What's Cool In Road Cycling

Cycle-Ops Fluid2TT: Smooth Operator

With their best early-season results ever, the Postal boys are clearly already in express delivery mode. Indeed, they even look fast standing still when warming up on their stylish Fluid2 TT trainers from Cycle-Ops. And with a record snowfall in Halifax, I had plenty of time to put it through the spin cycle…

If there is one essential piece of equipment for a cyclist living in northern climes, it is a quality trainer. Yes, it is ultimately an exercise in sensory deprivation biking indoors, but considering that I torture others for my research, it’s only fair play to torture myself for fun. However, trainers are also excellent tools for cyclists in regions where cycling year-round is possible. Indeed, I use my CompuTrainer or Tacx rollers throughout the year, especially when I’m doing sustained efforts where I don’t want to be distracted from the workout by lights, traffic, or changing terrain. Of course, trainers are also the ideal warmup tools at races, especially time trials and crits. Therefore, if you’re going to be using a trainer consistently for years, it is definitely an advantage to invest in a quality unit. The Cycle-Ops definitely fits that bill.

I do not possess our TechNSpec Editor’s thunder thighs nor his bad trainer mojo, and can’t boast that I’ve ever set a trainer aflame. Regardless, over four weeks of varied indoor workouts ranging from recovery rides and sustained efforts through to some serious tongue-dragging following along to Marty Nothstein’s new sprinting workout DVD (look for upcoming review), the Fluid2 more than held its own against any wattage I could throw at it. Cycle-Ops chose to design the Fluid2 for higher power outputs to ensure that the big gear mashers and the Posties did not have a problem with maxing out the trainer. For mere mortals, though, I actually found the trainer somewhat tougher than I would have liked at times.

The “Power Band” technology, marketed as closely replicating road feel, actually felt like I was riding up a false flat of 2-4% grade the entire time. Coupled with the inability to alter the resistance with anything except by changing gears (unlike mag trainers where you can “artificially” reduce the resistance levels), led to my spending most of my efforts in two gears lower than what I could probably handle at the same effort on the road. For me, this meant the 39×19 for endurance rides and that I had to throw on the 23 cog for one-legged pedaling drills. And before you start snickering at my wimpy wattage, most all of the elite riders in the included Carmichael training videos were doing all of their hard efforts in the small ring too!

None of this should be considered a design flaw, but be aware that it may be tough to perform some pedaling drills like high-rpm spin or one-legged pedaling with the Fluid2. Cycle-Ops suggested that the resistance can be lowered by removing some of the fluid from the unit, but I doubt anybody would care to do that and risk blowing a seal somewhere. On the other hand, the unit is very smooth and progressive in resistance. There was none of that chunky pedaling feel you often experience with some units when you’re mashing big gears, and no need to tighten the rollers more than normal. The resistance changed pretty quickly and smoothly upon acceleration.

Road feel aside, the other major consideration with a trainer is the logistics. The Fluid2 was well-constructed and had a good heft about the unit and the rollers that made it clear it could stand up to a fair amount of abuse. The two legs fold in or out very simply, and can be slightly adjusted to compensate for uneven surfaces. More importantly, the quick release design holding the rear wheel truly lives up to its name. When setting up for the first time, you screw the holding bolt into one of three possible holes. Clamping down the rear wheel is then just a matter of flicking down the lever like a slot machine arm. Couldn’t be simpler, plus the big screw adjusting roller tension is hefty and sturdy. Noise level is quiet and let me watch TV at a normal volume, but then anything is blissfully quiet compared to my Tacx rollers set up with two resistance fans (visualize a Cessna in your rec room)!

The Fluid2 is reasonable in price ($299 US MSRP), considering that the unit is so well-built. To complete the Postal look, you can upgrade to the TT limited edition, complete with deep blue paint scheme and all five of the Carmichael training videos for $399 MSRP.

Thanks to Terry Tomlin from Outdoor Gear Canada for the test rig!
Find out more info on Cycle-Ops products here.

About Stephen:
Stephen Cheung is an Associate Professor of Kinesiology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, with a research specialty in the effects of thermal stress on human physiology and performance. His company, Podium Performance, also provides elite sport science and training support to provincial and national-level athletes in a number of sports. He can be reached for comments or coaching inquiries at [email protected].

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