If you’re on the hunt for an indoor bike trainer (often known as a stationary bike stand or even turbo trainer), my tips and reviews of many of the industry’s leading brands and models should make things a whole lot clearer for you.
I’m a semi-serious cyclist myself, and have purchased a number of bikes AND indoor bike stands over the years (don’t ask my wife how much I’ve spent over the last couple of years!). The indoor trainers really help my training schedule during those cold, winter months when it’s almost impossible to get out on the road.
After purchasing the top of the range model recently, the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine (a model I highly recommend), and getting asked by cyclist friends for my recommendations, I decided to set up this website to help them and YOU out. I’ve done all of the research and testing, you just have to decide what suits your training regime and your budget.
I’d highly recommend having a look at this to get started – these are the FIVE best stationary bike trainers you should consider for 2016, ranging from the very cheapest, super-value bike stands to the ultimate riding experience for the more serious cyclists of you. If money is less of an issue and you’re looking for something top-notch, take a look at the 3 best trainers money can buy. In addition, our much researched Comparison table will give you an amazingly quick overview of all the models out there, including ratings, weight and price. It’s pretty much the perfect buying guide, and is constantly being updated, so check it out!
And I also have the perfect companion to a new bike trainer – my guide to the TEN must-have cycling accessories that any keen cyclist will want to have to get the absolute maximum out of their training session, especially if you are setting up your own man cave! It was originally written for Christmas, but all of the accessories are perfect for any time of the year and will help enhance your training session – from the best cycling shoes, to iPhone holders, to massage sticks, I cover some of the best out there!
For beginners, or any of you just confused by the range of options and possibilities, I’d recommend you see our FAQ, a comprehensive set of questions (and their answers) that should hopefully answer any question you might have, including:
- I’m a beginner, what trainer do you recommend?
- Are there any decent trainers under $100?
- I’m a serious/pro cyclist – what trainers should I consider?
- Can I use my mountain bike on an indoor trainer?
- How can I stay motivated for boring indoor riding sessions?
Wrapping it up, if you’re looking for a complete guide as to what to buy this winter (2016-17), don’t miss our superb mini-guide to all you need this winter to enhance your indoor training sessions! While for those of you wondering how to knock off those winter pounds, see our tips on using your bike trainer to get rid of that winter belly and our post on the 7 major ways an indoor trainer can truly change your life – plus also check out our videos on how to really get the most out of your indoor training sessions!
3 major reasons why you need to buy a stationary bike stand this fall/winter
OK, so you’re still not convinced that an indoor bike / turbo trainer will suit your style, your budget, or even your flat/house – but perhaps these 3 killer benefits will persuade you…
1: Having a stationary bike trainer at home means you’re never going to have an excuse for not training during those cold, wet winter months! OK, it can be hard to get motivated, but trust us, there are ways to stay motivated, and yes, stay in great shape throughout the winter. If you’re a serious cyclist, a trainer can seriously make a difference for when the cycling season kicks in once again; and if you’re a beginner or a casual cyclist, stay in shape and improve your overall technique in a fun, sporty way (while you watch TV, use your iPad, or simply read a book!)!
2: They are compact AND portable AND cheap. So forget about not having enough space in your small, cozy apartment, or having enough money. Most of the bike trainers on the market today are compact enough to fit the smallest of houses and apartments (heck, some are even foldable!), and quiet enough to ensure that if you do have a small apartment, your neighbors and loved ones will never know you just put in a sweaty, 60-minute session that stretched beyond midnight. And yes, there are some great value indoor bike trainers for less than $80 – compare that to your annual gym fees!
3: You dictate the training session – and buy that we mean the pace, the effort, the time invested. The thing about an indoor trainer is that you choose exactly when and how to start training, and you no longer have to worry about the weather and how it might, quite literally, put a dampener on your training efforts. If you’re somewhat of a serious cyclist, concentrate on enhancing your skills on your own finely-tuned bike to improve your cycling form; likewise if you’re a beginner/casual cyclist, decide what works for you – you’re the one in the saddle!
Good Luck – and if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch!
OK, so we all know by now that cycling is good for your health. And with the weather starting to turn over the fall, indoor bike training is the perfect way to reap these health benefits.
But if pressed to name exactly how cycling improves your overall health and fitness levels, even the most ardent cyclists of you might struggle. So we’ve done it for you, by wrapping up the 7 ways that indoor bike trainers can truly transform your health below.
Help you lose weight
Obesity is becoming a global epidemic, and the associated health consequences such as diabetes and heart disease kill hundreds of people every day. Indoor training is one of the best ways to shed pounds, especially during those off-season months when we often pick up a few extra pounds. To burn even more calories, try high-intensity interval training, or just read this post for tips on how to use your trainer to shed some weight.
Recuperate from injury
Although most injuries require some bed-rest, if you stay immobile for too long you run a real risk of making things worse with some muscular deterioration. Low-impact exercise (with your doctor’s approval, of course) is the best way to speed up your recovery and maintain as much fitness as you can. Even a few minutes of indoor bike training can make a huge difference – it can get blood flowing nicely through the muscles to promote muscle healing.
Reduce the risk of cancer
Although we’ve poured billions of dollars into cancer research, there’s still little we know about this cruel and debilitating disease. One thing we know for sure, however, is that all studies indicate regular exercise helps to prevent cancer. General medical advice seems to point at getting physical at least a few times a week – many cycling experts recommend getting on your trainer at least three times a week to seriously reduce that cancer risk.
Improve your mental health
Research by Hillman (2007) found that elderly people who exercised regularly had a much lower chance of succumbing to Alzheimer’s disease. It’s not just the old folks who stand to benefit, though – cardiovascular exercise like cycling can improve situational awareness, boost creativity and even stave off depression. The health benefits of cycling clearly go beyond the merely physical!
Improve your cardiovascular health
High blood pressure and heart disease are far more likely to develop in those with sedentary lifestyles. If you cycle for as little as 10 minutes a day (e.g. by cycling to work), you can reduce your chances of developing both ailments by as much as 10% – that’s a great investment in anyone’s book.
Extend your stay on this planet!
Do you often lament that by the time you retire, you’ll have too few “golden years” left to reap the rewards of a lifetime’s hard work? Well, regular indoor bike trainer sessions might just be the solution to that. A study of Tour de France cyclists revealed that many professional cyclists tended to live around 5 years longer than the general population. OK, so you don’t need to register for the Tour each year, but get that trainer out for some serious training sessions while you still can!
Look better – and sexier!
Alright, so this isn’t strictly a health benefit – but having muscular legs and a toned bum definitely never hurt anyone’s health. Cycling can do wonders for your physique, and in turn for your confidence. If you’re looking to do better with members of the opposite sex, starting a rigorous cycling regime by investing in a good bike trainer may be the best way to go!
Any other benefits we might have missed? Drop us a line if you can think of any!
We know what it’s like sometimes, when those legs are feeling tired and you’re just not in the mood for an indoor training session…”tomorrow” we say, and we know that tomorrow may very well end up with exactly the same feelings and frustrations…
But we’re here to help, as always, and have come up with a quick and easy 3 step method for staying motivated over the winter. Oh yes, no more frustrated sighs when you look over at your great, ready-to-please trainer, we promise!
1. First up, head straight for the trainer!
When you get in from work, or if you straight away haul yourself out of bed in the early morning, head straight for the trainer!
Your motivational level window is fairly small, and if you find yourself distracted for any reason – like catching a glimpse of something interesting on the TV – that window is likely to disappear completely, and within no time you’ll have put that session off until tomorrow.
That’s why we say head straight for the trainer when you walk in the door from work. Have your training clothes and shoes ready at hand, and plonk yourself on your trainer as fast as you can! Be honest, sitting on your trainer is so much better for you than sitting in front of the TV…and if you’ve got your own dedicated man cave, even better!
2. Secondly, have your training program ready
If you’re just happy to pedal away for 30-45 minutes and burn some calories, that’s fine. But if you’re just a tiny bit serious, have that training program ready. It might be via the guys at Zwift, or through the virtual training sessions of CycleOps, or just an inspirational video you’ve caught on YouTube. But get that video/software lined up and ready BEFORE you start the training, and preferably before you head off to work or go to sleep at night.
Wasting minutes clicking away on the Internet or on your hard drive is a sure-fire way to lose that motivation – so be prepared!
3. Lastly, be honest with yourself and your goals
If those missed training sessions are piling up, and you’re really struggling to invoke any motivation at all, it may be the time to sit back and think about exactly what it is you want from your indoor cycling session. What are your goals? Your cycling ambitions? If you’re struggling to even look at your trainer, it might be the time to take a week’s holiday and just forget about it while you take stock of what it is you want from your trainer.
BUT add a note to your calendar/diary that in a week’s time you’ll be back, ready and motivated!
GOOD LUCK – AND STAY MOTIVATED!
We love our CycleOps Fluid 2, and have gotten familiar with many of the other trainers out there over the last few years.
But the future for indoor training is what really excites us…take a look at this video from the guys at CycleOps and the direction they’re heading (we love their newish Silencer Direct Drive trainer and their upcoming Hammer model sounds amazing!). Well worth a watch!
So you’ve bought your brand new bike trainer, it’s all setup and ready to go, but perhaps you’re still wondering to yourself just how the heck you’re going to burn all that winter excess off…because let’s face it, most of us pig out during the winter and don’t really commit to exercising properly over the colder months!
And despite those good intentions – you did buy that stationary bike trainer after all (and if you still haven’t purchased one, check out this guide) – it doesn’t really seem possible to stay trim and even lose some of that belly fat. I mean, not just by pedaling for a few minutes, surely?
Well, yes, you really can burn off some off that winter belly fat on your stationary bike trainer, and here are just a few pointers to help you on your way…
Tip 1: Stretch and stretch again
Prior to getting on your bike, stretch your body to get your body’s muscles warmed up and ready to work. Touching your toes, and trunk rotations are perfect to start with; if you feel the need for more, try some knee highs or leg swings, focusing more on the legs as that’s where most of your energy will be targeting in your training session.
Tip 2: Warm up pedal
Start pedaling, but primarily to warm up your muscles. Get comfortable on your seat,and slowly but surely increase your rate over a period of 4-5 minutes. This should get your muscles nice and ready for a workout.
Tip 3: Increase your pedaling
Start working harder and sweat! You’ll want to feel like your body is really working, and that breathing becomes harder. And don’t let the pace drop, keep at this rate for the whole of your session.
* The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that in order to lose weight, you’ll need to do some 60 to 90 minutes of cardio exercise.
Tip 4: Break in those intervals
To really maximize your training, start using interval training. That means pedal at a very intense rate for something like 30 seconds, and then ease off for the next 30-60 seconds. Keep doing this for up to ten minutes at first, as long as you include it in a much longer session (let’s say 45 minutes). These intervals are perfect for cardio and burning off that winter belly!
Tip 5: Use your trainer’s resistance levels
Most of the bike trainers we’ve reviewed on this site have some kind of resistance level. Use your trainer’s resistance to build up an even more intense session, which will help both your cardio efforts and your leg muscles.
Tip 6: Warm down
Just as you did when you started out, see Tip 2, ease out of your session with a slower intensity for 4-5 minutes. Most fitness experts will suggest this is a must, and it really does help your muscles unwind and loosen up from a particularly intense session.
Tip 7: Workout regularly!
Get on your trainer at least 3 times a week, for something like 45 minutes each time, and you’ll quickly see those pounds dropping off!
If you’re aiming to stay fit over the winter months, you’ll probably have your stationary bike stand set up something like in the image below. Or perhaps not.
You may well be motivated for those upcoming winter sessions – and if you’re not, try checking out some of these videos for some inspiration – but making sure you’ve got the perfect environment is a big part in getting the most out of your training.
We’d highly recommend something like the image below if you can, but obviously, each to their own. We’d also probably replace the phone book with a proper riser block, and the towel on the bike frame with a sweat guard, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers!
How do YOU set up for the winter?
We’ve been in love with our CycleOps Fluid 2 trainer for at least a couple of years, and it’s been on our list of bestselling stationary bike stands for some time now. But it’s always interesting to see the latest innovations and designs coming to fruition, especially from market leaders like CycleOps.
Take a look at the video below for a peek at the new generation – the CycleOps Hammer trainer! It looks like it could redefine training as we know it, whether you’re a weekend warrior or a podium-seeking pro…and yes, we’re hoping to test this direct drive beast out real soon!
It’s currently priced at around $1200 – but watch out for some specials over Black Friday and in the Christmas runup…
If you’re looking for some Spring training tips to really improve your hill-climbing, then this is the video for you.
The video is from the impressive CycleCore (aka Graeme Street), who has some awesome training videos (another one we featured here).
The clip features THREE awesome tips for some high intensity hill climbing, including the Climbing Energy Ass Kicker technique – yes, check out the video below to understand more! And yes, his man cave probably needs a bit of work…
And yes, that’s an ass-kicking Kurt Kinetic trainer taking a beating in the video!