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Will someone just tell me what direct drive trainer to buy?

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Will someone just tell me what direct drive trainer to buy?

Old 02-16-21, 08:26 AM
  #1  
Phatman
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Will someone just tell me what direct drive trainer to buy?

Former Cat-3 racer here, hoping to not be so much of a "former" after racing starts up again. I've been putting in way too many miles on my ~2005 era cyclops Magneto since my son was born 16 months ago and its literally rusting away. Last week the resistance unit finally gave up most of the way, so I need to buy a new trainer. I want a direct drive model and I've allocated a $1000 budget. There seems to be so many different models and some of them seem to really suck. I don't want to buy one that sucks.

Which one should I buy?

Also, not sure if it matters, but I put a lot of miles in on my cyclocross/gravel bike, so it would be nice if there's no issue with the trainer using a thruaxle and discs.
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Old 02-16-21, 08:28 AM
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Old 02-16-21, 09:05 AM
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May I ask which trainers suck? If we know which ones suck, then we would advise to pick one from the list that doesn't suck.
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Old 02-16-21, 09:55 AM
  #4  
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Wahoo Kickr or just HTFU.
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Old 02-16-21, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Thomas15 View Post
May I ask which trainers suck? If we know which ones suck, then we would advise to pick one from the list that doesn't suck.
I don't know! That's why I made a thread.
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Old 02-16-21, 11:09 AM
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a little curious too about which ones suck. i have not read that anywhere. my recollection is that everyone is happy with what ever direct drive they bought, me included.
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Old 02-16-21, 12:37 PM
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I'll second the nomination for Wahoo Kickr. Had it for 2 months now, nothin but good. You have to get a cassette that matches what's on your bike now. You also want your auxiliary equipment to be current hardware/software, legacy versions of stuff have issues (eg old iOS, Win, Bluetooth 1.0).
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Old 02-16-21, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
a little curious too about which ones suck. i have not read that anywhere. my recollection is that everyone is happy with what ever direct drive they bought, me included.
The 2018 Kickr had teething problems, bigly. With 2020 they seem fixed.

The Kurt Kinetic R1 is loud, really loud. Just how it is.
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Old 02-16-21, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Phatman View Post
I don't know! That's why I made a thread.

You said:
Originally Posted by Phatman View Post
............... There seems to be so many different models and some of them seem to really suck. I don't want to buy one that sucks.........
We just want to know which ones as you say seem to really suck. Help us out please. Like you we don't want to buy one that sucks.
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Old 02-16-21, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
The 2018 Kickr had teething problems, bigly. With 2020 they seem fixed.

The Kurt Kinetic R1 is loud, really loud. Just how it is.
what is a teething problem? do you mean the teeth on the belt? i have a 2018 model and it has served me well for over a year now, bigly.

-scott
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Old 02-16-21, 03:13 PM
  #11  
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Reconditioned Kickr '18 is a no-brainer at a discounted price, checked over for issues, same warranty as new. Only thing it doesn't have over the Kickr '20 is autocalibration. The new feet are available separately.
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Old 02-16-21, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
The 2018 Kickr had teething problems, bigly.
What are teething problems?
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Old 02-16-21, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
what is a teething problem? do you mean the teeth on the belt? i have a 2018 model and it has served me well for over a year now, bigly.

-scott
Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
What are teething problems?
The first 2018 Kickr units had issues.

https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2019/01/...ickr-core.html

The later batches were supposedly fixed...but it still left a bad taste.
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Old 02-16-21, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
The first 2018 Kickr units had issues.

https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2019/01/...ickr-core.html

The later batches were supposedly fixed...but it still left a bad taste.
thanks for the link. i had forgotten about the ESD issue but apparently that is not new to the '18 model. now i want to rip into it and see exactly what i have/if it includes the drainage diode they mentioned. i do know i have the correct power supply.

loss of speed was not something i had heard of before and the noise from the key way issue was new to me too.
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Old 02-16-21, 06:56 PM
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I have a KICKR CORE. It's terrific. I also know people who have Elite Diretos and like them, and Tacx customers also seem satisfied.

Given that Tacx product is marginally easier to find, you might look at those.

I'm an old roadie, have spent time on rollers (and hated them) and here's my prediction: unless you get a lemon (which happens), you're going to like whatever you purchase, because they're ALL so much better than what we were used to.

You're also likely to have a bit of a, well, process when it comes to getting into a rhythm and routine for your trainer workouts. The different programs are really different, enough so that I pay for three of them (Zwifty, Rouvy and TR) and definitely use them for quite different types of rides.

Bottom line, spend $1,000 give or take and you're going to get a great smart trainer. Then you're going to go on a journey of which software, do I want a big-screen TV (I easily ponied up for a 50" given that they're basically free at Costco these days), and how trainer rides can differ (I will admit that I never spent more than an hour on rollers, whereas I could do 3 hour rides on a trainer ... but: perineal care).

TLDR: Get a Neo, Wahoo or Elite. Read DC Rainmaker first about them - there might some little bit about them that's important to you. Availability is a huge challenge. All will amaze you as great leaps forward. Settling in with software will be a process. Also: big TV. My .02.
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Old 02-16-21, 09:58 PM
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I bought a reconditioned kickr'18. I got a few hundred hours of training out of it before it started making clunking noises and metal filings came out of it. Wahoo was pretty good and had another refurb trainer to my house in a week after they confirmed my old one was shipped. The new one has seen a couple hundred hours and it's been super quiet. The first one I got was loud out of the box which should have been something I probably could have had my unit replaced right away but whatever, wahoo hasn't been perfect but their support was fast and I'm still happy with my choice, especially since I went ahead and got the climb to go with it. I think it'd be hard to go wrong with any of the big brands, they all seem to have had problems of some kind but also seem to be doing okay at fixing them. At this point it might be down to what you can find for sale.
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Old 02-17-21, 05:42 AM
  #17  
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Everything you need to know
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Old 02-17-21, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Danhedonia View Post
I have a KICKR CORE. It's terrific. I also know people who have Elite Diretos and like them, and Tacx customers also seem satisfied.

Given that Tacx product is marginally easier to find, you might look at those.

I'm an old roadie, have spent time on rollers (and hated them) and here's my prediction: unless you get a lemon (which happens), you're going to like whatever you purchase, because they're ALL so much better than what we were used to.

You're also likely to have a bit of a, well, process when it comes to getting into a rhythm and routine for your trainer workouts. The different programs are really different, enough so that I pay for three of them (Zwifty, Rouvy and TR) and definitely use them for quite different types of rides.

Bottom line, spend $1,000 give or take and you're going to get a great smart trainer. Then you're going to go on a journey of which software, do I want a big-screen TV (I easily ponied up for a 50" given that they're basically free at Costco these days), and how trainer rides can differ (I will admit that I never spent more than an hour on rollers, whereas I could do 3 hour rides on a trainer ... but: perineal care).

TLDR: Get a Neo, Wahoo or Elite. Read DC Rainmaker first about them - there might some little bit about them that's important to you. Availability is a huge challenge. All will amaze you as great leaps forward. Settling in with software will be a process. Also: big TV. My .02.
Awesome, thanks for the review. I'm thinking Kickr Core and the Elite Direto XR are probably the two front runners.

Originally Posted by jwalther View Post
Boom. This is awesome. I was looking for something like this...kinda confirms my Elite vs Wahoo shortlist. Part of me is upset at Wahoo for mucking up Speedplay, but if their trainer is better...
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Old 02-20-21, 03:12 PM
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Going to reiterate (bcos important) and emphasize: for me and most I know the purchase and set up of the trainer was the first step of a process that had many more steps than we anticipated.

There's another thread around here centered on connectivity frustrations, and I wish I could tell you that's unusual. It's not. And even front-line programs like Zwift are more reminiscent of AltaVista than Chrome, in terms of quality and usability.

My notes on 'getting with the smart-trainer revolution' are as follows:

1. Assembly is a separate event from 'first ride.'

2. Read carefully to ensure you have all necessary cassette spacers, thru-axle adapters, etc. prior to assembly. You can spend a fortune (or not) on accessories, but I urge you to drop $20 on a sweatguard for the top tube.

3. No matter if you have a fancy trainer pad or not, put down a large-ish sheet of cardboard under the trainer for the first week. (More on this in a minute)

4. When you first attempt to get your trainer connected (to phone, laptop, whatever), I'd suggest doing that FIRST, without doing via any ride-oriented software. For example, I first used the Wahoo phone app to update the firmware, then connected the KICKR to my laptop via Bluetooth. Went through the same process with my heart-rate monitor(s). When trying to work out all of these initial connections, make sure you turn other 'stuff' OFF. Having my phone's bluetooth 'on' when I was going through this process cost me both time and frustration.

5. At that point, you will hopefully be itching to ride, and that's the moment when you hop on and try the free trial of whichever product you try first. Do it ASAP, because - IMO - smart trainers work best when controlled by software. Sure, you can just ride them independently like a dumb trainer or rollers, but they really shine when they're being told what to do. It's why you spent the money; make sure it's working and getting orders.

6. One free trial at a time. Easy there, Eddy Merckx! Work through each one, and figure out if you like them. But absolutely try many of them. The idea that "Zwift is all you need" is akin to limiting yourself to strawberry ice cream only. If you had asked me on the day before I set up the KICKR if I could imagine subscribing to three separate online cycling platforms, I'd have been pretty dismissive. I'm now a Rouvy, Zwift and TrainerRoad customer, and glad of it. There are times I really, really need to have those chocies. (FWIW, I ride 10-14 hours/week, so if you're doing much less, YMMV).

It's important to try many of them because the feel is different. I have some pretty strident complaints about Rouvy, but tip my hat to them as their simulation of the physics of cycling is vastly, vastly better than Zwift. The first time I rode Rouvy it just felt much more like real riding, and having that option (to say nothing of thousands of routes around the world) is a big deal to me. Had Zwift not been throwing up all over itself the week I first got on (bugs and crashes), I never would have discovered it. It is only in hindsight that I realize my intention to get on a single platform was a big mistake for me.

7. A lot of people (myself included) have found riding on a trainer to require learning some new-and-different skills. Real bikes flex outside, we freewheel, use our momentum and inertia, steer, and a host of other stuff. When I ride on a trainer it impacts everything from the huge (intensity of workout; body position on bike) to small (making sure I have my fan on before I ride).

Of the above the two most-important to me are planning out the 'connectivity session' like a NASA launch, and making sure you try all the different software packages.

The last bit I'll touch in is accessories and accoutrement. I ride in my garage, and cannot begin to tell you how nice it is for me to have a dedicated space with a 50" TCR TV (under 300 at Costco) as a monitor. If you want an immersive experience, I'd call this and the fan the two absolute necessities.
And yeah, the fan is a necessity. You're really going to sweat.
If you want a laptop stand, you don't need to shell out more than $30 - Amazon is your friend.
Not sure what your approach to perineal health is, but re-double it for a smart trainer. Not only does the fixed aspect of it create more stress on your tender parts, the just-plain-fun part of it may keep you on for longer than you anticipate. Cream up!

I've found the KICKR to be life-changing (won't bore with how), and hope you have a great experience.

Edit: the cardboard, I forgot. You'll wind up sweating, lubing your chain, etc., a bunch when you first figure it all out. You'd prefer to have all that mess on cardboard you can toss, not a nice fancy mat.

Last edited by Danhedonia; 02-21-21 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 02-27-21, 04:47 PM
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FWIW REI's website appears to have KICKRS and KICKR CORES in stock today.

Let us know how it all goes.
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Old 02-27-21, 05:04 PM
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Connectivity issues? I power on my Kickr, open the Zwift app on my iPad (which is connected to a large flat screen tv with an HDMI adapter/power cable) and I ride. Kickr, Zwift, iPad... it just works. Companion app on my iPhone when I'm doing workouts (for a different graphic display of output and segment duration) and I'm happy. The only, ONLY issue there is making sure that the iPad and iPhone are both on the same network or else the Companion app won't work. (Yeah, I know- that's been mentioned a million times, everywhere, but I haven't seen it brought up in this thread yet.)
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Old 02-28-21, 03:04 PM
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I have thought about this question a lot, and I think if my kickr died I would get another kickr. I like the idea of wired connectivity, so I would get the V5. Wahoo has a crummy philosophy about letting customers find design problems, but they do eventually fix them for almost everybody.
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Old 03-01-21, 07:51 PM
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The Saris H3 is about $1k and has worked great for me.

Other top models in your price range include Elite Suito and Kickr Core (the Kickr, which some are recommending, is out of your range).
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Old 03-02-21, 12:30 PM
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YellaFella Talk to me about the H3.
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Old 03-02-21, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Danhedonia View Post
YellaFella Talk to me about the H3.
It was great. Setup was easy-peasy. I use my old steel Lemond Maillot Jaune on it, as I didn't want to put my new Domane on it (although I don't think that would be any problem).

The H3 is heavy, but that's a good thing in a smart trainer, as it's firmly planted on the ground and doesn't wobble, even in a sprint. At least it didn't for me -- you may be a stronger sprinter! It synced effortlessly via Bluetooth to Zwift, Trainer Road, and Training Peaks without a hiccup. I put around 100 hours on it, with nary a hiccup. I can't speak to the accuracy of the power numbers, as I'm new to that kind of thing, but it seemed to mirror pretty closely what I expected.

The handle makes it quite easy to move, if you need to do that, and it's a rather small overall footprint, given how big you might think it is. I think it's a superb smart trainer, and Saris, as you probably know, has been in the game a long time (previously as CycleOps, which probably also know), so they're not new to trainers. I'd have no hesitation recommending it.
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