We’ve seen a lot of interest recently in bike rollers. You know, those frame-like devices you place on the floor and then ride your bike on.
Some people love ’em, some people loathe ’em.
But as we’ve developed this website out, and seen the interest grow in accessories and other areas, we thought it was about time we gave you the lowdown on the very best rollers out there. For sure, some of you see them as a real option for a realistic, alternative riding experience to bike trainers, while others of you are less convinced.
The one thing we will certainly testify to, is that while it’s important to train up those leg muscles and improve aerobic muscles, what often sets the best cyclists apart in cycling competitions is their technical handling. While indoor cycling using a stationary bike trainer is an excellent way to ramp up your fitness, you rarely get a chance to practice your cycling technique when you’re cycling in your living room (perhaps only the Kurt Kinetic Rock and Roller comes close though). That’s why a bike roller could make the difference.
Cycling on top of a roller forces you to truly balance your bicycle – just like you’d have to out on the road or biking trail – for a more realistic and holistic training session. As we mentioned, some of you love them, others see them as plain hard work…if you need some tips on how to successfully ride a roller, don’t miss our FIVE awesome tips for riding rollers like a pro!
So here they are, our five picks for the best indoor bike rollers on the market!
The Nashbar Reduced Radius Roller is one quiet, efficient machine. Cycling on this stationary roller is incredibly smooth, thanks to the CNC machined aluminium drums and sealed cartridge bearings. This ensures you’ll never need to stop in the middle of a training session to tinker with the roller – you can just get on with it! The base of this Nashbar roller is also splendidly designed, featuring no less than three sets of feet to create a stable base for your indoor training. These are covered with special plastic fittings to protect your floor. Nashbar always turns out value-for-money products, but at just under $150 this Nashbar roller is (even for Nashbar) a truly surprising bargain!
CycleOps Training Roller
This is a bicycle roller that oozes class. The solid steel frame as well as the innovative folding system reveal the superb design and build quality you’d expect from CycleOps, quite possibly the leading manufacturer of cycling training tools out there (and yes, we love their Fluid Trainer!). This roller delivers a simply perfect riding experience. The PVC rollers are precision-lathed and when combined with the precision steel drums, you get a slick, safe and quiet ride that’s second to none. What’s more, the sheer realism of training with this roller has to be experienced to be believed. We’ve no doubt that within weeks, you’ll find your reflexes and handling have improved by leaps and bounds. Certainly not the cheapest option, but when you throw in a limited lifetime warranty together with the quality on offer, you’ve got the most complete bike roller out there. Simply put, CycleOps has done it again!
This Kreitler roller may not come cheap, but it’s truly capable of taking your training to the next level. Kreitler has included various sizes of aluminum drums and by using drums of different diameters, you can adjust the amount of resistance you encounter. The smaller the diameter, the higher the resistance – this bike roller is thus just as useful for improving aerobic fitness as it is for honing your bike handling skills. Remember, though, that the blower and weighted flywheels should not be used with the 3” and 2.25” drums or your warranty might be voided – the resistance is high enough with these drums as it is. The drums feature polycarbonate end caps which have a longer lifespan, contributing to the product’s already impressive durability. If you’re going to be training hard and very often, we recommend you bite the bullet and invest in this high-end roller. It’s worth it in the long run.
These mid-range bicycle rollers strike a good balance between quality and affordability. They’re not the fanciest rollers out there, but they get the job done and will give you plenty of mileage to boot with their heavy-duty construction that’s built to take a beating. Despite the high-quality materials, this Tacx roller is surprisingly portable. It can be collapsed to 80 cm and is relatively light, making this an ideal choice if you need a roller to warm up before a race. Finally, with Skyliner front wheel support, this is one of the more stable and secure rollers out there. That should give you enough peace of mind to focus on your training.
Alloy Indoor Bike Roller
This budget roller can be found for less than $150, but don’t let its low price fool you. Its design is economical but very hardy. If you use it sensibly, you are unlikely to have any issues with durability. Our cycling experience with this Alloy roller was constantly challenging and it really pushed our steering skills to the limit, making it a worthy addition to any cyclist’s arsenal. This roller is ideal for hobbyists looking to train indoors once in a while. Do note that it’s not the quietest roller around and its performance will be somewhat impaired if you have a very heavy bike (or are a very heavy cyclist), but at this price it’s a fantastic bargain.
Getting some indoor cycling training is a necessary evil in foul weather, but with one of these five very capable rollers, you can make your indoor training as realistic and beneficial as possible. If you’re convinced by the models we’ve listed, buy one and start refining your handling skills with roller-based training right now!