Review: Elite Crono Hydro-Mag ElastoGel Trainer
It is the start of turbo trainer season. Dark winter nights and icy roads may well drive you inside before long; to sit on a static bike in front of the television. I don't often find myself riding indoors, but when I do, I'm grateful of having a good quality trainer to ride on. Here's what I'm using this winter...
The Elite Crono Hydro-Mag ElastoGel Trainer. It probably has one of the longest turbo trainer names out there. There is a good reason for that though, because it is a feature packed static trainer that is a great tool to add to your 'pain-cave' arsenal.
Here is what sets it apart from the pack, in my opinion...
Fluid and Magnetic Technology CombinedFluid resistance turbo trainers are renowned for providing a smooth progressive resistance as you increase your effort and speed. Fluid technology gives a great road-like feel, and the resistance can be controlled by moving through the gears on your bike, with a harder gear equalling a higher level of resistance.
Magnetic resistance turbo trainers don't use gears to adjust resistance, instead you alter the difficulty with a remote control unit that normally sits on your handlebars. Magnetic resistance has the advantage that you can really ramp-up the difficulty. It can also reduce the risk of "slippage" (between tyre and resistance roller), which can occur when you use a very high gear/speed on a fluid system. The disadvantage of magnetic systems, is that they have a lower number of resistance levels available: rather than having 20 plus gears to flick through, you are often reduced to just a few index points on the remote, leading to more sudden shifts in difficulty. They are also often noisier than fluid systems.
Enter the Elite Crono Hydro-Mag ElastoGel Trainer...
This trainer combines both fluid technology and magnetic technology. Therefore, you get the smooth road-like progressive resistance of the fluid system, but you also get the ability to really increase the high-end resistance with the tandem magnetic resistance unit. The result, is a product that is perfect for all kinds of workouts: a real no compromise training platform.
When you consider the kind of sessions that you are likely to use a turbo trainer for, you are able to see the significant benefits of the magnetic and fluid technology working in partnership. For example, take an interval pyramid session, where you gradually increase the difficulty of the "on" interval until you reach the top of the pyramid. At the base of the pyramid, the fluid technology really comes into its own; as you can progressively click through the gears and get a small increase on each step up. Towards the top of the pyramid though, you are likely to be putting out a very high wattage, and with just the resistance from a fluid system you may encounter "slippage". Therefore, the magnetic resistance unit can be used to manage the high end power output. The result of the combined approach, is both a smooth progression up the pyramid and a stable workout at maximum power.
To get an idea of the added resistance that the magnetic unit gives, I have also used Elite's Crono Fluid Elastogel trainer (the cheaper unit, without the magnetic unit), and find it equivalent to about setting 3 out of 5 on the Crono Hydro-Mag. Therefore you effectively get two higher resistance settings by adding in the magnetic unit as well.
Some product detail...The Elite Crono Hydro-Mag ElastoGel Trainer combines many of the best aspects of Elite's training platforms. Aside from the superb resistance variability and smoothness already discussed, the trainer also uses the "Crono" design to suspend the bike. Many turbo trainers use a resistance unit that you move up to meet the tyre; the tyre is then held rigidly against the resistance roller. The Crono system is different: the resistance unit does not move up to the tyre, but rather the bike is suspended by the rear axle, and then pivots back onto the resistance roller as you put weight on the bike. This pivoting is coupled with a curvature in the arms of the trainer, which allows a degree of flex in the turbo's frame. The benefit of this system, is that as you vary the force that you are putting through the pedals, the bike pushes against the resistance unit by varying amounts. As you push harder, the bike pushes back against the resistance unit, which reduces the chance of slippage occurring. This system really does work: reducing the need to estimate how much to push the resistance roller against the tyre, and also helping to provide a far more road-like feel when training, because of the weighting and un-weighting of the tyre as you pedal.
The ElastoGel part of the trainer's name refers to the material used to coat the resistance roller itself. Another clever development from Elite, the material is a unique rubber gel that is proven to reduce sound, vibration and tyre wear, compared to traditional plastic or metal rollers. It seems to work, and is notably kinder on your tyres.
Further AdditionsIs there much more to improve on the fairly simple design of a turbo trainer? The only other thing I can think that is worth mentioning, is the accessories you can add, which further help to improve the "experience" of your 'pain cave'. Notably, the Elite Training Mat and the Elite Su-Sta Adjustable Front Wheel Elevator Block are great investments.
The training matt is ideal for catching the inevitable perspiration that drips off you, as you work hard. Perhaps more importantly though, it also significantly dampens the vibrations and sound that the turbo trainer makes. Great when you have family sat in the room next door!
The Su-Sta is the best riser block I have come across. It allows you to vary the height of the front wheel, with five different positions. This is great for perfecting your position on the bike and also avoids you slipping off the front of the saddle if you are leaning forward, or getting numb from having the saddle tilted upright. It can even allow you to mimic climbing, by elevating the front wheel, which is great for high powered hill climb repetition workouts!
Overall, the Elite Crono Hydro-Mag ElastoGel Trainer, plus the additional Elite accessories, make for a great training package. It will cater for all kind of workouts that you want to endure, and it is built to a level that will last for years. It makes for a formidable winter training platform.
View the Elite Crono HydroMag Turbo Trainer at Wiggle.co.uk (Link)