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The Lemond Revolution is a high-quality indoor trainer with a great ride feel and it's built to cope with long hours of training. It isn't light or quiet, but I'll trade those two for the ride sensation and enough stability to cope with everything up to a full-on sprint.
First things first: this trainer is different in that you remove your rear wheel. Your chain runs on a cassette that fits directly on to the trainer, and you snap your frame in place using the quick release just as you would your wheel. The trainer uses a belt drive to send your effort from the axle to a big fan that doubles as a flywheel. There's the possibility that you'll need to twiddle with your gears a touch to get the shifts just so, but I didn't have to touch the barrel adjusters on either of the bikes I tried.
What does this mean in practice? Well, a few things. For a start, it means it's wheel-size independent, as you're not relying on a friction interface. You'll need to get a spare cassette and Lemond assume you're on Shimano/SRAM gear; if you want to fit a Campag cassette you'll need either to swap the freehub out, or get a crossover cassette (Campag spacing and Shimano splines) like the Ambrosio ones - that's the cheaper option by far.
It also means that you won't put any miles into your rear tyre, or need to fit one of those super-tough training tyres. And thirdly, it means that there's a very efficient mechanical interface between the drivetrain and the trainer, as opposed to a friction-based one. This is good because it means that the resistance for a given input is always repeatable and measurable (with the right equipment); more on that later.
The Revolution is a heavy beast at over 14kg. Plenty of that weight is in the frame, and there's lots more in the enormous turbofan that's both flywheel and resistance unit. This is a turbo trainer in the strictest sense, using a fan to generate progressively more drag as the speed increases. That's always been a simple way to get effective resistance, but it isn't the quietest option out there. The Lemond isn't noisy at cruising speeds, but put the hammer down and you will be generating quite a racket, so if you're restricted in where you can put the turbo, that might be an issue. I'm relegated to the draughty lean-to out the back, so no problems for me... Anyway, I usually have the earphones in, so it's someone else's problem.
Talking of draughts, that fan pushes a lot of air about. Judicious positioning of the trainer in relation to the walls and furniture can direct that airflow onto you, doing away with the need for a fan. Or you could attach a big bit of ducting to it and point that at your face for a proper headwind.
The ride feel of the Lemond is among the best I've found. The big flywheel means that it's very smooth and the base is rock solid; plenty stable enough for full-on out-of-the-saddle sprinting. Three legs and adjustable feet on all of them mean you can compensate for any unevenness in the floor, too. The design means there's no need for a front wheel riser (at least not with a 700c bike) so the front of the bike is more stable too. It's not the best for stood-up climbing as the resistance isn't high enough and the flywheel holds too much energy, but pretty much everything else feels great.
You can easily do repeatable tests on the Lemond. A Power Pilot display is available (separate review coming on that) which will give you speed, distance, power, cadence and heart rate data. It's not cheap at £300, but you can improvise with a rear-wheel mounted computer.
Okay, I know. There is no rear wheel. There is, however, a big belt sprocket driving the fan that rotates at exactly the same rate as a wheel, and it has a built-in magnet to trigger the sensor for the Power Pilot, which screws into the frame. A bit of faffing and a few zip ties got this firing the sensor from a standard computer, giving speed readout (and cadence, since the computer did both). Depending on the polarity your computer uses, it might not trigger, but you could always stick the magnet on the sprocket.
Once you've some kind of readout sorted, you can use a heart rate monitor to test your (relative) fitness. For a simple ramp test you can warm up, then do three-minute intervals at 2mph increments and take your heart rate at the end of each one. Since the power you're outputting at any given speed is pretty constant thanks to the mechanical interface, these tests should be repeatable over time, giving you a good idea of which way your fitness is heading. You won't be able to assign absolute power readings to them, but they'll still show you trends.
That's if you're a number cruncher, and if you are you'll probably be tempted by the big Power Pilot display. If you want a machine to put the hours in over the winter, or when it's dismal out, the Lemond is definitely one to look at. It's not cheap, but the ride quality and build quality mean you'll get your money's worth over time.
Very good indoor trainer for riders looking to invest in a long-term static solution
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Make and model: Lemond Revolution 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?
Here's the sals patter from Lemond: "Introducing the LeMond Revolution, a direct-drive indoor bike trainer that integrates directly with your bike's drive train. By simply removing your rear wheel and slipping the trainer into your dropouts, it replaces the need for mushy, slippery tire-to-roller connections, while eliminating wheel and tire wear and tear.
Realistic Road Feel
The Revolution bike trainer features High-Inertia Technology (HIT), designed with a large, weighted fly wheel that mimics the inertia of a rolling bicycle. The Revolution spins freely when the pedals aren't engaged, and delivers progressive wind resistance similar to real-world conditions.
Ease of Use and Cost Savings
The Revolution indoor bike trainer fits all road bikes and works seamlessly with your mountain bike or winter-specific cross bike. Simply remove the back wheel, attach the rear dropouts to the spindle and go. No more tire slippage and wear, front wheel blocks or unstable platforms. Plus save $50 to $100 a year by not having to replace worn out rear tires."
Very solidly built and reassuringly heavy
Excellent ride feel, good for all types of training except stood-up climbing
Simple and well constructed drive to the fan should last a long time
Heavy, the way we like it
Not cheap at £400 RRP, but available for less and you'll get your money's worth.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Ride feel, solid construction
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Noisy at speed
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 38 Height: 190cm Weight: 98kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.