LeMond’s Revolution, the same trainer used by Garmin-Transitions at this year’s Tour, is a marked step away from the status quo. It alters the way resistance is transferred to a drivetrain by completely removing the middle men — the rear wheel and tire — from the equation. The trainer will be available in October, with an add-on power meter computer coming in November. LeMond representatives noted that the Garmin team will be using the trainers again next year.
Instead of clamping around a quick release and applying resistance to the rear wheel, the Revolution clamps into the rear dropouts and applies resistance directly to the drivetrain. The trainer itself holds the cog set via a Shimano/SRAM-compatible freewheel, literally replacing the rear wheel with a large, heavy flywheel. That means no more slipping and squealing from a tire/roller interface, no more excessive rear tire wear, and no more need for a front wheel block since the rear dropout height is the same as the front.
The power computer will be Ant+ and USB-download capable, will display cadence, distance, speed, heart rate, and calories burned, and will be compatible with TrainingPeaks software. Watts will be calculated using the trainer’s tested power curves combined with sensed elevation, humidity, and temperature info. Recalibration will require a simple set of spin/coast cycles.
The Revolution is mountain bike compatible, and weighs 32 pounds without a cassette.
I had a chance to hop on the Revolution, albeit briefly and with street shoes, at Monday’s Interbike Outdoor Demo and was impressed with the road-like feel. Resistance comes from a large fan, which combined with the heavy flywheel makes for a smooth resistance curve. Coast for a few seconds and a minimal amount of speed is lost, just like on the road. Getting back up to speed is a familiar effort.
However, there are a few potential drawbacks inherent in the design. The need for small rear derailleur adjustments each time a bike is mounted is a possibility. The exact position of a cassette along the length of a rear hub axle is not a strictly enforced standard, and one wheel will often position the cassette differently from another. Anyone who’s ever picked up a pit wheel mid-race has probably run into that very problem. Presumably, the Revolution could run into this same issue, though a small tweak is likely all that would be needed.
Price is high, but, given the unique benefits, not extraordinary. Plus, a dedicated indoor rider would probably save a tire or two each winter. The Revolution with no cassette will start at $449, and go up $100 when packaged with a cassette. The power system add-on will be an additional $349.