Should I buy a Computrainer?

Discussion in 'Power Training' started by twalsh, Dec 7, 2006.

  1. twalsh

    twalsh New Member

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    I have an opportunity to buy a Computrainer Pro at a slightly reduced rate (1,225US). I'm unclear as to its benefits over and above what I'm using now in the context of training for Ironman competitions.

    I currently use a PT on a CyclOps Fluid trainer. Usually I just listen to music or watch a dvd. I also use Kreitler rollers, which I really enjoy, and use these for warmups or spin sessions.

    I'm training for Ironman Canada 07.


    I've read many of the posts on this forum, so I'm sorry if I'm rehashing an old subject. New opinions greatyly appreciated.

    Thks.
     
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  2. Spunout

    Spunout New Member

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    No.

    If you are motivated to do your intervals and produce power, your PT will do better for you as you can take it outside. Computrainer does some cool stuff, but for IM training programs you'll do fine with the PT.
     
  3. Chipotle

    Chipotle New Member

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    I have a Computrainer and a PowerTap. Fortunately the power readings agree with each other so, I feel they work well together.

    I got my CT second hand for $700 and at the time, I did not have a PT. A friend recently asked me the same question. After giving it a great deal of thought, I recommended she get the CT (for reasons below). It really came down to economics. Is $1200 a great deal of money for you? I have to admit, if I could only have one, it would no doubt be the PT. The CT is a luxery item. Some might even call it a toy. My wife thinks my bike is a toy.

    I believe the CT is a powerful training tool that has great and growing potential. Recently, Hunter Allen began writing downloadable workouts for the erg mode. That's quite an endorsement when the CyclingPeaks people get on board. I have been using mine in erg mode 90% of the time. I find it much easier to follow a movie plot since I can watch the TV and just pedal. Otherwise I have to stare at the computer screen to hold a target number. That's a big deal when you're trying to get through 2x20's. Not so important for shorter intervals. You can even write your own workouts.

    You can race against yourself on screen - a previous CT performance. Sure you could download a ride into WKO+ and compare the numbers, but what a hoot to race yourself in real time. I'm planning on purchasing ERG+ software so I can repeat outdoor group ride efforts, although, no little tv man to ride against.

    You can download the actual course profile you are training for. I haven't taken advantage of that too much. I can see the value. You know ahead of time what sort of efforts will be required (hills). I Googled your Ironman Canada race and found an older course. I'm probably not going to ride 112 miles in my basement, though.

    If you have access to a unit you can download GPS data from a ride and recreate it on your CT. Or you can even use topo software.

    Maybe, if I was smart though, I would sell my cycling equip, invest in a mutual fund and take up running.
     
  4. rmur17

    rmur17 New Member

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    I have a CT since fall 2002 and never regretted it. Biggest things for me was:
    1. Decent power feedback ( excellent once I dialed it in with my PT).
    2. VARIETY.

    It's a mag-trainer, decent ergometer .... before even considering the 'play' aspects of hooking up your computer. I use all three modes - ergo when I'm feeling strong and sadistic :), computer 3D when I need to do something longer or get some variety and plain old-magtrainer mode when I'm just want an easy or mindless spin.

    8-10hrs/week for ~ 5 months of the year for me == several burnt out regular mag-trainers!
     
  5. twalsh

    twalsh New Member

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    Thanks for your posts. I agree with you that the CT is a luxury item. Let's face it, I can get by no problem with my PT. However, the benefits which you outline are convincing. I have read about the erg mode and I believe that would be super useful. It takes a bit of concentration to hold a desired power level and watch Band of Brothers, even for the 10th time :eek:

    I've never been on a CT so I don't know how it would "feel" in terms of changing resistance. If I understand correctly, If I dial-in a particular route, say IMC, the resistance changes with the topography. When coming up to Richter's Pass, for example, does the unit would apply more resistance to simulate the hill? How does it "know" how much resistance to apply?

    You mention that the power levels correlate well, although I suppose it doesn't really matter as I'd have to retest myself with the CT and establish a new set of values for CP. I just wondered how close the readings are for the two units, within 10%?

    I don't think you should sell your bike gear and invest in a mutual fund. I was looking at my statement this month and I think I should be selling my funds and invest the cash in more cycling toys! :D
     
  6. JIM WV

    JIM WV New Member

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    I've been using a CT since '96 when I got the "Donkey Kong" Nintendo version to the 3D upgrade that I have been using for the last couple of years. I can't address the how the CT "knows" to apply an amount of resistance but I can tell you that it does and seems to do so pretty realistically from both a subjective feel and looking at times, watts, etc.

    I have number of courses loaded in that I have downloaded from the 'net as well as built myself using GPS, Topo, etc. Once I know the file info. is good -- grades correct, etc. -- the actual feel of the CT course mimics the "real" world very well. I also use ergo mode and it is very useful. All in all I think it's a great device -- very reliable and mine was easily upgraded for a $200 bucks or so.

    Also, mine mirrors my SRM perfectly after doing rmur's adjustment protocol. I've got mine within 1.5 %. BTW, a friend of mine just bought one new last year and he didn't need to touch his at all.
     
  7. jetnjeff

    jetnjeff New Member

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    The CT uses your weight, spead and grade to calculate the load.

    Subjectively the CT has a very realistic road feel. There does tend to be some drift as tire temp changes. 1st of 2X20 matched a PT but not for 2nd in one test. This was with 10 min low watt rest period and resetting the calibration before the 2nd 20m. On the 2nd 20 min the CT showed a higher power than the PT. This test, with the recalibration, was done after noticing
    similar discrepancies.

    At really steep grades the CT can not effectively match reallity. As show by the time one rider could do on the Winter green TT course on the CT and in reallity.

    The Spin scan can be a nice bio feed back and can help identify leg strenght discrepancies.

    I would use a PT on the CT and use the PT files and the CT for the bells and wistles. That way you can keep your current FTP standard.

    Like making erg files. Which would be much more effective manipulating the time and load than the distance that the Standard CT software permits.
     
  8. velobob

    velobob New Member

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    I have both a CT and PT. If I had to choose between having just one it would be the PT but the combination is really great if you can afford it (I bought both used - PT Pro for $600US and CT for $900US). The PT gives the feedback and the CT dictates my workouts as I have purchased Hunter's training plans with erg files. I find it very motivating - I am not sure I could push myself as hard or be as consistent without the CT. Repeatability from workout to workout is also a beneficial aspect of training with the CT.
     
  9. twalsh

    twalsh New Member

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    When you say consistency do you mean, for example, within an interval? I find that with the PT I really have to concentrate to stay within a prescribed wattage range. For example, I'll end up going too high on the wattage with one gear combo, then shift one easier, and end up with a wattage that is too low. The average at the end is O.K., but to achieve it is work. I understand that the CT allows you to "dial-in" a wattage and then one rides at that wattage. Is this so? I bought my PT Pro a couple of years ago for 700US. I'm looking on Ebay for a CT Pro, but demand is high and prices are not far off the price of a new one. By the way, I was thinking of purchasing one of Hunter's training plans; how do you like it?
     
  10. Chipotle

    Chipotle New Member

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    I may start a new thread on this topic, but let's see what we get here.

    I have been wondering about Hunter's CT workouts. How long have you been doing them and how do you like them so far? Would you recommend them? This is a silly problem, but I was wondering what you do if you're exactly in between FT's. I'm about 260 right now. What if I test significanty higher half way through the program ( a welcome problem).

    Anything you or anyone else could add would be helpful.
     
  11. cbjesseeNH

    cbjesseeNH New Member

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    The combination of Hunter's erg files and the erg+ software (also sold by CyclingPeaks) allows you to adjust the whole erg file up or down to match your FT. You might get the 275W Winter plan and give it a try. If it's just too much, use the erg+ program to tweak the file down to 260W.

    I get great workouts on Hunter's erg plan files. If absolutely dashed, I can hit pause and get an extra minute recovery when necessary, then jump back in, or just stop.

    Using Course Creator (see CPS home page), you can even make CT courses from Google maps and then ride them on your CT, if CT 3D files are not already available for your desired ride.

    The combination of PT and CT and the WKO+ and erg+ applications is very versitile. I also have a PTPro and use that to record data and transfer up to CPS WKO+ rather than the CT transfer, but both work fine.
     
  12. velobob

    velobob New Member

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    By consistency I do mean within intervals (so say holding 291 Watts for 15mins) - you don't have to worry about what gear you are in or even what cadence the CT ensures the same wattage load. A great use of this is to do the same watts but at different cadences - for example 3 x 15mins at 300Watts at 65rpm, 90rpm, and 100rpm. It's pretty hard to get 300W at 65rpm on a regular Mag type trainer. As for Hunter's plans - I am on my second set and I really like them - the detail is excellent (lots of coaching notes) and the workouts are varied and challenging. Small touches like intervals that increase or decrease slightly within the interval and notes about target cadence for intervals and projected TSS and IF for workouts (which is good if you use cycling peaks).
     
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