Why Ride with a Smart Trainer: Insights from Brand Advocates

There’s no doubt about it: the popularity of smart trainers is on the rise. From bike shops abuzz with interest to remote co-workers joining in on virtual lunch rides to growing prizes in virtual eSports events, everything is coming up smart trainers.

Brand Advocate, Dusty Spiller
Brand Advocate, Dusty Spiller, puts his smart trainer through the paces.

Athletes across the globe have taken notice, including our own Brand Advocates. In fact, this year a CycleOps smart bike trainer was the most frequently selected gear among our community of riders.

These athletes come from a diverse riding background, with focus spread from mountain biking to endurance events to triathlon. For many, this was the first year they’d be training with a smart trainer of their own. And so, we asked them to share what they’ve learned through their upgrade to smart experience.

Megan (Neitzel) Rorabeck uses her smart bike trainer
Megan (Neitzel) Rorabeck uses her smart bike trainer to better prepare for her triathlon season.

The Year of Smart Training

We first posed the question, “Why did you opt to train with a smart trainer this year?” Their responses corroborated previous feedback in that our trainers are some of the best smart trainers for Zwift. Being able to train and compete within Zwift’s gamified world was a huge perk for many of our athletes, but the rationale to opt for a smart trainer didn’t stop there.

“One of the main reasons to ride with a smart trainer is to have the ability to train specific intensity zones by locking the resistance. This is a game changer since there is no way to cheat a workout by going too easy or burn out too soon by going too hard.”

Sergio Gaytan

"I have owned a CycleOps Mag trainer for four years and it was time for an update. The tech has reached a point where it was irresistible. It was important for me to select a smart trainer that gives me the feel of being on the road. As an endurance rider, I can’t always train outside, especially because I live in the northern part of the U.S. where snow and ice prevent me from doing longer rides during the winter. I do have a fat bike for snowy days!"

Beth Pickhard

The face behind Brew City Biker, Beth Pickhard
The face behind Brew City Biker, Beth Pickhard is known for her international bike tours. All that training has to take place somewhere!

“I’ve wanted to switch to a smart trainer for the past few years. Ever since putting a lot of time on Zwift, I knew my riding experience could be even more enjoyable on a trainer with power.”

Dusty Spiller

"Why did I opt for a smart trainer this year? Simple. The ability to train for specific races and events, the ability to tailor workouts and to pre-ride courses can only be done with a smart trainer. For example, all of my bike training for the next 13 months will be targeted towards completing the Enduroman Arch to Arc event or London to Paris. With a smart trainer and GPX files, I can ride the course from the comfort of my home!"

Richard Madison

Jenny Burden is all smiles as she trains
Jenny Burden is all smiles as she trains for a 100-mile mountain bike race later this year.

Surprising Results

As we cruise into the second half of the year, our Brand Advocates have had a few months to play with their new training tool. And so we asked them, “What surprised you the most about switching from a basic to a smart trainer?” Here’s a taste of what they shared.

“I was most surprised with how seamlessly easy it was to setup and use. I am not ‘tech savvy’ at all, and it was much easier than I thought it would be!”

Megan (Neitzel) Rorabeck

“I love how much quieter it is, and how I’m extending the life of my tire and cassette on my wheel because that’s all separate on the trainer. I was pleasantly surprised that although the Hammer is heavy, it’s not very big, so it’s still reasonably practical to travel with. I brought it with me on a work trip and rode it in my hotel room with no worries I was being a jerk to the neighboring guests!”

Jenny Burden

No stranger to the Ironman World Champions in Kona, Coach Jana Richtrova
No stranger to the Ironman World Champions in Kona, Coach Jana Richtrova values the Hammer’s ability to replicate real-world climbs.

“The resistance and road feel surprised me the most. Put on a ride video or training simulation and a good fan, and its like outdoors without red lights or scary cars. The basic trainer is good for spinning, but for focused and directed workouts, nothing beats a smart trainer. Being able to track pedal stroke, pedal efficiency, and be able to focus drills, that all means that rather than just spinning you’re doing specific and targeted workouts that achieve measurable results.”

Richard Madison

“Riding with the Hammer smart trainer honestly feels like I am riding – and climbing - outside! It really is amazing! After trying to climb on a computrainer, I was more than pleasantly surprised just how real the climbing feels on the Hammer.”

Jana Richtrova

“To be able to have the trainer automatically adjust for a climb is a game changer. To actually ride a course and have the gradient change brings smiles to my face every ride.”

Justin Valente

Zack Morris, founder of Bare Composites
Zack Morris, founder of Bare Composites, takes advantage of the flexibility offered by an indoor bike trainer – ensuring he can get a workout in, regardless of the weather or a demanding work schedule.

A Few Favorites

One of the best things about smart trainers is their richness in features. With so many to choose from, we asked our Brand Advocates to tell us their favorite thing about their smart trainer. Although asking for one favorite feature is like asking someone to name a treasured song or movie – it can be difficult to pick just one.

“The stability. When I’m putting in the hard efforts, the last thing I want is a bike trainer bouncing around underneath me. The Hammer is solid.”

Zack Morris

“My favorite thing about the CycleOps Hammer is riding in ERG mode. I can create very specific workouts knowing the smart trainer is ensuring that I will also be putting out the prescribed power (whether at a high or low cadence) makes it a very valuable training tool. And of course, having the trainer able to simulate virtual courses makes the indoor training scene SO much more enjoyable. Lastly, the Hammer is easy to store when my bike isn’t on it.”

Dusty Spiller

Jill Kuhn, aka: Iron Will Iron Jill
Jill Kuhn, aka: Iron Will Iron Jill, takes a lap in Zwift’s virtual world from her hometown in Texas.

“The Hammer smart trainer is my third trainer from CycleOps, and I will keep coming back because 1) I love them; and 2) they seriously have the very best customer service! That is an added bonus for sure. Also, they offer bike trainers at various price points that make it affordable for almost anyone!”

Jill Kuhn

“The versatility! I can workout using the trainer as a basic fluid trainer, as well as a smart trainer. I find out that switching back to the basic trainer mode allows me to work on the mental aspect of pushing myself and helps me maintain an intensity by listening to my internal pacing as well (not just in smart mode). It’s like having the best of both worlds in one product.”

Sergio Gaytan

“My favorite thing is how much it resembles being on the road. When I can’t get outside for whatever reason, I don’t feel like I’m missing out by being inside – it really is the next best thing!”

Megan (Neitzel) Rorabeck