I’ve had this for about a month now, and wanted to get a few quality rides in on it before I gave an opinion. At present, I have about 15 hours of ride time on it, and thus feel pretty qualified to give some initial impressions. First, what are we talking about?
First time setup takes about 3 minutes. I use a spare road rear wheel and tire, and threw the Cycleops skewer in it. Throw that wheel in the trainer, and lock your bike in the trainer using the yellow adjustment starwheel. Then, do a one-time tension adjustment on the rear yellow handle for a good fit.
Subsequent setup/takedown is however long it takes to swap the rear wheel, plus 30 seconds to slide it in the stand, tighten the starwheel, and flip the quick release on the tension handle.
In the base #1 ‘warmup’ mode, there is very little resistance.
In #2 ‘road’ mode, resistance is similar to road riding on a flat road, without wind. At an indicated 22mph, it takes 220 watts to spin.
In #3 ‘hill’ mode, resistance ramps up more quickly. At lower speeds (say 15mph), resistance is similar to mode #2. But as you speed up, it quickly ramps up.
In #4 ‘interval’ mode, resistance ramps up even further and more quickly. I have no idea what the maximum resistance it can generate would be. I’ve broken 1,000 watts (once) and it had a lot left in it.
How does it work? Magnets. (NSFW video follows).
There are a set of magnets in the rolling resistance drum. As the drum spins, centrifugal/centripetal (BPaul to weigh in later on which is the correct term) forces those magnets out. I’m assuming that there is a stationary magnet by the drum, and as the spinning magnets pass the stationary magnet, it generates resistance. The further out the magnets are spun by the ‘spinny force’, the more resistance there is. Adjusting the resistance selector moves a stop that determines how far they can go.
What does this mean in real life? The trainer is silent. The only noise you get is from the tire and wheel spinning, and the bike–which does make some noise.
The trainer doesn’t make any heat. None.
The resistance is not linear, but is progressive. Let me explain…assume that you’re in mode 3 and spinning at 15mph, and then accelerate to 20mph. As you accelerate, resistance starts ramping up. It isn’t an immediate jump in resistance–it is a slow progression. After about 5 seconds, it has reached maximum resistance at 20mph. In some ways, it’s like realistically climbing a roller. It isn’t an instant jump in resistance–but a progression.
Once you get to a constant speed, the resistance remains constant as well. The trainer doesn’t know what gear you’re in or what your cadence is. So in mode 2 at 22mph, you just need 220 watts in some gear. That could be a gear where you’re cranking along at a high cadence, or in a gear where you’re mashing. That gives you a lot of flexibility in how you want to train.
The trainer is very stable and very comfortable to ride–it feels pretty natural. With a bike as rigid as the Madone, the only flex I notice is in the attachment points between the trainer and the bike, where it extends out to grab the bike. Even that flex is pretty minimal, and is only noticeable when standing, hammering, at high resistance.
I ride for the duration of a movie. Last time I rode, I rode for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, or 2 hours and 4 minutes. It gives me a way to pass the time. My standard setup?
Garage + box fan + laptop + bike + trainer.
Not exactly an inspiring view, but it’s a good way to ride until you hurt…and having a movie goal (I will ride until this movie is over) is a good way to keep from tapping out early in a ride. When I want a ride before work in the morning, I often ride for Ride the Divide, or about 80 minutes.
With the different settings, you get a lot of options. My MI:GP ride looked like this:
- 20 minutes in mode 2, warmup, at round 20mph.
- 20 minutes in mode 4, in a ‘spinning gear’. Sprint up to 140rpm and reasonably high resistance (500 watts), and hold for 15-20 seconds, then pedal easy for a minute. Repeat.
- 20 minutes in mode 4, in a ‘mashing gear’. Try to hold the highest wattage possible while not exceeding 55rpm cadence.
- 20 minutes in mode 3, in an intermediate gear. Try to hold 200+ watts baseline, and then accelerate to the highest cadence possible, hold for a minute, and then back to baseline for 2-3 minutes.
- 20 minutes in mode 3, in an intermediate gear. Sprints as per #2.
- 15 minute time trial. Highest wattage possible to sustain. Downshift as necessary to maintain 90+ rpm cadence.
- 10 minutes in mode 2 at around 20mph. Criticize Jeremy Renner for not clearing the room properly when he goes into the utility closet with the electrical panel. Contemplate plausibility of 100 meter fall, nose first, in an SUV. Cool Down.
Downsides: you cannot switch resistance from on the bike. You have to get off and manually switch settings. In the ~2 hour ride above, I switched 3 times. Frankly, it would be possible to just set it in mode 3 and do the whole ride, albeit at different speeds…but I don’t find the brief stops to be too annoying, and I’m still enjoying experiencing and learning the different resistance curves that the trainer provides. Also, while I like how the front legs fold up easily, you cannot really stand the trainer up in a corner with the legs folded…because the resistance unit then rests on the floor and keeps it from standing up nicely. Not a huge deal, but not terribly well thought-out, either.
Make fun of the thong if you will…but it works. It makes me feel a lot less bad about schweating all over the Madone. I’m a thong convert. (Put that on the list of things I never thought I’d say).
The riser blocks work fine. They’re a bit slippery on concrete, so you do have to be careful to not turn the handlebars, or the front end will turn. I have not used 2 riser blocks yet because…well, I just don’t understand the point of raising the front of the bike on a trainer, and we don’t have mountains in Illinois.
The trainer kit also comes with a training DVD. I haven’t watched it yet, predominantly because I like the motivation of watching a movie and having a duration goal to ride for.
Overall, positive early impression on the Supermagneto Pro.