There is a saying that
your fitness depends on your off-season. No matter what
type of cyclist you are how you train during the winter
determines the quality of your riding experience in
the summer. If you stay off the bike over the winter
it will be difficult getting back on the bike; you’ll
gain weight, loose fitness and get unaccustomed to sitting
on a bike seat. No other part of your off-season equipment
is as important as your indoor trainer.
More than any other type of bicycle training, riding
an indoor trainer provides significant benefits quickly.
Few cyclists actually look forward to riding their indoor
trainer, but anyone who has done it with consistency
and moderation during the off-season will enjoy the
benefits of weight loss, increased fitness and acclimation
to sitting in the cycling position. You can make your
greatest fitness and weight loss gains during the winter.
Riding an indoor trainer is concentrated fitness. Every
one minute riding the trainer is sixty seconds of good,
solid work. You don’t coast, stop or draft. It
is all meat. You don’t have to ride the trainer
very long to realize a significant training benefit.
If you can use your indoor trainer for a half hour every
other day throughout the off-season you will notice
a big improvement in your fitness, keep your weight
stable or loose weight.
Indoor trainers are a product category rife with contraptions.
Trainers range in cost from bogus $60 stands that simply
elevate the rear wheel to multi-thousand dollar affairs
with a full exercise physiology suite. The happy medium
is a dependable, durable trainer that is quiet, long
lasting, provides a wide range of resistance which is
easy to install and remove a bike from.
I’ve made peace with the indoor trainer and look
forward to riding it. I appreciate the concentrated
fitness gains from a season of riding indoors. Most
times coming off the trainer at the beginning of the
year gives me better fitness than riding outdoors. Part
of the reason I’ve made peace with the indoor
trainer is that I found the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine.
I’m not the only reviewer who gives it high marks.
Bicycling magazine gave the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine
its “Editor’s Choice” award for best
indoor trainer. Velo-News labeled the Kurt Kinetic “Our
favorite trainer”. As you’ll see in this
review, the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is not revolutionary;
it is simply refined, well built and easy to use.
In the crowded product category of indoor trainers
Kurt Manufacturing got their start as a second tier
supplier to Cycle-Ops, another indoor trainer manufacturer.
Kurt was originally contracted to build the frame for
the Cycle-Ops brand indoor trainers. Kurt Manufacturing
actually started in 1947 manufacturing tooling equipment
and continues as a precision machining and manufacturing
company in addition to their U.S. based trainer operations.
Cycle-Ops, the guys Kurt started out making trainer
frames for, have had their share of ups and downs. Cycle-Ops
was purchased by Graber Products out of bankruptcy in
1999 and subsequently suffered a bad reputation from
a series of fluid resistance trainers that leaked the
resistance fluid from the load generator housing. Graber,
the new owners of Cycle-Ops, managed to engineer a passable
short term fix for the problem and revived the brand
but they have struggled ever since from the leaking
issue. Occasional leakage problems remain with Cycle-Ops
trainers due to a fundamental aspect of the Cycle-Ops
design. This became their Achilles heel and an opportunity
for Kurt Manufacturing.
As this drama played out Kurt Manufacturing was designing
a new fluid resistance indoor trainer with a completely
leak-proof, encapsulated resistance unit that used an
improved frame for more stable support and less stress
on bike frames. The fluid vessel that contains a rotating
impeller to generate silent resistance while pedaling
was molded completely shut. The resulting technology
developed by Kurt was awarded a patent and has become
the current Kurt Kinetic Road Machine.
Simply stated, the trainers are built and designed
better than any other manufacturer we’ve seen.
The design team at Kurt Manufacturing learned from other
trainer company’s mistakes. Kurt incorporates
subtle (and not so subtle) design refinements and innovations
that make the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine the best fluid
resistance indoor trainer available.
The key benefits that are entirely unique to the Kurt
Kinetic Road Machine are:
- Completely sealed, seamless fluid resistance unit
that cannot leak (patented).
- Neodyium magnetic virtual drive shaft for seamless,
non-mechanical coupling to submerged resistance unit.
No seals or gaskets to fail.
- Can withstand sudden accelerations of 0 mph to
50 mph repeatedly without failure, far more load than
a cyclist could ever generate.
- Unconditional 5 year, 50,000 mile guarantee on
resistant units, Lifetime guarantee on frame.
- 80 cooling vanes molded onto the resistance housing
maintain a safe, moderate temperature of the resistance
housing even at highest speeds. It’s impossible
to burn yourself on the trainer on the trainer housing.
- Heat resistant, thermodynamically neutral silicone
resistance bath does not change density since fluid
temperature does not increase.
- Resistance level remains stable throughout workout;
it does not become easier as the trainer is ridden
longer since it doesn’t overheat.
- Variable resistance unit increases resistance at
the same rate as resistance accumulates outdoors:
The unit is calibrated using a power meter to verify
authentic accumulation of resistance. The road feel
is nearly identical to riding outdoors. You ride harder,
it gets harder.
- Trainer frame is constructed using automated techniques
to insure perfectly level stance. Vinyl compensator
pads automatically accommodate uneven floors for a
- The Kurt Kinetic frame has a wider and deeper tripod
surface area than any other trainer currently available,
making it the most stable.
- Kurt Kinetic Road Machine trainers accommodate
all popular wheel sizes.
- The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine bike mounting system
has outlasted every other indoor trainer mounting
system in our store by years.
That is a long shopping list of features and benefits.
On paper, the Kinetic Road Machine looks like a winner.
When you ride the trainer that status is confirmed.
Perhaps the most sweeping endorsement we can give the
Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is that we use it for fitting
customers to their bikes here in the store. If you were
positioned on your bike in our store during the last
two years, you’ve ridden a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine
trainer. We’ve used Computrainers, Cycle-Ops Trainers,
Blackburn indoor Trainers, Tac-X trainers, Elite Indoor
Trainers and other models for fitting customers with
less success than our Kurt Kinetic Road Machines. We
chose the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine for a number of
reasons. When we are fitting a customer we need to have
a quiet trainer. We’re listening to customer comments
about the fit and position, giving them advice on bike
posture and how to shift, brake and generally interacting
in a conversational tone. If the trainer were any louder
than a whisper, it wouldn’t be possible. On a
Kurt Kinetic you could be going full tilt and not wake
a baby in the next room. Other trainers we’ve
tried had noise levels roughly equivalent to a hand-held
hair dryer on its highest setting, easy to hear from
adjacent rooms while in use.
The Kurt bike mounting system is also highly refined
and durable. A normal user probably puts their bike
into and removes it from the indoor trainer less than
a dozen times a year. On a normal day we mount five
or more bikes in the trainer, 360 days a year. That
is somewhere on the order of 1,800 bike installations
and removals in the trainer per year or 150 times more
than a normal user may subject the trainer to. The Kurt
Kinetic trainer we’re using now is 2 years old.
That means it has been used to over 300 times the normal
amount of bike installations and removals as an average
consumer may subject their trainer to. The mounting
system on ours has never failed and is going strong.
Kurt Includes a heavy duty steel quick release skewer
to precisely engage the mounting receptacles on the
trainer. This prevents damage to your nice, black anodized
light weight skewer.
Kurt’s legacy is the manufacture of indoor trainer
frames. It’s no wonder theirs is the best in the
industry since they’ve had the most experience
making them for themselves and others. The footprint
and stance of the trainer is wider than any other trainer
currently available. This means the trainer is extremely
stable. You can do difficult efforts in a big gear or
high cadence workouts in complete stability. If you
like to do long hours on the indoor trainer for base
training during the winter while watching a moving the
Kurt provides a stable base for pedaling, going no-handed
to grab energy food or drinks and press the buttons
on your remote or MP3 player. The trainer is robotically
welded from precision cut tubes and sits perfectly level.
If your basement floor is less than level the trainer
feet are molded to compress at different levels to compensate
for minor irregularities on the floor surface. The frame
folds so you can easily take the trainer to the local
club time trial for a warm up and store it during the
Kurt’s calling card on the road machine, and
the source of all the attention, is the resistance unit.
Kurt Kinetic Road Machine trainers are variable resistance
trainers that automatically vary the work load the exact
same way you vary your work load on the road: By effort.
The harder you go the harder it gets, and the harder
you are going the harder it is to go harder. Kurt went
to great lengths to mimic exact road “feel”
on their resistance units. The unit is calibrated using
a watt-measuring power meter to replicate the same sensation
of resistance on the trainer as you would experience
on the road at a given frequency of wheel revolutions.
Even more important, as the frequency of wheel revolutions
changes (accelerating or decelerating) the sensation
is amazingly similar to what you experience on the road,
especially when accelerating.
Since Kurt did use considerable care in calibrating
their fluid resistance units with a power meter that
opened up an interesting opportunity: The poor man’s
power meter. For about $50 Kurt offers a little computer
unit that rather accurately estimates power output from
the trainer itself. The nature of any bicycle power
measurement device is that you can’t accurately
compare power measurement from dissimilar devices. If
you try to compare your SRM, Power Tap or Computrainer
power output numbers you’ll notice some big differences.
That makes it difficult to evaluate exactly how true
the power output numbers are that the Kurt power estimating
computer provides. One thing we’ve learned is
that they are consistent though. That means you can
make reasonable comparisons from one workout to the
next to evaluate your fitness progress and the level
of exertion. The little computer uses a very readable
three line display and tells you current, average and
maximum power output, your current speed, average speed
and remembers your maximum speed, tells you ride time,
ride distance and has an odometer. The entire system
turns on automatically and has very long battery life
using conventional cyclocomputers batteries. Considering
the unit is about $50 that is a lot of function for
a little money.