Turbo Trainer Reviews @ Reviewed & Rated
So you need a turbo trainer but feel overwhelmed by the choice on the market? Don’t worry, you don’t have to do this alone. Here at Reviewed & Rated, our resident trainer expert, Allan Quinley, has a warehouse full of trainers that he is testing to help you decide what is best for you.
Let’s face it, none of us would really choose a turbo trainer over a real on road ride but if the wind is howling and the rain is lashing down, you aren’t given too much choice. Keeping up your fitness and stamina during those winter months will improve your performance in the long-run and a turbo trainer can help you get there. There are a huge variety of trainers on the market, but somewhere out there, there is a trainer just right for you. Here are a few tips on what to look for…
Frame: If you are going to be doing lots of sprinting and hill climbs, you will need a frame with a fairly large footprint. The larger the footprint, the more stable you are. Some frames come with adjustable legs which is also a must if you are planning to train on an uneven surface, for example in the garage. If you are planning to pack your trainer away after each use, pay attention to the size of the folded up package so you can make sure that it is the right fit.
Resistance: The resistance unit will determine the kind of workout that you will get. The higher the resistance, the harder you have to pedal. Resistance units come in three forms: wind, magnetic and fluid. Each unit feels quite different to ride and has unique pros and cons so make sure you do your homework before committing to anything.
Control unit: The more you pay for your trainer, the more features it will offer. Higher-end trainers come with Virtual Reality and Multiplayer online functions, whereas the cheaper low-end models will generally come with the basics (cadence, speed and power measurement) or nothing at all. Make sure you know what features you want/need when you start looking as this will help narrow the search down.
Roller: Your bike’s tire will be engaged against the roller either by a screw, cam or footplate mechanism. Some engagement systems are easier to use than others so if you are planning to use more than one bike on your turbo, make sure you choose a system that is easy to adjust.
Flywheel: The flywheel plays a crucial role in ensuring a smooth ride. The rule of thumb is: the heavier the flywheel, the smoother the ride.
Noise: No turbo trainer is completely noise free but some are noisier than others. If you use a heavy treaded tire or intend to train on a wooden floor, the noise levels will increase quite a bit. You can buy a dedicated trainer tire that is completely smooth which may be a good option if you are planning to train for lengthier periods.
Magnetic trainers have incorporated magnets that resist each other. Some trainers come with a handlebar mounted lever or cycle computer to change the resistance levels, but this is not always the case. Magnetic trainers have an upper resistance limit and are fairly noisy.
Fluid trainers use a fan revolving in a liquid-filled chamber to create resistance. The ride quality is very good and is very smooth but they are more expensive than the equivalent magnetic unit. These are the quietest of the trainers on the market and resistance can be controlled using valves that restrict the flow of the liquid.
Wind trainers use a fan powered by the cyclist’s leg power to provide resistance meaning that resistance progresses with speed. This creates a realistic cycling experience, however the resistance is limited and it can be very noisy. Wind resistance trainers are less common these days.