offers an ideal solution for cyclists who want to take a ride inside when the weather gets bad. Unlike , which stays in place when you ride, the indoor bike trainer mimics the natural feeling of a by providing variable resistance and sway. This not only keeps things interesting, but if you are a racing cyclist or about to become one, it can help you keep track of your training during the winter.
Although indoor bike trainers have a lot to offer, even if you are an avid outdoor cyclist who can switch to one can feel like brand new territory, but we are here to make things a little easier for you. This comprehensive guide will help you find out what type of indoor bike trainer you should get and how to get the most out of it.
Types of indoor bike trainers
There are three main types of indoor bike trainers ̵1; direct driving, flywheel and roller. The best coach for you depends on your goals, your skill levels and what you are looking for to get out of your journey, and this breakdown can help you narrow it down.
Directly driven coaches
Direct-drive trainers require you to remove the rear wheel completely from your bike and connect it to a cassette and shaft attached to the trainer, giving you the most stability of all trainer types.
Direct-drive trainers are also more powerful, have the most realistic road feel, provide the highest resistance (usually up to about 2,000 watts) and are quieter than aany for the other types of trainers. Since they have the most to offer, they are generally the most expensive as well.
Flywheel trainers, also known as rear wheel trainers, use a heavy wheel to create resistance and simulate an outdoor riding experience. There are two main types of flywheel trainers: liquid and magnetic. Fluid trainers use a viscous liquid, such as liquid silicone, to create resistance, while magnetic trainers rely on magnets.
If you want to increase the resistance of a floating flywheel, you simply have to pedal faster. A magnetic flywheel indoor bike trainer generally requires manual adjustments, either via an app or software or a lever.
There are many different flywheel trainers to choose from, but in general, these types of trainers provide a resistance of up to 1,500 watts and a realistic road feel. The downside is that because your bike tire presses against the flywheel with friction to create resistance, the worn tire can wear out over time. Flywheel trainers are also slightly less stable than direct-drive trainers.
Roller trainers have three cylindrical drums attached to a metal frame. With roller coasters, you do not have to manipulate your bike at all. All you need to do is balance your bike on the drums, move on and ride. But while the installation sounds simple enough, this requires some level of talent and skill, as roller trainers are the most unstable and hard to get used to.
The good news is that in addition to helping you improve your cycling skills, trainers give you a killer workout because you have to move all the time to stay upright on the trainer.
While all types of trainers can help you level up your cycling game, the right choice for you really depends on your budget, skill level and overall goals. If budget is not a concern and you want an indoor bike trainer who is whispering and quiet with the most realistic road feel, go for a direct ride.
If you are looking for something that is a little more budget friendly, but that still provides enough resistance and realistic road feel, consider a flywheel, aka rear wheel, trainer. If your main goals are to improve your balance, pedal efficiency and overall bike handling ability and you do not really care about the bells and whistles, a roller trainer will give you what you need.
Things to keep in mind when shopping
Now that you have decided on the type of indoor bike trainer you need, it comes down to the details. Even within the same category, different bike trainers do different things. Some of the most important factors to consider are:
First and foremost, you need to make sure your bike fits. Most indoor bike trainers are compatible with several different bike styles and tire sizes, but it is important to check. You need to know what type of bike you have (mountain or road), wheel size and whether it has a thru axle or a quick release. Some bikes are not compatible with an indoor bike trainer as it is, but you can get adapters or cassettes that make them fit.
Price is another important factor when deciding which bike trainer is right for you. In addition to calculating the actual cost of a new indoor bike trainer, make sure you also consider whether you need any additional parts to get up and ride, for example, if your bike needs adapters. This can add $ 50 to $ 100 to the total cost, depending on which one you choose.
Easy to use
Regardless of the installation, you will also want to consider how easy the bike trainer is to use when it is ready to go. Direct-drive trainers and flywheel trainers are quite easy to use, even for a beginner, as they are safe and stable. Again, roller trainers do not hold you at all – you have to trust your own movement to stay balanced. That does not mean they are out if you are a beginner, but if you choose a roller coaster, be prepared to fall over a few times (and feel frustrated) before you can really get things going.
If you live alone in a single-family house, noise may not be such a big problem, but if you share your space with others or if you live in an apartment on the second floor with neighbors below you, you want a quieter bicycle trainer to keep the peace. Direct-drive trainers are generally the quietest, with flywheel trainers close behind. Roller trainers are the highest.
As a general rule, the more advanced the bicycle trainer, the quieter it is. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but if you are looking for the quietest setting, you will probably need to defer some extra cash.
Another thing to keep in mind is if your indoor bike trainer has smart features. Smart indoor bike trainers connect to apps, such as Zwift or Sufferfest, that allow you to set your bike to a specific program or terrain. The trainer will adjust the resistance accordingly to simulate the actual paths. You can also connect to other riders via the app.
Smart trainers are more expensive than traditional trainers, but if you are someone who gets tired easily or enjoys competition, it may be worth paying. Keep in mind that the apps you need to use a smart trainer to its full potential usually require a subscription (usually around $ 15 per month on average), so that’s another cost to consider.
How to get the most out of your indoor training
Once you have decided which bike trainer fits best with your goals, the last step is to find out your indoor training attitude and how to get the most out of it. You do not have to have anything fancy to get started, but a few extra accessories and considerations can really help you improve your experience.
Find a good place
Because indoor bike trainers are quite portable, you can place them anywhere, but the snug place in the basement or in a corner of a cluttered room does not make you want to go on and ride. If you have space, clear out an area and dedicate it to your training. If you do not have space to give, find a temporary place that feels refreshing and motivating and make your trips there.
Get a fan
When you ride outdoors, you create a natural wind that helps you cool down when you ride, but when you are indoors you lose that factor. This can lead to overheating quite quickly, even if the weather is not too hot. Ideally, you want two fans – one in front of you and one behind you – for proper ventilation.
Use an exercise mat
Most trainers come with a front wheel block that helps keep your wheels stable when you ride, but when you really increase the speed, things can start to slip a bit. A rubber mat provides an extra layer of stability for the entire installation that helps keep things in place. As an added bonus, it will also protect your floor from marks and scrubs and help reduce excess noise, especially if you have hardwood floors.
Think of a sweat cover
Sweat covers go over the handlebars of the bike and cover the frame of your bike and soak up sweat when you ride. This helps keep sweat off the floor and keeps your riding more stable instead of getting slippery.
Set up your bike in front of a TV, if possible
If you chose a smart trainer, you can have a really immersive experience by setting up your bike in front of a smart TV and letting the programs play on the big screen. If this is not an option, a tablet or phone will work as well, but you will probably need an extra holder to hold it in place.
Follow a progressive program
While you get a decent workout after the same routine every day, it does not help you grow as a rider in the long run. It can also get monotonous really fast, especially if you are used to riding outdoors and the changes in scenery that come with it.
Instead of doing the same 60-minute bike ride every day, shift things up by adding interval training or playing with your speed and your bike train resistance. This not only mimics the feeling of riding on the road, it also helps to improve your skill and endurance for when it’s time to get back outside.
Even if you are an avid outdoor cyclist, it will probably take some time to get used to your new indoor bike trainer, but the more you train – and the more comfortable you make your setting – the easier it will be. As long as you take some time to find out which coach works best with your goals and you learn how to get the most out of that coach, you can go all year round, inside and out.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified healthcare provider if you have questions about a medical condition or health goal.