Thursday, 11 December 2008

GamJams Reviews: Trainers and Rollers - CycleOps Magneto

Last winter, I replaced an Elite trainer that didn't last very long with a Cycleops Magneto. It was a tough call between the Fluid and the Magneto. The Fluid was more expensive but supposedly had better road feel. The Magneto was less expensive, way lighter and perhaps more durable. I'd heard horror stories about fluid leakage, and the lower weight was attractive for travel to races. All other features, specs, etc were the same. The Magneto got the nod.

Having ridden the Elite with its five resistance levels, I was a bit unprepared for the feel of the Magneto and its naturally progressive resistance. At first, it felt like riding in mud and I thought my legs would be dead within minutes. Very quickly, I came to recognize this as a much more natural road like feeling than the Elite provided. It's a bit like riding outside is Coke and riding inside is Diet Coke. Somewhat similar, but less similar than the people who want you to buy Diet Coke would have you believe. Along comes Coke Zero, and Coke sues Coke Zero for taste infringement. It's that close. The road is Coke, the Elite is Diet Coke and the Magneto is Coke Zero. It's the taste infringement trainer.

Other nice features are that it takes zippy.3 seconds to put your bike onto it and it has some nice leveling foot dealies. Can't comment on long term durability because it hasn't yet gone through a full winter and I didn't get to use it too much warming up for all the races I missed last year, but it seems in about the same shape as it was when it came home.

A very cool thing that came with it is the Real Rides 'Race Day' video, which is Robbie Ventura riding Master's Crit Nationals with a helmet cam. An excellent distraction for trainer sessions, although intense as bejeesus. Also, I wouldn't recommend it while you are riding rollers, as you'll probably try to lean into a corner and that won't work very well.

The bad feature of this trainer is that it is no longer made. Cycleops appears to have changed their entire product line for this year. If they improved on this trainer with whatever they've got now at a similar price point, that would be great. Cycleops not only changed their trainer lineup, they have changed their Powertap lineup, so my trainer sessions this winter will soon be enhanced by a spiffy new wireless Powertap Pro+. If you have an old Powertap that is on life support, give them a call. They'll hook you up. As psyched as I am for my new Powertap to weigh about a half pound less than the old one, and as neato as the whole wireless thing is (and I have to say, wireless is pretty mint), the thing I am most keenly anticipating is being able to ride in the rain without the thing going into a coma.

I also have a set of Performance rollers which are old. They are good but provide no resistance, and they are also very loud. I ride them somewhat regularly because they are excellent at developing better bike handling. Learn to ride no hands on the rollers and the road seems like you've got training wheels. Standing on rollers is another milestone moment. Haven't yet gotten to the point where I can take off my shirt while riding on them, which is supposed to be when you become a really big dog on rollers, but I can do the "hop of the rollers and straight into riding" thing, which is easy. Perhaps the point of this is that rollers are good and worthwhile but the particular ones I have, with large PVC drums, are not the best. A pair of those Kreitler ones with the small metal drums might be the whole ticket.

Necessary accoutrements for either rollers or trainer for me are a large piece of carpet to go under the setup, an 18" stand fan and a 12" floor fan and a large towel for sweat and a small snot rag. The considerable expectoration that occurs on a road ride is, for me, only enhanced by the stationary experience.


Jim said...

I'm down with the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine with the 18 lb flywheel and flexible base. It's the size of a church pipe organ, but it rides more comfortable than anything, and it actually does feel like riding on the road with the slow flywheel rolldown.

gstreator said...

The Magneto is still a production unit. The SuperMagneto Pro is not a replacement, but an addition to the trainer line.