It seems there are more and more “power” trainers coming to market each year. Currently the three established brands are Computrainer, Tacx, and Cycle Ops. I recently had a chance to spend some time, due to some unfortunate New England weather, on the Cycle Ops Power Beam Pro. As a retailer the three primary questions that I am asked about these trainers are 1) how difficult is it to set up, 2) what kind of computer do I need to run it, and 3) how difficult is it to take my bike off of it, when I want to go ride outside? All three of these are made very easy with the Cycle Ops Power Beam Pro Trainer. Below, I break down what I feel is the best “power” trainer on the market, for the money.
What You Get For Your Money
The trainer comes in a roughly 2.5 foot by 8 inch wide quadrangle box. Unlike many other options, all Cycle Ops trainers come 100 percent assembled in the box. This is a score for the consumer and dealer, as assembly is a virtual non-factor. Along with the trainer, inside the box you will find a Joule 3.0 computer head unit with heart rate strap, cadence sensor, two mounts, power supply, Power Agent software, owners-manual, workout DVD, and Virtual Training Software (not on the unit I tested).
Trainer Set Up
Once out of the box, set up is simple. Pull the legs out, plug the power supply in, attach the bike and Joule 3.0 head unit/sensors, and you are ready to start. The trainer has one adjustable foot for uneven surfaces (nice feature not found on many other trainers). There is a yellow quick lock cam lever to make it easy to lock your bike in on the provided trainer skewer, a couple twists and the bike is mounted. The final piece is the quick lever on the resistance unit, a couple twists and a flip and you are ready to go. After you get to this point you will need to pair the Joule 3.0 computer, trainer, and all of the sensors. Using the owners-manual is always best, but if you have owned any other recent ANT+ cycling computer, you can figure it out pretty quickly.
Here is where the tech geek in you can really shine. You can play for hours, or minutes, depending on the data and fields that you want to see. There are 18 customizable options to choose from. The big downside of these data fields is that, unlike most Garmin units, you can’t choose where they go, leaving you unable to have cadence, power, heart rate, and average power on the same screen. As an indoor unit this really is not a big issue, though it would be a nice available option. The pairing and finding of each sensor is pretty straight forward, by simply repeating a couple of simple steps that turn each sensor on, and tells the unit to search for it (this does not need to be done before each ride). Like most power devices, you will need to calibrate each time that you use the trainer. Calibration is done in a rollout mode by pedaling between 18-22 mph for 2 minutes.
There are 20 hours of ride time storage, and a year’s worth of ride history that can be stored in the head unit. Getting the data to your computer is simply a matter of using the micro SD to USB cord that comes with the head unit and the Power Agent software on your computer. Once you have loaded to Power Agent you can move files to other popular coaching software, as needed. The first set up took me about 20 minutes to get everything running and onto the bike, after that I would just come in and push any button on the Joule 3.0 and start pedaling to wake all the sensors up. One downside to the Joule 3.0 is that there is no start stop button, it starts when you start pedaling. You use the interval button to separate different intervals.
-No assembly required
-Wireless head unit to trainer/sensors
-Joule 3.0 is a much better option, as compared to the other trainer head units
-Full Color display
-ANT+, you can use any ANT+ head unit to extract data
-Joule 3.0 screen is not fully customizable
-No start stop button
Cost $1299 with Joule 3.0, available with Joule GPS for $1599
-Trainer (Fully Assembled)
-Heart Rate Strap
-2 Bike Mounts
-Power Agent Software
-Virtual Training Software (with ANT+ USB wireless stick)
Brian Hughes is a co owner of Fast:Splits Multisport in Newton, Massachusetts as well as the QT2 Triathlon Team’s gear guru. Brian is FIST and Serotta fit certified, has over 10 years of triathlon shop management experience, and spent nine years racing as a Professional Triathlete/Mountain Biker, competing at several World Championship events and winning the 2000 Offroad Duathlon National Championships.