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recommend a good turbo trainer

portuguese mikeportuguese mike Posts: 695
had a nasty accident yesterday on the southern sportive (broken arm and dislocated shoulder) and will be making use of a neighbours turbo. It has got me thinking that now is probably a good time to actualy get one myself especially with winter round the corner.

So, could people recommend a decent one for up to about £400. i'd like it to be as 'realisitc' as possible in terms of resistance and i like the idea of the virtual reality ones to stave away the boredom. if i did get a virtual realty type trainer i'd like it to be able to operate as a stand alone unit as well without having to be connected to a pc.

any advice welcome
pm

Posts

  • Hi Mike, sorry to hear about your accident - hope you are back on the bike asap.

    I have been doing some reading about VR trainers though i've never used one as i'm considering getting one. However for your budget there are only 2 to choose from - the Tacx i-Magic and the Elite Realtour (both around £350 ish online). Both can be used stand-alone but the Realtour is much better in this respect. With the i-Magic you can use it disconnected for warming up but little else.

    The i-magic offers VR but you need to buy a steering frame for an additional £100. Both offer real life video where you watch a video of a chosen route e.g. something from the TdF or Giro and the machine adjusts resistance to mimic the road. Both seem to be OK at that but cannot provide sufficient resistance to mimic a climb over 6/7%. If that's what you want you need to pay more for the Tacx Fortius or Elite Realtour/RealPower which are considerably more expensive (up to £800).

    The i-Magic is upgradable to a Fortius with all the various bits sold seperately. Both seem to be reliable (the Fortius seems to have lots of issues) and the Tacx units seem to have problems with Vista. Both C+ and Cycling Weekly reviewed the Elite Realtour favourably. The Tacx has a forum which looks well frequented (lots of issues but lots of help from fellow users) as does Elite (a lot of it in Italian). The Elite doesn't do VR but RLV (Real Life Video) only and you don't need any extras.

    If you want lots of resistance then you'll need to look at non VR trainers. I'm not sure yet what i'm going to do but i know i can't handle the boredom of non VR trainers.

    Question is, do VR trainer users actually use them after a while?

    By the way, the expense never seems to end - you need to pay £25/£30 per Real Life Video DVD.

    It would be good to hear from anyone on the forum who has VR and their experiences.
  • liversedgeliversedge Posts: 1,002
    if you want lots of resistance the computrainer goes up to 1500w and the ergvideos are pretty amazing if you want VR. cost a bit more that the 400 quid budget tho ,,, like a grand more!!

    Personally, ergo mode or pre-programmed rides a fan and an ipod are good enough for me.
    --
    Obsessed is just a word elephants use to describe the dedicated. http://markliversedge.blogspot.com
  • liversedge wrote:
    if you want lots of resistance the computrainer goes up to 1500w and the ergvideos are pretty amazing if you want VR. cost a bit more that the 400 quid budget tho ,,, like a grand more!!

    Personally, ergo mode or pre-programmed rides a fan and an ipod are good enough for me.

    1500w sounds quite challenging... Does anyone actually need to go that high?
    17 Stone down to 12.5 now raring to get back on the bike!
  • liversedge wrote:
    if you want lots of resistance the computrainer goes up to 1500w and the ergvideos are pretty amazing if you want VR. cost a bit more that the 400 quid budget tho ,,, like a grand more!!

    Personally, ergo mode or pre-programmed rides a fan and an ipod are good enough for me.

    is that on a computrainer or another type of turbo?
    pm
  • liversedgeliversedge Posts: 1,002
    On my beloved Computrainer. Bought it direct from the states but got caught out by customs and ended up paying so much duty that it would've been cheaper to by from the uk. Fortunately the power supply works in the uk with a plug adapter.

    The supplied software is a bit old fashioned but once its setup it is rock solid. To be honest the CT makes most of the other turbos look like toys. I used to have a tacx flow and it was ok but the power data was pretty unreliable and resistance was patchy. I got a real shock when I sat on the CT for the first time - in ergo mode it is unflinching and the readout is accurate and hence depressing after the tacx flow!!!!!

    The spin-scan is kinda cool but tbh I haven't really ever used it beyond the initial oohs and ahhs when I first tried it out. I'd love to know why the CT is so expensive compared to the rest.
    --
    Obsessed is just a word elephants use to describe the dedicated. http://markliversedge.blogspot.com
  • liversedgeliversedge Posts: 1,002
    fuzzynavel wrote:
    liversedge wrote:
    if you want lots of resistance the computrainer goes up to 1500w and the ergvideos are pretty amazing if you want VR. cost a bit more that the 400 quid budget tho ,,, like a grand more!!

    Personally, ergo mode or pre-programmed rides a fan and an ipod are good enough for me.

    1500w sounds quite challenging... Does anyone actually need to go that high?
    Not me thats for sure, my peak 1s power is a miserly 773w. But a lot of folks can get really big peak power numbers.

    Not wishing to namedrop but Jamie Staff visited the Slipstreamers a couple of weeks ago and I asked him about his power numbers - he said that at the Worlds he was peakng at 2,300w in the opening lap of the team sprint and that by the Olympics he had risen to 2,600w.

    I doubt he uses a turbo at all tho!!!! :lol:
    --
    Obsessed is just a word elephants use to describe the dedicated. http://markliversedge.blogspot.com
  • liversedge wrote:
    fuzzynavel wrote:
    liversedge wrote:
    if you want lots of resistance the computrainer goes up to 1500w and the ergvideos are pretty amazing if you want VR. cost a bit more that the 400 quid budget tho ,,, like a grand more!!

    Personally, ergo mode or pre-programmed rides a fan and an ipod are good enough for me.

    1500w sounds quite challenging... Does anyone actually need to go that high?
    Not me thats for sure, my peak 1s power is a miserly 773w. But a lot of folks can get really big peak power numbers.

    Not wishing to namedrop but Jamie Staff visited the Slipstreamers a couple of weeks ago and I asked him about his power numbers - he said that at the Worlds he was peakng at 2,300w in the opening lap of the team sprint and that by the Olympics he had risen to 2,600w.

    I doubt he uses a turbo at all tho!!!! :lol:

    Bloody hell!!!

    to have that kind of power takes some dedication!!
    He'll only be able to keep it up for a few laps though!

    you shouldn't be upset about 773 watt peak output either... I can manage about 600 or so but that is at the end of an hour sitting at above 330 watts average.
    17 Stone down to 12.5 now raring to get back on the bike!
  • liversedge wrote:
    The spin-scan is kinda cool but tbh I haven't really ever used it beyond the initial oohs and ahhs when I first tried it out. I'd love to know why the CT is so expensive compared to the rest.
    Spin scan is a gimmick and IMO such things devalue a rock solid product.

    I can't answer specifically about why CT's price is what it is but I can say that they are pretty much bullet proof units and will give thousands of hours/years of reliable training.

    Achieving a peak power number on the CT is quite hard. On a bike outdoors you would attain a higher peak number than you would on the CT.

    I'm not sure I ever broke 1000W on a CT but I have done up ~1500W on the road, although 1350-1400W was a more typical peak for me.

    2.3-2.5kW peak power is about right for world beating track sprint and BMX riders. But they don't do that for more than a few seconds at a time though. When measuring short duration power, the method of measurement/type of power meter used matters.
  • scapaslow wrote:
    Hi Mike, sorry to hear about your accident - hope you are back on the bike asap.

    I have been doing some reading about VR trainers though i've never used one as i'm considering getting one. However for your budget there are only 2 to choose from - the Tacx i-Magic and the Elite Realtour (both around £350 ish online). Both can be used stand-alone but the Realtour is much better in this respect. With the i-Magic you can use it disconnected for warming up but little else.

    The i-magic offers VR but you need to buy a steering frame for an additional £100. Both offer real life video where you watch a video of a chosen route e.g. something from the TdF or Giro and the machine adjusts resistance to mimic the road. Both seem to be OK at that but cannot provide sufficient resistance to mimic a climb over 6/7%. If that's what you want you need to pay more for the Tacx Fortius or Elite Realtour/RealPower which are considerably more expensive (up to £800).

    The i-Magic is upgradable to a Fortius with all the various bits sold seperately. Both seem to be reliable (the Fortius seems to have lots of issues) and the Tacx units seem to have problems with Vista. Both C+ and Cycling Weekly reviewed the Elite Realtour favourably. The Tacx has a forum which looks well frequented (lots of issues but lots of help from fellow users) as does Elite (a lot of it in Italian). The Elite doesn't do VR but RLV (Real Life Video) only and you don't need any extras.

    If you want lots of resistance then you'll need to look at non VR trainers. I'm not sure yet what i'm going to do but i know i can't handle the boredom of non VR trainers.


    Question is, do VR trainer users actually use them after a while?

    By the way, the expense never seems to end - you need to pay £25/£30 per Real Life Video DVD.

    It would be good to hear from anyone on the forum who has VR and their experiences.

    the only one i can find on the net is the Realtour Elastogel, is that the same model your describing (as tested by C+ in january)? the blurb on wiggle says: PC required - yes and i want to absolutely sure that it can be used stand-alone before splashing the cash.

    thanks for the detailed response BTW
    pm
  • NJKNJK Posts: 194
    liversedge wrote:
    The spin-scan is kinda cool but tbh I haven't really ever used it beyond the initial oohs and ahhs when I first tried it out. I'd love to know why the CT is so expensive compared to the rest.
    Spin scan is a gimmick and IMO such things devalue a rock solid product.

    I can't answer specifically about why CT's price is what it is but I can say that they are pretty much bullet proof units and will give thousands of hours/years of reliable training.

    Achieving a peak power number on the CT is quite hard. On a bike outdoors you would attain a higher peak number than you would on the CT.

    I'm not sure I ever broke 1000W on a CT but I have done up ~1500W on the road, although 1350-1400W was a more typical peak for me.

    2.3-2.5kW peak power is about right for world beating track sprint and BMX riders. But they don't do that for more than a few seconds at a time though. When measuring short duration power, the method of measurement/type of power meter used matters.

    Hi Alex, Which trainer do you use for conducting your MAP tests, i use an old tacx excel which enables you to programme the appropriate 25w increase per min. Using this with the powertap enables the ramp onfortunatley the resistance has broken and the max i can get is aroun 300w so i'm in the market for a new one soon. Are there any other trainers that enable you to programme wattage increments?
  • NJKNJK Posts: 194
    liversedge wrote:
    The spin-scan is kinda cool but tbh I haven't really ever used it beyond the initial oohs and ahhs when I first tried it out. I'd love to know why the CT is so expensive compared to the rest.
    Spin scan is a gimmick and IMO such things devalue a rock solid product.

    I can't answer specifically about why CT's price is what it is but I can say that they are pretty much bullet proof units and will give thousands of hours/years of reliable training.

    Achieving a peak power number on the CT is quite hard. On a bike outdoors you would attain a higher peak number than you would on the CT.

    I'm not sure I ever broke 1000W on a CT but I have done up ~1500W on the road, although 1350-1400W was a more typical peak for me.

    2.3-2.5kW peak power is about right for world beating track sprint and BMX riders. But they don't do that for more than a few seconds at a time though. When measuring short duration power, the method of measurement/type of power meter used matters.

    Hi Alex, Which trainer do you use for conducting your MAP tests, i use an old tacx excel which enables you to programme the appropriate 25w increase per min. Using this with the powertap enables the ramp unfortunatley the resistance has broken and the max i can get is aroun 300w so i'm in the market for a new one soon. Are there any other trainers that enable you to programme wattage increments?
  • I have an i-Magix and run it using a windows XP PC.

    It's done everything I expected; I don't have the steering frame as that seemed a bit noddy.

    I don't bother with the VR stuff now just use the performance graphs and music.

    60 minutes is as long as I can do from an interest perspective ...
  • the only one i can find on the net is the Realtour Elastogel, is that the same model your describing (as tested by C+ in january)? the blurb on wiggle says: PC required - yes and i want to absolutely sure that it can be used stand-alone before splashing the cash

    Yes that's the one. Elite Realtour. The next price bracket (around £500 to £550) will get you an Elite Realaxiom with more resistance or a Tacx Fortius with more resistance than the i-magic and allows you to freewheel. The Fotrius seems to have issues of "choppiness" when the gradient exceeds 10% or so but may well be more "realistic" to the road feel. All the Elite models will work without pc connection. You'd still have to buy a steering frame for the Fortius to use the VR capability but you don't need this for the Real Video DVD's.

    As others have said the Computrainer seems to be the best there is, as yet , but is only available in the US for lots of money way over your £400 budget - but the Tacx VR software is supposed to be better (from what i've read).

    Personally, i'm looking to alleviate the boredom of the turbo and am not too bothered about the power side of things on a turbo so i don't care how many watts you can or can't do on them. I'm just looking to keep things ticking over in an enjoyable way rather than attempting mind numbing power intervals. You could use something like the RealTour in the traditional turbo way as well giving you another option with the Real Videos.

    Let us know what you choose and how you get on with it.
  • NJK wrote:
    Hi Alex, Which trainer do you use for conducting your MAP tests,
    Well it really depends on the client and what they have available. Most do it on their indoor trainer with power meter on bike and they control the power increment themselves.

    Those units with programmable resistance can be helpful in tests like this as you can just concentrate on keeping up rather than trying to control the ramps as well.

    The CT is great as it allows for 5W increments and the protocol calls for 5W every 12 or 15 seconds depending on rider category. The smaller the steps, the better but it's not a showstopper.

    Some Tacx units only do 10W increments, which is OK if you are doing an elite category protocol of 20W/min - as you can do 10W/30-sec.

    There is some good guidance on doing MAP tests here:
    http://www.cyclecoach.com/index.php?opt ... Itemid=112
  • i've gone for an elite realtour from wiggle (339.99 - even though they have none in stock at the mo :cry: that seems a pretty good price :) )

    hopefully i'll get it next week and i'll let you know how i get on with it
    pm
  • The RealTour is the one i would be most likely to go for so it would be great to hear how it goes. I don't think i can stretch to the next price bracket especially after a short visit to the dentist has just made me poorer....
    I noticed wiggle have a 20% discount on turbos this month though a few other places have it around that price. Wiggle's basic prices don't seem too competitive recently. I hope you get it soon.
  • Yup, I'll be interested too. My Turbo Stairmaster or whatever it's called has just given notice. :roll:

    mox senex dormit
  • Well i've had my RealTour trainer for nearly a week now and i have to say that i'm not sure its worth the extra for the 'real dvd' facility.

    As a trainer its pretty good; its very easy to set up and can generate a good level of resistance. asfar as alleviating boredom i'm afraid it's not so good - the dvd route it comes with isn't that scenic and its very hard to tell on screen if you're meant to be going up hill or down hill so for me i think it was a waste of money.

    Less important but worth mentioning anyway is the fact that the gradient, speed and power data are way off. at 90 rpm turning a 53/18 gear it says your doing 18.6mph (should be more like 21mph) and when doing the same speed on a 2% slope it says your producing about 195 watts (for 75 kg) which i'm pretty sure is far too low. Also when it gets to above a 5% gradient its so hard i have change down to 39/26 when in reality i'd be turning 39/19 quite comfortably. None of that matters in terms of getting a good workout but i was suprised because my old Tacx trainer seemed much more realistic on that score.
    pm
  • Less important but worth mentioning anyway is the fact that the gradient, speed and power data are way off. at 90 rpm turning a 53/18 gear it says your doing 18.6mph (should be more like 21mph) and when doing the same speed on a 2% slope it says your producing about 195 watts (for 75 kg) which i'm pretty sure is far too low.
    It is, if that mass includes bike + rider & gear, then 18.6 mph would require ~ 245 watts on a still day.

    If you have to add bike + gear of say 10kg to that then the power goes up another 20 watts.
    Also when it gets to above a 5% gradient its so hard i have change down to 39/26 when in reality i'd be turning 39/19 quite comfortably. None of that matters in terms of getting a good workout but i was suprised because my old Tacx trainer seemed much more realistic on that score.
    At the same powers listed above, at 5% gradient you would be going 11-12 mph, which would be a 68-75 rpm on a 39x19. Or 94-102 rpm on a 39x26.
  • Thanks for the feedback Mike.

    Looks like i'll be crossing it off the list - it was really the VR i was interested in and it sounds very poor indeed.

    Just wondering but when you set it up did you have to enter various parameters? Maybe they have an effect on the readings? Usually these machines have some sort of calibration you can apply to improve the accuracy of the power reading. As long as it's consistently wrong then it probably doesn't matter much.

    At least it works well as a normal trainer.
  • scapaslow wrote:
    Thanks for the feedback Mike.

    Looks like i'll be crossing it off the list - it was really the VR i was interested in and it sounds very poor indeed.

    Just wondering but when you set it up did you have to enter various parameters? Maybe they have an effect on the readings? Usually these machines have some sort of calibration you can apply to improve the accuracy of the power reading. As long as it's consistently wrong then it probably doesn't matter much.

    At least it works well as a normal trainer.

    the only relevant thing It just asks you to put in is your weight but i think i'll have a look to see if there are any other settings i haven't noticed. But as you say as long as its consistently out then it doesn't matter
    pm
  • alienalien Posts: 54
    i'd like one that I can plug in and generate power.

    VR, hum yes that would also be nice, as for the rest... The only way SWMBO will like it is if it'll drop the electricity bill a bit ;-)
  • scapaslowscapaslow Posts: 305
    After Mikes' experience with the elite realpower, particularly its poor VR , I hummed and hawed between the i-magic and Fortius. I was worried about a lot of the posts on the Tacx forum about problems with the Fortius but in the end i found a good deal online for the Fortius.

    My first impression was that the setup instructions are shockingly bad in many places and without the Tacx forum i'd have thrown the thing in the bin. It tells you after you've set it up that wheels between 690 and 720mm in diameter need an extension piece which involves undoing everything you've just done. Then I found out that 700 sized wheels don't need the extension from the forum.

    The software installed on XP with no problems but look out if you've got Vista. You'll need extra drivers downloadable from the Tacx Forum (not mentioned in the instructions).

    I then tried the RLV demo and experienced all kinds of weird problems when going over 5% gradient - my conti turbo tyre started shredding and the unit would alternate between easy resistance and lockup. I played around with the pressure between tyre and roller - the manual says "apply firm pressure". I was still getting orange shreds everywhere. I downloaded the system test and everything was OK but i could not perform calibration. Back on the forum some advice said to apply a lot of pressure on the tyre. So i tightened it until the type visiibly deformed against the roller and hey presto it all works beautifully! I've probably got too much pressure now but will leave it alone for now.

    I got the Mallorca RLV which has a couple of climbs that go up to 10% and found that i could feel the resistance graduating all the way up with no choppiness or slippage and really enjoyed the experience. The RLV for me keeps me engaged in a way that a standard turbo can't. My only criticism of the RLV is that it doesn't visually represent the steepness of the climb ahead as you would on the road - the screen tells you the gradient and your legs feel the gradient but somehow visually it feels much less.

    I'm not sure how the wattages produced tie in with reality. The only variable i could find to enter was rider weight so i'm assuming (probably wrongly) that bike weight is a fixed constant.

    So, first impressions are that it will be a good investment for me but Tacx could really improve the instructions that come with it. There is a lot more to explore on the VR front but i don't have the steering unit and my PC is not up to it. There are also various ergopower programs on the Catalyst software for more standard turbo sessions for those that like that sort of thing - but you must connect the unit to the PC.

    The unit came with a Tacx 2009 brochure advertising new RLV's amongst other things but none of these seem to be available for purchase anywhere apart from a few on the Tacx site at a premium price.

    The unit claims to put power back into the grid - is this really true i wonder?

    So, i guess this is a guarded recommendation for the Fortius for those who can't face a standard turbo.
  • RamanujanRamanujan Posts: 352
    kurt Kinetic from Planet X
  • inseineinseine Posts: 5,786
    +1 for the i-magic. Only had it three weeks but very pleased. I'm no computer geek but it was dead easy to set up (to my surprise) if you follow the instructions and no problems so far.
    I genuinely look forard to sessions now!
    BTW, contrary to what some posters have stated you don't need the steerer, but of course you are limited to pre planned routes.
    I paid 399 euros in Germany if you're put of by the UK prices.
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