A trainer is a device that allows you to use your bike indoors and get a good workout while staying warm and dry during the cold, dark, and wet days of winter. It's also a great tool for warming up before a race.
These days, there are many different types of trainers utilizing various combinations of resistance, mounting location, ride data sensors, and smart features. The most common types of trainers are Magnetic Trainers, Fluid Trainers, Rollers, Smart Trainers, and Direct Drive Trainers.
- Magnetic Trainers - Magnetic trainers use two sets of magnets to generate resistance. With some of these trainers, you can vary the resistance by adjusting the spacing of the magnets, but this is generally not necessary since resistance can be varied by changing gears on the bike. Magnetic trainers can provide high resistance and the better models are reasonably quiet, but the progression of resistance with wheel speed is not quite as smooth as with a good fluid trainer. The Cycleops Mag Indoor Trainer is a quiet and sturdy magnetic trainer.
- Fluid Trainers - Fluid trainers use a fan inside a compressed hydraulic fluid to create resistance. Since the fan is immersed in fluid, very little noise is generated from the resistance element itself, although there is still noise from the tire, wheel, and drive train. Fluid trainers provide a very smooth progression of resistance and can provide a high level of resistance. Fluid trainers are generally more expensive than other types, but they tend to offer more satisfying and realistic training. If a fluid trainer sounds right for you, check out the Cycleops Fluid Indoor Trainer.
- Rollers - Rollers are a very different kind of indoor training device. They are comprised of three cylinders which rotate on bearings, mounted within a bracket so the rear tire sits between two cylinders and the front tire sits on top of the third cylinder. A belt connects one of the rear cylinders to the front tire cylinder so that the front tire spins with the rear tire. The cyclist rides the bike on the rollers, using weight, pedal stroke, and handlebar position to balance the bike in the center of the rollers. Riding rollers requires concentration and practice, so they're not recommended for beginners. On the other hand, they help develop bike handling skills and can be more engaging than conventional trainers. If you're interested in rollers, check out the Garmin Tacx Galaxia Rollers.
- Smart Trainers - For a more versatile and engaging indoor training experience, many manufacturers have integrated performance tracking sensors into their mid- and high-level trainers such as power measurement, speed, and cadence. Additionally, there are Wifi, Bluetooth, and ANT+ enabled Smart trainers, like the Kinetic Road Machine Smart 2 and Garmin Tacx Vortex Smart Trainer, which offer advanced, performance-oriented analytics and compatibility with interactive virtual reality training software like Zwift, The Sufferfest, and Bkool, to name just a few.
- Direct Drive - Direct Drive trainers take the rear wheel out of the equation. By removing the rear wheel and attaching the bike directly to a dedicated cassette affixed to the trainer, you can achieve more accuracy, power, true riding feel, and totally eliminate tire wear -- they are generally more expensive than other types of trainers but they also tend to offer more advanced features. Additionally, without a rear tire, Direct Drive trainers are often the most quiet option. Check out the Elite Direto II Interactive Trainer fort a high-quality, more affordable option.
There are a variety of trainers available to suit your needs and budget ‒ from traditional, no-frills magnetic trainers to cutting-edge, technologically advanced Direct Drive Smart trainers. If you have any questions regarding indoor training or need help determining which trainer best suits your needs, please don't hesitate to contact 1-800-651-4050 or [email protected].