I am someone who cycles for the joy of being outdoors in the fresh air, watching the world go by and keeping reasonably fit. For me indoor training is something of a last resort and reserved for extended periods of foul weather or moments of inspiration brought on by new gadgetry such as a new TV in the garage or a power meter. As Murphy’s Law would dictate, the arrival of the Sportcrafters Rollers for testing coincided with a long spell of clear hot days; the days when I would much rather be outside on the road, but these new resistance rollers were intriguing enough to get me into the garage to sweat it out.
We cyclists generally don’t mind accumulating stuff, but that is generally reserved for carbon accessories and go-fast bits and bobs. However as rollers and trainers traditionally served different purposes we were are often forced to have both in the arsenal. Trainers are generally used for a workout where resistance is required, rollers have traditionally been more for warm-ups and cool-downs at the track and for high cadence low resistance work. Rollers have the added advantage of being a more engaging ride and also assisting in keeping balance skills sharp and pedal motions smooth. While owning both is one thing and could be justified, travelling with both is just plain awkward.
SportCrafters have used some ingenious magnetic technology hidden inside the rear roller to add progressive resistance to their rollers. The power curve of the Sportcrafters OverDrive Pro Rollers increases with speed in a non-linear fashion as it would on the road, and for those that are aware of Trainerroad the power curve of the SportCrafters rollers is consistent enough to be compatible with the Trainerroad virtual power service should you wish to use it.
In a quick, rough test using my own non-resistance rollers the difference was marked. In the same gear and at the same cadence on the non-resistance rollers I was sitting on 168 Watts while on the OverDrive rollers at the same tempo I was putting out 238 Watts. The neat trick with the OverDrive drum though is that it is directional. By this I mean that if you remove the drum and flip it end-for-end (a two minute operation) the resistance mechanism disengages and you have a standard set of rollers. So it is possible now if you only want to make one purchase to tick a few boxes, similarly if you are travelling and need a lighter, more versatile option then the OverDrive roller is ideal. While it fulfils all of the functions of rollers it can only fulfil some of the functions of a trainer. As with all rollers it is not ideal for low rpm high resistance work, but at only eight kilos and foldable, the plusses definitely outweigh the one shortcoming of this multi-function unit. If however you intend to do low cadence work or are unsure of your ability to effectively use rollers, Sportcrafters make a fork mount which attaches to the frame to aid in stability. While I didn’t get a fork mount to test, I would say my only possible concern would be with the stability of the entire unit when under the torsional stresses of harder efforts. The folding mechanism of the SportCrafters OverDrive is what you would possibly term ‘agricultural’ and it doesn’t have a locking mechanism to keep it rigid so it can seem a little flimsy when assembling, however once in place the unit functions fine.
The SportCrafters rollers are completely made in the USA, and the company manufacturing them are addressing sectors of the market most of us probably never considered, by making trainers for hand cycles and trikes. Another great idea they’ve had, which addresses the bane of travellers in overweight luggage, is to make a trainer called the Omnium. The Omnium trainer is a smaller twin roller with a fork mount which folds up to meet the (American) TSA carry-on luggage requirements for size and weight.
The OverDrive Rollers are $399 which, considering a decent set of rollers minus the resistance feature would cost you nearly as much, is a lot of extra versatility for a little extra investment.
Distributor FRF Sports