Holly and ivy, Santa and Rudolf, turbo and rollers – nothing says winter like the sight of your bike strapped to an indoor trainer with a clear view of a laptop or the garage door. The Cascade Fluid Pro is a solid choice for function and value.
The Fluid Pro package is straightforward to set up. The trainer unit needs only some plastic feet to be fitted to be ready to use and the box comes with the ubiquitous turbo quick release skewer and a riser block. Cascade point out their patented Quick-Connect system, which in practice is a big lever on one side that engages the axle clamp, with the dial-turn tightening adjustment on the other side of the axle.
The Quick-Connect system is much like the rest of the unit – solidly made – although for some reason the sections of cup-clamp that slot over the QR skewers have some cut-outs, on the non-drive side quite large ones. In setting up it is worth taking the time to make sure the clamps are very firmly installed and the largest cut-outs facing up, as if not then any rocking of the bike could lead to unwanted escape.
I had an experience of this, despite being reasonably confident in how well attached it was, but it was early in the use of the trainer and I think it was something I could have avoided. I am sure the cut-outs are there to make it easier to drop your bike in quickly, but I'd personally rather have a complete clamp for safety. It also makes a mockery of it being Quick-Connect if you need to check it is on tight.
I did wish I'd had a camera running as I'm sure I could coin it in with a viral YouTube hit. Losing control on rollers is one thing, but doing it on a turbo takes unique skills.
The stand is a simple inverted V-frame (much like a CyclOps or Tacx), with legs that fold back to the main struts when the trainer goes back to its cupboard in the summer. None of the major parts (legs or resistance brake) have a lock-out, so when folded up there is a tendency for them to swing about, which can be a bit irritating.
The business-end is very simple with a heavy fluid unit, counter- weight and screw-adjustment to set the pressure of the brake on the rear wheel. There is no adjustment to the resistance of the trainer other than the screw-adjuster, so the bike gearing is used to vary the intensity during workouts.
In use the most noticeable thing about the trainer is how quiet it is; the fluid resistance unit is quieter than the magnetic trainer I normally use. This meant that my whimpers and complaints were more obvious as well, though. Cascade make positive claims about the way in which the fluid resistance changes as the rear wheel speeds increase, relating it closely to road riding.
The progression in the resistance is smooth, and at high-effort it certainly felt like hard work. There is also something reassuring about not having to faff about with graded resistance settings, although if you make the mistake of cranking the brake too far onto the rear wheel then the experience is like trying to sprint up hill. I didn't get any wheel slip or wear on the tyres from the brake unit.
The unit is pretty well priced. It appears to be solidly made and includes a riser block, often an aftermarket item. I'm not sure any turbo trainer could be considered a delight to use – they are bringers of stationary suffering after all – but the Cascade was easy to set up and quiet, and at the end of the day it makes it more likely that I'll bother to use it. Just make sure the axle clamp is cranked on good and tight.
Simple, fairly priced fluid-resistance indoor trainer, with a neat clamping handle and riser block included. Effective, with a smooth resistance progression, but with a potential for bike-escape that means it is worth taking a bit of time to set it up properly.
Smooth progression and sturdy construction - a good choice for your indoor suffer-sessions.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Cascade Fluid Pro Quick Connect Bike Trainer
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Our fluid bike trainer provides smooth, progressive resistance that gives you a great road feel.
Why spend more on a bike trainer when you can get the same great results and high quality features at a better price? The new fluid design is quieter than leading competitors. Backed with a LIFETIME WARRANTY, the Cascade FLUIDPro is one of the quietest fluid bike trainers available and is extremely stable. Plus, the patented Quick Connect System makes it very easy to use.
Just look at these other great features:
* Heavier flywheel for better performance
* Smooth progressive resistance
* Double seals prevent leakage
* Folds for easy storage or transportation
* Industrially power-coated frame prevents corrosion
* Robotically welded for precision performance
* Front tire riser block included
* No assembly required.
I'm not sure all of the this list constitute 'features' – the robotic welding is unlikely to improve my performance, sadly – but much of it seems accurate. The 'fold for easy storage' is somewhat let down by the legs and brake resistance unit not having a lock-out, which makes handling and carrying a little unwieldy.
Many of the 'features' suggest what it very much appears to be in use – a solid product.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Progressive fluid resistance aims to reflect road riding, but with none of the scenery or gentle cooling breezes. The patented 'Quick Connect' lever works well and seems solidly constructed, but feels a little over described for what it is. Not convinced about the cut-outs in the cup-clamps.
Feels solid – the resistance brake and legs are on a simple pivot that do swing around a bit when the trainer is folded up or carried. The axle clamp shaping really didn't work for me.
It is straightforward to set up and adjust. The resistance brake on the trainer is smooth and quiet.
I didn't use it for a prolonged period, but there wasn't a sense it would fall apart easily.
The unit isn't light, but then you probably don't want it to be, really.
Uncomfortable, but in a reassuringly turbo-y way. The resistance progression is smooth.
Price is competitive given it includes a riser block.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performs well – simple to assemble and set the bike up with. No fiddly computer connections or cable-set resistance levels.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It didn't have any complicated or extraneous parts to it and was very straightforward to set up.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It was a turbo! The lack of a lock-out for the brake unit was annoying when I folded it up and moved it around. The potential for bike-escape was disconcerting, although I think some of that may have been user error.
Did you enjoy using the product? In the sense that I am a masochist who likes my indoor cycling misery time to be as quiet as possible, yes.
Would you consider buying the product? No – there isn't enough here to make me love indoor training more than I do, but that is more about me than the unit. Someone looking for a fluid bike trainer wouldn't get a bad deal from this trainer.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they didn't have a trainer already and were set on a fluid version then this would do a job.
About the tester
Age: 35 Height: 182cm Weight: 69kg
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport 2008 My best bike is: Moda Tempo 2010
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, Triathlon