Slowtwitchers Prefer Direct Drive Trainers

A poll of Slowtwitchers just concluded shows the stationary trainer market is shifting from wheel-on to direct drive.

The poll asked, "Are you now riding either a direct drive or wheel-on trainer? Are you imminently (this season) planning to buy one or the other?"

The poll used language identical to a poll taken on Slowtwitch two years ago, with this difference: The poll two years ago asked whether there was interest in a treadmill-style bike trainer; that option returned scant interest then and was omitted from the poll just concluded.

The 2018/19 poll had 953 respondents, to 802 in the poll taken during the 2016/17 North American stationary season. What changed between then and now?

Two years ago, 63 percent of Slowtwitchers were riding wheel-on trainers, and that percentage has dropped to 45 percent during this 2-year period. Those riders have moved to direct drive trainers, and the percentage of direct drive user has jumped from 23 percent to 44 percent. The current use of direct drive versus wheel-on is roughly even, though the trend is clear.

The percent of increase in direct drive trainer use is higher than the decrease in wheel-on use: 21 percent of Slowtwitchers moved from something to direct drive, while 18 percent of Slowtwitchers moved from wheel-on to something else. That extra 3 percent who've moved to direct drive appear to have come from those riding rollers. The use of rollers among Slowtwitchers has been halved in the last 2 years, from 6 percent to 3 percent.

The poll asked whether Slowtwitchers intend to purchase a new trainer. Only 3 total respondents out of 923 said they're getting rollers this season, and only 5 of those who responded said they're getting a wheel-on trainer.

But Slowtwitchers may under-report their actual buying behavior. Yes, 2 years ago many Slowtwitchers already made their trainer purchase (the poll took place halfway through the stationary season). And, many made their purchases in the subsequent season. That established, 2 percent indicated that they were prepared to purchase a direct drive trainer during the 16/17 season, and between then and now 21 percent of all Slowtwitchers taking the poll did make that purchase.

In 2010 Slowtwitch polled its readers, asking which stationary trainer device was their favorite. Kurt Kinetic sat at 13 percent, CycleOps at 9 percent. There was no Wahoo Kickr back then. Rollers were at 7 percent, Tacx at 6 percent. "Other" was chosen by 5 percent or respondents. Computrainer has selected by 52 percent of Slowtwitchers. How times have changed.