When I first started getting excited about the concept of ‘Bike Fitting by Physical Therapist’ back in 2008, the clinic I worked at had a small Blackburn bike trainer available to me to use. It was pretty small, fairly tippy, and designed for lightweight road cyclists to exercise on, and had a noisy magnetic resistance unit on it. And at the time, it seemed to do the job, and I was on my way to learning how to adjust the bike to remedy rider’s aches and pains.
But, I soon realized there were many, many more cyclists who didn't ride lightweigh road bikes, however were still experiencing pain while cycling, and desperate for answers. Mountain bikes. Cargo Bikes. Recumbents. Tandems.
There was absolutel no way those bikes could fit on my little Blackburn unit, let alone be able to handle the weight of these bikes! So, I did what many Fitters do when a bike doesn’t fit in the trainer: The ‘ol ‘doorway Bike Fit’ wherein the rider would be clipped in, positioned in a door-jam so they could balance themselves, and who whould then pedal backwards to ‘assess’ their Fit. Some of these ‘doorway Bike Fits’ were successful, but more often than not, it didn't help them out much. Sigh.
The more I researched bike trainers in the market, the more I realized their limitations, as these units were usually very poorly made (to save costs), had a very narrow base of support (riders tipping over on a trainer was pretty common), could only tolerate maybe up to 200Lbs, and were generally made for skinny roadies to ‘exercise’ on.
Blackburn. Cyclops. Kurt Kinnetic. I tried them all, and for those of us Fitting a lot of bikes, they broke down quickly, wore out, bent, and the cheap metal they used would ‘fatigue and flex’ ultimately leading me to buy another. And another. And another.
Then, one day I heard about the famed Computrainer! Finally, a trainer that was more robust, a bigger footprint, and could tolerate a bit more weight and size of bike! The year was 2012, and I was getting ready to open Pedal PT in August, so I searched long and hard to locate one of these trainers, and found one literally 1month before we were to open- Thanks Cragslist!
The Computrainer (which went out of business around 2011) was a huge step in the right direction and a significant improvement! Although they focused on being a a pioneer in early technology in assessing riders pedaling and power, I was much more intrigued by the trainer stand itself: It was much bigger and better built, had a wider footprint, and could handle some heavier riders and bikes… Now we’re getting somewhere!
But, as we saw more and more riders, we soon began to see the limitations and frustrations of the Computrainer: The bike industry was changing, and wheel sizes were getting bigger, up to 29", and just plain wouldn't fit. Burlier MTB and full-suspension bike riders needing aBike Fit would have to get the “Doorway Fit” option again. Tandems, recumbents, and Cargo Bikes were a significant challenge. E-bikes were just coming on the scene, and they were heavy, so those were out too. The gravel bike scene was also really taking off, thru axels and bigger, wider tubeless tires, and backpacking setups made it really awkward, and I’d commonly have to deflate tires in order to barely squeeze them into the trainer.
I began to find myself having anxiety and stressing out any time that someone with a bigger thru axle, mountain bike, or bulky, heavy e-bike/cargo bike would call us asking about Bike Fit. I knew they weren’t going to fit in the Trainer!
What if there existed a bike trainer actually designed and built for ALL bikes?
One that could not be tipped over, could hold over 500Lbs, and made of professional grade steel?
But perhaps most important to me: I needed a Bike Trainer stand that could allow us to help ALL riders that experienced pain on the bike.
I think many of us that have been working with cyclists / Bike Fit have dreamed these very same dreams — I know many, many long-time Fitters have had the same issues, frustrations and limitations I’ve described here.
“Frustration leads to. . . innovation”
Two years ago, I met Clay Dennis by chance, a skilled engineer, fabricator and custom bike builder (among many other special custom projects), and together we began to work out the possibility of designing and creating this special, one-of-a-kind, holy-grail of Bike Trainers actually built for Bike Fitting— one that could help the myriad of unique bikes and riders of Portland, Oregon.
And, out of this simple conversation we began working on what would eventually become “The Portland” bike trainer stand, and the answer to Bike Fitting on ANY bike.
With now over 2 years of testing, I think we’ve nailed it..
Key features of ‘The Portland’ Trainer Stand :
- Large footprint, making it virtually impossible to tip over during active cycling, and out-of- the-saddle efforts during Bike Fit
- Each of the 4 legs is 100% independently height-adjustable, ensuring a level trainer regardless of the surface defects
- High grade, professional quality steel, hand welded with weight tolerance estimated at above 500Lbs+
- Sizing to allow for ANY wheel/tire size from 29er MTB, E-bikes, and as small as folding bikes/ Bromptons — All axle types: Thru axle to QR
- Powder coated and rear bracing for added durability, style, and to resist fatigue and flex of the rear stays
- ‘The Portland’ has replaceable hand-lathed brass fittings, which provides a softer surface / lubrication to avoid damage to trainer axles
- Rear mounting for installation of any commercially available magnetic or fluid resistance unit, i.e Kinnetic.
- Removable front legs to allow for transportability, and the ability to ship in smaller box