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At five hundred quid, the Pinnacle HC Turbo Home Trainer is cheap for a direct-drive unit. On the whole it's a great unit that works seamlessly with various training apps, and its self-calibration delivers reliable figures for the majority of the ride. Storage could be an issue for some, though, as it doesn't fold.
With the advent of apps like Zwift and TrainerRoad, indoor training isn't just restricted to the winter months these days. If you want to achieve as realistic a ride as you can but don't have a huge budget, the HC is a worthy contender.
Initial setup is easy, as you just bolt the bits together, adjust the unit to match your bike's wheel size, and fit a cassette of your choice. The unit's freehub is designed for Shimano cassettes, and others that work on that splined system.
Pinnacle include adaptors for both quick release and 12mm thru-axles, which is good to see – many brands charge extra for the latter (Tacx's are £35-£60, for instance, depending on the exact type). You also get a front riser block to get your bike as level as possible, and with the bike attached everything feels stable and secure thanks to the width of the feet.
Flicking the power switch sees the HC go into calibration mode, which is noticeable by way of the flashing red light; once it flashes green you are ready to go. Some turbos allow you to do a spin-down calibration for a bit more accuracy, but I didn't really have any issues with the Pinnacle's auto setting – more about that in a minute, though.
Zwift is my app of choice, and I had no issues with my account finding the HC in the setup process, either via Bluetooth or the ANT+ dongle attached to my PC. Each time it connected quickly, and I had no issues with any form of dropout while training.
So, onto the riding. Thanks to its weight (15kg) the Pinnacle feels planted even under quite hard efforts, although I don't feel the feet are spaced quite far enough apart for any out of the saddle shenanigans.
With a claimed flywheel weight of 5.7kg, the HC also gives a decent ride feel too – it's quite natural, with a smooth power delivery. It's not too choppy when you switch from freewheeling in the bunch to acceleration, and it's pretty instantaneous. I've ridden quite a few smart trainers over the years, and I was impressed overall with how this unit behaves.
The HC has a maximum gradient capability of 20%, along with a ceiling of 2,500 on the Wattage front. As for the data, results are pretty much spot on for the large majority of the time.
The bike I was using indoors was equipped with an FSA Powerbox Alloy crank-based power meter, connected to my Garmin head unit. Comparing the on-screen data in Zwift with that on my Garmin, the overall power outputs were similar. The HC read about 2-3% higher than the FSA, but consistently so. The cadence for both units were near identical too.
A few times the Pinnacle would drift a bit though, with the power numbers starting to creep up while they remained static on the FSA. It didn't happen that often – mostly on high cadence efforts (above 100rpm) during certain training sessions where I was riding to a fixed, or close to fixed, power output. The HC would creep up 10-20 Watts at times, hold a few seconds and then drop back down to agreement with the FSA.
As i was only for a few seconds at a time it didn't really affect things like my average Wattage for the entire session, and was more an irritation than anything else. That said, if I didn't have the FSA recording at the same time, I wouldn't have noticed from the saddle, if I'm honest. For general riding or training it really isn't an issue.
The overall quality is decent. The plastic covers feel a bit cheap, but it's not a deal breaker for this sort of money.
As for noise, it's not the quietest unit around, but neither is it excessively loud. I'd train in the kitchen with a turbo mat on a tiled floor, and the family could still watch TV in the next room at the usual volume.
If you are short of space, one thing to bear in mind is that the Pinnacle doesn't fold away. I don't have a dedicated cycling room, so I'd have to carry it down to the shed after every session – thankfully that 15kg isn't too big a lump to carry.
While this technically has an RRP of £700, we're told it will remain at the £499.99 reduced price, so that's how we're be gauging value.
George was relatively impressed with the Xplova Noza S Smart Trainer back in 2020. It's capable of similar numbers to the HC and looks to perform in a similar vein – its data is reliable enough, but not quite as accurate as more expensive units. Wiggle/CRC are the purchasing options in the UK, and you are looking at £744.99.
Tacx has the Flux S Smart Trainer, and John felt it does a decent job. It can only cope with 1,500 Watts at full whack, but then it's priced pretty close to this one at £549.
Despite its little foibles in tracking power super-accurately, the HC is a great entry-level trainer for those of us who want some basic training sessions, or like to ride and race on things like Zwift without investing a fortune.
Note: The original value score and conclusions were made based on the price given to us by Pinnacle at the time, and the HC Turbo Home Trainer is currently discounted to £399.99.
Competent and relatively reliable direct-mount trainer for not a lot of cash
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pinnacle HC Turbo Home 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?
Pinnacle says, "A smart trainer that delivers realistic ride simulation matched by connectivity and industry-standard precision for a quiet, uncompromising experience for you to enjoy the ride."
"Bringing the outdoor ride indoors, the Pinnacle HC provides the ideal amount of inertia for a realistic experience, minus the weather of course. At the beating heart of the trainer, the flywheel has been developed to match the resistance unit to bring real-life bike sensations indoors. It also comes equipped with an integrated cadence sensor to help keep you up to speed."
It's a decent indoor trainer for great money.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
"Easy to set up, ANT+ and Bluetooth allow the trainer to communicate and connect to your preferred devices and applications. Create your own indoor world using a smartphone (IOS/Android), computer (Windows/MAC OS), GPS or FEC-enabled devices to connect to your favourite training platform. The Pinnacle HC connects to popular training software including ZWIFT, TrainerRoad, Rouvy, Kinomap, PerfPRO and TACX films (for TTS).
"Weighing in at 15kg (5.7kg fly wheel), it's a smart trainer that's light enough to transport and move around your home. It's also a trainer that keeps noise to a minimum measuring just 52Db (at 19mph), producing a sound similar in intensity to an electrical fan and a whopping max. simulated incline of 20% (@70kg)."
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It connects to Bluetooth ot ANT+ quickly and gives a good ride feel.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great value for money.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It doesn't fold away.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's cheaper than most, as you can see in the review.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
For those who find data is key, the accuracy of the HC might be slightly outside your comfort zone. But for everybody else I'd say it is ideal for riding the likes of Zwift for fitness, or for simple training regimes. The quality is decent, as is the way the unit responds – and there's not much to argue about when it comes to price.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
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: 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!