First off what is a trainer and why would you need one over the coming months?
They basically consist of a metal roller on a frame that allows you to ride your bike without actually going anywhere! So you can ride your bike at home in your apartment without having to ride in the cold/dark/wet/snow. A great way of staying bike fit when you’d rather stay indoors! Most trainers will work on any bike (check first if you are using a 29” mountain bike though).
The Broadway store's Giant Fluid trainer
Trainers aren’t just a good way to keep fit for cycling, they are also a great way to train for the ski/snowboard season as they develop strong legs and replicate the up and down motions of snow sports!
Trainers can seem quite confusing, there are lots of different brands and a lot of different options. Here are some of the basics (more detailed explanations later);
- A general rule is; the more you spend on the trainer, the more it will feel like riding your bike outside.
- There are three main types; Wind, Magnetic, and Fluid trainers. There are some definite pros and cons to each type of trainer.
- Factor in buying a ‘trainer tire’.
- You might want to consider purchasing some products to protect against sweat!
- Consider where you are going to use your trainer
- Come and see us for a deal on a new trainer (details below)!
A general rule is; the more you spend on the trainer, the more it will feel like riding your bike outside.
As your bike is fixed into a metal frame a lot of the normal side-to-side movements that you would do whilst riding a bike outside are not possible. It is very much a case of staying seated and getting a pedal workout.
However, the type of trainer you go for will also affect the way the bike feels on the trainer i.e. the kind of resistance you feel through the wheel/pedals (some can give your $2000+ road bike the feel of a cheap exercise bike!). More on this later though….
An example of a bike set up on a trainer (this has no riser block so the front end of the bike is very low, see later for a solution!).
There are three main types of trainer; Wind, Magnetic, and Fluid trainers.
Wind trainers are generally the cheapest type of trainer, they basically turn your bike into a pedal powered fan the fan provides the resistance. Wind trainers are the noisiest of the trainers, the faster you go the louder it gets. Probably not a good idea if you live in an apartment! ($240 - $420)
Magnetic trainers are generally the mid-price range models (however there are exceptions). They use magnets to create friction. However the friction is set at a constant level. These are great if you want to train at a specific rate e.g. if you are doing a lot of time trials. A number of these models will be adjustable though. The cheaper models are adjustable on the base i.e. set the level and then ride it. To go harder, get off the bike and reset it. The more expensive models will have a handle bar mounted adjuster allowing you to change the resistance while you ride. This is typically only five settings. A definite bonus is that they are much quieter than wind trainers though. ($140 - $800)
Fluid trainers are the most realistic trainers in that the harder you pedal, the greater the resistance. All you have to do is vary your pedalling rate to vary the resistance. They are much quieter and generally come with more features for example adjustable feet that allow you to level the bike and make it more stable. ($280 - $900)
Factor in buying a ‘trainer tire’
As the bike remains in one position, there is going to be a lot of wear in a very small area of your tire. Consider replacing your rear tire with a trainer specific tire, this is a tire that is re-enforced in the centre, thus taking all the wear so your nice tire for proper riding doesn’t have to! These cost around $60, however people who use trainers a lot in the winter might want to look into getting a cheap rear wheel to have set up with a trainer tire. This allows you to swap the wheel out whenever you change between the indoors/outdoors. We have set these up for around $150 (including wheel, rim strip, rim tape, and tube) plus the tire.
You might want to consider purchasing some products to protect against sweat!
If you are riding indoors, first off you are more than likely somewhere nice and warm, second it isn’t likely to have any breeze. This means that you are going to sweat…….a lot! Last winter my challenge was to have a constant stream of sweat running off the handlebars, which meant I was training properly!
Protecting your carpet/floor is the first thing to think about. Trainer mats are available but there are plenty of DIY options. The second thing to think about is protecting your bike. There is a lot of salt in sweat and this can attack the bike. Certain peoples sweat is more corrosive than others (we have had customers whose sweat has started to lift the paint from the frame!). Protective covers are available that stretch over the bars and frame to protect against sweat.
Consider where you are going to use your trainer
As you aren’t actually going anywhere on your trainer, you might well be in one place for a long time! I set my trainer up facing the TV and then try to find a good show to watch, some people like to listen to music, some look out the window. Making it interesting will mean you are more likely to use it! I used ad breaks on TV as sprint sessions, using the actual TV show as recovery/to maintain a constant pace.
Come and see us for a deal on a new trainer!
Until the end of November we are offering 15% off any trainer at our Broadway store, we have access to products from; Giant, Tacx, Cycleops, Kinetic, etc. Get in touch for full details....
As the trainer works on the rear wheel by raising it off the ground, you may want to consider getting a riser block. This will allow you to have the front wheel level with the rear wheel (i.e. as it normally would be outside). Some blocks have different settings so you can simulate climbing descending etc.
A riser block, this one has multiple positions.
Your bike will connect to the trainer through your rear quick release. Normally this will need to be replaced with a stronger quick release. These are normally supplied with the trainer, and extras can be purchased separately if you wish to use a second bike on the trainer.
These are just the basics, there are many, many options for trainers. They go as far as to allow you to link your computer to a TV and the trainer will replicate a given ride such as a stage from the Tour De France! You could even link them up via the internet and ride against other people.
There are also rollers, these require you to balance while you ride, generally something for a more advanced rider with good concentration!
As always come by the store any time to talk about trainers or anything bike related!