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Blackburn Raceday Portable Trainer review

11 Jan 2018

Perfect for raceday, usable everyday

Cyclist Rating: 
Ultra portable, versatile, realistic road feel
Non-variable resistance curve won’t suit some

Buy the Blackburn Raceday Portable Trainer now from Cycle Store

The nifty Blackburn Raceday Portable Trainer comprises a set of miniature rollers for your rear wheel and a stand to hold the front fork. Packaged in its own carry case for easy transport, it weighs a scant 6.9kg allowing you to easily tote it around to events.

Removed from its bag the telescoping fork stand pops up in an instant with its legs automatically clicking into place. Deploying behind, the rollers are held by an adjustable spar that allows the system to accommodate different length wheelbases.

Slotted together the whole assemblage can be left intact for storage and transport.

Up in 20 seconds

I clocked getting the Blackburn Raceday Portable Trainer from zipped in the carry case to ready-to-ride in under 20 seconds.

Breaking it down is similarly easy, just watch your fingers on the catches! With adaptors for every conceivable fork standard, matching it to yours shouldn’t be a problem.

Front wheel comes off, fork bolts into stand, check the rollers are in the right spot beneath the back wheel - and get riding.

Having wobbled about on standard, full-length rollers where both wheels balance, I was worried I’d struggle to keep the bike’s back end steady on the Raceday Portable Trainer’s narrow drums.

Happily this angst turned out to be unfounded. With the fork bolted into the broad and extremely robust fork stand, despite the fact that the headtube provides a pivot point, there’s no way for the back wheel to wander from side to side.

Even if you try to make it jump around, it simply isn’t going to happen. Everything is totally locked down, in fact there’s no balance element involved.

The entire set up is so sturdy as to feel more stable than a conventional turbo trainer when used with a basic, slot-in front wheel block, even when thrashing around at maximum effort.

Compared to conventional fixed wheel trainers which smush into the wheel, rollers-type designs put far less stress on your tyres, meaning that use of the Raceday Portable won't accelerate their disintegration.

They’re also quiet, and when designed well, able to impart a pleasingly natural rolling sensation.

Using fluid within the rollers to generate resistance the action of the Raceday Portable's is very smooth. Rather than being independently variable, instead the resistance ramps up exponentially as the speed of the wheel rises.

You can then use your gears to adjust cadence at any given resistance level. Offering up to a maximum of 650 watts resistance, to get anywhere near that you’ll need to be spinning your legs pretty quick.

Simulating slow, grinding climbs, or maximum sprint efforts will also be beyond the Raceday Portable, although you’ll be surprised at the range of different workouts you can still achieve.

Mitigating this lack of adjustability is the roller’s naturalistic feel, which is a world away from the chopping and stalling rendition of some cheaper turbos.

Noise is also low. Not quite as hushed as some direct mount options, it's still unlikely to bother the neighbours. Used on a soft floor, during general tempo spinning it settled about the 75 decibel level, while at the absolute max we could push it to around 95.

There were a couple of occasions where the vibration from the rollers seemed to cause the frame to resonate, leaving it sounding like the whole shebang was about to take off, but this soon passed.

Obviously there’s no smart integration, which seems to be the in-thing right now. You’ll have to devise some clever workaround if you want to gamify your training via virtual riding apps like Zwift.

Personally I’m not that bothered, and I’ve yet to see a non-staged photo of a pro rider using anything other than a cheap and crusty looking turbo or rollers at home.

Super portable

About £100 more expensive than an equivalent fluid trainer, despite being sold on its portability, there’s no reason why the Blackburn couldn't serve day-to-day.

Still, coming in its own diminutive holdall, the Blackburn Raceday Portable Trainer's ability to pack down small is its strongest suit.

If you don’t own a car it’s just light enough to carry in a backpack and take with you to the races. And if you do own a car, it’ll take up less of it.

The same goes once back home. The Blackburn Raceday occupies a third of the room of a regular turbo or rollers, while also being easier to drag around and doing away with the trailing cables that can cause annoyance when storing.

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For closed-course road races, time trials, cyclocross, or any other event that requires power straight from the gun, getting a proper warm up will pay dividends.

Spinning up to speed trackside with DMX blaring in your headphones you’ll already be starting ahead of the schlubs rolling laps around the carpark, regardless of where you actually get gridded.

As just about the most easily portable option for achieving this, the Blackburn Raceday is a great addition to the privateer’s kit bag.

Away from the races it’ll also serve for training duties, providing great, natural feeling resistance. Although not everyone will agree, in my opinion the lack of adjustment is compensated for by the fact that it’ll also allow you to reclaim a good chunk of cupboard space too.

Buy the Blackburn Raceday Portable Trainer now from Cycle Store


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