CycleOps Magnus Review Part 2: The Ride!

Hello Everyone,

This is part two of the CycleOps Magnus review.  You can see my original part 1 review of the design, build and setup of the CycleOps Magnus here: CycleOps Magnus Review Part 1.  I have been riding the CycleOps Magnus for the last week, and there are some things we must discuss.  I don’t like being critical, but there is room for improvement here.  I will cover some of those topics in my blog below.  If you don’t want to do all the reading below, you can check out my video.

If you want to help support this site (I use my own money to buy these trainers) or support American jobs and Manufacturing, then click on this link to buy your CycleOps Magnus Smart Trainer . To my knowledge, this is the only Mid-Range trainer that is manufactured in the USA. 

The flywheel weight is the primary thing that impacts performance on the outer edges for the CycleOps Magnus.

First off, everything I am critical about has to do with the size of the flywheel on the CycleOps Magnus and the frame.  I was a bit underwhelmed.  The word “Magnus” builds a certain expectation in my mind.  A 2.6lbs flywheel deflates those expectations when testing the outer edges of performance.  However, that has no impact on general performance of this trainer.  The CycleOps Magnus holds resistance well in ERG mode and will work well with Zwift, TrainerRoad, and The Sufferfest Training Centre.  I had no issues with it holding power at set targets during my workouts.  Where it was lacking was on the extreme edges of performance like high powered climbs and sprints.  Also, this is the only trainer that is manufactured in the United States (Madison, WI).  American jobs important to you?  You have to make a decision.  I bring this up as a legitimate purchasing consideration for some people.

How Does It Ride

Wheel on trainers will never feel like wheel off trainers.  There is no way around that, they just feel different.  The only thing that slightly helps is the weight of the flywheel that helps build inertia.  I noticed a decent road feel when operating above 175 watts.  That is when the electromagnet is doing a good job engaging the trainer and providing a fluid feel to the resistance across the whole pedal stroke.  However, it did feel like a standard trainer just below 175 watts.  What does that feel like?  The sensation is similar to missing some resistance in your pedal stroke.  It is  solely due to the weight and inertia of the flywheel on the trainer.  Lower inertia, less road feel.

Do we really need these blades?

The overall weight of the trainer is a light 25lbs.  You don’t have to worry about throwing your back out with this trainer.  It is very manageable to pick up and move around your Pain Cave.  I was able to validate the sound levels of this trainer.  My conversation level during the video was around 74dB.  The CycleOps Magnus was cruising along at 20mph at 64dB.  That is very quiet.  My drivetrain makes up most of that noise.  Now, when we get up to 35mph, it is a different story.  You can really hear it wind up at those speeds whirring in at 84dB.  Much louder than I thought it was going to be.  I don’t know where that noise is coming from, but I suspect it could be the fin design inside that flywheel.  Those fins are angled and they probably are creating that whirring noise you can hear.  I don’t know what purpose they serve either.  Are they cooling something or adding more resistance other than the electromagnet?

Ripping the Legs Off

The maximum wattage rating on the CycleOps website is 1500watts.  I found this to be true, but very awkward to get there in standard mode.


I had a hard time sprinting with this trainer.  The main culprit was the 2.6lb flywheel; it is very easy to attack and just overpower it.  When sprinting in standard or level mode with The Sufferfest Training Centre or TR, you can really ramp up leg speed quickly.  After that, you can feel the electromagnet start to compensate about 2 seconds after you hit max RPM.  This makes for a very awkward sprint.  It feels like you are sprinting up into the base of a very steep hill and need to start ditching gears quickly.  This is the outer edge of testing.  Sprinting in ERG mode, with realistic targets at 400 to 500 watts, the Magnus acted as it should, ramping up power very steady and consistent.  However, you can’t do big power sprinting on this trainer.  Most mid-range trainers perform like that.  If you truly want sprinting confidence and feel, you may need to upgrade to the CycleOps Hammer Direct Drive Smart Trainer.

img_5386I had my reservations about the dummy proofed adjustment knob.  This is a spring loaded knob that pops when you have set enough resistance.  I was concerned that it might not be providing enough tension since you can’t turn the knob once it has popped.  I am pleased to report that this design works very well.  I was using the Specialized S-Works Turbo tire and had no issues with tire slippage.  The tire held onto the roller extremely well.  NowI’m very fond of that knob and I think it was a great addition.

Climbing At A Low Cadence

screenshot-2016-11-23-16-18-42The CycleOps Magnus has a max slope rating of 15%.  To tell you the truth, I don’t know where these training companies come up with their max slope rating.  What I do to test slope rating, is ride the trainer on a 39×27 gear ratio.  To me, this is the climbing test.  The Wahoo KICKR will hold me to 450+ watts on a similar gear.  The KIKCR is rated at a 20% max slope.  What i found, is the CycleOps Magnus could only hold 200 watts at that gear ratio and wheel speed.  I took the Magnus up Radio Tower Road on Zwift and I could only get it up to 200 watts using that gear ratio.  Now, a simple shift in gears allowed me to hit resistance levels up to 450 watts, but the one electromagnet can only do so much under a slower speeds.

One electromagnet on a small diameter metal plate impacts use of a lower gear for climbing.

Climbing in ERG Mode

Look at the picture below, I did the video workout “Do As You’re Told” from the Sufferfest Training Centre.  My goal here is to just get a feel of how well the trainer handles ERG mode and play around with power numbers under low cadence climbs.  In one section I rode at 65 rpm and the 39×19 gear.  You can see that the lower gear ratio combined with the low flywheel weight does a poor job of handling my crappy pedal stroke.  The trainer is not all to blame here.  It is 50% my crappy pedal stroke, and 50% Magnus not having the inertia to cover the gaps of my crappy pedal stroke.  Trying to hold a steady 325 watts under a lower wheel speed, has the electromagnet putting on a bunch of resistance and taking off a bunch of resistance through my pedal stroke.  You can see how it varies up and down in the zoomed in section of the power chart.  When I focused on creating a better pedal stroke, power only bounced around by 8-10 watts instead of the 20 watts up and down we see here.


Supporting Applications

The CycleOps Magnus will integrate with everything.  This is the year CycleOps has finally jumped all in with ANT+ Fitness Equipment Control (FE-C) and it was the right decision (cough, cough, Kurt Kinetic, cough).   They have bluetooth control and ANT+ FE-C control.  They will work with any App out there.  Furthermore, they have a solid training App themselves.  I am not reviewing the CycleOps Training App (CVT), but there was a wide range of workouts and options in there.  Not the sexiest App on the marketplace like The Sufferfest Training Centre, but not bad either.

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Summary: Would I Buy It?

img_5423I think the better question is “What would it take for me to buy this trainer?”  Now, this trainer works for 80 to 90 percent of the people out there.  I will state again, I enjoy crushing my legs sprinting, and killing myself on climbs.  I do these things because I need to find ways to keep up with cyclists that weight 30lbs less than me.  This is outer edge stuff.  This trainer will hold resistance well in ERG mode for 95% of the things you need it to do.  However, living up to the name Magnus…  No, we need a whole new frame where you can fit a bigger flywheel.  As you can see from the next picture, were paying $599 but getting the same frame as a 8 year old Mag Trainer.  That doesn’t work for me.

Below, is a picture showing that there isn’t any room to put a bigger flywheel.


The mock up picture below could carry the name Magnus.  Build a new frame that creates a U-shape.  This increases clearance for a bigger flywheel and better performance.  Kill the fins in the flywheel and put something on there new and unique, something Magnusficent!


Overall Rating

Style:  I would rate Style as  4 Cowbells out of 5.  Decent use of the color yellow.  I think we could have used the color yellow a bit more.  It would have been nice to see it on the upper knob that is used to attach your bike to the trainer.  Taking a ding for sticking with the old frame.

Build: Room for improvement, 3.5 Cowbells out of 5.  We really need a bigger and better frame, a bigger flywheel, and better leg action on this trainer.

Performance:  Good performance, 4 Cowbells out of 5.  The noise is minimal except when I was sprinting.  We only lose 1/2 a cowbell for the slight delay in resistance when sprinting, and another 1/2 cowbell for the flywheel weight not helping out my bad pedal stroke. The electromagnet feels like it can handle 1500 watts but I just got over the top of it too quickly to hit those numbers.

Supporting App:  Highest Rating of 5 Cowbells out of 5.  The CVT App looks pretty good.  I have the ability to do a spin down and I can see the ability to update firmware in the future.  Those are all critical components to a good supporting app.

Longevity: Decent expectations, 4 Cowbells out of 5.  This trainer is only connected at the bearings.  The bearings are a good size and should last a long time.  I don’t see any other weaknesses in the welds or the way it is assembled.  The first thing that may break on this trainer is the power cord.  The power cord could be a bit better.  Also, my ability to get on top of that flywheel may have the potential to overwork the electronic components over time.


img_5415-2I give the CycleOps Magnus a Mid Range training rating of 4.1 Cowbells out of 5! This is a decent trainer for most people.  It is weak on the fringes, but solid in the main performance of its duties.  I wouldn’t say that this trainer is setting the market price at $599.  That is something we need to look at next.  What does this trainer look like when compared to the Wahoo KICKR Snap.  Both trainers are priced at $599 right now.  How do they compare against each other?  I’ll look at that and much more in the coming weeks.  I just received The TACX Vortex and the TACX Bushido.  I want to figure out how much you should really pay for the TACX Vortex.  It’s not fair to compare the Vortex to the other ones because on paper it gets killed.  It’s a lightweight in a middle weight fight.  What is a good price for the TACX Vortex to get the minimum of smart trainer control? Then, we talk about our next Mid-Range trainer the TACX Bushido.  Are the special features it provides worth more than the other trainers I have reviewed?  You can follow me on the Athletic Tech Review Youtube Channel  if you want to get the videos before you see the written blog.  Take care everyone.

 If you think my review helped with your decision to buy a CycleOps Magnus, then you can purchase the Magnus by clicking this link CycleOps Magnus Smart Trainer .  I will receive a percentage of the sale so I can keep reviewing more great trainers.  

Aaron Johnson

Aaron Johnson

Aaron served in the military for 20 years. Multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He retired from the military after 20 years of service to take care of our three small children in 2013 as a Stay At Home Dad.

athletictechreview has 60 posts and counting.See all posts by athletictechreview

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