Trainer vs. Trainer

Living in the Midwest can make it tough to get base miles in for the next year’s riding/racing season. Last year we were gifted a mild winter by Mother Nature, but this year she’s decided we can tough it out. The cold and snow has kept a lot of outdoor riders at bay and has most of us becoming slaves to our indoor trainers.

Having spent a few hundred miles on a trainer, I thought it would be nice to compare two popular models that are out on the market. Today we’ll be looking at the CycleOps Fluid 2 and the CycleOps Super Magneto Pro. Many cyclists equate CycleOps with the Fluid 2 as it’s one of  the top selling indoor trainers of all time.

The Fluid 2 was (actually) the second trainer I’ve ever owned. The first was a Graber/Schwinn branded Mag that is sold in stores such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and mass market stores. In all honesty, that trainer worked well for my first season of indoor training, but I eventually decided to pass it along to a friend and upgraded to a Fluid 2.

The simple Graber/Schwinn Mag trainer.

The first season I owned the Fluid 2 was great. We actually had two of them set up in our house for training and it made putting in base miles for the Wisconsin AIDS/ACT ride fairly easy. We had a Harry Potter marathon and watched loads of Biggest Loser episodes on our TV. The overall ride of the Fluid2 (versus the Graber Mag) was smoother and the resistance unit was quieter. The one thing the Fluid2 lacked was a good attachment system for securing the bike to the trainer. It was kind of a pain, as you have two sides of adjustment, the threaded adjuster and the bolt action lever.

The one thing the Graber trainer had as an advantage was the fixed drive side and then only one adjustment to get the bike mounted up. I hope that CycleOps will eventually realize that they should include this in their Classic series line up!

Note the two adjustment pieces for attaching the bike.

Once spring came, we stored the trainers in our coat closet. In late November/December (of 2012) we pulled both of them out as it started snowing and getting cold. One of them worked as it should and is now residing at a family friend’s house. The other, however, suffered from a noisy bearing and the flywheel was scrapping against the resistance unit. We had stored the trainers upright, so we’re not quite sure why that had happened.

The non-normal Fluid2 ended up getting taken into work (aka Saris Cycling Group) and I asked them to recycle it. I then bought a Super Magneto Pro and never looked back!

The Super Magneto Pro is an amazing trainer, as it should be for the cost! The trainer comes assembled out of the box, the paint scheme looks super sexy, and it has four different resistance options. I’ve fallen in love! I’ve been using the trainer all winter and can say that it’s worth the extra cost. If you are someone who puts in a lot of miles, you’ll like the versatility and ease of use with this model. The bike attachment system is super easy to use, the trainer is assembled out of the box, the legs lock into place, the floor level adjustment is much nicer than simply rotating the feet around like with the Fluid2, and the feel of the ride is amazing.

The new toy. Doesn’t it look sexy? I think it does!

The only flaw I’ve found in this trainer is that when you move up into a higher level of resistance, the centripetal force causes the magnets to move (they are designed to) and they can be a little noisy. Once they’ve moved to where they need to be, they are done. They don’t continue to make anymore noise until you either slow down or ramp up again.

Overall I think CycleOps makes some great trainer options. Full disclosure, I do work for them, but I’m honest about my opinions and do cover some of the found warranty issues we sometimes come across. Any company selling thousands of units of ANY product will run into some production issues. There is a lifetime warranty, so even if I end up leaving someday and have an issue with my  trainer, I’ll have confidence knowing they will take care of me. Oh and all the trainers are made right here in Madison, WI. I’m not sure where Blackburn, Kinetic, or Tacx makes their stuff. Probably in Taiwan or elsewhere. (TBD)

Below is a comparison chart I came up with for the two products. If I had to give stars, I’d give the Fluid2 a 3 1/2 and the Supermagneto a 4 1/2 out of 5.  If CycleOps changed the bike attachment for the Fluid, I’d bump it up.

Trainers CycleOps Fluid 2 vs. CycleOps Super Magneto Pro
Retail Cost $339.99 $399.99
Series Classic Pro
Color Gunmetal Grey Flat Black
Bike Attachment Bolt Action Slider w/threaded adjustment on non-drive side Fixed drive side, yellow dial adjuster
Resistance Type Fluid Magnetic
Assembly Assembly required, L bolt and carriage bolt need installation Assembled out of the box
Noise low to medium depending on how hard you ride low to medium, the magnets do make a little noise when more centripital force is applied
Resistance Options Progressive resistance curve, the longer you ride, the harder it gets 4 mode options for 4 various resistance curves (easy,road, mtn, inverval) use side dial for adjustment
Floor Level Adjustment Rotate the feet for floor level adjustment Integrated dial adjustment in left foot
Features Foldable legs, fits wide range of spacing and bike wheel/tire sizes Legs lock into place and have easy push button assembly, easy set up and take down, higher quality overall build
Fits Spacing 120, 130, 135 130, 135
Wheel Sizing 20/24″ w/adapter 26,700c, 29er (works best w/slick tires) 26″, 700c, 29er (works best w/slick tires) (could potentially work with 650c/650b, hasn’t been tested by CycleOps)
Attachment Fittings Fits 15mm bolt on axles as well as steel skewer (included in box) 15mm bolt on and steel skewer (included in box)
Potential issues If the trainer isn’t stored in a climate controlled area, fluid can leak Once in a great while the side dial will pop out, this has since been looked at and fixed by CycleOps
Ride Quality Good- The progressive resistance makes for a good, challenging workout. Great- The ride is super smooth and depending on the setting you can make it an easy high cadence spin or a tough workout (mtn setting will make things tough)