RacerMate CompuTrainer Pro - MSRP $1629.00
CompuTrainer by Racermate is perhaps one of the longest running training products on the market. Originally making it's debut in 1986, it's the first electronic bicycle trainer/ergometer with interactive motivational software and course creation all in one bundle. Over the years, the product has been tweaked and improved and today, it's still the most relied upon training tools for weekend warriors and International Pros alike. The CompuTrainer simulates real courses, pre-programmed or imported from GPS, measuring wattage, speed, cadence, and even pedal efficiency.
Manufactured by RacerMate in Seattle, WA, CompuTrainer is offered in a few different versions. All built on the same basic hardware and technology, you can chose from the basic trainer (solo), a 2 person system, or the multi-rider system that accommodates up to 8 riders (A popular option with many of the larger coaching companies like Carmichael Training).
The CompuTrainer Pro, the basic stand alone unit, retails for $1649, and seems pretty expensive when compared to say a fluid trainer. But when you consider it's comprable to an SRM or PowerTap in terms of it's training usefulness it's quite on par pricing wise. The CompuTrainer comes with a 1500 Watt electronic load generator, microprocessor handlebar controller with LCD display, Posilock rear mount stand, cadence sensor, Polar wireless HR receiver, front wheel support, and power supply. The Pro Load Generator is rated to give you 1500+ watts at peak load capacity, far more than most any other trainer available today. It's a patented design that is not only quiet and smooth in operation, but it'll simulate grades up to 15%. CompuTrainer is controlled by RacerMate One, a software suite that is included, and will require a windows based PC to run. The software simulates outdoor cycling indoors using real courses, either preprogrammed or imported from GPS data. Connecting the trainer to a Windows based PC is done via a USB cable. The software includes 3D Cycling, Real Course Video, Classic MultiRider. Power Training, and SpinScan.
The heart of the CompuTrainer is the 1500 watt electronic load generator. Combined with the software, it provides the resistance in sync with what you're riding on screen. In 3D Cycling, you can race up to 8 riders or pacers (virtual riders) through a virtual 3D track, simulating real world conditions, even gravel roads and grades up to 15%. It also allows you to start any where on a course and end any place. This is in case you have some time constraints and don't want to do the whole course. If you want, you can also purchase real course videos that are filmed in HD, and ride real race day videos of many courses. Giving you the sense that you are really on the course. Riding indoors on a trainer to some is pure misery, but this system really helps minimize the agony. Visual aspects will keep you engaged, with the constant terrain changes and chasing a virtual partners, even drafting a peloton or other rider are simulated quite well.
CompuTrainer also includes SpinScan. SpinScan allows you to view and analyze your pedal stroke. Correcting pedal stroke, will not only help your efficiency, your power output will go up as well. Power Training mode, is a time watts testing and measurement tool. It's quite useful and proven to be pretty accurate. The wattage reading was reading a bit lower than our Garmin/Quark readings, but it was consistent and within ±2.5%. The newest module to the software is Time Trial Software, it's an interactive race that will allow you race a course using real world courses preselected by RacerMate. At the end of the race, you upload your effort to be ranked with others who have uploaded their efforts. Just another option to keep that indoor training session interesting.
Back to the hardware, the Posilock rear mount stand can be hard to get setup correctly. A little more difficult than a standard trainer, but not impossible. Out of the box, all the parts included do make it seem overwhelming, but following the instructions, setup took less than an hour (hardware and software setup). Though it does make it so you may want to think twice about taking your bike on and off it regularly. The mount is extremely sturdy, being one of the only ones on the market that is capable of supporting a tandem bike with two riders. We felt quite confident on the bike while in the stand as we worked on steep efforts in and out of the saddle. The mechanism to lock the bike in place is different from other trainers we've tested, but we believe the extra precautions are so that you don't accidentally over tighten your bike, which can happen with handle driven locking mechanisms.
We've been using the CompuTrainer system for 2 years now and the system continues to perform flawlessly. Some of our testers swear their best workouts are on the CompuTrainer. Nothing beats the out doors, but when mother nature makes it impossible to ride outside, you can count on the CompuTrainer to give you an excellent workout. The ability to setup 2 trainers together to ride with a buddy or ride against a pacer is an added bonus. We've had some buddies bring their bikes over for a little throw down. Some seriously good workouts racing your buddy up some of these climbs can make those foul weather days, positive training days.
The price of admission will seem high, but you won't be able to replicate the intensity and workouts on any other trainer as easily as you can with the CompuTrainer. Programming the power workout and riding at that intensity is just as easy as setting it and pedaling away, allowing you to just focus on form and spinning efficiency, rather than mashing to try to reach higher power. The interactiveness of the software with riders in the room or online just adds another very welcome distraction to having to pedal indoors. For extremely serious riders, looking to improve their form and performance, we have no problem suggesting you look at the CompuTrainer as your indoor trainer of choice.
[*]Pick your own course really helps simulate riding outdoors
[*]Connect 2 trainers together to ride with a buddy is super cool
[*]Improvements to form and power are easily tracked and realized with the included software
[*]A little tougher to tighten the trainer to the bike than other trainers
[*]No Mac option, you'll need a PC