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PEZ Reviews 5 Indoor Trainers
There's no shortage of highly detailed, very lengthy, and super scientific trainer reviews that abound (some even on this website...) This is NOT another one of those. I recently tested, in my indoor research lab, aka "the basement", some of the most popular and common cycling trainers.

- Words & pics by Jeff Green -

All had the latest firmware installed, and were calibrated and aligned after a warm up.



My scoring was based ONLY on which I felt provided the best, most "real world", experience, on ZWIFT.
After all, if it ain't Zwift it just doesn't matter! (My favorite line from that Bill Murray film "Meatballs"...keep reading and it will all make sense...)

I based my scores on noise, reaction time to grade changes and to pedalling efforts, real world feel aka "smoothness combined with momentum", and performance on grades above 10%.

By the way, my trainer for the past two Zwift seasons has been my trusty Tacx Genius Smart. Yes, I know, old school compared to state of the art direct drive machines, but I kinda like it. Headphones help of course.

Scoring Notes
Out of a perfect score of 5/5 Matzoh Balls
• 1 Matzoh Ball = 1 Meat ball = 1 Falafel Ball

 



Tacx Neo - Score 5.00 - US$1,599
Until something better comes along, ie: the "New Neo " aka Neo 2, this is the top dog.  The Neo does everything right and nothing wrong. But I can do without the silly bumpy road simulation. It's smooth at all times, reacts very quickly and smoothly to all grade and pedalling effort changes - including the very steep "antenna climb". It's ultra quiet and would be ideal for use in a submarine during stealth-mode. Watch "Crimson Tide" with Denzel if you are curious.

• Buy it in Canada
• Buy it in USA

 



Elite Drivo - Score 4.50 - US$1299
I had heard many good things about the Drivo, and expected to rate it on par with the Neo so I was surprised that it didn't quite make it to the top.  The Drivo has the smoothest feel of all, is also super duper quiet, and eats steep climbs for breakfast. However... I could not get the Drivo to coordinate with either grade changes nor pedalling efforts - the lag was noticeable, unmistakable, and distracting. Was I using it wrong? A firmware glitch? Oh, I'd be remiss to not comment on the white paint job. Seriously, what were they thinking? And 4.50 may be too generous considering how well I got along with it's young brother. Read on...

• Buy it in Canada
• Buy it in USA



Elite Direto - Score 4.25 - US $949
The Direto was a pleasant surprise. It was quiet, not in the same league as the Neo or Drivo, but coming from my tire driven Genius, I was in anechoic chamber heaven. The Direto was smooth, but not the same as the Neo or Drivo - it had an unnatural heaviness to it that was a bit much at times. Climbing was good as were reaction times to load changes. In retrospect it may have deserved an on par score with it's bigger brother and costs a few hundred less - if saving money is your thing.

• Read the full review in PEZ Tech N Spec here.
• Buy it in Canada
• Buy it in USA



Wahoo Kickr 2 - Score 4.00 - US$1299
I tried the original Kickr a few years back (PEZ Reviewed it here) and was amazed at how smooth and lifelike it was - at the time nothing came close. But that was before space ship Neo hit planet Earth and changed the course of history.  The Kickr 2 has a very unique feel to it, smooth but maybe too smooth. Maybe I've been spending too much time on pot-holed Toronto streets. I wonder if Toronto's Mayor John Tory reads PezCycling News. A good climber, a bit quick on reaction to grade changes and pedalling efforts - it didn't take much for my Zwift avatar, sporting a much better haircut then I - to leap out of the saddle and take off. And yes, it's quiet - so quiet that I can hear the cars outside hitting the pot holes. Some may take issue with my 4.00 score thinking it's at least on par with the Direto. They'd have a valid argument.

• Buy it in Canada
• Buy it in USA



Tacx Genius Smart 3.50 - US $799
Now maybe I'm biased but I do like my Genius. That sentence alone should remove any concern about any of the manufacturers flying me off to Monaco to do trainer reviews. And this would be a good time to give a shout out to the good folks at La Bicicletta Toronto for lending me the trainers. Mille Grazie! Noise aside, headphones are the easy solution - for everyone in the house not just you, the Genius feels very much like the Neo, from the same family, but not as advanced nor refined. It doesn't react anywhere near as quickly to input efforts or grade changes, and it's not as graceful on climbs above 10% - the antenna excursion, super steep, becomes an exercise of square pedal strokes. But the revelation was how, with all the other trainers, and unlike my beloved Genius, I no longer had to over rev my engine to close gaps and then back off to not overshoot. I almost always overshot with my Genius. This alone is terribly frustrating, and very tiring - hence my Zwift palmares are a bit sparse. Would Einstein use a Genius ?

• Buy it in Canada
• Buy it in USA




There you have it - a completely unscientific review of five trainers. The beauty of this kind of story is that everyone who's ridden at least one of these trainers qualifies as valid reviewer - so with fairness in mind - and if you qualify - let us know your own thoughts on any of these trainers.  Oh what the hell - feel free to comment on any trainer you feel like. - Pez.




Note: if you have other experiences with gear, or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews, or a slap in the head if you feel the need!

PezCycling News and the author ask that you contact the manufacturers before using any products you see here. Only the manufacturer can provide accurate and complete information on proper / safe use, handling, maintenance and or installation of products as well as any conditional information or product limitations.

 

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