What Is a Turbo Trainer?
Turbo Trainers are a static device which allow you to cycle indoors. Unlike ‘Spin Bikes’ you attach the rear wheel of your own bike to a clamp on the Turbo, or the chain to a drive unit. Turbo Trainers have come a long way the last few years and there are various benefits to cycling in-doors even when the weather is rosy:
- No cleaning or lube required
- Time efficient. Ready when you are
- Fun interactive sessions with Smart trainers
- Controlled Setting. No reliance on external factors such as traffic
Types Of Turbo Trainer
There are various types of Turbo Trainers available and it can be confusing knowing what the differences between them all is. One of the main ways to categorize them would be based on how your bike attaches to the Turbo:
Flywheel: Also known as ‘wheel on trainers’. The rear wheel of your bike attaches to the Turbo by removing the quick release skewer and swapping it for the Turbo’s skewer. This is the easiest way to attach your bike however you will wear the rear tyre faster.
Direct Drive: Direct Drive Turbo’s require you to remove your rear wheel and attach your chain to the Turbo’s in-built cassette. It’s a little trickier if you’re not used to it, however the rewards are worth the endeavour.
Flywheel is the original form of Turbo Trainer and they can be split into sub-categories based on how they generate resistance whilst you pedal:
Magnetic Turbo Trainers:
‘Mag Trainers’ use a magnetic field which creates resistance whilst you cycle. These typically come with their own advantages such as being smaller and lighter; meaning they take up less room whilst in use and easy to pack away when finished. This also gives them the advantage of being easily portable. They can be a little noisy, however there are options such as the Minoura Mag Ride 60 which are quieter than most magnetic trainers.
Ideal For: Cyclists On a Budget Or Those Looking To Test The Waters
Fluid Resistance Turbo Trainers:
Fluid Resistance Turbo’s make use of oil (or similar composition) in their design which delivers a gradual resistance the harder you pedal giving a more road like feel than Magnetic Turbo’s. They’re a great compromise between a Mag Trainer and the Direct Drive Turbo’s. Many are also compatible with Smart tech like Zwift when the required accessory is purchased separately.
Ideal For: Cyclists Looking For A More Natural Feel Than a Mag Trainer But With a Lower Price Point Than a Direct Drive Trainer.
Smart Turbo Trainers:
“Smart Turbo Trainers” are more immersive than the classic Turbo and add another dimension to the experience. The ‘smart’ aspect doesn’t relate to how it generates resistance, rather, it means they are have in-built tech which is compatible with online apps such as Zwift + Strava.
Ideal For: Cyclists Looking To Add Some Fun + Motivation To Their Workouts
Direct Drive Trainers:
Direct Drive trainers are as close as you can get to the feeling of cycling outside. This is due to how you attach your bike to the Turbo. The chain of your bike, rather than the rear wheel, connects to a drive unit which not only simulates a more realistic ride, it also prolongs your rear tyre’s lifespan!
Most have built-in power meters so you can measure your workout accurately. The vast majority are also ‘Smart’ ready meaning they’re ready to connect to your favourite app such as Zwift and Peloton. They are the cream of the crop among Turbo’s!
Ideal For: Cyclists Looking To Gain an Edge + Keep The Realism Of Cycling Outside
Roller trainers are different to Turbo’s however are another option that gives you the ability to cycle indoors. They are simple in design and set-up however also the most challenging to use. Rollers consist of three drums that spin as you cycle. This can be daunting as you have to rely on balance and there is a real chance of falling off unlike a Turbo Trainer! However they give you a uniquely beneficial workout which work muscles that the Turbo’s may not target such as your core.
Ideal For: Experienced Cyclists looking to add variety to their workouts.