I’ve been using Kinetic Road Machines for the past 10+ years, started using TR in 2013 with it, with virtual power. This year I bought a Kickr Snap, first one only lasted a month. Wahoo replaced it. Been riding it the past 5 months and I just don’t like the magnetic feel or ERG mode. It feels like I am pedalling through mud all the time. If my cadence drops below 95 on a threshold or above interval, it just clamps down on the force and I begin the death spiral. I end up doing my high power work at 105 rpm otherwise it just kills me. I’ve tried big ring, little ring, standard and resistance mode. It just feels like garbage. Been having some dropouts with BT and I spend more time screwing around with connections etc, I just don’t have time for that. Went back to the Kinetic this week and it was like seeing an old friend, felt so good. I know there are some better, wheel off options but I’m not going to shell out $1K+ for a trainer. Maybe when someone comes out with a variable resistance fluid smart trainer I might give it a shot. Bye-Bye Snap and good riddance.
I got my Kicker 2 for $400 on craigslist last fall. There are deals, just have to look. Any wheel-on trainer for me felt like puddling in mud. I’d rather go back to my rollers than use as wheel-on.
Last year I had similar trouble with a cyclops Magnus. Hated it and went back to my KKRM. This year I bought a Kickr Core on 20% off BF sale for ~$750. I love it so far. No performance differences than the KKRM but I love the road feel, the convenience of not having to shift and the simulation on Zwift when I do that.
I think if you are gonna give smart trainers a fair shake, you have to either not do it or go big. These wheel on smart trainers are kind of half-assing it.
Two observations here.
I lent a teammate a smart trainer for a few weeks, he couldn’t stand ERG, he is a TR user and has been using whatever he has for years. I had nothing to offer as I only know ERG.
I don’t think the wheel on is half assed, at least the ones I have use, cyclops and wahoo. I just switched to a Core, for convenience I think the wheel off is superior and for short high intensity efforts it gets A+, but I wouldn’t poo poo a wheel on trainer. Given a choice I would go wheel off though.
I agree with you.
I had the high end kicker. Sold it and went back to my Fluid kinetic. Much happier.
No more connection issues and death spirals.
I like having to focus on my gearing and RPMs to get my power; it helps pass the time.
No experience of higher spec trainers but I had a Tacx Flow smart and began to hate it. Any time you need to do anything on/off it just couldn’t respond well enough.
I went back to a dumb trainer (Cycleops Jet Fluid Pro) and in combination with my PM it’s just so much better. Unless you need ERG mode for stuff like Zwift, SF, Rouvy etc then if you have a PM you just don’t need anything flashy for TR unless you’re looking for ERG to do the work.
As an alternative viewpoint, I think the whole beauty and essence of an ERG mode smart trainer is the death sprial, or, should I say, the ever-present pursuit of avoidance of it. It keeps you on target power so very effectively and the increasing resistance as your cadence drops is an extremely clever and functional feature.
I’m actually a bit scared of threshold and VO2 intervals, specifically because of the constant threat of the death spiral. In a good way. It’s like me vs the machine, see how slowly I dare to take my cadence before I’m looking over the edge of the abyss!
I have a Snap and had very annoying Bluetooth dropout problems. Simple solution: switch off Bluetooth and use Ant+ only. No more problems, ever.
I’ve had an Elite Drivo for just over 2 years and until I started using TR I used it in resistance mode and absolutely loved the feel. When I started using TR in Erg mode it took a while to get used it. It certainly doesn’t feel as nice as resistance mode! I do however appreciate it’s effectiveness with respects to training.
I am using Tacx Neo. ERG Mode, Resitance Mode… No issues.
FYI - Drivo 2 is out now and there are some really big price cuts on old stock/new Drivo 1’s.
Drivo owner here too. Rock freakin’ solid.
From someone who has never used an erg mode enabled trainer (KK and Elite rollers), do you think it makes you faster when you get outdoors. Has anyone compared their performance on the road after an indoor season of training in erg mode versus a season in non-erg mode?
The difference is more subtle than dramatic. The real difference, all else being equal, is that ERG will not let you “take it easy, or too hard”. The constant adjustment removes the possibility of taking mini breaks by dropping cadence and power that we can do on a standard resistance trainer.
ERG can punish you unrelentingly and lead to the death spiral, if people apply the breaks they do on a dumb trainer. It is more of a minimal gain, really. But many people (myself included) like the controlled nature of ERG.
+1 to that. The consistency of workout experience due to the fact that it holds you at the planned power is a massive benefit for me.
Do you notice that once you get on the road in a group ride (after training in erg mode) that it is harder to react to a move within the group because now you have to force yourself to react rather than having a machine forcing you to react?
Nope. But that likely depends more on the type of workouts done, rather than the particular training mode used. Sweet Spot for 10 minutes as a prescription is the same. The difference is how well you hold it in either case.
To me the ERG mode on the Snap was fundamentally flawed. I can’t speak for any other trainer though. Its not natural nor does it simulate true cycling outdoors. In the workout in this link…https://www.trainerroad.com/career/craigmanning/rides/47900936-north-pack I found myself starting an interval at 95 rpm but the program wouldnt let me stay there, I had to increase my cadence to close to 105 to maintain the target power. The Snap program should allow me to maintain 95 rpm and provide the required resistance to maintain target power, it does not, if I stayed at 95 rpm it would slowly increase the resistance but it should remain constant. So as I am spinning at 105 it almost feels like cheating, like the flywheel is doing the work for me, again that never happens on the road. What I have found is now my natural cadence has increased from the high 80’s to probably 95 but I have no low end power because the Snap program makes you spin at 95 or above with little resistance.
It sounds like either
- You had a faulty unit or
- You have been “chasing the missing watt”
By point 2, I mean that when in ERG mode the actual power often shows as 1 watt lower than target power. If you stay on the cadence you’re on, it will hover around target power, sometimes going under by 1 watt, then on target and sometimes 1 watt above target. The key is just to stick to your cadence and all will be well. If you start to chase the missing watt, you can increase your cadence and get the actual watts to equal target watts, but when your cadence settles again (even at a higher level) it will hover on target watts or 1 watt below. This can easily result in the situation you describe, where you end up at a cadence of 105 rpm, at which point I have noticed (on the Kickr Snap) that the tendency for the actual watts to go 1 watt below target watts appears to diminish, probably helped by the very fast flywheel speed, so you get the impression that you need to stick to this high cadence.
If you’re not doing the above then you’re absolutely right that if you stick to 95rpm the resistance should remain constant (as it does on my unit) not gradually increase. Which would point to option 1.
EDIT: I think the above (about the 1 watt variance) applies only when you have power smoothing enabled. I’ve never tried it but when it’s disabled (as far as I’ve read on the matter) the actual watts might dart about even more than 1 watt, which would make it even easier to fall into the trap of chasing down the target and going faster and faster.
I don’t think it was a faulty unit as I had two (one was replaced for a bad bearing) and both behaved this way. I tried it both ways with power smoothing enabled and disabled. With it disabled it was more realistic, it would let you hover over and under the target power but the flywheel inertia would catch up with you and your cadence would always increase…to me “chasing the missing watt” is a flaw in the programming, if I used ERG with power smoothing enabled, it always came up one watt short no matter how much harder I pedaled, I actually submitted a ticket to TR about this. On the road, if you push harder on the pedals and increase your cadence, your wattage increases, its simple physics. On a Snap, the program is flawed, you can never get that watt. To me the Kinetic just feels like riding on the road in real life, to increase your power you increase the force on the pedals, or increase your cadence, or change gears and you watch your power increase, it seems the opposite with the programming on the Snap.
I’m keeping my KK fluid as a backup and I have to admit if I was forced to ride it I wouldn’t be disappointed. Fluid does have a great feel. There are two things I think could make a great trainer. 1.) A fluid smart trainer
2.) A smart trainer that gets the power readings 100% from the bike. Obviously you’d have to have your own PM.