Wa­hoo Kickr Cy­cleops Power­beam Pro

$1,700 $1,350 BLUE­TOOTH VERSION, ANT+ VERSION $1,620 ANT+ WITH JOULE GPS VERSION

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - FEATURES - SZ RE­VIEWED BY TARA NOR­TON

TRIATH­LETES TIGHT ON space will love how sleek the direct drive Kickr is, thanks to its min­i­mal­ist frame and the fact that there’s no back wheel needed. Sud­denly my apart­ment seemed big­ger when I swapped the trainer I’d been rid­ing in mid­dle of my liv­ing room floor with the Kickr. While it does re­quire a power source, there is only a sin­gle chord for the Kickr and it’s very tidy.

The bike con­nects to the trainer with a 12-27 Sram/shi­mano Cas­sette, al­low­ing you to save in wheel wear and tear and re­moves the need for pricey trainer tires. Any ex­tra time spent on this setup is off-set by the fact that the Kickr doesn’t re­quire cal­i­bra­tion – just start ped­alling and you will hit that the real-road feel in­stantly. The direct drive al­lows you get the coast-down when you stop ped­alling – just like on the road, so of­fers the most ac­cu­rate and con­sis­tent power read­ings pos­si­ble. I tested the Kickr’s wattage read­ings against those from my Garmin Vec­tor ped­als and found them to be really close, with the Garmin be­ing about three per cent higher.

Whereas on some train­ers, rid­ing at a high ca­dence can help you ‘grab’ on to higher watts more eas­ily, and so can af­fect per­ceived ef­fort when mov­ing from easy to hard watts, on the Kickr you will feel what it’s ac­tu­ally like to make those jumps in ef­fort. This is thanks to the heavy, high-in­er­tia fly­wheel.

Speak­ing of heavy, the Kickr, while slim, is quite heavy and slightly awk­ward to lift de­spite the legs that tuck in and its good-sized han­dle. Nonethe­less, it’s user-friendly and the re­sis­tance unit moves up and down to ac­com­mo­date mul­ti­ple wheel sizes in­clud­ing 650s.

While it’s definitely a higher-end trainer, it’s worth the in­vest­ment. As an An­droid user, my com­plaint about the Kickr when it first came out has been reme­died with the re­cent in­tro­duc­tion of An­droid sup­port for the unit with their own app. Now the dual-pro­to­col na­ture of both ANT+ and Blue­tooth Smart en­ables it to com­mu­ni­cate out to ev­ery­thing from Win­dows PCS and your Garmin Edge over ANT+, to ipad and An­droid de­vices over Blue­tooth Smart so you can choose your train­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Wa­hoo has also launched a wire­less ca­dence sen­sor with in­ter­nal ac­celerom­e­ter that doesn’t need a mag­net. This is use­ful as the Kickr only mea­sures and trans­mits speed and power data. The RPM ca­dence pod works with iphones and An­droid de­vices, and is ANT+ and Blue­tooth smart com­pat­i­ble.–

AS A FOR­MER pro­fes­sional Ironman triath­lete and coach who has been teach­ing cy­cling classes for over 10 years, I am wellac­quainted with the many dif­fer­ent power train­ers on the mar­ket and with what ath­letes are look­ing for in a trainer. For the past two years I have been teach­ing on the Cy­cleops Power­beam Pro train­ers equipped with in­di­vid­ual ipads fea­tur­ing the Cy­cleops Vir­tual Train­ing soft­ware.

De­spite hav­ing 10 train­ers in the room, the set up is neat – the only wire for the unit is the power ca­ble. The Power­beam Pro is ex­tremely smooth and ex­cep­tion­ally quiet even in a small room full of train­ers.

Riders can also choose to ride spe­cific watts, which is a nice fea­ture, how­ever, I like to use the ergo mode where re­sis­tance is al­tered by chang­ing gears be­cause it sim­u­lates out­door rid­ing more closely. One can also add re­sis­tance by adding a slope of 0.2 per cent to 10 per cent grade. I like this fea­ture be­cause some­times adding gra­di­ent is best when a com­plete gear shift is too big.

Set­ting up the Power­beam Pro is easy. Just pop in a com­pat­i­ble trainer skewer, fit the back wheel in the trainer frame, then turn the knob at the back of the trainer un­til a ‘click’ is heard to add the ap­pro­pri­ate amount of pres­sure on the tire. On oc­ca­sion, riders feel some slip­page (es­pe­cially at low rpm and high watts, or when ac­cel­er­at­ing from a stand­still). I have found that hold­ing the re­sis­tance wheel up against the tire and then turn­ing the knob seems to solve this prob­lem.

Riders should spin for a few min­utes be­fore cal­i­brat­ing. Cal­i­bra­tion is achieved by rid­ing be­tween 29 and 35km/hr for two min­utes and the amount of tension on the wheel is cal­cu­lated by mea­sur­ing the time it takes for the bike to then roll to a stop. For the most part this is a straight­for­ward process, how­ever, if the rider falls be­low or goes above the re­quested range at all (even for a split sec­ond), or if the rider does not stay per­fectly still on the ped­als af­ter the count­down is over, cal­i­bra­tion fails and the rider must re­cal­i­brate.

One down­side I have no­ticed is that there is about a five sec­ond time lag for the power read­ing to “catch up.” There­fore, when do­ing short in­tense in­ter­vals (less than 30 sec­onds), there isn’t much time left to do the in­ter­val once the re­sis­tance and power read­ings kick in.

Ath­letes love the dis­play graph on Vir­tual Train­ing soft­ware. With ANT+ sen­sors, rpm and heart rate can be dis­played along with the power, speed and time read­ings. See­ing the peaks and val­leys on the graph is great, and I use the vis­ual to help mo­ti­vate riders in my class.

Once the work­out is com­plete riders can look at many sta­tis­tics in­clud­ing read­ings for max­i­mum power, power for spe­cific timed in­ter­vals (best watts av­er­age for one minute, etc.), nor­mal­ized power, and so on.

All in all the Power­beam Pro train­ers are among the best on the mar­ket and power read­ings are con­sis­tently within five per cent of Pow­er­tap and Garmin Vec­tor read­ings – a huge bonus for pro­gram­ming spe­cific watts on rides my ath­letes do out­side. I can be con­fi­dent the work they’ve done in­doors can be repli­cated

on the road.

Tara Nor­ton coaches with team­atom­ica.com.

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