Ride the Puddles

Stuff Beginners Should Know (but almost never do): Trainers

Posted by bikezilla on January 11, 2011


I had a couple of topics I wanted to write about and just discovered that Coach Levi has covered them, too.

Him being smarter than me, I’m going to refer heavily to is articles, and I hope you’ll go read them.

One of those topics is riding on a trainer.

Basic Trainer

For those of you new to this winter time riding stuff, the link above shows a cycling trainer. It is, in fact, the very trainer I use. Mine’s held up really nicely and I’m going into my third season with it. The one in that ad is $5 less expensive now than it was when I bought it.

Sometimes life is just so unfair, but I don’t hesitate to recommend that trainer. Then again, if you wait three years maybe it’ll be another $5 less expensive.

If you want something a little nicer and with a more realistic feel, and have about 3X the cash to spend, you might want something like this:

the Kinetic trainer

Or if you want the absolute best and price isn’t a concern, go with the Lemond Revoltion (sorry, no link).

So, HERE is Coach Levi’s advice for how to put your bike on your trainer.

Levi’s article assumes that you’re riding a road bike. I’ve typically kept my mountain bike on mine (though this season I’m snow biking with the MTB, so the CX is on the trainer).

Regardless of what type of bike you use with your trainer the basics are the same.

— The smoother your tread, the better it is for use with a trainer. I’ve used my Continental TravelContact tire (a really excellent tire for railtrail use as well as a perfect tire for the trainer) for two seasons and about 2,000 miles of trainer miles and it still looks great.

Right now my CX is mounted with Panaracer Pacela tires. Still a good choice, but not as perfect as the Conti TravelContact. And there are some even better choices.

Coach Levi lists one, the $5 Hutchinson Flash, a horrible road tire but an excellent trainer tire. And you won’t find one at a better price.

If you don’t mind paying more you can get something sturdier that’s made JUST for your trainer.

Here’s one for your road or CX bike.

And here’s one for the 26″ wheels of your MTB.

What you don’t want to use is any type of knobby or heavy tread pattern. You’ll destroy those tires well before it’s time to get back out on the road and trail again.

Another thing you want to do, I mean you REALLY want to do, is follow Levi’s advice for how much pressure to apply with the roller on the tire.

Just enough to get the roller spinning without ever skipping. If you over tighten this adjustment and apply additional pressure, attempting to increase tension and resistance, you’ll destroy the tread by the added pressure, and the sidewall because you’re deforming it and heat will build up in it as you ride. Unlike your car, your bike’s sidewall isn’t intended to take that kind of abuse.

— Something else you’ll absolutely require is a box fan, even better, a pair of box fans.

Because even if you ride with a window open or in your garage with the door open, you’ll have a tough time preventing overheating without some air flowing over you.

Just set each fan a few feet ahead of your trainer, one a few feet to each side, and angle them in and upward so that they blow directly on you as you ride. Keep them blowing on the highest possible setting.

— You’ll want to prop your front tire up a few inches and you can purchase blocks made just for this purpose.

There are less expensive models than this one, but they tend to be flimsy.

Personally, I just put an old phone book or a wooden TV tray under the front wheel. But I’ve never cared much about style points.

— Lastly, don’t ignore hydration. I find that it’s most convenient to use my hydration pack, just as if I were on the road or trail.


Paul recommends the use of a rim trainer if you have a mountain bike.

They’re about twice (or more) the price of a basic trainer, but they review well for feel, and most owners seem to love them.

Some are wheel size specific, but some will adjust to fit from 24″ rims to 700c.

— If you’re a little more advanced and confident and don’t mind spending a little more than you will for a basic trainer, you can always go with a roller.

But that’s another article.


One Response to “Stuff Beginners Should Know (but almost never do): Trainers”

  1. srcycler said

    Good Stuff!

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