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4 top trainers for the winter and beyond

Virtual-racing-ready machines for indoor fitness and fun

As we experienced this past spring, trainers and virtual rides aren’t just for the days when the roads are covered with snow. The trainer is an indispensable tool for all seasons. The four machines reviewed here will all patch you into your favourite training platform or app. While you might find a lot of the names familiar, they feature refinements that will make your rides on the spot even better.

Tacx Neo 2T ($2,000, tacx.com)

The Neo 2T can provide a whopping 2,200 W of resistance. It can simulate inclines of 25 per cent, which is as brutal as it is infrequent in real life. The Tacx designers have redesigned the magnets inside, which help to reduce the noise by rumbling less and causing less air displacement. The real magic of the Neo 2T is in sim mode, in which you can take advantage of the trainer’s road feel feature. When you ride over pixel-built gravel roads, wooden bridges and cobblestones (to name a few road-feel supported surfaces), the trainer gives you appropriate feedback. Read more…

Wahoo Kickr ($1,800, wahoofitness.com)

Wahoo’s says its fifth generation Kickrs has improved accuracy—now +/- 1 per cent, from +/- 2 per cent. You also don’t have to calibrate with a spindown anymore as it has automatic calibration. The Kickr comes with Kickr Direct Connect, to wire directly into your network, but the feature is still yet-to-be-released and required an adaptor.

The new Axis feet  let your bike move about five degrees side to side as you do your trainer workout. You can adjust the squish of the feet with one of the three pairs of discs supplied. Read more…

Kurt Kinetic Road Machine Control ($660, kurtkinetic.com)

While direct-drive trainers are the trainers to get for virtual racing, it’s important to highlight an on-wheel trainer like the Kinetic Road Machine Control. It’s a sub-$1,000 option that can get your cruising through pixel landscapes.

Kurt says the trainer has an accuracy of +/- 3 per cent, though we measured power discrepancies of around 10-20 watts. If you already have a power meter on your bike, use its data in Zwift and leave the trainer to simulate the effects of the virtual terrain, which it does quite well, thanks in part to the 5.4-kg flywheel. Read more…

Elite Direto XR and Sterzo Smart (Elite Direto XR: $1,299; Elite Sterzo Smart: $130; elite-it.com)

The Elite Direto XR comes with an 11-speed Shimano 105 cassette, so to assemble you merely have to set the stabilizers, slide in the thru-axle adapters, attach the bike and plug in the trainer. The trainer has a resistance of up to 2,300 W and slope simulation of up to 24 per cent.

The Sterzo Smart gives you the ability to steer within Zwift. You can move your avatar to the left and right side of your lane. Though you have to be more diligent when you want to slip into another rider’s draft, you can also can take shorter, inside lines in corners, which non-steering riders can’t do. Read more…