Travel Trac Fluid Trainer – MSRP $249
If you’re looking for a great value in your first indoor trainer, the Travel Trac Fluid Trainer may be for you. The Travel Trac Fluid is a progressive resistance trainer, meaning the harder you go, the higher the resistance. Quieter than it’s magnetic and wind siblings, this trainer also replicates real world road feel quite well. The Travel Trac Fluid lists for an MSRP of $249, but is often found on sale, and can be found exclusively at your local Performance Bikes.
Out of the box, the unit comes mostly assembled. Setting up the Travel Trac Fluid Trainer is fairly strait forward. You’ll have to make one minor adjustment where you reposition the resistance unit, but it’s easy enough. A couple turns of two 10mm bolts with the included tool and you’re ready to go. You then just swap out the skewer on your bike with the included steel one from Travel Trac. Adjust the tension on the axle arms that holds the rear wheel in place, lock your bike in place, and you’re ready for some indoor training.
The Travel Trac is designed to use gravity to stabilize your bike and provide automatic pressure adjustment to the rear tire, so there are no other knobs to fiddle with. Once your bike is locked in, the arms of the trainer just recline back until the wheel is in place. This mounting system makes the trainer a breeze to swap bikes in and out of efficiently and quickly. If you have other members of the family who would like to get their indoor spin on, the trainer is spec’d to be able to accomodate 24″, 26″, 27″ and 700c wheels as well. Some feedback on the trainer has suggested that bigger wheels will actually clash with the front crossbar. We found our road bikes with 23c, 25c, and even up to 32c tires cleared it just fine, but just a word of caution for those thinking of using their mountain bikes with really beefy casings.
The unit itself weighed in at 15.4 pounds, a solid design that kept our bike upright and stable through workouts. The unit also folds fairly flat when not in use, even more so, if you’re willing to adjust those 10mm bolts and move the resistance unit to the center. While the resistance unit looks fairly small compared to other fluid trainers we’ve used, it’s still up for the task. The aluminum roller on this unit is not smooth like we’ve found on other units, but instead, rather coarse. The coarseness provides better grip for the tire to gain traction and thus resistance. The unit mimics real world road riding quite well, with the progressive nature of the trainer, the harder and faster you pedal, the higher the difficulty of maintaining that level of power.
If you’re looking to put down base miles and just get your heart rate going, this trainer will get you there, and at quite the bargain. There is good resistance to get you and your heart rate going, it’s smooth and you’ll even feel the burn. But if you’re looking to do interval workouts at higher thresholds and intensity levels, you may find this unit runs out of resistance levels to get you into that Zone 5 level. You may want to opt for the Travel Trac Fluid+, which will allow you to add even more resistance. With the Fluid, when you run out of gears, you run out of resistance levels as well.
Fluid trainers tend to be quieter than their magnetic and wind siblings, and during our time with the Travel Trac, this was confirmed. Noise levels on the Travel Trac Fluid were minimal and we’d say this trainer is fairly quiet. Even on our wooden floors with no mat, we were surprised at how quiet this unit was. Keep in mind you’re on a trainer, so you’re going to get noise, and it gets progressively louder as you go, but even at full sprint, the unit never broke past 90db on our decibel meter. The peak was at 87 db, we’ll keep track of all of our trainers with this same meter as we round up all the trainers this year, to keep score.
Like we mentioned above, we used this trainer on a wooden floor surface with no mat, which brought something else to our attention. The hard plastic used on the bottom of the trainer had no grip when used on a smooth surface. They tended to slide a little more than we’d like, and so eventually we did put a mat under the trainer. A good idea anyways, just to save the floor, and also in our case here, give the trainer some more grip. Also a good idea is a dedicated tire for the trainer, this trainer does get quite heated, especially after 90 minutes or so, the heat and the resistance does tend to affect tires a little differently than a normal outdoor ride.
If you’re a cyclist on a budget and looking to get into your first trainer, the Travel Trac Fluid should be on your list of trainers to check out. With the progressive resistance band and fairly quiet traits of this trainer, it’s likely your potential riding time has increased even with the earlier darkness of winter.
MSRP: $249 (Though usually is on sale for $169)
Weight: 15.4 lbs
Decible Reading while in use: 87
Resistance Type: Fluid
Wheel Sizes: 24″, 26″, 27″ and 700c Wheels