Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart Control review£750.00

Updated: A smart trainer you can really throw around

BikeRadar score3.5/5

This big green machine is a unique smart trainer. It clamps solidly to your rear axle and tire, but allows your entire bike to pivot side to side and even move a bit vertically as resistance is controlled by third-party apps such as Zwift or The Sufferfest.

Rock and Roll Smart Control overview

  • Electric-motor resistance controlled by Kinetic’s app along with Zwift, TrainerRoad and other apps
  • Side-to-side bike movement
  • Huge footprint
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Okay but not great power measurement
  • Noise about average for a smart trainer (72dB at 200w/80rpm; 85dB max)

Rock and Roll Smart Control set up and ride impressions

Initial construction of the trainer is fairly straightforward: you put the steel legs on and bolt the resistance unit to the chassis.

Like with many smart trainers, calibrating the unit involves downloading the company’s app, connecting via Bluetooth, and doing a spindown calibration.

To ride, you can just use the Kinetic app, or wirelessly connect the Rock and Roll Smart Control via ANT+ or Bluetooth to a computer or tablet to use apps such as Zwift or TrainerRoad.

Like any smart trainer, the Rock and Roll responds to changes in resistance from apps, be that for power-based intervals or for climbs and descents in virtual worlds.

What is unique about this beast is how your whole bike can sway side to side while maintaining a solid connection to the resistance drum. It sits up higher than most trainers, so you definitely want to use a riser block, and ideally, Kinetic’s rotating ‘Turntable Riser Ring’ (£45 / $39).

The trainer pivots side to side on elastomers
The trainer pivots side to side on elastomers

The side-to-side motion is not controlled by an app, but some testers found they would lean into turns when riding in Zwift.

My colleague Guy Kesteven really likes the movable feel. In some ways, it allows a more natural motion in that you can move the bike, leveraging the machine with your arms when in and out of the saddle. But the spring-loaded nature of the suspension means it doesn’t feel exactly like riding outside.

Personally, I appreciated the more subtle play in the system, both vertical and horizontal, than the wild wobbling you can achieve if you want.

By contrast, fixed smart trainers such as the Wahoo Kickr and the CycleOps Hammer offer a great road-like feel at the tire, but the rear axle of the bike is absolutely fixed. There is zero movement in the bike as a result. The Tacx Neo, while it looks similar, has a small amount of give at the axle while maintaining a rock-solid footing overall.

Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart Control power comparisons

I found the power measurement to be decent in capturing overall average power, but not great at catching the nuances.

The Rock and Roll Smart Control measures within three percent of the pair of power meters I tested with, but it would consistently read high on low power and low on high power. (And yes, this was done after calibrating both trainer and meters.)

When tested against Garmin Vector 3 and Pioneer power meters, the Rock & Roll (in bold) reads high at low power, and low at high power
When tested against Garmin Vector 3 and Pioneer power meters, the Rock & Roll (in bold) reads high at low power, and low at high power

Click through the gallery above for closer looks at power comparisons.

Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart Control overall

With its elastomer-suspended pivots, the Rock and Roll Smart Control offers a unique virtual-riding experience.

You need a dedicated space for this piece of equipment — there is no folding up and tucking under a bed with this — and you will want to invest in the Turntable Ring for the best experience.

The side-to-side movement is up to you, but the Rock and Roll does a good job replicating hills and descents for virtual riding.

Power measurement isn’t as dependable, especially for short efforts, as something like a Kickr or a CycleOps Hammer. So power meter users will want to use their meters for power recording.

But if you want a smart trainer that you can really throw around, the big green machine is for you.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Age: 40
  • Height: 183cm / 6'
  • Weight: 82kg / 180lb
  • Waist: 84cm / 33in
  • Chest: 99cm / 39in
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team Issue, Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Priority Eight city bike... and a constant rotation of test bikes
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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