Posts tagged $300+
Every once in a while, we come across a stationary bike stand that just blows us away, either because of its tremendous value or because it takes us to yet another level.
Without a doubt, the CycleOps SuperMagneto Pro Trainer belongs in this category. We’ve enjoyed our own CycleOps Fluid 2 a lot over the last few months, but the SuperMagneto Pro is definitely one to think about if you’re a fan of all things CycleOps. The SuperMagneto Pro combines industry-leading hardware – in the form of a durable Pro Series frame – with sophisticated software, in the form of its Flexible Power Curve technology, to create an indoor bicycle trainer that will please even the most jaded of critics.
One heck of a riding experience
Fluid-based trainers usually offer a more realistic and challenging cycling experience than magnetic resistance stands, but the CycleOps Magneto Pro Trainer really challenges that preconception. Its Flexible Power Curve Technology allows cyclists to choose between four highly differentiated settings such as “Road”, which involves the use of a sharp resistance curve and greater inertia to simulate road cycling conditions, and “Mountain” which manages to convincingly replicate the grueling, thigh-blasting sensation of an ascent as well as the exhilarating feel of zooming down a steep decline.
This software is made possible by an innovative resistance mechanism which shifts magnets around an axis to alter the resistance curve. Resistance changes are incredibly seamless, acceleration feels thrilling and realistic and cycling on this trainer is, on the whole, very smooth. This stationary bike stand also does a fantastic job of simulating inertia as the each flywheel is weighted around its outer edge to ensure that your bike will continue to coast for a brief period after you stop pedaling – just as it does when you’re cycling outside.
Most magnetic flywheels are very difficult to start up again once you stop pedaling, which can really be a downer if you’re in the middle of an intense workout and just wanted to stop for a few seconds’ break, so this innovation by CycleOps is very welcome indeed. Unless you’re willing to shell out a very hefty sum for a virtual reality trainer, this CycleOps bike trainer is the closest thing you’ll get to a genuine outdoor cycling experience in the comfort of your home.
Here’s a quick look at those four training options…
The superb Pro Series frame
CycleOps biking products are known for their impressive lifespan, making it all the more remarkable that this trainer with its Pro Series frame actually manages to exceed expectations in that regard. It’s made out of the highest quality metal and plastic parts to ensure it’s both sturdy and lightweight (coming in at under 23 pounds). The latter quality is very much welcome considering the portability of this bike trainer has been heavily touted by its manufacturers. As advertised, this bike stand actually folds up really easily for storage or transport. The wide base has also been carefully designed for great stability, which will come in handy when you’re crouched over your handlebars and gunning for top speed.
User-friendly, even for beginners!
Many users, especially those with carpeted floors, complain they can’t get their indoor trainers to lie flat on their floor. That makes training dangerous because it affects the stability of your bike frame. However, the Pro Series frame addresses that complaint with its single-sided design which makes it easy for users to accurately level the trainer. The one-sided design also helps in installing or removing the frame and makes assembly virtually foolproof. You just need to set up the magnet and the frame attachment and you’re ready to roll.
Almost as quiet as a mouse…
Magnetic resistance trainers have a reputation for being noisy, but the CycleOps SuperMagneto trainer bucks that trend. The high-quality hardware makes it very quiet and unobtrusive, so you can train at any time of the day or night without disturbing your neighbors. Of course, as we always mention, a training tire will diminish further any of those excess wheel noises, especially if you ride a mountain bike – and if you’re really attacking your ride AND watching TV, you may well have to turn up the volume on your remote a notch or two!
Value for money – or breaking the bank?
Of course, all these amazing features come at a high price. The CycleOps SuperMagneto trainer is one of the most expensive magnetic trainers on the market, retailing at over $400.
However, for that luxury price, you get a GREAT cycling experience to match. In terms of realism, user-friendliness and durability, this product is sheer class, and class never comes cheap. If you’re serious about cycling and want an indoor bike stand to take your cycling training to the next level, the CycleOps SuperMagneto Trainer is a fantastic investment, and definitely a step-up from the rather more standard (well, for some!) CycleOps Fluid 2 (the CycleOps Silencer is also worth a look at, if you’re interested in direct drive trainers (meaning you have to remove the rear wheel)).
We’re big fans of some of the high-end trainers out there, especially the Kurt Kinetic and CycleOps models, but it looks like there is a new high-end trainer to rival these guys – the Bkool Pro Turbo Trainer.
Admittedly, the Bkool trainer isn’t just a trainer that you slot your bike in and then start pedaling away – it’s so much more than that! With an amazing FREE simulator you can connect up with your laptop or tablet and enjoy literally thousands of videos and riding sessions, as well as ride alongside your friends wherever they may be in the world!
Virtual training simulators are fast becoming the perfect solution for those of you wanting a totally realistic experience. And while we’ve cycled endless kilometers on our various trainers, the fun we’ve had with the Bkool Pro has taken our enjoyment levels up a level – or three! The simulator is downloadable from the Bkool website and is perfect for Windows and Mac computers, as well as iPad and Android tablets.
Who the heck are Bkool?
Great question! You probably haven’t heard of Bkool if you’re in the US, as they’re based in Europe, originally from Spain I believe. But they have fast become one of the bestselling models out there, at least in the high-end segment. And when you compare what you get with the Bkool versus other trainers in the same bracket, you’ll see you’re getting a whole lot of trainer for a whole lot LESS $$$!
Some of the major benefits out-of-the-box with this Bkool trainer:
- The simulator has an amazing 3D World, with almost every race route in the world for you to ride.
- It comes with some amazing features – see below for the full list.
- It’s HALF the cost of similar trainers pushing a virtual world, notably models like the Tacx iGenius.
- Your trainer comes with 1 year of Premium membership, which lets you team up with friends, enjoy thousands of sessions and routes, and other various features (see the full comparison between Premium and Basic here).
Here’s a taster of what the Bkool trainer is all about…
What impressed us about the Bkool Pro?
As we mentioned above, the Bkool Pro comes with a virtual training simulator that really does take the realism up a level. You might have been impressed with the Rock N’Roller from Kurt Kinetic, but this trainer is in another league.
But it’s not just the simulator we were impressed with.
First up, this new Pro model is an improvement on their Classic model, meaning it’s a little quieter, more stable (with extendable support legs), and has an in-built cadence system that eliminates the need for an external device (the Classic trainer needs an external device). There’s also an electromagnetic braking system to be impressed with, which ensures the Bkool software controls your resistance, especially useful when climbing hills.
Even setting up the trainer is easy. It just slots together; you replace the rear skewer in your wheel (as you do for any decent trainer these days), and then pop it on the trainer (it also comes with a front wheel support). You then just register on the Bkool website, download the simulator, and then plug in the trainer and connect with your supplied ANT and USB.
The USB lets the Bkool software and trainer wirelessly communicate with each other so that your ride data (your cadence and power) can be tracked and used by the software; in turn, the resistance levels are automatically adjusted according to the route you selected. Pretty impressive eh?
In addition to that easy setup, you’ve got a very powerful trainer; powerful enough to ramp up 1200W of energy on a progressive curve. It makes your riding session feel like you are out there on the road, which is what any of us indoor cyclists are really after, right? The electronics on this baby are quite impressive; basically it’s the result of combining biomechanical engineering with the most powerful cycling software.
And once you’ve wrapped up training for the day, it’s easily fold-able so can be stored away out of sight if needed.
It didn’t take us long to be convinced by this trainer!
Why you should consider the Bkool Pro Trainer
If you’re seriously looking to ramp up your indoor training sessions, then the Bkool Pro is as good as you’re going to get. We mentioned the iGenius from Tacx which is its equivalent, but the Bkool Pro is definitely better value.
It’s certainly high-end, which means you’re going to pay around $650-$700, but for a virtual trainer that’s pretty well unheard of.
It’s also easy to see how you can become addicted to indoor training with this baby; we played around with some of the very cool software and routes but there’s plenty more to discover and we have a feeling we’ll be enjoying this trainer long into Spring / Summer…
An awesome trainer, and highly recommended.
NOTE: We are aware that the European version of the Bkool website has a free trail offer, which ships you for free. However, this is not currently available in the US, though the guys at Bkool told me it is definitely on the cards. If so, I think this will make the Bkool Pro unbeatable.
We recently came across this bike trainer and love it – the Cascade Fluid Pro Trainer!
It might not have the name of a known brand like Kinetic or CycleOps behind it, but this superb trainer really does give one heck of a ride. The manufacturers proudly state that it will keep you training longer, and we have to agree to some extent; we found it incredibly easy to keep pedaling!
The major selling point with this bike trainer is its thermally sealed fluid drive, which should see years of service without leaks, much like many of the top level stationary trainers (like one of our faves, the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine).
It’s typically priced at just over $300, which admittedly puts it at the top of the price range for many stationary trainers. But this is one that offers a great riding experience and is therefore definitely one to consider if you’re looking for something top quality.
Why we were impressed with the Cascade Fluid Pro Trainer…
A few things impressed us with this trainer:
- It was very easy to setup with what the manufacturer calls a “quick connect”, and get going almost immediately (within approximately 10 minutes); even for those of you who have never set up a stationary trainer, we’d imagine this one would cause no problems whatsoever.
- The trainer is stable and you can really ride quite hard without that feeling you get with the cheaper models that you might topple over. You really can put some grunt into your training sessions with this one – sprinting, accelerating, whatever you need!
- The ride is very smooth; the resistance is very smooth as you ride through your gear range.
- The front riser that comes with the trainer (and that would typically set you back $10-$20) gives you THREE separate height variations.
- The back flywheel is very quiet, and you really can enjoy a training session without the headphones! Of course, a slick racing wheel will always be quieter than a knobbly mountain bike wheel, just so you know.
- The trainer is fold-able and hence easily storable/movable! The orange legs you can see in the image above, just fold back into the main frame and then you can just slide it under the bed, or wherever it needs to go.
- You can see this is one quality product, very well built and hence giving you a smooth, quality ride.
One thing we should point out is that the trainer comes with a quick release skewer that really should be used (the trainer seems to fit very snugly into the supplied skewer and there have been reviews online that suggested it was the ideal option rather than use your bike’s existing skewer). If you don’t have a quick release skewer on your bike, I doubt this will work as recommended, and as described above, but it may work OK for you – just something we had to point out!
So, does the Cascade Fluid Pro offer value for money?
Well, if you’re looking for a superb, lifelike training session, then yes. It is a little pricey, but we can safely class this alongside the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine and CycleOps Fluid 2 as one heck of a bike trainer. There’s no doubting its ranking in our list of best bike trainer stands for 2014. There are cheaper trainers out there, of course (see our guide to the best value options under $80 for example), but this is superb quality that the pros and serious cyclists of you out there will truly enjoy.
And here’s a superb little video that highlights some of the great features of the Cascade Fluid Pro Trainer:
The Kinetic Rock and Roll Trainer is well worth your time and consideration if you’re looking at the ultimate realistic indoor bike training session.
UPDATE: The Kinetic Rock n Roller also now comes in an awesome smart-tech version, well worth considering!
We’ve been fans of the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine ever since we purchased it some time ago, and this more advanced stationary bike stand from the Kurt Kinetic family is one we’ve been salivating about ever since we spotted it a few months back.
It’s not a cheap option, and is often advertised around the $500 mark, but that extra few dollars might just be the best $$$ you ever spent! Check out the video near the end of this article for some more convincing!
Getting a feel for the road is almost impossible to replicate indoors, but this Rock and Roll Trainer is the closest you’re ever going to get. Really. No bull. This trainer has a unique side to side rocking action that simulates those long hill climbs and engages those muscles that no other stationary stand can reach!
I don’t think there’s any question that this stand will make you a more complete rider, especially during those off-road months.
This awesome trainer employs both a Road Resistance unit and a unique rolling frame to mimic the natural movement of riding out on the open road. And don’t worry about wondering whether or not the resistance will suit you – you can adjust it as you need to ensure you get the right rocking motion suited to your riding style. The frame itself is superbly built, as you’d expect from Kurt Kinetic, it’s made of stainless steel and is 6.35cm in diameter, which you’ll find is larger than pretty much all the stationary trainers we’ve ever come across.
The flywheel on this Kinetic Rock and Roll trainer is also one of the heaviest around, coming in at 6.25 pounds (2.84kg), which is what really helps give that authentic riding experience, as the momentum builds when you’re starting to gain some speed, maintaining that speed, and even slowing down. Read more about the amazing Kurt Kinetic resistance unit.
All in all, the basics you need for any training session indoors are also here: the stand is very smooth, very quiet, and easily folds away for easy storage.
We’d also mention it’s probably worth buying the Turntable Riser Ring from Kinetic (click here to see and buy), just to go all-out on the authentic riding experience. The movement offered by this rising ring will complete your indoor training session to a T!
So, do you get bang for your buck with the Kinetic Rock and Roll Trainer?
Well, if you’re serious about your cycling, and want to get the ultimate ride during the off-season, complete with the real riding to-and-fro motion, then this is the bike trainer stand for you. It does cost a fair bit, but from our own experience with Kurt Kinetic bike stands, we have no doubts at all as to the quality you’ll be getting with this one. And, of course, it makes our list of best bike stands for 2014.
There are plenty of happy reviewers online with this Kinetic Rock and Roll trainer, from beginners to the more serious cyclists, so yes, plenty of bang for your buck!