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Bike trainer: train indoors like outdoors
Bike trainers offer dedicated cyclists the possibility to work on their technique, speed, and fitness at home. Combined with a bike trainer, the own bicycle/racing bike becomes an indoor training machine and offers a varied and effective training thanks to diverse adjusting and entertaining possibilities.
Leisure sportsmen and athletes of cycle racing as well as triathlon have appreciated the advantages of bike trainers for many years. It means that the own racing bike can be used even when the weather is bad. The advantages are also already known to many home sportsmen and they use bike trainers. Bike trainers offer highest realism regarding training position and effect as well as resistance setting for the indoor training. In the end you really cycle on your own bike with a bike trainer.
Depending upon requirement and user profile, there is a multitude of models, which differ in assembly and functionality. The following tips are meant to support you in finding the appropriate model.
Bike trainer purchase advice: the different model types
In order to itemise the variety, we differ four types of bike trainers:
- Fixed bike trainer: The rear wheel of the bike is firmly fixed. The resistances is controlled via the gear change of the bike.
- Free wheel: Especially suitable for pros or trained home athletes. The training without further fixation requires a high level of balance and body control. Once the machine is well controlled, the bike control and the technique are optimally trained.
- Bike trainers with ergometer features: The rear wheel is fixed and the resistance is controlled via an electronic brake. The resistance can even simulate ascents of highest alpine passes. It challenges the user and is thus an optimal option for mountain cyclists.
- Bike trainers with Virtual-Reality functions can be found with all types of bike trainers. The bike trainer is, i. e., connected to a tv or pc. Depending upon the range of functions of the software, you can cycle real racing tracks, incl. an automated adjustment of the resistance. Have a lot of fun in the Pyrenees!
Finding out which is the best bike trainer type should always be the first step choosing your new training partner.
Is your bike compatible with a bike trainer?
Make sure in the next step whether you bike/racing bike is compatible with a bike trainer. It's not that every bike trainer fits to every bike.
In general, bike trainers are adjusted to racing bike tyres. The small tyre thickness allows a quick and close-to-reality cycling on the training. For a fixed bike trainer or a trainer with electronic brake, you should make sure whether the tyre is fixed to the training machine or if you need additional accessory. There are special training tyres available for some machine, which are better for bike trainers. If necessary, the track width should be adjusted on the machine as well.
The tyre thickness is unimportant on the free trainer. On the running surface of the bike trainer you have a space of several centimeters and wider tyres can be used as well provided that a certain bike control is given.
Always make sure whether gear change or hub type are compatible with the trainer or if these can be adapted with the accessory. Quick releases are an accessory, which is often required to fix the bike safely in the machine. Bikes with a drive belt instead of a chain are not suitable for firmly fixing. Here, a "free roller" is the best choice.
You can choose from four types of resistance:
Bike trainer with air resistance
The resistance is generated via a wheel, which works against the natural air resistance. It's especially beginners with separate training rooms, who will do ok with this resistance system.
Bike trainers with magnetic resistance
By means of a magnetic field, the resistance is generated here. The most machines are connected to a resistance module with control device on the handlebar. The resistance can be easily and comfortably set. Please pay attention to the fact that the heat development can rise with higher resistances or the related friction. For intensive use, a machine with fan is recommended to cool the affectted components sufficiently.
Bike trainers with electro-magnetic resistance
The concept of the electro-magnetic resistance is mainly used for machines, with which you can cycle virtual worlds and tracks. The resists adjusts to the chosen route profile automatically: the bike trainer increases or reduces the resistance depending upon the ascent. Please make sure here as well that the machine is equipped with a sufficient cooling depending upon the requirement.
Bike trainer with flow resistance
The resistance of flow resistance is generated by a body turning in oil. This system is technically complex and very silent. Like for the electro-magnetic resistance, the resistance of most machines can be controlled with a lever on the handlebar or automatically with a software provided that respective connection is given.
Expert tips for choosing a bike trainer
Our tip: Think about your training targets and effort beforehand. Systems with electro-magnetic resistance are sturdy, easy-to-use, and offer a wide range of resistance. They are comparably silent and do not disturb persons in the direct environment and their training.
The resistance levels/heights allow the control of the intensity. A multitude of resistance levels and a high maximum load are worthwhile especially in the top zone. Machines for beginners should have a load limit of about 1000 Watt, top athletes should choose a machine with a maximum load of more than 1000 Watt. On principle, the higher the adjustable resistance, the better is the smoothness and quality.
Bike trainers with downhill mode
Besides the ascent simulation on a hill, many machines also offer support the downhill. Realistic downhills and slipstreaming in combination with gradient adjustment and training software are possible and make the training even more realistic.
Many manufacturers offer well-thought out training software
In order to make the training versatile and interesting especially for beginners and amateurs, mmanufacturers rely more and more on online applications, app control via mobile phone or tablet, virutal worlds, and original scenes/routes. You can cycle original stages of famous cycle races worldwide or face the challenges of alpine stages in the daily growing internet community.
Buying a bike trainer make sure which applications and software modules are available and if these meet your expectations and are compatible with the machine.