Racermate Shuts down Computrainer Business | 2017
I was looking to do an article comparing the Computrainer to the Wahoo KICKR and I just found out that Racermate ceased production of their Computrainer back in February of 2017. I guess I was a little out of the loop.
Racermate sent an email to some of their clients saying
“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.”
Chuck Wurster, Vice President
While the news was a bit shocking, it really didn’t surprise me. I have thought for at least 20 years that Racermate was making a mistake by not innovating more with their trainer.
Computrainer In The 90’s
I first bought a Computrainer back in the 90’s when I was doing triathlons and at that time the Computrainer was the best bike trainer around. Racermate’s competition was pretty much zero. As years went by companies started popping up including Cycleops, Kinetic and others coming out with wind, magnetic resistance and fluid trainers. Eventually players like Tacx and Wahoo came along with much more innovative trainers.
Today Wahoo seems to be King with other companies playing catch up.
Racermate Misses The Mark
Where Racermate missed the mark IMO is the fact that the Computrainer stand never really evolved passed the 90’s. Anyone who knows anything about marketing knows you need to update your products appearance to attract new customers, even if it’s just cosmetic. A great example is the car industry where new models and makes happen on a yearly basis. I was never really a fan of the Computrainer stand and knew there was plenty of room for improvement, yet Racermate for whatever reason wouldn’t budge and basically kept the stand as is.
The Computrainer more or less was a one-trick pony. While Racermate does make the Velotron, it again looks like something out of the 90’s. What was needed was a non-electric trainer, something that was up to date and fresh looking, yet nothing was ever produced.
While trainer companies were innovating with wireless solutions, Racermate’s Computrainer for the most part was still stuck using wires and cables to relay information.
From my understanding another issue that plagued Racermate was their desire to control the Computrainer’s software. Rather than opening the software to the public, the software/hardware for the most part was proprietary which hampered any innovation by outside vendors. Companies like Wahoo immediately saw how they could leapfrog over the Computrainer without any response from Racermate and that is exactly what they did.
Realistically many of Racermate’s decisions pertaining to the Computrainer would make for a great case study on how a product eventually loses out to the competition.