Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bicycle Trainers and Winter Withdrawal

[1884 trainer, image via Wikipedia]

I am curious to know how many of you out there use bicycle trainers. I am now seriously considering one, as my winter roadcycling situation is truly dire. The frequent snow is making it impossible to plan rides, and all the muscle tone I'd built up over the Spring, Summer and Fall is slowly but surely disappearing. I am starting to feel lethargic and out of shape. There is a lot of pining going onand it's only the start of January!

Bicycle trainers are a new concept for me and I have no idea what to expect. To what extent does being on one resemble actual cycling? Can they be used with fixed gear bikes? Is fluid necessarily better than magnetic? I don't want rollers, I don't want the trainer to be noisy, and I don't want anything overly complicated - but otherwise I have no idea.  Please chime in, and no doubt your comments will be useful to others who are considering this as well. A trainer cannot replace the thrilling experience of riding a roadbike on the open road, but it can at least help me stay in shape while still interacting with my own bicycle. It's going to be a long winter...

54 comments:

  1. As much as I love cycling, and the wonderful feeling I had last fall, after a summer of touring, of how fit I was (and I loved the shape of my calves, oh yes), I think it's a good idea to mix things up, and not depend on one kind of exercise.

    If I could afford it, I'd be taking some kind of dance class right now. Instead, I'm trying to get to a local yoga studio at least once a week. It's still hard exercise, and means I'm doing a different kind of movement for once. I'm also thinking of trying to increase the strength of my arms, maybe with the goal of being able to do a pull-up, which I've never been able to do!

    I'll be the first to admit that I currently suffer from a form of cabin fever. I get out and about doing my daily errands etc., but I miss day-long rides to fun places. I think I'm going to keep an eye on the weather forecast for a while....go on a nice long ride the next time it's nice out.

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  2. I haven't used a trainer in, oh jeeze...26 years. My last was a Vetta roller. It *was* noisy, but I do recall it did help me with both muscle tone and cadence, which was a big issue since I lived half way up a truly formidable hill at the time.

    Craigslist is your friend- I'm sure you can find something useful. Even a few hours a week will really help.

    Corey K

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  3. I know that many who "train" in the winter like the feel of a full real bicycle under them while ride. I don't and I don't believe that it's necessary when there are many good stationary bikes to be had for pennies on the dollar in the used market. (often many times less that a bike spinning adapter)

    I found, and ride a like new Schwinn Airdyne stationary bike for just under $100 used. There are other types of stationary bikes so look around. I use winter time to tune, clean and otherwise maintain my bike for uninterrupted summer riding.

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  4. I've tried a variety of trainers over the years, but always return to the outdoors. "A trainer cannot replace the thrilling experience of riding..." is exactly my sentiment.

    In the winter here in southern Michigan, I ride my mountain bike, as well as cross-country ski.

    I hope you find something that works for you!

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  5. Oh, and to actually answer your questions, you do get the feel of actual resistance, which you can manually vary.
    I've no idea whether fixed-gear bikes are suitable for use with magnetic or fluid-based trainers, though they certainly would be with the fan-based trainers of the 80s & 90s. But as I said earlier, they are very useful for both endurance and cadence training, and do so with the feel of your own bike.

    Corey K

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  6. Though my winter is nothing like yours, I too have been considering acquiring one as well. Fixed gears do work on them, making it very similar to a spin bike, which unfortunately I'm not down with, gyms in general. Unsure of technology, one vs another, they vary greatly in price, I have although entered rollers (classic).

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  7. Velouria,

    I use a an earlier version of the Kurt Kinetic Road fluid trainer. it's relatively quiet and has a lifetime warranty.

    I do not use any of my road bikes in the trainer. The Frankentrainer is actually a '60s-era Bianchi gaspipe frame with an ''80s vintage Peugeot fork. The rear wheel is Velocity Razor rim laced to an inexpensive Suzue hub with a 7sp freewheel. I use a Continental Home trainer tire on the wheel. The rest of the Frankentrainer is assorted bits and bobs cobbled together from the parts bin - early Shimano 600 derailleurs, badly scratched Campy cranks and pedals (52/44, Power Grips on the Campy road pedals), Triplex shifters, Cinelli bars and 3TTT quill stem and a pair of Campy SR brake levers and hoods with a severe case of road rash to rest my hands on. I use a Brooks B-17 saddle on a cheap Kalloy seat post and a MTB QR seat clamp . I have a second Kalloy post with a B-17S that I can swap out for my wife.

    The front is supported by a contraption made out of plywood and 2x4s that my son made for me. A generic track axle (available from Loose Screws among others) is bolted into the fork and rests in one of two notches in the upright 2x4s. There is a platform on top where I've mounted a portable DVD player and a pair of cheap powered computer speakers.

    Despite being seriously ugly, it works very well. I don't have to have a separate training wheel for any of our road bikes and it's always ready for use. I use it year round - possibly more in the dead of summer because the combination of heat and humidity here really takes the starch out of my collar.

    A couple of caveats: set up the trainer somewhere where things like chain lube and the tiny bits of tire that are worn off by the friction of the roller won't cause problems. If it's a carpeted area, you'll want a mat to protect the carpet from those things and perspiration.

    As far as resembling being out on the road - not so much. A fluid trainer comes closer in my experience that a magnetic one, but it's still not the same. However, it's a great way to burn calories, get in shape and develop technique. As a workout, it's considerably more efficient that riding through the city. You will develop leg strength, endurance and the ability to turn over gears at a constant cadence, maximizing your energy expenditure.

    If you are interested in pictures, let me know. I can also share my opinions on the some of the cycling videos out there.

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  8. Good exercise - yes.
    Maintain fitness - yes.
    Boring - YES.

    Might be a good time for some cross-training...

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  9. As someone who has suffered through multiple sessions on trainers ( And rollers and frozen, slushy training rides ), I have little to say except that I have abandoned them altogether. I stay in shape primarily by skating, walking, or skiing when I can and adding in a ride when it's clear and dry. It's a change of pace that finds me chomping at the bit to ride again when the roads aren't slushy anymore.

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  10. Thanks for the replies, and of course it makes sense that it is boring compared to real cycling. Still, I am hoping it is at least more realistic than the stationary bicycles they have at gyms - simply due to it being an actual bike, and your own bike? I am not able to fit yoga or skiing into my day in a significant way right now. But the trainer I would have at home and could use on my own schedule. I should also mention that I absolutely do not "exercise" or go to the gym and have no desire to start. I still cycle for transportation and I walk, but that is not enough in comparison to having cycled for an average of 20-30 miles a day on a roadbike previously in addition to transportation cycling. It's just a huge difference in activity level.

    ann - I like watching professionals practice on rollers, but I am pretty sure I would break my neck : )

    Phil - Your description is interesting, especially since I've gotten conflicting feedback on this. Some say that the trainer does not help build skill, that is. The Kurt Kinetic Road fluid trainer looks like a good option. And I hadn't even realised there were special trainer tires. Thanks also for the info about protecting the carpet. I do appreciate pictures and any other info you might want to share.

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  11. Velouria,

    There's a difference between skill and technique. Skill is how you handle the bike in the environment in which your riding. That's developed through riding and a static situation like a trainer won't help there. Technique addresses things like a smooth pedaling action, cadence, tempo, form, etc. You can develop the latter on a trainer.

    The trainer tires are relatively inexpensive and keep you from wearing out your road tires. They'll also have less drag on the roller. I learned the lesson about the carpet the hard way. :-(

    If you are going to use a trainer, you'll need something to watch/listen to. It's boring as hell without it. (It's not the most exciting moments of your life with it, either.) Music and movies or TV shows are OK, but I find that it's easy to lose focus.

    IMO, David McQuillen is making the most enjoyable workout videos out there. The workouts are hard, the dialogue is very tongue in cheek- he's an American married to an Aussie living in Singapore - and you're working out to actual race footage from the 2009 and 2010 seasons. I wish there were more than five.

    I have the Italian set from these guys and I'm thinking about getting the Hawaii set. They are also good but be warned the audio quality of the coaching tracks is variable.

    If you want something to do an aerobic/blue zone/Zone 2 work out, rather than the more anaerobic workouts above, the folks at CycleFilm offer some good options. I have the Italian Job series. They are essentially travel agents who book their British clients for the Gran Fondos in Italy. Each disc rides the course and gives an overview. Beautiful scenery and good background music, you'll have to develop your own workouts for each. I use them when I want to do a spinning session and keep my heartrate in a moderate range (120-140 bpm). One caution, these are Region 2 PAL encodes so you'll need a region-free DVD player or the software hack/firmware to make your player region free. Many of thse can be found on-line. I had no problem making my Phillips portable DVD region-free.

    There are more - Troy Jacobson's Spinervals series, Chris Carmichael's series, for example. But the ones above are the ones I've found work the best for me.

    I'll try to get some pics in the next day or so and e-mail them to you.

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  12. Velouria you must try to do mtb in the winter...

    As bicycle trainer I use a simplified version of this elite roller:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhwZi3UWNAw

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  13. The Kurt Kinetic Phil mentions generally gets good reviews. I find that reading livens indoor training, whether on the bike machine or at the gym. As such, a book holder is probably mandatory, and at least one of them, for sale at Performance for about $10, attaches nicely to your handlebars. Without it, I probably would be hopelessly behind on my New Yorker reading.

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  14. I've been researching trainers myself for this winter, but haven't taken the plunge. I can't decide whether to go with a stationary trainer for resistance training/cardio training, or an elliptical roller for core muscle maintenance. From what others are saying, it seems that the rollers provide a more "organic" training experience and require more concentration (or you risk falling), but at the expense of any real cardiovascular training since there is no resistance built in... it's essentially just like pedaling on a flat road with no wind resistance.

    I'd love to get more input from people who've used both types of trainer.

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  15. Don't own a trainer, in part because of tight space in the basement, (too many bike parts strewn about). However, when the weather is too cold and snowy, which it is this week, I head indoors to attend group cycling classes. Depending on the instructor, the 45-minute workout ranges from quite vigorous and fun to "Oh, please, let it stop," when the music is just too unbearable. The annual gym membership costs less than a good quality trainer, and I enjoy weight training, yoga, stair climber, treadmill and other benefits of gym membership.
    I find indoor cycling classes give me a good level of base fitness, so spring riding isn't a killer.

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  16. If I had to ride indoors, it would be on rollers. Here's a trick - set the rollers in a doorway so you can lean against the door frame with your shoulder when necessary.

    You said you don't exercise, but good old calisthenics at home are free, effective, and will improve your overall fitness and increase your cycling strength next season. You will benefit from even 15 minutes every other day!

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  17. It's not a matter of cost. I don't go to the gym and don't work out because I don't enjoy it and don't want to do it, which I think is a difficult argument to get beyond. As part of my daily routine, I walk and generally stay on my feet more than most people I know, and that has kept me consistently fit throughout life in the absence of a gym. The reason I want a trainer, is that I specifically want a bicycle trainer : )

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  18. Ok, at first I thought that was a picture of a spinning wheel, and had thought that you had taken up spinning! :)

    I don't guess it hurts to try a trainer out. If it helps to keep you in shape, and you can fit it in your home, and use your own bicycle, then might as well give it a go.

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  19. I absolutely love my bike trainer and I've been riding them over 20 years. I guess it depends how much you want to put or have in your budget for a bike trainer. A fluid trainer will provide the most road realistic feel of any bike trainer. And why not ride what the USA Cycling Team rides and choose the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine? This trainer is practically guaranteed to be leak free, provides great resistance, and is relatively quiet when compared to other bike trainers. Of course a magnetic trainer or fluid trainer will just have less resistance and make more noise.

    I'm not a big fan of rollers. To me, rollers require 100% concentration or you'll find yourself on the floor. I've watched riders look at their foot in the pedal and find themselves running into a wall.

    What it comes down to is that you will be able to spend more time on a stable trainer.

    It is winter here in Illinois (it was warm today at 27 degrees fahrenheit) and I'm on the bike trainer nearly every day. Since I have access to a number of bike trainers, I can be picky. I still ride my 20+ year old wind trainer but it lacks in resistance, is really noisy, and definitely does not have a road like feel. CycleOps makes very good magnetic trainers but you still have less resistance and less of a road like feel as compared to a fluid trainer.

    Some people get bored when riding a bike trainer. If that may be you, pick up an mp3 player and load up some hard driving music or grab one of the Spinervals DVD's and plop yourself in front of a TV. That should do the trick!!!

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  20. Paul - assuming that I'd be getting a current production trainer, what would you say is the difference in noise level between magnetic vs fluid vs kinetic? I get migraines easily from continuous loud noise - for instance, the kind generated by vacuum cleaners.

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  21. using a trainer doesn't seem appealing to me. I use the winter to try other activities as some others have mentioned. today I went to a nearby rock climbing place. It was great exercise, especially for my much neglected arms. Also, I try to do some weight bearing activities for my bones since I have several risk factors for osteo and biking doesn't help with that.

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  22. I had a cheap trainer that I bought from Nashbar when I was working crazy hours and needed to get in miles in preparation for a MS150 ride.
    It was too loud to comfortably watch TV or listen to music without the volume turned WAY too loudly, and it was dead boring. I finally gave it away recently to a friend, after not using it for probably 10 years.
    It works in a pinch, but I'd seriously advocate finding something else (XCskiing?) to take the place of road cycling in your life until the weather changes. It will only be another two months....

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  23. I use both a Minoura Mag trainer and Kreitler rollers.

    The nice thing about the trainer is its cheaper, easy to deal with, and stores conveniently in a closet, no problem, but using it is like being a hamster on a treadmill. You have to watch television or have something to occupy your mind or its the longest hour (or even half hour) of your life.

    Rollers take up more space. Rollers are much more like real riding but require developing a bit of balance and confidence, and you must be willing to suffer a few wipe-outs along the way before you find your groove. I prefer rollers. It is said that rollers help you refine good efficient pedaling technique. I think there's something to it.

    Either way, I find there is a huge benfit from trainers/rollers because when spring rolls around your legs are alive rather than dead and your cardiovascular is good. If you are inclined I recommend first trying an inexpensive trainer and finding out if such implements suit your fancy.

    Have fun!

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  24. Hey check out these vintage rollers!

    http://www.bikecult.com/works/rollers.html

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  25. Velouria said...
    "It's not a matter of cost. I don't go to the gym and don't work out because I don't enjoy it and don't want to do it, which I think is a difficult argument to get beyond. As part of my daily routine, I walk and generally stay on my feet more than most people I know, and that has kept me consistently fit throughout life in the absence of a gym. The reason I want a trainer, is that I specifically want a bicycle trainer : )"

    Like it or not indoor exercise of any kind is boring as hell for most people UNTIL they discover the great feeling afterwards.

    It makes not one bit of difference that they ride a gym style stationary bikes or a bikes set up for spinning. It's all boring 'cause you're inside ! All the equipment difference is in your head and no where else since they are doing the exact same job !!!!

    I've tried both ways to cycle inside and I'll take stationary since that is what these bikes are built for ....STATIONARY INDOOR RIDING. Bikes that are adapted to ride inside are wanna be indoor bikes and will never be quite right for the job.

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  26. Indoor trainers suck out loud! Not only is it boring to use them, they make you think you are accomplishing something you are not. You have to spend 3 to 5 times as much time on them as riding on the street to get the same activity level, and that is nearly impossible to do since it is so incredibly boring. Suck it up, go outside.

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  27. Is that a unicycle trainer? Ha. You gotta get one of those. :)

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  28. I use a bike trainer in the winter months. However, I find it to be mentaly draining. The longest I can usualy manage without going insane staring at walls is 40-50minutes. The trainer is a little bit noisey but this could be because my room is quite small and it echo's against the walls.

    They make video's to be used with bike trainers to help keep from getting to bored on them (follow along in road races or video of a road with an instructor telling you when to push or go slow per the landscape). I just recieved one from a friend and will see just how much they help.

    Another alternative would be to try out spinning classes at the gym. This way your not alone and you have an instructor pushing you making it hard for the stationary bike to get dull.

    I also like to mix it up in the winter since I can only take so much of the bike trainer. I usualy use the treadmill at the gym and do static workouts.

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  29. The closest I have found to being outside is the
    kinetic road machine. Mine has a 6.25 pound
    flywheel PLUS the 12 pound pro flywheel. This
    fluid trainer is quiet enough for me to even
    watch TV while working out.

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  30. No disputing the boredom factor of trainers but Marc I would disagree that there's no benefit, or as you say, that nothing is being accomplished. Getting the heart rate up for a half hour while working the ligaments and tendons used in pedaling motion, maybe three times/week during winter gives you a nice little base to start from when spring riding activity starts up. This has been my experience anyway.

    True its important to get outside and do something else in winter but also being able to satisfy the urge to turn the pedals without taking on ice, snow, and dirty slushy streets is a nice option IMO.

    Like many things with cycling it comes down to personal preferences.

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  31. I've used a bunch of different trainers over the years, rollers, wind trainers, magnetic and fluid types and now an actual spinning bike. I absolutely HATE the experience of using any of them with one exception, Rollers.

    I have a pretty high tolerance for boredom but I have never been able to find a way to spend 1/2 an hour pulling like a mule on a bike that is clamped into 40 pounds of ironmongery without feeling like I was paying for my sins. I can't read, the noise kills the pleasure of music and if you set it up by the stove and make burgers while you "ride" it seems a little counterproductive.

    What must it be like for your bike? I've seen a bunch of good frames damaged over the years from defective trainer mounts that failed, too much time hammering out of the saddle, or worst of all, a long winter of being marinaded in sweat... Dedicated trainer bikes, even Frankentrainers like Phil's seem to me to be an affront to something, like indentured servitude or something.

    I'm using a Reebok spinning bike now that is quieter than most(lot's of my preferred music is still overpowered by the sound so no Chopin or Segovia, lot's of "The Who" and the 'Stones though)and position-wise can be configured just like my real bikes. I got it used from a fitness center for cheap, replaced the bottom bracket and chain, re-built the pedals and got an extra seat bracket so my wife and daughters don't have to ride on my skinny saddle. All for about a hundred bucks. I don't care if it gets rusty(it hasn't yet) and it's more stable than any trainer that you clamp a bike in. But it is still SOOOO boring. I'm off and in the shower at 30 minutes and 30 seconds everytime.

    Now rollers on the other hand... I admit the learning curve is steeper and the price you pay for doing stupid stuff can be higher, but you ARE actually riding. You also get to a point pretty quickly where you are truly balancing on the bike and not just constantly steering the bike back under yourself like most of us do. You actually IMPROVE as a bicycle driver. One of the neatest things I've experience on a bike is the first miles back on the road after being on rollers for a while, you find yourself pedaling in beautiful, smooth, round circles and able to spool up hills in the saddle like a locomotive that last fall you ground you way up thrashing around on your bike like a fish on a hook. The sensation is uncanny. Like being an electric motor or something... It is so much easier on the bike too, you still have to worry about the sweat thing though...

    I've never known anyone who spent much time on rollers who didn't quickly get to the point where they could sit up, no hands and just spin away in a zen-like state. I've been on the look-out for a good set of rollers for a while and if I can find some I'll have to see if I can perfect burger flipping at 90 R.P.M.

    Spindizzy

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  32. Another quick comment about rollers, They actually do provide more resistance than you might think. They will certainly make you push although not like a resistance trainer. But like one of the other posters suggested, nothing indoors is like really riding a bike, I prefer hiking, a little running and MOUNTAINBIKES when it gets crappy outside.

    Spindizzy

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  33. This isn't lovely, but it really does help when cycling in the snow:

    http://www.dutchbikeco.com/_blog/Dutch_Bike_Co_Weblog/post/Seattle_Snowpocalypse/

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  34. Velouria,

    I understand your sentiment with not wanting to go to the gym, but I think what the first poster (aprillikesbikes) meant was to take a dance class or something active and fun, versus yoga or pilates or stationary bikes. that said, the advantage of doing a spinning class is that they keep you going and you can't get lazy, which was always my problem.

    I have a magnetic trainer that I got when my kids were born, the idea being that I could keep riding during the day while they were napping. The thing was so loud that I was constantly worrying that I wouldn't hear them crying even with the baby-monitor right next to the bike. I also tried watching some videos, but again, to make it loud enough to hear, I was now worrying about waking up the kids (trainer + blaring video soundtrack = anxiety). I also noticed that unless there was something pushing me along, whether a video or a spinning instructor, I just got bored and didn't want to do it anymore.

    I was just in Landry's and they have a 2 hour group training session on Saturday mornings. i believe they have trainers you can rent, but you can hang out with other riders. I haven't done it, but it's free and is different than their big huge paid classes.

    I've been riding the minuteman trail a couple times last week and it was clean and clear. My tactic is to ride when i can, and cross country ski when i can't (weston has lights up on their track and carlisle is not that far away!) you might want to get out before the snow comes on wednesday!

    hope that helps, and somervillian: you can borrow my trainer to try it out if you'd like.

    geoff

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  35. Having used both standard rear-wheel mounted trainers and rollers, I prefer rollers for a few reasons -

    - riding on them is great for balance
    - you have to pay more attention = training goes by faster
    - they are great for developing "supplesse" meaning more fluid pedal stroke and more efficient pedaling technique
    - IMO, more comfortable than a stationary trainer

    One thing to consider - are you planning on doing more power workouts (thrashing about on the bike) or are you just planning on spinning? Rollers are not ideal for thrashing about...

    As an earlier posted mentioned, setup rollers in a doorway at first and you wont have to deal with any nasty wipeouts. Rollers are ideal for fixies too!

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  36. I've done Spinning classes, used a mag trainer in the basement of the LBS and stationary bike machines in the gym. My preference by a mile is the stationary bikes in the gym (though you could get one for home) Most are programmable with different rides so you don't have to keep turning you resistance knob to add variety to the ride. They keep track of mileage and calories, etc (a problem on trainers if you computer sensor is on the front wheel)(and you should want to keep track of mileage for tuneup and parts replacement) and they are quieter (though I've never done rollers so can't speak to those)

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  37. You have enough feedback on this one already, but I will throw in more anyway. I have two fairly low end trainers, one magnetic, one fan and all they do is keep your contact points in shape. I hate them and the resistance is poor. I might try that Kurt Kinetic, based on your feedback. I also have an Airdyne, good workout, plus it will work your upper body, but I can't get a similar position to anything I ride outside. I am looking now for a reconditioned spin bike because that really is the only thing that will do it. I used to be a spin instructor and during those years I was ready for long rides whenever the weather turned good, didn't matter, I was in shape. I see them priced reasonably now and am thinking I will go for it and my preference is the LeMond Revmaster. That gives the best adjustment and it's my favorite, where I will put it is another matter. There you have it, just for some additional confusion to add to the package. Good luck and I hope this winter is gone soon!

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  38. Geez, something fun becomes a visit to the dentist without Novocain.

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  39. I agree with those advocating cross training for building strength and cardiac fitness. I like the gym, because I can take a spin class AND to strength training. If you don't like the gym (with attendant grunting and groaning of the big guys), but want to develop core strength, there is an exercise studio down by Harris Bicycles without the machinery of a gym. But if you really don't want to exercise with others (and I understand there is a time factor with the coming and going, I suggest you ride your transportation bike further and faster. Set a goal, maybe the Belmont Hill, and push yourself a little harder every day. I think you have the equipment you need to stay in shape.

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  40. We have no space for rollers, and there are safety concerns, so we are definitely not getting them at this point, no matter how otherwise wonderful they are.

    Thanks for all the suggestions regarding gyms and other outdoor activities.

    Coming back to trainers, and more specifically, regarding damage to bikes: What is the mechanism for this? Does it still happen if you use the provided skewer, and a "good" trainer like this "Kurt Kinetic Road?"

    So, is this "Kurt Kinetic Road" gizmo the thing to get, being the bestest/quietest one of them all?

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  41. It's not that I don't agree about the benefits of cross-training, but more that it's unrealistic for me. I don't have time for the gym, for daily skiing, and especially for any kind of classes (where I have to adapt to their schedule). I just don't. But thank you for the suggestions regardless.

    Anne - I have been riding my transportation bike further and faster in precisely that manner. It's helped me feel more active, but my muscle definition from roadbikes is still disappearing, because the upright bikes simply don't impact the same parts of the body. I know it's not tragic, but I just really enjoyed having this new "strong" body that I never had before, so it's sad to lose it.

    Oh, and I do plan to use the trainer while either reading or watching movies, otherwise I'll probably want to shoot myself in a matter of minutes. I'll probably put my laptop or book rest on the kitchen table and set up the bike on the trainer in front of it. We have no TV.

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  42. MDI, the damaged frames I've seen come into the shops where I worked or that belonged to trainer riding mates of mine typically came from skewers slipping, especially front skewers on trainers that require removing the front wheel and mounting to a frame that supports the bottom bracket as well. Your'e grinding along when suddenly you find the bike leaning over, the rear tire slipping on the drum and if you are fortunate only the fork ends are bent a little, if your'e not, the fork leg(s) are bent or kinked. The bottom bracket/chainstay area can also get dented, cracked or rubbed through(not just the paint) if things are moving around down there even a little bit.
    The type that just clamp on the rear axle and leave the front wheel supported on a support on the floor don't seem to be as hard on bikes but tend to be the least stable. I've got a couple of these laying around that are too nice to throw out but too unpleasant to use. Nobody wants them so there they sit.

    If you are diligent about checking things out before you ride and stop when things start to wiggle or squeek I don't think you'll ever have to worry though.

    Spindizzy

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  43. Oh no, that's true! I completely did not realise that when you use a rear wheel trainer, the entire lateral torsion stress of your weight and forces that you apply is transfered via supported axle onto dainty seat stays and chain stays.

    In other words, when you ride, there is no lateral torsion stress because the bike leans... the trainer does not allow it to lean, so the frame bends and flexes.

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  44. When I was racing--and, later, when I was trying to extend my youth--I rode rollers during the off-season. The great thing about them is that, in addition to the great workout that you get from them, they improve your bike-handling skills, even if you're an advanced rider.

    The trainer doesn't help with those skills. However, they do help your conditioning. The downsides are that they stress the rear triangle of your frame considerably more than normal riding (For that reason, I wouldn't use a carbon-fiber frame in a trainer.) and that, well, it just gets boring after a while.

    I haven't used either rollers or a trainer in years, for a variety of reasons. Of course, since I'm not racing or trying to impress anyone, I'm not as fanatical about my conditioning as I once was.

    For you, Velouria, and most people, I would say to get on your bike whenever you can. And when you can't, find some other way to train. Simply walking briskly will help; so will getting a small set of weights you can keep in a closet or corner.

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  45. What Justine said, plus remember my comments about the chrome damage on the Moser suggesting a lot of indoor use? I was talking about trainers/rollers. Sweat is salt water and there's no wind to blow it off. It drips all over the front of the bike and then just sits there doing its little corrosion thing.

    Protect the bike with towels and make sure the stem is well greased to prevent intrusion into the steering column. Wipe it off with fresh water after every ride.

    Or just take up Tai Chi or dancing or something. Stationary riding really does get old in a hurry

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  46. I think many people who contemplate indoor riding underestimate not only the boredom, but also the misery of riding without the natural cooling effect of cycling outdoors. Perspiration damage is listed as a major damage factor for indoor trainers because people sweat like crazy trying to ride hard without being cooled by the major wind resistance that happens naturally outside. Yes you can try to use fans to mimic the cooling effect of outdoor cycling. However it takes big fans to move the same amount of air you would get from zipping along outside at 15 to 25 miles per hour. I know lots of people who have bought rollers or indoor trainers with high hopes and good intentions of trying to maintain their summer riding fitness. They soon give up because riding stationary indoors is hot, boring, and miserable compared to the usual joy of being on a bike.

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  47. I bought one years ago for the reasons you want one, but quickly lost the motivation to use it. It's the lack of going anywhere that gets you, there's no sense of achievement beyond the clock ticking away. However, my other half used it for a while and used to use the time to check his email, I tried reading, but found the motion made me feel sick. I did know a guy who had one rigged up to a computer so that he could see himself riding down the road, it was even programmed to get harder uphill, whether that is much substitution for the real thing I don't know?

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  48. Go with fluid its quieter and not much more $$, make sure you are near a TV, it helps pass the time. I like to watch old race videos and listen to Phil and Paul take me through a stage of an old tour or classic. Also use the time on the trainer for doing things like one legged pedaling drills or intervals- they are good for that. It isn't a good substitute for real riding but it can be very efficient. Oh and pray for spring ;-)

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  49. Dear Lovely Bicycle:

    As soon as I pay off some Christmas bills I'm planning on buying these:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaYDZ-RSOTA

    made by this company:

    http://www.insideride.com/

    These are widely regarded as being the easiest and safest rollers on the market. Rollers will greatly improve one's cycling technique while providing some much needed mental stimulation while riding. A stationary trainer, on the other hand, is guaranteed to provide nothing more than calorie depletion and total boredom.

    Good luck with your decision and please post whatever it is you decide to do as I would love to hear your impressions of what you utilize in lieu of riding outdoors. Great writing in your blog, by the way!

    Best,

    Brett

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  50. Thanks once again everyone for the input. I guess frame damage is my biggest concern. I had not been aware until now that it was really an issue.

    Brett - Wow, that video... It almost seems as if he is attached to the rollers. I am trying to figure out how exactly this works - how is he able to coast without the bike coming off?

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  51. "how is he able to coast without the bike coming off?"

    By not pedaling. Duh! No, really, that's the answer. So long as there is enough momentum in the back wheel and rollers it will continue to drive the front roller and wheel, and you can still steer to balance. Easy peasy.

    You should at least find some way to try them at some point. You only break your neck three or five times before you start to get the knack of it. Platforms can help at first. Then you can just put a foot down if you start to lose it.

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  52. At some point maybe it's easier to lie on your back and pedal with your feet in the air. Invisible bike. Bonus points if you can do it without your elbows under your behind.

    I should sell that as an easy-to-setup bike trainer that's fixie-friendly.

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  53. Oh I get it. And the bike is attached to the ceiling upside down, right? Good idea : )

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  54. An update for those who come across this: I did get a trainer. Read about it here.

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