For myself, the biggest product announcements of 2016 have been the new direct mount trainers from Tacx, Elite and Cycleops. I have finally managed to get my hands on a Cycleops Hammer – There will be a full review and Zwift Gear Test, shortly, but for now, here is something to consider as an appetiser!
Cycleops Hammer Turbo Trainer Preview – TitaniumGeek
So Cycleops, – definitely one of THE big names in the turbo trainer market has been biding their time when it comes to a powered direct mount trainer. We’ve had Wahoo’s KICRK when their focus to solid engineering, TacX with their Neo, technically brilliant, if troubled by early birthing pains, and the Elite Drivo, a white good, but with a tenacious approach to accuracy. Where will the Cycleops Hammer come in this little pantheon of turbo trainers? Time will tell, as I have only had access to the Cycleops Hammer for about 6 hours so far, that is enough to give a preview of the device, but not for a more focused Zwift Gear Test which will drop in a few weeks
The first thing that struck me about the Cycleops Hammer is that this is a unit designed to be looked at as much as it is ridden. That is not to say that Cycleops Hammer puts form over function, but it really does feel as though the engineers did their bit on the mechanicals, but then also had a really long lunch with the designers, and made the outside a designed case, not merely a plastic box to cover the internals.
This feeling goes even further when you find that Cycleops have included a front wheel stabiliser in the box.
But this stabiliser is not merely an additional component in the Cycleops Hammer box, it is an intrinsic part of the whole unit. You see those cut-outs at the rear of the stabiliser?
They are there to allow the stabiliser to be stored perfectly under the Hammer and are where the feet of the unit slot in, to keep everything nicely in place during transport
Pull the chunky yellow tab on the leg of the unit, fold the legs in, and everything slots in perfectly. This is probably best highlighted when you turn the unit over, to see the stabiliser nestled nicely between the legs. Of note, there is also a disc brake lock under the stabiliser too
Out of the box
Very little actually comes with the Cycleops Hammer. You have the adapters for different bike frame sizes and the power cable.
I didn’t receive a skewer with this unit, however, due to the ability to use Thru axle and QR, I don’t imagine one will be placed in the retail box.
On the side of the unit is a Shimano freehub. (The inside of the case is a little rough, as this is demo unit, with a pre-release case)
Unlike the KICKR, and the Neo, the majority of the spinning internals are hidden in the case, making this quite a safe unit for little fingers or animals, which might get inquisitive.
Cycleops Hammer Specifications
- Dual compatibility for both quick release and Thru-axle compatible for bike frames –
- As a result, skewers are not included in the box
- Communications: ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth 4.0 technologies.
- Max wattage: (at 20mph): 2000W
- Max incline: 20%
- Includes a Shimano splined freehub for compatibility with Shimano 8-11 speed cassettes –
- Although it should be noted that a Shimano cassette is not included in the box
- Dimensions when Open: 787.4×469.9×495.3 mm
- Dimensions when Closed: 76.2×469.9×495.3 mm
- Weight: 21.3 kg
- Noise: 64 decibels at 20mph
- Accuracy: +/- 3% accurate power readings.
- No cadence measurement function
There is no calibration function, however, there is the option to do a spin test in the Cycleops app which is advised before your first use
Moving the Unit
All of the current direct mount trainers have a handle in somewhat shape or form, – heck the Kickr Gen 2 “upgrade” externally appears simply to be the changing of a handle. To-date the Elite Drivo has been the easier out of its competitors to move, however, that accolade has fallen to the Cycleops Hammer, which is crucially designed to be well balanced, but more importantly is comfortable for the hand holding the 21.3kg weight. With design and folding legs, this is clear a device where Cycleops decided that it would treat those who need to move the unit and those who can leave the unit set up, as equals, and that is a good thing!
The crucial thing is how well does the unit Zwift? Whilst there will be a full review later in the month, I did do a quick 20km on Zwift before this preview
As a quick analysis, the Cycleops Hammer is smooth, very responsive, and lacks any clear problems with inertia. Frankly, I’d put the sound generated by the Cycleops Hammer as the second best – yes nothing is going to be the TacX Neo when it comes to sound. There is a hint of KICKR scream about the sound profile, but the dB meter stays under 60dB using my iPhone meter. Perhaps not the most accurate, but as a sound meter, it is what I have used for all of the turbos I have tested here, so it a fair test.
Naturally, I filmed this test so you can see for yourself! However, I would highlight that the nature of the sound recorded by the iPad here is much more intrusive than when actually riding the Cycleops Hammer
Cycleops Hammer Sound Test Video
Each turbo manufacturer is appealing for your to open your wallet for different reasons. Wahoo with the KICKR name, Neo with the tech and Elite with their insane accuracy (currently trying to push 0.5watts in the labs!). The Cycleops Hammer has no one stand out feature, no clever gimmick. But there is a reason for this – The Cycleops Hammer, on the surface, and with only an afternoon to play with so far, appears to be the most complete, rounded turbo trainer I have used yet. Now whether there is something nasty lurking inside in terms of accuracy, or terrain simulation when it comes to a Zwift Race, I don’t know. But for a Cycleops Hammer preview to outlook is good!
Currently, supplies are limited, but the Sigma-Sport listing of the Cycleops Hammer is currently the cheapest by £120, and has been allocated 6 of the first production run devices “before Christmas”. As ever, that’s not an advert, merely, something to highlight to readers.