The onset of a harsh winter doesn’t have to spell disaster for the peak cycling fitness you’ve developed all summer. Indoor cycling is a great way to develop your skills, maintain your fitness and gear up for your best cycling season ever. Here’s an intro to the gear you’ll need to enjoy snow-free, climate-controlled training this winter!
Cycling Trainers: The Basics A cycling trainer locks the rear axle of a bike into place and creates pedaling resistance, allowing the rider to simulate conditions of road riding. There are four types of trainers and each generates resistance differently.
- Wind trainers utilize power generated by your own pedal stroke to create resistance. A fan is driven by the spinning of the rear wheel, displacing air and creating pedal resistance. The faster you spin, the more resistance is generated. Recently, wind trainers have gone the way of the Phonak Cycling Team and have largely been replaced by quieter magnetic and fluid trainers. Wind trainers range in price from $100 to $200 and are ideal for casual riders who don’t mind the noise.
- Magnetic trainers are a quieter alternative to wind trainers and generate resistance using magnetic fields. Magnetic trainers differ from wind trainers in that the resistance is usually increased or decreased manually using remote bar-mounted cable shifters. Newer “progressive resistance” models automatically adjust the resistance based upon the intensity of the rider’s pedal stroke. Magnetic trainers range in price from $150 to $400.
- Fluid trainers offer both a quiet and extremely smooth ride. An internal fluid system generates hydraulic resistance and most fluid trainers do not require manual tension adjustment (tension is adjusted using your bike’s gearing system). At $300 up to $500, the price reflects the ride.
- Rollers offer the best simulation of road riding for more advanced cyclists. The advantages of rollers – a system of rotating cylinders that you ride on top of – are increased balance on the bike and development of smooth and efficient pedal stroke. The disadvantages are that there is very little resistance, so you may be limited to less intense rides and there’s a good chance you’ll suffer a few falls before getting the hang of them. Rollers will run you about $150 to $400.
There are a range of optional accessories that can help enhance your indoor cycling experience.
- Special tires, such as the Continental Ultra Sport Home Trainer Tire ($60), are designed specifically to reduce wear by keeping cool during indoor training sessions – allowing you to save your good tires for when you’re back on the road in spring.
- Sweat guards, typically made of absorbent terry cloth, can be suspended above your bike’s top tube, protecting your bike’s finish as you drip your way into shape. If you’re training at home, consider a floor mat to protect your carpet or flooring. Both of these items will cost you under $100.
- Training videos, such as Spinervals, are perfect for solo riders wanting to stay motivated while on the bike. Each video focuses on specific skill development. Whether you’re looking to improve your speed, develop endurance, strength or hill climbing technique, there’s a video to suit every goal ($45).
- A CompuTrainer is the ultimate indoor cycling training tool for tech and gear junkies. This electro-magnetic trainer plugs into the wall and will measure your power output, critique your pedal stroke and even let you ride against a computerized opponent – or other CompuTrainer users over the Internet! Tacx makes similar electronic trainers that include real video of famous courses that you can ride through.
By Marissa Schroder. This article first appeared in Get Out There Magazine. www.getouttheremag.com