The days are getting shorter, it’s getting colder, and soon the clocks will be going back. Sorry, that’s the truth of it! Want to keep riding but don’t want to go out in the dark or the rain? Then you’ll need a turbo trainer or some rollers! Want to find out what they are and what the differences are? Well, you’re in the right place!
Turbo trainers and rollers both let you ride your bike indoors, so that you can keep training without having to brave the elements. You can pedal without actually going anywhere – which is much easier than doing laps around the kitchen!
Turbo trainers are probably the most popular kind of trainer. You clamp your back wheel into them, lifting it off the ground. A small roller on the turbo trainer presses onto your tyre, and the turbo provides some resistance.
Here are some key turbo trainer facts:
- No steering to worry about – just pedal away!
- They’re really easy to jump on and use.
- If you’ve set up your turbo trainer correctly, you’re very unlikely to fall – without trying to!
- Plenty of resistance – lots of turbo trainers also have adjustable resistance, so you can choose how hard you want your session to be.
- They’re great for training at specific intensities, or when you want to go as hard as you can.
- Because there’s no steering or balance to worry about, it’s easy to watch TV to distract yourself while you’re riding.
- A turbo trainer will wear out your rear tyre more quickly, but you can use a trainer-specific tyre. These can’t be used on the road, but last for ages on the turbo (and are quieter)!
- Because of tyre wear, most people swap either their rear tyre or whole rear wheel to go on the turbo.
To find out more about turbo trainers, check out our turbo trainers buyer’s guide.
Rollers on the other hand are a bit trickier. They have three large drums (or rollers, if you like!) – one at the front and two at the back. You put your back wheel on the paired drums and your front one on the single drum, and pedal away! The front drum is connected to the back ones by a rubber belt, so that your wheels both move at the same speed.
- Because you have to keep yourself upright, it feels much more like you’re actually riding outdoors!
- You improve your bike handling skills, and work on the core muscles used for balancing.
- Most rollers don’t wear your tyres as much as a turbo trainer, so you don’t need to swap a wheel or tyre.
- The learning curve of using rollers is a bit steeper, but once things click into place, it’s as easy as riding a bike… well, almost!
- You can fall off rollers! Because it’s up to you to stay on them, it is possible to come off, so make sure you’re not training next to your teapot collection!
- Riding on rollers takes a lot more attention, so it’s hard to catch up on the soaps at the same time.
- Rollers don’t normally have resistance in the same way that a turbo trainer does, and it’s very rarely adjustable.
- It can be hard to do really hard efforts on rollers while staying on them – until you’ve had a lot of practise!
So which one do I need – rollers or a turbo trainer?
That’s all up to you!
Indoor training can be a bit boring sometimes, and being able to watch some TV can be a big help! Lots of people prefer turbo trainers because it’s easy to just jump on your bike and pedal. However, some people like to train on rollers because it improves your bike handling. Rollers take some time to get used to, while a turbo trainer is (almost) impossible to fall off of.
Remember, if you’re going to be training indoors then there are a few things you’ll need:
- A fan – to keep yourself from overheating!
- Something to put on the floor (like a mat) to protect it from sweat.
- A riser block – riding on a turbo is much more comfortable if both of your wheels are level! A riser block raises your front wheel to match the back one, and makes things much easier.
So, want to get started with turbo training this autumn? Check out our beginner’s guide to turbo training! If you’ve decided on what sort of trainer you’d like, or you’d just like to have a browse for some inspiration, head over to our site and check out our range of turbo trainers and rollers! We’ve also got a range of turbo trainer accessories to get you kitted out for the winter.