Indoor Trainer Frustration

By Peg | 03/14/14
Indoor Trainer Frustration

Hello Coach,

I have sold or given away 3 trainers in the past 5 years or so. Recently I have been looking at those high priced Tour de France Cycling bikes and an EVO bike by Relay. They are really expensive as you know. My main question is:

Is there any real difference between spending $2,000 on one of those Rolls Royce Trainers that you do not have to put your bike on compared to a Kinetic by Kurt or Cycleops Trainers? Am I really gaining any advantage as compared to the money I would be spending on the more expensive models while I would only be spending $300 -$400 on a regular Fluid Trainer?

Frustrated on the whole indoor training scenario living here in Providence, RI.

Thank you,

Stephen

Dear Stephen,

Since the Groundhog predicted 6 more weeks of winter, your question is still timely. Since you have been through three trainers in five years, it seems like there is something unsatisfactory with that option for indoor training. The new “Rolls Royce” trainers you are looking at would be ready to go after initial set up, no taking a bike on or off the trainer. So, assuming you have the space for a more permanent indoor ride, maybe that appeals to you. They have dashboards so you get good readouts during a workout: speed, heart rate, and cadence; the Le Tour de France ProForm Generation 2 even has wattage. These additional functions prompt some comparison questions. If you had over $1,000 to spend, what could you get and what would you want out of it? Here I’m not limiting the discussion to trainers, because for that kind of money you could get:

  1. a power meter option for your bike that could be used year ‘round
  2. another bike, perhaps a cyclocross bike?
  3. electric shifting
  4. a flight to Arizona and a weeklong training camp

Some options or combinations would even cost less, like a gym membership plus a fluid trainer for home with workout videos and a Cycleops PowerCal Heart Rate strap for analogue estimation of wattage or a Garmin 810 and a Strava Premium membership to get more workout analysis.

Sure, a trainer is an investment, not just a one-time expense like some I suggested. There are so many options it can be confusing and lead to frustration. So really, it depends on what bothers you most about regular indoor trainers. For some cyclists, it is just too boring and uncomfortable to ride for much over an hour. Even the good workout videos are limited to that time frame. I am willing to bet it’s the motivation that you are seeking - some reason to be excited about getting on that darn indoor bike. Although having a big goal to work towards would be helpful, more importantly now is the pat on the back for doing the workout and seeing some results. For that I would suggest something that gives you feedback. I also think that a tool you could use year ‘round would be the best. So I would look at Power meters or estimators and a regular trainer. Personally, I prefer magnetic resistance trainers because they use the bike’s gearing to increase resistance incrementally. I don’t like the exponential resistance the fluid trainer imposes. Regular trainers are much less expensive and leave more cash for cycling.

For power wattage information, I would consider an SRM or the new Garmin-Look Keo Pedals. If you are not as serious or not racing, then a Garmin with the Strava Premium Membership or the Cycleops PowerCal Heart Rate strap can give you wattage estimation. The feature I like best about these options is simply the training log calendar. I like seeing my workouts displayed and the weekly and monthly mileage and hours tallied. My favourite is the Polar calendar that colour codes the type of workout. In the winter, I get credit for non-cycling efforts like gym time, running, or core strengthening. Maybe this is all you need, the ‘ol star on the fridge. Some people are encouraged by groups, so finding an indoor training partner or training group could be the ticket. Addressing your motivators, providing feedback and encouragement will go a long way to get you through the winter.

Coach Peg

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