Bkool’s top turbo gives a good ride feel, isn’t noisy and links up with ride simulators
The Bkool Smart Pro 2 is the Spanish brand’s most sophisticated turbo. It’s a wheel-on unit that can produce resistance of up to 1,200 watts and simulate gradients of up to 20 per cent. The Smart Pro 2 comes with its own quick-release skewer, which lets you quickly position your back wheel in the hinged wheel holders. You can adjust your back wheel position to centre it on the resistance roller via the two threaded holders.
If your bike has a rear thru-axle, you’ll need to buy a Bkool thru-axle converter to be able to use it on the Smart Pro 2 – it’s a £50 extra and you need to choose the right one of the three available to fit your bike. You do get a front wheel riser with the Smart Pro 2 though, so your frame is level.
To keep you stable, there are telescopic side pieces that pull out of the unit’s base and increase its width to over 80cm, so no matter how much you move around when riding, the unit remains rock solid. At over 11kg, the Smart Pro 2 is luggable rather than portable, although it is lighter than many smart turbos and pretty compact for a turbo when folded. It’s self-calibrating too.
The resistance unit comes enclosed in a futuristic-looking yellow half-basketball. In use, the Smart Pro 2 is pretty quiet, with a magnetic resistance unit that whines rather than howls, so you won’t annoy the neighbours too much. There’s a reasonable level of inertia when in use too, so the unit will keep your rear wheel moving if you stop pedalling, although since there’s no motor you can’t coast on simulated downhills. There’s some resistance when not plugged in, so the Smart Pro 2 could potentially be used for pre-race warm-ups.
Coupling the Bkool Smart Pro 2 via Bluetooth to external devices is quick and uncomplicated. It also supports ANT+. To get the most out of the Smart Pro 2, you’ll probably want to couple it up to Bkool’s ride simulator or other products; it supports Zwift via the ANT+ protocol.
Three months’ subscription to the Bkool premium simulator comes packaged with the Bkool Smart Pro 2; after that it costs £7.99 a month (undercutting Zwift which is £12.99 a month), or you can revert to the free basic simulator, which provides more limited functionality.
The premium simulator subscription gives you access to a large number of pre-recorded routes and workouts as well as the option to create your own route anywhere in the world. It also lets you compete against other users in real time and gives a reasonably accurate image of the terrain you’re riding through. You can also pick one or more avatars or others who have completed the workout to compete against. As you’d expect, you can share rides or keep them and any route you create private.
You can also do FTP tests, follow structured workouts and classes or ride in a simulated velodrome. You can even control the simulated weather conditions, adding fake snow if you want to cool down and a headwind if you want to make things tougher. The simulator can be connected through to Strava, Garmin Connect and Training Peaks for automatic syncing and works with smart turbos from other makes, including Elite and Wahoo.
The Simulator gives you outputs including speed, power, cadence and gradient, along with a profile, so you can see how you’re doing and what’s coming up as you ride. As you’d expect, there’s a Bkool phone app too, which you can use to control the Smart Pro 2 resistance unit or view ride data and weather, or just play music as you ride.
The Bkool Smart Pro 2 is a sophisticated and versatile unit, which gives you a lot of training options. But you can now get direct-drive units for a similar price that give you a better riding experience and cut out wear on your tyres from the resistance drum. And if you have the space, Bkool itself has recently launched an exercise bike that includes the same features as the Smart Pro 2 and also has a direct drive turbo in the works.
If you’re not after a direct-drive unit, the Smart Pro 2 coupled with the Bkool simulator provides a lot of indoor training options. It’s reasonably light and packable for a smart turbo, but gives a stable ride. There’s plenty of resistance for hard rides and the option to challenge yourself against other real and simulated riders. It’s relatively quiet too.