Zycle Smart ZDRIVE Turbo Trainer
We have tested one of the most interesting options on the market as far as turbo trainers or “Smart Trainers” are concerned. We are talking about the Smart ZDRIVE model, from Zycle a Spanish company that is doing an exceptional job with proposals like this one. A trainer for those looking for an advanced training tool, with a unique level of connectivity and some of the best pedalling sensations we have experienced in its segment.
Not only direct transmission
At first glance, the first thing that might stand out about this trainer is that it is just another of the many direct drive trainers currently on the market. In fact, this ZDrive is the first of its kind manufactured by Zycle in its trajectory, after previously consolidating its position with conventional trainers such as the ZPro or the ZBike indoor bike. However, this is a direct drive trainer with some particularities that we have already been able to test and that make it an option to take into account within the first price direct drive models or what is the same, comparable trainers that we can find within the price range located between 600 and 700 euros.
ZDRIVE comes home
First of all, I would like to explain our experience from the beginning, from the very day we received our test Smart ZDRIVE. The product is packaged and protected by custom packaging that prevents parts from moving inside the box or being damaged.
Inside the box we find the resistance unit on one side and the platform by means of which it is supported on the floor (two sturdy metal legs with rubber buffers) on the other. In addition to the connection cables, transformer, bushings to adapt to different wheel and axle diameters and something very much appreciated, several free test subscriptions to the main online cycling platforms.
The assembly between the ground support platform and the resistance unit is quick and easy. To do this, just tighten 4 screws using an Allen key (also included with the turbo trainer). The assembly, once assembled, is really robust. It is also easy to carry thanks to a fist-shaped grip that allows it to be lifted and carried from one place to another. Remember that these types of trainers are usually heavy and it is essential that they have at least a good grip point to facilitate their transport or handling.
The noise level, being correct, is not one of the lowest on the market and like most trainers, it could be annoying when pedalling at high resistances and high speeds, a circumstance that on the other hand, is very unusual for the sessions that most users can perform with it.
The positioning of the bicycle on the trainer is perfect and compatible with any wheel size and axle diameter that you can find on the market, thanks to a kit of bushings that are included in the purchase of the Smart ZDRIVE and that allow you to mount your road, gravel or mountain bike, either with 9 or 12 mm diameter axles, 142 or even 148 mm wide (BOOST type) and 650b or 700 (27.5 or 29”) diameter wheels.
Once installed and with all the connections and synchronisations made with our virtual cycling application, we started using it several times a week in sessions ranging from 40 to 90′.
Why is ZDRIVE different?
After several weeks of testing, we have found several features that set the Smart ZDRIVE apart from the rest Smart ZDRIVE from its competitors. These are the level of connectivity, the natural pedalling sensation and the ability to generate high resistances at low speeds.
In terms of connectivity, the Smart ZDRIVE comes with a cable with a USB port so that you can connect it, if you prefer, to the device with which you are making it interact in your training sessions (TV, tablet, computer or cell phone). This may come as a surprise to some users, especially when we are in the digital age of wireless connections, but those of us who regularly train on smart rollers know that sometimes this type of wireless connectivity can fail. When that happens the trainer offers hardly any resistance and we cannot train specifically or worse, we cannot continue to participate in tests and online competitions with the frustration that entails. With this cable Zycle puts an end to such situations.
The USB cable allows you, therefore, to avoid 100% the possible connection drops of the Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless systems that we all normally use and that the Smart ZDRIVE Smart ZDRIVE also offers, logically. With this trainer you can completely forget about possible problems with the connection, being undoubtedly the trainer in its segment that offers the best connectivity in this regard.
The second strength of the Smart ZDRIVE is the natural pedalling sensation. Its double flywheel contributes to this, achieving a very progressive transition when we go from pedalling on the flat to uphill, in any of the virtual routes in which we can ride with a “smart” trainer like this one. In this way, the Smart ZDRIVE simulates very reliably the inertia that accompanies us in the first meters of a climb when we come from riding on the flat, i.e., increases in resistance do not happen suddenly, something that when training with this roller, is to be appreciated.
The third point we particularly liked about the Smart ZDRIVE is its ability to simulate large slopes. This is because it can generate high resistances even when riding at low speeds typical of the hardest climbs. With this trainer we have been able to make virtual rides that included slopes over 15% (the manufacturer claims that they can simulate up to 20% offering resistances of almost 400W) with a very real feeling of resistance and pedalling.
The perfect ZDRIVE
For an intelligent trainer such as the Smart ZDRIVE and in its price segment, little more than what it offers can be asked for. It has an unsurpassed connectivity capability, a very good pedal feels and a range of resistance, even at low speeds, that can hardly be insufficient for most users.
It is true that, for the moment, the Smart ZDRIVE is fitted with a cassette compatible only with 11-speed cassettes, whereas there are already bikes with 12-speed groupsets. However, until the manufacturer’s update arrives, the user can install a 12-speed compatible cassette.
Natural pedalling sensation
Simulation of steep slopes
Standard cassette compatible only with 11-speed (for the moment)
Energy-efficient smart trainer with magnetic resistance and Bluetooth, ANT+ or USB connection via cable. Measurement of power, speed and cadence.
Maximum power at 40 km/h
Maximum power at 10 km/h
With 26 and 29” wheels, for MTB, road and gravel bikes.
For 9 and 12 mm and BOOST axles.
With 8, 9, 10 and 11 speed cassettes from SRAM and Shimano.
51 x 53 x 51 cm
No calibration required, simulates slopes up to 20%.
More info here