There are two main options for indoor training; turbo trainers or rollers. SportCrafters' new Overdrive Pro rollers fall into the latter category.
In the past, rollers were generally considered to be a warm-up or technique tool because they provided a tempo-based workout but didn't offer the option of additional resistance beyond the bike’s gears. The OverDrive Pros are different – these are high quality rollers with the additional benefit of resistance.
The rear roller holds the OverDrive magnetic resistance unit, which is the only difference between the OverDrive Pros and SportCrafters’ standard Cadence rollers (£229.99 / US$299 / AU$299). The magnetic resistance unti offers progressive resistance, so the harder you pedal, the harder it resists, much like a fluid trainer.
If you haven’t used rollers before, there is a learning curve when starting out. The completely flat surface of the SportCrafters rollers may seem daunting, but it needn't be.
We found that the rear resistance helped with stability compared to the standard Cadence drum. The additional resistance gives you something to push against and assists low-speed pedalling stability. Add in the smooth, but not slick, metal drum surface, and the OverDrive Pros provide a road-like training experience.
Even with magnetic resistance, noise is kept to a reasonably low level. We tested the OverDrive and the Cadence rollers back to back, and both versions produced 65dB at a wheel speed of 25km/h (same gear choice, same ambient noise). To put this in context, the Cyclops Fluid 2 trainer produces the same dB reading under the same conditions.
Recently we've become quite fond of TrainerRoad, an online training software that offers a host of features for indoor training. SportCrafters is linked with TrainerRoad and the consistent progressiveness of the OverDrive system allows for power output measurement based on measured speed (assuming you have a ANT+ wheel mounted sensor and computer dongle). It’s likely that if you’re serious enough to invest in TrainerRoad and these rollers, you will also have invested in a power meter, but it’s a neat advantage of the progressive resistance curve.
Folding the rollers for transport or storage is simple – there are no parts to undo, so it’s merely a matter of lifting one end up and folding it back over the other. Once folded, the rollers can be stood up to minimise floor space. Carrying them through the race pits is equally simple, with the rollers tipping the scales at a reasonable 8.5kg (18.7lb).
The large rubber floor protectors means the rollers won’t scratch floors or slide, and there’s no noise that shouldn’t be there. The rollers are made from machined aluminium with sealed bearings and a strong steel frame – all made in Indiana, USA – so you should expect these to give you a lifetime of service.
The resistance unit adds another element to training with rollers, and the construction quality is brilliant, but the premium price means the OverDrive Pros are for committed users only.