Now that winter's finally set in, it's time to think about trainers and rollers again. And even though I have a set of swankerrific rollers, these babies still hold a special place in my heart, mostly due to their elegant and simple design.
The Ecotrack is Tacx's cheapest set of rollers, retailing at a very affordable $130. It's a humble non folding set of rollers with 80 mm PVC drums. You could spend more for a folding option or a burlier big drum version, but there's nothing wrong with the Ecotrack. The three drums are identical and symmetrical, with a belt drive groove on either side. The drum axle slides into a plastic 'foot', crossing through a C shaped rail before popping out the other side. Since each roller is independently supported, the rails can be relatively svelte – all they do is hold the drums in place. All the weight bearing is done by the plastic feet. This is as close as you can get to my dream set of rollers: three drums attached to L brackets screwed into a hardwood floor.
The drums are very close to the floor, so beginners won't feel like they're way up in the air. The rollers are barely above the rails, so if your mind drifts the your wheel will usually gently transition to the rail with no dire consequences – so I hear. These are excellent rollers to learn on. And once you get going you'll find that 95 rpm's in the 53x12 with training tires at 120 psi = 300 watts. That ought to get most of us through winter base training. A certain anonymous rider (let's call him 'taillight') abused these all last winter, and they're still purring along.
Time for Hate So, am I saying $130 rollers can do it all? Well, not quite. Like most rollers, the Ecotrack coasts down in a couple of seconds, so they don't duplicate road feel. You'll feel the dead spot more on these than on the road. They don't offer enough resistance so that you can ride out of the saddle like you mean it. But they cost a fraction of a set of rollers that remedy those problems.
So where does that leave us? Magnus Backstedt warmed up on these for his attempt at the hour record. They're good enough for Big Maggie, they're good enough for you. They roll smoothly, and they don't resonate or rumble like some other affordable rollers without independently supported drums. You'll have to shell out a lot of dough to do significantly better than these.