com. As of this posting (02/28/19) it’s at 239usd then add the new customer coupon of 10usd for total of 229usd (shipped).
I’m not sure how long this trainer has been priced at this level, but a cursory check of the webernet, it seems this is the lowest current price. It’s a decent trainer for those who want to try and dip their toes with smart trainers (without breaking the bank and it’s even priced lower than the fluid based ones) and given Tacx’s good customer support (at least based off my experience), not a bad trainer with two year warranty.
I actually bought one just for the heck of it and plan to use it with my cx bike instead of swapping bikes on my main trainer.
Firstly thanks for doing all these reviews over the years!
I just got the Kickr in from Wahoo direct this week March 2019.
the included 105 cassette was so bad and off and crunchy I swapped with a spare dura ace cassette. mostly fixed. No the chain isn’t old (one month) I adjusted the barrel adjusters too at first to see if that would help to no avail. Best solution so far was swapped dura ace cassette for my dura ace 9100 group set.
The other problem which was happening before and after swap is power. I can’t find anyone with the same problem. Power is about 25% of 4iiii measurements and then in Ergo mode in a sprint, never go up only go down if I stop pedaling. so strange. Of course all my problems have occurred since opening on a friday night and they don’t have support until Monday.
My Question: Since it seems like my experience of multiple issues with the Kickr turns out to be normal for the vast majority of folks, how can this thing still remain recommended?
I watched your youtube video with them and it sounded like they hammered out all the kinks but in reality there is still way too many more to fix. My used $100 CycleOps fluid 2 blows this thing away.
I honestly don’t hear much complaints in the way of the 105 cassette.
As for the power accuracy, it’s hard to know without graphs/comparisons – but honestly out of all the issues facing KICKR18 owners, that typically isn’t one of them.
Love the in detail and ‘keeping it real’ reviews. I know you don’t really give recommendations on the buy but I have 2 options at hand: new vortex for $239 on sale or 2nd hand bkool smart go for $140. Any recommendations at these price points from you or any other trainer gurus of what you would go with?
Wow, thanks for the quick reply…Vortex it is then.
Also, I wish someone could explain to me why thru axle adapters are $50, crazy…!
Where is the Vortex on sale for $239?
I asked this question on the H2 review but realized I probably should’ve asked it here: With REI’s upcoming 20% coupon, the H2 will be $800 and the Kickr Core $720. Would you go with the H2 in that scenario?
Here I am shopping trainers. My handlebar controller on my Computrainer died last night. So, very very sad. Trying to find a good deal on a Wahoo Core or perhaps Snap, or Tacx Flux but the links and codes don’t show any discount in the cart. I get a message that indicates the code doesnt’ apply.