Saturday, January 23, 2010

Kurt Kinetic Averts Disaster

Maybe I'm overdramatizing it, but I broke my stationary bike trainer last week. For an obsessive-compulsive endurance triathlete who lives in a northern climate, this is a disaster. I had to miss a bike workout. And I had to replace my trainer -- which could lead to MORE missed bike workouts and unexpected expenditures.

I'll start at the beginning -- the bike trainer itself. I bought it in winter 2001-02 to train for my first Ironman. I had done extensive research about what type of trainer to buy. The "cyclists" said the only acceptable way to train indoors was on rollers. However, upon asking, I found very few of them actually enjoyed cycling on rollers. Many hated it, and some were still not able to get up on the bike without some kind of prop. And NO ONE advised riding rollers for more than an hour at a time. This was NOT good news. I was looking to train for a 112-mile bike ride and I needed to do some epic long rides indoors.

Rollers were out. I started looking at trainers I could mount my bike to. They come in several types: fan, fluid, and magnetic resistance units and computer trainers. (Read's Indoor Bike Trainer Guide.) Computer trainers, such as the Computrainer, are highly recommended by professional and elite triathletes and coaches. Maybe THEY could afford the hefty price tag (over $1000), but I could not. The ballpark price for me was in resistance trainers ($100 - $400). After more research, I settled on a fluid resistance unit made by Kurt Kinetic. The Kurt Kinetic trainer was heralded by users as one of the only fluid resistance units that never leaked. Reviewers also praised it as the quietist of its type (note that loudness was why I choose fluid-resistance over magnetic or fan). And the kicker -- users also said it had the most "roadlike" feel. I bought one. It has been a workhorse for eight years through three bikes. It saved me after my bike vs. car accident when the "roads" no longer beckoned, even in the summer. I've come to love steady-state tempo riding on my trainer with my heart-rate monitor -- guarantee the road will be "flat."

Imagine my surprise two Mondays ago when I noticed a strange vibration and loudness upon beginning to pedal my trainer-mounted bike. I jumped off only to find that the mount for the fluid unit (a weld) had sheared off on one side. End of trainer. Shock, dismay, tears. I screamed for Jim to help, to FIX it. (He always fixes hardware.) He couldn't. I went to Google. Jim went to the phone book. I looked up trainers, prices and places to find them locally. He called welders. In the midst, we both visited the Kurt Kinetic website. (Don't mess with a classic - this was an OLD trainer that was put through weekly 4- to 6-hour rides for EIGHT YEARS.) Jim saw it first. Kurt Kinetic offers a LIFETIME WARRANTEE. Would they honor it? Yes. We had the receipt. We gave them the serial number. No more questions asked. They shipped us a new base unit (which has changed from dark blue to Wake-Me-Up-At-5-a.m. lime-green). All we had to do was ship back the old unit (they even pre-paid shipping). Amazing. In a world where it's difficult to find good customer service, Kurt Kinetic is a shining light.

In the meantime, one of my "cyclist" friends was even willing to lend me his.... um... rollers? NO! His old Kurt Kinetic bike trainer -- the one that I recommended he buy. It's almost like Karma.

1 comment:

  1. Crap it is only a weld broken, if I was nearer I'd come over and weld it for you!
    Since I'm not your local car garage (the low tech one), they always have welding gear about and will do the job for a bottle or two.