5 Top Trainers
Find the right machine for your pain cave
If you need to “treat” yourself to a new trainer, check out these five machines. They vary in their features, but each one will make your legs scream throughout the winter, so you can crush rides or races in the spring.
Kurt Kinetic Rock and Roll – Smart Control
Blackburn Tech Mag 5 Trainer Kit
Of the five machines tested, the Rock and Roll required the most assembly. But putting it together is a breeze: it’s easier to assemble than Ikea furniture, and has better instructions, too. If you’re familiar with Kurt Kinetic, you’ll recognize the Rock and Roll platform. The new component is the Smart Control power unit, which works with the Kinetic Fit app so you can train with power. (If you already have a Rock and Roll or Road Machine, you can add the new resistance unit to each.) Connecting Smart Control to an IOS device via Bluetooth Smart is easy, as is calibrating: you simply spin up to 32 km/h and spin down. The power numbers displayed through the app tracked closely with data from my Pioneer power meter. Once you’re set up, you can dive into the Kinetic Fit training program, as I did, or patch into Zwift or Trainerroad. That rocks, no? ( Andrew Buckrell, a triathlete from Waterloo, Ont., designed the Stac Zero trainer when he should have been working on his PHD in mechanical engineering. His procrastinating has led to a silent trainer. When you use this trainer, the only sounds you hear come from your bike or you. You set a caliper with a magnet on each end around the brake track of your back wheel. The magnets create swirling electric fields, called eddy currents, which form within a conductor, in this case, the aluminum rim or brake track of your wheel (carbon won’t work here). When the wheel spins through this magnetic field, there’s resistance. Put the calipers really close to the rim and the resistance can be fierce. You can leave your road tire on because it doesn’t come in contact with anything. You do, however, need to affix two weights to your wheel to ensure a better road feel. I’d say attaching the weights is less onerous than a tire change. It’s an elegant and quiet system. (
With the Blackburn Tech Mag 5’s fiveposition remote attached to your handlebars, you can increase or decrease resistance as you pedal. This feature is great for creating a harder workout on a bike with low gearing, such as a mountain bike or cyclocross bike. The full kit comes with a mat to protect your floor and a front-wheel riser. ( The new Magnus trainer from Cycleops provides you with electromagnetic resistance for your training rides, 1,500 W at its peak, in fact. It relies on Powertap technology for power readings. ANT+ and Bluetooth 4.0 let you patch data into your head unit or smartphone. The Magnus pairs with Cycleops Virtualtraining or other platforms, such as Zwift and Trainerroad, that help to bring the outdoors inside. ( The Cyclotron Fluid Comp comes out of its box ready to go. The alloy machine is hefty, while its tooling is very precise. It has the smoothest skewer clamps of the bunch. Once you get rolling, the trainer can provide 2,000 W of resistance. The 17.6 lb. flywheel creates excellent road feel. The unit ships with a front-wheel riser. (