Smart trainer purchase or not

I have been giving serious consideration to getting a smart trainer. I have a KK rock and roll which I use regularly. I am not in a real position to be able to afford trainer road or zwift etc other than perhaps during deepest winter. This makes me think that a smart trainer without using it in conjunction with one of these services might not be worth it. Perhaps I could spend my money in other areas.

Just wondering out loud. Thoughts appreciated

Do you have a power meter? I think you get much more out of a PM and a dumb trainer than a smart meter any day.


I have had a range of dumb Turbo’s and had a Tacx Cosmos, it had a color screen and had built Tacx training programs. Power display speed etc.

I now have the Tacx neo which was usable using the Tacx supplied app and plans and workouts which there are a lot off. I do not use the Taxc plans as i subscribed to TR ($99/year seems great value) The thing i like so much about TR plans is it takes most of the Training mistakes away that i used to make. The right level of efforts, recovery days and Recovery weeks.

A smart trainer will be with you through the winter and the plans will give a great variety of workouts. It was not cheap, but bikes are not that cheap either. If you are going for a smart trainer, i would push the boat out and have TR as well.

You have what is arguably the best dumb trainer on the market. The Rock and Roll makes it even better since you get some motion.

On a tight budget, there is no reason a smart trainer will add enough to your training compared to other options (namely a power meter for your outside bike).

The missing link for most people training is not a smart trainer.


I upgraded to a smart trainer 2 years ago after a couple decades of using various dumb trainers.

A smart trainer fundamentally changes the Zwift experience because of sim mode so one is kind of a must have if you’re a dedicated Zwiftie.

For Trainer Road, (or any other guided interval workout like on a Garmin, Zwift, etc) a smart trainer gets you erg mode and accurate power. While many sing the praises of erg mode, many others don’t regard erg mode as all that great and some very reputable coaches recommend against using it even if you have it available. Personally, I did not get along well with erg mode and have stopped using it for interval work. That leaves accurate power but you can get a power meter for quite a bit less than a smart trainer and have power data for outdoor rides too. A good dumb trainer (which you have) plus a power meter is the way to go if you are on a budget.

Smart trainers are awesome but its a want item not a need item. I’d put a power meter in the need category.

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And if money is tight you can get a good power meter for cheaper than a good smart trainer. Especially if you aren’t going to be using it conjunction with one of those platforms.

I use a PM and dumb trainer and don’t see upgrading to a smart trainer any time soon unless my trainer dies.

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I would take a slightly different view that a smart trainer, couple with a training tool such as trainer road can make a big difference in that it ‘can’ enable you to have a more consistent and effective workout.

The fact that a smart trainer when set to ERG mode forces me to work at a set intensity I find of huge benefit, certainly it felt that it made my workouts more effective than when I relied on my dumb trainer. I absolutely accept that this will not be the case for many others.


I would buy a smart trainer every day over again. Training is so much better on it than on the road. It’s also so much cheaper and more time efficient compared to riding outdoors.

Love my smart trainer. I find indoor training to be extremely effective and time-efficient but also extremely dull. Erg mode is great for me as it means I can watch TV and just crank out the workout with only occasional glances at the TR screen. The fact that I’m not having to hit power targets on my own doesn’t bother me as I do enough structured training and TTing outside to know that I can hit a steady target power when I need to.

If my indoor training involved staring at a screen to hold target watts then not even the best play list or most carefully curated library of podcasts in the world would be sufficient motivation to do more than a few hours a week. Plus if you use Zwift (I never did before covid lockdown but it helped keep me sane for 3 months when there was no group riding or racing) then smart trainer makes for a vastly more engaging experience.

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I’m in the smart trainer camp. Before I got the Hammer back in 2017 I used a powertap and KK. I have 8 speed so trying to dial in power while also trying to maintain a reasonable cadence was a constant battle. So when I got into using erg mode it completely transformed my training, at least at making it easier for me to do things with greater consistency. And although I originally wanted the smart trainer to be more immersive in zwift, once I started doing workouts in erg with trainerroad I was completely hooked at the quality of the workouts.

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Do you think your answer would be different if you had a newer 11 speed setup with a tight cassette?

Not trying to be argumentative but I’ve got an 11spd 12-25 cassette and I rarely find my self more than maybe 4 rpm from what I’d say is ‘ideal’. and both sell left crank arm power meters for $300 (Shimano 105). It’s a pretty killer deal. Even a year and a half ago I think I paid $350 for a close out sale unit.

Maybe? My CX bike is 11 speed (albeit 11-28 cassette) and that has my powertap now while I use assioma on my road bike, so I could try and compare. But on the road it is easier to dial in stuff with the 11 speed.

No need for you to compare for my sake. I was just curious as it has never been a problem for me beyond being a little annoying. But I’ve also never run anything less than a 10 speed on a trainer.

Now that I have a power meter I wouldn’t be without it but I spent 2 years just training with a HR meter and no software.
If you’re in tune with yourself it can be very good for pacing medium to long rides.


If you can’t afford zwift or TrainerRoad than a smart trainer is probably not a good purchase.


I had a power meter and a dumb trainer, I think that’s a great combo for trainer road. I like the smart trainer for free-riding in zwift as I find it more engaging with changing resistance on the simulated hills but I also started using zwift with the PM/dumb trainer and it was fine for racing or flatter courses where I’d just shift a bit to increase resistance with the hills.

With the PM I can use it inside on the dumb trainer and then take the same bike outdoors so it’s a lot more flexible. I also bought a used powertap wheel for a song, so that might be the best use of your money for training IMO.

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I have a Kurt Kinetic dumb trainer. It’s great. If your budget is limited you’ll get more bang for your training buck by shelling out for TR than buying a smart trainer. The Kinetic power curve is well calibrated for use with virtual power on the TR app. I have a Stages Left sided meter and it’s within about 6 watts (reads higher) than virtual power on the Kinetic. Too bad you didn’t get in when TR was $99 a year.


Agreed - - I got by with TR’s Virtual Power with my Road Machine for about 5-6 years before getting my Assioma’s and did very well in terms of FTP gains and triathlon performances. The “fun” factor in other software like Zwift or doing real courses in Rouvy and whatnot is lost, but from a pure training aspect you can definitely do just fine without the smart trainer. (being on great-grandfathered pricing is also sweet, especially with the shitty Canadian dollar :joy:)

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I view a smart trainer and a power meter as both adding to your ability to improving your riding. Given that you already have a trainer I would get a power meter before getting a smart trainer. I do like my Tacx Neo but I would think your funds are better used getting a power meter then upgrading your trainer.