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Add a reading rack to relieve the bike training boredom!

Reader Rack NashbarIt’s easy to cycle for long periods when you’re cycling outdoors. The warm sunshine, the chirping birds, the wind whistling past your ears…all this makes a wonderful backdrop to your cycling session, and you feel like you can go on for hours!

Sadly, cycling indoors is a whole different story. Being completely honest, It’s hard to stay focused when you’re staring at a blank wall. Moreover, when you’re bored, you tend to focus a lot more on the aches and pains of muscle fatigue (you might want tone of these Stick massagers!), and in the long run this can lead to less productive training sessions. To avoid boredom, we’ve often used great music, and even some awesome training videos, but one of the best aids we’ve come across is the Nashbar Reader Rack to keep yourself entertained and well-read while training indoors!

Nashbar is known for making top-notch cycling accessories and this reading rack is obviously well-made and designed. The build quality is excellent, with the clamps feeling particularly sturdy. We’ve used cheap reading racks before and the clamps just broke off after a few months of use, but our Nashbar Reader Rack is still going strong. We also checked for scratches on our bike after removing the clamps and are pleased to report that we found none. We also found this bike reading rack fairly easy to attach to our handlebars. Some owners have reported that the product is less easy – but by no means impossible – to attach to handlebars of a mountain bike. We encountered no problems with our standard 10-speed handlebar, but mountain bike owners may want to take note.

Nashbar has also gotten the size of this reading rack absolutely perfect. It’s small enough to allow access to the gear shift levers, but big enough to accommodate all sorts of entertainment options. If you’re old-school like me and prefer hardcopy books and magazines, those fit securely in the reading rack. If you’re more of an ebook fan, Kindles and iPads also fit this rack just fine – you can cycle as hard as you want without having to worry that your precious tablet will fall off the rack and smash to pieces. Just remember that this bicycle reading rack is all-metal, so you’ll want to make sure your tablet has a protective case so it doesn’t get scratched by the rack. Some users have even reported that they can fit newspapers on the rack – we can’t figure out how they do that, but you’re certainly welcome to try!

In terms of its versatility, this Nashbar product gets a perfect 10/10 from us.

Staying motivated and focused when bad weather forces you to cycle indoors is no mean feat, but with the Nashbar reading rack, you can keep yourself entertained enough to push through the pain. You kill two birds with one stone as well – you can learn while exercising! That’s good news for busy students who need to work both revision and cycling practice into their busy schedules. From now on, we’ll be using this Nashbar Reader Rack for many of our indoor workouts.

The EIGHT best bike trainer stands to consider buying in 2014

2018 UPDATE: Don’t miss our updated list
of the very BEST trainers to buy in 2018!

We’ve reviewed many of the very best stationary bike trainers out there, many of which you can find in our Reviews and Buying Guide sections, but we thought we should compile a list of the EIGHT best stationary trainers you’ll want to consider buying in 2014.

Price, brand, and even weight are NOT the deciding factors in our list; what matters most is the quality and value for money we believe you can get from each and every one of the trainer stands on our list. So yes, a range of top priced bike stands, together with a couple of the best value budget stands we’ve come across, plus a couple of new stands we’ve recently had the pleasure of checking out. And a few more you’ll really want to consider…

Also – don’t miss our guide to the best bike stands and cycling accessories for the upcoming winter!

The legendary eight, in no particular order…

Top quality and our fave: the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine

Kurt Kinetic Road Trainer ReviewOne of the very best indoor bike stands we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing, the Kurt Kinetic Road Trainer is a fluid-based bicycle trainer that has helped us and many cyclists keep their winter training sessions on track. The non-leaking magnetic drive system ensures that your training can continue unabated without any messy leaks! It’s also remarkably quiet and will take wheels up to 29 inches – unlike many other stands out there. Not the cheapest, but we highly recommend this one – read our full review here.

Another top quality contender: the Cascade Fluid Pro Trainer

Cascade Fluid ProWe only recently discovered this bike trainer, but are glad we did! With a thermally sealed fluid drive, this Cascade Fluid Pro trainer is guaranteed to give you what should be years of training. It’s a smooth and stable ride with this one, and the front riser that comes with it (and therefore saves you around $20) also means you have three different height options. Again, not cheap, but if you’re looking for something top of the range, this is certainly one to consider. We’re even beginning to think it could oust the Kurt Kinetic from its rank as our own personal favorite…Read our full review here.

The Best Cheap Bike Trainer Stand of 2014

Magnet Steel Trainer

With the economy burning a hole in many of our pockets, we’re always getting asked for our recommendations regarding good value trainer stands. The Magnet Indoor Exercise Trainer has to be one of the best value options out there, if you’re really concerned about keeping costs down to a minimum. Typically sold for around $50, this is one we’d definitely call cheap and cheerful! Certainly a superb option for beginners and with hundreds of reviews and happy buyers on Amazon, it bags our Best Cheap Bike Trainer Stand for 2014 award! Read more about it and the other best value bike stands we recommend right here.

The Best Value Bike Trainer Stand of 2014

Forza F2 trainer reviewOK, so as we mentioned above, finding a decent value indoor training stand in 2014 is a mission for many of us with limited budgets, so here’s probably the best value stand we’ve come across over the last couple of years – the Forza F2 Trainer. This great value trainer is typically priced around $100, but you can often grab yourself a nice little discount on Amazon. Perfectly suited for the riders who train 2 or 3 times a week and need a decent workout. It’s easy to setup and the noise generated is surprisingly low. Not the quality you’d associate with a Kurt Kinetic or Cascade Fluid Pro, but definitely the trainer that wins our Best Value Bike Trainer Stand for 2014 award. Read our full review here.

Top quality and superb value for 2014: the Blackburn Mag 6 Trainer

Blackburn Tech Mag 6If you’re looking for an alternative to the superb Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, but want to save yourself some 30%, we can highly recommend the Blackburn Tech Mag 6 Trainer. It usually comes in at around $200, but is a great and quality option for the more serious of you cyclists (and even the non-serious of you). There are six resistance levels to enjoy, which can be adjusted directly, and easily, from your handlebar. A bike stand made to enjoy, it’s also very sturdy and stable as it’s made of tubular steel, which ensures a safe ride and a long-lasting trainer. Read our full review here.

The classy quality of the CycleOps Fluid 2 Trainer

Cycleops Fluid 2 TrainerAnother top quality indoor trainer to consider is the superb CycleOps Fluid 2 Trainer. This little beauty is not cheap, coming in at around $300, but is definitely one of the trainers to consider if you’re after top quality. A very quiet trainer, the Fluid 2 also has a realistic resistance experience thanks to a larger than normal flywheel. The self-cooling mechanism also works wonders, making the lifetime manufacturer’s guarantee almost unnecessary…And don’t worry about the legendary poor setup instructions – we’ve got a cool little video that shows you how to quickly set it up! Read our full review here.

The bike stand with an amazingly realistic ride: the Kurt Kinetic Rock n Roller

Kinetic Rock and Roll TrainerA question we often get asked is just how realistic a ride can an indoor trainer give you…well, the Kurt Kinetic Rock n Roller has to be the ULTIMATE ride! You do have to pay a certain premium for the experience, with this trainer regularly coming in at $500 or so (the new smart version costs a little more but is well worth it). But there’s nothing out there on the market that has the Rock n Roller’s rocking mechanism that simulates the riding motion, particularly when climbing hills. It also has one of the biggest flywheels around, adding to the realism when trying to build and maintain cycling speed. Read our full review, including a great video, here.

An excellent choice for Pro-Bikers – the 1Up USA

1 UP USA bike standThe last indoor bike trainer to make our list for 2014 is the 1Up USA, a stand that is regularly getting some top-notch feedback from pro cyclists on forums like MountainBikeReview.com. It really is a great option to consider, with its terrific Centrifugal Pressure Resistance, which many suggest add to the reality of your training session (but if you’re really after the ultimate riding experience, try the Kurt Kinetic Rock n Roller, see above). The only drawback is that you can only order it from the official website. They don’t distribute the stand elsewhere, ruling out the possibility of grabbing a discount, which is a shame in our opinion (as we are always looking to save a few $$$).

 

Inside the Kurt Kinetic fluid resistance unit (and why you’ll want a Kurt Kinetic Trainer!)

I think I might have already covered why I like the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine so much (you might want to read this if you are unfamiliar with this amazing bike trainer) but this post is for those of you interested in the finer details, the techie stuff.

One of the major factors in considering any trainer from those guys at Kurt Kinetic has to be the resistance unit that comes with the trainer. A quite stunning piece of machinery that has ensured their trainers stay at the very top of any bestseller chart – as well as at the top of many a wish list.

The fluid resistance unit is out there on its own in terms of power and performance, especially with its non-leaky unit, something that often impacts the cheaper fluid trainers.

The unit includes 6.25 pounds of true flywheel, the biggest out there (by more than double!), an almost 3 inch roller that ensures less heat heading towards the resistance chamber, and 90ml of medical grade silicon, which is thermal dynamically neutral (which in layman’s terms means your workload is measurable, repeatable, and consistent).

And it all comes with a lifetime warranty guarantee (so even if you do KILL your trainer and it eventually leaks, you’re covered)!

To sum it all up, we found this great video from the Kurt Kinetic team, it’s well worth a look if you’re considering one of their stands…(and don’t forget their new smart trainer version of the Rock n Roller)

>>> Read all about the CycleOps resistance units and how they work

The ultimate bike floor pump to keep your training sessions running smoothly!

Best Bicycle Floor PumpEvery dedicated cyclist needs a bicycle floor pump in his arsenal. It doesn’t matter if you’re only going to be using it on your bike trainer, those tires need to be pumped!

It’s difficult for us busy working adults to set aside time to train, and when that window of opportunity arises the last thing you want is to waste that time because of a flat tire. After rigorous testing of many pumps ranging in quality and price, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Serfas TPCG Bicycle Floor Pump as one of the most effective and reliable bike pumps out there.

Click HERE to see why over 700 people have rated this a FIVE STAR pump! 

Serfas TPCG: a truly classy floor pump

One of the most common complaints about cheap bike pumps is that they’re difficult (in some cases impossible) to fit securely onto the air valve of your bike tire, but I found that this wasn’t a problem at all with the Serfas TPCG.

If you’re used to DC-powered pumps, you might find that a little more force is needed to get the chuck over the air valve, but once it’s on, it grips the valve tightly and stays put even when you’re pumping vigorously. It’s worth mentioning that this Serfas floor pump is one of the most stable floor pumps I’ve ever tested. That’s probably down to its all-metal barrel and heavy nylon base, which provide a sturdy platform from which to pump up your tires.

This bike pump is also one of the most user-friendly I’ve encountered and the following features really impressed me.

  1. The pump action is incredibly smooth, and if you perform maintenance work regularly you should be getting plenty of mileage out of this floor pump.
  2. The 160 PSI capacity also ensures you get more air per pump, which is welcome news if you’re filling your tires right before a grueling training session or important race. The last thing you want to do is exhaust yourself pumping your tires before you’ve even got on the bike!
  3. I really appreciated the gauge interface which was highly intuitive and easy to both operate and read. Changing pressure settings was a breeze with this product.
  4. The valve pump head is very versatile. It’s a perfect fit for both Presta and Schrader air valves (the two most common brands of valve), so you won’t encounter any compatibility problems.

Finally, if you train frequently, you’ll be glad to know the Serfas TPCG is industry-leading in terms of durability. The build quality is obvious from the moment you take it out of the box and the simple valve is much less likely to malfunction than other types of valves. Serfas is so confident in the durability of its product, it’s issued customers with a limited lifetime warranty!

If I have one complaint, it’s that the gauge reading was occasionally unreliable, with the needle of the gauge remaining stationary for a few pumps before suddenly jumping to very different reading. This was a very sporadic problem, however, and seems to have ironed itself out (I only experienced it right at the outset) and given the TPCG’s otherwise excellent performance I’m willing to overlook this. In any case, in the highly unlikely case the problem persists, customers can always fall back on the warranty.

The Serfas TPCG floor pump is one of the most efficient bike pumps I’ve ever used and will be a worthy addition to the cycling maintenance arsenal of any training-obsessed cycling nut!

Need other accessories for your training sessions? Check out our Accessories section!

The new Ascent Fluid Bike Trainer: a superb fluid option!

Ascent Fluid Trainer

We’ve come across some great fluid based trainers in our time, but the Ascent Fluid Bike Trainer is definitely one of the best value options we’ve tested.

If you’re looking for a stationary stand that’s quiet, provides great smooth resistance, and is still a sturdy and sure ride, then the Ascent could be right up your alley.

What’s even better about this baby is that it typically comes in at around $150, which is a great price for a great fluid trainer.

Click here for the very latest deals for the Ascent Fluid Trainer – save UP TO 25%!

What we liked about the Ascent Fluid Bike Trainer

There’s a lot to like about this trainer. As mentioned before, the big win for us was its relatively cheap price tag. You won’t find many fluid trainers out there this cheap. OK, it might not be quite as good a trainer as the CycleOps Fluid 2, or even the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, but this trainer packs in some real, genuine value. Something we all appreciate in these harder, economic times.

Other feel-good factors for buying this stand include:

  • It comes fully assembled, so all you’ve really got to do is slide in that skewer into your rear wheel, fix your bike securely to the trainer, and start that training session!
  • You can get a pretty intensive workout thanks to the fluid resistance unit. The unit includes a steel flywheel that ensures your ride is pretty darned smooth, though as we always recommend, stick on a slick road tire for your training sessions – those knobbly mountain bike treads often cause a certain amount of friction and noise, which becomes especially prevalent with the slightly cheaper models.
  • You can fold the steel frame to a pretty compact size, allowing you to store it away between training sessions, or even transport it elsewhere.
  • Stability is ensured with rubber feet, which also help to soften the impact of any vibrations you might churn up during an intensive session. Almost all of the trainer is steel, with no flaky plastic bits to worry about.
  • The manufacturer suggests the riding experience is like riding out on the road – we’d have to suggest that might be pushing it a bit. The ride is great, stable, and you can work up quite a steam (some reviewers have even suggested you can stand up and really pump those pedals hard – we didn’t test it that intensively ourselves), but I wouldn’t quite class it in the league of the Kinetic Rock and Roller for example.
  • As we mentioned, it comes fully ready to ride, with a steel quick release skewer included.

So, bang for you buck?

Yes, absolutely!

This trainer won’t let you down if what you’re after is stability, a good ride, and tremendous value. It’s certainly not the top of the range for fluid trainers, but the Ascent is up there at the top of the league for value!

Massage those post-training muscles with the amazing Travel Stick!

The Stick MassageI think we all want to challenge ourselves and get those muscles burning. At least I know I do.

However, frequent and vigorous cycling sessions can take their toll on your body – if you’ve ever spent a whole day limping around because of a cycling-induced calf or hamstring ache, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. I used to spend a great deal of money getting sports massages – until I came across “The Stick”, a massage stick designed specifically for committed athletes. Don’t let the relatively nondescript name fool you – this is one of the most innovative products to ever hit the sports market!

Most massage sticks force you to compromise. If you want a portable one, you have to accept that it’s not going to be long enough for effective body massages. If you want a long one, you’re not going to be able to pack it with you for cycling races. With The Stick, your satisfaction is non-compromisable. The product comes in a stunning 7 different sizes, each suitable for a specific function.

The 17.5″ model is perfect for traveling and will fit nicely into most gym bags. The 26.5″ one is long enough to provide effective relief from back and neck pains. You can also choose the flexibility of your stick – flexible ones are less painful, but stiff ones really are recommended if you want to ease out particularly stubborn knots in muscles.

If you need more than one of these functions, you can just get two sticks – it’s very reasonably priced (the smallest size starts at just under $20) and the health and performance benefits are well worth the investment. For an all-purpose option, pick the Original Stick – that’s the one I tested and I was suitably impressed!

That’s not all The Stick has going for it, however. The crucial test for any massage stick is it’s physiological effects, and in that regard The Stick is truly industry-leading. The Stick is fitted with round plastic rings that do a good job of alleviating crippling muscle aches which can lead to long-term injuries.

Here’s a tip if you really want to get the best out of this awesome little massage device: use The Stick right after your cycling workout instead of the next day when your muscles are already sore. Muscle soreness is caused by the lactic acid that pools in your muscles after grueling exercise, so by pushing the action out of your muscles, this massage stick prevents the soreness in the first place. Moreover, it’s a lot more pleasant giving yourself a hard massage right after your workout than the next day when your muscles are stiff and painful!

On the whole, this is one of the most effective massage sticks I’ve ever used – it allowed me to train harder and more frequently than before. And budgetary wise it’s also saved me hundreds of dollars on massages that I would have invested in…

But beware – buying this product isn’t a license to go crazy with your workouts. You still need to train smart and listen to your body to prevent injury. However, with The Stick, your post-workout recovery will be significantly enhanced and your chances of muscle aches and pains greatly reduced.

Do some research, see which of the various models suits your needs best and buy one (click on the pic above to see which one suits your needs). Your body will thank you for it.

How to insert the included trainer skewer into your rear wheel?

We get asked this question a fair bit, and to honest, with the number of times we’ve explained it, the easiest way is to simply share a video with you. Visual aids always rock, right? And this video will also hopefully help our fingers out too, as we’ve typed out more than enough answers 🙂

The video features the skewer for the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, but don’t worry, it’s pretty much the same process for all bike trainers.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch!