Kinetic Road Machine Fluid Trainer
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- Versatile indoor bicycle trainer with leak-proof magnetic drive system and automatic resistance changes
- 6.25-pound flywheel offers a realistic, 15-second coastdown from 20 mph
- Measurable, repeatable workload with an authentic road feel
- Extra stable platform--even for stand-up riding
- Fits 22 to 29-inch wheels; unconditional lifetime warranty; lifetime crash replacement policy
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As much as we love the idea of having a trainer that allows our bike to feel like it's moving under us, having a trainer that's compact and easy to travel with is hugely important. With the Road Machine Fluid Trainer, Kinetic by Kurt offers the same fluid resistance unit from their Rock and Roll Trainer and have it attached to a lighter, more compact frame.The Road Resistance Unit is an impressive feat of engineering. It uses a 6.25-pound (2.84kg) flywheel and a completely sealed fluid resistance unit. Together, they give you a consistent road-like feel and resistance curve. The tire roller is made of stainless steel and is 2.5in (6.35cm) in diameter, which is a good bit larger than much of the competition. The larger roller means less wear on your tire and it reduces the temperature of the spinning elements.The resistance unit is unique as it's made of two parts. The first is the driver made of a small flywheel embedded with six rare-earth magnets. The other half is a completely sealed cast-aluminum fluid chamber that is bolted to the housing containing the driver. The fluid chamber contains an impeller with corresponding magnets. As you ride, the magnets in the driver spin the impeller through medical-grade silicone fluid to provide the resistance. And since there is no driveshaft entering the fluid chamber, the Kinetic design eliminates a common design weakness of most fluid-resistance units.Of course, the system builds heat; your energy has to go somewhere (in this case friction). However, the fluid acts as a coolant and the chamber has 80 cooling fins on the outside that act like radiator fins. It's impossible to overheat the chamber or reach a point where performance is diminished. The silicone fluid retains its physical properties, even up to the normal operating temperature of 325? F when riding 25mph.There are several benefits to this system.
Color: Green | Size: One Size
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I will update this review over the next several weeks as I gain more experience. The summary of my experience to date is:
-Quick setup - comes mostly assembled
-Easy to fold away and store so you don't need a dedicated place for it like you would for a stand alone exercise bike
-Your existing gear shifters allow you to adjust resistance
-Solid - able to support my 240 pounds easily
-Comes with a rear wheel spindle optimized for the trainer, but works fine with my existing spindle.
-Allows me to maintain my biking workouts through the cold and dark of Northeast Winters
-None discovered yet
Post 1: December 5, 2012
Received the trainer yesterday. I was expecting a complicated setup process. Fortunately the trainer comes mostly assembled. I just had to attach the resistance unit to the frame. That took less than 10 minutes, and no tools were required. Attaching my bike the first time took a bit longer. The trainer comes with a read wheel spindle optimized for the trainer. I have a rear rack on my road bike which needed to be removed if I wanted to change out the spindle. In the end I just decided to leave the existing spindle in place. Once I made that decision, the bike fit in VERY quickly - it's not optimal, but it works very well and doesn't seem likely to cause problems with the trainer or my bike. I tightened both side screws (again, well-designed knobs), then tightened the resistance unit against my back tire using the well-made and placed knob, and I was ready.
I'm a big guy - 240 pounds - and there was absolutely no problem with this unit carrying my weight. I rode for 40 minutes, varying resistance using my gear shifters, and really enjoyed myself. I was VERY surprised at how quiet this trainer is. My wife in the next room didn't even hear me using it.
Tonight I am planning on a longer ride - long enough to watch a movie that I have been wanting to see.
Post 2: December 9, 2012
Have used this for 3 hour+ rides in the past several days. The unit is still working without a flaw. I have learned a couple of things along the way.
First, my desktop speakers were not loud enough to watch a movie with lots of dialogue while riding on the trainer. I was watching Safety Not Guaranteed and I was missing some parts of the conversations. I ended up using in-ear headphones with an extender cord. I will also probably end up upgrading the speakers to Bose Companion 20 Multimedia Speaker System.
Second, biking in one place for extended periods of time tends to produce puddles of sweat. I never noticed this while biking outdoors. I ended up setting up a fan to blow on me during the ride but I also ended up having to lay a towel down on the floor. I am going to experiment with some other options over the next several weeks and will write more.
Finally, I thought that I ended up buying a used sheet music stand which I use to hold books, my iPad, etc while I am riding. It's helpful to have it on the side of my bike and I ended up riding longer once I set it up as I could change my focus during the ride without interrupting the flow.
Post 3: December 19, 2012: Took the bike off of the trainer on Saturday as we were having guests and I wanted the kids to be able to play in the room where I had the trainer set up. Loosening the back screws that hold the wheel in place took less than a minute. The trainer folded up and I put it in the closet. Setting it back up last night took 5 minutes. Very happy.
I ordered this to replace an aging Minoura rim-drive style trainer. The Minoura was great from the standpoint of the rim drive, but the belt and other moving parts made it noisy (in my opinion) and the belt wore out pretty quick and was a PITA to replace. But overall it was a good trainer. I was hoping a fluid style trainer would be smoother and quieter.
After reading many reviews, I decided the Kurt Kinetic was the best option, and the additional flywheel would give the unit excellent feel. I knew the rear tire would take more abuse from this type of trainer, but I was willing to recycle some old tires to the task to get a quiet, smooth, road-like ride.
Unboxing, the product was perfect. The box opens fully, so you don't have that awkward issue of trying to figure out how to slide the Styrofoam out. I was pleased to find just a few simple parts inside. The assembly was a breeze - just mount the resistance unit with a single bolt, slide the spring onto the tension L-bolt, and screw on the adjustment knob. That's about it - takes all of three minutes to assemble and it's simple. On mine, I changed out the aluminum lug that holds the skewer on one side. Not sure why they don't do that by default, but it was simple as well.
The product itself is well built. The design is similar to many others with the folding legs. But the stance is a bit wider and the tubing larger in diameter. Also nice is how perfectly the skewer mounts fit onto the supplied skewer. You'll never worry about the bike slipping out of this unit. Both sides of the unit have screw-in and out adjustments, and one side has a quick-release, making putting the bike in and out super fast.
Once I got it up and running, the first thing I noticed is that this unit has excellent feel. The design, while simple, is very solid. The resistance unit has one rotating part and has excellent bearings. It spins smoothly and without any jiggle or looseness. And the large flywheel produces realistic pedal feel. I ordered the supplemental 12 lb flywheel but it doesn't arrive until next week. This should further improve the feel, but the unit does an excellent job right out of the box.
Now for the not-so-good stuff. I bought this unit hoping for something really smooth and quiet. But it's not at all quiet. It's not so much the absolute volume of the noise as the quality. The sound that comes out of this thing is higher-pitched and white noise in nature. It almost sounds like metal-on-metal with high-pitched fan type noise. I'll try to get a video and post it if I can edit this review later. But suffice it to say that my old trainer with its belts, pulleys, and many moving parts was quieter. That was a major disappointment! Update on 07/01/2013 - I have uploaded a short video with sound to demonstrate what this thing sounds like. And yes - it really does sound like that...reminds me of bearings going bad with no oil or a small jet engine. The video shows riding at a power output of around 225-250 watts and roughly 80-90 rpm pedal speed. Not sure what the gearing would translate to in terms of road speed, but let's say maybe 22-25 mph based on what gear ratio I was in at the time.
My other complaint is that this unit doesn't have quite enough resistance, nor does it have any adjustment for resistance. According to all the reviews I read before, fluid trainers simply increase their resistance as the wheel rotates faster. That's fine and exactly what I expected - but the problem here is that you have to run in nearly your top gear just to generate average resistance. And forget about sprinting... I'm a pretty good cyclist, not the best, but for comparison I bike the 112 mile portion of Ironman in a little over 5 hours. To do that typically requires an average power output of about 210-215 watts. My bike has an integrated power meter, so with this trainer I can tell you that 300-400 watts is approaching the upper end of what this unit can deliver. And to get those watts, you have to spin the bike's wheel pretty fast. And of course the faster you turn it, the more noise and vibration you create. I wish this unit developed the 200-250 watts I like to use at a much lower speed. If it did, it would be smoother and generate a lot less noise. At 250 watts, the Kinetic kicks up a lot of noise. Most of it appears to be coming from the fluid portion of the resistance unit, and more from either the tire/roller interface and the flywheel, although it's hard to tell exactly where while riding it. Hopefully my wife can get some up-close video and audio while I am using it that I can post later on.
I'm going to call in to customer service tomorrow - I suppose it's possible something is wrong with my unit. It's really that bad. But the feel of this model is superior enough to my old trainer that I might end up keeping it anyway. I gave it 4 stars because it really is well designed and a very solid unit and maybe I was overly optimistic that a fluid trainer really would be quiet. As long as you aren't a highly competitive rider and don't mind the significant white noise note this thing puts out, this model will probably exceed your expectations in every other area.
Update: I called Kurt customer service this morning about the noise levels. Gave the person the serial number and she said based on the number, the "new" unit I was sold was actually several years old. I guess it's been in a warehouse somewhere sitting around. So be aware - if you buy one there's no telling how old it actually is, even though technically it's "new in the box". She suggested I register and fill out a warranty claim, which I am doing now. She said the unit should be extremely quiet. I'll post additional updates as the warranty process proceeds.
Update 2: Kurt customer service/warranty was amazingly fast! I registered my product online, got an e-mail response back almost immediately saying they'd ship me a replacement resistance unit. Hopefully it will solve the noise issues. For the record, when I called, there were no phone prompts - a real live person picked up immediately. If you are debating on whether to spend a premium on this product, the customer service alone is worth it.
Update 07/01/2013: Today the extra 12 lb flywheel arrived. Installation was a snap - it fits neatly right over the stock flywheel and is precision milled to fit around it on the outside edges. It is secured in the center with a single screw with wings for tool-free installation. This flywheel is totally worth the extra cost - it makes this trainer ride almost exactly like the bike is on the road. Acceleration, "coasting", and pedal dynamics are dramatically improved. I also learned that this machine is very sensitive to how the feet make contact with the floor. Because you have to spin this unit SO fast to generate appropriate wattage levels, the flywheel is turning extremely fast, greatly exaggerating any imbalance issues. Anyway - once I got the new flywheel installed and started riding, I noticed some significant vibrations - so much so that my hands would have been numb by the end of my 90 minute training session. Playing with the unit, I noticed that one of the forward feet had a tiny amount of play in it. So I shimmed it up perfectly to remove every bit of play. The unit is sitting on a 2x2 foot ceramic tile floor laid over a concrete slab on the ground floor, so the floor its on is extremely solid. I think this helps - any softness in your floor is likely to allow vibrations to get out of control with this super-massive flywheel. But that's the price you pay for having a nice large mass - worth it IMO. Once I had all four feet perfectly even, the unit ran smooth as glass. A nice touch would be if this thing came with screw in and out leveling feet. It would be simple to add them, and you'd only need them on the front feet. As mentioned elsewhere, I've added a short video clip illustrating the sound/noise this thing kicks up. I'm still waiting on the replacement resistance unit that customer service is shipping - I'll update the review once that arrives.
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Thanks for making a great product