In early June I made drove to Seattle to visit the guys at RacerMate, and take a first hand look at – and ride on, their newest training machine – the Velotron. This thing is like the Frankenstein of trainers – you can create your own monster! We’ve reviewed RacerMate’s Computrainer, and it’s no secret we’re big fans. They make great training gear that works, and can seriously improve your riding and fitness.
The Velotron is a sophisticated cycling training system that comes complete with fully adjustable bike frame, electronic ergometer, and super software to measure, record, and learn from your performances. The machine I tested was equipped with the also new Varicranks (read the Pez-Review here)– which allowed us to change the cranks lengths in a couple of minutes, without removing them from the bike. (A great feature if you’re wanting to know how you perform with different crank lengths…)
What makes this trainer different from others? First. It comes with a complete frame, stand, bars, everything you need to set up without using your regular bike. Just like the guy with the spray painted hair – “you can set it and forget it”. – It makes getting on for a session that much easier.
Next is the 55 pound flywheel – that’s right – made from cast iron. Attached to the flywheel are copper plates that pass though a set of magnets at the base of the rear wheel – and basically create any resistance you want. This controllable electro-magnetic resistance system is what recreates the feeling of riding up hills, freewheeling down hills, rolling flats, accelerating, sprinting – what ever gear ratio you want – got it? The bottom line is that the machine recreates the sensations of riding a real bike more closely than any other training system out there, and is accurate to within +/- 0.2%.
Then there’s the software. You load it on to your pc, and essentially control the machine from a keypad on the handlebars. You program the gearing you want – front and back, and shift gears while riding by pushing buttons on the control pad. The software also accounts for rider and bike weights to more closely recreate what happens on the paved road.
We’ve talked a lot about the Computrainer software before (read the Pez-Test here) –, and how good it is, and since this was my first time actually riding it – you’ll have to bear with me while I go on about it. The feedback from the SpinScan pedal analysis is amazing. I was convinced that my right leg was doing way more work than the left. What I learned – and saw with my own eyes – was that my left leg was just a strong as the right, and even had a more fluid and efficient pedal stroke. To quote the Butabi brothers – “Maan!” The software records more info than I can tell you about here, but it showed me how wattage I produced, my rpms, the distance I’d pedaled, and it analyzed my pedal stroke so I could see what part of the stroke I was stronger in and which parts need work.
Then, to keep you from getting bored, you can do training rides on at least 100 different pre-programmed courses, featuring hills, descents, turns, you name it. And by using their new mapping program, you can even recreate your own local rides right on the trainer, or for that matter, road courses anywhere in the US! Feel like going international? – say climbing Alpe d’Huez in the middle of winter on your basement? No problem, by using their course creation program – you just program in data based on altitudes and distances, and let ‘er rip. With the Velotron, you can even create a 24% incline, and ride it with no rear wheel slip… Maan!
One other cool thing I got tell you about is the ergo test we did. The idea was to set a constant increase in the resistance over a short period of time and to see how long I could hold out. We set it to go from 200 – 700 watts in 3 minutes. My job was to maintain my rpms at 105 for as long as possible, while the resistance increased. The higher the resistance, the higher the power output I made. I felt like James Bond on one of those torture machines – holding on for dear life! I lasted 90 seconds and got to 425 watts before I blew – heart rate over the top, lungs gasping for anything resembling breathable air – . I almost saw spots. Of course I could have gone a bit more, but figured I’d be better off staying alive to tell the story….
A Note to the naysayers who’ve seen the Velotron ads on PezCycling News – Of course we’re inclined to say nice things about our sponsors’ products, but in this case – the product is a winner. Regular readers also know we call it like it is – and in this case – the product is solid – which makes our job a little tougher since trying find something that could be improved is actually pretty tough. Okay here’s one – it’s priced at $6500 US – so maybe it’s a little out of reach for most of us, but they’ve built a lab-quality training system so complete, you really do get what you pay for… and shot at creating your own monster!
Get more info at the Computrainer website www.computrainer.com