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Indoor Bike Trainers – Get Your Bike Workout at Home!

Gone are the days when training with an exercise bike consisted of mindless pedalling and staring at the wall. Today, indoor bikes or performance-oriented roller trainers have technologies that allow you to make indoor cycling varied and creative. You can expect exciting training programmes and even group rides on virtual, geo-synchronised routes, for example from a PC or tablet. Boredom is guaranteed to be a thing of the past on an exercise bike! Read more

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Indoor Bike Training: Realistic Cycling at Home

When the days get shorter, the roads get slippery, the temperatures drop, it rains and snows, the only thing left to do to keep up your training is to freeze or go on holiday to the south – right?

Not at all, with a bike indoor cycle trainer you can keep cycling comfortably and entertainingly within your own four walls. It is a device on which you can ride in place with or without a bike, depending on the model. In the cold season, you don't need expensive thermal clothing or two pairs of gloves and hats to arrive home soaking wet and frozen. And even in summer, you can avoid annoying traffic lights and darkness late at night and complete extremely precise interval training and performance tests.

And that's not all! Have you always wanted to ride the legendary mountain stages of the Tour on your racing bike? That's also possible with the latest smart trainers with matching videos or virtual reality software. Just make sure that your trainer has ANT+ and Bluetooth. Depending on the price range and features, the various models today are characterised by watt-accurate measurements, low volume and a wide range of setting and transmission options.

What Types of Bike Trainers Are There?

There is a wide range of indoor bike trainer for beginners and professionals – from roller trainers to complete indoor bikes. Terms like "indoor bike", "bicycle trainer", "ergometer" or "ergotrainer" often get mixed up. To help you keep track of indoor cycling, here is a rough classification:

  • Roller trainer (also called "free roller")
  • Wheel-On cycle trainer (cycle trainer with roller unit)
  • Direct Drive cycle trainer
  • Stationary indoor bikes

The Roller Trainer

The roller trainer serves the same purpose for a cyclist as the treadmill does for a runner: you ride your bike on the roller trainer, but you do not move forward because the surface is in motion. So this type of bike trainer assumes that you have a bicycle.

A roller trainer often consists of a frame with three rollers mounted parallel to each other, on which the wheels of the bicycle rest. The riding experience is similar to that on the road because the bike can move under the athlete. In principle, a roller trainer has a simple design. However, many models can also be coupled via a smartphone, tablet, notebook, the TV or a bike computer with suitable training software. Depending on the model, it is possible to complete training programmes, ride virtual routes or measure your strength and performance.

You can use the roller trainer with a road bike as well as with a mountain bike. Special roller trainer tyres make it possible to train more quietly without increased wear and tear.

Bike Trainer with Roller Unit – The Wheel-on Cycle Trainer

For a long time, cycle trainers with a roller unit were the standard home trainers. With the development of online training tools, wheel-on-trainers have also evolved. The principle is simple: you clamp your entire bike into the bike trainer. Special quick-releases, axles or axle adapters are often supplied for this purpose, which you have to mount separately. After clamping, the rear wheel is in contact with the roller unit so that you can ride on the spot. If the supplied adapters are not compatible with your axle standard, you can find more adapters and axles in our shop.

With this type of trainer, more wear and tear on the tyres is inevitable. If you want to protect your road tyres, you can also purchase special non-slip and abrasion-resistant training tyres for this purpose.

The Direct Drive Cycletrainer

Direct drive bike trainers have become much more affordable and popular in recent years. The rear end of the bike without the rear wheel is placed on an axle with cassette and freewheel that is already mounted on the home trainer. Then, as usual, the dropouts are firmly connected to the device via the quick release or thru axle. Compared to the classic cycletrainer with roller unit, the training is much quieter and you can use this type of indoor trainer without special tyres.

Since some of these trainers can be tilted sideways to a certain extent, you will experience a very authentic riding experience even when swaying and cornering. The integrated power measurement and data collection of direct drive trainers is also considered very precise. This gives you a good overview of your performance data.

Indoor Bikes

Smart indoor bikes are a combination of cycle ergometers and bike home trainers. They are ready to use at any time: You don't need a bike, so there's no need to convert when you switch to a home bike. Smart ergometers are easily adjustable, which is why several users in the same household can train with them quickly and easily.

Indoor bikes are expensive, but offer a lot of exciting functions and features that make your indoor training a real experience.

Braking Systems and Drives of Indoor Bike Trainers

The classic bike trainer is constructed in such a way that you clamp your bike into the device at the hub of the rear wheel. The tire makes contact with a plastic or steel roller that is connected to a flywheel. Depending on the model and price range, these stationary bikes have a magnetic, electric, fluid or motor brake. The brake increases the resistance and thus simulates different speeds or inclines.

Magnetic brakes are especially recommended for beginners and are based on a simple physical principle: moving magnets exert a force on a metallic flywheel without touching it. The closer the magnets are brought to the disc, the higher the resistance.

Alternatively, you can choose an indoor trainer with electric brakes. With this type, the braking force is generated via induction and regulated by means of electronics according to the rider's specifications or programme. The faster you pedal, the stronger the current generated and the higher the possible resistance. With this type of brake, you generate the power yourself by pedalling – you can use the cycle trainer and bike without an additional power source.

A fluid brake works with a liquid (e.g. silicone oil), which – in technical terms – slows down the rotation of the shaft. This means that on such a bike trainer you feel stronger resistance the faster you "go". However, you can also regulate the resistance manually by shifting gears.

A motor brake is a particularly sophisticated simulation technique. An electric motor connected to the flywheel simulates the uphill gradient via special resistors, but can also support the rider for the right high-speed feeling downhill. This form of resistance unit for cycle trainers requires an additional power supply and is often found on top models.

Cycletrainers with magnetic or fluid brakes are used particularly often, as these can also be operated standalone – without an additional power supply.

Smart Cycle Trainers: Interactive and Realistic Cycling

In principle, smart trainers, whether with or without direct drive, can be defined as a free roller, standalone indoor bike, in that they not only output performance data, but also make it possible to regulate the resistance via a device or an app. By specifying a certain wattage or incline, different types of training and route profiles can be simulated. However, current models can do much more. Apart from generally important factors such as stability, realistic riding feel and low noise, which are also influenced by the weight of the flywheel, among other things, smart rollers are characterised in particular by a gigantic range of transmission or connection options. Smart trainers communicate with your Windows PC or Mac via Bluetooth Smart or ANT+, or feed iOS or Android apps like Strava, TrainingPeaks or Garmin Connect with all kinds of performance and training data. 

However, the Smart Trainers are particularly attractive due to the new possibilities of interactivity. Video simulations or augmented reality software with original track recordings (e.g. Bkool, Rouvy, Tacx Cycling App) give you the opportunity to experience legendary races, stages or climbs realistically simulated on the screen. Sophisticated training apps such as Zwift, TrainerRoad, SYSTM (The Sufferfest) and many more make you a better cyclist in your living room, as they measure your performance like a personal trainer and provide you with a training programme. Virtually addictive virtual workouts, events and competitions with game-like elements from industry leader Zwift literally open up a whole new world of cycling. On virtual tracks, you can compete against friends and strangers from all over the world and set new records or simply enjoy the sense of community.

And if you want to bring the feeling of being outdoors even more indoors, be sure to take a look at the smart and useful accessories for turbo trainers, rollers and indoor bikes in our online shop.

Buy indoor trainers at BIKE24

In our online shop you will find exercise bikes, roller trainers, indoor bikes and of course the right accessories. The detailed product descriptions will help you with your choice.