It's fair to say that as cycling's popularity has increased so too has the amount of products associated with it. A quick perusal of most crowdfunding websites will show you a range of products that you had been quite happy with up until now. As cycling has grown a huge amount of companies have sprung up to bring you the latest cycling gadget to improve power output and personal bests.
The latest one to land in the office is the Turbine. Even a casual viewer of the pro peloton can't have failed to notice Chris Froome sporting a yellow nasal trinket. The Turbine is a 'Nasal Dilator' from Rhinomed – a company specialising in medical technology that relates to your nose.
What is it?
The Turbine is a "nasal stent" that claims to increase airflow by "38%" with an asterisk next to it that says;
"Cogentum research on 1,000 athletes who participated in more than eight hours of fitness activity and took their fitness and performance relatively seriously."
I guess 38% percent more than your normal nostrils.
Clearly more air going in means more oxygen in the blood and an improvement in performance which is a good thing if your into performance sports and as somebody who takes my performance serious enough to monitor it I thought I may as well give it a go.
My starter pack came with three sizes; small, medium, and large. After some testing and fiddling with the ratchet sizing system it was the medium that came up best for fit. Inserting it was pretty simple (think reverse Total Recall) and once it was in it definitely felt different.
I got changed and headed out for a 5k run at a hard effort. I can only really give an honest review of the Turbine within the limits of how it feels. To determine whether the Turbine actually delivers any improvement in performance really relies on lab conditions that I don't have access to, and I suspect that not many other Turbine users will have access to either. My HR and power could easily be affected by how much coffee I had that morning (lots), humidity (high), and a whole host of others.
The start of the run felt promising. If you place your fingers loosely on the side of your nose and breathe in you may feel your nostrils 'collapse' slightly inwards, even with your mouth open (the main criticism I've seen of Turbine is people shouting, "just open your mouth". Try running with your nose pinched close and your mouth open and see how you get on). This doesn't happen with the Turbine and I felt like I had eaten a pack of Lockets in one go. More air was clearly going in.
As the run progressed my nasal passage at the back of my nose began to feel unpleasant, cool air streaming in was beginning to make it feel very sore and dry. So much so that I had to stop and remove it. Not many performance enhancers have made me stop running. I've tried since with a few other runs but have always had to remove the Turbine halfway through.
So it didn't work for me. Who will it work for?
Well the obvious answer is people who train at the 'marginal gain' end of the spectrum with enough equipment to determine if it's worth it and Professionals who will take the power increase no matter how small.
The next are people who aren't the above but want to be or think they are (we've all got our obsessions). I'm not sure a KOM on Strava will ever really be attributed to a Turbine though.
Outside of these two groups it's just people who love to get out and be active, and I'm not sure they're bothered. They'd probably be happier without a piece of plastic up their nose.
Really, it's a bit like the kinesiology tape effect. Nobody is sure if it works or how it works but there is a group of people who wear it - even if it doesn't work – to look pro.
If you find they work for you it's around £12 for a pack of three which can be used up to ten times each which isn't out of budget for anybody who loves their sport enough.