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  1. #1
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    direct drive vs tire drive smart trainers

    I was at my local Performance store yesterday, and I got really close to pulling the trigger on a CycleOps Magnus. While I'd like a KICKR that is twice the price and and am not sure that the additional benefits are worth that. I assume the benefits of direct drive are:
    - Quieter?
    - better accuracy
    - heavier flywheel/better road feel

    Right now I am running a Kurt Kinetic dumb trainer and a Powertap wheel. Any other benefits that I am missing? Anyone have a Magnus and have comments on it?

  2. #2
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    You may want to check out the "Old Kickr vs. New Kickr", by DC Rainmaker, if noise is an issue. He also has some videos on their power measuring accuracy. My "New" Kickr is louder than I'd hoped, but have "installed" some sound dampening, which has helped. To be fair, Trainer is basically next to a wall...sound dampening has helped however. Quieter than my Travel Trac Fluid, also from Performance. Never liked the progressive feel of the fluid trainer, which was also pretty loud, and only used it ~ 3 hours in 2 years. Felt like pedaling in wet sand...didn't feel natural "to me".

    The one thing I don't like about the Kickr, is that when using Zwift, when "climbing", resistance seems a little light at TDC, and if you stop pedaling, your avatar keeps going uphill at a good clip, and farther than in real life. Not really an issue, as my torn ACLs don't complain, but when you start pedaling again, resistance gets really light, until it kicks in a gain. Not so accurate for road feel, but I'm sure its welcome for those who need to take a break for a sec. That said, I want to say that using the Tacx software, resistance, vs. same gradient in Zwift, seems heavier, and more consistent throughout the pedal stroke. I also had some signal dropout issues, where power wasn't being read in Zwift, but a recent update has resolved. Resistance seems much more smooth, and consistent as well. I run on Zwift with trainer difficulty all the way to the right...prior to the update, gradient changes were abrupt and unnatural. Now they seem more "realistic".

    There was also an issue where if coming off a steep decline, at using a high cadence and gear, and high speed, when I reached the flat, speed would decline continually, even when cadence remained the same. Resistance would be lighter than it would be when just starting the session, and the same gear ratio would not result in same speeds. However again, this seems to have been resolved in one of the recent Zwift updates.

    If it helps, I got the "New" Kickr for 20% off at Competitive Cyclist during one of their sitewide sales, where other places wouldn't discount them at all. FWIW, the Kickr/Zwift combo has had me put in more time in the past few months than I have on my all trainers in the past 10 years combined.
    Last edited by colnagoG60; 02-06-2017 at 10:09 AM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveG View Post
    I was at my local Performance store yesterday, and I got really close to pulling the trigger on a CycleOps Magnus. While I'd like a KICKR that is twice the price and and am not sure that the additional benefits are worth that. I assume the benefits of direct drive are:
    - Quieter?
    - better accuracy
    - heavier flywheel/better road feel

    Right now I am running a Kurt Kinetic dumb trainer and a Powertap wheel. Any other benefits that I am missing? Anyone have a Magnus and have comments on it?
    Check the hot deals forum - you can get the Magnus or the Elite Divo and other smart trainers 30% off today and tomorrow at Nashbar
    Nothing succeeds like excess

    Trek Domane
    Niner RLT9 (Gravel Bike)
    Trek Crockett

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Srode View Post
    Check the hot deals forum - you can get the Magnus or the Elite Divo and other smart trainers 30% off today and tomorrow at Nashbar
    I did! After I saw the 30% mentioned in Hot Deals I ordered the Magnus. I'm too cheap to spend $1200 on a KICKR but $420 for a Magnus seemed doable

  5. #5
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    what DC noise test does not really show is the tone of the kickr... for instance I find the tone of kickr1 very annoying. K2 is slightly better. On his test of K2 vs Neo for example the db level is not that different, but in reality the Neo is so much more quiet then either kickr to me.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveG View Post
    I did! After I saw the 30% mentioned in Hot Deals I ordered the Magnus. I'm too cheap to spend $1200 on a KICKR but $420 for a Magnus seemed doable
    Well I caved and ordered one too - fortunately for my wallet they were out of stock on the Elite Drivo..... I should have it Thursday they say - just in time to get it set up and do a MAP Ramp test this weekend
    Nothing succeeds like excess

    Trek Domane
    Niner RLT9 (Gravel Bike)
    Trek Crockett

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by spdntrxi View Post
    what DC noise test does not really show is the tone of the kickr... for instance I find the tone of kickr1 very annoying. K2 is slightly better.
    I have had two 1st gen kickrs and now own a 2nd generation kickr. The 2nd gen is slightly quieter than the first.

    Throughout my 20+ years of riding I have owned a wind trainer, a blackburn mag trainer, a cyclops fluid trainer, american classic rollers, kickr 1, and kickr 2.

    I have no complaints about the sound of either kickr version. They are substantially quieter than any wheel-on based trainer.

  8. #8
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    I have a 1st gen kickr and have had no problems with it. Noise seems about the same as my old Kurt Kinetic. I have my old bike set up on it and like that I never have to worry about tire pressure or tension.

  9. #9
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    Yep, got an elite drivo coming from Nasbar, 30% off got me off the fence.

    To the OP, my trainer info surfing left me with the impression that the Kicker Snap is a better functioning trainer than the Magnus due mainly to having 6 electromagnets and a much heavier flywheel (10.5lbs). The Magnus has a single magnet and 2.6 LB flywheel.
    Last edited by jmess; 02-07-2017 at 07:03 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmess View Post
    Yep, got an elite drivo coming from Nasbar, 30% off got me off the fence.

    To the OP, my trainer info surfing left me with the impression that the Kicker Snap is a better functioning trainer than the Magnus due mainly to having 6 electromagnets and a much heavier flywheel (10.5lbs). The Magnus has a single magnet and 2.6 LB flywheel.
    I saw that video, but then I also read dcrainmakers review where he said the Snap, Magnus, Elite and Tacx are all pretty much the same. It will be here tomorrow and I'll see what I think

  11. #11
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    I got mine yesterday and rode it this morning. Pretty easy to set up, but the instructions on use (as I have read) are non existent in the box. Hooked up to my Garmin 820 easily, and to the Android app. Calibration of the resistance unit took me a little while to figure out - the 820 said pedal at target speed but gave me no target and said the unit wasn't up to temperature and the app didn't show calibration as an option until it got up to temp,then calibration was easy.

    I road about an hour on Zwift London, and was quite surprised the amount of rolling on what I had before assumed was flat - ups and downs in resistance made me realize quickly it wasn't all that flat! The 14% grade out of the subway was fun. Power meter accuracy was better for me around 250 watts where it was spot on, than it was lower. At 160 watts it was about 5 watts below what my power2max indicated, easily within the claimed 5%, not great but certainly not a big issue for me - who knows which one is correct.

    It does have a bout a 1 second delay ramping up power vs when the incline starts as I've read in some reviews, noticeable on the steeper abrupt climbs but not a big deal for me really. Using the Garmin to raise and lower resistance worked well when I was playing around with it before getting on Zwift. I haven't tried erg mode yet to see how well it holds a target wattage.

    Overall, very happy with it - it definitely makes the Zwift experience come to life, and it seems to be a very solid trainer. The icing on the cake is the Nashbar lifetime satisfaction guarantee.
    Nothing succeeds like excess

    Trek Domane
    Niner RLT9 (Gravel Bike)
    Trek Crockett

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Srode View Post
    I got mine yesterday and rode it this morning. Pretty easy to set up, but the instructions on use (as I have read) are non existent in the box. Hooked up to my Garmin 820 easily, and to the Android app. Calibration of the resistance unit took me a little while to figure out - the 820 said pedal at target speed but gave me no target and said the unit wasn't up to temperature and the app didn't show calibration as an option until it got up to temp,then calibration was easy.

    I road about an hour on Zwift London, and was quite surprised the amount of rolling on what I had before assumed was flat - ups and downs in resistance made me realize quickly it wasn't all that flat! The 14% grade out of the subway was fun. Power meter accuracy was better for me around 250 watts where it was spot on, than it was lower. At 160 watts it was about 5 watts below what my power2max indicated, easily within the claimed 5%, not great but certainly not a big issue for me - who knows which one is correct.

    It does have a bout a 1 second delay ramping up power vs when the incline starts as I've read in some reviews, noticeable on the steeper abrupt climbs but not a big deal for me really. Using the Garmin to raise and lower resistance worked well when I was playing around with it before getting on Zwift. I haven't tried erg mode yet to see how well it holds a target wattage.

    Overall, very happy with it - it definitely makes the Zwift experience come to life, and it seems to be a very solid trainer. The icing on the cake is the Nashbar lifetime satisfaction guarantee.
    I just got mine tonight and like you said after assembly there is zero information on how to set up up, calibrate it, etc. After downloading the CVT app and fumbling through the setup I finally got it calibrated and then connected to Zwift. I just did a quick test but my first impression is that the road feel is a bit more rough than my prior KK Road machine. It is also a bit louder. I plan to do a longer Zwift ride tomorrow

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveG View Post
    I just got mine tonight and like you said after assembly there is zero information on how to set up up, calibrate it, etc. After downloading the CVT app and fumbling through the setup I finally got it calibrated and then connected to Zwift. I just did a quick test but my first impression is that the road feel is a bit more rough than my prior KK Road machine. It is also a bit louder. I plan to do a longer Zwift ride tomorrow
    it is a bit louder at higher speeds - it got surprisingly loud around 30mph. Around 20 it seemed about the same as my Kurt Kinetic. Interested to hear your impression after a longer ride on it
    Nothing succeeds like excess

    Trek Domane
    Niner RLT9 (Gravel Bike)
    Trek Crockett

  14. #14
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    A quick reveiw of the Magnus

    I did two sessions this morning with the Magnus on the Zwift London loop.
    First I should mention that the calibration that I did yesterday was right out of the box. Based on my results I would say that is a bad plan.

    I left my PowerTap wheel on to see how close the numbers were. This was not that scientific since I was basically glancing back and forth between my Garmin and Zwift. Starting out I was seeing power values about 20 watts higher on the Magnus than the PowerTap. When I got to Box hill the numbers were closer but still higher on the Magnus; however, on the last part of the climb the PowerTap numbers were higher by maybe 5-7%. I set my best time on Box Hill although I think that PR gets an asterisk. Coming downhill the Magnus was maybe 17 watts lower.

    After the first loop I re-calibated the Magnus. I saw much closer numbers on the flats - maybe 3% difference. On Box hill the numbers were very close until about 5 minutes in. Then the Magnus was showing about 10-15 watts (@280w) lower than what my Powertap read. Could this be because of heat buildup on the Magnus? Itís impossible to say which is more accurate: the PowerTap or the Magnus but I can see that there are differences, and heat seems to play a roll. The results certainly are not linear

    Overall, I think the smart part is an upgrade. Have to switch gears and adjust to the grade makes it harder and more realistic. I do think the Magnus is a bit louder but once I got going with the fan on and stereo blasting at was not a significant factor. I feel more vibration with the Magnus than I did with the KK. This become more noticeable at lower speeds. Next I want to try the CVT app and ERG mode.

  15. #15
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    Do you have your "Trainer Difficulty" set to "Max" (far right) in Zwift? If not, it may make a difference in the numbers.

    FWIW, its recommended that the Kickr be run for ~10 minutes prior to doing a spindown calibration. I believe DC Rainmaker also mentioned something about various trainers needing a "warm-up period" before power number fall in line, in one of his videos.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by colnagoG60 View Post
    Do you have your "Trainer Difficulty" set to "Max" (far right) in Zwift? If not, it may make a difference in the numbers.

    FWIW, its recommended that the Kickr be run for ~10 minutes prior to doing a spindown calibration. I believe DC Rainmaker also mentioned something about various trainers needing a "warm-up period" before power number fall in line, in one of his videos.
    I'm running the default 50% so far. As Sride said, once you assemble the unit, there are no instructions on what to do next (CycleOps, you really need to fix this). The CVT trainer software has a calibration function but it does not mention warm-up or any other conditions. I'd say my results show a warm up is a good idea.

  17. #17
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    I'd run it for 10 min, while not connected to Zwift, and then calibrate. Or run 10 min in Zwift, disconnect, then run calibration.

    Connect back to Zwift, and then check power numbers @50%, then 100% trainer difficulty (set in Zwift).

  18. #18
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    Does the trainer difficulty setting effect the reported power from the trainer?
    Nothing succeeds like excess

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  19. #19
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    No idea, as I don't have a secondary power meter...hence my recommendation to try at the different power levels. However the higher the difficulty, the higher the gradient, until a 1:1 ratio is reached, as respective power output increases...at least in Zwift.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Srode View Post
    Does the trainer difficulty setting effect the reported power from the trainer?
    The way I understand it setting it at 50% grade means the trainer uses a power curve with a gradient of half what you are riding. However, the reported watts are the watts you are actually putting out. My belief is that this setting it used because many trainers can't support some of the steeper grades

  21. #21
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    Trainer Difficulty is more accurately called "Elevation Scaling" IMHO.

    For a controlled trainer,

    100% means a 14% hill will be replicated at 14% by your trainer (if it is capable of that grade)

    50% means a 14% hill will be replicated at 7% by your trainer (if it is capable)

    0% means a 14% hill will be replicated at 0% by your trainer (essentially flat)

    It does not affect your speed in game. Watts are still required to move. If you keep the same gearing on the bike and cadence, but you decrease the TD, you will effectively be making it easier on you, but getting less watts. Therefore you will be slower.

    Using the "Trainer Difficulty" setting in Zwift | ZwiftBlog

  22. #22
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    Guess I'll try the 100% setting next time - I thought the 14% grade coming out of the subway felt too easy.
    Nothing succeeds like excess

    Trek Domane
    Niner RLT9 (Gravel Bike)
    Trek Crockett

  23. #23
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    Yup, depending on the specs of your trainer, that and the antenna tower climb will work you over at 100% TD.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chader09 View Post
    Yup, depending on the specs of your trainer, that and the antenna tower climb will work you over at 100% TD.
    I always intend to do the radio tower when doing the backside climb on Mountain 8, but my knees peer pressure me into "not" making that right turn, by the time I hit the snow covered section.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Srode View Post
    Guess I'll try the 100% setting next time - I thought the 14% grade coming out of the subway felt too easy.
    Today I tried a ride with the CycleOps CVT software. This software does not let you scale the grade like Zwift. I saw the same difference in wattage between the Magnus and the PowerTap. I did learn one reason why you might want to use the scaling and that is gearing. The bike on my trainer is set up for the flats with a standard crank set and a small range cassette. I was really struggling on some grades. On the steepest part of my ride, all of a sudden I could barely turn over the pedals but the Magnus said I was putting out less than 50 watts I stopped, thinking that I damaged the trainer. The smell of burnt rubber was in the air. Finally I realized that the tire was jammed again the chainstays. This bike (old steel) has horizontal dropouts and my "massive" power had pulled the drive side forward. It seemed like I am going to have to move a bike with lower gears to the trainer now
    Last edited by DaveG; 02-11-2017 at 01:55 PM.

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