Considering a Kinetic Smart Control Power Unit

I currently have a “dumb” Kinetic Road Machine trainer with a Kinetic Inride sensor. It works well for Zwift and other training apps, but I’d love to try a “smart” trainer that adjusts for inclines and declines and is also more accurate for racing and such. It looks like adding a Kinetic Smart Control Unit to my existing Road Machine would be the easiest and cheapest way to make my trainer a smart trainer. I’m wondering if anyone has a new Power Control Unit that they purchased recently that is working well. I’ve read many reviews that the units don’t work all that well - they lose bluetooth connection and have trouble locking up above 10% grades. If you have one of these units, does it work well for you? Do you have any trouble when going steeper than a 10% grade (the Smart Control Unit only goes up to 10%)? Do you find that your power output is consistent and accurate? Many of the poor reviews seemed to come from units purchased a few years ago. Has Kinetic improved their units and firmware? I would only get one of the newer units that include both ANT+ and Bluetooth. Any other thoughts, or should I just bite the bullet and get a direct drive trainer. I’m trying to go the most reasonable and simple route if possible by getting the Kinetic Power Control Unit for my existing Road Machine trainer. Is it worth it?

You can get a trainer to give you the feel of the hills but at your price range, you will not find anything more accurate than your current set up.

You have a top of the line dumb trainer that is very accurate when properly calibrated.
To keep that level of accuracy and have road feel, you will have to go top shelf too.
Also - very important, I have seen a lot of reports about Noise.
Accuracy, road feel and quiet.
You currently have 2 out of 3. Trying for the third might cost you one of the other 2.

I’ll be interested in any other replies you get from current users.

I made the exact upgrade starting with the Road Machine with InRide3 to the control power (T-6300) unit. I used the fluid drive/InRide for 14 months on Zwift, over 5000 miles and 385,000 feet of climbing.

I have only 1 week with the upgrade, 150 miles, 9000 feet of ascent, 15 separate rides. My set-up: I run Zwift on a PC windows 7, a Wahoo cadence and HRM. I use a ANT+ dongle, the companion app on an iPhone, Apple tunes in a BT earbud, Hardwire HDMI from PC to flat screen, wi-fi, three fans for cooling, two on me, one of the flywheel and a trainer tire.I have the trainer set at 75%.

First, it is true that watts are watts but the way the upgraded trainer responds to hills in zwift is way different. I did the upgrade mid-way through a 12 week workout.

In free ride (sim mode) works as expected. When you start up a hill it really hits you but on the other hand I’m seeing watts that I hardly ever saw before. Big numbers. But the pedaling is harder. This is the kind of numbers I see when I ride outside using power meters.

In ERG mode this is my area of concern. I find that the watts and cadence bounces high to low so I just look for an average. I probably will be able to improve this by tinkering with my set up.

I sometimes, maybe less than half the time will get (1) 2+/- second power drop in a session but it comes right back to normal. For reference I also have the same issue with cadence and HRM so I think it’s a problem with my set-up not the machine. I’m in the process of trying to shield everything as best I can and clean up my set-up. In short I’m not convinced the once in a while drop-out is the fault of the trainer.

Getting back to the ride experience. As mentioned I’m in a 12 week workout program. Since the upgrade I have completed 5 interval workouts that use ftp as a basis for what the workout wants me to do. The work it is asking me to do has me considering reducing my ftp as there is a challenge upgrade here. I want to tough it out and I think if I do it will be to my benefit but the required effort has increased.

I have been on every big hill on Zwift many times with my RM/InRide, 43 times up the Alpe. With the InRide I would use my big chain ring and grind my way up, with the upgrade I’m shifting more and using the small chain ring like outside. I guarantee you will find the 10% grade limit satisfactory, at least for a while. Also, the unit is as quiet as the RM fluid unit.

I have read the same reviews or criticisms of the upgrade you have and yes I was a bit nervous about this and still am. Most people only complain when they have problems. I’m sure there are 1000s of these out there working as intended. I have to keep in mind my upgrade cost way less than a new trainer and I certainly got my monies worth out of my road machine which I bought used for $50.

The criticisms do have me on high alert though. I was riding it the other day and mid ride started hearing a strange noise that I thought was coming from the trainer. For a few minutes I was mentally going over what I should do, take the unit apart, call customer support, buy something else? Turns out the noise was a piece of paper caught up in one of my fans!

To summarize my feelings, I’m happy with the upgrade overall. Most of my feelings have to do with the complaints others have written about not my personal experience. I would like to smooth out the ERG mode issues but they are not show stoppers for me. My plan is to use this configuration for two years then upgrade to a high end trainer.

If you read what others have to say about other low end wheel-on trainers you will find some unhappy with things also. They are what they are. I personally wanted to keep the cost as low as possible and the upgrade provided me with that option. Having said that if I were starting with no trainer I would pass on the Kinetic simply due to the fact that the Wahoo Snap at the same cost has a higher (15%) grade feature. But as mentioned, I’m not exactly a casual climber, I live in the mountains and do IRL rides with + 100’ ascent per mile all the time. So far, the 10% gradient is not a negative for me.

As a general statement about comparing a smart trainer to the supported Kinetic with InRide on Zwift. If you are interested in improving your performance and/or fitness then it appears to me in my limited experience comparing the two that certainly a smart trainer will make you work harder. I was and still I’m very happy with the road machine and using it last winter with Zwift made a huge improvement in my IRL bicycle riding. My expectation based on my 1 week with a smart trainer in general, the T-6300 in particular has me thinking that as long as I do my part, I will see better gains come spring by using the smart trainer vs the InRide.

To conclude I would say so far it’s a decent upgrade to consider. I doubt I would be any happier with any of the other wheel-on trainers currently available. So in general, and with only 1 week under my belt, I tend towards buy.

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