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Getting more air into your lungs and therefore muscles is an obvious way to boost performance, and the Turbine Breathing System – or Rhinomed Turbine Nasal Dilator to give it its full name – is designed to do just that. As you've no doubt guessed from the name, the Turbine is designed to get that extra air in via your nostrils.
If you've ever raced, you've no doubt seen warming-up riders wedging menthol-coated cotton balls up their noses in a bid to relieve any congestion, to get as much air in as possible once the pedals start turning in anger – so there is obviously a market for this type of product.
The Turbine works by being clipped over your septum, with the rounded parts disappearing inside your nose to flare out your nostrils and open things up. Rhinomed makes some pretty bold claims about the Turbine's performance – ones we can't clarify, scientifically at least – that it provides an increase of 38% 'nasal flow' and is 38% more effective than nasal strips, the ones you stick on the outside of your nose such as Breathe Right.
In use it feels like there is a slight benefit to your breathing when riding, but although 38% sounds a lot, many people don't actually take in a lot of air through their nose in the first place while riding. So even at moderate levels, if the majority of your inhaling and exhaling is taken care of by your mouth, any performance benefits are going to be minimal.
This is the era of Team Sky, though (Chris Froome is touted as a Turbine user), and all their marginal gains – so in some cases those benefits, no matter how small, are going to be welcomed.
What I've been testing is the tester pack: three different sized versions for you to narrow down which fits the best. Each size also has a little ratchet to try to dial the fit just a little bit more.
The problem for me, even when I found the best fitting of the three and tweaked it, was that I could still feel I was wearing it constantly, something I never found with Breathe Right strips when time trialling. Trying them both for comparison, I could find no performance advantage one over the other.
Although I could feel the Turbine all the time, it wasn't uncomfortable; it's actually quite soft, being made from a medical grade polymer. It's more that it was quite a distraction, and it was a relief to take it off.
On the value front the Turbines work out at £3.66 each and Rhinomed quotes a total of 10 uses out of each one, which sounds about right as they do feel like they lose some tension after that. More realistically, though, you'll be buying the pack of three of the size you decide on, which ups the price to £5.66 each, or 56p per use – a little more than the nasal strips' approximate 40p per use.
Overall, the Turbines are a good choice for the racer or type of rider who spends a lot of time right on the rivet, as the small performance benefit is probably justifiable – and when every muscle in your body is screaming for you to stop, the distraction of the nose clip is probably welcome relief! If you are a congestion sufferer, or you get hayfever and ride at a more moderate pace, I'd still probably plump for the external option of a strip instead.
Minimal gains for the financial outlay and not the most comfortable for me
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Turbine Breathing System – Tester Pack
Size tested: S/M/L
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?
Rhinomed says: "The Turbine is designed to fit comfortably inside the nose and gently open each individual nostril to allow more airflow during sport, physical exertion or focused breathing (such as yoga and meditation).
"Once properly fitted, you will naturally experience greater breathing efficiency."
I found a very minimal advantage over using nothing at all, and the fit, for me at least, is far from comfortable.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Provides you with an INSTANT feeling of increased airflow.
Makes breathing easier when the going gets tough.
Aids in improving sleep quality and recovery.
Supports some breathing difficulties related to obstructed nasal passages.
It's drug free.
Acts as a bio-feedback tool so you remember to breathe efficiently.
Crafted from ultra soft medical grade polymers and fits comfortably, in the nose.
Reusable – up to ten uses per Turbine.
Patented dilation technology means you achieve a totally customisable, anatomical fit.
There are three different sizes available.
May alleviate congestion.
Even trying all three sizes I never quite found what I'd consider a perfect fit. The medium was the closest but the Turbine was noticeable when fitted and could be a bit of a distraction.
Works out at 56p per usage compared with 40p for nasal strips.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I could feel an increase in the amount of air I could take in through my nose, but I wouldn't say it translated to an overall benefit out on the road.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Once in it stays put.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Always being able to feel it fitted to my nose.
Did you enjoy using the product? Not really.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? I'd suggest it.
Use this box to explain your score
I personally don't feel the performance benefits are worth the outlay unless you really struggle with nasal congestion. The fit for me wasn't great, so if I was to go back to using a nasal dilator I'd stick with the strips.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Mason Definition
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!