The next generation of indoor trainer: the CycleOps Hammer!

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…

THREE excellent techniques for improving your hill-climbing

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 using a stationary bike stand, 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…

Check out more training videos here, here, and here.

And yes, that’s an ass-kicking Kurt Kinetic trainer taking a beating in the video!

5 awesome nutritional tricks for cyclists!

oats with yogurtWe know what it’s like, working hard all day and then trying to squeeze in some family time with the little ones AND a session or two on our indoor trainer. It’s really not that easy, and definitely a strain on your time and energy banks, which are constantly being eroded all day long.

Which is why we really need to worry about getting the maximum nutritional value we can from the meals we do manage to squeeze into our daily frenzy. Especially for those of us hitting the open road or sneaking in a trainer session or two.

There are plenty of nutritional tips for getting maximum performance or even for dieting while training, but we’ve come up with FIVE awesome tips that every cyclist can incorporate into their daily training habits.

In no particular order…

Start the day with oats

Oats are the perfect breakfast fuel for many people, and especially us cyclists. Thanks to the slow-release of carbohydrates and fairly low sugar (especially when compared with regular cereals), they really are the fuel your body needs.

Our tip: Soak some oats overnight in yogurt (the acidic content of the yogurt helps you increase your intake of iron), and then add pretty much whatever you like. Bananas are great and also an excellent source of energy, and you can top it off with raisins, blueberries and even peanut butter for even more energy.

Go green

We all remember the time when our parents told us “those greens are good for you!”, as we reluctantly pushed various green, horrible-looking vegetables around our dinner plate. But adding a handful of greens to your dinner (and hey, if you can create a smoothie drink with greens like spinach, all the power to you) boosts the antioxidant levels of your food, which will assist post-exercise recovery. In one study we came across from the University of Warwick, gym goers that ate a daily dose of watercress experienced less DNA damage post exercise.

Frozen beats fast

It might surprise some of you, but research indicates that frozen food has more nutrient value than food stored in the fridge. From a 2014 survey (revealed at the conference of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), it was discovered that those eating frozen foods ate less calories, some 250 calories less per day in fact. They also ate more fiber, and even more Vitamin A, compared with those who went some sort of fast food.

Oh yes, surprising indeed. What is even more awesome is the fact that frozen fruits and vegetables actually contain as many if not more nutrients as fresh, particularly if they are frozen soon after harvesting. A survey conducted by a UK university in 2013 shows that the nutrients in frozen berries, beans, peas, sweetcorn and cauliflower were actually higher than those which were stored in a fridge for 3 days.

Be smooth

The nutritional value of a freshly made smoothie has been known for some time (we got hooked after a visit to Thailand and waking up to smoothies every morning). What we’d recommend is preparing a variety of chopped fruits and veggies and storing them in freezer bags until needed. Don’t forget to add some greens (see the Go Green section above!), especially spinach, which we’ve found has worked well in smoothies. Then whenever you need them just pull them out of the freezer, blend them, and you’ve got yourself a tasty, nutritional treat!

Go double

More of an energy AND time saver, this tip is one of our faves and much implemented! Whenever you cook up something, think double. Basically, you’re going to double the portions you cook, rather than just worry about the immediate meal. For example, if you’re cooking up some pasta, double the portion; tomorrow you can use the remaining portion in a pasta salad, or reheat it and throw in some tuna and tomato puree. Or if chili is your poison, make extra portions so you can use the next day, either by serving in wraps with guacamole and salsa, or spooning some into/onto a baked potato.

Everyday foods like eggs can also be saved in the fridge for a week. So boil up a few at the start of the week and you’ll have yourselves plenty of eggy options through the week (remember that 3 eggs will give you your recommended 20g of protein recommended for post-exercise recovery).

*******************************

To cut a long story short, there are some great nutritional ways to maximize your training program. We hope these are a great starting point for you on your way to indoor trainer glory!

FIVE awesome Black Friday deals that will save you some serious $$$

OK, we’re all after a good deal, and especially on Black Friday (and if you missed out on Black Friday, there’s always some great deals on Cyber Monday), when the world seems to go just that little bit crazier for a few hours!

But hey, if the craziness means we can save some serious dollars, then so be it…anyway, we’ve come up with some deals you should definitely take advantage of if you’re shopping online for a bike trainer stand or accessories on Black Friday!

The deals below are subject to change, as we have no control over the final prices charged, but we have done our best to find you the BIGGEST reductions out there in Black Friday week…and if you can’t wait to get your eyes on some of the best online Black Friday deals out there, just click the image immediately below!

black_friday_deals
Over $80 OFF!!! The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine

Kurt Kinetic Road Trainer ReviewThis bike trainer from the Kurt Kinetic product line is currently on sale with a bit of a nice discount, pulling it well under the $300 level! This one is one of the best in the business and at this price is pretty hard to beat. Not sure we can find a better deal than this online…and take a look at the average rating on Amazon – 4.8!

Current rating on Amazon: 4.8

buy-now

69% OFF!!! The RAD Portable Indoor Trainer

RAD Cycle Indoor StandAnother bike trainer from the RAD product line, this one has been around for awhile, and has proved to be one of those value trainers that many have splashed the cash on. It made our comparison table, if you want to see how it lines up against other trainers. Also priced at under $80, it looks like it this one has a slightly better online standing than other RAD trainers out there…read more here.

Current rating on Amazon: 4.0

Your savings: Almost $160!

buy-now

 

40% OFF!!! The Ascent Fluid Indoor Trainer

Ascent Fluid TrainerThis is a very decent fluid trainer, one we reviewed a while back but which has been one of those trainers that people have been snapping up on the quiet. Ranked very highly on Amazon (4.8 on average!), this one doesn’t disappoint, especially now it’s well under $150! If fluid is your game, the Ascent could very well be your game this winter season!

Current rating on Amazon: 4.8

Your savings: $60!

buy-now

 

Save over $100!!! The Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer

Conquer Indoor TrainerThe Conquer Indoor Trainer is one of those trainers that has found its own little niche in the “best value trainer” corner. Rated highly on Amazon, and with plenty of happy customers, this trainer also made our list of (go read!) best value trainers under $80. Not sure you’re saving a heck of a lot this Black Friday, but it’s still one of the best value options out there.

Current rating on Amazon: 4.3

buy-now

 

56% OFF!!! The CycleTEK Momentum Fluid Trainer

CycleTEK Momentum Fluid TrainerThis one is a fairly new model and one that we’ve yet to get our hands on. But it does look like the classiest option on this list of Black Friday bargains (OK, the Kurt Kinetic above probably just beats it). For starters, you’ve got a big flywheel and a fluid chamber, ensuring a quiet ride, and which definitely makes it the quietest trainer on this list. It might well give the Kurt Kinetic and other top fluid trainers a run for their money, so well worth watching in the near future. Read more here.

Current rating on Amazon: 4.3

Your savings: $280!

buy-now

My review of the CycleOps Silencer: an amazing Direct Drive indoor trainer!

CycleOps Silencer ReviewEver since I first tested the CycleOps Silencer Direct Drive indoor trainer, my other stationary bike stands been gathering dust, lying in the cupboard, unloved and unused. This trainer has been touted as the very best all-round performer in the CycleOps pantheon – an impressive achievement, considering the array of top-end products this esteemed company has put out in the past few years (we’ve been big fans of the Fluid 2 for a looong time).

And yes, I would have to agree with that contention – smooth, sleek and silent, the CycleOps Silencer is as close to the complete package as an indoor trainer can possibly get.

>>>Check out the latest reviews and discounts for the CycleOps Silencer

So, what’s so special about the CycleOps Silencer?

First up, that sleek, sexy design…

Although style might be less important with an indoor trainer than it is with your bicycle (after all, most people will never lay eyes on your indoor trainer), it’s worth noting just how good the Cycleops Silencer looks. Clad in sleek, matte black alloy, and boasting clean lines in a very modern-looking chassis, this must be one of the classiest cycle trainers on the market.

The Silencer Direct Drive’s good looks, however, do not come at the expense of ruggedness or build quality. Weighing in at 12 pounds, with three reinforced rubber feet arranged in a wide stance, this cycle trainer is built for a stable ride.

The most striking thing about this Cycleops design, however, is probably the wheel-off design, which is still a relatively novel innovation in the indoor trainer market. Essentially, the bike’s cassette can be directly attached to the flywheel once the rear wheel is removed. This generates massive cost savings since training tires don’t come cheap and most indoor trainers are extremely tough on tires (especially MTB tires).

It also does wonders for the cycling experience (but more on that in a bit). Notably, it’s possible to purchase the CycleOps The Silencer Direct Drive with a 10-speed Shimano/SRAM compatible cassette (this review relates to that model – you can read about the cassette-less version here), which is definitely the cheaper and more convenient option (especially since most other wheels-off trainers don’t come with cassettes) and the one I fell for.

The only caveat is that if you intend to use a Campag cassette, you should opt for the package without the CycleOps cassette for reasons of cost and practicality, since the default cassette will not fit Campag gear anyway. It’s also worth noting that your bike frame must have a rear fork of width between 130 mm to 135 mm to fit in this indoor trainer, which is hardly a problem for most racing bikes.

The riding experience…

The combination of the wheels-off design and the weighted flywheel makes for an extremely enjoyable ride that accurately simulates road cycling.

I’ve always found wheels-on trainers to be a little jerky (particularly with oddly-shaped tires), which takes away from the illusion of coasting on tarmac. With the CycleOps Silencer, resistance changes were incredibly smooth thanks to the high-end 5-position magnetic driver design, and were easy to employ via the handlebar-mounted resistance lever.

CycleOps The Silencer CassetteThis latter feature deserves mention since it mitigates the complaint that cassette-mounted trainers lack resistance due to the lack of tire rub. At the highest magnetic resistance level, it was a real challenge to pedal at 50 rpm for more than half a minute, which in my books is more than enough resistance for a satisfying workout. I still missed cycling outdoors, of course, but the road cycling simulation was realistic enough to give me confidence that the Silencer will preserve my road cycling skills in the off-season, so I can come back raring and ready to go next year.

The silence…

The other major selling point of this CycleOps trainer is the “silencer” feature, which eliminates wind noise by using a magnetic driver design. I wouldn’t say the CycleOps Silencer Direct Drive is completely noiseless, but it’s definitely quiet enough that you’ll have to strain to hear it. Even with thin walls and light sleepers in the house, I was able to get in my early-morning workouts within a single complaint from my family or neighbors.

Some impressive tech specs…

  • The noise level at 20 mph is a very quiet 59-64 decibels
  • Dimensions L*W*H: 24″x18.5″x19.5″ (612x465x493 mm)
  • Has a wide, stable base for boosted stability
  • Weighs 39 lbs (17.6 kg)
  • Direct drive design features a fixed rear wheel mode
  • Fits frames with rear fork widths of 130mm and 135mm
  • Fits road bikes and mountain bikes with wheel diameters of 700c and 29 inches
  • Adjustable magnetic resistance, via an easy to use 5-level handlebar adjuster allows for true road-like feel
  • 220 lb (100kg) maximum load — excluding bicycle.
  • SHIMANO and SRAM 8/9/10/11 speed compatible.

Things to consider…

In my opinion, the only downside to the Silencer is the lack of portability. The machine doesn’t fold down and it’s pretty heavy, so lugging it anywhere, even between rooms, is a bit of a chore. However, indoor trainers don’t generally offer much in the way of portability because there’s simply no demand for it – after all, there’s no point carrying a heavy cycle trainer outdoors if you can simply cycle outdoors – and so this comment probably comes as no surprise.

If you’re not too skilled with a wrench, setting up the Silencer can also be a little challenging. This is partly due to its weight, which makes it difficult to thread the bolts in, and partly due to the issues I had attaching the resistance knobs to my base bar (though they fit just fine on my mountain handlebars). But still, 10 minutes and most of you will have this up and ready to go…

In summary: why you NEED the CycleOps Silencer Direct Drive trainer

As you’ll probably have noticed, neither of the drawbacks mentioned above relate to the key indicators of a good indoor trainer – speed, silence and durability. In all the departments that matter most, the CycleOps The Silencer Direct Drive trainer is a top performer, earning it my unequivocal recommendation.

It’s truly perfect for the cyclist with a small apartment – and who really wants to pump out some high intensity cycling work! It’s just so quiet compared to anything else that I’ve worked hard on, and seriously, is one of the very best indoor training solutions you can get!

If you need a quick look at the Silencer user manual, just to get an idea of how easy it is to get up and running, click here.

buy now

Another direct drive trainer to consider in the similar price range: the awesome Lemond Revolution 1.1.

FIVE things you should NEVER do before an indoor training session

Getting ready for an indoor session with your bike trainer is always about the preparation (heck, even getting yourself motivated!). There are always things you need to do before starting – but what about the things you shouldn’t do? The things that might just screw up your training session completely…?

Well, here are FIVE things we feel you should NEVER do before a training session if you really want to get something out of it…

fruit_vegetableEat high-fiber and fatty foods

It might seem like a good idea, but high-fiber or fatty foods before a training session aren’t going to do you any good. They are less easily broken down by your digestive system, so will likely be sitting in your stomach when you start training. Something that will probably make you feel a little sick after a few minutes. A better alternative is to go for carbs or proteins, which will help your muscles gain a bit more energy.

bike maintenanceForget to check your bike

Making sure your bike is in peak condition, whether you’re taking it outdoors or indoors, is always a must. Of course, the potential for disaster on an indoor route is much less obvious, but the need for a pre-ride checkup is still paramount. Nothing can be more annoying than starting out on a session and finding your gear changes are all over the place because somebody (ahem…) didn’t apply some oil…

drinkingwaterDrink a LOT of water

If you haven’t had a drink of water prior to starting your session, it’s often tempting to glug down a glass or two, especially if your heating is on full blast (or the summer heat has already got you sweating). Just don’t do it. Your stomach and liver can only process so much water at once, so they will struggle to get rid of that excess water, resulting in untimely bathroom breaks. While riding, we’d recommend something like a few sips every 15 minutes or so.

beer cyclingDrink alcohol

DO NOT have a beer prior to starting your session. OK, we did mention that carbs are a preferred choice of pre-ride nutrients, but the complete lack of nutrients in a beer will leave your liver working overtime, struggling to convert glucose into glycogen, which is the energy source your muscles need. And if you’re like us, we like a nice cold beer after a particularly hard session, just go easy on the cold ones and have something to eat before you drink.

Cyclist #7Perform too many warm-up stretches

If you thought that stretching and limbering up before a session was a good thing, think again. Stretching might not a terrible thing, and we’d recommend 3 or 4 quick stretches to get the blood flowing to those less-used joints, but do not overdo it. Instead, start your ride with a 10 minute warm-up session. You don’t have to push too hard, just get those legs moving and the blood pumping and you’ll be good to go.

See also: FIVE awesome nutritional tips for cyclists!

Stationary bike trainers for 29er wheels – YES they do exist!

stationary trainer 29erIf you’re the owner of a spanking new 29er bike and feeling a little frustrated at the apparent lack of 29er bike trainer options for your bike, fret not! We’ve been asked this question a few times recently, so came up with this little guide so you too can enjoy your indoor riding with a stationary bike stand that suits your bike!

There are actually a number of options for those of you with 29er wheels looking for a decent bike trainer:

  • You purchase a bike trainer that supports 29er wheel sizes (there are a number of options available, see below)
  • OR you go for the option of fitting a training slick to your rear wheel, instead of that knobbly MTB tread (more on that a little bit later, see below)
  • OR you replace your 29er wheel with something like a 26er, just for indoor training sessions
  • OR you go with a roller trainer or direct drive trainer

Trainers that support 29er wheels

First up, we’ll point you in the direction of the FOUR stationary trainers that we know of that fully support 29er wheels.

Kurt Kinetic Road Trainer ReviewKurt Kinetic Road Machine: one of the very best trainers around, this fluid trainer has all you need, whether you’re a pro or a beginner. It’s not cheap, but it’s seriously one of the best your money can buy, and one of the Best 5 Trainers we highly recommend. Full review here.

Minoura RDA 2429R Rim Drive Trainer: an awesome trainer branded as the world’s only road and MTB trainer (we beg to differ, but it’s still a great trainer). The trainer actually works on the rim of the wheel, NOT the tire, meaning you can save some serious $$$ if you’re an intensive cyclist. Full review here.

CycleOps Powerbeam Pro: we rank this as one of the very best 3 trainers out there, find out why here.

Bell Motivator Mag Indoor Bicycle Trainer: an old classic that typically comes in at under $100 and does the job very nicely thank you, complete with a mighty 5 year warranty. Full review here.

Fitting a training slick to your 29er

As road bikes are also 29 inch in size (but 700cc), change your MTB tires to a road slick or trainer specific tire, and then you should be able to fit most trainers. AND you’ll save your normal tires from wear and tear and be a lot less noisy (those knobbly MTB tires make a ton of noise!). Once you have that trainer/road slick on, your big 29er tires will be like any other 700cc road tire, the fact it’s a 29er won’t make a difference.

If you need a very decent training tire, try this Tacx TR6900 or this one from Vittoria.

Replace your 29er wheel with a 26er

This is another option for those of you with 29ers and struggling to get it to fit your trainer. Simply switch it over to a 26er for indoor training purposes only (obviously not for outdoor use!). Don’t forget that with an indoor trainer you don’t need any brakes, so there’s no need to bother with disc specific wheels, etc.

Buy a roller trainer or direct drive trainer

Kreitler Kompact RollerRollers can make things very interesting, and some serious cyclists swear by them. But they do take some getting used to, and need a certain level of skill and concentration (otherwise you’ll end up like this).

They’re also quiet(er) and you don’t have to worry about burning through your tires or being locked into a trainer. We highly recommend these rollers to get started with.

Direct drive trainers are fairly new to the scene of indoor trainers, but offer a great alternative. They enable you to remove your entire back wheel and slot your chain right onto the trainer. As most bikes now come with a quick release, this is typically a job that takes a matter of seconds. Some excellent direct drive options to consider here are the CycleOps Silencer and the Lemond Revolution 1.1.