BKool Smart Pro + trainer review£460.00

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BKool has enriched its virtual riding game this year to take you further than anyone else, even if you’re actually going nowhere.

The BKool Smart Pro + folds down to a small size and is easy to set up thanks to a tool-free brake fit, telescopic front bar for stability and a bike frame that just leans back to engage the big ribbed alloy roller.

That does mean the potential for it to bounce and skip if you get ugly with your pedalling, but that’s no different to riding a real bike. Otherwise it’s a reasonably smooth, if noisy, ride for a non-direct-drive unit.

Although the long plastic tail and plastic housing for the brake dulls some of the vibration, the big ribbed roller that stops the tyre slipping without needing excess pressure still creates more noise compared to a smooth metal or urethane option —88dB at 200W

To automatically increase resistance up to 950 watts, you simply back into the brake.

BKool’s strength is the depth of its online subscriber world, which includes workout programs and a menu of thousands of pre-set computer-generated 3D routes, as well as BKool and user-submitted video routes that reference their hills, other rider slipstreams and so on.

You can even upload your own rides and the software will do its best to recreate the scenery and even the current weather and lighting.

Lots of the user content is short with jerky ‘flick book’ imaging, while stepped slopes and repeating graphic elements mean it never feels as slick and immersive as other virtual systems.

The BKool population is currently very sparse too, but it is compatible with Zwift and other third-party apps if you get lonely.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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