If you’re a keen road cyclist then you will already be more than familiar with the frustrations of winter riding. No matter how dedicated or determined you are, there are still times during the winter months when going out on the roads is simply impossible. It can be frustrating to see your hard summer training and racing go to waste as you resign your bike to the garage for the winter.
Luckily these days there are plenty of turbo trainers available that offer you the opportunity to keep your training up by bringing your bike indoors. A turbo trainer is a great substitute for outdoor riding and will ensure that you are ready to get straight back on your bike when the weather finally improves.
A turbo trainer consists of a metal a-framed shape with a flywheel that is connected to your back wheel, which is suspended approximately 1 inch off the floor, place a riser block under the front wheel to maintain your riding position. This allows you to freewheel without going anyway and keep your cadence up over those rainy winter days and dark nights.
Set up your turbo trainer video
So, you’ve decided that a turbo trainer is definitely for you but the next question is just which type and make to go for? Another question is what type to buy fan, magnetic or fluid, see below some crucial facts to know before making your decision:
Although noise levels differ from one to the next, a fan turbo is most likely to be the most noisy. Magnetic and fluid trainers are usually quieter, but they usually don’t give as authentic a road feel as the fan trainers. If you don’t want to damage your floor (especially wooden), a mat is also an essential purchase to put under your turbo trainer (stops sweat dripping too).
The back tyre is clamped into the turbo trainer and causes wear on your back tyre over time. If you are going to regularly turbo train then you will need a hard compound tyre or a specific training tyre to stop a smooth line forming on the middle of your back tyre, these are worth having and start from £22.
Boredom – Not the same as the open road
Lets face it, sitting in a room on your bike and pedaling away is hardly the most exciting of activities. In order to stop boredom setting in it is a good idea to cycle in front of the TV or DVD or even put some music on to keep you entertained.
Bike thong sir
Yes I know what your thinking, a g-string for your bike, but no. If you regularly use a turbo trainer then you will know just how much you can sweat. If this sweat gets on your bike in can cause corrosion and rust. This can be avoided by buying a sweat guard (or bike thong) that protects your bike against your dripping sweat.
So some point to consider then what to buy? Below is a list of some of the best turbo trainers available, from budget buys to deluxe models:
Basic/Budget Turbo Trainer:
Jet Black Sport Trainer
If you’re looking for a turbo trainer on a budget then the Jet Black Sport should tick all the boxes. It comes pre-assembled with a simple rectangular steel frame, metal roller magnetic resistance engine and small flywheel and should be easy to fold away and store when not in use. If you’re after a quiet trainer then you will probably want to look elsewhere but the Jet could be an ideal choice for beginners or those looking for a pre-event warm-up turbo trainer. It’s not really designed for long training sessions, as there’s considerable vibration through the saddle, but if used in short bursts the Jet could be a good budget buy.
The B60-R is a little pricier than the Jet Black Sport, but the added performance is almost certainly worth the extra pounds. The turbo trainer has 7 different resistance levels which are controlled by a remote. The B60-R also has fold out legs which are bolted together and should offer decent stability while in the saddle. The biggest plus points, apart from the price, are the low noise levels and smoothness. The Minoura B60-R is arguably one of the best budget turbo trainers out there on a price to performance level.
Best Fluid Trainer:
Cycle Ops Fluid 2
The Fluid 2 from Cycle Ops is regarded as one of the best turbo trainers available and it’s easy to see why. The Fluid 2 is made from 2 inch round, 16 gauge steel and comes with adjustable footpads for extra stability. The trainer also features a quick load cam lever which allows the rider to return to the same resistance level they used on their last ride. The Fluid 2 should also keep the noise to a minimum, while the cooling mechanisms and patented fan design should reduce any risks of overheating. Cycle Ops have sweetened the deal further by including a training DVD and a lifetime manufacturers warranty.
Best Magnetic Trainer:
Elite Novo Force
The Novo Force from Elite is not only one of the best looking turbo trainers out there but one of the best performing as well. The trainer comes with 5 different levels of resistance and is fitted with an ElastoGel roller which Elite say will reduce tyre wear by 20% while also keeping the noise to a minimum at the same time. One of the best features of the Novomag is the fact it can be fitted to just about any bike thanks to a handy adapter. That means if you own a BMX, 29er mountain bike and a racer you can use all three on it. The Novo Force is also very reasonably priced at around £150+.
Best Fan Trainer:
The revolution is all about realism. The trainer is designed by former Tour de France winner, Greg LeMond, and uses a large fan to increase resistance the faster you pedal, making it as close to real road riding as possible. One possible downside to the Revolution is the noise factor – This is a turbo trainer that could keep the neighbours awake so it’s best to use it in a garage or well sound-proofed room. It’s also at the higher end of the price scale but, if your wallet can take it, then the Lemond Revolution certainly shouldn’t disappoint in the performance department. It make take a little longer than most trainers to set up but once you’re safely in the saddle it offers one of the most realistic rides out there.
Best Top-End Trainer:
Tacx Fortius I Magic
As beneficial as turbo trainers are for your fitness, there’s no getting away from one of the main downsides – boredom. Sitting in a room and pedalling away on a stationary bike is hardly an exciting pass-time. The Fortius I Magic from Tacx may finally have solved the problem though. By plugging a laptop or computer into the I Magic you can view a screen that shows DVD Video Reality software of tour stages and classic rides. And what’s even more impressive is the faster you pedal the faster the footage on the screen moves. The I Magic has an eye watering price tag but if you regularly turbo train, and often find the boredom excruciating, then it could offer the ideal solution.