What's Cool In Road Cycling

TruTrainer: Really Rare Resistance Rollers

It’s pouring rain and around 7C degrees at PEZ HQ today – not exactly ideal conditions for a 3 hour Sunday session. With many of us facing bleak fall & winter days ahead, it’s time to choose the right indoor trainer, and if you haven’t thought of rollers – maybe you should. PEZ test one of the cream of the crop, and nothing is smoother than cream…

Yes trainers are a more typical thought in the dead of winter (or for pro’s with Spanish passport stamps and a need to stay inside…). With that in mind, We thought we would run this review again, as the first time we kicked it out it was mid summer, and only us Arizona folks were begging for better (see “cooler) weather…

Click the thumbnail at top for the BIG view.

TruTrainer are CycleDyne LLC. Cycledyne LLC are basically two jet engine designers who also ride bikes and get to deal with Indiana winters (making us wonder if Indiana isn’t the state that has the highest percentage of fast smart people in the country…). Ross Belloni and Jeff Rhodes decided to make a set of rollers that they, as knit picky / perfectionist type Aerospace guys, would like to ride. After 15 years (ah the sheer quickness of pure engineers!) a lot of do and redo, and what were probably some really fun arguments, they finally gave birth.

What came from the mix are a set of rollers with character that I have wished for but not found in any of the 5 sets I’ve hated in the past. A roller set that addresses better resistance, better position, less vibration, rookie safety and a Pez Type reader’s idea of product quality.

Any quality concerns I had required no more work than removing these from the box. The material fit and finish is fanatical. In the process of unpacking and setting up, anyone that has had other rollers will note that these are noticeably heavy even compared to the number one brand. In short, they look like a product designed by guys who make things right or people die. The machining on non-wear surfaces and in fact all surfaces is simply beautiful (if you’re a nerd like me…)

The frame itself is aluminum with machined notchs and with a powder coated (better than painted) finish and slip resistant wrap, where your feet would normally touch down. And you’ll also note that the rear drums are both adjustable to suite different wheel types.

Something that bears mention is that the slots for the rear wheels in the picture above sit a bit higher in the frame than the (widely adjustable) slot for the front wheel…

That means that when things are properly adjusted, your bike doesn’t sit with the rear wheel lower than the front (as lots of rollers do). That’s not unimportant, as a couple of hours of the more active riding you’ll do on rollers will accentuate sitting “nose up”.

Taking a look at the first rear drum on the TruTrainer rollers might also have you wondering what’s different…

The little hex head bolts (only one shown) are a release and attachment for this products best feature… a hidden and detachable tubular high speed flywheel.

This feature pummels several of the add-on features that other roller sets have (and requires very little effort to deactivate, should you want the standard ease of spin from standard rollers). There are no fans, or electrical devices to fiddle with and the range of resistance (along with optimized rear wheel spacing on both drums) allows you to more easily perform seated and standing resistance work that is normally available on rollers.

A problem I’ve always had with rollers is that it’s just way too easy to accelerate and once you’re up to speed, the resistance is minimal. With the TruTrainer rollers, you have initial resistance that is pretty similar to the road. And the resistance allows you to keep a steady 375 watts. And by steady resistance, I mean VERY. There isn’t any of the snatchy feel (too rapid slowing, or resisting in “spurts”) at 375 watts that you feel on lots of fixed wheel trainers that lack a large flywheel. It’s not that I enjoy sitting at a smooth 375 (any more than I enjoy crapping a golf ball), but if you have to suffer, it might as well be smooth… (note the resistance is variable, from very low, up to 375 with simple gear changes)

Speaking of smooth, the drum surface and rolling smoothness overall is exceptional… There is a silky set of rollers milled out buy an F1 shop in the UK that might be like these, but I have not felt any retail product this smooth. (And the F1 rollers were $3k, not for sale and owned by someone with a criminal mind that would have been very hard to steal from).

The drums themselves are milled to a tolerance that had TruTrainers first machining contractor basically give up trying. They’re happy with the product from the new guys though and they are “round”. While that sounds simple, I can assure you a circle is a lot tougher than it sounds. The fact that TruTrainer are just as worried about the inside machine tolerance also helps because wall thickness variation means bad weight distribution and you can feel the drums “hopping” on some other rollers.

The high weight of this set also helps damped what ever vibration is left, making for a better ride…

The last thing I like about these screams “I’m a noob”. I’m not (at least not at this), it’s just a great feature and for me, a feature that simply makes life easier. It’s a platform that allows a far easier mounting and dismounting of the rollers.

Riding rollers, to some folks, seems like a risk. Urban legends of exploding wheels, bikes propelled into TV sets (or wives), de-nosed dogs (actual, not myth), de-tailed cats and snapped drive trains have been plentiful and colorful, but they’re mostly bullshit. I have fallen and come off rollers plenty. Each time my rear wheel just stops (although it has left some interesting tire marks on the carpet…). About all I might want is to be riding a training wheel set. I have never had a problem, but it makes sense that quick stop of a light wheel could possibly have a negative effect and you may as well be on 32 spokes.

All in all, rollers take a little work to get used to, but for everyone I know that has a bit of ability on a bike, that’s really all it is… “a little” getting used to.

TruTrainers platform will just make it a little less, as trying to stand on a rail / frame with any brand of cleat on a cycling shoe is no fun. The platform not only lets you on and off, but in the case of a torture subject, it made for a great bail out option as the test subject simply clipped out and let the bike coast on the rollers while putting a foot on the platform.

For me it was just a nice easy climb on and off.

Our test set was also the collapsible version where the unit will fold in half for easier storage. It also has a handy snap in handle…

No revelation, but it made for easier lugging of a heavy set (collapsed or not) and less cumbersome than grabbing even lighter rollers buy the roller.

Done Deal
Simply put, there are those of us that love rollers and those that don’t. I am a fan of rollers for a few reasons and was not a fan for things like resistance work or some types of intervals. A lot of the people that didn’t like rollers didn’t really give em a chance, and to be honest, were not very good on a bike, which might sway some away.

TruTrainer eliminate a lot of the reason I use a rear wheel locking type trainer. I will still use one for some specific work, but I would WAAAAY rather use a set of these for 60%+ of indoor riding (when they come out with Watts measuring and a Computrainer like tracking software and course design, I’ll be fully aboard). They are at once very simple to use, self adjusting with your gear changes, easy to maintain and provide resistance without any attachments.

They also keep me busier on the bike as you can’t snooze on rollers. It doesn’t take much time before you will find yourself relaxed and not drifting off center, and that’s one of the bigger benefits with all rollers as the ability to hold your line becomes very second nature on the road too…

As for forcing a better “spin”? Maybe… You would really have to work at spinning bad enough to send you off rollers, and these rollers, with a higher back, make for a more secure rear wheel, meaning an uneven cadence isn’t going to send you off the front or back. You would pretty much have to try something stupid to pull out of these rollers. That also may be because they coast down more like the road than other rollers do as well as being a better simulator for acceleration.

These are not inexpensive. $699 gets you on the base set up. I love the optional platform and that’s another $79. The flywheel (resistance) release is another $49 bucks, and if you want to run mountainbike, or other wheel size, you’ll want a drive belt to match for another 10 bucks.

All in that’s a bit of coin, but as you could very easily use these rollers for a lot of what you might use a fixed trainer for (Again, only lacking power measuring and training tools that are still a staple of fixie trainers…), you kinda double up. These also give you an incredible work out and road feel that is not replicated as well by any but the insanely expensive locked in trainers…

You can get more details directly from the TruTrainer guys by visiting TruTrainer.com.

Have Fun,

Charles Manantan

Note: If you have other experiences with gear, or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews, or a slap in the head if you feel the need!

PezCycling News and the author ask that you contact the manufacturers before using any products we test here. Only the manufacturer can provide accurate and complete information on proper use and or installation of products as well as any conditional information or product limits that may limit their use.

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