Saturday, December 16, 2017

Cycleops Hammer smart trainer review

I've been using Zwift since early Sept 2017 and it's become a welcome addition to riding seeing winter is here. When looking to purchase a smart trainer I wanted to get into this the right way and not regret any equipment choice so after researching all the smart trainer choices I went with the Cycleops Hammer direct drive unit. There's a number of good smart trainers on the market but Cycleops has been involved with power meters for a long time, that with good reviews and I felt it was a good choice. Some smart trainers are wheel driven, meaning the tire contacts a roller that can be a little erratic power wise due to things like tire choice, temp, and air pressure so for consistency and a truer road feel I felt the direct drive type of unit was the proper way to go. The Hammer is in the same class of the direct drive smart trainers as the Wahoo Kickr, Tacx Neo, and few others and specs out closely with all the major players. I'm not going into detail as far as unboxing and assembly goes other than to say it was easy. I really want to give a rundown on features and how it's performed in the first 3 - 4 months of putting it through a lot of stress while on Zwift.
It has maybe the widest compatibility of all trainers available right now, software wise it supports dual BTLE & Ant+FE-C. It works with thru-axle frames of 130mm, 135, 142x12, 148x12 and includes all the adapters while some other brands offer them as an accessory.
It has a massive 20lb flywheel that and is rated for up to 2000 watts, simulates up to a 20% road grade and power accuracy of +/- 3% and internal temperature control.
It's heavy at nearly 50 lbs. but needs to be for stability. Sprinting out of the seat at 1000 watts it feels very solid with no limitations, and the foot print of 78cm with the legs extended out also aids in stability. I believe it's the widest in its class and comes with an integrated handle.
The freehub is a Shimano and compatible with Shimano 8-11 speed cassettes. For 10 speed cassettes it's supplied with a spacer. It comes with a small front wheel tray and under the tray is a small block for a rear disc brake if your bike is so equipped.... nice little detail.
Once the trainer is powered-up, there are LED lights located on the left side of the unit that change color based on its status. On startup the LED is blinking green and when connected to an Ant device it changes to white or if connected to BTLE it shows Blue.
I'm connecting to a windows laptop using an Garmin Ant + stick and a USB extension as to place the Ant stick directly next to the trainer. So far that’s worked out flawlessly.
There are firmware updates available and spin down calibrations to perform occasionally and Cycleops recommends a training app "Rouvy" formally Virtual training. You can download it on your phone - IOS, Android or computer and so far I've done a calibration test that worked fine. Zwift does offer a calibration test function but I'm hearing don't use it right now as there appears to be a few bugs with it. I'm sure by early 2018 Zwift will have it functioning properly as their pretty attentive with software issues.
Noise level at 20 mph is 64 decibels, that’s pretty quiet. I've read it's a hair louder than some of the other major brands but again just slightly. I have no complaints on the noise and was very surprised on how quiet it honestly is.
On Zwift the comparison to a real road feel is remarkable, occasionally there's a short lag in power when say shifting into the small front ring after a really hard effort in your large front ring. I'm hearing other brands have a similar issue but it's overall minor and the only negative I can come up with. Basically, if your keep hard constant power on the pedals after a hard effort when downshifting it's barely noticeable if at all.
The cost is not cheap at $1199 us dollars but the boredom it solves riding a trainer in the winter is a life saver.
It's wise to place your Ant + stick very close to the unit, that's 
if your using Ant +. Connections have been flawless. 

At nearly 50 lbs the handle comes in handy. It's not easy to transport
due to it's weight but it's extremely stable even at full gas. 
Legs fold out to 78cm wide. 

Mounts to trainer with ease.

Status light indicates green when on, white when connected
to Ant + and Blue when connected to BTLE.
Red indicates an issue.