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Smart Trainers

Oct 7, 2019
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I realize this is an extremely subjective question but I am trying to get users opinions on what they believe to be the best smart trainer. Trying to filter through all the advertising hype has been tedious and trying to filter through reviews is as well. The reviews seem to be really lopsided as you have to wonder how many of the reviewers are either compensated for their reviews, or trying to gain advertising revenue. Any help would be appreciated.
 
It depends on what you're after, how much you want to spend and how often you think you're going to use it.

If you're after the best possible Zwift experience and know you will be using your trainer a lot, then the Wahoo Kickr, Elite Direto or Tacx Neo are great trainers, with a lot of features and replace your rear wheel. These can handle huge wattage/gradients, simulate road surfaces and are more accurate than most high end powermeters.

If you're like me and only want something to use 1-2 times a week or in bad weather that has a fairly reliable erg mode, works with Zwift etc well enough and is reasonably accurate, then the Tacx Vortex/Bushido or BKool are a good starting point. IMHO this level is where you get best bang for your buck, I have a Tacx Vortex and think it's great. The only real limitations are a max gradient of 7%, and it's a wheel on trainer.

If gradient limits concern you remember that Zwift has a default gradient difficulty of 50% anyway, so unless you change that setting (almost nobody does) when Zwift says you're riding a 10% gradient your trainer is only simulating 5%, but it still calculates your climbing speed from power to weight, you just use a bigger gear.
 
Reactions: Rider302
Great info from 42x16. I don't have any experience riding a smart trainer (literally none, not even tried one in a shop) but there's a couple of thing you might find useful I can say.


The Tacx Neo has a strange issue. There is a bearing in the flywheel that requires a 24 spline ring nut tool to access. These tools are pretty hard to get hold of and they're expensive. I know of a couple of people who have had this bearing fail. I think Tacx sent both of them a new flywheel, so they will sort it, but it's a bit of a pain. This may also be the case with other direct drive turbos, I have no idea. Both of the one I know of failed within, I think, 10-12 months of heavy use. The load on these bearings is going to be high, so it's not hugely surprising they need replacing. Something to think about when deciding what to go with. People I know seem to either have Tacx or Wahoo smart trainers. That's possibly because those are ones stocked around us. I have Elite indoor training gear and it's been fantastic.


as 42x16 says, it depends on what you want to do. I've found speed/cadence sensors and a dumb turbo with Sufferfest are more than enough for training. Watts may not be accurate but they are reproducible which is all you really need for training. I also use rollers which have a measured power curve so speed/cadence works for that. This won't give you the full benefit of erg-mode but you can still do proper workouts just by shifting gears. Your ability to control your cadence is a bit limited doing things this way, that's probably my main complaint other than it feels a bit weird riding at 70rpm in 50-14 when there's a climb in the video!

If you want to use Zwift them I think you do need a turbo that measures power to get the best out of it, but you can still ride it with a dumb turbo. I did it during my trial. I wasn't a fan of the computer game style of Zwift so stuck with Sufferfest, but it worked.

I have an Elite Volare Mag turbo and the Elite Quick-Motion rollers. The turbo works perfectly for what I want. I know which level of resistance I need to set for the different Sufferfest videos I ride and the power numbers are reproducible enough (as long as tyre pressure is the same) for me to use it effectively. The rollers are absolutely brilliant. I've used 4-5 different types of rollers from Elite and other brands. These particular rollers absorb movement of the bike and it makes them extremely stable. This means I can do out of the saddle riding very easily, sprints feel a lot safer and so on. Highly recommended if you go that route and they do make a smart version that works in erg mode, although the heat generated can effect power readings according to reviews on YouTube.
 
Reactions: Rider302
I find Zwift to be better for less structured base kms, where you're getting up time on the bike during bad weather while Sufferfest/TrainerRoad are for structured training. If you know what you're aiming to do in a ride you can plan for it in Zwift with the route selection at the start of your ride.

I can see using a dumb trainer and powermeter/speed sensor being a lot less engaging with Zwift than a smart trainer, but fine for other apps like Sufferfest.
 
Reactions: Rider302
I realize this is an extremely subjective question but I am trying to get users opinions on what they believe to be the best smart trainer. Trying to filter through all the advertising hype has been tedious and trying to filter through reviews is as well. The reviews seem to be really lopsided as you have to wonder how many of the reviewers are either compensated for their reviews, or trying to gain advertising revenue. Any help would be appreciated.
I'd recommend spending some time (and money if you have to … ie. talking to a good coach) on how to train effectively (ie. aerobic capacity, threshold, strength, power, etc) … so that you truly understand training (how a body responds) fundamentals.

After that ... any decent trainer (Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, Tacx Bushido) will serve ALL your purposes, seriously. Don't get caught up in the X shampoo=shiny hair hype. No worries, we all lose our common sense when we want to go faster. LOL!
 
Oct 22, 2019
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I have a Tacx Neo and really like it for the GPS rides. I work strange hours sometimes so trainers are a life saver for me, plus the GPS rides I load are places that I ride when I go on vacation so I can at least pretend to be someplace nice while i'm suffering at 2 a.m.!!!
 
I'd recommend spending some time (and money if you have to … ie. talking to a good coach) on how to train effectively (ie. aerobic capacity, threshold, strength, power, etc) … so that you truly understand training (how a body responds) fundamentals.

After that ... any decent trainer (Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, Tacx Bushido) will serve ALL your purposes, seriously. Don't get caught up in the X shampoo=shiny hair hype. No worries, we all lose our common sense when we want to go faster. LOL!
A copy of Joe Friel is a great start
 
Reactions: Alpe73

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