Going retro with the trainer

I’m visiting my parents this weekend and usually I bring my Hammer but this weekend I brought an elite primo fluid trainer just because it has a smaller footprint and the workout wasn’t going to be one where I thought being with erg wouldn’t be a big deal

Anyhow, the feel of it was pretty crappy at least at first but I was surprised at how I was able to do with keeping the target power on my 8 speed bike. I’d probably feel even better if I had brought the kinetic I also have, since the roller tension on the elite depends on rider weight, but all in all it wasn’t an awful experience! So I may keep it at my parents so I don’t have to lug around the heavy trainer (I still travel with my fans though!)

Normally I’m about the furthest thing from a traditionalist, but indoor cycling companies can pry my old road machine from my cold, dead hands.

On a more serious note it does kind of bug me that smart trainers seem to be considered more or less a cost of entry to indoor training. As much as that’s very much not the case, most of the people I know are of the impression that you need to commit to a high-end smart trainer for any level of functionality.
It’s kind of a shame as IMO indoor training has the potential to be both a cost-effective alternative to other fitness services and an avenue for beginner cyclists that is perhaps less intimidating.


I’m frustrated by the oft-repeated line I see around online (mostly Facebook groups) that if you’re not using a d-drive smart trainer you’re missing out. I’m guessing a lot of these people have never tried a good fluid trainer. I think a lot of people jump from $50 mag trainer to Kickr and (rightfully) have their minds blown, but just don’t know that good “dumb” trainers exist too.


I’m with you. I spend ghastly amounts of money on anything to make me faster so it’s not me being cheap. But I still prefer my KK dumb trainer with an added flywheel and rocker plate



I switched from the Kickr to superdumb rollers, never looked back - now I enjoy the “free riding” much more.
Saved money, dont need to mess with the wheel, no cables or electricity needed, just put on the bike as it is on the rollers and go.



Zwift is a big reason for that I think - zwift without a smart trainer is just boring. Also the appeal of erg mode.

I train on dump rollers now (with a resitance unit), so much less faff and better ride feel.

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Amen! Love my Kinetic Road Machine!

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Yep, also other sims. SIM mode makes the environment. But, if all you do are intervals, it doesn’t matter much I guess.

I wouldn’t mind a direct drive fluid trainer, but those have all but disappeared. I think I’m probably the only person that would fall off rollers every day, but also hate wearing down tires for indoor training.

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I don’t think there is much tyre wear from rollers, at least not with road tyres. At least I have never seen any marks on the rollers or the tyres, and compared with how rough our roads are, it’s incredibly smooth. The contact patch is much smaller though, of course.

I bought used rollers just before lockdown last year with the idea that learning to ride them would keep me entertained for a bit. However, I was comfortable enough for a full workout the next day already! It really is very easy.

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Fluid trainer here too - over 600 whatevers for a smart trainer isn’t going to be happening anytime soon.

Sometimes I feel like a smart trainer would be better, but in fact I think it’d just be easier. Stick it in erg mode and just pedal… But then I think I’d get bored. I can’t imagine doing some of the things that people talk about when doing workouts (Netflix, reading, watching race footage, listening to podcasts and so on). I have to concentrate ALL THE TIME to match power and maintain cadence.

I do wonder if there’s a significant benefit to this. To execute a TR workout on a fluid trainer I have to maintain an extremely high level of engagement, so I’m really getting to know what it feels like to be riding sweetspot/threshold. This is useful because I don’t have a powermeter for outdoors… see comment above about 600 whatevers… I can only imagine that using rollers increases the engagement even more. Doesn’t @Jonathan use rollers most of the time? I seem to remember that from a podcast.


I still use my fluid trainer when travelling… the kickr is just too beastly to move around. I feel like it’s the perfect setup for doing intervals. I use erg mode on my smart trainer sometimes but I prefer doing sprints on the dumb trainer or in resistance mode on the kickr. My partner likes erg though and I do a lot of zwifting so I get a lot of use out of the sim mode on the trainer… but if I were just doing TR I’d probably be fine with the fluid trainer. It’s hard to argue against the value of buying a power meter and a dumb trainer too, my wheel w/ powertap hub and a fluid trainer cost me 350$ and that setup gets the same power indoors and out.

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I have a KK with Assioma Duo pedals and a Stages smart bike.

The KK set up is great for doing intervals. The only downside is having to put the bike on and take it off. Oh, and it’s a bit less stable than the smart bike. It doesn’t have erg, but I never use that: I’d be bored out of my mind.

For intervals, the Stages bike is overkill. For me, not using erg, the only benefit is that an app can control the bike. I use FulGaz, which [a] provides a form of light entertainment and [b] uses resistance to simulate hills and descents. I use this resistance control through FulGaz only on long Z2 rides. Since I try to do long Z2 rides outdoors and since Melbourne winters are not too extreme, long indoor Z2 rides occur only when I’m short of time or it’s raining cats and dogs or it’s too hot.

Conclusion: the KK continues to work fine and probably I got over-excited by the idea of a smart bike. I really thought that it would do more for me. But I do like not having to take the real bikes on and off it…

My circa 2012 KK Road Machine is still going strong as well. Since TR is my main training tool and outside of the ZRL races I am always following TR workouts while riding in Zwift I don’t miss out much on a smart trainer too much (especially since I got my Assioma Duos a couple years back–Virtual Power was a really great path to training with power though!). There’s pros/cons to both of course though. I have a dedicated trainer tire/wheel for my road bike, but I don’t for my tri bike so that’s a bit of a pain both for switching bikes and for if I want to ride my road bike outside I need to go through the process of swapping cassettes on wheels, where a direct drive trainer would be much easier/quicker. I also can’t really do low cadence drills/intervals while putting out big power since there’s not enough resistance even when I crank down the resistance 4.5 turns, but that could also be due to the small-ish gearing of my road bike. And of course there’s the wheel slip issue for big power and sprints, even with things cranked down. I really like the freedom of self-selected power without having to deal with +/- intensity adjustments though.

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It has taken some deliberate practice to get to the point where I could do all that stuff duro my workouts on my dumb trainer. For anything threshold and lower I can watch go pro races or movies or whatever. At first it took a lot of concentration to hit the numbers but now it’s mostly a feel thing with just occasionally checking the numbers.

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