CycleOps Fluid 2 In Depth Review

Ok, so having recently invested in a new CycleOps Fluid 2 turbo trainer I thought I’d post a review to help others decide if this is the turbo for them. Please note I paid for this trainer myself and this review will be as honest as possible.

CycleOps-Fluid-2-Turbo-Trainer

UnBoxing

The trainer comes in a triangular shaped box measuring approximately 45cm x 60cm x 20 cm.

the-box

If you’re buying this (or any other) trainer online I’d advice shopping around and factoring postage costs into the final price and these are quite heavy pieces of kit meaning that some retailers will charge a fortune for shipping.

Assembly

I’ve seen a few people talking online struggling to assemble their fluid 2 trainers and complaining about the poor instructions that are shipped with the trainer. Personally i didn’t find assembly a problem and the whole thing only took about 10 minutes in total however here are a few pointers to help you assemble yours.

Before you start assembling your Fluid 2 take a couple of minutes to watch the following video from CycleOps which runs you through how to assemble the trainer unit:

Also, it may be worth your while checking out this link to Paulie Alhamra’s guide to assembling the Cycleops.

And in case you need them again, here is a link to the assembly instructions that  came with the trainer.

The trainer comes with a rear wheel skewer with metal ends (many bikes nowadays, mine included, come with plastic ended skewers) that you should use to ensure the bike is held firm in the trainer and your existing skewers are not damaged.

Your bike is held in place almost exclusively by the rear skewer so I’d strongly advise using the one provided with your trainer, even if your existing one is metal.

Once you’ve added this skewer to your bikes wheel you can leave it on and use it while out road riding, this will save you the hassle of swapping it over every time you want to use your trainer.

the-skewer-provided

If you hold your bike steady there’s no need to remove the rear wheel when switching the skewers. When putting the new skewer in just be sure to put it on so that the quick release lever is on the opposite side to your rear cassette.

Ok, so now the trainer is assembled and the rear skewer changed on your bike you’re ready to mount your bike on the trainer.

Mounting The Bike

Initial set up of the bike takes a couple of minutes however once the first set up is done you should be able to get the bike mounted and ready to ride in about 10 seconds.

To mount the bike all you need to do is to lift the rear wheel of your bike and place the side with the quick release skewer into the mount recess on the trainer.

quick-release-bolts-aligned-with-the-socket

Once the end of the skewer is snugly aligned simply lift the quick release/lock lever on the opposite side, ensuring the opposite side of the skewer is correctly aligned.

Close-the-quick-release-lever

You may need to adjust the left hand adjustable mount on the trainer if the distnce betwween the two sides isn’t just right to hold the bike snugly in the trainer. To do this i just offered up the side with the quick release lever and tried to close the lever. If not right  i simply removed the lever and gave the opposite side half a turn and tried again to remount. After a few iterations I soon had the bike fitting snugly in the trainer.

The final thing you need to do is to adjust the yellow handle on the back of the trainer. Turn this until the silver roller just touches the rear tyre.

Turn-until-the-roller-touches-the-tyre

Once this happens lift the yellow handle to lock the roller in place against the tyre.Roller-firmly-in-place

 

That’s it, you are ready to ride.

Tyre Pressure

A word of caution. It is always worth ensuring your tyre pressure is nice and high before using your turbo trainer. Low pressure (under 90 psi) combined with the pressure of the trainers roller against the tyre can cause pressure on the side wall of the tyres that can on occasions (with the excess heat generated) cause tyres to blow out. I’ve never had this happen but have heard of other experiencing it.

I always re inflate my tyres to 100 psi prior to a turbo session to avoid any problems. Turbo trainers do tend to wear tyres quicker than road riding so many people use an old or spare tyre (and wheel to make changing easier) to help keep their ‘race’

Ride Position

Once mounted in the turbo trainer the rear wheel of your bike is off the ground  meaning your bike is pointing down causing a slightly strange riding position.

Downward-sloping-position-with-no-block

Their are two easy solutions i used to resolve this:

1. Buy a rising block that allows you to raise the front wheel by different amounts. The block not only elevates the front wheel but also provides lateral support, keeping the wheel nice and stable, even during explosive out of the saddle efforts.

2. Stick a large book or brick under your front wheel. This is the solution I am currently using. Though a book doesn’t give as much lateral support to the front wheel, unless you are very vigorous it should provide ample support.

Raise-The-Front-Wheel

Resistance

The great thing about this trainer is that it provides a higher level of resistance the faster you go. This means that by either altering your cadence or shifting gears you can always find the resistance level you are looking for. If you want more resistance all you need to do it to shift to a higher gear.

Unlike fan or mag trainers there is no need for a separate adjustment level to change resistance either via a cable attached to the handle bars or by getting off the bike and adjusting on the unit itself. To change the resistance on the Fluid 2 simply shift gears just like you would if you were riding out on the road.

One of the main attractions to this trainer is the realistic road like resistance that it gives. This is one of the best features of this trainer.

Noise Levels

I was surprised by how quite this trainer was, compared to my old mag trainer. Although I’m lucky enough to have a garage to keep and use the trainer in, I wanted a trainer that could potentially be used indoors (without offending those i share the house with or my neighbors!) should the need arise.

I can easily ride and watch/hear my television, only having to turn up the volume by a couple of notches. When watching a video on my laptop i need to use headphones, however this probably tells you more about the terrible speakers on my laptop rather than the noise of the Fluid 2.

If you live in a flat or plan on using the trainer in a house where others will be then you should definitely opt for a fluid trainer over a wind one. Of the models I tried in my local bike shop this was by far the quietest.

Build Quality

The unit is built from solid aluminum and is very simple in design. The legs fold in and out allowing the trainer to be easily folded down and stashed under a bed or in a cupboard.

CycleOps-Folded-Down-for-Storage

I noticed when i started using this turbo how much my bike appeared to be flexing as i rode, particularly when doing out of the saddle work. After doing some research this appears to be the norm and general consensus seems to be that this is due more in part to the rock solid build of the CyclOps Fluid 2, rather than a problem with my bike.

It seems generally accepted that bike in generally get put under a lot more stress when riding out on the road and that the only reason you feel it more when using a turbo trainer is because good quality trainers such as these keep the bike so still you become much more aware of the pressures being put through the frame.

Race Day DVD (included with most retailers)

It is no secret that turbo trainers require a certain amount of mental strength to stick at. With no buddies to talk to, no freewheeling down hills, no passing scenery to look at, no fellow road users to concentrate on an hour on a turbo trainer can easily feel like 3 hours on the road. This is precisely why many turn to DVDs, iPods or films to help distract from the boredom.

Race-Day-DVD

The DVD is presented by ex pro Robbie Ventura and consists mainly of a short warm up routine and a race. During the race your point of view is that of a camera attached to Robbie’s bike during an actual race. Robbie commentates has he rides the race, describing the pace, discussing tactics etc. Throughout the race you are shown on screen targets that show cadence, power output, intensity and time remaining at current intensity in minutes and seconds. The idea is that you ride the race using the same bursts of speed and intensities as Robbie.

DVDs like this are great when working out on a turbo trainer providing you with distraction, motivation and entertainment all in one.

Accessories

Once you have your turbo trainer there are a few related accessories that you may want. Here is a quick breakdown of some of the most popular you may want to consider.

Heart Rate Monitor

Riding a steady pace on a turbo trainer is a tough thing to do mentally. In order to get the most from your turbo trainer sessions than you’ll almost certainly want to do structured interval sessions. Unless you have lots o money to invest in a power meter then without doubt the best tool you can buy to help you maximize the benefit of your training is a heart rate monitor.

With a heart rate monitor you can measure precisely how hard you are working, allowing you to ride specific interval sets aimed at developing certain aspects of your riding such as power output, lactate threshold, pedaling efficiency or cadence. Being able to focus on maintaining my heart rate at a certain level helps enormously with my motivation during long hard sessions on the turbo trainer.

Training Mats

If you are going to be using your turbo trainer in your house or apartment you’ll almost certainly need to protect your carpet or floor from sweat. There are a number of these training rubber mats available that protect your floor from muck off the bikes tyres plus the sweat that you’ll be producing.

As well a protecting from sweat these mats are great for absorbing noise if you’re going to be using your trainer on a hard wood floor. A slightly cheaper alternative is to use an old yoga mat instead.

Ride DVDs

As mentioned above one of the most popular ways to relieve the boredom and increase the interest in turbo training sessions is via specific training DVDs. To complement the Race Day DVD there are a lot of others out there including the excellent Spinervals series and the Rides series.

Fan

Until you’ve tried a turbo trainer you can’t really appreciate how much you’ll sweat once you start using one. Even if you’ll be using the trainer outdoors you’ll be poring with sweat in just a few minutes. Investing in a large pedestal fan is a great way to try and help keep you cool while working out on your turbo trainer.

Bike Thong

Even if you use a fan you’ll still sweat to some degree. Sustained use will inevitably lead to a constant drip of salty sweat dripping down onto your bikes frame and gearing which can cause corrosion over the long term. These great bike thongs essentially are a cut down towel designed to protect your bikes frame and headset from sweat. A handy added feature is the pockets that they have that are great for holding tv remotes, snacks or extra drinks.

Rising Block

As mentioned above these rising blocks allow you to adjust the height of the front when when the bike is mounted in the trainer. While a book works ok, to a limit, a block is better. They give lateral support as well as allowing multiple height adjustments. By having the higher settings you can much better simulate hill climbing.

Pros and Cons

To summarize, here is a brief list of some of the main pros and cons of the CycleOps Fluid 2:

Pros

  • Solid build quality – very stable
  • Quite
  • Adjustable resistance via gear changes
  • Realistic ‘road like’ feel

Cons

  • No on-board computer showing cadence or speed
  • No power (watts) readings

In summary i would definitely recommend the CycleOps Fluid 2 trainer. It is well built, quiets, provides realistic resistance and has definitely helped me move my cycling fitness up a level. Having used a mag trainer before I’d definitely say it is worth the extra investment to get a fluid trainer.

CycleOps Fluid 2 Pricing

Amazon UK: £180 in p&p

Wiggle UK: £198 inc p&p

Amazon US: $288 inc p&p

If you have any questions about this trainer feel free to post a comment below – i try and answer most questions within 24 hours.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Hix June 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Hi,
I’ve been looking into getting a trainer to cope with the British weather, my main concern with them is the ability to simulate climbing at a decent cadence. Could you explain how this works with a Fluid2? Is it a case of raising the front wheel and then getting the cadence &speed required thus resistance required and then maintaining it for as long as possible?
How do you think they compare to a hill? They are apparently very similar to road resistance, just more concerned with hill similarity really.
Cheers – informative and well written review, unlike most of the illiterate, ill-informed drivel on t’web 🙂

Reply

chill123 June 8, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Hix – With the fluid 2 the resistance is constant, to increase it you simply change gears as if you were on the road. I trained for the Marmotte a couple of years ago and used the Fluid2 quite a bit. I simply put bricks/books under the front wheel to make the bike feel more like it was going uphill, this doesn’t affect the resistance, just the feel. I did this and changed into a big gear and just ground away a slow cadence like I was riding up Alp D Huez for periods of time while ‘hill training’.

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