Report Indicates Computrainer Going Out of Business.
By Tom Demerly for tomdemerly.com
According to an e-mail sent to sponsored athletes last night and reports on social media, Computrainer, the innovator of the computerized indoor ride simulator, is closing.
Reports indicate an e-mail was sent to sponsored athletes late last night. Phone calls to the company, Racermate, and its sister company, Floscan, were not returned as of this hour. In a phone call with a representative from sister company Floscan, who asked not to be named, early Tuesday, February 28, this reporter was told “I don’t know what is going on over there [at Computrainer].”
A copy of the e-mail received by tomdemerly.com via social media reads:
“It is with a heavy heart that those of us here at RacerMate must tell you that we are closing the doors on CompuTrainer. Technology and competition from larger companies have both eaten into the marketplace. As a small company with the premier indoor trainer in terms of performance and durability, we have found ourselves in a place where we cannot continue. It has been a marvelous 40+ years and we have enjoyed sharing in the victories and friendships we have made along the way.” [signed]
Chuck Wurster, Vice President
Voice mails left at Computrainer’s extension contained the message, “Please don’t be surprised if it takes several days to return your message.”
Computrainer is related to Floscan, a company that provides aviation and maritime fuel flow monitoring equipment.
The Computrainer indoor ride simulator revolutionized bicycle training by projecting performance telemetry on a screen in front of riders while a load generator varied resistance creating a realistic ride simulation indoors. The system also enabled riders to “compete” with each other in a virtual environment and to ride against themselves from previous performances saved on a computer that controlled the Computrainer.
If reports are accurate, contributing factors may include an unusual, non-retail sales model, low profit margins, service intensive products and the introduction of other computer controlled ride-simulation “smart” trainers into the competitive space from companies like Tacx and Wahoo Fitness who have a dealer network and existing distribution at the consumer level from brick and mortar retailers.
While this report remains unconfirmed from Computrainer as of this hour, the inability to receive or return sales and service inquiries throughout the first half of Tuesday, and reports of the e-mail announcement sent to sponsored athletes have surfaced on social media.
Completely unsurprising. We’ve wondered for years how they stayed in business, given their management choices.
That said, they still make/made a robust product that was accurate and consistent; they just never made it easy enough for laypeople to implement for their training routines.
We’ve predicted this demise for at least 15 years, and one can only hope that someone will purchase the rights to the system, spend an adequate amount of money to modernize and simplify it, and then release it for a wider audience. Oh – and they have to think about the 3000 buyers/yr on average that they sold to, who were stuck with the mess, and turned their investments in to garage and closet fillers.
What mess is that? I’ve never had a single problem using my 20+ year old CT with any cycling product I’ve used – course videos, trainer road, zwift have all been stupid easy to setup – can’t say the same for many of the newer, shinier products out there.
No; the software was NEVER that intuitive, the directions were NOT stupid-simple, and their decades-long emphasis on SLOPE and COURSE/SPEED was completely misdirected. Their RealRides DVD’S? Hugely expensive fiasco.
It wasn’t until Paul Smeulders and Drew Hartman (and Golden Cheetah groupdevs) started creating software that helped cyclists optimize their w/kg/ ratios over different and varying periods of time, that people actually began to UNDERSTAND the what’s and why’s of training indoors with a CT. That’s why I wrote my book; in 2002, I surveyed the early users of the wattage forum, about their use of computrainers, and got a 90% negative response. Too many people didn’t understand setup, calibration, the need to move the head units away from the sweat line, etc. AND, they didn’t know about how to save a workout, toss factor, all that stuff.
Multirider software was a clunky, tiny step forward, and MR2009 was WAYYYY too slow and clunky. RM1 was delayed over two years, was finished by Smeulders, and they never came out with a valid group-ride/race feature that they’d touted for years.
The DIN cable? Obsolete before 1985. Attempts to get it to work with Cat5 cable were semi-successful, but Woerster deferred. Their LAME attempt at wifi-ing the handlebar controller was doomed to failure.
Anything Roger Moore touched was hoarded by him and that stifled development.
I say this as a dealer, and as someone who LOVED the product, despite all of this. Hell, I was the one who got Slocum to add a hinge for the press-on force adjuster. Can you imagine someone NOT remembering that???
We use our CT’s 4 hours a day, 6 days a week. They’re robust, but the distaste from dealing with him, the anti-development intensity that Wilifried insisted upon, and the fact that the original programmer of the box and the code TOOK HIS TOYS AND LEFT THE COMPANY in the 1990’s, left them as magicians deflecting attention to the dancing monkey.
I hope someone who cares gets to buy up the assets, and puts a decent $500k in to simple development issues that are backwards-compatible to the current list of owners. The goodwill that would create would go a long way, and YES, there are advantages to a cabled system, as well as wireless technology. “Why not both?”
Amazing how much they spent on athletes versus a company like Wahoo. Not even Lionel Sanders could save them. Lesson here is innovate or die, they chose the later. Rip Computrainer.
You’d get the “several days until you get a return phone call” response even before all this. They were terrible
I have a slightly different experience. I bought my CT in 2007 or 2008. I had a defective hard drive in my Dell laptop and that caused most of my problems. Once resolved, 6 months later, I have not had any issues and ride it 3 times per week on ZWIFT. I have looked at newer smart trainers but nothing beats the CT for sturdy build. I had a disturbing encounter with a customer service rep at Racermate when I first bought it. He forgot to mute the call and I heard him say “It’s that fucking idiot again”, even though I was a fucking idiot at the time it was the Dell’s fault. They certainly did not hire them for their tact. They were doomed due to lack of innovation, sad story really if true.
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Is some group/business going to make an offer to pick up Computrainer and move it forward? Reports of “others” using reverse engineering on the Computrainer exist. We might be hearing more in the future especially if those few employees inside the company move elsewhere and take their knowledge with them.