Today, the whirr of a hard-working turbo trainer, also referred to as a bike trainer, is a common sound in the homes of cyclists across the world. If you’re new to this realm of training, or you want to know more about different types of turbo trainer, read our best turbo trainer buying guide.
Why should I use a turbo trainer?
If it is a cold, icy winters morning, another lockdown or post race cool down the turbo trainer has become a staple of all cyclists garage. Turbo trainers provide that outlet to get a good session of training done without having to ever leave the house. In 2021, technology has helped revolutionise the turbo training game. With software like Zwift and Sufferfest you can accurately push yourself to train harder and faster, with all your key metrics being recording like watts, speed and cadence.
If you’re jumping into the world of indoor training and need a few incentives to get involved, here are our top six:
- It allows you to build your base fitness when the weather’s rubbish, or you can’t get out to ride
- With modern interactive software, it’s actually fun!
- You can get the miles in quickly and easily when you’re time-strapped
- It’ll save you wearing out expensive parts on your bike outdoors in the grime and wet
- You don’t have to clean and lube your bike like you would be doing outdoors
- Structured plans allow you to prepare in a controlled setting for your outdoor rides
What do I need to start turbo training?
Providing you have a road or mountain bike, all you need to start turbo training is one of the many turbo trainers available plus any accessories that’ll make the whole experience more enjoyable.
Other things to consider include:
- Space to fit the bike and turbo trainer
- Electricity power if your turbo needs it
- A Wi-Fi connection if you’re going to use a smart trainer
- A towel to wipe away the sweat (there’ll be sweat!)
- A fan to cool you down
- A tablet/laptop/phone to connect to online training software
Which turbo trainer is best for me?
To get the most out of your turbo training sessions, we’d always recommend getting the best turbo trainer you can afford. The different types of trainer has grown in recent years with the advancement in technology within the industry.
- Magnetic turbo trainers: among the most popular and prolific entry-level units. the magnetic turbo trainer creates resistance from a magnetic field as your wheel spins against it. It can vary in the level of resistance to the bike via a lever which can be mounted to the handlebars.
- Fluid resistance trainers: generally quieter than magnetic turbo trainers and offer a realistic experience. Resistance is more gradual by the use of a propeller in a chamber that is filled with oil. The harder you pedal the harder the resistance; even changing gears can influence the user experience.
- Direct drive turbo trainers: unlike most magnetic and fluid turbo trainers, where your rear wheel is in contact with the turbo trainer, with direct drive your bike is directly mounted to the trainer. One of the most expensive options you can buy, it removes wear from your rear tyre, provides a more real experience and can help provide accurate riding data.
- Roller turbo trainers: roller trainers use cylindrical drums connected by a belt drive, which are spun by your bike wheels. This is the most difficult to use, balance is key to ensuring you get a good solid workout.
Due to the unprecedented demand for indoor trainers, the below selection might not be available.
- Smart turbo trainers: offer internet connectivity, allowing you to participate in online cycling races using platforms like Zwift, TrainerRoad, and many more
- Non-smart turbo trainers: you’ll need a speed and cadence sensor or a power meter to connect to Zwift etc. if you’re using this type of trainer.
A smart turbo trainer is the most immersive and fun way to experience an indoor ride, seamlessly connecting to online platforms like Zwift and reacting instantly to your virtual world. If your budget won’t stretch to a smart trainer and you’re dipping your toes into the turbo training world then an entry level magnetic turbo trainer or mid-range fluid turbo trainer may be better.
What accessories may I need?
Once you get set up with your turbo trainer, you might find that you want to add a few accessories to get the perfect setup.
- Sweat Cover: A must for a turbo training session. Without a nice breeze you will find yourself sweating a lot more whilst doing your workout from the garage. Buying a sweat cover will ensure you corrosive sweat keeps away from your frame and bar tape.
- Speed & Cadence Sensor: Data is the key to improvement and your gateway to online training. Most Speed and Cadence Sensors are compatible with ANT+ receivers and mount discretely on your chainstay, cranks, and spokes.
- Riser Block: A riser block is a simple stand for your front wheel to lift it off the ground and keep the bike level during your turbo training. A simple accessory that will make the difference.
- Trainer Tyre: On magnetic and fluid trainers the rear wheel will be in contact with the resistance meaning wear of your tyre. Manufacturers have developed a trainer specific tyre that is ideal for your turbo training sessions.