Is my dumb trainer stopping me from registering the higher workout wattages?


My 2x8 minute FTP back in December was 278.
My Ramp test FTP back then was 301.

I think I test a bit high in the ramp test, so I decided to go with 278 for my SSB1 MV.

A week ago my FTP in the Ramp Test went up from 301 to 323.
I have decided to dial it back to 305 for SSB 2.

Did Taylor -2 on Monday. It started out tough knowing I had 42 intervals to do!!! But I managed to complete the workout but it was tough.

Here’s the issue:

I now see that the coming Clark workout is asking for a few short bursts at over 600 watts.

I have never been able to get over about 520 on my dumb Cyclops Fluid 2 trainer. I notice that If I try to absolutely max out I am more likely to get some knee pain due to the immense effort after the workout.

I just don’t think my trainer will let me get much over 520 watts.

Do you think this is correct or is my sprint power just crap?

(I can knock out 21 minute ten mile TT’s and around 55/56 min 25 mile TT’s and my FTP is progressing nicely as mentioned above.)

Has anyone noticed that dumb trainers don’t get to the high wattages that a smart trainer can register?


This is completely true. A lot of dumb trainers have a relatively low maximum resistance. From the CycleOps site:

As you can see, you have to spin pretty fast to get up into those higher ranges. That’s where having a nice ERG trainer can be beneficial, allowing you to stay in the same gear, choose your cadence, and still hit your power target.

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Is this remedied by having a power meter?

Not exactly. If you ride a mag trainer with a relatively low peak power (as I do) you’ll hit a point of max resistance where the unit doesn’t function properly. Mine claims 950w but anything over 700w feels like holding the brakes and pedaling, grabby and very unnatural is how I’d describe it.

For my money, a dumb fluid trainer with a decent weight flywheel is what I would buy next time around, assuming you already have a power meter. I’d rather have a dumb trainer with good “feel” and inertia rather than a smart trainer.

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Kurt’s Road machine seems to do well up into the 800-900 range. It starts to feel pretty bad after that. Sort of like you’re puting in more than it can handle. Come to think of it I’ve only ever smashed it hard when I’ve had the 12# pro flywheel on. I need to try it without the extra flywheel on and see how it feels / performs.
Don’t be discouraged. There’s so little time spent up in that range that it isn’t going to have a significant impact on your training. Save the sprint work for outside and the money stuff for the trainer.


I’m using a CycleOps Wind, which by this figure is greatly limited. Would this adversely impact my ramp test once I’m over the 300W range? Maybe I should 8 minute test? Or maybe I should spin down to my tire more to create resistance there?

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I honestly couldn’t say because I’m not familiar with your trainer. I do know resistance on wind trainers is typically much lower than mag or fluid trainers though.

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I had this exact problem with my first trainer, a cyclops mag trainer. Couldn’t get it over 500-550 watts. I bought a used kinetic rock n roll fluid and it’s been fine. I haven’t tried to go into 4 digits on it, but it feels fine at 700-800w for sprints in workouts.

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I have the same Fluid2 trainer and can sprint to about 900 watts on it, which is lower than my outside sprint due to the fact that the bike is stationary and you can’t really reef on the bars with as much vigor.

What’s you’re power display averaging set to? It could be that your peak power isn’t shown because you have 5 or 10 second average showing.


I have a dumb trainer as well with 8 resistance settings. I have it on 5 now which gives a pretty good range but I haven’t had any workouts yet which ask for 200% efforts. I can hit 130% pretty easy though

This issue effects smart trainers as well. I have a Tacx flux and it can’t handle large jumps in power in certain gears like say a rest interval at 100 and a sprint over 430. If you are at 100 it will top out at 400 unless you switch to a higher gear while in ERG mode. I’m just bringing this up so that you know that buying a new trainer that cost twice as much might not fix your problem.