(Pocket-lint) - The Pinnacle HC turbo trainer is Evans' first foray into the indoor cycling market, coming in with a product that aims to provide premium features for a budget price.
Initially marketed in the UK for £700, Evans immediately discounted the trainer to £499 and it has remained at that price point ever since.
It looks distinctly similar to Wahoo's Kickr Core and matches up very closely on specification, but can it genuinely compete with a market leader?
Evans has put together a strong package in the Pinnacle HC at an attractive price point. It falls short of more premium turbo trainers, such as Wahoo's Kickr Core, but that's not surprising at this price.
If £500 is your maximum budget then the Pinnacle HC offers an impressive amount of bang for your buck. With a few firmware upgrades and an improved app, things could be even better. But if you want to sort out indoor training on a more modest budget then it's well worth a shot.
Evans Pinnacle HC
- Very quiet when in use
- Maximum power of 2500 watts
- Good road feel
- Solid Bluetooth connectivity with third-party apps
- Power readings are not completely consistent
- Cadence readings are inaccurate
- The app lacks functionality
- Not compatible with Campagnola or SRAM XDR
Design and setup
- Total weight: 16.5kg
- Dimensions: 598 x 565 x 275mm
- Rear axle: 130/135mm quick release/142/148mm thru axle
- Supported hubs: Shimano HG (8-11 speed)
- Bluetooth Smart / ANT+ / ANT+ FE-C
Out of the box the Pinnacle HC is quick and easy to get setup. One small gripe is that the paper copy manual supplied has ridiculously small print, leaving us squinting to try and read it - so we'd suggest downloading the Pinnacle app and reading the e-manual there instead.
It's a direct drive turbo, meaning that you remove your bike's rear wheel and attach your bike to the trainer in its place. You have all the adaptors needed, whether you have a quick release or thru axle. The front leg of the trainer is adjustable which allows you to fit anything from a 24- to 29-inch wheel without the need for a front wheel riser.
Pretty much any mountain, road or gravel bike can be attached and you can swap different bikes onto it as you choose. You'll need to budget for a new cassette as you don't get one provided and the hub is only compatible with a Shimano/SRAM set up, not Campagnola or SRAM XDR. We'd suggest matching your cassette to your existing bike setup so the two translate best as possible.
At first glance the Pinnacle HC looks smart enough in the industry standard matte black, though on closer inspection the plastic body looks and feels sub-premium quality compared to some trainers on the market. It lacks a carrying handle, too, meaning that transporting it is a little cumbersome if you don't have the space for a dedicated pain cave where you can leave it in situ, and there is no option to fold the legs to reduce its footprint when stored, but that's not unusual at this price point.
Once all setup, you're good to go. There's no need to calibrate the Pinnacle HC by doing a spin down (where you pedal until you reach a certain speed and then freewheel, so the trainer can calibrate its power settings). The Pinnacle app doesn't even offer the option to perform a calibration, though Evans did confirm that this was something it was considering adding soon.
The app, as well as providing a readable manual, gives you access to a useful FAQ/troubleshooting section, some support videos, and the ability to pair directly to the trainer. At this point all you can do is pass firmware updates through the app to the trainer, there is no other functionality, such as the ability to record an indoor ride.
With our bike installed and everything updated, we tested the Pinnacle HC using a few of the more popular third-party apps: Zwift, Sufferfest, Road Grand Tours, TrainerRoad. Connection to all these was as simple as could be, with the Pinnacle HC being discovered by the apps immediately. We had no issues with drop outs, the Bluetooth connection was stable through all of our testing.
A great feeling ride
- Maximum power output: 2,500 watts
- Maximum simulated grade: 20%
- Resistance type: Electromagnetic
- Power accuracy: +/- 2%
- Flywheel weight: 5.7kg
We noticed straight away when we were riding that the Pinnacle HC is impressively quiet. If you're upgrading from a wheel-on trainer then it's a game-changer in terms of just how quiet it is - certainly comparable to other premium turbos in this respect. The chatter of your drivetrain is likely to be louder than the hum of the turbo, though the noise level did tick up a little when put under greater strain, but in fairness it never became intrusive.
If you're tucked away in a separate room, chances are no-one else at home is going to notice you using it and you'd be able to get away with riding it in the same room as someone else who was watching TV; your gasping for air as you sprint for the line would be a far greater distraction than the Pinnacle HC (not to mention potential sweaty odours).
Overall the ride feel is very good, though you suffer the age old problem of trainers of this style being held rigidly in place with no lateral movement possible at all. It did seem that when starting an activity the Pinnacle HC would demand a high amount of watts to get going for a couple of turns of the pedals, before it reduced to the power input, but this was a little inconsistent.
Once rolling the weighty flywheel means smooth power changes, as if you were rolling around the velodrome or on a newly surfaced road. It makes for an enjoyable ride that matches up well against other premium trainers on the market.
It's that same flywheel, combined with electromagnetic resistance, that gives the Pinnacle HC a whopping 2500 watts of maximum power. We put in a few all-out sprint efforts and still never quite made it to 1000 watts, so there is plenty of capacity there, even for the bigger sprinters and track cyclists out there who can hit closer to 2000 watts.
With a few negatives
There were, however, a few issues during our testing that kept surfacing when using the Pinnacle HC with some apps. When completing workouts in TrainerRoad, Sufferfest and Zwift, the app would call for a certain amount of power, for example 200 watts. The Pinnacle HC would hold our power output at around two-to-three per cent lower than that, meaning that we weren't working at the level required for our training. When we compared the Pinnacle HC's power measurements against our Garmin Vector 3 power meter pedals we found that the Pinnacle HC measured approximately five per cent lower power than these.
There is always likely to be a discrepancy between power meters, so this is not uncommon. What's more unusual is the difference in power readings seemed to change over time, with the readings narrowing to one-to-two per cent difference after about 20 minutes of riding. Although these issues do raise some small questions around the power accuracy readings, ultimately the Pinnacle HC performed its job as a smart trainer pretty well and further tweaks to the firmware may be able to iron out these minor problems.
One further issue that we had was with the cadence meter, which gave inconsistent readings. This is not uncommon for trainers in this price bracket and unless you are doing specific cadence drills it is unlikely to be too much of a problem, though it is worth noting that at times it was way off, reporting a cadence of 45rpm when we were spinning at around 85-90rpm. Again, this may be resolved by firmware updates, or if cadence measurements are that important to you it may be that you will need to invest in a separate cadence meter or use a more reliable source such as your power meter.
A quiet direct drive turbo trainer that matches the best in terms of claimed power accuracy and maximum resistance. It's easy to set up and we had no connection issues when using a variety of third-party apps such as Zwift. However, it's not quite the perfect package given consistency of readings.
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