Indoor Trainer Upgrades

I would like to hear opinions from people who have went from a ‘dumb’ trainer to a smart trainer:
-Was it worth upgrading?
-What smart trainer did you buy?
-What was the deciding factor in which trainer you bought? Price, Noise level, ease of use?
-What do you think is the holy grail setup? Wahoo kickr w/climb, fan, tacx neo, etc…

Thanks for the feedback. I’m currently using a kurt kinectic road machine and a stages power meter. It’s a perfectly fine setup but I’m wondering if investing in a nicer trainer for the long Minnesota winter will make the trainer experience better.

Fair bit of related discussion here:

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I went from Bottom of the barrel dumb trainer, to Kickr snap, to kickr v2.

Each upgrade was worth it. The step up to a smart trainer 100% and the step up in quality from wheel on to direct drive was huge. I was able to recoup a lot of the cost of the snap by selling 2nd hand.

I knew I wanted something with erg mode. I knew the kickr had a good reputation and after I broke my first trainer I was looking for an upgrade. The snap was a great device, but it had it’s quirks with the TR software.

I moved up the direct drive after I knew I was going to be moving to an apartment and needed less noise and saw a good deal coming up.

If I were to do it today I’d go for either the neo or the new kickr. I don’t need an of the fancy gadgets (fan, climb, cobbles etc). Just something solid with a good flywheel.

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I went from a blackburn fluid trainer to a kicker v2. For me it was a completely different experience. The fluid trainer felt like riding through mud all the time, whereas the kicker has much better ‘road feel’ - aka inertial from a flywheel. I think half of the improvement was the feel, the other half the smarts and erg mode. I’m a huge fan of erg mode, as it allows me to pick my cadence (and experiment with cadence). On the old trainer it was challenging to find the matching cadence/power I was looking for.
There is no way I would be doing the amount of indoor training I am doing now with a dumb trainer and a power meter. I would give up outdoor power before I gave up my kickr.

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I had a seriously “dumb” trainer, the magnetic adjustment meat you had that awful hard and soft pedal action as the magnets passed each other at higher resistances. I decided it was time to upgrade and went all in a purchased a Tacx Neo and should have done it sooner. There were several reasons for the choice but as with all things in life you get what you pay for and I have been bitten many times by the buy cheap buy twice rule…

This time I decided if im going to take this training seriously then I need a decent trainer and the Neo ticks all the boxes and after spending £1000 it certainly motivates you to get out in the garage and use it!!!

Its defiantly worth getting a smart trainer and I should have done it sooner. But check out the hundreds of reviews on them, pick the one that suits you and get the best you can.

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I just moved from a Road Machine to a Kickr Core. I’ve been riding “dumb” trainers of one sort or another since 1984 and this was a bigger leap than going from a wind trainer to a mag trainer or then to a fluid trainer. It has only been a few rides but it is clear to me the step up was worth it. (assuming you already have a power meter - if you ride outside too, I’d lean toward get that before you spend money on a smart trainer).

The ride feel is much better and ERG mode looks like it will be a game changer. i did a VO2 max workout last night i know I would have quit on my old trainer but the ERG mode kept me going. I really really like being able to ride at the cadence of my choosing. On the fluid trainer I often felt stuck between gears. I anticipate the combo of ERG mode and ride feel is really going to brighten up my winter.

As for why I chose the Core, it was the price and I chose Wahoo because I know a lot of people who are very happy with their Kickrs. The Core had all the features I need. I ride in the basement with earphones in so noise was not a factor for me but the thing is pretty quiet so depending on your environment, that might be a big factor.

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The only indoor riding I do is TR workouts in ERG mode and I want to do them exactly as prescribed. I don’t Zwift or simulate outdoor rides so no need for the CLIMB or HEADWIND units.

Started with a dumb trainer and moved to a CycleOps Powerbeam Pro around 2014. It was fine, but would slip on hard efforts and went through trainer tires (yes, I was using trainer-specific tires) which was annoying. Sold it and went to a KICKR 2017 model, partly on the recommendation of the TR podcast -seemed they all used it.

When the KICKR worked, it was great. I liked not having to use a front wheel block and the perfectly smooth (though fake) power tracing it provided to TR was cool. It also interfaced elegantly with the BSXinsight which I used for FTP testing. It seems to have the largest market share in this space. However, mine had problems, possibly with the thermistor, long story and still not sure. I replaced the circuit board twice and after the second time gave the KICKR to a buddy. Got a Tacx Neo which has been reliable for about a year now. I picked it because it doesn’t need a calibration and is truly direct drive - no belt or weighted flywheel. It feels harder than the KICKR, possibly due to the lack of the flywheel. It can also simulate terrain (cobbles, expansion joints etc.) which I have no use for.

My two cents about the smart trainers is that whatever you chose, these things are not built with aerospace quality components and the combination of high speed rotating parts, heat (where do you think all those Watts go?) and delicate electronics will have a failure rate so they cannot be expected to last forever. That’s not to say the one you pick will have issues, plenty of people have been using all of these models with zero problems.

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