TruTrainer Smartload Power Rollers: Roller Training With Power
Do you think that indoor cycling training only means hours of slogging away on a stationary bike? Do you hate trainers but love their ability to enable quality workouts by closely controlling resistance and wattage? The TruTrainer Smartload Power rollers combine the best of all worlds by pairing a set of smooth rollers with their new SmartLoad resistance feature.
Living in Canada and being an exercise physiologist, I’ve ridden a lot of indoor bikes over the past 35 years. I’ve ridden traditional rollers with and without fan resistance, almost too many stationary trainers to count, and many of the newest smart trainers.
They all have their place and may be the right fit for riders, but I’ve always found them ultimately lacking something and making me wish for a perfect amalgam with all the features that I want. Here’s a very brief list of things that have bugged me:
• Traditional rollers feel like riding a bike, but there’s really no resistance to speak of. Rollers with fan resistance are way too loud to be practical.
• Stationary trainers usually leave me bored because your bike is fully stuck in place and there’s no real interaction.
• Smart trainers are great in providing an excellent workout, but they’re still clamped in place. They’re also pretty inconvenient when you don’t have access to electricity.
I’ve been a big fan of TruTrainer rollers since first trying them in 2012, and wrote a detailed review on them previously. They’re smooth, have tons of inertia and resistance, and I find that time passes a lot faster when you’re actually engaging your mind in balancing the bike. Rollers also force the rider to build a smooth pedal stroke to avoid bouncing around or even off the drums.
While TruTrainer’s cycling rollers look like traditional rollers, pretty much the only similarity is in having three drums that the bike rests upon. The engineering behind them really elevates them to another level in terms of road feel and smoothness, as I outline in the video below.
For reference, my cycling cave is about 4.5 m x 4.5 m, and the floor is a plasticized veneer over a sprung plywood floor used to level the garage. As you can hear, whether at moderate (~150 W) or high (~250 W), the noise from the TruTrainer is quite low.
TruTrainer SmartLoad Smart Resistance
TruTrainer really takes a huge step into modern indoor training with their new SmartLoad resistance unit. All the technology is built into the rear drum, meaning that you can buy just the individual drum if you’re an existing TruTrainer owner, or purchase it as an option when buying new. This is really a commendable design philosophy, rather than rendering current TruTrainer units obsolete and forcing a wholesale and expensive upgrade.
This video gives an overview of the intricacies of the SmartLoad rear drum unit.
The basic specs of the SmartLoad unit is as follows:
• A self-charging battery is built in that starts charging as you ride about ~8 mph. Once fully charged, the battery holds charge and ANT+ connection for 10-15 minutes, enabling breaks without losing connection with third-party software.
• Currently fully ANT+ compatible, making it compatible with all third-party training systems like Xert, Zwift, Trainer Road, ErgVideo, Sufferfest, etc. This means that you can both ride in a virtual world, but also have the software control resistance just as with a smart trainer.
• An iOS and Android TruTrainer mobile app is available. This is used for calibration, which involves 5 min of riding and then a coast down. This is generally a good practice to do before logging into any third party software.
• The mobile app can also directly control the SmartLoad. The “Manual Load” mode adjusts resistance from 0 – 100%. The “Target Power” mode allows you to set resistance to a particular power output. The “Wind-Grade” mode lets you simulate a % grade along with headwind.
For me, the TruTrainer with the SmartLoad option is the best combination yet of everything that I’m looking for in an indoor training system. Rollers help your balance and pedal stroke, while doing a much better job of making it feel like you’re actually riding your bike. The TruTrainer itself is incredibly smooth, with lots of inertia to simulate road feel, making it much more realistic than traditional rollers.
And the addition of the SmartLoad resistance unit makes it fully compatible with modern training software systems, given you all of the benefits of a smart trainer and rollers together in one package.
• TruTrainer cycling rollers can be ordered direct from company’s new website here
Stephen Cheung is a Professor at Brock University, and has published over 110 scientific articles and book chapters dealing with the effects of thermal and hypoxic stress on human physiology and performance. Stephen’s new book “Cycling Science” with Dr. Mikel Zabala from the Movistar Pro Cycling Team has just hit the bookshelves this summer, following up Cutting-Edge Cycling written with Hunter Allen.
Stephen can be reached for comments at [email protected] .