Kurt Kinetic Road Machine- Read Complete Review To Not Lose Money

The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine shines because of magnetic coupling, medical-grade silicone, and an unconditional guarantee. There’s a good reason the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is the official trainer of the USA Cycling Team. Read more…

About the reviewer: Ron Fritzke is a cycling product reviewer with a passion for ‘all things cycling’. A former 2:17 marathoner, he now directs his competitive efforts toward racing his bike…and looking for good cycling products.

Product Quality 05 Noise Level 05
Realistic Feel 05 Bells and Whistles 04
Overall Value 05

When Pam from Kurt Kinetic offered to send out a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine for review, I thought it was a great idea…for several reasons.

  • I’ve been pounding out mile after mile on my original Kurt Kinetic Fluid trainer for five winters now, and it’s never let me down.
  • In my obsession to search for the best bike trainers to recommend to my readers, the consensus has been that the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is at the top of the heap.
  • But for some time now, I’ve been wondering how much different the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is from my ‘old’ trainer.

Road machine and originalWell, it turns out that Kurt Kinetic hit on a winner with the original design… and except for a new ‘hair color’, the two units are nearly identical. Wisely, Kurt Kinetic decided to not fix something that isn’t broken.

There are now several new fancy Kurt Kinetic horses in the stable (namely, the Rock and Roll), but the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is like a cowboy’s trusted quarter horse – not too flashy, but SOLID and impervious to breakdowns.

I do have an idea or two to make the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine even better, but I’ll get to that later…

kurt kinetic road machine

My Scott CR1 put on his best wheels to meet the Road Machine.

===> If You’re Going To Buy The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, you probably won’t beat the pricing at Amazon <==

1) Magnetic Coupling Makes The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine Stand Out In The Crowd

Kurt Kinetic magnetic coupling

Cut away view of Resistance Unit

If you’re new to the bike trainer world you may not have heard of Kurt Kinetic’s unique magnetic coupling design. I’ll get you up to speed.

While fluid trainers are recognized as being at the top of the trainer food chain, they do suffer from a fatal flaw. They start to develop leaks when they shouldn’t, and have to be put out to pasture.

I’m just thankful that such a fate doesn’t await us older men when we start leaking inappropriately at social events. My kids assure me that I’m safe…at least for now.

Kurt Kinetic forged its place in the bike trainer world with a patent that eliminated the need for O-Rings (which predictably fail). In the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, the chamber containing the silicone fluid is completely sealed, and the roller which your bike tire is causing to spin is ‘virtually’ connected to the impeller by a magnetic coupler.

This is best understood by watching the video below.

Don’t get this confused with a mag trainer, which uses magnetic resistance to provide the workload.

The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine system uses powerful magnets to couple the external roller assembly with the sealed impellers. That means that  there’s no shaft penetrating the inner sanctum of the fluid.

Here’s An ‘Exploded’ View Of The Resistance Unit

Check out the video later in this post for an excellent cut-away of the two chambers in the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine resistance unit.

2) How Strong Are The Magnets In The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine?

There were times in the past when I’d accelerate on my Kurt Kinetic Road Machine fluid trainer and feel some slippage. I wondered if the slippage was occurring inside the trainer; in the inner sanctum of the magnetic coupling.

It turns out it wasn’t the ‘innards’ that were failing. Here’s how I found out- I practically wore out my rear tire within the span of a couple of indoor rides. Like a meat head, I hadn’t put enough tension between the roller and my tire. All of that slippage was tearing the tire up.

So my delusions of ‘beating’ the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine were just that…delusions!

Since those early ill-fated rides, I’ve discovered that the idea of me having enough power in my legs to disrupt the bond between the coupling magnets was foolish wishful thinking. Kurt Kinetic’s testing demonstrated that the magnetic bond withstood an electric motor’s ability to suddenly accelerate the trainer from 0 to 50 mph without any slippage.

My abilities are somewhat less than that.

On a similar note, the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine provides up to 3000 watts of resistance. As a point of reference, elite road cyclists may produce up to 1700 watts as an instantaneous maximum at the end of a road race. Instantaneous means for the first few seconds of their ‘jump’ as they accelerate.

It’s not likely you’ll be too powerful for the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine.

My two cents: I’d like to see an upgrade in the way in which the roller of the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is tightened up against the tire.  The CycleOps Fluid 2 has a lever, which once ‘set’, easily replicates the appropriate pressure against the tire.

But because there’s no colored indicator or ‘bump’ on the tightening star of the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, it’s sometimes difficult to know if you’ve tightened it up appropriately…particularly when the trainer’s backed up against a wall so that you can’t see behind the trainer while you’re tightening the roller against the tire.

The prescribed number of turns is 2 to 4, after the roller initially contacts the tire, but it’d be easier to keep track how many turns you’ve twisted the knob if there was a point of reference on the tightener.

Calibration Notations

Calibrating Road MachineThe folks at Kurt Kinetic calibrated the resistance unit on the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine using a Powertap watt meter. Their ambition is to match the amount of effort (wattage) with a realistic number of miles per hour when a bike would be ridden on a flat road.

Calibrating Road MachineIt just so happens that I’ve been riding with a Powertap for about three years now, so I’m able to give you some screen shots from my bike (my wife took the pictures while I huffed and puffed to get up to… and sustain 400 watts) of about how many watts it takes on the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine to go about 20 mph… and how many it takes to go about 25 mph.

From my experience, the values on the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine are pretty close to what happens out on the road.

-See The Uniqueness Of The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine-

===>For The Best Pricing On The Road Machine, Look No Further Than  Amazon.com<===

3) Why Silicone In The Kurt Kinetic Trainers?

Kurt Kinetic calls their medical-grade silicone fluid Kurt Kinetic Road Machine  ‘thermodynamically neutral’. That means that the consistency of the silicone fluid remains essentially unchanged even as heat builds up (the temperature in the fluid chamber can reach up to 400 degrees, which is largely why O-Rings fail).

Other types of fluids lose their viscosity (thickness) as they increase in temperature. So if your trainer doesn’t have silicone in the fluid chamber, your workload decreases as heat builds up.

My enthusiasm for the Road Machine has nothing to do with it matching my racing kit. Scout’s Honor!

4) A Word About Guarantees

Kurt Kinetic maintains that their competitors warrant their trainers for ‘manufacturer’s defects‘. Kurt guarantees the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine with an Unconditional Lifetime Warranty.

Yes, in the Kurt Kinetic literature the competitor’s guarantee is in lower case, while the Kurt guarantee is capitalized. Further proof that these fellers mean business.

There is actually a ‘crash replacement policy’ guarantee for the lifetime of the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine. What kind of a fool could crash on a trainer?

I guess that would be the type of fool who’s writing this review. But in my own defense, I’d forgotten to tighten everything down. And the impact onto the tile floor wasn’t too bad.

If I’d have had the Kinetic training mat at that time, I’ll bet it wouldn’t have happened at all…since the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine ‘sticks’ very well to the training mat.

And then there’s the issue of the training mat (instead of the floor) catching all of that sweat.

Easy Set-up And My Wasteful Thoughts

Set-up of the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is extremely easy…but I have a confession to make.

About all you have to do to put the trainer together is use the carriage bolt and nut to attach the resistance unit to the frame and then put the tightening device on.

When I was putting the nut onto the carriage bolt, the thought crossed my mind that there should be one of those thin, cheap 14 mm wrenches included with the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine.  That way I wouldn’t have to walk all the way to my garage and get a wrench out of my toolbox.  What’s wrong with these Kurt Kinetic guys?

Wrench on Road MachineThen it hit me…through the years I’ve thrown away oodles of ‘specialty’ wrenches that were used only one time for the installation of something like a ceiling fan, a vacuum cleaner, or the tank on the back of a toilet.

What a waste.  Just because I’m too lazy to go get a ‘real’ wrench from the garage, a lot of items come complete with ‘disposable’ wrenches.  That’s why I have a variety of cheap, metal installation devices scattered all over my workbench.

Anyway, a 14 mm wrench from the garage performed the 10 second procedure just fine…and the environmental waste was minimized.

A Few Miscellaneous Extras

  • There’s a DVD that comes with the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine which goes through the set-up step by step (in case reading the simple written instructions is too ‘old school’).
  • The DVD also includes a very difficult workout by the head dude from Spinnervals, done at a Mercedes dealership.  The Mercedes connection is interesting…no doubt Spinnervals is banking on a bit of ‘parasitic branding’.
  • There are two extra skewers that are included with the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine which go into the ‘cone’ shaped holders.  But if you’re going to use your own skewer that isn’t round on the lever end, the trainer comes equipped with a ‘slotted’ holder.  I’m not sure if my picture illustrates what I mean, but I’ll include it anyway.

Special cone on Road Machine

Thoughts On Setting The Height Of The Trainer

There are four different sets of holes on the frame of the trainer so that the height of the trainer can be altered according to what size wheels are on your  bike.  But in keeping with the ‘commercial grade’ nature of the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, there are some ‘manly’ bolts holding the legs in place.

Changing heights on Road MachineWhat this does is make switching the height of the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine from bike to bike a bit more inconvenient than if the bolts were instead ‘pins’.  You can see my ‘pin’  idea in the picture.

But I have to say, there aren’t too many instances in which the trainer’s used by a variety of different sized bikes on day-to-day basis…and the use of my ‘pin’ idea would probably make the trainer less sturdy.

Just trying to earn my keep as a bike gear reviewer. 🙂

How Do You ‘Level’ Your Bike On A Road Machine?

Leveling bike on Road MachineTake a look at the picture of my bike  at the top of this page.  With a slanting top tube, it’s impossible to put a level on the top tube and determine if the bike’s level.

And because I’m such a ‘wanna-be’ racing guy, I have the handlebars set well below the saddle height.  So nothing worthwhile can be determined by running a level from the saddle to the stem.

So what needs to be done is to measure the distance from the ground to the center of the rear axle…and then match that height on the front axle.  You can then put your front wheel in the appropriate slots on the riser (there are four to choose from).  In my case, the height was about 15 inches.

The Good
  1. Kurt Kinetic’s proprietary design defeats the leakage problem that fluid trainers have.
  2. Calibrated with a Powertap, so your speed on a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, at a given resistance level is accurate.
  3. Silicone fluid in the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is thermodynamically neutral so resistance doesn’t ‘taper off’ as the trainer heats up.
  4. Heat from the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is dissipated by 80 cooling fins…hey, cooling fins worked on Volkswagen Bugs for years!
  5. The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine has the largest roller in the industry (2 1/8″), which reduces tire wear.
  6. Multi-position legs allow trainer to get closer to the floor. May reduce need for a front riser block.
  7. The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine has very realistic feel, perhaps only surpassed by a ‘motor brake’ on virtual reality trainers like the Tracx Fortius (which sells for well over $1000).
  8. Kurt Kinetic’s unconditional guarantee demonstrates their dedication to quality.
  9. The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine beats most Mag trainers or a wind trainer in the noise department.
The Bad
  1. The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine may be too much trainer for a very casual rider.
  2. Lacks a system to consistently tighten the roller against the tire.
  3. The lime green may insult some rider’s sensitivities, although I applaud Kurt Kinetic for matching the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine to my racing kit. 🙂

This trainer is for:

  1. The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is for riders looking for a high quality product that they can be proud to include in their cycling equipment.
  2. The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is for cyclists wanting a realistic feel, without spending a couple thousand dollars for a virtual reality trainer.
  3. The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine suits cyclists who are willing to spend a bit more (than a trainer from a lower quality manufacturer) in exchange for reliability.

Kurt Kinetic Road Machine Features

  • Get a realistic feel with the 6.25 pound flywheel on the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine.  With the included flywheel, the coast down time from 20 mph is 15 seconds.  Now you can buy an extra 12 lb flywheel to attach for additional ‘realism’.  This feature essentially substitutes for what used to be called the Kurt Kinetic Pro.
  • Get the assurance of knowing that the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine resistance unit has been calibrated using a Powertap wattage meter.
  • The patented fully sealed resistance chamber eliminates any chance of leakage.
  • The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine resistance unit uses silicone fluid, which is thermodynamically stable.
  • There are 80 fins on the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine to effectively dissipate heat.
  • There are other features, but I’d just be repeating myself…they’re covered in The Good section above.

Here’s What People Are Saying…

“I purchased the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine two months ago, and am thrilled with its performance and quality. If you are considering purchasing a trainer, fluid trainers are the way to go. Basically, there are four major types of trainers: Magnetic,Wind, Rim Driven, and Fluid. The later is the best, hands down! This product is going to be your companion for many winters, so don’t buy a loud, crappy one with crappy customer service!”

Marco J. “Marc” {This review edited for brevity. Read full review here}

I have had several other trainers of this type that were used by my son and myself for training on Road, Mountain, and Recumbent. The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is the best.

“J Hendrick”  (This review edited for brevity. Read full review here}

Here’s What The Pros Say About The Road Machine…

The Updated Road Machine 2.0

Well, its been a long time coming. The folks at Kurt Kinetic recently did a few updates on the ageless Road Machine.  The resistance unit is the same, but the frame has been updated.

Kurt Kinetic Road Machine 2.0They found that they could get as much stability without the rear bar at the back of the frame, so off it came. Not having the rear bar makes the unit a little less cumbersome when folded up into the storage position.

Road machine 2.0 knob and bottom barThey also changed the knobs so that they’re more hip and easier to twist. At least that’s what I’ve been told (on the hipster part).

Anyway, they’re two-toned now. One of my earlier suggestions was to make it easier to determine how many turns the knob was twisted when snugging up the resistance unit against the tire. With the ‘Kinetic’ graphic on the knob, it’s easier to see how many times the knob spins around. Small pleasures, but pleasures none-the-less.

My Conclusion

I’ve loved my early-model Kurt Kinetic Fluid trainer for a lot of years now; so being sold on the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is a natural for me (I’m in good company since it’s also the mainstay for a lot of pro cycling teams).

I’ve done all I can do to be a good product reviewer…providing a few ideas to perhaps make the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine a bit better.

But there is one reality that can’t be overlooked…The uniqueness of the resistance unit on the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine (for which there is a patent that extends for more than ten additional years) makes this fluid trainer a slam dunk.

We can quibble about different bells and whistles, but I can tell you that you won’t go wrong with a fluid trainer that’ll never leak, provides all the resistance you’ll ever need, and operates quietly.

===>Get the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine from Amazon!<===

They have as good a price as anywhere on the internet (currently listed for $60.00 below retail), are a very trusted merchant, and your Kurt Kinetic Road Machine trainer may be eligible for free shipping.

Kinetic Road Machine Fluid Trainer 2.0
The updated Kurt Kinetic Road Machine featuring a smaller footprint and updated tightening knobs.
Save: $39.10 (11%)
Kinetic Road Machine Fluid Trainer
Versatile indoor bicycle trainer with leak-proof magnetic drive system and automatic resistance changes.
Save: $64.00 (17%)

30 Responses to Kurt Kinetic Road Machine- Read Complete Review To Not Lose Money

  1. M Cox says:

    After one week on my new machine, its smooth, sturdy & relatively quiet. I haven’t noticed any tyre slippage but there are flecks of rubber on the roller & the wall behind. As this is a new tyre, is this to be expected or does the tension need to be increased/decreased?

    • Ron Fritzke says:

      I’d say you’d do well with tightening the tire…some slippage is likely occurring without you being aware of it.

  2. Juanita Liebrecht says:

    I recently bought your Kinetic trainer. I am noticing quite a strong burning rubber smell when I use it and am worried that my back tire is getting worn away. I am a novice cyclist and have never used a trainer before but I am noticing some slipping when I peddle and am thinking that I mustn’t have something set up correctly. Any ideas?

    • Ron Fritzke says:

      Juanita, you’ll need to increase the tightness of the roller against the tire. That should take care of the slippage.

  3. Juan says:

    What about the floor mat and sweat guard. Are they an absolute necesity for indoor trainning??? Thnks for the great review and the time you invest in doing great reviews and answer questions:) Regards!!!

    • Ron Fritzke says:

      Juan, they’re nice but not essential. I ride on a tile floor and use a towel to wipe up the sweat.

  4. Mark says:

    Can you use these trainers for mountain bikes?

    • Ron Fritzke says:

      Mark, yes you can use these with mountain bikes…you’d want to put on a relatively smooth back tire to reduce the amount of noise that the tread would make. Additionally, an aggressive tread would be worn off prematurely on a bike trainer. Happy riding to you!

  5. Dan says:


    First thanks for a great review. My wife just ordered this for me for my upcoming birthday. Reading your review was the icing on the cake. This will be my first trainer. One thing I have learned is you get what you pay for.

    I watched the video with the pro riders and noticed something interesting. When they showed one of their bikes being set up they weren’t using a skewer but we rather being “clamped” in. Is that a special setup for the pros or is that something new?

    • Dan says:

      Well I hope you will ignore my new guy question. I went on youtube and looked up how to install a bike on the trainer and see exactly what needs to be done.

      Thanks again for a great review.

      • Ron Fritzke says:

        Dan, Thanks for the kind words. I think you’ll really like your Road Machine!

  6. Mark says:

    Ron – Two questions: Should I spend the extra money on the heavier flywheel? What’s the difference? Also, should I buy a special tire to use with the trainer? Will that make a difference? Thank you. And thank you for the great review.

    • Ron Fritzke says:

      Hi Mark, I don’t think that buying the extra weight would be worth the money. The Road Machine does very well without it.

      I’ve never used a special tire because I’m usually alternating indoor rides with outdoor rides, using the same bike. I guess I’m reluctant to be changing the tires back and forth. As for just using a rear wheel with a trainer tire on it and another wheel with a road tire on it…that would work.

      But, I just make sure that the roller is tightened up snugly to the tire, and then the road tire wears reasonably well.

  7. Ron Fritzke says:

    Don- I like the suggestion…complete with its own safety warning! It’s good to hear that you’re getting back into shape.

  8. Don says:

    Hey Ron, thanks for the good reviews I am looking for a good trainer to help get back into shape after years of self neglect, here is a suggestion for current owners of the road machine. Take the adjusting knob and using a sharp object such as a hack saw blade, file or knife etc….. make a small groove in the knob, does not have to be deep, and borrow the wife or girlfriends brightest nail polish and fill the groove, instant indicator. Important safety note here, GET PERMISSION TO USE THE POLISH! White out works too but polish sticks better.

  9. Bob Howard says:

    Ron, i have a question about tightening the roller against the tire. The recommendation is 2 to 4 turns. Does this mean 2 to 4 complete turns of the knob? Also, does the number of turns increase the resistance? thanks.

    • Ron Fritzke says:

      Hi Bob,

      It means two to four complete turns. That’s the reason I think that the Road Machine should have an indicator on the tightening knob…so that you can keep track of how many complete turns you’ve done.

      The resistance between the roller and the tire doesn’t increase the amount of workload the trainer is putting out. Adequate resistance eliminates any slippage, and since slippage between the tire and roller results in premature tire wear, it is an important part of set-up.

  10. Cam says:

    Thanks for the extensive review. I compared this one to another you wrote about a different trainer.
    It definitely helped make my choice for the Kurt.
    I will update at a later date and let you know how it worked.

    • Ron Fritzke says:


      I’m glad it helped you make your decision…I think you made the right choice!


      • Cam says:

        So far so good. This thing rocks!
        One question, the manual says to tighten the wheel tension 5-7 turns. Is that full turns? I have had some slippage because I am hesitant to go too tight against the rubber.

        • Cam says:

          No need to answer…I just read the 27 Dec post. Thanks for all your help.

  11. pez says:

    Can you adjust the resistance while riding on this machine?

    • Ron Fritzke says:

      I’ve never had the need to adjust the resistance on the trainer…and that’s a good thing because there are no adjustments on the Kinetic Road Machine.

      Using the gears on my bike, I can go from easy spinning to beyond my ability to sprint without any problem.

  12. Parry Leavell says:

    Any issues with the sharper edges on the tire riser? It would appear that the sharp edges might damage the front tire?

    • Ron Fritzke says:

      Hi Parry,
      None that I know of. There isn’t much in the way of movement between the front tire and the riser, so there isn’t any damage.

      Good question.

  13. theo misaras says:

    I cannot find much compareson of these trainers based on the level of noise they produce. For many this is the most important issue, not understanding the technical stuff. I would like to know which one is the most quiet trainer.

    • Ron Fritzke says:

      I was very impressed with the quietness of the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, the CycleOps Fluid 2 trainer, and the CycleOps Magneto. While you may not be interested in the technical stuff, knowing which trainers will not break down, and which trainers supply enough resistance to provide a proper workout are important factors along with the level of noise each trainer creates.

      When I put an audiometer on the trainers (and did everything I could to ride the trainers at the same intensity level), the Fluid 2 and the Magneto were a little bit quieter than the Road Machine.

      • Dave Misiak says:


        Great reviews! I have an original Kinetic trainer that lasted 10 years. The resistance unit seized last year and was replaced under warranty without question (even got the larger flywheel). I also use their original wired $50 wattage meter training indoors. Not a $1000 cyclops, but allows consistency between workout efforts. I only train 3.5 hours per week TOTAL on the trainer, am 52 yrs old and just averaged 23.9mph for 25 miles at the NJ State Triathlon. Regarding choosing a fluid trainer based on being the quietest – yeah, that 1 decibel difference should be the deciding factor. LOL!

        • Ron Fritzke says:

          Hi Dave,

          That’s great to hear of your history with the original Kinetic trainer…as well as with your experience with their warranty policy.

          You’re right that we really only need a meter to measure consistency between workouts. ‘Absolute’ values only matter in relationship to other riders, should that be necessary (like establishing an evidence-based pecking order within the ranks of us ‘Riding Roosters’).

          You did great at the NJ State Tri. Holding almost 24 mph for an hour is quite an accomplishment.

          Noise level isn’t at the top of my list either…within reason; and all of the top trainers are pretty close in this category.

  14. Marie Gordon says:

    Excellent reviews on these fabulous exercise and fitness products. You certainly leave no stone unturned to help your readers make an informed decision on the best product to buy.

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