Kinetic Bike Trainers Review: Affordable, but are they worth it?

Overview of Kinetic Indoor Bike Trainers — Indoor training that doesn’t break the bank

Categories: Buyer's Guides, Trainer
Kinetic R1
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Kinetic offers three different options for trainers, plus their fanciful Rock and Roll technology.

Built to have strong and durable frames, at price points landing somewhere in the middle of the market, Kinetic has tailored their options for the general cycling consumer – and it works.

Kinetic trainers are both reliable and capable, easy to use, and made at affordable price points that won’t scare you away.

Here’s the Kinetic bike trainer line-up.


Middle-Class Indoor Bike Trainers

With a first glance at the price points of Kinetic Bike Trainers, you might think that they are on the lower end of the indoor trainer market.

But look closer at the capabilities, integration, and smart options offered by Kinetic, and you’ll realize that this is a strong line-up of high-quality trainers for both beginners and advanced riders.

The R1 Direct Drive trainer is the top option from Kinetic, while the Road Machine Control Bike Trainer is their cheapest option.

You can upgrade Kinetic’s non-smart trainers using the Kinetic Control Power Unit, and reap the rewards of a smart trainer at less than half the cost of a Wahoo KICKR.

Let’s take a closer look at the Kinetic Bike Trainers.


Kinetic R1 Direct Drive Bike Trainer Key Specifications

Kinetic R1

Maximum Power Rating: 2000w
Maximum Simulated Gradient: 20%
Integration Capabilities: ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth® FTMS
Power Accuracy: +/-2%

The R1 is compatible with 130mm and 135mm quick-release hubs, as well as 142mm and 148mm (Boost) thru-axles, with no adapter required. Compatible with Shimano, SRAM, SRAM XD Drivers and Campagnolo cassettes, the R1 fits almost any bike on the market.

Electronic resistance is controllable on the R1, and be connected with virtual cycling apps such as Zwift or Rouvy.

With a maximum gradient capability of +/-20% and max power rating of 2000w, the R1 is as capable as most other direct-drive smart trainers; which also cost a lot more than the R1.

You can also ride the R1 without power, in case you wanted to take it to the car park for a pre-race warm-up, for example. All you have to do is unplug it, and set it to a different mode using the Kinetic app which is another great feature that you can use for all your Kinetic equipment.

The R1 has foldable and adjustable feet, and you can even adjust the tilt of the trainer near the power unit too.

This makes it easy to transport and store the R1, which has a wide and stable base when fully set up to ride. Some other Kinetic trainers have these features, while others do not. We’ll dive deeper into that below.


Kinetic Rock and Roll | Control Bike Trainer

Kinetic Rock and Roll

Maximum Power Rating: 1800w at 30mph
Maximum Simulated Gradient: 10%
Integration Capabilities: ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth FTMS
Power Accuracy: +/-3%

Kinetic also offers the Control Bike Trainer – available with or without Rock and Roll technology. These units are interactive, wheel-on smart trainers that use ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth FTMS to connect to virtual training apps.

With a 12lb flywheel, the Control Bike Trainer by Kinetic has a great ride feel, especially as a wheel-on trainer.

The Rock and Roll technology only adds to the riding experience, as you’ll be able to move back and forth and side-to-side while riding.

With the same technological capabilities (e.g. power ceiling, maximum slope) as the Kinetic Power Unit, the Kinetic Control Bike Trainer is a solid option at this price point.

You won’t be able to compete in the Zwift Premier League with a trainer as limited as this, but the vast majority of cyclists will be more than satisfied with the Control Bikes Trainer’s capabilities.

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Kinetic Control Power Unit

Kinetic Control Power Unit

Maximum Power Rating: 1800w at 30mph
Maximum Simulated Gradient: 10%
Integration Capabilities: ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth FTMS
Power Accuracy: +/-3%

To turn your Kinetic Rock and Roll or Road Machine into a fully-fledged smart trainer, you have the Kinetic Power Unit. Using ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth FTMS technology, this small unit pairs with virtual training apps to give you an interactive indoor riding experience.

The Kinetic Power Unit pairs with devices via Bluetooth Smart technology, and works with Zwift, TrainerRoad, and the proprietary Kinetic Fit app.

Like any other smart trainer, the unit controls resistance to simulate terrain and power during structured workouts.

The Power Unit even retrofits older Kinetic trainer frames, which means you won’t necessarily need to buy a brand new trainer; there’s a chance you could use the Kinetic Power Unit on what you already have.

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Kinetic Road Machine | Smart 2 Bike Trainer

Kinetic Road Machine

Flywheel size: 6.25lb
Resistance: Progressive fluid unit
Integration Capabilities: ANT+™, ANT+™ FE-C, and Bluetooth® FTMS

Don’t let the name fool you. The Road Machine | Smart 2 Bike Trainer is not actually a smart trainer in the usual sense of the word.

Normally, smart trainers use wireless technology to interact with virtual training apps to automatically adjust resistance. But in the case of the Smart 2 Bike Trainer, the unit does connect via Bluetooth, but only for transmitting data. In other words, the trainer’s resistance is not app-controlled.

A 6.25lb flywheel and progressive fluid resistance unit creates a relatively smooth and quiet ride, especially for a trainer at this price point.

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Rock and Roll Technology

One of the most unique features of Kinetic Bike Trainers is the option to have Rock and Roll technology, whether it’s on the R1 Direct Drive or the Smart 2 Bike Trainer.

This technique mimics a rocker plate, which allows freedom of movement at the base of the trainer. In other words, you’ll be able to (slightly) rock side to side, just like you would be able to on the open road. The Rock and Roll technology make these trainers feel much more life-like and realistic.

You can lean nearly 15 degrees laterally using the Rock and Roll technology, which is much more than any other trainer or trainer accessories (i.e. Wahoo KICKR Axis) can provide.

The side-to-side movement is not only great for sprinting, but it is even better for long rides when that little bit of movement can help you stay much more comfortable.


Kinetic Bike Trainers Considerations

Though the R1 Direct Drive has a freehub body that is easy to swap without the use of tools, there is an additional freehub kit required if you wish to make the switch. The R1 doesn’t come with a cassette either, so you’ll need to factor that into your budget even though the R1 is relatively cheap.

Of all direct drive smart trainers, the Kinetic R1 is one of the loudest. Whereas most are virtually silent, the R1 is noisier than your chain and shifters.

There’s a chance of waking up your neighbors if you try an early morning ride. While the R1 does have a large handle on its top, the unit is very heavy. Unless you go to the gym regularly, you might need help moving the R1 around, especially up or downstairs.

While the Kinetic Power Unit is a great idea for someone who already has a basic Kinetic Bike Trainer, it is an expensive piece of equipment for others considering the investment.

The Power Unit is a wheel-on option, which means that you’re sacrificing power and slope capabilities, accuracy, and your tires when you ride. You can find wheel-on smart trainers from other manufacturers that cost less than $500, and you won’t need to find a trainer to attach as with the Kinetic Power Unit.

With the Smart 2 Bike Trainer, you’ll need a Kinetic Traxle thru-axle adapter if you wish to use that kind of bike on this frame. The nature of the wheel-on unit means that it will wear your tires down.

It’s worth considering an investment in a trainer tire if you choose to spend all winter on the Smart 2 Bike Trainer.


Similarities and Differences Between Kinetic Bike Trainers

R1 Direct Drive Trainer vs Rock and Roll | Control Bike Trainer

Kinetic's R1 and Rock and Roll Compared
R1 is on the left side, Rock and Roll on the right side.

The R1 Direct Drive trainer has a large 14.4lb flywheel that enhances its realistic ride feel – which is already great thanks to the Rock and Roll technology.

This free movement technology is really what separates Kinetic trainer options from other manufacturers such as Saris and Wahoo.

No other accessory or rocker plate quite matches the realistic feeling of the Rock and Roll technology.

Since its release in 2018, the price of the R1 has dramatically decreased. The capabilities of this bike put it near the upper tier of direct drive smart trainers, while the price point suggests it is much lower.

While the Rock and Roll | Control Bike Trainer has a wide base and stable feet – in addition to the Rock and Roll technology – it is not as foldable and portable as the R1.

If you’re considering a bike trainer for warming up, or for lugging to hotel rooms while traveling, the R1 is going to be a better all-round option.


Rock and Roll | Control Bike Trainer vs Road Machine | Smart 2 Bike Trainer

Rock and Roll compared to Road Machine
Rock and Roll is on the left, Road Machine is on the right

Both of these wheel-on trainers are great options from Kinetic. The two main differences are the Rock and Roll technology, and interactive smart capabilities.

Arguably, the biggest difference between these two trainers is the lack of Rock and Roll technology in the Smart 2 Bike Trainer. As discussed above, this technology is a game-changer, and without it, your ride won’t feel the same.

While the Rock and Roll | Control Bike Trainer has interactive resistance built-in, the Smart 2 Bike Trainer does not.

However, you can use the Kinetic Power Unit to upgrade the Smart 2 trainer and have app-controlled resistance changes and the capability for ERG mode workouts.

But if you’re thinking of adding on the Kinetic Power Unit to the Road Machine | Smart 2 Bike Trainer, take a careful look at your budget because the R1 may be the better option.

For more trainers, see our list of the best indoor bike trainers.



suggestedKinetic has been making indoor bike trainers for a long time, much longer than the largest companies like Wahoo and Saris.

A decade ago, there were no smart trainers, and most were basic wheel-on bike trainers. But times have rapidly changed, and at first, Kinetic struggled to catch up.

Fighting through some hardware and wireless technology issues a handful of years ago, Kinetic has been inching towards the sweetspot of indoor trainer technology.

The Kinetic R1 Direct Drive Interactive Smart Trainer is Kinetic’s best option, in our opinion.

As opposed to the wheel-on trainers by Kinetic, the R1 Direct-Drive is significantly quieter, more capable, and more accurate. It also feels better, much in part thanks to the Rock and Roll technology. At the R1’s current price point, there’s no better deal for a direct drive smart trainer.

Kinetic’s Rock and Roll technology is a huge plus that other companies have struggled to match. It doesn’t feel like a rocker plate or act like the Wahoo KICKR Axis and KICKR Climb combined; the Kinetic Rock and Roll technology is a piece of its own, and riders love it.

The Kinetic Power Unit is an odd product that only makes sense to buy if you already have an old, non-smart Kinetic trainer.

It’s an interesting piece of technology unique to Kinetic, but also very limited in its capabilities. For just a little bit more, you could get Kinetic’s own Control Bike Trainer. For a bit more you could get the R1 Direct Drive that is superior in almost every way.

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One thought on “Overview of Kinetic Indoor Bike Trainers — Indoor training that doesn’t break the bank

  1. I’d stay away from the R1, working with it is nothing but problems, Kinetic hasent made a decent firmware update since 2019 to address all the problems when using Zwift and other programs, IMO its a huge waste of monet, the only positive I have about this unit is the side to side motion you get making it feel more natural and pleasant to ride, but hey maybe this unit works better with Apple because is sure sux on Android

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