Insane in the Train Game

Due to extreme weather conditions during certain seasons in different parts of the country, year-round outdoor training is not an option for all cyclists. This time of year is usually susceptible to those conditions with blizzards dumping multiple feet of snow in some areas and ice storms freezing over all cycle-able ground in others. For those of us who still want to/need to train during these times, bike trainers are life savers and they’ve come a long way in the past few years.

Bad weather isn’t the only reason you might need to use a trainer to stay fit. Trainers are also great for more convenient riding without distractions. There’s nothing that can replace the fresh air therapy that you get from riding outdoors, but with a trainer you’ll probably find that you can focus more on your stats and less on the car traffic around you, dogs that are running loose, or the occasional ride that brings you unexpected weather changes (such as pouring rain or heavy wind gusts). Trainers can also add an element of convenience to your ride, because you can train nearly any time of the day. There’s no stressing over your visibility during low-light conditions, or (if you’re like me) waiting for your spouse to get home so you can go ride while they watch the kids. You can simply pull out your trainer, attach your bike, and ride for hours – day or night.

 

How do I pick a trainer?

I mentioned earlier that trainers have come a long way in the past few years. While that’s certainly true, the classic setups are still available for purchase and though they may not be as much fun to ride as the fully interactive smart trainers, they still serve a purpose to many cyclists.

At Performance we carry nearly any type of trainer to fit your needs, budget, and goals. With the addition of smart trainers to the market, there is now a main divide between the types of trainers based on 1 basic characteristic – connectivity.

Smart Trainers” are typically categorized as any trainer that has the ability to send (or receive) information to training apps, such as Zwift, for a more interactive riding session. This keeps you informed about your stats in real-time, and connected to other cyclists around the world.

 

The other trainer type,”Non-Smart Trainers“, do not have the feature of connectivity and usually don’t even have to be plugged in to work (which does have its advantages!).


Beyond how well connected your trainer is, there’s another characteristic that divides all types of trainers. This involves how the rear wheel is used (or not used) during a workout.

“Wheel-on” trainers require the rear wheel to stay on your bike when using the trainer. Set up time is quick, but you’ll probably burn through a few tires in the off-season. To keep your tire changes minimal, check out this trainer tire made specifically to hold up to the wear and tear of an indoor trainer.

 

“Wheel-off trainers” (also known as Direct-mount trainers) don’t use the rear wheel of your bike to operate. Instead, once your rear wheel is removed the bike’s rear dropouts attach to the direct-mount trainer just as they would a rear wheel and your chain attaches to the cassette installed on the trainer‘s own cassette body. Wheel-off trainers save on tires, as there’s no tire at all to wear out, and they’re also ideal for cyclists who go hard during a workout.


Including the traits of Smart or Non-Smart trainers, and Wheel-off or Wheel-on trainers, indoor trainers can be further categorized based on the type of resistance they use to simulate an outdoor workout. Here are the most popular and common types:

Fully Interactive Smart Trainer: Uses a computer-controlled electromagnetic unit to generate resistance

Advantages -ANT+ and/or Bluetooth enabled for two-way communication with training programs

-Typically includes built in sensors to measure data points such as speed, cadence, and power

-Able to send and receive information that changes resistance between your trainer and training programs, such as Zwift

Disadvantages   -Most expensive type of trainer

-Many units are quite heavy

-Most will require a smartphone app to use

-Needs to be plugged-in in order to operate

 

 

Smart Trainer: Uses an advanced fluid resistance unit or magnetic systems to generate resistance

Advantages -ANT+ and/or Bluetooth enabled for one-way communication with training programs

-Typically includes built in sensors to measure data points such as speed, cadence, and power

-Able send information to Zwift, Training Peaks, and other programs

Disadvantages     -Limited to only sending data, can’t receive course or gradient data

-Most units will require a smartphone app to use

-May need to be plugged-in in order to operate

 

 

Magnetic Trainers: A Non-Smart Trainer. Uses combination of magnets and metal plates to generate resistance.

Advantages -Offers multiple levels of resistance

-Produces linear resistance, which stays the same regardless of wheel speed

-Typically less expensive than other options

-Does not need to be plugged in to work

Disadvantages   -Changing resistance levels requires dismounting bike, unless the trainer is equipped with a handlebar-mounted remote shift lever

-Does not send or receive data to training programs, such as Zwift

-Does not record power, speed, or cadence

 

 

Fluid Trainers: A Non-Smart Trainer. Uses a hydraulic fluid and an impeller to create resistance.

Advantages -Produces progressive resistance, which increases as wheel speed increases

-Very quiet

-Most moving parts are protected by an enclosed resistance unit

-Available in adjustable resistance models

-Does not need to be plugged in to work

Disadvantages     -More expensive than magnetic trainers

-Does not send or receive data to training programs, such as Zwift

-Does not record power, speed, or cadence

 

 

Links we enjoyed while writing this post:

Performance Learning Center: Trainers

Performance Store: Trainers

Performance Blog: Zwift

Performance Youtube: Trainers

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