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Benefits of a smart trainer!!!

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Benefits of a smart trainer!!!

Old 01-14-24, 06:34 PM
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Benefits of a smart trainer!!!

Iím now kicking myself for holding out so longÖ years on a dumb fluid trainer vs a basic Zwift trainer - night and day, completely different worlds!!

Not only is my winter volume up, I find myself putting in more weekly seat time than some of my heavier summer weeks.

Volume, consistency, varietyÖ bored on the flats? Climb Mt Ventoux!!


Will start interval training soon, I can only imagine how much better it will beÖ
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Old 01-14-24, 08:42 PM
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Good for you !
I started with a dreadful "wind trainer" back in the mid '80's. It made so much noise but it did work. Watched movies, TV, videos of bike races, whatever to ease the mind numbing boring ride. Went through a variety of dumb trainers and the mind numbing ride made it difficult. I tried rollers but they really sucked...lol...I couldn't balance on it to save my life or my house.
I've had a Kickr for the past three years or so and holy moly what a difference. I use Zwift primarily but I also use Rouvy for my recovery rides just to enjoy the scenery of different environments. But for training, racing, etc. I love Zwift.
Have fun ! ! !
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Old 01-14-24, 09:00 PM
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Yeah, I’ve had a dumb trainer for a few years. We moved to Idaho in 2021, and while we ride outdoors year round here, it’s just not safe when the roads are snowy and/or icy. In the prior two winters I did a total of one hour on my dumb trainer, just too boring. I got a smart trainer in late November and joined Zwift. I’ve now done 19 activities and have over 20 hours in. Our club offers a weekly Zwift ride, and I’ve since added another one for the club. Done a few workouts and free rides too. It really is a game changer and it’s really fortunate that I got it. My last outdoor ride was January 1, as it’s been too rainy/snowy since then.
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Old 01-14-24, 09:19 PM
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I got the Kickr and Zwift in Sept 2022. I didn't like it at first -- the watts were considerably lower than my outdoor watt numbers. And my cadence would get bogged down. I had to learn a different pedaling technique, smoother "rounder" pedaling, and more unweighting of the upward pedal stroke. I think the resistance is different than outdoors, where letting off force is an instant response, compared to a slight lag in the lowered resistance on the Kickr. (And the low cadence "death spiral" is easily fixed by coasting for a second or two -- the resistance will reset to a low value and I can spin again.) And lowering the Trainer Difficulty setting lets me keep a faster cadence that I like. (It should be called Gearing or Cadence adjustment, not Difficulty, since the watts are the same either way, it's just simulating lower bike gearing.)

For Zwift group rides, there's essentially no coasting on the flats, or I get gapped off far enough that it's quite difficult to connect back to the draft. That's different than my outdoor group rides, where I can just stand and do a few hard pedal strokes to get back in the draft.

The next spring outdoors, I could really feel the improvement after Zwift. A feeling of more power while seated. A better pedal stroke. Nice!

~~~
Zwift activities I like lately:

--some of the big event rides, like the current Tour de Zwift. I've been doing the short course at full effort, taking about 30 minutes. I can't hold that strong pace for the longer courses.
--some of the easier group rides from some organized groups, with ride leader pacers and a cutoff fence in front of the group. A moderate cruise speed is nice. The fence can be set so that riders that pass in front of it for more than 60 seconds are off the ride, or just as a warning/reminder. It depends on the group.

--Some riders I know set up private group rides. It's very easy to make one of these events and send out invites. We use the "keep group together" option -- slow riders that are more than a few seconds off the back get automatically towed back to the group, as long as they aren't just coasting. So strong and weaker riders can ride together. The rides are either "finish this selected Zwift course", or "ride for 60 minutes", etc.

--The Climb Portal. It's interesting to try the big climbs. The really tall ones are a bit much for me, but I like the 1000-2500 foot elevation climbs. Ha, I can't fall over, no matter how slow I go. I have the Settings--Trainer Difficulty set to 30% - 40% so I can keep a faster cadence on these steep climbs. It's still the same wattage as at 100% difficulty, but much lower gearing.

-- The pacer bot "24/7 Group Rides". This is much better now, with the new Teleport button on the companion app or screen menu. Click Teleport, and it shows all the different W/kg speed groups. Pick one, and you are transported to it, with the 10 second countdown to start pedaling. Got gapped off? just reconnect. The best use is for warmup and "intervals": I start with a long easier warmup speed group, then jump to either a maintainable faster group, or else a "hold on for 3-5 minutes" too-fast group. That's fun to see how long I can hang on at those speeds. I end up with one ride recording session that includes all these different groups.

-- Workouts: I have a custom Zone 2 ERG mode workout, at steady Zone 2 watts, with periodic 30 second "free ride" sections for standing and/or stretching. The Zwift workout maintains the target wattage no matter what gearing I'm using, as long as I keep a fairly steady effort. Bump the watts a bit to have Zwift allow an increased cadence, or ease off briefly below the target watts to go to a lower cadence. I can't ride that steadily outdoors at all.

Last edited by rm -rf; 01-14-24 at 09:35 PM.
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Old 01-15-24, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
I’m now kicking myself for holding out so long… years on a dumb fluid trainer vs a basic Zwift trainer - night and day, completely different worlds!!
Congratulations. Sounds like a good purchase!

Did you try the dumb fluid trainer with Zwift, or did you start using Zwift when you got the Zwift trainer? Did you have an on-bike power meter prior to the smart trainer?
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Old 01-15-24, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by RChung
Congratulations. Sounds like a good purchase!

Did you try the dumb fluid trainer with Zwift, or did you start using Zwift when you got the Zwift trainer? Did you have an on-bike power meter prior to the smart trainer?
Started with when I got the new trainer.

I do have a PM on my bike.
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Old 03-24-24, 05:37 PM
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A little late to this party, but I'm of the other mind, at least a little.

First off, I'm not sure the definition of a smart trainer, I assume it means one where the app. such as Zwift, can control the power. Which I have.

Of course a smart trainer gives you ERG mode and that is especially useful for things like fitness tests, or very structured workouts. But, otherwise apps like Zwift are doing everything based on power. So, it seems to me all that having the app change the power does during free rides, is force you to change the gears on the bike. With a dumb trainer of course you change gearing, but just to have the cadence you want at the power level you want.

And now, Zwift has the virtual gearing with some trainers, so you don't even change mechanical gearing, it just makes it harder if you hit a climb, then you "down-shift" by pressing a button, which just makes it easier again. What's the point of that?

Riding in the real world, has definite changes in pedal feel due to momentum effects. So, while average power my be the same, climbing still feels different from riding on the flat. Trainers, of any type, don't seem to do that, or don't do it to enough of a degree that I can feel it. So, again, what do smart trainers bring to the table, other than ERG mode? And no question, ERG mode can be a big deal for certain things.
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Old 03-24-24, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Mtracer
A little late to this party, but I'm of the other mind, at least a little.

First off, I'm not sure the definition of a smart trainer, I assume it means one where the app. such as Zwift, can control the power. Which I have.

Of course a smart trainer gives you ERG mode and that is especially useful for things like fitness tests, or very structured workouts. But, otherwise apps like Zwift are doing everything based on power. So, it seems to me all that having the app change the power does during free rides, is force you to change the gears on the bike. With a dumb trainer of course you change gearing, but just to have the cadence you want at the power level you want.

And now, Zwift has the virtual gearing with some trainers, so you don't even change mechanical gearing, it just makes it harder if you hit a climb, then you "down-shift" by pressing a button, which just makes it easier again. What's the point of that?

Riding in the real world, has definite changes in pedal feel due to momentum effects. So, while average power my be the same, climbing still feels different from riding on the flat. Trainers, of any type, don't seem to do that, or don't do it to enough of a degree that I can feel it. So, again, what do smart trainers bring to the table, other than ERG mode? And no question, ERG mode can be a big deal for certain things.
A good smart trainer can simulate slope resistance pretty accurately, especially with a virtual flywheel to control crank inertia. My Kickr Bike feels very different when climbing vs riding on the flat at the same power. Itís much like in real life. It has virtual gears too and the point of that is exactly the same as having gears in real life.
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Old 03-24-24, 06:35 PM
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Today I tripped over mine and stubbed my toe.
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Old 03-25-24, 07:44 AM
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I started getting serious with The Sufferfest on a fluid trainer, using the virtual power metrics it provided. It didn't matter to me that it wasn't real power as long as it was consistent. When I got a smart trainer I found that The Sufferfest wasn't as engaging because you were no longer jumping when they said jump, instead the trainer would lock down on me at the power level, i.e. ERG mode. In the real world you'd likely kick it up well beyond what was called for and then settle in. It took something away from the experience. I then started to use Zwift more as the trainer now provided a more realistic ride in the app, where without a smart trainer Zwift just looked like a simulated world without any impact. The last time I did Sufferfest I turned off ERG mode because I wanted that same ability to jump in my own way, the way you might in a real race or group ride and then I remembered why I liked it in the first place. For that same reason I never do structured training in Zwift.
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Old 03-25-24, 10:09 AM
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For users with Zwift Hub:

If you are experiencing banging sounds/shifting issues it maybe related to the Drive side nut that secures the cassette.
  1. Unplug power
  2. Remove bike from trainer
  3. At end of cassette there is a nut that maybe loose.
  4. Tighten with wrench that came with trainer to a little above finger tightness. This tends to loosen up more frequently when taking bike on/off trainer.
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Old 03-30-24, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Mtracer
A little late to this party, but I'm of the other mind, at least a little.

First off, I'm not sure the definition of a smart trainer, I assume it means one where the app. such as Zwift, can control the power. Which I have.

Of course a smart trainer gives you ERG mode and that is especially useful for things like fitness tests, or very structured workouts. But, otherwise apps like Zwift are doing everything based on power. So, it seems to me all that having the app change the power does during free rides, is force you to change the gears on the bike. With a dumb trainer of course you change gearing, but just to have the cadence you want at the power level you want.

And now, Zwift has the virtual gearing with some trainers, so you don't even change mechanical gearing, it just makes it harder if you hit a climb, then you "down-shift" by pressing a button, which just makes it easier again. What's the point of that?

Riding in the real world, has definite changes in pedal feel due to momentum effects. So, while average power my be the same, climbing still feels different from riding on the flat. Trainers, of any type, don't seem to do that, or don't do it to enough of a degree that I can feel it. So, again, what do smart trainers bring to the table, other than ERG mode? And no question, ERG mode can be a big deal for certain things.
I partially agree with this. I made the transition from a dumb Kurt Kinetic trainer to a smart Elite Direto trainer this winter. The ability to "feel" the hills (and the descents) adds some verisimilitude and makes things a bit more entertaining, but it isn't a huge quantum leap. With the dumb trainer, riding in groups or in a race, I also had to up my watts to keep from being dropped on the hills, so I felt the hills indirectly.
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Old 04-03-24, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Mtracer
A little late to this party, but I'm of the other mind, at least a little.

First off, I'm not sure the definition of a smart trainer, I assume it means one where the app. such as Zwift, can control the power. Which I have.

Of course a smart trainer gives you ERG mode and that is especially useful for things like fitness tests, or very structured workouts. But, otherwise apps like Zwift are doing everything based on power. So, it seems to me all that having the app change the power does during free rides, is force you to change the gears on the bike. With a dumb trainer of course you change gearing, but just to have the cadence you want at the power level you want.

And now, Zwift has the virtual gearing with some trainers, so you don't even change mechanical gearing, it just makes it harder if you hit a climb, then you "down-shift" by pressing a button, which just makes it easier again. What's the point of that?

Riding in the real world, has definite changes in pedal feel due to momentum effects. So, while average power my be the same, climbing still feels different from riding on the flat. Trainers, of any type, don't seem to do that, or don't do it to enough of a degree that I can feel it. So, again, what do smart trainers bring to the table, other than ERG mode? And no question, ERG mode can be a big deal for certain things.
A major difference is how the resistance is presented. A dumb trainer (mag, wind, etc.) serves up the resistance based on your input. The faster you spin, the more power you put down, the more resistance you feel. On a smart trainer, the resistance is preset regardless of what you do, just like in real life.
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Old 04-04-24, 04:23 AM
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So, after a spin down calibration...

Got on the trainer, Zwift Hub, and couldn't turn 130 watts...

Did another spin down...

It felt a little better, so I went for a ride. Didn't have my HR monitor on, wasn't sure if I had bad legs... The trainer was off by at least 50+w at cruising speed and 200+ on any climb. I was smashing the pedals and getting 230w... tried it on the Alpe - first slope, easiest gear - cranking with everything I had and couldn't make it to the first switchback.

Did a firmware update and will see if that fixed it on my next ride... if not, well winter is just about over here.
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Old 04-04-24, 10:09 AM
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i didn't read anything in this thread that indicated you had any problems...is this a new problem for you?

don't wait until next winter to get this sorted out. if its a problem and under warranty get it done now.
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Old 04-05-24, 03:29 AM
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It was a new problem.

I downloaded the new firmware which has an auto calibration feature and after a few cycles it got better. The longer I rode the better it got, but it’s still not perfect.

It’s still doing odd things - it will slow me down while descending or quickly slow me down when I stop pedaling. It still feels about 20w off and much harder to maintain speed.

Ill give it a few more rides and let the auto calibration do its thing.
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Old 04-05-24, 01:05 PM
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from the looks of this thread you hav eonly had this since january. the trainer should not be failing that quickly. and a FW update should not be the solution unless they shipped a product with a known FW bug. but it sounds like it was all peaches and cream for you in the beginning. i doubt more rides are going to make s difference.

if you unplug and remove the bike does the trainer move smoothly? on my old kicker i could grab the flywheel and spin it easily. when doing that it should come to a stop and rotate in reverse for a degree or two. sort of like back emf in a motor dissipating.
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Old 04-05-24, 04:02 PM
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I don't really like zwift's stock physics. I always thought I should be able to coast down a hill without coming to a stop. But I believe that's part of the "trainer difficulty" setting, and if you want to be able to coast, set it to zero. I set it to 25%, and things seem better to me. Still can pedal down hills, which might not be possible at 0%. I mostly didn't want to have to buy lower gears though. My kickr came with a 28 tooth cassette, and on steep hills that just wasn't enough. You could fiddle with that setting as a trial, and when it shows there is nothing wrong with your trainer, set it back.
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Old 04-05-24, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
I don't really like zwift's stock physics. I always thought I should be able to coast down a hill without coming to a stop. But I believe that's part of the "trainer difficulty" setting, and if you want to be able to coast, set it to zero. I set it to 25%, and things seem better to me. Still can pedal down hills, which might not be possible at 0%. I mostly didn't want to have to buy lower gears though. My kickr came with a 28 tooth cassette, and on steep hills that just wasn't enough. You could fiddle with that setting as a trial, and when it shows there is nothing wrong with your trainer, set it back.
I donít understand this. I have my Kickr Bike set to 100% trainer difficulty in Zwift and it coasts just fine downhill. I agree about the 28T cassette though. I use a simulated 33T to match my road bike gearing.
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Old 04-08-24, 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
I donít understand this. I have my Kickr Bike set to 100% trainer difficulty in Zwift and it coasts just fine downhill. I agree about the 28T cassette though. I use a simulated 33T to match my road bike gearing.
My trainer used to spin fast down the hills... and to your point from a few threads back, it would maintain ghost watts for a bit after I stopped pedaling.

After the first spindown calibration, before the firmware update - the trainer now seemed to put on the brakes when gliding on downhill sections, and the watts instantly drop to zero. And the speed drops a bit as well.

Now after the firmware update, which includes an auto calibration feature - the trainer will put on the brakes for the first few glides then gets better as it goes. It's supposed to calibrate during times of free spinning...

Here is what its doing:
-Start of the ride, 130w feels like 200w. If you push a bit harder the power reading will jump higher, then very quickly return to the false low level. The trainer feels like its pushing thru mud and has the brakes on.
-After a warmup period and a few times freewheeling it will get a little better. The more I do it, the better it gets.
-Once warmed up and after a few cycles of the auto calibration it still seems about 10%-15% off.
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Old 04-08-24, 10:09 AM
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have you tried doing what i mentioned in post #17? you may be having a mechanical issue that no FW updated will be able to fix.

i ask this because i doubt that the trainer is putting on any brakes. mroe likely there is some excessive friction somewhere that you must overcome when riding and when you coast that friction is acting as the brake as you say.
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Old 04-09-24, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
My trainer used to spin fast down the hills... and to your point from a few threads back, it would maintain ghost watts for a bit after I stopped pedaling.

After the first spindown calibration, before the firmware update - the trainer now seemed to put on the brakes when gliding on downhill sections, and the watts instantly drop to zero. And the speed drops a bit as well.

Now after the firmware update, which includes an auto calibration feature - the trainer will put on the brakes for the first few glides then gets better as it goes. It's supposed to calibrate during times of free spinning...

Here is what its doing:
-Start of the ride, 130w feels like 200w. If you push a bit harder the power reading will jump higher, then very quickly return to the false low level. The trainer feels like its pushing thru mud and has the brakes on.
-After a warmup period and a few times freewheeling it will get a little better. The more I do it, the better it gets.
-Once warmed up and after a few cycles of the auto calibration it still seems about 10%-15% off.
That sounds bad. If it was the firmware update there should be plenty of chatter on the Zwift forums.

My Kickr Bike has a motorised flywheel, so it actually spins itself up on descents without pedalling.
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Old 04-09-24, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by spelger
from the looks of this thread you hav eonly had this since january. the trainer should not be failing that quickly. and a FW update should not be the solution unless they shipped a product with a known FW bug. but it sounds like it was all peaches and cream for you in the beginning. i doubt more rides are going to make s difference.

if you unplug and remove the bike does the trainer move smoothly? on my old kicker i could grab the flywheel and spin it easily. when doing that it should come to a stop and rotate in reverse for a degree or two. sort of like back emf in a motor dissipating.
It spins smoothly with the bike off/unplugged.

The issue started when I did the old manual calibration - immediately. This is why I think its software.

I took the bike off last night, got it out on the road for the first time in a few months (been riding a different bike on the road) - and at 20mph it was a breeze to ride. It used to be 20mph on the road was harder than 20mph on zwift, now it's flipped. That bike is in the shop now for a tune up, when I get it back I will put my power pedals on it and compare to the trainer reading.

My RPE and HR being the same, I now average .5-.75 wkg less on the trainer than I did before the calibration.

IMHO it's 100% software/firmware. The power meter will tell the story.
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Old 04-09-24, 01:19 PM
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this is odd. i assume you have tried re calibrating again. i think i asked this before but i'll go again...you've only had this since january. have you reached out to whoever you got this from or from the trainer company? you should before your warranty expires. especially since it appears that a calibration may have somehow hosed things up. possibly the data beign stored is beign stored in flash that is not quite working and the data beign retrieved is just wrong. pure guessing on my part.
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Old 04-10-24, 05:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
It spins smoothly with the bike off/unplugged.

The issue started when I did the old manual calibration - immediately. This is why I think its software.

I took the bike off last night, got it out on the road for the first time in a few months (been riding a different bike on the road) - and at 20mph it was a breeze to ride. It used to be 20mph on the road was harder than 20mph on zwift, now it's flipped. That bike is in the shop now for a tune up, when I get it back I will put my power pedals on it and compare to the trainer reading.

My RPE and HR being the same, I now average .5-.75 wkg less on the trainer than I did before the calibration.

IMHO it's 100% software/firmware. The power meter will tell the story.
Power meter pedal comparison will be helpful. Depending on Zwiftís calibration, you might well find that power measured at your pedals is around 4-5% higher because of drivetrain losses. Thatís what I used to see on my Elite trainer, which had an accurate optical power meter, vs a crank power meter on my bike. All my Zwift PRs were set using crank power instead of trainer power. When I moved to a Kickr Bike I lost that advantage 😂 5% doesnít sound like much but I really noticed it in competitive situations or when trying to set PRs on climbs.
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