Blackburn Tech Fluid Trainer Review
Blackburn Tech Fluid Trainer First Thoughts
The Blackburn Tech fluid trainer was a welcome sight as it took its position next to the couch in front of the TV in my basement. A sleek black and red look with the traditional solid foldable base actually had me excited to jump on the trainer for a good sweat session. The sculpted steel is solid and sturdy, and the RU (Resistance Unit) Roller uses fluid to create a resistance with a smooth and rather quiet ride.
The Reasons for Jumping on a Trainer
Trainers: you either love ‘em, hate ‘em, or they’re just a necessary evil. I have grown to enjoy my sessions in the basement for a variety of reasons. The most obvious is the cold and snowy winter conditions keeping you from enjoying the roads or trails. There are many levels of hardcore-ness when it comes to winter riding. I will venture out at times even if it’s not ideal, but darkness, cold, snow, road conditions, and general safety puts me on the trainer several times a week.
I have 2 little ones, so finding time to get out for a ride is also a bit more challenging. On my Blackburn Tech Fluid, if I can get an hour in while watching them play princess is a win-win. Building a good base for the upcoming Spring also has a host of benefits that you only truly realize when out on that first group ride. Being able to hang or take your turn up front is a feeling like no other. Not having built that base and having to start from scratch will leave you humbled, and could even discourage you from going out again. And who wants that, right?
And get this, my wife and I have even taking to calling our basement training sessions our little date night after the kids go down. As we are both training for an ironman, training time is precious, and now we get to hang out, get our workout in, and binge watch Mad Men, Breaking Bad, or House of Cards.
A very large diagram with labels alongside a list of 12 easy to follow steps get you set up in no time at all. If you’ve set up a trainer before this is pretty much all self explanetory, and you can probably figure this out on your own. For the sake of this review I took the time to carefully read and follow the instructions. I am actually glad I did, because getting lined up properly and locked in place gave me the confidence to jump right on to go for a spin.
The included skewer is great. It’s your basic and very simple skewer that is designed to go with the trainer. They highly recommend you use this skewer on the Blackburn Tech Fluid as it was designed to fit into the mounting cones. Many bikes these days have a different, lighter, and streamlined quick release skewer. Using them can make it unstable and cause the cones to dig into the skewer basically scratching or ruining your precious aero weight saving skewer.
You can adjust the two front foot screws to accommodate your wheel size and provide for a little clearance. I was actually pretty amazed at how low to the ground I could position my wheel. The need for a front riser was almost not really needed. Having said that, I did go in search of a phone book, but who has one of those anymore? Hence, I wish they could have included a small simple block to level me out, but I ended up with a rectangular foam piece that worked quite well. Turned on its side, it even provided a ‘climbing’ setting.
The Trakblock 3 front wheel is available from Blackburn for $16.99, so not a bad thing to add to aid in your climbing training.
Features of The Blackburn Tech Fluid Trainer
- Adjustable Height Front Foot – Not all bikes and people are created equal. Basically, this allows you play with the amount of room needed to get your bike off the ground and off to races, so to speak.
- RU (Resistance Unit) and Roller – This is the workhorse or where your bang for your buck comes into play. The RU is a super smooth and quiet piece of engineered perfection. You can go as fast or hard as you’d like, and the ‘fluid’ (which I could actually hear slosh around a bit when getting really close to the unit) provides for a solid performance and resistance.
- Fast Crank – This is a super nice feature. Once you have the left side all dialed in, the Fast Crank will allow you to quickly and easily tighten the unit onto your bike.
- Lock nuts – there are actually 5 of these locknuts. 2 at the bottom front of the folding legs. 2 by the skewer cones to lock your bike into place, and 1 below the RU to keep a steady pressure on your back tire.
The two pictures above show the smallest adjustment that needs to be made to go from freewheeling to applying pressure to the tire. A few easy turns, and I am off.
With today’s programs, training options, 3d visual rides, shared training, etc., getting on your bike doesn’t have to be this lonely sweat soaked ride in a musty basement. Hey, I finished my basement, so I could have a little workout man-cave in front of my new 60” TV. I do not have a virtual ride where I can simulate climbing Col Du Verbier, but I figured out a way to enjoy my time on the trainer. Recording bike races and track meets (yes, track meets! I like to mix it up by throwing in another of my athletic passions ). An international Track Meet like the Olympics or Millrose games has some down time, but when the mile gets ready to go, I have 4 minutes of some serious hammer time to provide a solid workout. When the race gets tight and exciting at the end, I naturally tend to speed up as well. A break, and then the 5000 meter race is up next.
You are able to change your gears as you regularly would out on the road. When you go to the higher gear, it does get tougher. When I watch a mountain stage of the Tour, I get in the hardest gear possible to simulate climbing, and I bounce along with the riders all the way to the top. When they crest, I change gears to fly down hill while spinning a high cadence.
There is a bit of a warm up required for all the juices to get flowing. This goes for me as well as the RU system. Once I got into good hard rhythm, I noticed a slight vibration that quickly dissipated and I had a good ride. I read some reviews where others experienced some serious shaking or vibrations with various levels of frustration. Now, these reviews were a few years old, and I can only assume that Blackburn has corrected any issues there may have been, or those were issues specific to a few trainers. In either case, I did not experience anything out of the norm.
I used a trainer the past year that had the cord and attachment with lever that allowed you to change the resistance. I was not a fan of the cord as it was always getting in the way, and ultimately I just stopped using it. The Blackburn Tech Fluid does not need the cord as the resistance increases with higher levels of intensity. A big plus for me.
The Blackburn Tech Fluid trainer has thus far provided a solid resistance. The noise level is very minimal which I truly appreciate. The setup was quick, and stores easily as it folds up nicely.
Full Lifetime Warranty.
Well that is nice. Before you go thinking that you can simply return this thing after a few years of use, do think again. The warranty covers any defects in material or workmanship for as long as the original purchaser owns the product. The warranty does not cover the trainer when you buy a used one off of Ebay. Normal wear and tear is also not covered, but that’s a fine line as to what that actually is. Basically, if the trainer has a mechanical failure, you can feel confident that Blackburn (or actually its parent company – Easton Bell) will repair, replace, or refund your money.
Final Thoughts on the Blackburn Tech Fluid Trainer
It’s pretty simple, this trainer will get you in shape in the off season as well as during race or riding season. We all have our reasons for jumping on a bike, and the Blackburn Tech Fluid Trainer can aid you to get there. At $299 it’s not the cheapest, but it is far from the most expensive training systems you will find out there. This is a solid choice, and if used to the fullest extent can become an integral part of your cycling world. Easy to set up and store, relatively quiet, and a high enough quality to do the job right. With numerous hardcore training seasons in the books where I tried 5 or 6 different trainers this has been the best bang for the buck. My success lies in being able to keep up with the young fast guns on my local group ride. I have succeeded the first couple of times, so I will continue to supplement my training on the trainer.
For more information and purchase please visit: www.blackburn.com