12/2/13

In need of a bike trainer? Karel recommends........

I consider myself really lucky to be married to my bike mechanic. Not only is he crazy smart in all things related to bikes and a talented cat 1 cyclist (turned endurance triathlete and Trimarni coach) but with his retail experience as the former GM of the Trek Bicycle Store of Jacksonville for the past 5 years, Karel does a great job of staying up to date with products, gear and technology.
 
With the temps dropping, many athletes and fitness enthusiasts have a few options for riding in the winter months:
-brave the cold and bundle up
-dust off the bike in the spring
-compu trainer or spin classes
-indoor cycle trainer
 
I receive many questions about indoor trainers (obviously, the questions are for Karel for that is not my area of expertise) so I thought I would highlight a few trainers that Karel recommends.
 
A few things that Karel suggests to consider for when you are purchasing an athletic/fitness product/gear/equipment:

-Customer service - can they help you when your product malfunctions? what's the return policy? are they helpful from reviews?
-Budget - what's your price range? what are you willing to pay extra for and what's a deal breaker?
-Reliabilty and function - if you are paying for quality, what are you getting in return?
-Safety - if applicable
-Upgrades/updates - are there updates for software? do they have a good website for update features or new additions?
 
 
An indoor trainer is a great investment to help you stay consistent with training, no matter rain or snow/ice. But with so many brands and types of trainers on the market, it can be a little overwhelming to find the right trainer. And when we say "right", one that won't eat up your rear tire, won't cause a lot of noise and one that will provide enough resistance to simulate outside terrain.
 
Before I get into trainer models, let's talk tires. There are many trainer tires out so he recommend to invest in a tire specific to the trainer if you are doing most of your riding inside (if you only ride the trainer once or twice every month or two inside, you are fine with what you ride outside just inspect it before you take it outside). 
Karel recommends to have a seperate wheel for your trainer (if you use a rear wheel - see below) to make your life a lot easier so that you can just put on your trainer wheel and you won't have to worry about ruining a tire. But, if you need a "trainer specific tire", Karel recommends Cycleops trainer tire ($34) for your rear wheel. Also, do not ride your trainer tire (that you have used all winter or for most of your rides indoors) outside. There will be a "hot" spot or a flat part of the wheel where the tire was rubbing and this can make the tire sensitive in turns as well as for a flat tire outside.

Here are a few trainers that Karel recommends:
(we were not paid to promote these products. Also, many websites have videos to learn more about their trainers. Any questions, you can send me an email @ Marni@Trimarnicoach.com )
 
Cycleops Fluid ProFor a simple trainer without fancy features (ex. no virtual reality courses, etc.) this is a great option with a lifetime warranty. Smooth, quiet and realistic resistance. It has a good frame and won't break the bank account. Karel really likes Cycleops as a brand. They have excellent customer service and are very quick if anything happens with the product (warranty or non-warranty issues).
Price - ~$399 
 
Another great trainer from Cycleops but one that will substitute your rear wheel. With the cassette in place on the trainer, all you need to do is remove your rear wheel from the bike and fit it right into the trainer. The best part is that you don't have to worry about ruining your rear tire from The silencer provides direct drive technology and is promoted as a "silent" trainer. resistance.
Price: $659 - $729 (with or without cassettee)
 
 

 
 
 
 
If you want to have more fun riding indoors and on different courses Karel suggests the Wahoo Kicker. It can be connected via Bluetooth to a smart phone or tablet. It's a newer trainer on the market but has been shown to be reliable and the company has great customers service and support. It also substitutes the real wheel so you won't ruin your tire.
Price - $1099
 
 

 
 
 
The last category of trainers is a virtual reality trainer or training with power, which are two features of the Computrainer trainers.
Although a bit more expensive than most trainers, this is a great option for anyone who may get bored riding inside and wants to have some fun with different courses. This is also an effective trainer that has been shown to help riders improve their fitness on the bike.
This is also a good trainer for athletes who work with coaches so that the coach can see the power file after uploading to a training software program (ex. Training Peaks).
The Computrainer requires a lot more settings whereas the Wahoo trainer is a bit more simple. But everyone has their own likes/dislikes so like with any technology, some things take getting use to but are worth the extra money, time and attention. The computrainers are  compatible with ANT+ and heartrate. There are other features like Spin Scan to help improve pedal strokes as well as Real Course videos to be able to "ride" on your upcoming race course (if available).
Price - varies ($1400-$5000)