Indoor cycling training is often a hot topic of debate among riders. Some swear by it, others swear at it. Inevitably, the argument is often a comparison between riding on rollers and riding on the road.
The debate is usually based on the perception of what one thinks is superior to the other, but not necessarily on facts.
The purpose of this article is to help you decide if you should use rollers, an indoor trainer or do your training session outdoors.
Proper Bike Fit
Proper bike fit is essential for proper cycling indoor training.
It is the starting point for your training session. If you start out with a poorly adjusted bike, you will be putting more strain on your body than necessary and you may even risk injury.
There are quite a few different bikes to choose from nowadays and you may be overwhelmed by the choice. It is important to decide which type of bike is right for you, but once you have made that choice, it is equally important to make sure that the bike fits you well.
There are a number of things that you should take into consideration when selecting a bike:
Protect your Floor from Damage and Wear
Cycling indoors can be a lot of fun – if you are riding on rollers or on an indoor trainer. If you are riding on a real road bike however, indoor cycling can be very frustrating and downright dangerous.
Indoor flooring is not designed to withstand the constant pressure of a road bike tire. As soon as you put your foot down on the pedal, the pressure that comes from the immense weight of your bike will push into the flooring, causing it to deteriorate faster than it normally would if it wasn’t under constant pressure.
The same can be said of your trainer or roller set up as well. A lot of sweat will be pouring off your body while you are training and this sweat will seep down into the rollers or into the road bike-compatible trainer, causing rust and corrosion over time. This will result in damage to your flooring, which will eventually lead to replacement costs for facilities and structures in your area.
To prevent this from happening, there are a number of things that you can do:
Protect your Bike
Sweat corrosion can be prevented by installing a sweat guard on your bike. A sweat guard is basically a plastic device that goes over your top tube and keeps the sweat from dripping onto the frame of your bike. After every use, you should remove the sweat guard and clean it thoroughly using soap and water or an anti-bacterial cleaning solution if necessary. You should also wipe off any sweat that has built up on top of it as well as the area below it (on the frame).
When using rollers, there is no weight being put directly onto the wheels and they will not receive any kind of strain, which means that they will not become damaged nor will they deteriorate over time. On an indoor trainer however, there is weight put onto the front wheel (and sometimes also onto the rear). This weight causes strain on both wheels (as opposed to just one on an outdoor ride), which means that both wheels need to be taken care of more carefully than those used for indoor training only. As with sweat corrosion however, this problem can be solved by installing a protector over both wheels - usually made from rubber - which prevents strain from occurring in both wheels at once.
Types of Indoor Cycling Trainers
Indoor training can be divided into two categories:
Road bike trainers
Rear Wheel-Mounted Trainer:
Rear wheel-mounted trainers are the most popular type of indoor training equipment and they use a rear wheel to mimic the outdoor riding experience. They are easy to use and they are generally low-cost as well. They also give you a realistic feel of being out on the road, which can be very important for some riders. The only problem with this type of trainer is that they require you to install a rear wheel on your bike. This means that you need to take your bike to a shop to have the installation done by a professional mechanic, which can be an inconvenience for some riders.
Direct Drive Trainer:
A direct-drive trainer is similar to a rear wheel-mounted trainer but it works on the principle of using friction from the rear tire instead of using the rear wheel itself. The trainer itself is usually connected to a cassette that is installed on the rear wheel of your bike. This means that you do not have to install a rear wheel on your bike but you will still need to take it to a shop for installation.
Rollers are used for indoor training and no outdoor riding is involved with them at all. They are used strictly for indoor training and are generally cheaper than either a rear wheel mounted trainer or direct drive trainer. You will not get the same kind of realistic feel however, since rollers do not use tires or any kind of contact with the ground whatsoever. The only way you will know what it feels like to be riding on rollers and not on the road is if you ride on rollers all the time and not outdoors at all.
Indoor training is obviously not an essential part of cycling but it can be very helpful in increasing your overall level of cycling fitness and performance if used in moderation and correctly. If you decide to go with an indoor training session, you should know how to protect your flooring and your bike from damage and wear, as well as know how to choose the right equipment for the job so that you can have maximum fun without causing unnecessary damage in your home or place of business.