The Kinetic Road Machine is the best indoor bike trainer stand I have owned. Mine is the old school gray one. Newer versions are bright green.
The market for indoor cycling equipment is plentiful and can be overwhelming. But the Kinetic Road Machine fluid bike trainer, which I’ll review in this article, represents the best indoor bike trainer for the money. I’ve owned a Road Machine for about ten years.
During that time, I’ve logged hundreds of hours on that indoor trainer in an apartment building and wore out a tire or two (more like 2 dozen) in the process. I’ve also carted it to races for warm-ups.
Before I discuss the pros and cons of this unit, let’s look at its features and construction.
Road Machine features
The Kinetic by Kurt Road Machine fits kiddie bike wheels all the way up to 29″ mountain bikes.
This best fluid bike trainer is solid and can handle a wide range of wattage — from 5 watts to more than 3000 watts.
The range makes it good for long, steady rides in your basement during winter or sharpening your race legs with intervals in season.
Compared to other indoor cycling trainers I’ve owned, the construction of the Kinetic trainer is beefy — really beefy. My scale pegs it at 23 lbs.
A portion of the weight is the 6.25 lb flywheel.
The larger than average flywheel helps provide a smooth increase and decrease in resistance when pedaling and coasting, which provides a linear feel. That feel also corresponds with how fast or slow you are going.
For instance, the fluid resistance unit is designed to mimic the road resistance at a specific speed (and the power needed to maintain that speed). This is really beneficial.
You don’t need to have a pricey power meter to get wattage stats, nor do you need to buy a specific indoor bike trainer with a computer.
The current computer on your bicycle will work, as long as the magnet is on the rear wheel.
Here’s why: Power output is calibrated to a specific speed on the KK Road Machine.
If, for example, your speed is 20 mph while spinning on this indoor device, you are producing 258 watts, according to the power output reference chart on Kinetic’s website.
This provides measurable and repeatable stats.
Best fluid bike trainer reviews
Many people have heard horror stories about a leaking fluid bike trainer, along with ones that are loud. The Road Machine won’t provide you any horror stories.
It won’t leak because the fluid is sealed in a chamber and doesn’t have a typical o-ring setup as other fluid units.
This is even visible when you check out the construction of the fluid resistance unit.
KK Road Machine internals
A quiet bike trainer
Noise with any mechanical device is inevitable, but some — like my old Minoura Mag 850 — are not suitable to use as an indoor trainer in an apartment. The Kinetic by Kurt is just the opposite; it’s not that loud. (I think the chain and tire noise may be the loudest thing while using it and that’s more related to the bike.)
I’ve used mine in two apartment buildings. In both cases, it was quieter than a washing machine and sounds about as loud as normal conversation. The TV is easy to hear while using it.
Cons and pros of the best indoor cycling trainer
As much as I like the Kinetic indoor bicycle trainer, I do want to point out a few potential flaws first, then will look at the pros.
- Resistance adjustment knob
It has a tendency to strip out after a few years of use — at least mine did. I chalked this up to normal wear and tear and expected to buy another one when I called the company’s customer service department.
That didn’t happen. The warranty encompasses wear and tear, too, which was a nice surprise.
Us bike racers may not have the bulging biceps of your average power lifter, and this unit — 23 lbs, remember — can be a chore to cart to the races. That said, I still do it.
The Road Machine price is high. But it does represent the best indoor bicycle trainer for beginners and elites. A beginning rider won’t outgrow the resistance unit — which is not the case with cheap trainers like my Minoura. Elite riders will also benefit from the Road Machine because of the massive power curve and resistance this unit has to offer.
Although the upfront cost is high, this is an investment that will last at least a decade or more — remember, I’ve had my indoor trainer for 7 years now and it has no sign of failing. Even if it did break, I know that the warranty will cover it.
- Solid and stable
I do interval workouts on mine in the winter and have never had a problem. The frame, which is wide and stable, sets level on the floor and is solid. When my bike is in the stationary unit, there is no lateral (side to side) movement.
- Resistance unit
It’s guaranteed not to leak and it’s calibrated for power.
There’s also a larger than average roller to generate less heat and less wear on the tire. Despite the 80 cooling fins on the resistance unit, it still generates some heat, especially when cranking out intervals.
- Road-like feel
If you’ve a beginner and never done an indoor bike trainer workout, you’ll have nothing to compare the Kurt Kinetic to. But it’s smooth and accelerates consistently. The Road Machine, which doesn’t have a jerky motion to it like some other trainers, has a realistic coast down/spin down time.
- Customer service and warranty
The unit has a unconditional lifetime warranty. As I found out, their customer service is exceptional, and they won’t provide any hassle for warranty coverage.