Okay, I'm dying to say it. It's so cheesy, but I'm going to say it. You might want to cover your eyes and skip down a paragraph. Still here? Well, you've been warned, so here it is: The Kurt Kinetic Rock and Roll trainer ROCKED my world. Ahhhhh, that felt good to write. Now you know how childish I am.
But in all seriousness, this trainer is amazing. It's without question the best indoor trainer I've ever used, including both stationary fixed-wheel trainers, rollers, and free-motion rollers. There's no way I'm going to let Kurt have this thing back. But as usual, before getting into the product at hand, let's go over some background info. That is, let's examine the history of this product category, and the shortcomings that Kurt Kinetic's new product tries to address.
Indoor cycling is inevitable unless you live in the desert. Pretty much everywhere else, extended periods of cold, icy roads, or excessive precipitation will force your riding indoors. Some athletes, including Olympian and Ironman champ Andy Potts, actually prefer indoor riding (Potts does over 90% of his mileage on a trainer). Trainers generally fall into two categories: fixed-wheel trainers, and rollers. That latter category is championed by the "hardcore" guys. Rollers require a higher level of concentration and control, and are generally said to improve your bike handling and pedal stroke. This is probably all true. And they certainly have the advantage that since your bike isn't fixed at the rear wheel, you get some freedom of movement which staves off fatigue/pain in the saddle area. Free motion rollers are even better, because they have a bit of suspension that makes the ride even more comfortable. But the very things that make rollers good also make them annoying. Sometimes you want to just zone out and watch TV while on the trainer, or lean down to the ground to grab something you put on the floor. Even the free-motion rollers, which I've used plenty, don't completely alleviate these problems. It's certainly easier to stay upright on them, but you still can't doze off, so to speak.
So that leaves bike trainers. These are pretty simple devices, mechanically. A frame holds your rear wheel in place, a couple inches off the ground, and some kind of resistance mechanism allows you to apply effort and ride. Over the years, the resistance mechanisms have been the main subject of refinement. Wind trainers are the cheapest and mechanically the most simple, although they are quite loud. Magnetic trainers offer lower noise, but the resistance is weaker and not as smooth. And finally, fluid trainers represent the best of all worlds, providing great resistance and low noise, but generally cost a little more. Some fluid trainers are prone to leakage, although Kurt has completely conquered that problem with their fully-sealed magnetically-coupled fluid chambers.
I owned a Kurt Kinetic fluid trainer for several years, and loved it, but set it aside to explore rollers and free-motion rollers. Eventually, I came back to the Kurt, preferring the fixed-wheel trainer's set of compromises over those of the rollers. But the big problem that remained was the discomfort associated with a fixed-wheel trainer.
But I'd never tried Kurt's top-end trainer, the Rock And Roll, which is touted as the ultimate indoor ride. It always looked a bit gimmicky - why do I care if I can rock side to side? Well, I was wrong. This thing is awesome, and does much more than you'd think. Jump to page two to read why.