By Sal Ruibal
Riding an indoor trainer is the most boring activity one can do on a bike, but it is a necessary evil when trails and roads are unsuitable for pedaling. The problem is that most trainers make you feel like you’re a gerbil instead of a rider: The pedals spin, the rear wheel turns and you go nowhere. LeMond Fitness (yes, that Greg LeMond) recently introduced its Revolution trainer with a design goal that company spokesman Eric Stobin describes as, “the best feeling trainer on the market … one that feels like a bicycle.”
The key to that "real bike feel" involves leaving some of the bike behind, mainly the rear wheel. Instead of rubbing your rear wheel against a rotating metal drum, the Revolution connects to your bike through a rear cassette mounted to the fan/flywheel assembly. When you turn the cranks, your chain turns the cassette that is connected to the fan/flywheel through a drive belt. The bike’s rear dropouts are secured with a quick-release skewer. Mountain bikes fit with a simple adapter.
The cassette turns the drive-belt, which transfers pedaling force to the fan. The “real bike feel” that the device aspires to comes from the high inertia of the Revolution’s flywheel. The higher the inertia, the longer the bike will “coast” when you stop pedaling. Traditional trainers can feel like you’re riding in mud until you can get up to speed. The Revolution gets you right back in the fight with a smooth re-entry without dead-spots in your pedal stroke.
And therein lies the rub. The Revolution is one noisy machine. That’s because the resistance is created by a large fan, and fans are noisy. This one is Harrier Jet loud. Stobin says designers considered using much-quieter fluid resistance, “But we couldn’t recreate that high-inertia ‘real riding’ feeling we were aiming for.” In my three 90-minute sessions riding the trainer, the claims of a “real bike” feel were accurate, but I was constantly aware of the noise and couldn’t hear the sounds from a TV just a few feet away.
At $499 for the setup with your 9- or 10-speed Shimano or SRAM cassette ($549 w/cassette), the unit is more expensive than non-direct drive trainers. Stobin says the quality of the ride is worth the price and the unit is designed for both elite and amataur riders. Visit www.lemondfitness.com for more information.