By Ryan Wood
The cold weather will push many of us inside for the winter, and the plan might be to retire the bike to a spot in the corner of the garage.
But don’t let your ride collect rust.
While indoor cycling classes and stationary bikes are common at your local gym, is there anything better than getting on your own ride and getting a workout in?
If not, it might be time to invest in an indoor trainer. There are several different types of trainers on the market and the rapidly improving technology is making trainers better and better.
Not sure what product is right for you? Here’s a very basic rundown of the most common types of indoor trainers:
This trainer uses a fan that is powered by the bike’s back wheel. The resistance increases as the cyclist’s power increases. These are often called “fan trainers.”
Pros: The progressive resistance is similar to road cycling. This is the cheapest option for trainers.
Cons: The noisiest of all trainers. The resistance can top out if you’re going really hard.
These trainers replaced the loud fan with a magnetic flywheel to offer resistance.
Pros: Extremely quiet, and the resistance is adjustable though you have to dismount to tweak it. Reasonably priced compared to fluid trainers.
Cons: The resistance is fixed, so it doesn’t get harder the faster you go.
Fluid trainers combine everything that’s good about the fan and magnetic trainers. The resistance that makes fan trainers ideal is a strength of fluid trainers, too, since the fluid within the trainer provides resistance the faster you go. However, fluid trainers aren’t noisy at all.
Pros: Offers resistance the faster you go, yet isn’t loud. Increasing in popular as a trainer option.
Cons: Perhaps the priciest of all trainers, due to its best-of-both-worlds features. Fluid trainers can occasionally leak.
In short, rollers are a type of trainer that you plop your bike on top of and start pedaling–if only it were so easy. A roller typically has three cylinders (two on the back wheel, one on the front) that the bike rides on top of.
Pros: Probably the best at simulating being on the road. Works your pedal stroke better than any other trainer. Used by the pros.
Cons: Very difficult to get comfortable with. You have to be smooth and fluid and balance yourself consistently. For the inexperienced, this could lead to a lot of falling off.
Ryan Wood is an editor for Active.com. He enjoys a good ride and loves participating in endurance events throughout the year.