Upgrading from a fluid trainer to a Kinetic R1, Control or Smart Control trainer

Many Kinetic customers are taking advantage of the Control and Smart Control Power Unit upgrades this year in search of an even more realistic ride, especially in apps like Zwift or FulGaz where simulation (SIM) mode allows riders to automatically experience changes in slope and terrain. We've fielded a number of questions concerning how to best move from fluid-resistance trainers like the Road Machine Smart or Smart 2 into an interactive app-controlled, electronic-training experience. Please read on and we'll outline what to expect when making the jump from a traditional fluid trainer to an interactive app-controlled electronic Kinetic Control or Smart Control trainer. We'll outline the differences in resistance types and reveal a few tricks for optimizing your workout when riding an app-controlled trainer.


Fluid Resistance vs. Interactive Electronic Resistance

This is the most important difference between our Smart and Smart 2 (fluid) trainers and our Control and Smart Control (electronic) trainers: fluid smart trainers push training data to apps but don’t control the resistance of the trainer while Control and Smart Control interactive trainers push training data to apps AND allow apps to change the resistance automatically for you as you ride on a virtual course or as you ride an ERG workout like those found in the Kinetic Fit app, Zwift or TrainerRoad. With Fluid resistance, you control the effort and the resistance by changing gears and speeding up to apply more force to your pedals, just like riding your bike outdoors.


How does the virtual experience change with an interactive trainer?

Zwift offers a virtual 3D world with terrain like you'd find in a mountain range, on London city streets, in a beach town or even in a fantasy world rolling through a jungle or inside a breathing volcano. In simulation mode in the game Kinetic Control and Smart Control trainers will track the changing terrain and increase the pedaling effort automatically like a machine at the gym does. Automatic trainer control lets riders literally lose themselves in the Zwift-riding experience. You don't have that level of immersion with a Kinetic fluid trainer because when the slope gets steep on a mountain climb, you’ll be pedaling at 24 mph on a fluid trainer to experience the same 300 watts that an interactive-trainer rider is experiencing on that same climb going 10 mph with the Control resistance unit doing the work.


What is ERG Mode and a Guided Workout?

Simply put, ERG mode is a trainer-control mode that automatically sets the resistance level or wattage of the Kinetic R1, Control and Smart Control trainers. This mode is not available in our fluid trainer models. You can fine-tune ERG mode by riding a Functional Threshold Power (FTP) Test workout and plugging your FTP number into your user profile in whichever training app you decide to ride. Knowing your FTP number is like having a bullseye on your current cycling fitness level. ERG mode workouts are designed to use specific percentages of your current fitness level to target your body’s different energy systems. You can learn more about workout zones and workout types here.

Interactive Trainer ERG Mode Riding Tips

Riding an interactive trainer in an ERG workout requires a bit of knowledge to stay on top of the resistance changes. Here are a few tips to keep ERG workouts smooth:

  • Anticipate each interval change by watching the graph. When coming to a more intense interval change, rev up your cadence and wattage a few seconds before the new interval and get ready for the extra effort like you would when you’re about to hit a steep climb. Then settle in to the new intensity target.

  • Be sure your FTP setting in your profile is accurate. If it's too low, workouts will be too easy. If it's set too high, workouts will be too difficult. Remember, ERG workouts are based around your training zones.

  • After the initial interval change, keep your speed and cadence steady. Interactive trainers and training app will change the trainer resistance level automatically to match your wattage target. You won't even need to shift gears in most cases, so put your bike in a smooth gear that feels good at about 16 mph and let the trainer do the work.

  • If you consistently fall below your interval target wattage, the app will tell your interactive trainer resistance unit to apply more and more brake until you simply can’t pedal anymore. This is typically referred to as “getting brickwalled.” The only way around this is to pause your workout and spin up the trainer again, then unpause when back up to speed. If this is happening often, we suggest adjusting your FTP a bit lower so that your workout targets will get lower too.

  • Target Power Adjustment: This is also a setting in the Kinetic Fit app: MENU > SETTINGS > TARGET POWER ADJUSTMENT. If an interval target power is just too high or low, you can lower or raise the target by using the slider on the app screen.

Kinetic Fluid Power Trainer and Interactive Electronic Feature Comparison


(Smart and Smart 2)
(Kinetic R1, Smart Control
and Control)
Price range
Price range $314 - $549 $512 - $1050
  Resistance type
Resistance type Fluid Electronic Magnetic
Interactive: Apps can control trainer resistance
Interactive: Apps can control trainer resistance NO YES
Non-interactive: Rider must control resistance
Non-interactive: Rider must control resistance YES NO
  Apps can control resistance automatically
Apps can control resistance automatically NO YES
  Supports ERG mode - apps can set and maintain wattage
Supports ERG mode - apps can set and maintain wattage NO YES
  Supports SIM mode - apps change resistance with terrain
Supports SIM mode - apps change resistance with terrain NO YES
  Connects to Apps Using Bluetooth
Connects to Apps Using Bluetooth YES YES
  Connects to Apps Using ANT+
Connects to apps using ANT+ NO: Smart
YES: Smart 2
NO: Smart Control
YES: Control, R1
  Wireless Data Transmission
Wireless data transmission to apps YES YES
  Supports Spindown Calibration
Supports spindown calibration YES YES
  Updatable firmware
Updatable firmware NO: Smart;
YES: Smart 2
  Supported accuracy level
Supported accuracy level +/-5% +/-3%
  Maximum wattage
Maximum wattage 1400 watts at 35 mph 1800 watts at 30 mph
2000 watts at 30 mph: R1
  Maximum Slope
Maximum slope N/A 10%: Control, Smart Control
20%: Kinetic R1
  Flywheel Weight
Flywheel weight 6.25 lbs. 12 to 14.4 lbs.
  Battery Required
Battery required YES NO
  Power Cord Required
Power cord required NO YES