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Indoor Training with Roller and Turbo Trainer

Most cyclist doesn’t like winter or raining season because during these seasons they can’t workout as usual and prevent them from staying fit all the time. The solution is to get a roller or turbo trainer as your indoor training kits.

Most people has 3 concerns when they shop for trainers:
1. Why don’t I just go for stationary bike or stationary bike?
2. Should I go for roller or turbo trainer?
3. How do I choose the best turbo trainer or roller that suitable for me?

In this article we’ll help you solve these 3 frequently asked questions.

Difference between Stationary Bike and Trainers
Instead of listing the differences, I would explain in list form the benefits of trainers:
1. Trainer allow you to use your own bike that your body posture get used to.
2. Trainer is not as expensive as you thought. It price from £100 onwards and the quality is good. (We’ll cover a few models below)
3. Trainer is quick to setup, easy to store and carry along.
4. You can use trainer to warm up before your race!

Sounds perfect? Yes, it it. Now let’s move on to next question – turbo trainer or roller?

Turbo Trainer or Roller?
– Turbo trainer is a machine that clamp your bicycle rear wheel of the bike and use a flywheel against your rear wheel for resistance.
– Roller is a frame with 3 drums attached (1 front, 2 back) to balance your bike on.

To select between roller or turbo trainer, it’s all depends on your goal and budget. What you want to achieve with the training? Spinning skills? Base fitness? Resistance workout?

Turbo Trainer
1. Require less skill, good for beginner.
2. Most trainers come with resistance level. Some you have to adjust manually some with remote to allow you to change the resistance level while you on the training. This feature allows you to do more sttrength and power training.
3. Some good trainer has extremely good stability which allow you to stand up and ride.
4. Less concentration required. As you clamp and enforce your rear wheel with the trainer, you have highly reduce your risk to fall down. You can watch TV or read books while you are in training.
5. Using real tire for your workout with turbo trainer will burn your tire at a very fast rate. The best way to counter this disadvantage is to use a trainer wheel.

Summary: Turbo trainer is good for road simulation resistance training or advanced planned training such as intervals training, full intensity sprints, etc. Turbo trainer also good for longer hours training as you don’t need to 100% focus and worry about falling down. However, fluid, magnetic or air resistance simply does not provide the natural cycling feel. Also without a trainer wheel your tire will wear out very fast.

1. Require more skill which is good for balancing training as you need to balance on the roller.
2. As training with roller need more skills, it’s also more fun with near actual feel of riding a bike.
3. Roller is very good for practicing spinning skill because once you slow down while riding on a roller, you will immediately feel unbalance and you need to speed up before you crash.
4. Although most rollers don’t come with resistance level but some new rollers already equip with this feature.
5. You should not stand up or ride with full speed while you are on roller because that might get you off balance.
6. The smaller the drum diameter, the amount of resistance increases. For a given wheel speed, smaller drums rotate at higher RPM’s than larger drums, producing more friction in the sealed cartridge bearings. Smaller drums also create more tire friction because the roller has a smaller contact patch and indents the tire more.

Summary: Roller is good for sprint training because you can do spinning in a really high gear and simulate the action required. You can not stand up and hammer away roller force you to be smooth at really high (over 130) RPMs and that translates to better sprints. Roller is good for warm up as well and less tire wear concern. Lastly, you get the near real feel of riding. However, roller required true focus and usually after about 60 minutes you start falling.

Decision maker: If you like real cycling feel and have enough budget, get a roller with resistance. If you tend to lose focus or you always have kids around, prefer not to waste your time while exercising, get a turbo trainer. If you want to do more base training, balancing, get a roller. If you want to do more strength training, get a turbo trainer. If you need all above, get both.

Additional Notes
– Yes, you can change gear while you are on roller.
– Don’t worry if you happen to fall out from roller because you won’t be flying over.
– Don’t use your best tires while riding roller or trainer.

How to Choose the Right Trainer?
Of course the very first criteria for choosing a trainer is budget and features but more importantly you need to look for the build quality. As you might already spend thousands on your bike, why not spend a few hundreds for a quality trainer that usually last longer than your bike.

Below we compare a few model and a few brands together with some reviews:

Tacx Antares Rollers
– Top selling roller. (Wiggle 4.3/5 stars over 169 reviews) & (EvansCycles 4.6/5 stars over 28 reviews)
Get it now for just £112.49
Tacx Antares Rollers

Minoura B60R Turbo Trainer with Remote
– Budget and top selling entry level turbo trainer with remote.
– 5 stars review from BikeRadar.
Get it now for just £112.49
Minoura B60 Turbo Trainer with Remote

Elite Qubo Wireless Digital Turbo Trainer
– High tech wireless turbo trainer. The LCD screen displays Speed, Distance, Heart rate, Cadence, Time, Wattage and more.
– 5 stars review from BikeRadar.
– (Wiggle 4.8/5 stars over 8 reviews) & (EvansCycles 4/5 stars over 1 review)
Get it now for just £299.99
Elite Qubo Wireless Digital Turbo Trainer

Kreitler 4.5 Alloy Endcap Roller Set with Fan
– Pricey but definitely 1 of the best roller you can find.
Get it now for just £460
Kreitler 4.5 Alloy Endcap Roller Set with Fan

Cycleops and Kurt Kinetic are another 2 branded trainer manufacturer, we will cover these 2 brand in another exclusive review.