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Thread: Smart trainers--what's to know?

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    Default Smart trainers--what's to know?

    My wife and I have resorted to our mag trainers what with the unbreathable outdoor Northwestern air of late. She's more "techie" than me and was asking about trainers that can be programmed for routes, etc., and send data back to devices. I have avoided indoor trainers but there's a time for everything. What's to look for, what 's good and not?

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2019/10/...2019-2020.html

    This year's update should be available soon.

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    Spend the money and get a good one. Wahoo, Tacx, Elite. If you have Wahoo cycling computers, look at Wahoo trainers as they will integrate slightly better with some of the features of the computers. And Garmin now owns Tacx so perhaps consider whether any shared genetics there will make a difference (though my wife rides the heck out of a Tacx with a Wahoo computer and Zwift.) Zwift is really the great equalizer on function. There are some very simple standard smart trainers that work well with Zwift, and Zwift manages all the data collection and uploading to Strava. Most of the route coordination also happens between Strava or RideWithGPS or Garmin Connect or Wahoo ELEMNT - and the native software that runs your smart trainer - Wahoo, Tacx, Elite - and sometimes this is where having a cycling computer matched to your trainer makes a bit of difference in ease of use. Iíve noticed that smart trainers are one place where women actually tend to outpace men on interest in the technology. My sample size is 5 women. I could care less. My wife and her cycling pals are into Zwift, ride together virtually not infrequently and like all of the tech/data/features that comes along with it. Which is why Iíd say buy the top or near top of the line because the odds are it is going to get full use just not by you.

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    In addition to what Jorn said above, there are two capabilities of the smart trainer that make it more bearable for me as I am not a Zwift fan (I don't like the quality of the video)...I use my Tacx with routes that I regularly ride as you can upload GPS files. I also am a big fan of riding with videos of rides such as VeloReality and Tacx' own videos. In both use modes, the trainer and video adjust to the effort required/ speed you are going. The videos can get pricey but if you build a library of say ten of them it helps ATMO.

    Also, most folks prefer the "direct drive" because it is more like outside, more "proper" but I have the wheel on type (Tacx Genius Smart) as it is a lot easier to throw in a closet when not in use. I use a spare wheel with a trainer tire 23 mounted on it that I just swap in for those days that I want do a ride but inside is the only option.
    Jon Mandel

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    I forgot that you could even connect a cycling computer to a smart trainer. I always just use an app. Even though I don't enjoy the trainer I use it to keep fitness and for that I like Trainer Road. Get on the bike and take care of business. If your wife is analytical then she should check them out.

    To the question of what to look for I definitely agree that checking out the DC Rainmaker site is the way to go.

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    I would also include Saris H3 in the list. It has one of the heaviest flywheels, which gives it a very good road feel, so to speak. Whereas with fluid and mag trainers I might have difficulty coming in within 5% of outdoor power, everything is just smooth on my Hammer (the model that precedes the H3 by two generations). I should add that for whatever reason, I also got good road feel on my rollers + mag resistance, but never on a trainer, prior to going to a direct drive.

    One other thing to note is that programming of routes is more app-dependent. For instance, there are loads of videos on Rouvy, and those videos also have elevation data attached. With that elevation data, the app sends signal to the smart trainer to adjust gradient.

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    Dave, good advice above. I'm far from an expert but a couple years ago I bought a wahoo kickr snap and with zwift, music and a fan I can stand riding the thing. I actually just mounted my bike on it yesterday and will do a ride today. Philippe is using the same setup.


    Chris

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    My wife is seriously considering a new indoor trainer. While our gyms are now open with limited capacity, spin class in a closed room holds no appeal in this covid era. My wife dislikes our old nintendo based computrainer (I have close to 3 decades of data) so time for a new setup.

    I think she is looking at the top of the line wahoo (not the whaoo bike) with kicker climb. Zwift app as well. I need to start researching this as well as a lot of my cycling buddies use zwift during cold wet wintery days.

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    I highly recommend the Bkool app, unless the social aspect of the app is significant to you. Bkool is basically your rides, anybody that has a GPS computer and subscribes to Bkool and at least last year their library of filmed sessions was getting bigger. They also improved their code to where it wasn't as generous, it used to be a lot easier than an actual ride outdoors. Last year I noticed that elapsed times for my own rides started matching up to their outdoors version and in the spring I wasn't feeling like the road was a big jump up in effort from down cellar.

    I like that I don't get all caught up with anybody else on the route. You can block the access because now and then somebody would show up, and if you coordinate you can have a virtual Zoom meeting as long as your group is on the virtual route within what Bkool thinks would be earshot.
    Tom Ambros

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    Do you mean you re-ride a route you've done stored in your GPS? And if so, does Bkool generate a video of that ride? Or are you just following your route on a map on the computer and the the smart trainer picks up the grade changes and the resistance changes? And I'm assuming their video library is pretty good quality. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom View Post
    I highly recommend the Bkool app, unless the social aspect of the app is significant to you. Bkool is basically your rides, anybody that has a GPS computer and subscribes to Bkool and at least last year their library of filmed sessions was getting bigger. They also improved their code to where it wasn't as generous, it used to be a lot easier than an actual ride outdoors. Last year I noticed that elapsed times for my own rides started matching up to their outdoors version and in the spring I wasn't feeling like the road was a big jump up in effort from down cellar.

    I like that I don't get all caught up with anybody else on the route. You can block the access because now and then somebody would show up, and if you coordinate you can have a virtual Zoom meeting as long as your group is on the virtual route within what Bkool thinks would be earshot.

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    If you upload your rides to Strava, Garmin or Training Peaks then Bkool can pull the GPS track and convert it to their system. If they don't find any errors according to their match up to the local mapping info they can convert it to their 3D version of animation. If not, it is a '2D' version on a map. Map has conventional map or satellite views, it doesn't fly down and do any Google Earth type stuff. It is then selectable through their app or on their web site. When you launch the trainer app it is there for you to select and run. Filmed routes are done with a camera, users or Bkool can create and upload them. Not sure how that's done.

    You aren't restricted to your own routes. Any that are uploaded are available.
    Tom Ambros

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom View Post
    If you upload your rides to Strava, Garmin or Training Peaks then Bkool can pull the GPS track and convert it to their system. If they don't find any errors according to their match up to the local mapping info they can convert it to their 3D version of animation. If not, it is a '2D' version on a map. Map has conventional map or satellite views, it doesn't fly down and do any Google Earth type stuff. It is then selectable through their app or on their web site. When you launch the trainer app it is there for you to select and run. Filmed routes are done with a camera, users or Bkool can create and upload them. Not sure how that's done.

    You aren't restricted to your own routes. Any that are uploaded are available.
    The Tacx app does the same thing and also, like the others, can do a route that you map out (say on RWGPS) and download/upload to it.

    On both Bkool and the Tacx app, sometimes your GPS data is translated kinda funky so if I see that problem I will run it through this first....https://www.gpsvisualizer.com/conver...x&units=metric

    I find the Tacx app is actually a little tougher than outside in wattage that it takes me to get up a hill for instance. I am not sure if that is more or less when I use the power meter on my crank arms or the one built into the machine to adjust the trainer for the place I am in the route but both of them are a tad more than real world.
    Jon Mandel

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    Thanks! Planning for winter.

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    And here I used to ride rollers and watch the Tour on VHS...
    Jay Dwight

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    I'm still analog though I borrowed a KICKR a couple years ago when I was recovering from an injury. It was a marked improvement over my Kurt Kinetic fluid trainer. The direct drive lowers the noise level considerably. The pedal feel was also much more realistic. I don't think my experience was positive enough to get me to spend money on a new trainer. I also don't think I would choose the trainer if it was at all survivable outside (I don't mind cold but my state also isn't currently on fire). but I didn't use Zwift at all and maybe that makes it enjoyable enough that it makes riding inside worthwhile.

    The Tacx trainer my girlfriend picked up this year is slightly clunkier to use. Once you've got it up and running it's just as capable as the Wahoo but it wasn't as well integrated with the various apps.

    I have no experience with the other units.

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    As above Saris & Wahoo Price and warranty about the same both are more than accurate enough. If budget allows take a look at the Saris MP1 Nifinty. Skip the climber. Zwift is light years ahead of the metal man on compu trainer. Ask around see if you can demo one for a day or two.

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    Quote Originally Posted by twowheels View Post
    Dave, good advice above. I'm far from an expert but a couple years ago I bought a wahoo kickr snap and with zwift, music and a fan I can stand riding the thing. I actually just mounted my bike on it yesterday and will do a ride today. Philippe is using the same setup.


    Chris
    Thanks, I was going to ask Philippe next, I know he's quite the Zwift enthusiast. It's another whole cycling world!

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    The smart trainers can be run by the cycling computers only, but my experience has been that staying within brand makes things less wonky. So Wahoo Kickr with a Wahoo Bolt for example. This means you donít have to use an iPad if youíd rather look at the deer eating all your plants while riding the trainer than stare at an iPad screen. How you get your outside ride data to control the smart trainer varies however. With Wahoo, who doesnít really have a website, you run it straight from the cycling computer (I guess you can run the trainer with their iPhone app though?) With Tacx, you do have to upload a ride to their website and then run it through their app on a separate device, though this may have changed now that Tacx is a Garmin company.

    Gradient smoothing seems to be the biggest challenge for these devices. Earlier our Tacx made gentle slopes a bit more blocky so that as soon as you reached a climb it loaded up the erg and sometimes would bring you to a full standstill when the actual outside climb wasnít like that at all. But it is a lot better now (says my wife who is the primary rider now) and gradient changes are much smoother.
    Last edited by j44ke; 1 Week Ago at 08:56 AM.

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    We have it down to the Elite Suito and the Tacx Flux S--anyone use either of these?

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    Default Re: Smart trainers--what's to know?

    Quote Originally Posted by DBordewisch View Post
    As above Saris & Wahoo Price and warranty about the same both are more than accurate enough. If budget allows take a look at the Saris MP1 Nifinty. Skip the climber. Zwift is light years ahead of the metal man on compu trainer. Ask around see if you can demo one for a day or two.
    Interesting. Will take a closer look.

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