FDW Bike Trainer Review
Cons: Limited resistance, cable shifter, durability and quality issues
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FDW Bike Trainer
|Price||$79.99 at Amazon||$1,400 List||$1,200 List||$999.99 at Competitive Cyclist|
Compare at 2 sellers
|Pros||Very affordable, light, easy to carry, store, and move around||Does not require calibration, realistic road-feel, broad compatibility, wider support for 3rd party apps||Good road feel, accurate power, easy to carry||Lower price range for a premium trainer, good responsiveness, smooth, high power accuracy||Affordable, simple to set up, easy to take on the road, great control for a tire drive trainer|
|Cons||Limited resistance, cable shifter, durability and quality issues||Power output/response can lag, pricey, heavy, somewhat of a pain to move around and set up||Heavy, expensive||Requires calibration, heavy, slightly aggressive in ERG mode||Resistance unit is just a bit bulky and heavy, manual drum adjustment, lower responsiveness|
|Bottom Line||This is the port in “any port in a storm”||You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better bike trainer||A top of the line direct drive smart trainer that narrowly missed out on our Editors' Choice Award||Everything you want in a premium trainer for way less||One of the easiest smart control trainers to set up and get rolling without sacrificing performance|
|Rating Categories||FDW Bike Trainer||Tacx Neo 2T Smart||Wahoo Fitness Kickr||Saris H3 Direct Drive||Kinetic Road Machine Control|
|Connectivity And Power Accuracy (25%)|
|Road Feel (25%)|
|Specs||FDW Bike Trainer||Tacx Neo 2T Smart||Wahoo Fitness Kickr||Saris H3 Direct...||Kinetic Road...|
|Type||Tire drive||Direct drive||Direct drive||Direct drive||Tire drive|
|Weight (lbs)||19 lbs||47 lbs||45 lbs||47 lbs||28 lbs|
|Compatible Platforms-TrainerRoad, Zwift||None.||Yes, both. Also Tacx Films, Rouvy, Sufferfest, Kinomap, FulGaz, BKool, and Road Grand Tours.||Yes, both. Also Wahoo Smartphone App, Rouvy, and The Sufferfest.||Yes, both. Also Rouvy.||Yes, both. Also Kinetic Fit, Rouvy, Kinomap, The Sufferfest and FulGaz.|
|Communication Protocol||None||ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth FTMS||ANT+ FEC, Bluetooth Smart||ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth FTMS||ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth FTMS|
|Dimensions L-H-W (inches)||23.9 x 20.1 x 7.6||22.6" x 29.5" x 21.7"||20.25" x 18" x 28.25"||31” x 18.5” x 19.5”||32"x22.4"x16"|
|Storage Dimensions LxHxW (inches)||23.9 x 20.1 x 7.6||24.4" × 10.2" × 17.3"||20.5" x 18.25" x 8.75"||8.5” x 18.5” x 19.5”||20.75"x8.25"x21.5"|
|Power Comparison||N/A||1-3 watts, 1%||3 watts, 1%||1-3 watts, 1%||10 watts, 5%|
|Decibel @ 230 Watts||65.2 dB||57.8 dB||64.6 dB||55.3 dB||55.9 dB|
|Roll Out Time @ 200 watts||5 seconds||26 seconds||53 seconds||58 seconds||17 seconds|
|Flywheel||5 lbs||Virtual||12.5 lbs||20 lbs||12 lbs|
|Additonal||Skewer||No Cassette included||Cassette Sram 11spd included, Campy freehub option available||No Cassette included||Skewer included|
|Axel compatibility||130mm and 135mm || May need 3rd party adaptors for 142mm and 148mm||130mm, 135mm || Adaptors for 142mm and 148mm available through Tacx.||130mm and 135mm compatible only.||130mm, 135mm compatible || Thru-axle available for 142mm and 148mm through CycleOps.||130mm, 135mm || 142mm and 148mm adaptors available through Kinetic.|
Our Analysis and Test Results
When we test bike trainers, we do our best to eke out every detail about performance and expectations, then try to exploit or break those points. We keep an eye on the right users as well. That's especially important for trainers like the FDW, where the machine has no hope to compete with the high-end trainers, but it should meet the needs of many riders who wouldn't need or want all the offerings of the upper range. Indeed, this trainer is best suited to riders just looking to get their legs spinning for minimal cost.
Connectivity and Power Accuracy
The FDW is fairly simple for this measure. Understandably, it's not going to rank up near the high-end trainers. That said, we were pretty unimpressed with its performance here. We weren't able to find any power curve information on it to get a good baseline for comparisons to test against our power meter and across trainers in our lineup. Even so, the magnetic resistance unit with its shifter left a lot wanting. A basic fluid trainer probably would have done better here, despite the extra weight it would add.
Tire drive trainers tend to feel less realistic than direct drive trainers anyway, but magnetic resistance units also tend to have a less natural push-pull feel, too. The physics are different for magnets, and they're not as excellent of an approximation as fluid (or electronic/controllable-smart, of course). The FDW is no exception here. It has a too-smooth feel that you can easily spin out against. You don't feel the inertia of the road; you feel either very limited resistance at the lower resistance level or too much at the higher level as you manually adjust the resistance up or down. As we say for this trainer, "any port in a storm," so it will certainly do the job of getting you on the bike and spinning inside without hurting your bank account, but it's really basic.
This is an area where we have some qualms. One qualm, really. It's in the fastener that locks the rear axle in place. To get the bolt to tighten and lock, there's a grooved plastic sleeve. The FDW's sleeve and bolt don't fit together very well, so getting the bolt to lock was a huge pain. But for the mission of bringing this review to you, we would have packed that baby up and sent it right back.
Otherwise, the design is fairly streamlined. The resistance unit is fairly basic, using magnets to give you eight levels of resistance. You don't get the same smooth, gradual feel you might get with a fluid unit, but it's nice to be able to control the resistance if you want.
A major selling point of the FDW is that it's really simple to set up and doesn't take a lot of time. It's not exactly plug and play, but it's not far off. Instructions for assembly are included, and so are the tools to get you there.
The hardest part is getting the bolt into the resistance unit, but a little frustrated jiggling and teeth clenching should do the trick. It's unavoidable with the tight fits like this, and you get that for most tire drive trainers where you're assembling the resistance units.
Once you have everything in its right place, all of your bolts, screws, and knobs, you're ready to throw the new skewer with the rounded acorn nuts on the bike and get the axle locked in. Here's the area where we had the biggest complaint about the model because the FDW's plastic locking shaft actually split and wouldn't tighten down until we did a lot of serious man-handling and improvising. Eventually, we got it to tighten down and hold the frame upright.
From there, you only need to tighten the resistance unit up against your rear tire so that there's just enough tension that your tire doesn't slip when you give it a little gas. Once you've done that, grab the cable with the shifter and attach it to your handlebars, and you are ready to go.
This is the area where this trainer excels. It's really easy to pack up and put away when not in use. It folds up into a small footprint so you can stash it in the corner, in the closet (don't forget about it in there!), under your bed, or even in a suitcase to take out on the road. You can even remove the resistance unit and store it separately from the base if your Tetris-packing game isn't top-level.
This trainer falls squarely into the category of "It will work if that's all that's available in your price range." It's not at the top of our list.
No, the FDW Bike Trainer isn't the fanciest trainer out, but it gets the job done on a tight budget. It had some limitations on resistance, and we were pretty disappointed in some of the design failures. Still, for its price and the general availability of trainers on the market, it worked and got the legs moving. There's not a lot more that can be asked given those conditions. The strongest point of caution here is that the company doesn't seem to be too well established, so the extent of support and customer service will likely need to come through your seller. Make sure to check your terms before buying.
— Ryan Baham