The Road Machine combines a fluid resistance unit that’s mounted within solidly built A-frame trainer. The roller and resistance unit is fully sealed, guaranteed leak-proof and features passive air cooling for heat management. Inside the case, a direct drive impellor displaces thermodynamically stable fluid; that means it doesn’t get thinner and easier to push around when it heats up, so you get a consistent level of resistance right throughout your training session.
Manufactures of indoor trainers are usually at pains to promote their product as having a real-life road-like feel. Of course, without the physical sensations of the wind in your face and twists and turns of the road, it’s an impossible task. That said, the Road Machine does a good job of providing a realistic resistance feel. The fluid unit provides smooth and steady increase in resistance that’s easily managed by changing gears.
In real-world riding, the drag from wind resistance increases exponentially as you speed up. Magnetic trainers tend to be more linear in their resistance curve where fluid resistance comes closer to the progressive ramp-up in effort that you get on the open road. It certainly felt more ‘road like’ than a magnetic trainer, where you’re typically forced to alter the resistance level as well as changing gears when you put in a sprint.
The package comes with a heavy steel quick release skewer that helps to provide a solid connection with your bike and saves your regular skewers from being damaged. Once mounted to your bike, the Road Machine feels very stable and secure—there’s no doubt your bike will stay put regardless of how enthusiastic (or unbalanced) your style may be. It’s also quiet enough to allow conversation or TV watching at normal levels. You’ll have no problems with using it in the spare room, whereas most rollers or wind trainers will have you consigned to the garage and turning up the volume on your MP3 player.
One interesting feature of this product was the ‘In Ride’ app which integrates with the Road Machine. The consistency of the power curve provided by the Road Machine means they’re able to derive a series of significant statistics. The unit has an auto calibration function to ensure wattage outputs are correct for the tyre pressure and trainer roller tension you have set.
The In Ride system comprises a small box of electronics that attaches to the Road Machine next to the flywheel mount, a magnet and heart rate strap. With the magnet attached to the flywheel, the sensor box tracks the number of revolutions. Using the known power curve of the Road Machine’s resistance unit, the In Ride unit is able to calculate your power output, cadence, speed and distance information. This is transmitted via Bluetooth and displayed on your Bluetooth enabled smart gadget, ipod or the like—just strap it to your bars and away you go. The unit also pairs with the In Ride heart rate monitor and displays this information too. At this point unfortunately there is no ANT+ protocol for sending information.
The In Ride’s on screen interface is simple enough to use and provides a choice of five screens of information based around power and heart rate options for you to monitor during workouts and to review afterwards. Power output and heart rates zones are displayed as well as the current, average and maximum heart rate and total time spent in each training zone during workout. It also calculates the calories burnt, referencing your age, weight, height and power output for each session, and all the data is summarised and stored in the system by date. Strava and Training Peaks fans can upload and share data via the system or email the files for analysis by remote coaching staff.
The Kurt Kinetic website has simple instruction for determining your Functional Power Threshold; a number than will govern your efforts as you implement a training regime based around your own power output capacity. Like all worthwhile things, the test itself is not simple easy to complete – a 20 minute time trial at full speed that should leave you completely spent.
Some people may be concerned about accuracy of the measurements, ‘am I really pushing 320 watts…is the units measuring 320 watts correctly?’
In Ride claim their unit is accurate to 1-2%
My take on this is that it’s really a moot point. The resistance of the unit remaining consistent over time and throughout each individual training session is the real concern, unless, of course, you are worried that your coffee shop buddies might claim higher power output because their system says it’s higher than yours.
The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is a quality trainer in its own right. Guaranteed leak-proof, quiet and consistent, it’s should be a real contender for your cash if you’re intent on indoor training. The In Ride power meter and application has the smarts to take your training to a new level by helping you optimise each training session, training your body at the best level of exertion to deliver results aimed at speed or endurance.
Suggested reading for those looking to find out more about power training should include Training and Racing with a Power Meter 2nd Edition by Allen Hunter and Andrew Coggan, $29.95 from www.bicyclingaustraliastore.com.au
Kinetic InRide $289
Kinetic Road Machine $569
Kinetic Carrier Bag $89.95
Kinetic Sweat Guard $39.95
Kinetic Riser Ring $39.95
Distributed by Everest Sports