As the winter cold starts to bite that bit harder even the toughest cyclists start to turn their minds to some time spent inside. But time inside doesn’t have to mean time off the bike, and in fact it shouldn’t even be just a chance to escape the weather. British Cycling have recently released their ‘Ultimate Guide to Indoor Training’ ebook to help you choose the right turbo trainer, get exclusive training sessions, and better your indoor ride all-round.
Here we take a look at what will be in this great new resource as well as sharing a brief rundown of the different types of turbo trainer available.
The guide explains the different types of trainers and training, gives a whole host of specific training routines for all abilities and goals, runs through the best tips for indoor training, and takes an in depth look at virtual training. It aims to get away from the old stereotypes of ‘hard man’ cyclists never needing to shelter from the weather. In her introduction to the book track cycling world championship silver medallist Emily Nelson says, “Some riders will knock indoor trainers and say that they’re a ‘soft option’, ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing’ or that ‘you should harden up and ride for real’. Yes, an indoor trainer does get you out of the cold and wet, but some of the hardest sessions we do are on the indoor trainer and are definitely not soft! Quality beats quantity, especially if your training time is limited, and, for a focused quality workout, an indoor trainer is hard to beat.” With that in mind let’s take a look at some of the different options out there.
These are as simple as indoor training comes. Rollers are as the name suggests, three drums mounted within an adjustable frame that will spin under your wheels as you ride. They are generally the cheapest, smallest, and quietest options; however, they are also the hardest to learn to use. Unlike most indoor trainers with rollers the bike is not fixed in place and requires the rider to balance on the moving drums, while this teaches stability and helps to smooth out pedal strokes, it means that there is no real adjustment of resistance. These are a great option for people looking to learn better bike handling skills.
(Click on the product names or images to view each of them on the Evans Cycles website.)
Standard Turbo Trainers
The most common form of indoor trainers will clamp around the rear axle of the bike, holding the rear wheel in place against a resistance unit. Most of the differences between this type will be the style of the resistance unit. Generally, you will find two distinct types; magnetic and fluid. Magnetic trainers use varying sizes of magnet to provide resistance at the flywheel. The great benefit of these is that the resistance can be adjusted – generally by a switch that can be mounted on the bars – allowing for super tough efforts to be combined with easier spins.
Fluid trainers don’t offer an adjustable resistance but instead offer a variable resistance, getting harder the harder you pedal. This offers a much more natural feel to your pedalling. Fluid trainers also tend to be a lot quieter than magnetic ones so can be a great option for anyone living in flats or for those trying to sneak early morning training efforts in without waking the family.
Both magnetic and fluid trainers come in a range of prices, but you can usually get some really great budget options such as Cycleops Basic Fluid Turbo Trainer, which will keep you rolling through the winter months without breaking the bank. It’s worth noting that with these styles of trainers you can increase the wear on your rear tyre, so it might be worth investing in a harder wearing, turbo specific tyre now to save money on new road tyres further down the line.
A more recent development in indoor trainers is the Direct Mount style. With these the rear wheel is removed from your bike and your rear dropouts sit over an axle built into the unit itself onto which there is a freehub and cassette attached. These models can generate huge amounts of resistance and can vary their resistance levels much more effectively and realistically than other types. This increased resistance means these trainers are much more stable and suited to higher power efforts such as sprinting.
By not using the rear wheel in the set up direct mount trainers get around the issue of tyre wear and of tyres slipping on the flywheel during big efforts. They are however a lot bulkier and heavier meaning they are much less suited to people who need to transport their trainers a lot, to warm up for races for example.
The majority of trainers now come with some sort of ‘smart’ functionality built in, this allows them to pair (usually via Bluetooth or ANT+) with a bike computer or even your phone or tablet. They can also be used with virtual racing software such as Zwift. These are most useful for people training to specific data such as power or heart rate.
Buying for someone else?
If you’re feeling extra generous and are looking to buy an indoor trainer as a present for someone, then the first thing to do is decide what they want to use it for. If they’ll be using it occasionally when they can’t face the rain or just want a gentle indoor spin, then a basic magnetic turbo trainer will be perfect for them. If they’re training for a specific goal then you will probably want to splash out a little more on a smart trainer, either direct mount or standard. And finally, if you really want to show them how much you love them you can splash out on a top of the range direct mount trainer packed with virtual reality tech such as…
With any of these gifts a great added extra would be ‘The Ultimate Indoor Training Guide’ ebook from British Cycling, packed with useful hints and tips, as well as a whole host of free training plans all programmed by British Cycling coaches.