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A Guide to Turbo Trainers & Rollers

Maintaining and improving your fitness from year to year can be tough when the nights close in and the temperatures drop over winter and venturing outdoors on a grim December’s day is not always safe or attractive. This is where training indoors using a turbo trainer or a set of rollers is useful.


Turbo Trainers

A turbo trainer uses a clamp to secure your wheel, so you can pedal away indoors to your hearts content. The locking mechanism is usually a pair of screw clamps with lock nuts or a quick release. Most turbos come with an additional skewer so you can avoid damaging the one that you ride with.


The frame holds you and your bike in place and keeps everything stable and planted. It’s nearly always made of steel, though some have aluminium legs to keep the weight down. Some turbo trainers have fold-out legs or a fold- out wheel stand.


Any turbo trainer will provide a stable base for you to ride on, but more expensive units will either make riding feel more lifelike, be quieter, or provide you with data about your training - if not all three. Here's a look at what you get at each level:


Entry Level

Most entry trainers are magnetic turbo trainers and work using magnets to create a force for you to pedal against and usually have set resistance levels, which you can adjust as well as using your gears. These are functional units and you get more gadgets as you move up the price ladder.


Mid-Range

Trainers at a higher price point are usually quieter and replicate the feeling of riding on the road more accurately. These units often use fluid resistance which becomes higher the faster you pedal, abolishing the need for fixed resistance levels.


Many of these trainers allow you to record data, such as cadence and heart rate, which you can download to a PC. As price increases, so does the maximum power threshold, so you may need to spend more if you put out a lot of power.


High-End

These trainers cater for people who want a very realistic ride, or a greater level of feedback from their session. Some higher priced units will create a virtual reality through the resistance level so you can feel incline as you ride or will allow road-like movement that forces you to use your core muscles


For the more analytical rider, data driven turbo trainers will record cadence and power, so you can reliably track your performance.


Keeping it interesting

Riding a turbo might not be as enjoyable, or provide the same sensation of being outside and enjoying the scenery as actually riding, but some modern trainers come with plenty of tech. Manufacturers have come up with options that give you the ability to compare rides with friends using social media networks, or follow your outdoor routes inside.


Training on the turbo

It's best to begin a turbo session with a clear plan - riding intervals will make it more interesting than just pedalling. If you want to get the most out of your turbo sessions, we've got some turbo training advice from Sir Chris Hoy to help you.


Rollers

For a more 'interactive' training experience you could also opt for a classic set of rollers. Rollers don’t require your bike to be fixed to them (unlike with turbo trainers), instead the bike rolls independently on top of a dual-rear roller and a single front.

 

Rollers take some practice to get your balance, but as you have to use your core and find your balance, once you've got the hang of it, they are great for extended steady efforts. With short interval sessions you'll concentrate on balancing as well as your pedaling power. At Evans Cycles, we stock a range of rollers, so whether you want a basic set, like the Tacx Antares or something more advanced like the Elite Real E-Motion rollers, we’ve got you covered.

 

If you're thinking about investing in a set of rollers, have a look at our blog entry on learning to ride on rollers.