Why upgrade to a smart trainer?

I’ve been using Kurt Kinetic Road machine and Rock-n-Roll with the Bluetooth power/cadence sensor.

It’s surprisingly accurate and has been more than good enough to train on and I’ve seen great progress over the last 4 years or so.

However, I’m now considering upgrading to a smart trainer as that’s all you hear about these days. If I do it would be a Wahoo Kickr 2018 or a Core, so the brand isn’t a question for me it’s more a question of am I upgrading because it’s a real benefit for my training or is it a case of FOMO?

I know that the trainer alters resistance and makes apps like Zwift (I don’t use anyway) feel more realistic and alters the intervals in TR, so I don’t have to think about it, just hit the numbers and so on.

But what’s the ‘real’ training benefit, if any, of using a smart trainer over manually watching the numbers, changing gear and peddling harder, do these things really help to improve training quality and progress?

One thing I suspect would be great is the Slope mode for simulating a climb, as that is one thing the Dumb trainer fails on in my opinion. Especially when it comes to MTB marathon races, I neglected a lot of low cadence work over high and have suffered when it comes to grinding up a rocky, root woven trail at 40 rpm and i’ve seen a gradual decrease in ability over two seasons, although FTP higher and fitness much higher.

Who’s upgraded and did you genuinely feel it was worth the money, as let’s be straight they’re not cheap?


I do workouts on the Kickr and Rollers, if using TR only there isn’t any real reason to spend the cash on the smart trainer. It does make sense for Zwift, but for training on TR there isn’t a major benefit. I do use ERG mode, but would be fussed using resistance mode with a standard trainer.


I had a KK RW and bought an original Kickr and noticed the difference immediately. The erg mode forces you to stay at the prescribed wattage for the full interval. It makes the workout much harder and therefore better in my view.
It also allows you to not concentrate as much, which then allows you to watch Netflix or listen to a podcast.

I have just bought a kickr 2018 and I cannot believe how quiet it is.


As suggested the main benefit is erg mode and the precision it brings. I’m sure after much time on your KK you are adept at hitting the power targets but if you look how often do you overshoot the up ramps? How easy is it for you to check out and stop a long interval early. ERG mode simply refuses to let you check out early and ensures you don’t massively spike when moving between intensity levels. All about that efficiency.


Just new to trainer road, like you I’m considering a smart trainer, but my " not so smart" trainer has helped me significantly over that couple of years. But I was wondering, “Imrefox”, if I may ask a slightly unrelated question regarding the TR Ramp Test - how do you do it? I have done the 20min FTP, with initial results, but do I have to churn up through the gears and resistance settings for the ramp test?
Sorry to ask an unrelated question, but i figured your 4 years experience so far would be invaluable learning for me 're this issue

Watching this thread with interest as this is a question I’m currently asking myself and at £450+, it has to be a solid investment.

Yes, that is one thing that I notice is that I often overshoot the prescribed wattage. Especially at the beginning when feeling fresh, been caught out a few times with that, cooked by the last set.

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Yeah, it’s a challenge to hit the mark perfectly and can often be over or under as the workout gets harder. I guess it balances out though.

I tend to remove the smoothing but there is no getting away from it, it’s a balancing act and when you’re cooked it’s pretty tough to concentrate on the numbers.

I don’t know how this is on a smart trainer, I assume you could use ERG mode or slope as the ramps are fixed wattage jumps.

But not having one I don’t really know.

All received! Thank you.
Will just use the gears and try to try to remind myself that watching the figures is another way of saying “focus”…!


Exactly, I need to justify the investment and not just be another cycling want…


If you need to justify it then you perhaps need to look at it in terms of your goal events and how greater efficiency and accuracy will improve your training for those events.

In my case I also simply had the issue that I had spent €800 on a flux so ‘had’ to use it.

That’s one way!
Having paid to suffer more effectively, get on it and suffer MORE, as well as effectively!

I guess that’s the thing if it is actually more effective then it’s a good investment…

I just purchased a Kickr Core after a couple years with a CycleOps fluid. I like it.

What I was surprised by: How much I like completing TR workouts and not having to “think” about putting out a specific wattage. I can just focus on my cadence. This is really nice. I didn’t think it would be, but it is great.

What else I like: That’s it’s quiet. That I’m not wearing out a tire. The feel of a fly wheel.

What I don’t like: It feels harder to maintain an easy spin when not in Erg mode. For some reason it takes more effort to just spin along at 50% of FTP. The flywheel kind of ebbs and flows a little bit, and so I find myself having to monitor my output a bit more consciously on easy spins. Maybe I’ll just get used to this feeling over time.

Also what I don’t like: That there is a 3-5% difference in wattage between my Power Meter and the Kickr Core. I’m not going to worry about this, but on some level it’s just stupid to spend lots of money on something that’s supposed to be accurate, and it’s not. Ho hum.

Thanks for the topic, watching closely. I have a CycleOps Fluid2 that I’ve trained with off and on for 10+ years.

For people who’ve made the switch from “dumb” trainer to smart trainer, do you find your ability to control effort on the road affected at all? On a dumb trainer, the effort level is all on you, so you can really dial in cadence and gearing to hit whatever your target is, and sometimes you can get caught between gears just like happens on the road. This can force you to deal with it by picking up cadence or lowering cadence, as you would have to out on the road.

Doesn’t the TR powermatch feature take care of this? I admit I’m not up to speed on all of TR’s features when paired with smart trainers.

I get a tacx Flux 12 months ago after using an elite elastogel fluid trainer.

Biggest difference for me: the Elite was overestimating my power output and my ftp dropped by 50w.

Training is now much better and precise.

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I am on Rollers, Tacx Galaxia with an additional resistance wheel, a 4iii PM on my Gravel bike. If you have already a classic Trainer why not try rollers? You learn a lot on bike handling and it is in my opinion much easier to hop on an off with your bike if you are alternating inside outside rides. And it also pays to learn to pace yourself to the requested watts afterwards outside on your bike!

I tried a normal turbo trainer, found it mind numbing… I bought a tacx neo, and subscribed to tr… THE BEST MOVE IV EVER MADE TO IMPROVE MY CYCLING… if you can afford one… go for it


Something that hasn’t been mentioned yet is that the market value of a used smart trainer (kickr specifically) remains quite high compared to other trainers. Getting rid of it after some time may still give you $$


That’s a reasonable point, particularly if TrainerRoad was the only app that someone used. Powermatch would result in there only being one number. But I’d still never know which of the two pms are accurate.

When it comes to Zwift Racing in particular, a discrepancy of 15-20 watts at FTP isn’t insignificant.