General Discussion Triathlon Talk » School me on different trainers Rss Feed  
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2016-09-22 11:30 PM

Subject: School me on different trainers
I currently have a kinetic trainer with the remote shifter to change the resistance...I think the resistance is via magnetic. Anyhow, I was thinking about getting a new trainer as I worked most of the summer strictly on the trainer, last weekend, finally hit the road. The road felt much harder and almost uncomfortable than I though it would, due to all the interval sessions I put in on the trainer.
So, question is, what is the difference between all the trainers? I hear a lot of people use computrainers and Wahoo kickers, but is there really that much of a different feel on those? Or is time in the saddle, time in the saddle and the trainer won't make that big of a difference?
I know its all about the motor, I was just surprised how different the road felt and wondering if I should consider a change.

2016-09-23 7:58 AM
in reply to: 0

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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: School me on different trainers
IDK. I probably do 90% of my riding on the trainer during the school year, and maybe half of it during the summer, and I really haven't had a huge issue with going outside to train and race when I get the chance. You should try to get in a few rides on the road before racing, if nothing else to practice mounts and dismounts, gear shifting (if the race will be hilly), cornering, and other handling skills. But beyond that, I don't think it's a big deal, unless you're doing a really technical course and you need to practice safe descents, etc. The weather has been very poor here in Vietnam (rainy season) for the past several weeks, and I actually did not get in any road rides at all between my last two HIM (unless you count one very easy road bike ride a few days after the first, and riding 5K to check the gears the day before the second), and I didn't have any issues with discomfort or bike handling in the second race.

Some people swear by rollers (though honestly I'm not even sure what those are), which give a more realistic "road feel". I just have ordinary Cyclops trainers (a fluid one here and a magnetic one in the US) and they work fine. I have used a Computrainer at a tri club as well, and I don't really think it is any different; maybe a little more fun as you can ride virtual courses and, in a multi-rider setup, compete with others. I think that mostly, power is power, and whatever lets you train consistently with good quality is best. Road riding is of course more fun (at least if you have somewhere nice to ride and maybe others to ride with), but if you don't have those conditions, then the trainer will serve.

That being said, the road does "feel" somewhat different--particularly if you ride with a power meter. I find it's MUCH harder to keep power steady on the road due to wind, false flats, other riders, etc. etc. It takes practice to use the information on the road to keep power in the range you are trying to maintain, despite varying conditions.

Edited by Hot Runner 2016-09-23 8:02 AM
2016-09-23 10:40 AM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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New Lenox, Illinois
Subject: RE: School me on different trainers
Curious to hear replies as well. I bought a very inexpensive trainer when I first got into training ~3 years ago (a previous version of this one, actually: and I adjusted it as tight on the wheel as it would go. Even in the highest gear on the bike, it felt like I was literally just spinning my wheels. Resistance was no where near what it was on the road (even not accounting for wind). I wondered if it was just because it was so cheap or if that's how all trainers are - I'm guessing it's the former.
2016-09-23 11:01 AM
in reply to: dlaude6

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Aledo, Texas
Subject: RE: School me on different trainers

Originally posted by dlaude6 Curious to hear replies as well. I bought a very inexpensive trainer when I first got into training ~3 years ago (a previous version of this one, actually: and I adjusted it as tight on the wheel as it would go. Even in the highest gear on the bike, it felt like I was literally just spinning my wheels. Resistance was no where near what it was on the road (even not accounting for wind). I wondered if it was just because it was so cheap or if that's how all trainers are - I'm guessing it's the former.

Likely due to the fact that it's magnetic. Fluid will give you much better resistance, and the resistance increases with your power. You can find decently priced fluid trainers - I got mine for about $150. 

2016-09-23 11:11 AM
in reply to: weiky

Subject: RE: School me on different trainers
I am not an expert.
I have ZERO experience with trainers, other than getting on one now and then as part of a fitting or something.

But, I've been looking into them. And if there's one thing I do well, it's obsess. And obsess about getting everything I can for the price I'm willing to pay.

I'm assuming you're up to snuff on "how much you get" for your money. If you're willing to spend the bread, there's some that connect to your computer/phone/tablet...not just for real-time power meter stuff and all that.....but the software you're using can control the resistance. In a way, creating a "road bike" version of that Pelaton "spin bike" you see commercials for.

As far as I'm aware "road feel" isn't really a marketing point on any of them. The only differences like the DC Rainmaker rundown on generally:
-noise volume
-what it's "compatible" with or "capable" terms of connecting to other devices and providing data

The other delimiter, apparently, is "max power" it can handle. There's some models that can't handle too much power. Which really isn't important for me.

I've read a ton of reviews on Amazon, other cycling dealer sites, other cycling sites, and DC Rainmaker rundowns. Unless you get into the "exotics" (bike treadmills and "roller rigs" and stuff) nobody ever seems to talk about how a particular trainer seems to "ride". Especially in relative terms to "outside". And even on those exotics, people don't seem to talk too much about how they "ride"....some, but even then it never seems to be the focus.

Almost always, the first thing they talk about....whether it's a $60 one or $6000 one is how loud or quiet it is.
2016-09-23 11:29 AM
in reply to: weiky

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Exton, PA
Subject: RE: School me on different trainers
Make sure you buy a fluid trainer, they can give you a hard workout and are quiet compared to other types.

You can find real basic fluid trainers (which is what I have) up to real expensive models with all kinds of bell and whistles.

A fluid trainer will work you as hard as you want to push.

2016-09-23 3:19 PM
in reply to: weiky

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Kailua, Hawaii
Subject: RE: School me on different trainers
I've had a few different trainers. Currently I have the Bkool Smart Pro which is very good IMO.
Prior to this I had the LeMond Revolution, which is a great trainer, but no control. Having the control and rides to choose from makes all the difference. Also having opponents on the ride makes it challenging.

Basically there are "dumb" trainers and "smart" trainers, the smart ones control the resistance based on program or internet feed (bluetooth / Ant+)

With smart trainers, there are a number of nice products out there by Tacx, Wahoo, CycleOps ...and Bkool name a few.

I read a lot of reviews on trainers before I bought one, good write-ups by DC Rainmaker.

Bkool has a good library of rides all over, you can also record your own via their app, and upload to the server.

I've been using it quite a lot this year, and rode most of my training miles indoors on Bkool. I find it engaging, challenging and easy to use.

2016-09-23 3:28 PM
in reply to: metafizx

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Loughborough, England
Subject: RE: School me on different trainers

I have used a the CycleOps fluid trainer for many years and have put in many, many 'miles' on it, both endurance rides and hard interval sessions.  More recently I bought a Bkool trainer and really like it.  It is great motivation to ride courses with other people (either actual people from somewhere in the world or bots).  I like the virtual power and have been using this to improve the quality of my training (whether it is accurate or not I don't know, but it seems consistent so that is all that really matters).

If you are not interested in the virtual aspect then in my opinion a fluid trainer is the way to go.

2016-09-23 6:26 PM
in reply to: 0

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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: School me on different trainers
I actually have not really noticed any major difference in resistance or noise level between my magnetic and fluid trainers (both are Cycle-Ops of similar vintage). But that is just me. I'm pretty lightweight and the bike is not really my forte (FTP of 204), so I'm not hitting the really high power-levels that a big guy who's a strong cyclist might. Both are good enough for a quality workout; I have done comparable workouts and FTP tests on them. The only difference I've noticed is that for some reason it's harder to find my "sweet spot" with gearing/cadence on the magnetic trainer for a certain power range, unfortunately the range I was targeting for my last two races (150-160). One gear felt too loose and yielded a higher than normal cadence (felt like I was "spinning my wheels") which made my heart rate go up too fast; the next one down felt really hard (leg muscle-wise) and I couldn't sustain it for more than about 30-45 minutes. I did not have this issue on the other trainer, outdoors on the same bike, or at higher or lower levels of power. Below 140 and above 180 watts felt normal. Ended up alternating between the two gears for race-effort work. Could just be something about my body or the bike, or maybe the increase in resistance is a bit less smooth with the magnetic trainer.

The "smart trainers" that let you ride virtual courses are more fun; they are also, unfortunately, quite a bit more expensive. Might be a good option if you are not usually/always following a structured program, or have very few chances to ride outside but need to put in lots of time in the saddle. I might consider them if I were training for full IM here, in the interest of not going nuts on 6-hour solo indoor rides. My poor girl's solution involves a power meter and internet videos of scenic rides in Europe. The latter come with music; I also sometimes mute it and play my own.

Edited by Hot Runner 2016-09-23 6:28 PM
2016-09-27 9:05 AM
in reply to: weiky

Subject: RE: School me on different trainers
thanks all, I was thinking there was more a 'feel' difference on some of those expensive trainers but it seems to just be the virtual part, which I do not care about. I just wanted to make sure I have a trainer that is giving me the best feel for my workouts.
2016-09-28 8:09 AM
in reply to: weiky

Subject: RE: School me on different trainers
I've never really thought about "road feel" on a trainer. I'm currently use a tacx vortex smart trainer and still have a cycleops fluid 2 trainer. The tacx is nice for the erg mode but the cycleops is built super solid and customer support is superb. It sprung a leak this year after two years and they replaced the resistance unit no questions asked. At times, I think about going back to the cycleops and just using trainerroad with my power meter on that. erg mode is nice but trainerroad in powermatch mode (using power meter to control resistance) is mostly good (not perfect) there is part of me that still misses the fluid 2 trainer.

2016-09-28 3:32 PM
in reply to: weiky

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Subject: RE: School me on different trainers
definitely check out the DC Rainmaker review as others have mentioned. Lots of great info there.

I used Cycle Ops Fluid trainer for 3 years and loved it. Recently switched to smart trainer Tacx Vortex. Wanted to use the smart trainer so I can just load my workouts onto Trainer Rd or Zwift and put my head down and pedal. No longer necessary to need to pay attention to watts, interval time, etc since all that is adjusted. Been very happy and great bang for buck. I know several people who love their Computrainer an Wahoo.

I use the trainer for all my weekday structured workouts that tend to be in the 1-1.5 hour range. Much easier to hit all targets than out on the open road, where stop lights and such interfere. Can get more done in hour on trainer than 2 on the road. Then for longer weekend rides I get outside.
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