What should a consumer expect from an indoor trainer?

I recently started a thread because my 1x mountain bike’s Quarq PM was 6-7% higher than the reading from my 2018 KICKR. After emailing Wahoo’s dealer support (I’m a dealer) and also the regular customer support, the reply I received was a cut and paste with information and graphs detailing why this may be acceptable. My takeaway was that Wahoo has taken a great deal of time to package a message that attempts to take the onus of responsibility for these types of situations off of their shoulders and place them onto the shoulders of consumers.

DCRAINMAKER has at times spoken to the point that it is not acceptable for a trainer to just be precise, rather it needs to be precise and accurate because many athletes have multiple bikes in use. I rotate between three bikes on my trainer, two of which have power meters, and one that does not. I’m well aware of PowerMatch on the TR platform and also that a power meter can be programmed to control a KICKR on any platform. However, I don’t think that someone should have to spend a chunk of change to have a power meter on a bike to quality check and control for a discrepancy in his/her trainer.

  1. Is it acceptable for a trainer company to be accepting with these discrepancies?

  2. Is it too much to ask that 300w is the same output on different bikes whether on a trainer or on the road/trail?

  3. Are the above expectations unreal?

In closing, I’m not writing this to get at a specific company. I simply believe that the consumer should receive more out of a $1200 product.

Whose to say that it isn’t the PM on your given bike that is off?

I’ve had the bike on two other trainers that were closer (2-3%). It may be the Quarq, and the truth may be in the middle…but 6-7% doesn’t seem reasonable in my mind.

To me this high end trainer market is a mess. These things are not very reliable and not very repairable. There is no exploded parts diagram nor spare parts available. If you spend $1000+, or even $500, on any item, it should be repairable.

If you buy other equipment from the fitness industry, like a Nordictrak treadmill for example, you can get a diagram, service manuals, and spare parts for years into the future. I really wonder why the trainer companies are not bound by any ‘right to repair’ laws.

So, I think that when an industry can’t even make products with good reliability, service and support then asking for very accurate power meters is probably asking too much.

Maybe these things would have to be a lot more expensive to be super accurate? The most accurate power meters cost around $1500+ so maybe a trainer of that quality would have to cost at least $2000?


The medical grade thermometer that my PCP uses retails for $170 and is accurate to +/- .2 degrees F…

I totally agree - the current state of the market in this regard is pretty bad. What you get is what you get. Ohh, and the warranty for your $1200 equipment is only 1 year.

And this is why the trainer companies don’t really have to care about accuracy. As long as DC Rainmaker and GPLama get ones that are accurate, that is pretty much all that matters. (Please note I’m pointing fingers at the trainer companies here, not the reviewers. There is a reason Consumer Reports buys all their items to test through normal channels.)
Most people will not have multiple other power meters to verify the trainer against, so support can simply say that “it’s not our problem, it could be your power meter.”
And they are technically correct here - it could be the power meter. But in reality, this is an excuse so they don’t have to care.
I have personally been through this with Wahoo on a kickr, and a friend of mine with a Tacx Neo2. Both were in the range of 10-20% off, and it was like pulling teeth to get the companies to admit anything was wrong with the trainers. Both eventually (and I mean eventually) did admit to the trainers being faulty.

Power match is a feature whose main purpose is to paper over the accuracy problems that plague the trainer market.
Keep in mind that these are the same people that want to sell you a $3500 smart bike.

As an aside, I find it quite interesting that all the accuracy claims I have seen for trainers and power meters is an unqualified % error. Is this really across all (realistic) flywheel speeds? All cadences? All power ranges? All durations? Across the population of trainers/power meters built? If the answer to these questions were ‘yes’, powermatch would not be that interesting of a feature.

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Your PCP is getting ripped off…we make consumer thermometers that cost a fraction of that and are accurate to within .5*F or less.

As to the thread subject, I am having a noise issue with my Elite Direto after about 1.5 years of use (and no use for ~6months during the summer). Can’t isolate the sound (see my thread on it on the forum) and cannot find any diagrams to see what the problem could be.

I have e-mailed both Elite and Todson and am awaiting a response.

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Our local gym has a bunch of locations in the metro area. They invested in Stages SC3 bikes back when I was going to spin class. Our local gym has no less than 2 spin classes a day (on a “off” day). The bikes are built like tanks and have good road feel. A few bikes had issues and quickly repaired. I warm up on them when lifting in the gym. The two spin rooms I visit have around 20-25 bikes, and spin classes are often filled to capacity.

If I was in the market, would wait for reviews on the Stages Smart Bike. @GPLama had positive first impressions after riding during the Tour Down Under, but reserved judgement until he had some time with it in the LamaLab.

This isn’t just the trainer market, but the whole bike industry, where there is in many cases a complete disregard to QC, particularly when it comes to frame manufacturing.

The whole industry relies on marketing BS being fed straight through the “experts” that run cycling-related Youtube channel and websites.


There are two ways this can be solved:

  1. Actually make the trainers more accurate, and match the claimed specs. And specifically, I mean make 99% of all the trainers they manufacturer match their claimed specs. This could be quite expensive.
  2. specify the accuracy that 99% of their trainers actually meet. This could be quite embarrassing.

It would be very hard for a trainer company to come out and revise their claimed accuracy to be +/- 3-6% when they were previously claiming +/- 1 or 2.

I’d be interested to see what kind of data TR has from all the powermatch stuff - they should have quite a bit of data comparing trainers and power meters.

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Great insight. This makes me ponder if there is a way that the ignorant consumer can test the absolute value of the trainer or PM at home.

Nope. The reality is that this can be quite hard to test. Things like the problems that GPLama found with Shimano right side cranks could be easily overlooked. (And if I understand the details of the error, depending on you pedaling style some people may see more or less error.) If you only have one other measurement device, you don’t know which one is correct. (And if you have a left only power meter, just give up comparing it to L/R power now.)

I see the accuracy claims to be similar to aero claims - it’s important, but people can’t check it at home. This can lead to questionable claims, as they can’t be easily disproven. Weight, however, anyone can measure with useful accuracy, hence weight advantages are highly touted even when the advantage is close to meaningless. It’s something that is understood, and people can measure/verify that the claimed weight is true.

I could rant about this on a weekly basis :slight_smile:

If Dr. Coggan would reduce his training zones to 3, I might be able to go sit on some ice.

thought it was mounting a power meter on a Shimano Hollowtech crank, the specifics of Hollowtech? We live in the same metro area, have you ever ridden the Stages bikes at CalFit?

thought it was mounting a power meter on a Shimano Hollowtech crank

Yes - it had to do with the asymmetry of the drive side crank arm and how it interfaces with the chainrings. Basically the drive side crankarm makes a very bad beam for a force measuring device.

I have ridden stages bikes at Lifetime fitness, and they were quite nice. Most seemed fairly accurate, but some where way off. They were very solidly built.

and its easy to do a zero reset which I did first thing upon claiming a bike at the gym… Strange but true story - one time I arrived at the gym and after seeing unbelievable power numbers realized that someone had paired the head unit with another bike :rofl: Easy fix and my point is that they are tanks, and seemingly straightforward to maintain but I can’t say that for sure. The new Smart Bike doesn’t have warranty info yet on Stages site yet. And we need to see some reviews.

Oh the fun that can be had by pairing someone’s HR or Power meters with the “wrong” headunit during the toilet break. :wink:

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serious fun… but sadly I haven’t done it! Our (Stages trained) instructor had an FTP half mine, would have been hilarious to see her reaction if I pulled off the switch :rofl:

Stages seems to be going after the gym market. A gym isn’t going to buy an industrial bike that can’t be repaired. I’m sure they have repair techs, service contracts and the whole bit. I looked up their warranty:

Frame - 15 yrs.
CarbonGlyde Carbon Fiber Belt - 10 yrs.
Mechanical System - 3 yrs.
Labor & Electronics - 1 yr.
Wear Items - 6 mos.

Do they guarantee that electronic spare parts will be available 15 years from now to match the frame warranty? Since they service gyms I gather that the parts availability would be better than Wahoo.

It is even better if it’s other way around. :smiley:

but I digress…

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