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bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
CREATED: 09/18/09 by slashykk REPLIES: 24
slashykk    JOINED: 5/31/09    POSTS: 38
bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 9/18/09 7:00 AM

I'm realizing that as winter approaches the only way I'll be able to ride during the week is by taking it inside. Does anyone have any advice about the benefits of all the various options, and which one is best? Or is it just personal preference? Thanks!


vatriathlete    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 685
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 9/18/09 8:38 AM

its all personal preference, each has its pros and cons but really it comes down to which one are you going to do on a consistent basis and not get bored?

karlaj's ravatar karlaj    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 215
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 9/18/09 8:56 AM

I'd think you'd want to train on your bike, and having a spinning bike around would just be extra stuff, so I'd (personally) rule the spinning bike out.

Between rollers and a trainer, that will ultimately be a matter of personal preference. Rollers require a good deal of balance and promote good riding habits, but I'm not sure how the resistance feels compared to the road (probably depends on the model). Don't know if any local shops would let you try rollers out, but I'm sure someone on this forum uses/has rollers.

Trainers come in several flavors, with fluid being the most "realistic" ride, and then magnetic with variable settings. I use a fluid trainer (kurt kinetic road machine) and it's been pretty good. These are also easy to setup and should last forever, and I suspect the majority of folks have the trainer vs. the other 2 options.

Justin's point about getting bored is a good one - I hate riding inside for more than 1 hr. A good movie or TV series can dull the pain, so make sure you have a good Netflix plan. ;-)


vatriathlete    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 685
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 9/18/09 9:16 AM

jason's post hits some things on the head very well.

i've had rollers and fluid trainers over the years and sold both and now use spin bikes at the gym.

i use the spin bikes at work for the simple reason that i could no longer stand riding indoors watching the spinervals dvds (it gets boring even if you have 15 different spinerval dvds) and i never went over 1 hour anyway, some people can ride literally 6-7 hours indoors at a clip, some people that same act makes them act like charles manson afterwards.

the rollers if you get a good set will help with balance and focus, afterall if you dont' focus you will fall on them. they have a learning curve just like clipless pedals, you fall a little but if you take precautions you wont' get injured. rollers truly do help your technique and balance becasue after a while you get good with them. if you want to go all out get these rollers, they do things normal rollers don't, expensive but cool

if you go the wind trainer route, basically the fluid trainers are the quietest but you pay more for them, they have the closest "real" feel to them but again that is different for everyone.

the last category is the computrainer style route, basicaly its a fluid trainer hooked up to a computer to change the resisteance to look like a race course. its expensive but some people swear by them

again all these things are great tools to train in the winter, but it really comes down to budget and will you actually do it. i know personally the computrainer wouldn't even get me to do the riding indoors, but that is just me.

Brian_Brox's ravatar Brian_Brox    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 2
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 9/18/09 9:25 AM

I made the mistake of getting rollers as my only indoor training option a few years ago. Although I did learn to use them, they are very difficult to use for more than 30 minutes. Also with rollers, it's hard to stand up and move around on the saddle, they aren't good for following a training DVD, and they won't work for group indoor training sessions. A fluid trainer is much more useful. Rollers are a great addition to a rear-wheel trainer, but not a great substitute.

suzkinsky's ravatar suzkinsky    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 121
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 9/18/09 9:55 AM

The benefits to rollers, besides the potential to improve your balance and handling skills, is that it doesn't wear on your bike as much as a trainer. With a bike trainer you risk wear to your rear skewer (most trainers come with a special skewer to use to avoid this though) and your rear tire (but for $30 you can buy a special tire meant for riding on trainers). Plus the rollers are quieter. That said, I absolutely hated the rollers and happily sold them to someone in the club many years ago.

I use an indoor trainer that I've had for 5+ years and it's still going strong. It folds up and lives tucked behind my end table - when I want to use it I simply unfold it, throw the bike on, and stick the remote control in my rear jersey pocket. I can last an hour, maybe an hour and a half. I find that my butt wears out much quicker on an indoor trainer than on the road: Four hours on the road? No problem. An hour and fifteen in my living room? Ouch. I have no idea why this is.

rah2774's ravatar rah2774    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 343
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 9/18/09 10:05 AM

I save my old tires (and now my busted carbon wheel) for the trainer so I won't burn through a good tire/wheel...
For long weekend sessions, if I don't have a movie, that's when I'll catch up on tivo. I think I watched most of last season's 24 in a few weekends. Not ideal, but it worked.

Hugh has decided to watch WWE Raw while on the trainer. I think that would be a very entertaining way to pass the time.

If you're going to put a TT on a trainer, you'll likely want to invest in a block (or stick a phone book under your front wheel) - as the back wheel will sit up relatively high and you will be in a pretty uncomfortable down slanted position. For some reason it's not a problem with my road bike.

Happy training.

tdn9999's ravatar tdn9999    JOINED: 7/16/09    POSTS: 49
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 9/26/09 8:59 PM

Does anyone recommend a particular brand/model which will do the job?

vatriathlete    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 685
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 9/27/09 12:38 AM

if you want rollers = kreitler is the best there is, very smooth and damn near perfect and quiet.

if you want a standard fluid trainer, no computers attached = kurt kinetic road machine, sturdy, never leaks, very stable and about as quiet as a fluid trainer will get. top quality basically the best there is.

if you want computer with trainer = supposidly computrainer is as good as it gets, but ask others about this.

if you are on a budget, check out the performance bike house brand fluid travel trac trainers, very good value for the money and great for people on a limited budget or just starting with indoor trainers.

good luck.

ncrcoach's ravatar ncrcoach    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1101
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 9/27/09 9:10 AM

Yes, Becky is right! I am not a big fan of riding indoors, but I prefer it to the dread-mill. After the live WWE show, I finally found my motivation for riding indoors this winter. I'm going to ask Santa for some wrestling DVD's (old and new) to help push me thru training for CDA.

mflanagan81    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 8
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 9/27/09 12:28 PM

I highly recommend getting rollers from inside ride.


Others have mentioned fluid trainers have the most realistic feel. This is incorrect. The rollers from inside ride allow for full-speed out of the saddle sprints. You can't effectively do that on a fluid trainer.

These rollers are NOT hard to get used to. As long as you can ride a bike right now, you will be able to ride rollers.

Also, watching movies on the trainer is a complete waste of time and mental energy. As with any training session, an indoor workout should have a specific focus, complete with a main set. You can crank out the workout in under and hour, and you can easy get as good of a workout as a 2-3 hour ride outside.

I ride indoors year round. In the summer, I generally ride indoors at least twice per week. Use the winter to perform focused indoor interval training. Never ride indoors for more than 75 minutes. You will be stronger, by a whole lot, come spring time.


vatriathlete    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 685
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 9/27/09 1:16 PM

Mike you are the first person I've heard that has one of these things tellme about it.

Only have seen the videos on web and they look great but are pretty expensive

are they really that easy to use? I found that with reg rollers that even when you get proficient at them you reAlly can't lose concentration and standinding is a skill in itself. From the vids it looks like both of these things are no longer required is that true?



mflanagan81    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 8
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 9/27/09 2:05 PM

They're awesome. I actually just got off them for today's workout. Prior to getting them, I had never ridden on rollers. They had always looked super difficult. eMotion rollers are not difficult at all. I usually setup next to a wall, and use the wall to support to get started, and then I'm going no problem. I can start without the wall or holding something, but that is a little tricky.

I've done full-bore out of the saddle sprints, training for road racing, and it is not difficult. We're talking about hands in the drops cranking at high wattage for around 10 seconds.

You can fall, and I would be lying if I claimed to have never fallen, but it is generally due to complete inattention.

I love these rollers for structured interval training. Between Hains Point and my rollers, I rarely ride anywhere else.

I've owned a computrainer, fluid trainer, and a magnetic trainer. They pale in comparison.

These rollers really help me to train efficiently and effectively, and they were super easy to learn. I did a hard interval workout my first day on the rollers.

vatriathlete    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 685
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 9/27/09 3:40 PM

That sounds cool. The only reason I put these off a few years ago is that they don't seem very portable but for stationary set up they seem cool.

What didn't you like with the compu since so many people like them but I have never used it myself.

lisalisadc's ravatar lisalisadc    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 451
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 9/27/09 7:43 PM

Computrainers are expensive and their graphics are crap. Think Atari 1985. On the other hand, Conte's Bethesda has computrainers and rents them out for $10/hour. You can simulate some IM brand races and track your HR, power, etc.

TACX trainers are just as expensive as Computrainers, but have 5 views including HDTV video for many European courses (Alpe d'Huez, Mount Ventoux, Amstel Gold). They have VR trainers (virtual reality), which are awesome - you preview the actual course in HDTV via video and Google Earth. You also mount a controller on your handlebars to scroll through the 5 views and displays. Computrainers remote/control center is wired and mounted on a stick that you have to bend down when you are on your bike to change the display. Tacx has wireless models to control the display.

If you have the cash, buy Tacx.

rdejonck's ravatar rdejonck    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 84
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 9/27/09 9:31 PM

As for regular trainers that mere mortals can afford, I don't have a recommendation. I've heard good things about the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine and have my eye on one of those once my bank account allows it.

On the other hand, I strongly urge you not to look at the Blackburn Ultra fluid trainer. I only had one for a year before the resistance unit started randomly spiking. I called their customer service, did what they said, and now it barely provides any resistance. I could keep going back and forth with Blackburn's customer service (which has been great up to this point), but from the stories I've read on the internet, this is common and rarely resolved (except by buying the aforementioned Kurt Kinetic).

Of course, that was just my experience. your mileage may vary.


chloevdc's ravatar chloevdc    JOINED: 1/25/10    POSTS: 63
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 11/29/11 12:02 PM

Hi all,

I'm bringing this thread back to life with an additional question.
Would you recommend trainers or rollers if two people in a household are going to share the device? My intuition says rollers would be better, as it seems that trainers need to be adjusted to the bike being used. Is that the case?

I am leaning towards rollers for a few reasons, namely to practice balance and so that different bikes can be used. Any new opinions or suggestions?


karlaj's ravatar karlaj    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 215
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 11/29/11 1:00 PM

Adjusting a trainer isn't hard for different bikes. I switch my road and tri bike back and forth, and it's pretty routine. After doing it once, it takes less than a minute.

By "practicing balance", do you mean holding your line on the road?


vatriathlete    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 685
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 11/29/11 1:08 PM

if anything sometimes rollers have to adjusted depending on which bike is being used.

the trainers putting a different bike in and out is not a real issue practice a couple of times and you golden.

good luck.

pgfde121's ravatar pgfde121    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 284
RE: bike trainer vs. rollers vs. spinning bikes
POSTED: 11/29/11 3:52 PM

Rollers = roadies
Trainers = triathletes

In terms of developing pedal stroke and core/balance/stability muscles the rollers can't be beat. Balance is key when you are racing in packs and really need to have total control over your bike. It requires concentration to stay on the bike and once you perfect your pedal stoke you can climb out of the saddle, but true sprints with rocking motion are not recommended. You also will have a learning period here that ranges from 1-2 hours to 2-3 weeks. You can't be afraid of falling over once or twice. Also note that the Ed Sander Memorial CX race is named for a former NCVC member who went out his rollers and into the glass coffee table which killed him after he cut his cartoid.

Trainers on the other hand provide mindless, spineless enjoyment and ease of portability. You don't engage the core as much but there are single leg drills and other methods you can train to remove muscle imbalances. Computrainers are another form of that, and while the graphics are not the best, you can also put the trainer in erg mode or use the ergvideos and ride to programmed wattages. Of course, you could also buy a power meter and use a standard trainer which then gives you additional functionality.

For most people, stationary trainers are the best option for portability and affordability. After all, you have to be able to get those trainers to Conte's for our winter training sessions! Sign up now if you haven't had a chance, post is on the forum...

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