Indoor riding has gained its popularity within the last few years. It allows you to improve your biking skills or recover from injury and fit training into your schedule no matter the weather or time of day.
Many bikers wonder if it is possible to turn their outdoor bikes into a stationary bike.
Yes, it is!
Moreover, there are several ways to do it.
Indoor bike trainer and rollers are the two most common options. Both come with numerous useful accessories and different levels of resistance to fine-tune your riding experience.
A turbo trainer is a better option for those who do not have a lot of experience in cycling. You only need to clamp your bike into a trainer and enjoy safe and stable riding.
When it comes to rollers, you have to balance on top of several metal drums when pedalling your bike. This option is suitable only for advanced bikers, as it is quite hard to stay upright.
There are thousands of roller fails videos on YouTube that may give you an idea of how hard it can be.
So how can you use your outdoor bike indoors? What should you know about indoor cycling? What are the differences between turbo trainers and rollers?
Let’s find it out!
Table of Contents
What Is A Turbo Trainer For Indoor Cycling?
Turbo trainer is a device that allows you to clamp the rear wheel of your bike into a static stand.
When you are pedalling on a standard turbo trainer, your rear wheel drives a flywheel providing resistance.
There are two basic types of turbo trainers: regular and direct-drive.
A Regular (Or Wheel-On) Turbo Trainer
This allows you to use the tyre of your bike which is supposed to roll on a composite or metal drum to drive the trainer. After you clamp your bike into such a turbo trainer, use a dial to adjust the roller pressure.
Besides, many trainer manufacturers recommend using specific hard compound tyres which are more resistant to heat and wear. However, you should never use them on the road.
Direct-Drive Turbo Trainer
This replaces the rear wheel of your bike, lying between the dropouts. You need to clamp it in place with a quick-release thru-axle or skewer.
These trainers are quieter as there is no roller/tyre noise. Plus, they are more stable and allow you to choose from a wider range of resistance levels. Nevertheless, direct-drive trainers are more expensive.
Turbo trainers produce resistance in a variety of ways, ranging from heavy flywheels on the cheapest models to fluid discs, fans, and even the magic of eddy currents and magnetic fields on most advanced trainers.
The most affordable turbo trainers have a set level of resistance. But if you are ready to pay more, you will gain features like power meters, remote resistance control, and smart interface.
What Is A Smart Trainer?
A smart trainer is a turbo trainer that uses specific software (for example, TrainerRoad or Zwift) to control the trainer’s resistance.
It allows you to recreate a bike ride staying at your home.
Most smart trainers use both Bluetooth and ANT+ protocols. Bluetooth is the most popular wireless protocol for tablets, laptops, and smartphones. ANT+ should be familiar if you use fitness products such as power meters and heart-rate monitors.
Smart trainers also include automatic resistance control and power meter, so you will always know exactly how hard you are riding.
Pros & Cons Of Turbo Trainers
What Are Rollers For Indoor Cycling?
Rollers are an excellent indoor training option once you have got the hang of them. They consist of a set of three metal or plastic drums mounted on a solid frame.
The rear wheel of your bike will drive the back rollers, connected with the front one via a strong elastic band or belt.
Rollers are more engaging to use than turbo trainers, as there is an element of cycling skill and balance involved.
Besides, they are an ideal platform to improve your smooth pedalling technique, balance, and bike handling skills.
Also, rollers are a popular choice for pre-race warm-ups, since you can just jump onto them on your bike and start cycling.
Most rollers have a fixed resistance level, so if its power is not enough for you, it might be better to choose a smart or turbo trainer.
Pros & Cons Of Rollers
What Type of Turbo Trainer is the Best For You?
With hundreds of options, understanding what turbo trainer you should pick can be tricky. You will choose from the three most popular types of trainers:
- Fluid trainers
- Magnetic trainers
- Wind trainers
Fluid trainers use an impeller sitting in a fluid bath.
The faster you pedal and the more effort you exert, the harder it becomes for that impeller to flow through the fluid.
Fluid trainers have many benefits. They give you exponential resistance based upon your input that results in a more realistic road feel. Moreover, these trainers put out almost no noise, so you will not bother your family members.
Nevertheless, fluid trainers have one big disadvantage – their price. They are quite expensive, but for professional cyclists, these devices are a must.
Magnetic trainers are probably the best option in terms of both features and price. To create resistance, these devices use a magnetic field and sometimes a flywheel.
The main advantages of magnetic trainers are that they are relatively cheap and offer more adjustability than wind trainers.
Besides, they are much quieter.
Magnetic trainers also have a few drawbacks. For example, you need to adjust the resistance manually. Still, you can avoid it by choosing a magnetic trainer with remote control.
If you are looking for the most basic and affordable trainer, wind trainers will be the best choice. They use wind power to create resistance. The faster you ride, the higher the resistance.
The pros of these devices include their low price, ease of use, and a small number of moving parts.
The biggest disadvantages of wind trainers are loud noise and the lack of adjustability. Therefore, you need to wear headphones to reduce the noise and pedal faster to increase resistance.
Benefits of Biking at Home
By turning your outdoor bike into a stationary bike, you can continue to practice a sport you enjoy even in winter. Moreover, it offers incredible benefits.
It is a perfect way to lose weight, gain energy, and improve your health.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 75 minutes of energetic cardio or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio per week, and indoor riding is an excellent way to meet this goal.
Moreover, this aerobic activity improves your stamina, reduces the risk of several chronic diseases, and enhances your immune system. Besides, it just plain feels good.
Quick Buying Guide
When you are deciding which trainer is best for you, consider these factors:
- Additional Parts
- Bike Fit
Best Trainers For Indoor Riding
Saris CycleOps Fluid2 Bike Trainer
This bike trainer features numerous innovations. Its connectivity allows you to use the sheer power that online training apps have, and the trainer remains pretty quiet when riding.
Sportneer Bike Trainer
Sportneer Bike Trainer allows you to gain access to indoor cycling at an inexpensive price tag. You can adjust its resistance to fit any kind of workout – from laidback to intense.
Alpcour Bike Trainer
This new beast of a bike trainer released by Alpcour offers you a foldable frame, six levels of resistance, and low-noise technology. You will not regret this purchase!
Kickr Core By Wahoo Smart Bike Trainer
The Kickr Core Smart Bike Trainer is the best choice for those who have been seeking for a more technologically advanced model. You can easily track your progress, such as heart rate, power output, and so much more.
In addition to its immersive wireless connectivity and training features, Kickr Core is extremely durable, so it can withstand even the most intense training session!
As you can see, you can use your outdoor bike indoors.
However, you need to get a turbo trainer or rollers to turn it into a stationary bike.
Now you know more about these devices, so choose the best option for you and enjoy riding!