Smart trainer or stay Dumb trainer

I am trying to decide if I should pull the trigger on the Saris Hammer. I have been with TR since Beta and have used my reliable KK road machine since before then.

I don’t mind changing gears to make things work when doing workouts. Keeps things fresh and makes me think. I HATE the ramp test on the dumb trainer – and simply do the 8 min test instead.

The things I don’t like about the dumb trainer are Not being able to do the ramp test (gearing never works out right). Slippage of the tire when I am trying to get up to speed/power. VO2 workouts (e.g. 30 on/ 30 off) are an absolute bear.

Why not make the purchase? I am tight with $$$.

Tell me TR group. Will the smart trainer really be worth it?

Totally depends on what the money expenditure means to your budget

In my experience and with my budget, if you’re spending any significant amount of time training indoors having a smart trainer is a worthwhile investment. Others disagree and ride dumb trainers or rollers all the time.

Why don’t you go somewhere in the middle? I’m really happy with my wahoo kickr core. The benefits between that and my old dumb trainer were small but welcome. The benefits of a top end kickr or hammer over my kickr core are seemingly very small and hard for me to justify.


Like it was mentioned, it mostly depends on your budget. Normally if you would have the cash than by all means, if not, well… I personally don’t have the budget myself to go all out crazy, yes it would be nice to have say the new kickr bike or something ridiculous like that, instead I managed to ‘learn’ my dumb trainer (I now know how not to mess up ramp tests, or actually how not to slip the tire). I have a standard elite novo force one. Getting a cheap one allowed me to invest where the money was more needed (actual power meter, better wheels). Plus, in real life conditions you don’t ride the way that a smart trainer does :wink:

I was given $300 at Christmas to buy something that I would enjoy and not spend my own $$ on. With the CT sale, I could see adding $200 more to that to get the Hammer.

Would except this is the same price.

I looked at powermeters. Even 1 sided. Nothing would work on all of my bikes. I don’t race by power, so I don’t see how a PM would really help.

Or I can pocket the money and save it. Am hoping the vaporware IQ2 pedals eventually become real.

Based on this then no, it’s not worth spending the money.

Have you thought about pedal based power meters? I switch mine between my road, cross, track and mountain bikes, especially when training indoors.

And as a recent convert to training with power outdoors, I have to admit it is a great way to not only use the full functionality of TR’s outdoor workouts, but to measure my efforts, especially on longer rides, events and races. It’s also good have the same powermeter to measure indoor and outdoor efforts so your measurement remains the same in both environments.

With the traditional trainer to smart trainer upgrade - sure, it’s nice to use the ramp test on ERG mode, but, my two cents, for what it’s worth, there are times when I switch my smart trainer into resistance mode so that I can have a consistent effort without the trainer adjusting resistance for me. Short power bursts, like a ten-second sprints, it sometimes takes the trainer too long to adjust to the intensity.

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Yes. I really want them. I do most of my riding on mountain bikes, so need the off-road pedals. Thought of doing the hack, but that is out of my budget.

Thank you.

I use a dumb trainer, using a 4iiii crank power meter on my road bike. But have a variety of bikes as I race CX in winter and road in summer. I have swapped the crank from my summer training bike to my winter bike with mudguards. But I’m not a slave to sticking religeously to the training plans, but rather get the essence of the workout and do it on the bike i plan to ride that day. If outside, then you have to be flexible with workouts due to road features, traffic etc but try to match the intended interval durations and TSS.
Instead I use HR as my guide to intensity on the bikes that have no power meter. Whilst this is not ideal as there is an element of variation , HR is accurate enough as it tells you what your body is doing.
If the plan dictates a VO2 workout, then I make sure i do it inside and keep to the power with no distractions.
Moving pedals between bikes regulary is not recommended in my opinion as you can damage the threads if not careful. Learn your HR zones and what you need to hit for threshold , sweet spot ,or recovery rides, anything else is full gas or done indoors.


I have a cheap smart trainer and a used stages gen 1 powermeter off ebay. I frequently have issues wih the trainer, erg mode not working, and then turn it off and use it as a dumb trainer. I often wonder if a more expensive one would be better, but I can’t quite justify the costs. But I don’t feel like you’re missing much with the dumb trainer. The power meter fits all my bikes, but I’ve swapped maybe twice in a year for events, and usually it stays on my summer road bike that is on the trainer. I’d probably buy a powermeter rather than an expensive trainer in your situation, I do like being able to train by power outside, and it’s also useful for pacing in group rides.

I will always opt to spend my limited bike budget on gear that I will use for the majority of the year, and so my indoor training gear is a low-tech and dumb as it can get. Last year I purchased used Elite rollers for $100 and use HR through my second hand Garmin for all my workouts.

I too find the rollers present additional stress and some frustration during ramp testing and HR in terms of HIIT lag, but ultimately to me these are perfectly manageable downsides to me getting to spend money on Bikepacking gear or bike upgrades that I use outside.

Finally, I do believe that the increased cognitive load with rollers and lack of Zwifting or other connected training environments is a huge boost to non-physical training benefits that I view as simply bonuses to my physical benefits.

I personally wouldn’t do it if TR is your main platform unless you really love ERG mode.

I was on a dumb trainer until recently purchasing an H3, and have zero regrets, but I still use resistance mode for everything including structured intervals and testing. I’ve tried ERG and don’t care for it in any situation

The win for me has been zwift. I spend 10-14hrs/wk indoors and having the resistance change makes long hours much more enjoyable and engaging for long z2/tempo rides. Given that I rode over 400 of my 600 training hours in 2019 inside, I’ll call the $600 I spent on the H3 a fair deal.

2/3rds to 3/4ths of my rides are on the trainer. I think you should invest in equipment to match how you plan to ride.

Also got a dumb trainer KK rock´n roll. Kind of like the gear shifting and Dont really had any problems with slippering tire until I purchased PM Favero Assioma, and the KK did around 20w underreading Now i only use my Favero as PM for TR, and for outside workout booth on mtb and my road bike.

So if you can handle the gear shifting, i would bet my money on PM, and be able to do so much more with the training.

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Agree with @Stickan1… I also use a Kurt (Road Machine,) and this is the upgrade path I would do as well: power pedals first, then erg smart trainer if you want it. I think there’s value in erg, but I think there’s more value in being able to accurately translate your indoor power out on the road.


Halleluja… The PM really changed my way to be able to enjoy outside rides at the same time giving it some proper structured training.
But i must confess that my eyes is on KK R1,


You will be looking elsewhere if you read GPLama or DCRainmaker reviews.

Hehe, i only sad i had my eyes on it :wink: had read the review, and he also believe it’s named R1 for a reason. We’ll see what comes in the future… Maybe a R2

I have a Lemond Revolution direct drive trainer with a powermeter in my crankset and was able to convert the 10 speed trainer to 11 speed. Direct drive trainers are the way to go whether smart or dumb. This way I have the powermeter and the trainer for about the same price as a good smart trainer. If your going to use Zwift a direct drive smart trainer is the way to go. The direct drive trainers have a larger flywheel and more realistic road feel.


I would sell my PM, or even my least loved bike, before I sold my trainer.

Personally, moving to a direct drive smart trainer that gave me reliable ERG mode and a good range of power without shifting was a revelation, and takes almost all the cognitive load out of a training session. I also think that ERG mode keeps me honest as I have no option but to train at the prescribed wattage. It’s made my training sessions easier and also more productive.

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