While direct-drive trainers are the trainers to get for virtual racing, I think it’s important to highlight an on-wheel trainer like the Kinetic Road Machine Control. It’s a sub-$1,000 option that can get your cruising through pixel landscapes.
Setting up the Kinetic Road Machine Control is easy: you connect the control unit to the green frame. I recommend you put a trainer tire on your back wheel. Some proper road tires can sprinkle black dust around your trainer, especially if the resistance unit isn’t set properly via the tension knob.
With the Kinetic app, it was easy to update the Road Machine Control’s firmware. It was also a cinch to pair the trainer with Zwift. I put a pair of Garmin Vector 3 pedals on my bike and connected them to my head unit to compare the power numbers I’d see within Zwift that came from the trainer. In general, the power numbers from the trainer were lower than those from my pedals. Sometimes there were differences of 10 to 20 W. Other times they were as high as 30 W. Kurt says the trainer has an accuracy of +/- 3 per cent. I’d say the figure is higher than that. If you already have a power meter on your bike, use its data in Zwift and leave the trainer to simulate the effects of the virtual terrain, which it does quite well, thanks in part to the 5.4-kg flywheel.
The Road Machine has the lowest resistance figure of all the trainers I tested recently: 1,800 W. But you know what? That’s really not a big deal. Those 1,800 W will provide enough resistance for most riders as they struggle up virtual climbs. The more than 2,000 W of resistance offered by other trainers is, you could argue, more bravado than functionality. The Road Road Machine Control, however, is quite functional and will get you riding on virtual courses for almost half the price of a direct-drive trainer. ($660, kurtkinetic.com)