Our review of the Lemond Revolution 1.1 – it’s all about the ride!

lemond revolution 1.1The Lemond Revolution 1.1 is seriously all about the cycling experience. One of the pioneers of the “wheel-off” direct drive design, this celebrated indoor cycle trainer delivers the most realistic road cycling simulation in its price category (we’re talking a reasonable $600-ish – and yes, it out-rivals the road-like experience of the Kinetic RocknRoller).

If you’re willing to overlook the noise (and this is easier now that the noise output levels have been dampened compared to the very first Revolution, the 1.0), the affordable price tag and brilliant design make this a very solid purchase for serious cyclists looking to maintain fitness in the off-season.

What’s to like about the Lemond Revolution 1.1?

The Setup

The Lemond Revolution is practically ready to use right out of the box since there’s very little assembly required.

You will, however, need to purchase a cassette if you haven’t already, and if you are thinking of using a Campag cassette I would definitely recommend purchasing a crossover version as Lemond has built the Revolution primarily for cycles using Shimano gears. This is part and parcel of the direct drive trainer experience – but no worries, the benefits of this design far outweigh such a minor inconvenience.

Traditional indoor trainers can be far more expensive than you originally start out thinking, mainly because they wear out your rear tires so quickly. I’ve used some truly hard-wearing tires for indoor training in my time, and even the most robust of these eventually succumbed to frays and tears after sustained indoor use. The Lemond Revolution 1.1 avoids these problems. To use it, I simply had to remove my rear wheel and mount the bike directly to the Lemond via my Shimano cassette.

But durability and cutting tire costs isn’t the only advantage of this design – resistance changes are also incredibly smooth, since taking the rear wheel out of the equation significantly improves the efficiency of energy transfer between the drivetrain and the trainer.

The Ride

As I mentioned above, the primary draw of the Lemond Revolution has to be its road-like ride.

The design has barely changed since the product’s first inception, yet it remains capable of beating all-comers in its price range. The combination of a big flywheel and a highly efficient fan makes for a slick ride, particularly at cruising speeds, and the simulation of wind drag is extremely realistic, ensuring you won’t be off your game when the new cycling season begins.

In terms of real-world results, no indoor trainer (not even the top-end fluid trainers like the Cascade Pro or Fluid 2 from CycleOps) will deliver as effectively and quickly as a turbo-driven product. And with up to 700-watt load capacity, interval training sessions will be punishing enough to satisfy even the most masochistic of cyclists – I’ve certainly been driven to breaking point more than once on this machine.

The video below will give you a bit more of a taste of what the ride is really like…

The Build

The Lemond Revolution is also rightly famed for its solid construction, weighing in at just under 15 kg. This makes it a little too hefty to heave around the house, but that’s more than compensated for by the extreme stability of this product.

Even when you’re pedaling out of the saddle and sprinting like your life depends on it, you’ll find the bike stays level, firmly anchored and stable, addressing any safety concerns you might have. I felt confident enough about the Revolution to let my eight-year old have a go, and this is a kid who’s managed to send a massive oak wardrobe tumbling to the ground. Besides the heavy-duty frame, credit must also go to the adjustable feet (which can be handy on carpets or other flooring materials prone to creating uneven surfaces) coated with anti-skid material.

Power Pilot

To get the most from your Revolution 1.1, I would definitely recommend installing a Power Pilot. Although it’s an expensive investment, it’s worthwhile for the superb data-tracking capabilities. By examining my cadence and speed statistics, I was able to correct my sprint technique in the off-season and come bursting right off the start line in my first spring outdoor session. Lack of ANT+ support is a bit of a bummer, but Lemond has promised that this will come in time (and appears to be just about here, in the form of the Watt Box), and the USB compatibility ensures that all that data can still be put to good use.

What we didn’t like…

As with any other turbo trainer, noise levels are significantly higher than with a fluid trainer. However, Lemond has taken note of noise complaints, and the 1.1 definitely improves on its predecessor in this regard. It’s only a problem at very high speeds, and with earphones in I could barely hear the flywheel whirring away. At cruising speeds, the noise wasn’t much of a bother.

Why you’re going to have to purchase the Lemond Revolution 1.1

In summary the Lemond Revolution delivers where it really matters – the riding experience. I used to hate the off-season because I missed cycling outdoors. Of course, no cycle trainer will be able to recreate the crisp smell of fresh air or the sensation of warm sunshine, but in terms of replicating the feeling of cycling on tarmac, the Lemond Revolution is hard to beat.

If you’re after a direct drive trainer, this is definitely one of the top 3 you’ll have to consider – it certainly gives the likes of the awesome CycleOps Silencer a run for its money!

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