Use An Indoor Bike Trainer To Stay Fit Year-Round
For many of us, cycling is an excellent way to address our cardio needs. Riding a bike doesn’t create the pounding to the legs that running does, and it doesn’t necessitate finding a body of water for swimming. And for those who have a short attention span, there’s plenty of ‘stuff’ whizzing by when you’re cycling.
But when cycling is your main cardio fitness tool, you hit a roadblock each winter when the temperatures drop and icy roads or biting winds become a reality. That’s when it makes sense to turn your bike into a 4-season exercise machine by hooking it up to an indoor bike trainer.
Bike Trainer Advantages
– The most obvious advantage of a bike trainer is that you don’t have to cower away from bad weather anymore. When the rain, snow, or sleet make cycling uncomfortable and unsafe, it’s easy to keep your workout indoors.
– For those who aren’t in the habit of going to a gym, having the luxury of creating a ‘home-gym‘ with a bike and a trainer saves a lot of time and inconvenience. Couple that convenience with some people’s aversion to exercising in front of other people and a bike trainer makes even more sense.
– Some fitness buffs want to perform a specific workout, such as a prescribed interval-style workout. In that case, a ride indoors eliminates the annoyance of having to stop for red lights, slow for traffic, or an assortment of other distractions that get in the way of the workout’s intentions.
– Having exercise equipment in the house may not be new for a lot of folks. But there comes a point when the idea of taking up additional floor space with another stair-stepper machine, another treadmill, or a new full-sized elliptical trainer just doesn’t make sense. In light of taking up space, an indoor bike trainer excels. In fact, it’s no big deal to fold the trainer down and stuff it in a closet when it isn’t being used.
Three Basic Bike Trainer Styles
Indoor bike trainers are categorized by the way in which they create the workload. Wind trainers move air, mag (magnetic) trainers create resistance by moving a flywheel through a magnetic field, and fluid trainers spin an impeller through a liquid.
Wind trainers are the most basic of the three styles, so they are the least expensive and the least susceptible to breakdown. On the other hand, however, they create a lot of noise when the rider is going any faster than a casual pace. On top of that, these units aren’t able to create enough resistance for a high-intensity interval workout. They’re best for beginner cyclists who intend to ride a mild to moderate steady-state style of workout.
Mag trainers have become a viable option for many cyclists. In the not too distant past they were plagued with inferior materials and workmanship. Complaints were rampant. But just as happens in a lot of industries, the junky products haven’t survived and those mag trainers that are left standing are a good option for many riders.
One mag trainer that stands out is the CycleOps Magneto. CycleOps claims that this is the first and only mag trainer to provide progressive resistance. By using centrifugal force to alter the position of the magnets in the Magneto, the level of resistance is being constantly shifted to meet the level of exertion the cyclist is expending. This feature is a real advantage, considering that other mag trainers only change their resistance level when the rider uses a manual ‘shifter’. The most basic of the models even require the cyclist to dismount and get back on their bike in the middle of a workout in order to change workloads.
Fluid trainers are at the top of the pile in the bike trainer world. They’re the quietest, and because of the nature of fluid dynamics, they provide near limitless levels of resistance. Two of the fluid trainers that dominate this category are the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine and the Cycleops Fluid 2 bike trainer.
Up until the Kurt Kinetic proprietary design, fluid trainers were notorious for leakage. There’s a lot of heat generated in a fluid trainer, so it was only a matter of time before seals in the early fluid trainer models would fail, making a call to the service department necessary. But Kurt Kinetic came up with a design that seals off the fluid filled chamber completely, so the biggest complaint against this type of trainer has been reduced to a mild grumbling.
Stay Fit…And ‘Multi-Task’ Your Bike With A Bike Trainer
When the winter weather hits (or the intense heat of a Alabama summer, for that matter), don’t let the elements get the best of you. Cycling is still a tremendous way to keep the heart and lungs healthy no matter what’s going on outside. All it takes is turning your bike into a ‘multi-tasker’ by attaching the rear wheel to an indoor bike trainer.
Some cyclists will find that their casual riding style needs nothing more than a simple wind trainer, while others may opt for a quality fluid trainer. Regardless of which trainer you choose, maintaining your fitness level year-round just got a lot more ‘doable’.
About the author: Ron Fritzke is a cycling product reviewer with a passion for ‘all things cycling’. A former 2:17 marathoner, he now directs his competitive efforts toward racing his bike…and looking for good cycling products.
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