||www.kurtkinetic.com Price: $670
Source: bike shops, website, catalogs
Resistance: silicone in sealed chamber
Flywheel weights: 6, 12, 18 lbs. (2.7, 5.5, 8.2 kg)
Warranty: unconditional lifetime
Wheel sizes: accepts both 700C and 26-inch
How obtained: sample from company
RBR advertiser: no
Tested: 12 hours
Let it rain, snow and freeze! That’s what I’m saying now that I have a Kurt Kinetic Rock and Roll Pro RU trainer, which has set a new indoor-riding standard for me.
As a masters racer I need to train right to keep improving. This advanced and fully featured workout machine is the ticket for keeping fit no matter what winter holds. On it, I can do measurable intervals and ensure that I’m pushing myself exactly as needed to race better come spring.
In fact, when I asked my coach to recommend a trainer, he told me to get a Kurt. He said he rides his more than 6,000 miles a year and it’s never given him a lick of trouble.
Ideally you want a trainer that gives you the same workout you could get outdoors, or as close to it as possible. Kurt’s engineers have made sure you will.
Leakproof Fluid — Guaranteed
The trainer’s resistance unit is filled with a silicone fluid that keeps the same viscosity regardless of how much you pedal. Most fluid trainers use lesser liquids like anti-freeze. As you spin and heat increases, pedaling actually gets easier. On a Kurt the resistance doesn’t change, so the effort is road-like and consistent. A side benefit is that the resistance unit, which sports 80 cooling fins, never gets too hot — unlike some that can actually burn if you touch the unit after a ride.
Thanks to the fluid quality and viscosity, the Pro RU trainer ensures that indoor rides have the same power curve and training effect as outdoor rides. Although I didn’t get to test it, Kurt also sells a Power Computeraccessory ($50) that allows checking your watts output while riding. According to my coach, he gets similar readings on his Kurt as when using a Power Tap power meter on the road. That’s another reason he recommends Kurt so highly. If you’re going to put in the indoor miles, you want to make sure they count.
As my teammates riding other brands can attest, the resistance unit has proven to be the Achilles heel of some other fluid trainers. They tend to develop leaks because there’s a driveshaft passing through the entire unit and it’s sealed only with O-rings. Kurt’s solution is a sealed fluid chamber. It’s possible thanks to Kurt’s magnetically coupled two-part drive shaft, which doesn’t penetrate the fluid chamber. Kurt is so sure it’s leakproof that they provide an unconditional lifetime warranty.
Also impressive is the bombproof construction. The Pro RU boasts large-diameter 2- and 1.5-inch steel tubes throughout the frame, a simple-to-use bike mount, a durable precision-machined roller that reduces tire wear, a rugged composite piece to join the resistance unit to the frame, and beautifully machined and polished flywheels. It’s clear that the same attention to detail that went into creating a superior resistance unit also went into the frame.
Rock and Roll — and I Like It
The most interested part of this whole setup, maybe, is Kurt’s innovative “Rock and Roll” unit.
This is a special base that’s compatible with Kurt’s Pro and Road Machine trainers. It attaches to the bottom and, once installed, works a little like the trucks on a skateboard. Hard rubber bushings between the base and trainer let the bike lean side to side when you do. The movement can be locked out if you prefer the rock-solid feel of a conventional trainer.
Under my 170 pounds (77.3 kg), the bushings were stiff enough to keep the trainer steady until I stood and threw the bike a bit. This felt more natural than disconcerting, and it may prove to smooth my spin, which is something I’m working on. Kurt says the movement also helps build core strength, which assists in balance and control. I know that if I can stop wasting energy in my upper body I’ll have more in reserve for powering the pedals.
The Pro RU model comes with a built-in 6-pound (2.7-kg) flywheel. Also included is a 12-pounder (5.45 kg) that simply slips over it and is held in place with a thumb screw. Kurt recommends using the 6-pound setup for interval training and then adding the additional weight for endurance workouts. With the full 18 pounds (8.2 kg), the ride feels so smooth it’s almost too easy at first. But shift up, hit your training targets, and you’ll quickly feel like you’re outdoors pushing the pace.
Kurt says that if you put in two indoor interval workouts weekly you’ll see results at the races. After doing 3×20-minute sessions, spinning 100-plus rpm at 19 mph during the repeats, I was just as wobble-legged as I am after 20-minute intervals outdoors. So I have high hopes for higher-quality indoor training this winter — and good results in spring races.
Easy Bike Mount
Another great feature of Kurt trainers is that they accept bikes with quick-release and bolt-on wheels, bikes with 700C and 26-inch wheels, and even those with wheel sizes down to 16-inches when using Kurt’s Small Wheel Adapter ($25). I love the bike mount, a simple locking handle. Once you’ve installed Kurt’s steel quick-release (included) through your rear wheel and adjusted the mount to the right spacing, you just roll your bike between the uprights, align the QR with the receivers, and flip the handle. No screwing or cranking and no risk of overtightening.
When it comes time to put the trainer away, the two long side legs can be removed by extracting their clevis pins — no tools required. You’ll probably want to take off the 12-pound flywheel to make it easier to carry the trainer.
The only nit I can pick is that the trainer is built so low to the ground that a pile rug could be marked by the rear tire. Kurt designed it this way for a natural, low center of gravity and to eliminate the need for a front-wheel riser block to make the bike level. I solved the issue by putting a paperback book beneath each foot. I suppose I could ride in the garage where there’s a cement floor, but the big screen’s in the living room. A better solution would be to buy Kurt’s Trainer Floor Mat ($60), which would save putting down a towel too.
I could also get some more training DVDs from Kurt. The Rock and Roll comes with a nice one, which also covers assembly, and Kurt sells Spinervals workouts for whatever goals you’ve set.
Overall, this is one exceptional trainer with all the bells and whistles. If you don’t want to spend $670 for the Pro RU, you can purchase Kurt’s Cyclone wind trainer for $200, the Road Machine for $350 or the Pro Trainer for $500. The Rock and Roll unit sells separately for $336.
When my coach told me he put so many miles on his Kurt, I couldn’t understand how. In my experience it’s hard to train effectively indoors. Although I put in a fair share of “nowhere” miles during NorCal’s rainy season, I always felt like I was losing ground to those hardcore guys who were out on the wet roads. My trainer rides just didn’t feel high quality enough.
Now, with this superior trainer, I’m confident that my indoor sessions will become some of my best. And for the first time, I actually look forward to winter’s rainy, cold days.
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.