Indoor Bike Trainers – Are They Worth It?

Mar 08, 2022
Innerforce

As I gaze out into the leaden skies of a March morning I have a rather smug grin on my face. Having already done an hour on the bike trainer in the comfort of my own home rather than fighting the elements outside, I have to say there are times I really love my indoor bike trainer. The question we’ll be dealing with today; are indoor bike trainers all they are cracked up to be?


Indoor bike trainers are a fantastic weapon in the arsenal of any dedicated cyclist or triathlete. They allow you to train when the weather turns nasty, or when your boss asks you to stay late at the office, as well as reducing maintenance and saving time. They will never be able to fully replicate the feeling of riding outdoors and many people will tell you how boring they can be, but they offer great flexibility for those of us who find life getting in the way of rigid training programs.


Beat The Bad Weather


It is impressive to see the dedication of those cyclists who are out there training in bad weather; the rain and the cold are simply additional challenges for them to face. However, for the less masochistic amongst us the winter months normally mean fewer cycling opportunities.


Bad weather is not just an inconvenience, it also makes the roads more dangerous to cycle on. Slippery surfaces and potholes hidden by puddles are just a couple of the issues we have to contend with.


Flexibility

 


We hear lots of conversations within our community about how work commitments can seriously interfere with your training. ‘My boss is always changing my schedule around, so I just can’t commit to my race schedule and I find it difficult to train consistently.’


Having an indoor trainer means that you are suddenly open to being able to train at all hours of the day, and night. Indoor trainers used to have a bad rep for being so noisy that the neighbors would complain, but nowadays it’s not like that. If your plan was to get an hour in on the bike before sundown but your boss asked you to stay late, you don’t need to be seething inside. With an indoor trainer that you can jump on the bike at 10pm without disturbing anyone.


Reduced Maintenance


As well as being uncomfortable and riskier, cycling in bad weather means a big clean up job when you get home. The dirt and grime that cakes itself onto your bike on a cold wet ride needs to be dealt with. If you don’t look after your bike then your bike won’t look after you so it needs to be cleaned properly to avoid maintenance issues.


Having an indoor bike trainer takes away these issues. The only real maintenance needed is a quick wipe down with a clean cloth to remove the sweat which can accelerate the rusting process on parts of the bike.


Save Time

 


While it might not feel like you take that much time to gear up and get onto the road, there is no doubt that indoor trainers cut down on prep time. This may not be a major influence on long rides, but If you want to do a quick 20-minute power session in the morning then an indoor trainer is a great option.


You can put some water on the boil and by the time your morning coffee has brewed you have already put in a mini-morning session.


The Downside; Boredom!


There absolutely are downsides of the indoor trainer, the most obvious being the argument that they are boring. It’s a fair argument; compared to being on the open road, a stationary bike is always going to come out second best. However, we are not looking to replace outdoor cycling, just add to our kit when the outside world works against us, and there are ways to deal with the monotony of the indoor bike trainer.


Apps - There are loads of apps that have been working hard to create realistic virtual cycling worlds. Zwift is the go-to app for many, and the realistic graphics and variety of locations means that you can ‘virtually’ race against other cyclists from across the globe in almost any location you can think of.


Podcasts – Take your mind off of things and learn something new by listening to a podcast while you are on the bike. You’ll be making yourself stronger and smarter at the same time.


Motivational viewing – Get the laptop set up and put on something that is going to push you. This might be epic Tour de France battle or a motivating documentary (Tim Don – The Man With The Halo is a belter).


Final Thoughts


One of the reasons many of us cycle is because, at heart, we are adventurers and we want to get out and explore what is around us. Indoor bike trainers will never replace the great outdoors, but as long as we understand that fact then we can use them as a powerful tool in our training bag. When others are bemoaning the winter months, we can be getting an edge over the competition.

 

Written for Innerforce by Stewart Spiessens

Photos. @justin_lippert & @be_fearless_and_bu

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