First Look: CycleOps Thru-Axle Compatible Hammer Trainer

by Wil Barrett 6

Not that I really need to point it out, but I will admit that trainers are right up there along alongside nutrition and power meters as one of the most mind-numbing topics of conversation for your everyday mountain biker. Mention the words ‘training‘, ‘fitness‘ or ‘rollers‘, and most hairy-leggers will recoil in fear and disgust.

“Erm, why would I want to ride a bike indoors when I could be riding outdoors?”

That’s the typical query I’ve received from others since having gotten the CycleOps Hammer trainer in for review. Because lets face it, most of us are into this sport because we love the outdoors and seeing new places. And sitting in your living room on top of a humming trainer in front of the TV probably isn’t the best way to experience the outdoors.

cycleops hammer trainer smart training wil injury
Everyone uses trainers for different reasons. In my case, an injury has put me onto the CycleOps Hammer.

I have two responses to that question. Firstly – whether you like it or not – fitness is kind of important to the whole riding thing. Get fitter, and you’ll ride further, faster and with more enjoyment along the way – and all without having to resort to riding an e-bike. Secondly, using a trainer doesn’t mean you have to give up riding outdoors. With the exception of ultra-endurance riding freaks, not everyone rides their bike 24-hours a day, seven days a week. So rather than replace your mountain bike rides, using a trainer should be thought of as a supplement to your mountain biking to improve it. Or at least, that’s the theory I’m testing anyway.

In my case, I’ve been somewhat forced onto a trainer. I recently spannered myself during the Glentress 7 race up at Peebles in Scotland, where I dislocated my shoulder in THE MOST STUPID crash I’ve ever had. Well, except for that time I broke my collarbone, but that’s another story…

Because of my dislocated shoulder, I’m simply not going to be able to ride off-road as much as I normally do. A perfect opportunity then to see what this training malarky is all about.

The trainer I’ve been riding on is the uber high-end Hammer trainer from CycleOps. It’s CycleOps’ top-of-the-range jobby, and it has every bell and whistle you can think of. The main reason I’m riding one of these in the first place is that it’s thru-axle compatible, so it’ll work with mountain bikes. That’s not particularly common for trainers, which are mostly targeted towards roadies.

The Hammer is a sturdy (read: HEAVY) beast with foldable legs. It’s a direct drive trainer, meaning you remove the rear wheel, then plop the bike down onto the trainer’s axle and cassette. It’s also powered, so you plug it into the wall. Whoa-whoa-whoa – what? Powered? Why?? Because it’s designed to pair wirelessly with your smartphone, iPad or laptop so that you can run training software that controls the resistance automatically – and here’s where the Hammer trainer gets really interesting.

cycleops hammer trainer smart training wil injury
The Hammer is a direct-drive trainer, meaning your bike and drivetrain mounts directly to it.

The Hammer redefines indoor training to create the ultimate riding experience. One that’s versatile enough to handle the most intense interval sessions as it is the easiest of recovery rides. Simply put, the Hammer is the perfect addition to any athlete’s toolbox.” – From CycleOps.

The CycleOps Hammer Trainer Features

  • Direct drive Smart Trainer
  • Connects wirelessly to smartphones, iPads and laptops via dual ANT+ or Bluetooth 4.0
  • Huge 20lb flywheel for realistic road-feel
  • Electromagnetic resistance for software-controlled training
  • PowerTuned using PowerTap technology for accurate power readings
  • Rated for up to 2000 Watts at 20mph
  • Simulates up to a 20% climbing grade
  • Compatible with quick release and thru-axle frames
  • Includes adapters for 130mm, 135mm, 142x12mm & 148x12mm rear hubs
  • Includes a Shimano splined freehub for compatibility with Shimano 8-11 speed cassettes
  • Weighs in at 47lb (21.3 kg)
  • RRP: £999
cycleops hammer trainer smart training wil injury
Pair the trainer to your smartphone, tablet or laptop to add wireless control of resistance.

The CycleOps Hammer is one of the new breed of ‘smart trainers’. Much like the Wahoo KickR and TacX Neo trainers, the CycleOps Hammer is designed to offer adjustable resistance via its internal electromagnetic power meter that can ramp up to simulate a 2000 Watt effort. I know, I don’t understand what that means either, but that’s what’s listed in the specs, and it sure as heck sounds impressive.

What I really care about with the Hammer trainer however is its software control.

Basically, I’m horrible at self-discipline. All of my solo rides are cruisey rose-smelling sessions that have absolutely no hint of training whatsoever. I know I need to get fitter, and I know how to do it, but I am no good at getting myself to actually do it.

cycleops hammer trainer smart training wil injury
The Hammer is a heavy-duty piece of hardware with a 20lb flywheel and wide profile legs for stability.

With the CycleOps Hammer trainer, that fitness training can be passed onto a piece of software instead. The software becomes your coach. Heard of things like Zwift, Trainer Road and Training Peaks? These are all new-style programs designed to provide you with a riding program that you can do on your own, in your own house, at your leisure, with no need to pay for a coach or to be forced to go to a gym or a spin class.

Instead of that rubbish, you just download an app onto your smartphone/iPad/laptop and then pair that device to the trainer via Bluetooth or ANT+. Once the two are paired, the software communicates with the trainer to tell it how much resistance to add. Literally all you need to do is jump onto the bike and turn the pedals – the trainer does everything else for you. No gear changes necessary, no manually adjusting resistance yourself, and no need to follow training notes scribbled onto a piece of paper. You just get on and pedal.

Currently I’m using Trainer Road, and I’ll soon be giving Zwift a crack too. You’ll hear more about those two apps in the future in separate features, and I’ll also be wrapping up the Hammer trainer review with a bit of a look into how the training has changed my mountain biking. Because if one or two hours aboard a trainer can make me a better mountain biker, then I’m all up for giving it a go. So stay tuned for that feature down the line.

For more information on the CycleOps Hammer trainer and the rest of the range, head to the website for the UK CycleOps distributor;

cycleops hammer trainer smart training wil injury
Is this the mountain biker’s secret weapon? I’m eager to find out…

CycleOps Hammer Trainer Full Specifications

  • Dimensions when open: 787.4mm (Length) x 469.9mm (Height) x 495.3mm (Width)
  • Dimensions when closed: 762mm (Length) x 469.9mm (Height) x 495.3 mm (Width)
  • Weighs in at 47 lb (21.3 kg)
  • 300lb (136 kg) maximum load – excluding bicycle
  • Includes a Shimano splined freehub for compatibility with Shimano 8-11 speed cassettes
  • Cassette not included
  • Noise level at 20 mph is 64 decibels, quiet enough to ride in a library
  • PowerTuned using PowerTap technology for accurate power readings
  • Thru-axle compatible for bike frames with fork widths of 142 or 148
  • Quick-release compatible for bike frames with fork widths of 130mm and 135 mm
  • Integrated dual ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth 4.0 technologies
  • Compatible with a wide variety of devices and virtual training application, including CycleOps VirtualTraining, Zwift, TrainerRoad and many more. Contact us with questions about compatibility with other software
  • 20lb precision balanced flywheel provides quiet, vibration free and true-to-the-road riding experience
  • Fast response electromagnetic resistance ensure most responsive resistance and maximum power available
  • Robust design is capable of handling up to 2000 watts at 20 mph and can simulate up to a 20% climbing grade
  • Direct drive design directly connects the bicycle to the resistance unit, eliminating tire wear. Integrated front wheel tray adds stability to ride without taking up any extra storage space
  • Internally cooling technology ensures accurate ride data even during the hardest of workouts
  • Integrated front wheel tray adds stability to ride and nests within the trainer when not in use
  • Folding legs provide widest footprint of direct drive indoor bicycle trainers on the market for added stability and easy storage
  • Accessible and balanced handle allows for smooth, anyone-can-carry transit of the trainer
  • Over the air (OTA) firmware updates via Bluetooth 4.0 devices ensures the Hammer is up to date
  • PowerTuned using PowerTap technology for +/- 3% accurate power readings
  • Transmits power and speed data
  • Cadence sensor sold separately
  • ANT+ and BlueGiga USB sold separately

Comments (6)

  1. I knew a guy called Dave, really nice guy, proper social like. He then downloaded Zwift and no one has seen for ages. You have been warned! It does sound like a mint bit of kit though.

  2. @pmurden – I’ve heard similar stories about Zwift! It’s like the Call Of Duty of the cycling world.

  3. So out of interest how much liposuction could I get for £1k? As that maybe preferable to a TT…… 😉

  4. What happens if your chain is a bit worn and only plays nicely with the part worn cassette on your bike?

  5. How cool would it be if you actually generated power with this trainer rather than used power! Should be totally possible and would feel really rewarding. Imagine chilling your beer while training. It would taste even better!

  6. ““Erm, why would I want to ride a bike indoors when I could be riding outdoors?”” was a question my 14 yo son asked when I looked at turbos in Evans! Genuine puzzlement! “What are they for?” “Riding indoors” “Why??” So proud 🙂

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