Kurt Kinetic’s R1 smart trainer is designed with natural side-to-side movement to replicate as natural a ride-feel as possible when riding static, which really sets it apart from other trainers.
At £769 / $949 / $1,700 the R1 is up there in the top price bracket for smart trainers, competing with the likes of the Wahoo Kickr, Bkool’s Smart Air Lite and the Saris H3, but unlike those trainers, the up to 15 degrees of movement and the sideways motion is designed to mimic the natural ride feel of being on the road
Kurt Kinetic R1 Direct Drive set up
Pulling the R1 out of the box is easier than most thanks to the large grab handle that can be used from a variety of angles. It’s a small thing, but makes life a whole lot easier, especially because the unit weighs 21.5kg.
Fortunately, there’s no assembly required, it’s just a case of pulling out the fold-out stabiliser legs. Once fully opened, the R1 has a footprint of 50cm long x 87cm wide x 53cm high. With the legs folded in, the height remains the same but it becomes 60cm long x 46cm to help with storage.
Kurt Kinetic R1 Direct Drive. Simon Bromley
There’s no cassette in the box, unfortunately, but the freehub works with Shimano and SRAM. You will need a change of freehub body if you’re using Campagnolo or XD, however. The set-up works with 130mm and 135mm quick release hubs as standard and will work with 142mm and 148mm thru-axles.
The set up and updating of firmware using the Kinetics app takes a few minutes and everything connects via ANT+, ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth FTMS for Mac and PC platforms – whether that’s smartphones, tablets or computers. The initial hum of the fan during set-up is louder than most, but not a massive issue.
Kurt Kinetic R1 Direct Drive ride
Hopping on the bike was a new sensation for me compared to the more rigid feel of other smart trainers, such as the Wahoo Kickr or Elite Drivo II – there’s no getting away from the sideways movement.
At first it feels like there’s too much movement because it’s easy to play and rock your weight from side-to-side, but once you settle into smooth pedalling and forget it’s there the ride becomes less wobbly and the subtlety of it starts to feel good, and more like being outside.
I’m sure that some people will love this sensation, but those that prefer a rigid set-up might find it strange and not for them. It really is personal preference. At first I felt it was overly gimmicky, but the more I rode the R1 the more I enjoyed the ride it delivers.
The R1 can handle resistance of up to 2,000 watts, which should be more than most ever need, and putting the power down in the saddle feels good. The controlled resistance does a good job of simulating any changes in terrain and will work with gradients of up to 20 degrees.
I also found the output from the R1 to be pretty accurate and within 2 per cent of my Garmin Vectors.
Out of the saddle sprinting feels odd at first, but once you stop overthinking it and go with the movement it starts to feel more natural. The sideways movement is adjustable, so you can dial it in for your weight and preferred ride feel.
To do this, simply flip the unit and adjust the two large bolts below – it took me a few rides and a few adjustments to get my preferred ride feel.
Beyond the sideways movement, the hefty 6.3kg belt-driven flywheel also helps to simulate a more realistic ride feel and the overall 21.5kg weight for the complete trainer unit and the wide legs means the R1 feels extremely stable in every situation.
Although the R1 is louder than many of its competitors, it is relatively quiet by on-wheel trainer standards, and is never really going to upset anyone in the next room. Using an iPhone app to measure the noise, I recorded an average of 75dB, which is 15dB louder than Wahoo’s Kickr and 10dB louder than the Elite Drivo II. While this isn’t huge, it is worth considering, especially if you need to keep noise to a minimum.
Kurt Kinetic R1 Direct Drive overall
The R1 is a very capable direct-drive smart trainer, even if it’s not the quietest. The addition of the sideways movement will probably divide people, but once you get used to it, and along with the heavy flywheel, the overall ride feel is good. It’s fun and realistic to ride.