How Does an Indoor Bike Trainer Work?

By Katie Duzan

Bike trainers clamp the back wheel into position, locking the bike in place. This results in a stable bicycle to ride. Injured riders are particularly at risk for falls, and trainers allow them to get back on the bike without risking outdoor accidents or going too far. Stationary cycling also allows the rider to focus on building strength rather than handling issues on the road.

Overview

Stationary

Bike trainers clamp the back wheel into position, locking the bike in place. This results in a stable bicycle to ride. Injured riders are particularly at risk for falls, and trainers allow them to get back on the bike without risking outdoor accidents or going too far. Stationary cycling also allows the rider to focus on building strength rather than handling issues on the road.

Resistance

There are three basic types of trainers--fan, magnetic and fluid. These trainers vary by how they provide resistance. All three types have a roller behind the back wheel that uses the movement from the back wheel to create the resistance. Fan resistance trainers use a fan to create wind resistance. Fan trainers are the loudest option, since the wind is solely responsible for creating resistance.

The rollers on magnetic trainers power a magnetic flywheel to create resistance. The assistance of the magnets makes the magnetic trainers less noisy than fan trainers, and the magnets allow for a greater amount of resistance.

Fluid trainers use the roller power to spin a magnetic flywheel with fluid chambers. Fluid trainers are the quietest type of trainer, since the fluid reduces the noise even further than the magnets alone. They also provide the greatest amount of resistance because of the combination.

Control

Indoor bike trainers allow cyclists to ride their own bikes indoors. Since cyclists benefit from training on their bicycles, trainers are perfect for indoor workouts. They also ensure a controlled environment, without wind, extreme temperatures or darkness. They make riding convenient on days when the weather or timing constraints would otherwise make it impossible.

Storage

New trainers are easy to store due to the folding capability of the trainers. After disconnecting the bike, the trainer uses a spring-assisted hinge to fold into a compact size that is also lightweight and easy to move.

Other

Some cyclists use rollers for indoor training. These rollers go underneath the front and back wheels of the bike, allowing for free movement. Rollers don't provide much resistance, but allow for balance improvement and for a realistic feel of cycling. The risk of riding indoors on rollers is falling off due to lack of balance. Rollers require a bigger space so that if a fall occurs, the rider can safely crash on flat ground. Because of these issues, rollers are only a good choice for experienced riders. Rollers don't fold for storage, but they are on a flat rack, making it easy to store them vertically.

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