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Kreitler is a company with a reputation that precedes it for anyone familiar with indoor roller racing, creating beautifully smooth rollers available in various diameters, and extra optional accessories, but the price of its Alloy Rollers makes them a significant investment and one that only a small proportion of riders will be willing to pay.
Made in the USA, the rollers on test are made with 6061 alloy drums turned on a CNC lathe to make them near-perfectly cylindrical. This version also features alloy end caps to help increase weight and coasting momentum as a result.
This set costs £425 on its own, the optional Flywheel adding £145 – a total of £570. The Flywheel adds weight and increases the momentum for a more realistic riding feel, and also increases any power required to hold a given speed.
Box section painted steel tubing holds a frame for the drums, with six rubber feet holding it in place when riding – most of the time, anyway.
It is worth spending time measuring the bike you plan to use and setting the rollers up accurately, and Kreitler suggests setting the front drum slightly in front of your bike's front axle (that's a lot of fronts, admittedly!). The axles of the rear rollers are fixed in place, while adjusting the position of the front roller is very simple with ring-pull tabs; it is tool-free. Getting this stage correct is key to being able to ride on the rollers and maintaining control. I found it useful to use a plumb-line to see the location of the bike's front wheel axle relative to the drum.
These rollers feature 3in (75mm) diameter drums, with Kreiler also making a set with 2.25in (5.7cm) and 4in (10.2cm) drums to suit different riders. The larger the drum, the less power is needed to achieve a set speed. Kreitler has information on its website relating to all diameters plus accessories, and this will help you decide what's right for you.
The flywheel is an accessory that has two functions: it increases the resistance and, therefore, the power required for a set speed, and also increases the momentum. In other words, the weight of the flywheel keeps the rollers spinning for longer when you stop pedalling, making for a more realistic ride feel. I don't tend to coast all that much when on the rollers so that was of limited value for me, but you might well be different.
Other accessories available from Kreitler include a headwind fan that is run off the drums, and a fork stand to hold the bike in place.
With the rollers set up and ready to ride, my initial thought was that they are narrower than others I have used. They measure 36cm across. While it didn't cause problems, despite being confident riding rollers I did feel I was having to concentrate a little more until I was fully used to the setup.
I used the rollers both with and without the flywheel and the difference was noticeable. Kreitler has measured the power required to ride at 20mph (32km/h) on just the rollers at 176W. The power required to ride at the same speed with the flywheel attached was 223W – that's 47W more.
The rollers do their intended job well, feeling smooth at all speeds, with no jerkiness or roughness in the movement.
The only issue I had was during a more intensive training ride when I experienced a slight creep forward by the whole roller during use. While it wasn't significant, amounting to just a few centimetres, it suggests the rubber feet used for traction aren't always totally successful, or that the floor surface might make a difference. Following this ride, I braced the frame against a fixed object to stop any unwanted movement.
While the performance of the Kreitler rollers is excellent and they certainly feel smooth, I can't help feeling they aren't dramatically different enough from cheaper rollers that the increased cost will make sense for most people and most situations.
We reviewed the Tacx Galaxia recently, which is £219.99, and Stu thought that was steep. Its Antares, one of the most popular out there, is even less and is also more portable. Frequently seen at races, it gives a smooth enough and strong enough base for almost all riders, and at £165 is much cheaper than the Kreitlers.
The price of the Kreitler rollers plus the flywheel – as tested here – is getting into smart trainer territory, and for many people I suspect one of those would be a more sound investment.
If you want the best alloy rollers out there, though, Kreitler gives you exactly that – a rather agricultural-looking steel box-section frame with excellent rollers that spin beautifully.
Self-proclaimed Rolls Royce of rollers, at Rolls Royce pricing
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Kreitler Rollers and Fly wheel
Size tested: 3in diameter drums
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?
Kreitler says: 'A Kreitler Alloy Roller system is the "Rolls-Royce" of roller systems - masterfully machined, perfectly balanced, and designed for decades of use. The Alloy drums are machined from aircraft-grade 6061 alloy to within two thousandths of concentricity and spin effortlessly on high-grade ABEC-5 sealed cartridge bearings. Drums are available in 4.5', 3' and 2.25' diameter. Alloy end caps are heavier than the polycarbonate end caps found on the Challenger series, creating more momentum in the rollers and an increased coasting effect. While the polycarbonate end caps of the Challenger series are high quality and built to last, the Alloy end caps maintain momentum better and are even longer-lasting.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Aluminium drums turned on a CNC lathe with near-perfect concentricity.
Instrument quality shield bearings for the smoothest, quietest ride available on rollers.
Quality steel frames, welded in exacting fixtures and black epoxy powder coated.
Frames fold for easy storage and transport and easily adjust to change wheelbase with no tools necessary.
The cylindrical alloy rollers themselves are great and hard to fault, but the box section steel gives a basic look to a very expensive product.
The price is very high, but even taking the quality into account, they're expensive.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The drums roll smoothly with good quality bearings fitted, but while they claim to be perfectly round, I have never used a set of rollers that felt different. Although floor surface type may be a factor, the rollers did move very slightly along the floor for me on one occasion.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Smooth-rolling and endless setup position options for different wheelbase bikes.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Some very slight movement through the rubber feet on more intense riding sessions.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They are very expensive compared with the majority of standard roller trainers, including the Tacx Galaxia recently reviewed at £219.99, which Stu also thought expensive. You can pay more – the Elite Nero Smart rollers are nearly twice the price at rrp, but they feature adjustable resistance and power measurement, and the E-motion roller trainer – only available in the US – is $900 (compared to $780 for the Kreitlers) but is claimed to be the most advanced set of rollers in the world.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, although I'd sooner use a smart turbo in most circumstances.
Would you consider buying the product? Not at this price.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Not at this price.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Kreitler has long been known to create some of the best cycle rollers in the world, and if you are a roller fanatic and want the smoothest you can get, you will probably be happy paying the premium, knowing they're very good. For the rest of us, it's a struggle to justify the price... If money's no object, consider them an 8 – they're very good. For the rest of us, a 7 is as high as I can go.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is: Cannondale SystemSix
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, sportives, mtb, Lots of gravel style riding