Bike Trainer Issues and Questions

>> Thursday, October 29, 2009

A few people commented with general bike trainer questions on my previous post that showed Pharmie and Matt sweating it out in out basement. I’m NO expert on trainers, so I thought I’d ask for all your input.

I don’t know if “rollers” are the way to start off - I think it’d be better to start on a “normal” trainer, and then decide in a year or 2 if you want to try rollers. Starting with rollers would scare me. Too intimidating. But then again, I’m intimidated by any vegetable longer than 3 inches... (if you catch my drift)

As with most things, “you get what you pay for.” More expensive trainers are usually more “even” and quieter. Some trainers have a cable that you can mount on your handle bars that allows you to adjust the resistance of the trainer on your back tire while in the saddle. I would LOVE that - my trainer seems to change resistance now-and-then, and I hate having to hop off my bike all the time.

Also, for me, I LOVE the 30 minute “Spinnerval” DVD workouts. Sometimes I’ll do 2 back-to-back. But Pharmie doesn’t care for those, as she’d just rather watch TV.

Any thoughts from the rest of you for those looking to get a trainer? Happy winter riding!!


Pharmie 1:04 PM, October 29, 2009  

More expensive trainers usually don't have resistance you have to adjust. To get more resistance, you just shift your bike. I have the Cyclops Fluid 2.

Bill 1:10 PM, October 29, 2009  

Cyclocross bike. Get outside. Resistance provided by mud, snow, deep puddles.

But listen to your Pharmie. You truly get what you pay for.

Rollers are good, but definitely take a lot of concentration and work to get stable/comfortable/safe riding.

I find the trainers are best for working on strength, while the rollers are best for working on form. But I really, really dislike both and would rather be outside, regardless of the weather.

Steph 1:11 PM, October 29, 2009  

I agree about the you get what you pay for. I bought a Cyclops wind trainer from an old boss for $20. Good deal, but man that thing is loud. It freaks the dogs out and I feel like I'm going to blow the speakers if I want to watch (and hear) TV! It's definitely a 'basement only' piece of equipment. I'd love to have a quiet one some day.

RockStarTri 1:12 PM, October 29, 2009  

I have both a computrainer (that adjusts the tension via a computer interace) and a fluid trainer (which does not). The most important thing, I've found, it to have proper air movement just like when you ride outside. I have two fans pointed at me and it makes it more bearable.

Rock on

IronVince: IM WI 2009 and Beyond 1:32 PM, October 29, 2009  

Here here to Spinnervals! Love them.

For trainers, there are two basic types - magnetic resistance and fluid resistance. Basic magnetic resistance models have the adjustment on the trainer, higher models have the cable to run up to your bars so you can adjust the resistance while riding.

The idea behind fluid resistance trainers is that the resistance increases with speed, simulating "drag" when on the road. Fluid resistance trainers use either a hampster wheel type fan as the resistance mechanism (these tend to be loud) or a sealed mechanism with a liquid inside acted on by some type of fan inside the mechanism (these are usually quieter).

Another aspect to consider is the flywheel. The higher the flywheel weight, the greater the inertia in the system. Greater inertia gives a longer coastdown time and a smoother feel at constant speed, but make it more difficult to change speed (i.e., sprint intervals). Some trainers, e.g., Kurt Kinetic, have a two piece flywheel - a light one for intervals and a heavier add on for long endurance rides.

Rollers definitely require concentration and practice but can be wonderful once you get used to them. You can buy resistance units (of either type) to go on your rollers.

IronVince: IM WI 2009 and Beyond 1:32 PM, October 29, 2009  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim 1:50 PM, October 29, 2009  

thoroughly enjoy my Kurt Kinetic Road Machine - quiet (i thought), but i put mats underneath it anyway - since my crazy ex-landlord complained and told me i could no longer ride in my apartment.

i wish i had the money for a computrainer.

rollers look wayyyy too hard for me.

i agree with pharmie - tv is the way to go!

Sean in NY 2:10 PM, October 29, 2009  

my kurt kinetic road machine is my excuse to plop down in front of the TV during college and pro football games. on weekdays, i use netflix to get me through the workouts.

ironvince gave a great rundown above. i'd support his thoughts by saying that i've always heard GREAT things about the cycleops fluid 2 and the kurt kinetic road machine. they're both a bit pricey, but i've yet to hear any negatives. from a rookie stand-point, time in the saddle, no matter what type of trainer, is time well spent.

Smithers 2:30 PM, October 29, 2009  

My husband has been riding road bikes since he was 13 (about 15 years) and he was very uncomfortable on rollers for a while.

I have heard people say that the "interactive-ness" of rollers makes them better than stationary trainers. It takes concentration...but it feels more like you are really riding -- and is less boring.

I think that beginners should start with a fluid trainer and maybe think about rollers only if they really want to commit to trainer-riding.

That being said, most bike shop guys think that if you are going to go gotta plan to spend some money. When I went to buy his rollers for Christmas, they (guys at the shop where he worked) literally wouldn't let me order anything other than Kreitlers. :)

the.mrrr 2:53 PM, October 29, 2009  

I've had a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine for a few years and picked up a cheaper Cycleops magnetic last year so we can both ride at the same time. The KK (fluid) is definitely smoother, quieter, and a more realistic resistance curve, but the magnetic works well, too. Kinda depends on what you're looking for.

And I do both spinervals and watching TV, depends on what I'm in the mood for.

Jennifer P 3:28 PM, October 29, 2009  

I have a ghetto super old-skool trainer and it is so loud and messy. Yes, you get what you pay for and because of the mess and noise mine makes I'm banished by my non-riding spouse to either the basement or trainer sessions with my tri team. But I'm uber cheap and will buy a better bike before I buy a better trainer.

Spokane Al 4:03 PM, October 29, 2009  

I agree with Pharma. I own a Cycleops fluid trainer and just shift to keep things at the proper effort and cadence. I also have a PowerTap which helps with specific watts based zone training - both indoors and outside. If you want specificity and measureable metrics in your bike training, I suspect a trainer as opposed to rollers is the way to go.

I tend to dislike the trainer the first few times I move onto it after the weather changes, but begin to enjoy it after that.

I also own a library of Spinervals DVDs and in previous winters Coach Troy and I have grown very close.

Alisa 4:39 PM, October 29, 2009  

I'll probably be getting a trainer for Xmas now that I have Spartacus! Finally a road bike no more creakster mountain bike for me!

I've been doing lots of research but have decided I'll probably get a cheaper one since I'm a beginner cyclist and am just so happy that I don't have knobby tires anymore that a slight difference in trainer probably won't matter too much.

Nat 4:47 PM, October 29, 2009  

I also have the Kurt Kinetic Fluid Road Machine and LOVE it. I don't think it's loud at all and I have no complaints - other than I suck at packing it up to move it but that's user error.

I could never use rollers. Too much thinking involved for me and too much of a chance for a concussion :) If I want a concussion, I'll ride outside in winter :)

Pharmie 5:27 PM, October 29, 2009  

One thing that's worth mentioning to any trainer newbies is that you can't use your regular tires on it and expect to be able to use them next spring too. The heat generated by the resistance on the trainer is too tough on tires to expect them to still be good come spring. It's best to either use an old tire on your back wheel or a special trainer tire.

JP Severin 7:54 PM, October 29, 2009  

Ride outside in unpleasant weather more. Riding bikes is not the same as sitting in a hamster wheel.

Alili 9:57 AM, October 30, 2009  

I love my Tacx Satori Power Trainer. I can adjust resistance without getting off of my bike; it's relatively quiet (I ride in the basement). It's affordable and compact.

Anonymous,  10:19 AM, October 30, 2009  

First option for me is my cyclocross bike, or mtn bike outside. With the wide tires and tread you go alittle slower, so you stay alittle warmer. I've never used rollers, but I hear they are good for LSD rides, but not much for any intensity. I have a trainer from Performance. Nothing fancy but it works. I'll usually watch TDF stages or cyclocross races. And must have an old wheel with old tire of you will be buying a new tire when you want to ride outside again.

Mario 12:59 PM, October 30, 2009  

Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see any mention of someone owning a indoor cycle like a Spinner, LeMond RevMaster, or CyclOps. I have an older Spinner and love it. You get almost the same effect as putting your bike on a trainer (I have a Kurt Kinetic). However, with a Spinner, you don't put any wear on your real bikes drive train, you don't sweat on it, don't have to change out the back wheel/trainer tire, etc. They do cost a chunk, but I've had mine since 2002 and it still works like it did then.

Coach Liz 4:02 PM, October 30, 2009  

I have a CyclOps fluid trainer and have had it for several years now. I really like it when I cannot get out on the road do to child constraints or a tornado watch and lots of thunder and lightning like we had yesterday.

Rollers are HARD to handle and you need good balance and core strength. I have only been comfortable using them inside of a doorway to have something to hang onto to get going. You have to pay attention all the time. No mind wandering on these things.

As far as a Startrac Spinner, it will do when all other options are a fail. I have to ride on these things because I teach classes on them, but I would rather be riding my own bike. The bike is built for a man who is 5' 10" and not women who are 5' 4". That being said, it is very hard to adjust the handlebars and the seat fore and aft for proper fit if a person is petite. Same on the other end. I have a guy who comes to class who is 6' 8" and we have to do the best we can on the set-up since there is a limit on how high you can raise the seat post. Also, the seat post and handlebar adjustments are far from precise. I always walk away from that bike feeling like I was taken for a ride rather than the other way around. Oh, and the saddle SUCKS!!!

Jim Smith II 8:29 AM, October 31, 2009  

Great point Pharmie!

As for rollers - They're great, but they're definitely a 300 level course! That said, if you can pull it off, the workout you get on rollers is pretty close to really being on the bike.

Anonymous,  10:36 AM, October 31, 2009  

I have a Tacx iMagic VR trainer, it hooks up to my PC and automatically adjusts the resistance to whatever course or terrain you program. You can even use video of real road races. It certainly helps with the boredom of a basic trainer. I'd rather be outside but with short day length and crappy weather it's just not possible to get in an effective work-out.

Judi 8:04 PM, October 31, 2009  

rollers - and a CX bike. :)

Katie 4:49 PM, November 02, 2009  

I have spent some time on trainers, let me tell you.

As much as I wish I could, I cannot ride rollers. Period. I am just not that coordinated.

At our house we have 2 Fluid2, 2 SuperMagneto and a PowerBeam. All of them having taken a serious beating!! My boyfriend travels with his SuperMag and rides daily in whatever hotel he is in. I loved and lived on my Fluid2 until I got a SuperMag. The SuperMagneto has the progressive resistance of a fluid trainer, but has multiple resistance curves so when you want to do a low-resistance/high cadence recovery spin you can....and on the same trainer you can do hill climb high intensity intervals. Woah.

The OCD side of me loves my PowerBeam, the latest member of our trainer family. I like that I can set up a work out, and it holds me to it. It's the best way yo efficiently use your time and get a great workout.

I would definitely say, out of all 3, the SuperMagneto is the way to go. It's affordable, quiet, has progressive resistance and multiple settings (for multiple uses or riders).

But don't forget to factor in the cost of trainer mat and climbing/leveling block for your front tire in your trainer budget. And of course a fan or 2 and some towels....

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