Minoura LiveTraining – Full Review

Where to start?  We’ve been goofing around with the Minoura LiveTraining app and related hardware for the last few days and after a couple of false starts (due in part to a corrupted file that has nothing directly to do with Minoura’s product) we finally have things working smoothly.  Overall we’re very pleased with the hardware, the new LiveRide trainers themselves are superb, and the app is pretty good too, though the almost complete lack of instructions and not quite intuitive set up left a bit to be desired.  Once you know what to do though it’s a great training tool. So, here are our thoughts:

We’re selling everything you need to get going with the LiveTraining set up except for the iPhone or iPad itself (and at the moment the LiveTraining app is only available for Apple product – it’s supposed to be available for Android soon too). Well, we don’t sell the app either; you have to go to iTunes for that. We should also warn you that the app (called “LiveTraining” if you’re searching for it, not to be confused with the similar LiveCycling app which is more of a GPS coordinate recording while you’re riding device) costs $9.99!  Kind of expensive in our opinion, and it’s not disclosed anywhere else in the LiveTraining paraphernalia that there’s any cost involved with the app whatsoever, but oh well.

To be specific we’re selling the Minoura LiveRide LR760 mag trainer ($500), the Minoura ANT+ speed and cadence sensor package ($105), the Wahoo Fitness Key ANT+ receiver for iPhone 2, 3, 4, or 4S ($78), and an iPhone handlebar mount ($40).

You don’t actually need to buy the speed and sensor package or the receiver from us – almost any ANT+ hardware will do, and you may already have sensors that work with this system if you have a wireless bike computer.  WIth that said we know that what we have in stock works well together so if you don’t already have something you can use save yourself a potential hassle and pick up what we have in stock.  Also note that the receiver we stock will not work with the new iPhone 5 because of the smaller port size on that phone, but you can of course buy yourself a compatible ANT+ receiver elsewhere.

The receiver and sensors we sell set up very easily and with no glitches whatsoever. Wahoo Fitness has a free app that can be used to test the sensors and tweak set up to make sure they’re working before you try to use the LiveTraining app.

The LiveTraining app itself: There are 3 modes in the app, one to essentially function as a conventional bike computer, another to set up interval training, and the last one to simulate riding virtual courses.  The first two modes, though they both work well, can be found within plenty of other products on the market so it’s the Course Training mode that really sets this product apart. With it you can ride some prepackaged courses (except that those courses aren’t yet prepackaged so you’ll be left confused as to where they are until someone from Minoura tells you they really aren’t there yet), you can import courses from the LiveTraining sister app LiveCycling, or you can import any KML or GPX file that you’ve created with other applications whether while riding your bike or by plotting and then exporting a course from tools like Google Earth.

We have found that the easiest way to get new courses onto the app is to import a KML or GPX file via iTunes. To do this you have to plug your iPhone into your Mac or PC, select the LiveTraining app on your phone via iTunes and save the file of your choice to that specific app within your phone.  You then have to sync and disconnect your iPhone, go into the app directly from your phone, and load and save the course file to the app itself.  It’s a bit more convoluted than it needs to be, but once it’s done the course will be displaced in an obvious way, you can select it, and then start riding. If you need help with any of these steps email us at editor at olympiacycle.com and we’ll happily walk you through the steps.

Virtually riding the uploaded KML or GPX file combines some high tech and low tech gadgetry together into a relatively seamless experience.  The app screen displays where you are on the course and charts your progress based on the speed you’re pedalling.  It also lists your cadence and calculates your watts output based on these matrices plus some settings info you will have already plunked into the app when you set it up (we haven’t tested how accurate the watts calculations are, and although we think this feedback may be helpful it’s obviously not as accurate as employing an actual watts meter would be).

The low tech bit involves the resistance changes during your ride. The app tells you what resistance setting you should set the magnetic trainer to while you’re riding based on elevation changes on the course. When the setting on the app goes up or down you simply adjust the knob on the trainer accordingly. Theoretically then you could even use this app with another trainer (i.e. not a Minoura LiveRide trainer) but the Minoura trainers are specifically calibrated to work accurately with the app so using the two in unison provides a much better experience.

The course display is good and your progress is charted accurately and smoothly in ‘real’ time, and the speed, cadence, and watts displays are easy to read as well.  We should also note that the display includes heart rate if you’re interested in also wearing an ANT+ compatible heart rate monitor.  Many folks who use watts don’t also look at heart rate, though there can be value in looking at both.

There are a few features we haven’t covered in detail here, but we hope what we have covered gives you reasonable insight into the value of this set up.  All in all we think it’s a great training tool for indoor riding that breaks up the monotony of your average indoor workout and could allow you to prepare for specific outdoor events over the winter from inside your own home. If you need a new mag trainer anyway and you have an iPhone the additional cost of setting yourself up to do “LiveTraining” is relatively minimal, and in our opinion, well worth it.