Posts tagged introduction
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 killer weight-loss tips or 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! And read this if you want to know the BEST time for your training sessions for optimal sexiness and good looks!
Any other benefits we might have missed? Drop us a line if you can think of any!
If 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!
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 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.
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
Rollers 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.
It’s that time of year again, when those cold nights draw in and the motivation to get on your bike really takes a bit of a beating. But it doesn’t have to be that way, honest! With a little guidance from us in regards to the best trainers and cycling accessories, you’ll be pedaling away like a pro in no time!
Our website sees a big upturn in traffic over the winter months, and has turned into something of an authority in the indoor trainer market over the last couple of years. We know which trainers work, which trainers generally suck, and also know how to get the best out of your training sessions, whether you’re struggling to stay motivated or are desperate to shed those excess holiday pounds as you pound away at those pedals in your very own man cave.
For your winter training pleasure, we’ve collected some of the best trainers and accessories out there in a little list below – get ready to enjoy your winter sessions!
- The BEST trainer money can buy
- The BEST all-round trainer suitable for beginners and pros
- The BEST VALUE trainer (for less than $80)
- THREE must-have accessories
- Cycling shoes to ramp up your cycling skills
The BEST trainer money can buy
We recently compiled a breakdown of the three best trainers money can buy (for those of you less worried about a budget and more intent on getting the ultimate training experience), and the trainer we feel we have to recommend here is the rather tasty CycleOps PowerBeam Pro, which comes with support for ANT+ devices (rather than the version which supports Bluetooth devices).
You could go for the great value Elite Real Axiom trainer, or the nifty BKool Pro trainer too, as both also support virtual training, but the CycleOps PowerBeam Pro has to be your weapon of choice if you’re looking for something top-notch.
It also comes with a top notch price of around $1000, but for those of you investing in your cycling, this could be the best few $$$ you ever spent. The trainer comes with an integrated PowerTap power meter, plus a Mini ANT+ USB stick lets you control the resistance from your computer as you follow the virtual course on your laptop/TV/tablet. Definitely ramps up your training to the next level!
The BEST all-round trainer suitable for beginners and pros
If you’re not looking to drop a thousand bucks on something top-notch, then how about the awesome CycleOps Fluid 2 trainer? We purchased the revamped model last year and have been delighted with the results we get in our training.
It’s perfect for beginners as it’s simple to setup and get started with, but also great for pros with its new, larger flywheel for an improved road-like performance, and an infinite resistance curve that increases the power output as you increase speed.
Typically priced at around $300, this one is highly recommended by us; if you’re looking for alternatives, the awesome Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is also worth a mention, as is the CycleOps SuperMagneto Pro (a magnetic based trainer, but with technology to match the very best of the fluid-based trainers (more about the differences between fluid and magnetic trainers here)).
The BEST VALUE trainer (for less than $80)
We know that many of you are also looking for a great value beginner trainer, before you start spending the bigger bucks on a more fancy model. We’ve been there too, and fully understand…which is why we can safely recommend the Magnet Steel trainer.
We’re still not sure quite how they do it, but this trainer is regularly priced at under $60 and there are a ton of happy customers out there – and it’s also an Amazon bestseller!
It’s a great trainer to get started with, has a great price tag and also five resistance settings that are more than enough for a beginner-like level of training. It’s also pretty solid, and surprisingly quiet. The only thing we will say is that you get what you pay for… so don’t expect a virtual trainer package complete with computer controlled resistance!
If you’re still not impressed and looking for an alternative, don’t miss our guide to the best trainers under $80.
THREE must-have accessories
There are a whole ton of cycling accessories out there today (you might want to check out our Top 10 accessories for Christmas), but we’ve decided to whittle down the list to three musts.
First up, we can’t recommend a training mat highly enough. As well as the fact that they can protect your floor from scratches and even your salty body sweat, they also help to reduce noise greatly and provide a stable base for your training. The best one we’ve come across is the Kurt Kinetic floor mat, which is priced around $60. Others come in cheaper, but for pure looks and quality, the mat from Kurt Kinetic won us over completely (it’s also a perfect match for their awesome trainers). Check here for some alternative options.
Next up, we’re going to recommend the rather awesome Travel Stick, a massage stick that goes to work on those tired muscles you’ve been tormenting during your training sessions. It’s an innovative little stick that comes in a variety of sizes, and starts at under $20. However, the winning element for us was it’s physiological effects; the Travel Stick is fitted with round plastic rings that do an excellent job of alleviating crippling muscle aches which can lead to long-term injuries. Easily usable and easy to take with you, this is a great option for winding down from an intense session. More about the Travel Stick HERE.
Lastly, you’ll need the CatEye Strada Wireless cycling computer, which is great for knowing what you’re doing in your current session (if you’re not using a virtual trainer with all that data displayed on your laptop/tablet/TV automatically). And in this generation of touch-screen technology, we want quick access to all the relevant info – the CatEye Strada fits the bill perfectly! Together with its touch screen interface, it also has a great sensor that measures cadence, current speed, max speed, average speed, 2 trip distances, and elapsed time! It also fits on any handlebar or stem. Costs around $80-90. Read more here.
Cycling shoes to ramp up your cycling skills
Let’s be honest here, many of us will probably think that a pair of sneakers will be more than adequate when training indoors. No-one’s looking, there are no roads or muddy tracks to worry about, so hey, why the heck not?
Well, indoor cycling shoes might seem a little extravagant, but a pair of the right shoes will take your training session to the next level…you might not be aware of it, but the correct footwear is going to have a big role to play because cycling stresses your lower body in a very different way from running and you need footwear specifically designed to counteract that stress.
So yes, the correct shoes are an essential investment for any cyclist who takes their training and performance seriously. We’ve covered some of the very best options out there in this little guide,but if you’re going to go with something like the Pearl iZUMi Men’s All-Road II shoe, or the Shimano Venzo Mountain Bike Bicycle SPD shoe, you’re very definitely on the right track. And your feet will thank you much later!
If you’re looking for an indoor trainer, look for one with ride-ability, durability, and repeatability
We previously spoke about the three considerations you need to look at when buying an indoor trainer (notably your goals, your time available, and your budget), but here are another three factors that are also critical: ride-ability, durability, and repeatability.
To cut a long story short, we’ll break it down into quick bite-sized morsels:
- Ride-ability is the replication of that on-road feel, that feel you get when you’re out on your bike. Not all trainers on the market have that, but if it’s really crucial for your indoor sessions, you’ll probably be very satisfied with the Rock n Roller or the Road Machine from Kurt Kinetic.
- Durability is the trainer’s ability to last for more than one intense winter…depending on your use, that might rule out the cheaper end of the market (these three are cheap and cheerful, but we can’t guarantee their durability). For example, if you’re intent on a fluid trainer, make sure you get one known NOT to leak, such as the impressive CycleOps Fluid 2.
- Repeatability is the ability for the trainer to replicate your training sessions, crucial if you want to measure any progress you might be making. This depends on the resistance curve; if your trainer has too many variations in resistance, it becomes difficult to replicate…
The video below gives a great analysis of all those factors. And the guy in the video is the Australian Cycling Coach, so the fella knows what he’s talking about…
OK, before you go and splash that hard-earned cash of yours on the first stationary bike trainer that catches your eye, we’ll have to point out that there are some serious factors that really need to be considered before you open that wallet. We’ve whittled the list down to THREE, but each of them will have some serious impact on the trainer you end up choosing…
Define Your Goals
The first thing you really need to consider is what exactly are you aiming to get from buying a stationary bike stand?
Are you looking to recover from an injury that has left you physically sidelined for a while? Do you intend to use a trainer to lose weight? Or are you simply a semi-serious/professional cyclist looking to stay in form over the winter months when you can’t squeeze those calorie-burning sessions in between snow showers?
Whatever your goals, there’s typically a stationary bike stand ideal for your purposes; check out our introduction to the different types on the market.
How Much Time Will You Be Devoting?
The next thing to consider is just how much time will you be spending on your new bike stand? Just how often will you be squeezing in a training session? If you’re looking to clock some serious mileage, then we’d highly recommend quality over cheap and cheerful any day of the week (take a look at the CycleOps Fluid 2 or the Kurt Kinetic Rock n Roll trainer as two very excellent options; see other high-end models here). If it’s a once a week thing, then you could probably get away with a more budget-friendly trainer (depending, of course, on what exactly that once a week “thing” means…).
What Is Your Budget?
The final deciding factor has to be your budget. There’s really no point in going above and beyond that budget if you’re not totally convinced by a trainer and your reasons for buying it (here are TEN reasons for buying it!)
The first two points above will have a determining factor on your budget, that’s for sure, so let them dictate the actual amount of money you’re willing to spend. Other factors like an unsupportive spouse or a hard-nosed bank manager will also play their part, but we won’t go into those for our own, ahem, reasons…
But yes, their are bike trainers for EVERY budget, you just have to make your decision and go with it, all the way!
And don’t forget our comparison table for a quick overview of prices and features, hopefully it will help!
Here are another three critical factors to look at, especially if you’re serious about your training: ride-ability, durability, and repeatability.
For those of you looking to purchase a stationary bike stand (or indoor bike trainer), we know it can be confusing as to which type of stand you need to splash out on. We touched on it previously in this great introductory video (and here are three factors you have to consider when buying a trainer), but after receiving a number of emails, decided to give a quick guide to the various types available.
If you’re looking for the most authentic ride, one that imitates a real bike ride, then try a Fluid stand trainer. These types of stand generate resistance (resistance is what you’ll need if you really want to feel you’re working out) through a magnetic flywheel which combines with a fluid chamber inside the flywheel. As you pedal harder, the fluid in the chamber gets hotter, which means that the trainer’s resistance becomes more challenging as you continue.
Certainly more pricey (and technologically advanced) than most other types, these are perfect for the serious cyclist with a budget. They ooze quality and in our opinion are worth the extra you pay. The downside may be the cost factor, at least for some. Stories of leakage also abound, particularly with older models, but today’s current crop of fluid trainers should mostly be leak-proof.
One of our favorite fluid bike stands we can highly recommend is the Cycleops 2 Fluid Trainer, which we reviewed here. And, of course, there’s always the magnificent Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, perhaps the very best option out there.
Next up, there are Magnetic bike stand trainers, which generate resistance with a magnetic flywheel, the adjustable magnetic resistance creating drag against the bike wheel. The pros and cons: well, on the plus side, magnetic trainers are fairly inexpensive, can give good resistance, and are generally easy to setup and move around. On the downside, there are limits to the resistance levels and sustained heavy use can cause some problems. You might also find that they create a little more noise than fluid trainers, a point those of you living in apartments may want to consider.
A good example of a magnetic stationary stand is the Magnet Steel Indoor Stand, which we included in our review of the best stationary bike stands for under $80.
Certainly a more expensive option, these types of trainers give a very realistic ride, as you can rock your bike sideways to simulate a real road ride. These almost feel like Rollers (see below), with a natural swaying adding authenticity to your ride, including when you climb hills.
The only real Pivot trainer you should consider at this time (and it is still early days in this corner of the stationary bike stand world) is the Kinetic Rock and Roll Trainer. It’s not cheap, coming in at nearly twice the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, but is perhaps the ultimate indoor ride! Check out Kinetic Rock and Roll Trainer review, it’s well worth a read if you’re looking for the ultimate ride indoors.
Another type of stationary bike trainer you’ll come across is the Roller. However, instead of attaching your bike to the trainer, as in the above models, you ride your bike on the rollers themselves. Not easy at first, you may well need some practicing in balancing! Definitely an option, and not overly expensive for good models.
The option you see on the right is from Nashbar and is highly regarded as a good value option, coming in at around $130. Check out our Top 5 bike rollers post for a guide to the very best rollers out there.
One of the “new kids on the block”, direct drive trainers are a great option for serious cyclists looking to save some costs on replacing tires (those of you that spend a lot of time on your trainer will know that tires get eaten up). These trainers enable you to remove your entire back wheel and slot your chain right onto the trainer. It might mean a bit of extra work, but most bikes now come with a quick release, so is really only a matter of seconds. Some excellent options to consider here are the CycleOps Silencer and the Lemond Revolution 1.1.
Virtual Reality Trainer
If money is no object and you’re a serious cycling junkie, how about a virtual trainer, which practically turns you into a living PlayStation/XBox! They may make a serious dent in your wallet, but there’s no beating them. For an example of what we’re talking about, check out this video of the Tacx iGenius Virtual Trainer, it might just blow you away! You can find this amazing trainer on Amazon, but be prepared to part with upwards of $1000. Alternatively, we’ve recently come across the Bkool Pro Trainer, which is MUCH cheaper and to be honest, all you’ll need in a trainer – don’t miss our review!
To be honest, these are noisy (resistance is applied to the rear wheel using a pedal driven fan) and not worth the trouble! You won’t be able to hear the TV with these when working out, and frankly, if you’re offered one, steer clear!
Some Recommended Manufacturers
There are a number of established manufacturers in the stationary bike trainer world, including Kinetic, Blackburn, Bell, Cycleops, Jet Black, Giant, Overdrive, Schwinn, Outback, Elite, Tacx, Minoura, and Forza.
If you purchase from any of these, you’re moreorless guaranteed quality and good service, at least from our experience and those we know. If you ever experience anything other than good service, let us know!
Of course, if you’re looking to buy a stationary bike stand, it doesn’t matter when the season starts!
It might be the height of summer when you read this, or deep into winter, it really doesn’t make a difference. Because whenever you set up your stand, the weather can do whatever it likes! You’ll be safe at home/in the office, getting your training session in whatever the elements are throwing down in your neighborhood.
As we’re still in the throes of summer, check out our Top THREE bike stands for the season. As the fall approaches, watch out for our upcoming winter posts, including a review of some of the very best cycling accessories you’ll want in your Christmas stocking!