Posts tagged cycleops
We love our CycleOps Fluid 2, and have gotten familiar with many of the other trainers out there over the last few years.
But the future for indoor training is what really excites us…take a look at this video from the guys at CycleOps and the direction they’re heading (we love their newish Silencer Direct Drive trainer and their upcoming Hammer model sounds amazing!). Well worth a watch!
We’ve been in love with our CycleOps Fluid 2 trainer for at least a couple of years, and it’s been on our list of bestselling stationary bike stands for some time now. But it’s always interesting to see the latest innovations and designs coming to fruition, especially from market leaders like CycleOps.
Take a look at the video below for a peek at the new generation – the CycleOps Hammer trainer! It looks like it could redefine training as we know it, whether you’re a weekend warrior or a podium-seeking pro…and yes, we’re hoping to test this direct drive beast out real soon!
It’s currently priced at around $1200 – but watch out for some specials over Black Friday and in the Christmas runup…
Ever since I first tested the CycleOps Silencer Direct Drive indoor trainer, my other stationary bike stands been gathering dust, lying in the cupboard, unloved and unused. This trainer has been touted as the very best all-round performer in the CycleOps pantheon – an impressive achievement, considering the array of top-end products this esteemed company has put out in the past few years (we’ve been big fans of the Fluid 2 for a looong time).
And yes, I would have to agree with that contention – smooth, sleek and silent, the CycleOps Silencer is as close to the complete package as an indoor trainer can possibly get.>>>Check out the latest reviews and discounts for the CycleOps Silencer
So, what’s so special about the CycleOps Silencer?
First up, that sleek, sexy design…
Although style might be less important with an indoor trainer than it is with your bicycle (after all, most people will never lay eyes on your indoor trainer), it’s worth noting just how good the Cycleops Silencer looks. Clad in sleek, matte black alloy, and boasting clean lines in a very modern-looking chassis, this must be one of the classiest cycle trainers on the market.
The Silencer Direct Drive’s good looks, however, do not come at the expense of ruggedness or build quality. Weighing in at 12 pounds, with three reinforced rubber feet arranged in a wide stance, this cycle trainer is built for a stable ride.
The most striking thing about this Cycleops design, however, is probably the wheel-off design, which is still a relatively novel innovation in the indoor trainer market. Essentially, the bike’s cassette can be directly attached to the flywheel once the rear wheel is removed. This generates massive cost savings since training tires don’t come cheap and most indoor trainers are extremely tough on tires (especially MTB tires).
It also does wonders for the cycling experience (but more on that in a bit). Notably, it’s possible to purchase the CycleOps The Silencer Direct Drive with a 10-speed Shimano/SRAM compatible cassette (this review relates to that model – you can read about the cassette-less version here), which is definitely the cheaper and more convenient option (especially since most other wheels-off trainers don’t come with cassettes) and the one I fell for.
The only caveat is that if you intend to use a Campag cassette, you should opt for the package without the CycleOps cassette for reasons of cost and practicality, since the default cassette will not fit Campag gear anyway. It’s also worth noting that your bike frame must have a rear fork of width between 130 mm to 135 mm to fit in this indoor trainer, which is hardly a problem for most racing bikes.
The riding experience…
The combination of the wheels-off design and the weighted flywheel makes for an extremely enjoyable ride that accurately simulates road cycling.
I’ve always found wheels-on trainers to be a little jerky (particularly with oddly-shaped tires), which takes away from the illusion of coasting on tarmac. With the CycleOps Silencer, resistance changes were incredibly smooth thanks to the high-end 5-position magnetic driver design, and were easy to employ via the handlebar-mounted resistance lever.
This latter feature deserves mention since it mitigates the complaint that cassette-mounted trainers lack resistance due to the lack of tire rub. At the highest magnetic resistance level, it was a real challenge to pedal at 50 rpm for more than half a minute, which in my books is more than enough resistance for a satisfying workout. I still missed cycling outdoors, of course, but the road cycling simulation was realistic enough to give me confidence that the Silencer will preserve my road cycling skills in the off-season, so I can come back raring and ready to go next year.
The other major selling point of this CycleOps trainer is the “silencer” feature, which eliminates wind noise by using a magnetic driver design. I wouldn’t say the CycleOps Silencer Direct Drive is completely noiseless, but it’s definitely quiet enough that you’ll have to strain to hear it. Even with thin walls and light sleepers in the house, I was able to get in my early-morning workouts within a single complaint from my family or neighbors.
Some impressive tech specs…
- The noise level at 20 mph is a very quiet 59-64 decibels
- Dimensions L*W*H: 24″x18.5″x19.5″ (612x465x493 mm)
- Has a wide, stable base for boosted stability
- Weighs 39 lbs (17.6 kg)
- Direct drive design features a fixed rear wheel mode
- Fits frames with rear fork widths of 130mm and 135mm
- Fits road bikes and mountain bikes with wheel diameters of 700c and 29 inches
- Adjustable magnetic resistance, via an easy to use 5-level handlebar adjuster allows for true road-like feel
- 220 lb (100kg) maximum load — excluding bicycle.
- SHIMANO and SRAM 8/9/10/11 speed compatible.
Things to consider…
In my opinion, the only downside to the Silencer is the lack of portability. The machine doesn’t fold down and it’s pretty heavy, so lugging it anywhere, even between rooms, is a bit of a chore. However, indoor trainers don’t generally offer much in the way of portability because there’s simply no demand for it – after all, there’s no point carrying a heavy cycle trainer outdoors if you can simply cycle outdoors – and so this comment probably comes as no surprise.
If you’re not too skilled with a wrench, setting up the Silencer can also be a little challenging. This is partly due to its weight, which makes it difficult to thread the bolts in, and partly due to the issues I had attaching the resistance knobs to my base bar (though they fit just fine on my mountain handlebars). But still, 10 minutes and most of you will have this up and ready to go…
In summary: why you NEED the CycleOps Silencer Direct Drive trainer
As you’ll probably have noticed, neither of the drawbacks mentioned above relate to the key indicators of a good indoor trainer – speed, silence and durability. In all the departments that matter most, the CycleOps The Silencer Direct Drive trainer is a top performer, earning it my unequivocal recommendation.
It’s truly perfect for the cyclist with a small apartment – and who really wants to pump out some high intensity cycling work! It’s just so quiet compared to anything else that I’ve worked hard on, and seriously, is one of the very best indoor training solutions you can get!
If you need a quick look at the Silencer user manual, just to get an idea of how easy it is to get up and running, click here.
Another direct drive trainer to consider in the similar price range: the awesome Lemond Revolution 1.1.
We’re big fans of the higher end indoor trainers, such as the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine or the CycleOps SuperMagneto Pro, but if you really want to improve your training and take it to the next level, you’ll want to get your hands on one of the three bike trainers listed below.
None of them are going to come cheap, but if your budget is big, then you can be rest assured that the technology and features that come bundled with each of the trainers (we’re talking venturing into the world of virtual training!) are also going to be BIG (and worth every dime).
Let’s have a quick review of the three very best bike trainers your dollars can buy…
Your addiction to indoor virtual training starts here: the CycleOps PowerBeam Pro (ANT+)
The CycleOps PowerBeam Pro will keep you in great shape over the winter months, of that there’s no question!
You’ll be up and running in no time with this baby, as it comes pre-assembled – all you need to do is unfold the legs of the unit, adjust the leg adjuster (only if your floor is a little on the wonky side), and attach the one-sided skewer clamp dial adjustment, with the included steel quick release skewer slotted through your bike’s rear axle.
The big bonus with this trainer is that it uses ANT+, meaning it displays performance data on ANT+ cycling computers for real-time analysis as you ride. Perfect for learning just where you can tweak and enhance your cycling performance. Note that there is a Bluetooth Smart version of this trainer, but we’ve heard that compatibility with 3rd party devices is a little problematic, so, for now at least, would recommend going with this ANT+ version.
An integrated PowerTap power meter gives you some awesome metrics, including power in watts, power zones, peak power, caloric expenditure in kilojoules, cadence, heart rate, and much more. In addition, the Mini ANT+ USB stick (included with the trainer) lets you control the resistance from your computer (this means you can also use CycleOps’ Virtual Training app for auto-syncing sessions with virtual training routes)! We’re heading down the road of virtual training ourselves this winter, so this excites us a lot!
And if you were worried about this baby making too much noise – because let’s face it, some trainers do have an annoying hum – CycleOps states that this trainer maintains a reasonable 69-70 decibels when you’re riding at 20mph, meaning your partner or neighbors won’t be driven insane by an intrusive hummmmm.
You should be able to attach most road and mountain bike frames, and it supports 650b, 700c, 26 inch, 27 inch, and even 29 inch wheel sizes, with tires up to 2.25 inches wide. Just be aware that it doesn’t support the 120mm rear dropouts found on track bikes.
The CycleOps PowerBeam Pro will set you back around $1000 (although we’ve seen this on Amazon for as little as $700!), but is up there with the very best of them (it obviously makes our 2017 bestseller list), and can be seen as a true investment in your winter training (if you need to convince the wife or partner…). And to top it off, don’t forget that lifetime warranty from CycleOps!
Here’s a quick taster from YouTube…
The virtually awesome BKool Pro Turbo Trainer!
We took a good look at the BKool Pro trainer a while ago, and were just as impressed then as we are today!
The fun you’re likely to have with this trainer and its awesome FREE simulator make this an excellent option to consider. The ability to connect up with your tablet or laptop and enjoy a whole ton of videos and sessions, solo or with your friends, is pretty darned hard to beat (there are over 50,000 riders worldwide on the BKool system)! Best of all, the simulator is free to download from the Bkool website and is suitable for both Windows and Mac computers, as well as iPad and Android tablets.
This Pro trainer from BKool is actually an improvement on their Classic model, which means you get a quieter more stable trainer, but also a in-built cadence system that eliminates the need for an external device. And the electromagnetic braking system is a definite winner in our eyes, as it ensures the Bkool software controls your resistance, which can be especially useful when climbing hills.
Setting up is a doddle; you replace the rear skewer in your wheel (as per any decent trainer these days), and then pop it on the trainer (which also comes with a front wheel support). You’ll then need to register on the Bkool website, download the simulator, plug in the trainer and connect with your supplied ANT and USB.
The Bkool software and trainer wirelessly communicate with each other via your included USB; this ensures your ride data (your cadence and power) is tracked and used to gauge just how much the resistance levels need to be adjusted according to the route you selected. Clever stuff!
It’s also a powerful beast, with the ability to power up 1200W of energy on a progressive curve. That power, and the awesome resistance control, makes it feel like you really are out on the road. There are also over 500 video routes in the BKool system, with more apparently added daily – by the way, the recently added free video editor software lets users create their own route!
You’re not going to get much change from $700, but for value, this has to be one of the best options out there, especially if you’re looking to get your hands on a virtual training system. There is a basic subscription plan available once you sign up (for free), or you can pay for a Premium plan, which gives you some impressive options.
Here’s a quick taster from YouTube…
The Elite Real Axiom Trainer
The Elite Real Axiom trainer has been around for a few years now, but has been gaining a seriously good reputation with some seriously good upgrades over the years!
Another trainer that specializes in smart communications with your computer, the Elite Real Axiom enables you to get a glimpse into some serious real-world conditions on a variety of courses, mainly thanks to its computer controlled resistance (which adjusts per course and rider input). Race against a real human cyclist on your LAN, or alternatively try racing against a virtual competitor if you can’t find anybody online.
You can choose from 14 preset courses while there’s also a 4-week training program – you can also create your own custom courses! You also get to view personal ride stats, including speed, distance, ride time, cadence, heart rate and power output, and you can store them for your own training history, making those indoor sessions a lot more fun, which is what we think it should really be about.
The trainer comes with 2 DVDs; one of the Limoges climb from the 2004 Tour de France and the 2004 Verona World Championship course, both of which are synched with the resistance you create on the trainer to make it feel as if you’re really cycling the route. In addition, it comes with the My RealVideo app, which lets you record your own routes, and upload them to share and compete with other riders!
One thing we have to note about the Elite Real Axiom is that it is Italian made, and although support is good, there might be the odd language barrier problem to face, if you ever have any issues with your trainer. What is also a little disappointing is the lack of online guides and forums.
However, if you can get past that, this trainer is probably the best value of all the virtual trainers we’ve come across – typically selling at around $650 – and should probably be your preferred choice for kick-starting your virtual cycling career!
Here’s a quick taster of what to expect from the Elite Real Axiom trainer on YouTube…
If you’re looking to enhance your winter training, any one of the three trainers above will take your training to the next level.
If it’s a question of price, I would have to go with the Elite Real Axiom, but if money isn’t an issue and you’re looking for something top-notch, go for the CycleOps PowerBeam Pro.
Oh boy, are you going to start enjoying those training sessions!
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)).
If you want to know why we love those CycleOps trainers so much (especially the SuperMagneto Pro and the upgraded version of the Fluid 2), then we’ll have to take you behind the scenes a little bit, into the very mechanics of what makes a CycleOps trainer actually tick in terms of resistance…because that resistance is what really defines a trainer and its effectiveness in getting us fit!
Stationary bike trainers are made of two parts: physical elements and mathematical elements. But when it comes to resistance curves, it’s down to plain old maths.
CycleOps use wheel speed, their patented PowerTuned Technology and cadence to create four distinct resistance curves: linear, adjustable, progressive and controlled.
While each of the three factors is needed to calculate the resistance curves, PowerTuned Technology is unique to the CycleOps range of trainers thanks to PowerTap technology (PowerTap are legends of the power meter business).
Creating resistance curves with PowerTuned Technology enables CycleOps to produce the widest range of resistance at real world speeds by matching the rider with the right flywheel and resistance unit. When the optimal flywheel mass to resistance type is found, real world inertia is achieved and no unnecessary weight is added to the trainer. This is what you can call a win-win for all involved!
Using PowerTuned technology and the PowerTap powermeter CycleOps then takes the amount of power it would take for an average rider to maintain a specific speed while on the bike trainer, as shown in the resistance graphs below – each graph depicts speed horizontally on the x-axis versus power vertically on the y-axis.
Linear / Adjustable Resistance
The Linear resistance curves in the chart below are relevant for the Mag / Mag+. When you pedal faster or shift gears, the resistance changes proportionately to your adjusted speed; the Wind trainer is pure linear, while the Mag / Mag + is adjustable. And if you want to know just how realistic the resistance on these linear / adjustable-type trainers feels, well, it doesn’t really feel like a real outdoors ride. To be absolutely blunt…
This is the resistance we personally prefer, when you pedal faster or shift gears, the resistance actually increases – just like it should when you ride outdoors. Basically, at 20kmh you’re working twice as hard as when riding at 10kmh. In addition to the Fluid 2, there’s also the classic CycleOps Magneto, and SuperMagneto Pro to include in this range of Progressive resistance trainers.
Controlled resistance refers to the a head unit actually controlling your resistance, such as the resistance found when connecting to a virtual trainer program, such as CycleOps Virtual Training. This is probably the most realistic feel of all, with the trainer (such as the CycleOps PowerBeam) adjusting as you pedal.
We’ve seen a lot of interest recently in bike rollers. You know, those frame-like devices you place on the floor and then ride your bike on.
Some people love ’em, some people loathe ’em.
But as we’ve developed this website out, and seen the interest grow in accessories and other areas, we thought it was about time we gave you the lowdown on the very best rollers out there. For sure, some of you see them as a real option for a realistic, alternative riding experience to bike trainers, while others of you are less convinced.
The one thing we will certainly testify to, is that while it’s important to train up those leg muscles and improve aerobic muscles, what often sets the best cyclists apart in cycling competitions is their technical handling. While indoor cycling using a stationary bike trainer is an excellent way to ramp up your fitness, you rarely get a chance to practice your cycling technique when you’re cycling in your living room (perhaps only the Kurt Kinetic Rock and Roller comes close though). That’s why a bike roller could make the difference.
Cycling on top of a roller forces you to truly balance your bicycle – just like you’d have to out on the road or biking trail – for a more realistic and holistic training session. As we mentioned, some of you love them, others see them as plain hard work…if you need some tips on how to successfully ride a roller, don’t miss our FIVE awesome tips for riding rollers like a pro!
So here they are, our five picks for the best indoor bike rollers on the market!
The Nashbar Reduced Radius Roller is one quiet, efficient machine. Cycling on this stationary roller is incredibly smooth, thanks to the CNC machined aluminium drums and sealed cartridge bearings. This ensures you’ll never need to stop in the middle of a training session to tinker with the roller – you can just get on with it! The base of this Nashbar roller is also splendidly designed, featuring no less than three sets of feet to create a stable base for your indoor training. These are covered with special plastic fittings to protect your floor. Nashbar always turns out value-for-money products, but at just under $150 this Nashbar roller is (even for Nashbar) a truly surprising bargain!
CycleOps Training Roller
This is a bicycle roller that oozes class. The solid steel frame as well as the innovative folding system reveal the superb design and build quality you’d expect from CycleOps, quite possibly the leading manufacturer of cycling training tools out there (and yes, we love their Fluid Trainer!). This roller delivers a simply perfect riding experience. The PVC rollers are precision-lathed and when combined with the precision steel drums, you get a slick, safe and quiet ride that’s second to none. What’s more, the sheer realism of training with this roller has to be experienced to be believed. We’ve no doubt that within weeks, you’ll find your reflexes and handling have improved by leaps and bounds. Certainly not the cheapest option, but when you throw in a limited lifetime warranty together with the quality on offer, you’ve got the most complete bike roller out there. Simply put, CycleOps has done it again!
This Kreitler roller may not come cheap, but it’s truly capable of taking your training to the next level. Kreitler has included various sizes of aluminum drums and by using drums of different diameters, you can adjust the amount of resistance you encounter. The smaller the diameter, the higher the resistance – this bike roller is thus just as useful for improving aerobic fitness as it is for honing your bike handling skills. Remember, though, that the blower and weighted flywheels should not be used with the 3” and 2.25” drums or your warranty might be voided – the resistance is high enough with these drums as it is. The drums feature polycarbonate end caps which have a longer lifespan, contributing to the product’s already impressive durability. If you’re going to be training hard and very often, we recommend you bite the bullet and invest in this high-end roller. It’s worth it in the long run.
These mid-range bicycle rollers strike a good balance between quality and affordability. They’re not the fanciest rollers out there, but they get the job done and will give you plenty of mileage to boot with their heavy-duty construction that’s built to take a beating. Despite the high-quality materials, this Tacx roller is surprisingly portable. It can be collapsed to 80 cm and is relatively light, making this an ideal choice if you need a roller to warm up before a race. Finally, with Skyliner front wheel support, this is one of the more stable and secure rollers out there. That should give you enough peace of mind to focus on your training.
Alloy Indoor Bike Roller
This budget roller can be found for less than $150, but don’t let its low price fool you. Its design is economical but very hardy. If you use it sensibly, you are unlikely to have any issues with durability. Our cycling experience with this Alloy roller was constantly challenging and it really pushed our steering skills to the limit, making it a worthy addition to any cyclist’s arsenal. This roller is ideal for hobbyists looking to train indoors once in a while. Do note that it’s not the quietest roller around and its performance will be somewhat impaired if you have a very heavy bike (or are a very heavy cyclist), but at this price it’s a fantastic bargain.
Getting some indoor cycling training is a necessary evil in foul weather, but with one of these five very capable rollers, you can make your indoor training as realistic and beneficial as possible. If you’re convinced by the models we’ve listed, buy one and start refining your handling skills with roller-based training right now!