You've Decided to Buy a Bike Trainer. Now What?

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Whether you're extending your season as daylight wanes or looking for a very focused workout, the indoor bicycle trainer is your best solution when riding outdoors isn't feasible. But which trainer is best for you, your goals and your environment?

Simply put, how does one start the process of riding on a trainer? Let's take a closer look.



Factors that Impact Indoor Training

Choose Your Adventure

First, think about your goal for indoor training. Is this a time to simply ride base miles to maintain some fitness from last season, a chance to lose some unwanted weight through a safe cardio exercise, or are you looking to ramp-up your season through hard efforts indoors?

Determining your end goal, and establishing why you are coming to the trainer in the first place, can have an impact on which bicycle trainer makes the most sense for you. These factors can also play a role in how and where you should set-up your training space.

Cyclist riding an indoor bike trainer

Check Your Expectations

While training goal and time spent riding might appear to go hand-in-hand, we recommend parsing these factors into separate categories. Ask yourself: how much time to I realistically expect to be spending riding inside?

In short, planning ahead and keeping your expectations in check will help ensure your trainer was a worthwhile investment.

Location, Location, Location

Before you buy, take some time to determine what space you will need to ride.

Finding a dedicated place in your home, office, gym, or local bike shop, can help reinforce – and grow - how much time you can dedicate to indoor training.

Cyclist riding an indoor bike trainer

Think of Others

Once you have chosen the type of ride, how long you are plan on riding, and training space, turn your thoughts to those around you.

Do you need to be concerned about annoying neighbors? Waking up a sleeping child? Dragging your trainer out of the closet into the middle of the living room at your house and annoying your roommates?

Trust us, planning ahead pays dividends in long-term success. And by being mindful of those around you, you might pick up a few new cheerleaders along the way.

Cyclist riding an indoor bike trainer

Are You Not Entertained?

The biggest complaint about riding an indoor bike trainer is that it's boring. Nip that negative vibe in the bud by utilizing your favorite audible guilty-pleasures.

Make a plan that'll help keep you engaged while pedaling it out indoors. Do you want to listen to music or podcasts? Or will you plan to watch movies or binge watch a must-see show? Maybe you'll dabble with virtual training apps or YouTube bike trainer sessions?

Keep trying different options until you find one that works for you and has you coming back for more.

What's Your Scenario?

Now that you have figured out your training style and time, found a comfortable space, and figured out your entertainment plan, it's time to figure out which type of trainer works for you. Let's examine a few different scenarios.

Pro Tip: remember to factor your budget alongside your plan to stay engaged.

Cyclist riding an indoor bike trainer

1) Basement Base Miles

Goal: To build base miles, and wouldn't mind shedding a couple extra pounds before the season hits.

Time: Do not want to spend more than an hour on the trainer, but would like to get a good sweat in.

Location: Your basement is your reprieve. It's quiet and away from your roommates.

Other People: Your roommates could care less about what you're doing in the basement. Win-Win.

Entertainment: Reading and studying for classes.

Recommendation: You'll need a trainer with a nice level of resistance. One that won't let you max out your effort immediately, while not having to worry too much about noise, such as the Magneto. We'd recommend a sweat guard or towel to protect your bike and suggest a leveling block to even out your bike to make studying a bit easier.

Cyclist riding an indoor bike trainer

2) Time-Crunched Triathlete

Goal: To land in the Top 10 bike split at your upcoming triathlon.

Time: Your efforts will be hard, focused, and will not exceed forty-five minutes.

Location: Guest room.

Other People: You'll be training in the morning while your family sleeps.

Entertainment: Heart-pumping music or podcasts through your headphones.

Recommendation: The #1 trainer in the USA, the Fluid2 Trainer. It provides a smooth, consistent ride and is one of the quietest wheel-on bicycle trainers. Add a training mat to protect the floors beneath your bike (and to not alarm future guests with pools of dried sweat).

Cyclist riding an indoor bike trainer

3) Group Ride Junkie

Goal: To be just as fast on the first group ride as you were on the last.

Time: Two hours, max.

Location: You have the luxury of setting up a training space anywhere. The world is your oyster!

Other People: The only people you're concerned about are the other people waiting to race you on that training app.

Entertainment: Training software, such as Zwift, CycleOps, TrainerRoad, are your bread and butter. You look forward to each and every ride, racing against your friends, and pedaling along your favorite group rides. Who says riding on an indoor trainer is boring?!

Recommendation: For the best experience with a virtual training program, you're going to want to go with a smart bike trainer, such as the Magnus or Hammer. Simply connect your favorite app to your virtual trainer and presto, it's game time.

Cyclist riding an indoor bike trainer

4) Fitness Fanatic

Goal: To incorporate your bike into your collection of year-round fitness equipment. You've gone to a few spin-type classes, and you'd like to do something similar at home with the ability to mix up the workouts here and there.

Time: No more than 90 minutes, unless you're really feeling it.

Location: So many options! There's an unused corner in the living room, the three-season porch and if it's nice out, the back deck.

Other People: Your family gives you free reign to set-up where you want (and they definitely appreciated you asking first).

Entertainment: A mix of music, TV shows, and movies.

Recommendation: We'd suggest starting with the SuperMagneto. With four, manually-adjustable ride settings, this indoor bike trainer gives you the flexibility to determine which terrain best suits your day. Plus, it's quiet enough to be ridden in the living room for a family movie night.


Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of scenarios. After nearly 20 years in the business, we've seen a wide spectrum of training requirements, goals and equipment to take into consideration.If you're still feeling lost and want more support or recommendations, we suggest paying a visit to your local CycleOps dealer, visiting with your coach or teammates, or chatting with your riding buddies. And as always, our customer service team is here to help too.


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