Turbo trainers are a static device that your bike will attach to. Some use only the rear wheel, whereas others are attached using both the front and the rear wheels of your bike. Turbo trainers keep your bicycle safe and stable, allowing you to easily ride and use your bike indoors – as you would a normal exercise bike.
Some turbo trainers can even connect with your PC or phone/tablet via Bluetooth, to give you all the important information about your ride. In this buying guide we will help you to choose the best style of turbo trainer to suit your riding style.
To change the resistance in a magnetic turbo trainer, the force of a magnetic field will create turning resistance on the back wheel that sits against the roller. Most magnetic resistance turbo trainers give you the ability to change the force output, usually with a trigger that you can mount onto your bikes handlebars.
The resistance in fluid turbo trainers is created by a propeller spinning inside of a fluid filled chamber. This provides a steadier resistance than magnetic trainers and the resistance is controlled by you changing gear on your bike, making a more natural experience.
Trainers at a higher price point give you a range of extra functions. These units are generally known as 'Smart Trainers'. The extra features that Smart Trainers can be equipped with vary - for the more analytical rider, data-driven turbo trainers will record cadence and power so you can reliably track your performance. Some units will allow this information to be transferred directly to your personal computer and some will even transfer it straight to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth.
As price increases, so does the maximum power threshold. These units often use fluid resistance rather than magnetic, which increases as you pedal harder and removes the need for fixed resistance levels which come with most Turbos. Smart Trainers cater for riders who want a very realistic ride or a higher level of feedback from their session. Some top of range units will even implement virtual reality elements through the resistance level so you can feel inclines as you ride, or allow road-like movement that forces you to use core muscles.
Interactive Smart trainers
These turbo trainers give the most realistic experience, enabling you to connect your trainer with your computer so you can ride real courses, go for a ride with your mates when the weather takes a turn for the worse, or even race against riders from all over the world.
The resistance in these systems is controlled by the computer connected to the trainer that mimics the conditions of the ride, uphill gets harder and downhill is a breeze.
This system of turbo trainers involves removing the skewer of your back wheel and replacing it with the strong, quick release skewer that comes with the turbo trainer. It is worth considering buying a new tyre for your wheel, to preserve your tyre.
Direct drive turbo trainers are one of the latest enhancements to the indoor trainer market. These systems work by removing your back wheel and mounting the rear drop-outs of the bike onto the trainer itself.
For this system to function, you’ll need to fit a cassette to the trainer, however this means there’s no need to replace your tyres or swapping wheels to a ‘turbo specific’ set up.
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 pedalling 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.
Once you're all set with your chosen trainer, there are a few essentials we recommend to complete the set. Firstly, fitting your rear wheel to a trainer will raise the back end slightly, therefore a riser block will keep you level and steady. Secondly, headsets and frames do not like salt, so a sweatcatcher will fit nicely and avoid any unwanted contamination.
Worried about the noise? Training mats not only fit nicely, keeping your carpet clean, but they are also made from vibration absorbing rubber which will keep any noise to a minimum. Finally and perhaps most importantly, we suggest you fit a specific trainer tyre to your rear wheel, as these are made from a denser, tougher rubber, avoiding your regular tyres wearing down in no time.
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