The Right Bike Trainer To Combat Holiday Weight GainWe're well into winter, and after 'suffering' through too much food over the holidays, it's time to take the bull by the horns and fight back. There are plenty of people struggling to regain their fitness, but with so much rain and snow across the continent it's a job that's easier to think about than to actually get done.
That's where an indoor bike trainer can come in handy. Maybe this short primer on bicycle trainers will be just enough to push a few folks off the fence and back into a regular exercise routine.
So here goes.
After writing oodles of bike trainer reviews, I've figured out that perspective cycling trainer users should know a few basics before they spend their hard earned cash on a bike trainer that might not meet their specific needs for winter exercising. They may choose a product that isn't 'enough' trainer for them, or on the other hand, they may waste money getting something that they don't have the power or resolve to make adequate use of.
Wind Trainers May Be Enough
If you're a rather casual rider, a wind trainer may be enough for you. These are the simplest of trainers with the least number of things that can go wrong. With a minimal number of parts, high quality (good metals and bearings) wind trainers from companies like Kurt Kinetic, CycleOps, Minoura, or Blackburn will last forever...or what may seem like forever to the people in the apartment next to you.
I bring up the people on the other side of the wall to make a point.
Wind trainers can be loud. Loud enough that there are reports of cyclists wearing earplugs when using a wind trainer.
And there's another downside to wind trainers. They don't produce enough resistance, even at high speeds, to provide a good workout for strong cyclists.
But after having griped a bit about wind trainers, I will say that if you're not hampered by tight living conditions, and you're likely to only use your bike trainer for mild to moderate steady state workouts a wind trainer may be all you'll need to keep the jelly rolls off your midsection this winter.
Mag Trainers Come In Second Place
Magnetic (mag) trainers have come a long way in the last few years. The internet's littered with old complaints from mag trainer owners who didn't appreciate their trainers clattering their way to the scrapyard.
That's not the way it is anymore.
This class of bike trainer develops resistance by rotating repelling magnets past each other. Most mag trainers provide the ability to be adjusted through multiple levels of resistance.
The most common method of 'switching gears' is to dismount and change the resistance level at the trainer unit itself. For a few extra bucks you can get mag trainers that have a lever which attaches to the handlebars, enabling you to increase or decrease the resistance while riding.
The latest innovation in the mag trainer world is the CycleOps Magneto. The CycleOps company reports that their trainer is the first and only mag trainer to 'progressively' increase resistance the harder the cyclist pedals. Using centrifugal force, the Magneto changes the configuration of its magnets without any input from the rider.
Mag trainers are appropriate for moderately serious cyclists who need more resistance than a wind trainer can provide, but who don't want to go 'all in' with a fluid trainer.
Fluid Trainers Sit Atop The Food Chain
It's really hard to beat a high quality fluid trainer like the
Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, or the Cycleops Fluid 2.
Fluid trainers are the quietest of the three types, so having to turn the TV up to ear shattering volumes isn't necessary if you're watching your favorite rerun of 'Cheers' while pedaling off your Christmas fudge and pumpkin pies.
With regard to resistance, fluid trainers are willing to motor along at low intensities, but also ready and able to fight back no matter how hard the cyclist wants to work them. This category of bike trainer provides what could be termed an 'exponential' increase in resistance.
If you look at a chart of the type of resistance that fluid trainers provide, you'll see an ever increasing slope that gets steeper and steeper the more the speed increases. On fluid trainers, trying to eek out an extra kilometer per hour once you get over thirty kilos can be quite an effort.
Fluid trainers are for serious cyclists who aren't afraid to spend money on their cycling equipment and who will be using their trainers for high intensity interval-style workouts.
No More Excuses
There's currently an appropriate bike trainer available for casual cyclists, for hardcore competitors, and for everyone in between. Excuses to stop exercising when the weather doesn't cooperate have a hollow ring to them, now that keeping in shape can be as close as your living room on a good indoor bike trainer.
So check out the latest selection and start working your way back into 'fightin' shape.
About the author: Ron Fritzke 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.