The following is a guest blog from our friend, Rob Fritzke at www.Cycling-Review.com. Ron is a cycling product reviewer with a passion for ‘all things cycling’. A former 2:17 marathoner, he now directs his competitive efforts toward racing his bike…and looking for good cycling products. Enjoy!
Copyright Ron Fritzke 2011
While we can all pretty much agree that we’d prefer riding our bikes outdoors rather than in the house, there are times when a bike trainer comes in handy. The weather can play tricks on us, particularly during the winter, making an indoor ride our only viable option.
Other days we’d rather just not hassle with the traffic and stoplights.
If you’re new to the world of bike trainers, it’ll help if you know a few basics about the three categories that most trainers fit into. I’ve spent untold hours writing bike trainer reviews, delving into many bike trainer details…but I’ll condense what I’ve found out into the most important features you should be aware of.
Fluid Trainers For The Quietest, Smoothest Ride
There’s a reason people pay more for fluid bike trainers. They are the quietest trainers on the market, and they are smooth…accurately simulating an outdoor ride (on a smooth road, of course). But there’s something else in the ‘realistic’ category that makes them appealing.
They increase their resistance exponentially rather than linearly. Much as in the real world of air resistance, going 20 mph on a fluid bike trainer requires more than twice as much energy as going 10 mph. In fact, trying to add an additional mile per hour to your speed when you get over 20 mph can be a real chore.
In case you didn’t know it, that’s how it is when you’re riding outside, too.
The reason this is important is because some of the most beneficial workouts done on a trainer are intervals of high intensity efforts separated by ‘rest’ efforts. On a fluid trainer, even the most seasoned riders won’t find that they have too much power for their trainer.
The same can’t be said about some of the other styles.
A fluid trainer that bears investigating is the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine. The Kurt Kinetic line is unique in that it’s impervious to leakage. Fluid trainers that failed due to leakage were a common occurrence before the Kinetic line, but because the fluid-filled chamber in these trainers is completely sealed off, the former ‘Achilles heel’ of fluid trainers has been eliminated.
There Are Now Some Good Mag Trainers
Not too long ago you’d be hard pressed to find a satisfied mag (magnetic) trainer owner. But the current line of Cycleops mag trainers have a loyal following. CycleOps has a reputation for conscientiously supplying quality products, and their mag trainers are no exception.
Mag trainers are noisier than fluid trainers, and their ability to produce resistance isn’t as limitless as with the fluid trainers. Nonetheless, for most riders it would be enough.
With a heavy flywheel, mag trainers can supply a reasonably realistic ride. Because they’re about a hundred dollars less expensive than fluid trainers they’re attractive to many cyclists.
Wind Trainers For Casual Rides
You can hardly read a comment about wind trainers without mention of the noise that they make. Some owners report that they can’t hear their TVs over the roar of the trainer even when the volume is ‘topped off’.
I’ve even read of hard feelings between neighbors in an apartment complex due to the daily roar of a wind trainer.
The resistance capability of wind trainers is limited as well. Because of their inability to produce limitless workloads, these trainers are more appropriate for mild to moderate intensity constant-effort workouts.
But these trainers are another hundred dollars less than the mag trainers (that’s two hundred dollars less than a fluid trainer), so for some cyclists this style makes sense.
Pick One Of The Bike Trainers For Year-round Fitness
Once you have a good understanding of the type of riding you’ll most likely be doing on an indoor bike trainer, you’ll be on your way to finding the right style for yourself.
If you think you need the ability to do some intense workouts…and you’ve got a bit of change to spare for a bike trainer, a fluid trainer is the most likely candidate.
If you’re not likely to be going ‘all out’ on a trainer, and are satisfied with a more casual pace…and don’t mind loud noises…and don’t want to spend too much money…and don’t live near any irritable neighbors, the wind trainer has your name on it.
And in a similar vein to the story of the porridge in the ‘The Three Bears’ fable, you might find that the porridge in the middle is ‘just right’. In that case, you’ll be headed to the section of the store featuring the mag trainers.