Sometimes with sports tech, it is the internals of a product which undergoes considerable updates, but the exterior…well just the colour changes. ANT+ FEC and Bluetooth FTMS now mean you have ask how will the unit perform in a Zwift Gear Test?
Kinetic inRide Power Sensor Review – Zwift Gear Test
The Kinetic inRide Power Sensor has been around since 2012 giving a very cost-effective way of adding a power measurement to a classic turbo trainer such as the Kinetic Road Machine.
Two of the major updates under the skin of the company’s updated power sensor are the addition of the latest generation indoor training communication protocols—namely ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth® FTMS. An issue, which has previously been lodged against Kinetic, has been their lack of ANT+™ protocol. Any new toys Kinetic brings to market will now support these latest protocols.
ANT+ FE-C (Fitness Equipment Control) and Bluetooth FTMS (FiTness Machine Service) are more than simply broad protocols designed to transmit sensor data to and from a system. FTMS and Bluetooth are specifically designed now to provide smart trainer control. Having the benefit that software manufacturers now only have to code for two protocols in order to provide fine control of the turbo trainer resistance.
The inclusion now of both ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth FTMS means that Kinetic owners can easily swap from laptop/desktops using ANT+ to iOS/computer devices using Zwift without any issue. I’ve always thought that limiting your communication system to one particular protocol was akin to intentionally shunning a portion of the market. Thankfully not the case now.
Previously the Kinetic inRide sensor was about adding power functionality to the Kinetic Road Machine or Rock and Roll (note both turbos have the same smart resistance unit, merely differing in their frame mounting.
Even though both of these units are called smart, the Kinetic inRide sensor will not make them interactive. The resistance of both of the above fluid trainers is dependent on speed, which is independent of the Kinetic inRide sensor, and is related to the fluid resistance unit as you can see below
You can read more about the Kinetic Power curve – which is published here
Kinetic inRide Power Sensor – Design
What’s in the box? Well, it’s a very spartan box. Just the inRide sensor, a CR2032 battery, the magnet plus bung, a nice and colourful manual and an “important information” leaflet (basically saying don’t eat the batteries!)
The Kinetic inRide sensor is actually quite a simple affair. A small, now Kinetic green, box with a simple screw door on the front, along with the clearly emblazoned Bluetooth and ANT logos on the front
At the top of the unit is a small plastic line or notch, which corresponds to the internal magnetic sensor. That’s pretty much it.
The magnet comes with a little rubber bung this is to ensure that the little metal nugget doesn’t come flying out of the rollers on the trainer as your rear wheels spins it at a million miles an hour
To install the inRide sensor, find the set-screw hole on the resistance-unit roller. Into this is inserted the rubber bung
The magnet then has to go in here snuggly. Kinetic advises positioning the magnet initially with a flat head screwdriver in order to seat the metal pellet.
Before pressing it carefully into place
With the magnet home, you peel and stick the inRide sensor to the back of the turbo – ensuring that the green plastic casing is aligning precisely with the edges of the turbo, this will position the magnet sensor in alignment with the magnet in order to calculate speed and power
With that, you are ready to ride!
Kinetic inRide Power Sensor – Specification
- Communications: ANT+, ANT FEC, Bluetooth 4.0, BlueTooth FTMS
- Weight: 14g (not that that really matters being stuck on a trainer, but still)
- Battery: CR2032
- Battery Life: Estimated at 6 months to 1 year depending on riding
- Accuracy : +/-3%
- Sensor type: magnetic
- Data: Power, Cadence, Speed, Distance, Calories
Kinetic inRide Power Sensor – Manual
The manual for the Kinetic inRide can be found here – which like the other Kinetic manuals is shockingly detailed and in colour. There are always areas in which manufacturers can learn from each other. When it comes to manuals, Kinetic has it sorted.
Even the manual for the Kinetic app, which can utilise the inRide sensor is clear, is logical and in full colour – check it here
Kinetic inRide Power Sensor – Zwift Gear Test
With the majority of Zwift kit, I actually like to make sure that I can Get the equipment connected to Zwift before I install it the bike. Largely because it makes dealing with any battery issues, that bit easier.
For some reason, the Kinetic inRide sensor didn’t want to play nicely when I first unboxed it, requiring many resets, and two different battery changes to finally get it appearing on Zwift – via either ANT+ or Bluetooth. I was however able to connect to the Kinetic Fit App… albeit for a few seconds, and then I would lose the connection.
However, after again resetting the device about 5 times, I was able to get the unit to maintain the connection to the Kinetic app in order to perform a calibration.
Then disconnecting the Bluetooth completely on my phone, I was able to see the inRide sensor on both a laptop over ANT+ and an iPad on Bluetooth. I’m going to attribute this to battery gremlins, as things have been fine since then.
As the inRide sensor is purely a power sensor (i.e no strain guage) on a Kinetic Smart trainer, but not an interactive trainer, rather than running my usual Zwifr “Jon’s Mix”, I instead opted to go sight-seeing on Zwift, keeping mainly steady state with a few instances of ramping up the power
The output was compared with the PowerTap C1 chain ring, and a serviced pair of Garmin Vector 3’s.
As you can see the inRide aligns reasonably well with the other two power meters, but is every so slightly blunted to the tune of about 5-10 watts in some places. However for an indirect measure, applied as an after sales device, with a quoted 3% margin, I’d be very happy with the inRide given you’ll likely get change from a £50 note!
Whether I’d want to be deploying the inRide sensor for Zwift racing, I don’t think you’d have any issues competing. Certainly not compared to other indirect measures
Kinetic inRide Power Sensor – Conclusion
When it comes to power meters and Zwift, two things matter. First, accuracy, and second, when as part of a turbotrainer, responsiveness.
If your power meter isn’t giving you accurate data, it is useless in terms of training, and in terms of Zwift racing, it is self-defeating, as you are only cheating yourself. But also if the power meter attached to a turbo isn’t responsive enough, you’ll be left with a slightly reality-breaking sensation when riding an interactive turbo.
I raise the point about a smart turbo, as the Kinetic inRide is NOT going to be able to take your classic turbotrainer and make it into an interactive turbo. We are just talking about a power sensor here. So suddenly price becomes a big issue… and Kinetic have a very compelling product when we look at the price – basically £45 adding an accurate power meter to your kinetic turbo. Frankly, this is an unbeatable device for adding power to your Kinetic fluid trainer— although in reality these will now likely propagate through to land in Kinetic Road Machine and Rock and Roll purchase packages. However, some people may be interested in upgrading for the ANT+ FE-C protocol, maybe.
Yes, the Kinetic inRide is not a strain gauge. No it’s not removable. Yes there is a very narrow market for the inRide, BUT for an accurate power sensor for use on Zwift… well you simply can’t get cheaper! Even the PowerTap PowerCal costs more, and that has a bit of a reputation as a random-number generator at times.
As for the downsides… I’m genuinely struggling here… save for the fact this is going to be a stand-alone product which is only going to be useful for a rather narrow proportion of Zwift population!
Still, a 5* rating and a TG Recommend – easy