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  • Turbo trainers for dummies
  • renton

    I’m looking to get a turbo trainer to use but have no idea where to start.

    I don’t want to spend a fortune but would like one that I can use swift etc on.

    Also my bike has a bolt through rear axle and all the ones I’ve looked at need q/r. What do I do ?


    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon

    Some trainers will work with bolt through axles, or you might need to use an old hardtail/commuter/road/whatever bike.

    I’ve been looking into it due to the crap weather, broadly:

    Anything other than the most budget versions are now smart trainers and will work to some extent with zwift etc.

    Wheel on trainers – not particularly accurate, but as long as you always use the same tyre and pressure they should be reasonably consistent.

    Direct drive trainers –

    Elite – more accurate than most power meters, but the downside of that is they tend to hunt for the exact correct resistance. So if you have a target of 250W, it’ll oscillate by +/-30W for at leas the first 30s or so of the interval, the choppier you pedal the worse this gets, so it can re-appear as you fatigue through longer intervals.

    The major upside of their built in torque sensing power meters (which go upto 0.5% accuracy) is they very rarely need calibrating, officially they say every few weeks, but reviews say it never drifts. Basically you have a very accurate power meter and a machine that adjusts the resistance to get that as close as possible to the target. Then a soft squishy idiot on top pedaling and messing it up. The trick apparently is to ignore the power number on screen and just focus on cadence (i.e. keep the flywheel spinning at a constant rate and let the computer worry about the resistance it applies to it, don’t try and fight it into a feedback loop).

    The other downside is they can apparently feel quite “digital” in zwift. If zwift sends a signal to go from 1% to 2% then it feels like you’ve just ridden up a step. Being generous this is a function of their accuracy and the others being a bit wishy washy, being harsh that’s not neciseraly a good thing.

    All the Elite trainers with the OTS system and broadly the same, they just get more power the more you spend.

    Wahoo – not quite as accurate, not as oscillating. But the calibration does drift quite significantly over time as there isn’t a power meter it’s like old fashioned “virtual watts” i.e. comparing the flywheel speed to a known curve = watts. They also had a lot of build and QC issues, but those should be sorted by now.

    Tacx – somewhere between the two. I think the cheaper ones rely on the spin-down for calibration and have a known resistance curve like the wahoo and the more expensive ones have power meters.

    TLDR : The elite is best if you want to do tests or do interval training in ramp mode. The Wahoo and tacx give nice smooth resistance in erg mode. Wahoo have build quality issues. Elite refuse to update firmware to sort out the oscillating glitch (this may slowly be changing).

    Basically seems like there isn’t a faultless option. Pick one, join the Zwift forum, tell everyone else their trainer is inaccurate and cheating.

    At the cheaper end:

    Elite turbo muin – naff all accuracy, and inconsistent as it warms up, but is a £250 direct drive trainer. And gives you perfectly flat lines in trainerroad.

    Wheel on trainers – all basically the same pros and cons. Should be consistent, won’t be accurate.


    I just did a bunch of research and ended up with a Wahoo Kickr Core. 99.999% accuracy doesn’t bother me but it’s nice and quiet which I don’t think the Elite ones are. Might be a factor for you.

    Premier Icon mogrim

    Wheel on trainers – all basically the same pros and cons. Should be consistent, won’t be accurate.

    I’ve got a wheel on trainer, and given the price direct-drive trainers are these days I wouldn’t get another one. It works OKish, but things like tyre pressure and standing up can make a massive difference to the measured power output (and hence resistance). But if your budget’s tight it’s good enough.

    Premier Icon Nick

    I got a Tacx Vortex wheel on trainer, paid £200 for it, use it with my Pompino ss, had to replace the nuts so it would fit and bought an fairly expensive trainer tyre.

    I think its great, I’ve been having a great time on Swift, riding more than I would have done especially in the recent weather, its bloody hard work sometimes too, what more do you need?

    Premier Icon Poopscoop

    Op, also get over to the huge Zwift thread on the general chat forum.

    Well worth a good read as it’s not just about the trainer but what you want to run the software on,fans… You name it.

    Sons of it is relevant even if you don’t want to Zwift. Zwift is great though.👍

    Premier Icon Alex

    I had three TACX Flux (and Flux S) direct drive trainers. Now I have an Elite. Appreciate I’m a sample size of one but 3 in a year was pretty annoying. When they worked, they were fine.

    The Elite has a better solution for thru axles. It’s neater and easier to use. As per ^^ post up there, they are different to the other trainers if you’re trying to hit a set watt number (like you need to in most Zwift training plans). You get used to it. I think mine is quieter than the flux but then the flux did end up howling like an insane banshee so I might be remembering that 😉

    No experience of KICKR.

    Started with a wheel on but much prefer the direct drive. I use the trainer Nov-March mainly and so I’m happy to pay a bit more for the direct drive.

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