Do I need a smart trainer if I already have Power Meter?

My Cyclops Fluid 2 just started to leak oil and it seems to be a common issue. It had served me for 3 good years and I bought it used at a bargain.

Should I buy back a resistance trainer or smart trainer? I already have Powertap P1 Dual, trainer wheels and tyre, an extra bike which is permanently mounted on my trainer.

I will likely be using it for TR since I don’t really Zwift.

For what it’s worth, I don’t feel the need for a smart trainer. I’ve got a Wattbike at home and a Fluid 2 at work which I use with a 4iiii PM. I’ve been using TR with no hassle at all, other than having to shift manually to match the resistance demands. Occasionally I think I’d like a smart trainer to experience the software doing it for me, but that seems a frivolity to me, really.


If you’re going to spend a lot of time on the turbo then I think it is. I find it great letting the trainer control the resistance for my workouts and it just leaves me to concentrate on suffering aka pedalling.

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I agree. You don’t only get the smart trainer for the power meter. The main reason is ERG mode and the way it locks you in to your prescribed intervals.

I’m on a Kickr myself, but use my Stages for power.

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Two questions re. ERG mode:

  • How do you adjust the intensity if you don’t feel at your best ?
  • How do you adjust your cadence ? for example, if your ERG mode is set to 200w, if you accelerate your cadence, the resistance of the trainer would adjust ?

I have had a kickr snap for over 2 years now and in the past 6 months added a 4iiii power meter into the mix. Honestly I could do without the power meter and just use the snap for TR sessions as I love erg mode. I got the PM for metrics on my outdoor rides.

Also, my power meter and snap are close enough numbers wise for me so most of the time I turn off powermatch and just use the kicrkr. Or use powermatch for the best of both worlds

you can adjust the intensity of the workout in the bottom left of the screen (from memory) IE its set at 100% just adjust it up / down if its to hard / easy…

ERG mode will adjust for resistance to hit the power based on cadence so it doesn’t matter what gear / cadence you are doing it will always be 200w. I may do one segment at 95% ftp @ 100rpm and the next at 95% ftp @ 60rpm to simulate a climb.

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For erg mode !!!

I don’t think so and I often don’t use the ERG mode functionality of my smart trainer.

I think the sweet spot is a power meter + wheel off dumb trainer with a large fly wheel.


@sairusi It should be pretty clear both here in the Forum and on the FB Ask a Cycling Coach threads that you don’t “need” a smart trainer to get many benefits of TrainerRoad. However, after 15 years of training on a dumb trainer with a power meter (SRM earlier and now Quarq), and now for the past 5 months, on a smart trainer (Tacx NEO), I have found the ERG mode feature of a smart trainer to be a game changer.

The key feature of having the smart trainer control resistance has several real benefits. I’ll give one example that all of us can relate to:

Early in an over/under workout, when you are fresh, it is relatively “easy" to maintain the target power AND maintain form. But late in a workout, such as McAdie+1, when you are (should be) fatigued is when you can hear Coach Chad telling you to maintain form so you don’t develop sloppy habits. This is substantially harder to do on a dumb trainer where you need to BOTH focus on delivering target power to the pedals AND checking all elements of your form (think efficiency/economy as a cyclist). On a smart trainer . . .

Using a dumb trainer, I’ve also thought of this as a benefit. However, I’ve also thought of this as a detriment simply because ERG does not exist out on the open road and you have to focus on both power and form. Learn to do it in training so it’s second nature when it counts…?


The biggest issue I have with a dumb trainer is there being powers that are hard to hit at your cadence. Especially when you start hitting the top end of your trainers range it can be tough to find the right gear and cadence to get the power.


@Captain_Doughnutman That’s a reasonable thought process. What it really boils down to is whether your goals are oriented around trying to replicate the outdoor riding experience OR improve your power and skill set and take them to ride outdoors. Both can be accomplished with a dumb trainer, but at a sacrifice relative to a focus on the latter. Happy to provide a lot more detail if interested.

Does that exist? Or do you have to get a smart trainer and just not use Erg mode?

The closest I can think of is my STAC Zero before I upgraded to the smart resistance unit: no tire wear, no noise, and you can load quite a bit of weight between your spokes.

Elite Turbo Muin? fwiw I had this turbo, and upgraded to a power meter, and subsequently got a good deal on a Hammer. I wouldn’t be without erg mode now. Nothing against the Muin, it is super quiet as well if that’s a consideration - pretty much just drivetrain noise.

I did a bit of testing initially, and the Hammer was close enough on power to my single sided 4iii, so now I have an old hack as a dedicated trainer bike permanently in place, which really helps in terms of faff in doing sessions inside.

In a zero sum game… smart trainer or race wheels?

I personally can’t justify the price.

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I’m not sure off the top of my head. It should exist if it doesn’t! I know I keep telling trainer companies to make it :slight_smile:.

The old Lemond Revolution was like that except it had that fan which was SO LOUD.

The Elite Turno is the only wheel-off and non-interactive trainer I know that is currently available for new purchase.

You can still find the Kura, Turbo Muin, and Volano direct drive models as well, but they aren’t listed as current products on Elite’s site.

They supposedly have great feel, but very optimistic power reporting, so a dedicated PM is a good idea.

If you are only interested in TrainerRoad then I don’t really see need for a smart trainer TBH. Personally, I don’t like ERG mode. I prefer to be able to determine the power myself and it gives me something else to focus on during a workout.

However, if you are going to dip your toe into the world of Zwift, a smart trainer will absolutely revolutionise this platform. But, even on Zwift, I’ll use the power from my Powertap pedals rather than from the trainer.


Me too. I have more than enough saved for a smart trainer but keep telling myself if I save a little more I can get a real nice set of wheels. Then I ask myself what would make me faster? If a smart trainer will help me improve my quality of workouts then maybe it would be a better purchase than wheels. Then sometimes I think I get a better workout on my dumb trainer because I can’t lose focus for a second and with lack of inertia I really need a even pedal stroke. Yet I have nothing to compare too :frowning:

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