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Is this the year you’ve caught the cycling bug, and you have decided you want to keep riding thru the “off” season? Do you feel very comfortable riding your bike, and you would rather not have a specialized piece of exercise equipment sitting unused for half the year? If that is the case, a bicycle trainer may be just what you are looking for.

A bicycle trainer supports your bike with the rear wheel off the floor, and has a resistance unit that is driven by the rear wheel.   You can then vary the your workload or effort while riding by shifting gears, just as you would outdoors, except; of course, there are no hills or winds to vary your effort.  While on the trainer, your bicycle’s front wheel is left in place, resting on the floor, or preferably, supported by a wheel block which keeps your bike level. Most trainers will work right out of the box with all of the most common road and mountain bike wheel sizes. (Adapters are available for small wheel travel bikes and recumbents.)

The resistance unit is the “heart” of a trainer.  They may use air, fluid or magnets to create resistance, the workload you feel pedaling.  Air resistance trainers can be the least expensive, but are least popular due to the noise they create.  Fluid units are the quietest, but are limited in adjustability.  Magnetic units are the most versatile, since they can be made adjustable, or controlled electronically.

Another important characteristic of trainers is whether they offer linear or progressive resistance.  With linear resistance, the workload is the same regardless of speed. This is like the feel of a traditional exercise bike. Progressive resistance tries to simulate the wind resistance in bicycle riding, where the effort required increases dramatically as you go faster, i.e. to go from 10 mph to 20 mph, the resistance would more than double.

If you are riding to maintain your basic fitness as a recreational rider, a trainer with linear resistance is a good option.   When riding with linear resistance, you will make most of your changes in effort or workload by shifting your bike between higher and lower gears. The CycleOps Mag Trainer ($219.99) is a linear resistance trainer, and a very good value for the recreational cyclist.

If you are a more active sport or competitive rider (or triathlete) and interested in more serious workouts, you will want a trainer with progressive resistance.  Most of the CycleOps trainers at Bicycle Garage Indy offer progressive resistance. This includes the CycleOps Magneto ($289.99),  SuperMagneto Pro ($419.99), Fluid2 ($349.00)  and the JetFluid Pro ($399.99).  Each these offers different levels of resistance through their “top end”, so you may want to test ride or talk to our staff to find the ideal model for you.

Some resistance units allow you to adjust the base level of your workload.  The CycleOps Mag trainer offers 5 resistance levels (though each level is still linear), and the SuperMagneto Pro offers 4 workout levels combined with progressive resistance.  Adjustable resistance trainers are nice if you want to vary your training with hard and easy workouts, or need to have variability for injury recovery and rehab.

The most advanced models of bicycle trainers offer controlled resistance; typically measuring your power output or wattage.  CycleOps offers two controlled resistance trainers, the PowerSync ($899.99) and Powerbeam Pro ($1,099).  Controlled resistance units take some of the guess work out of training, since they are precisely measuring your effort throughout the workout.   And the Powerbeam Pro can also be used with interactive video software that simulates racing conditions, showing the road in front of you on a TV or tablet, and even allowing competition with other riders over the internet.

Another option in the most advanced trainers is to connect directly to the resistance unit, without using the rear wheel and tire.  With the Wahoo Kickr Power Trainer ($1099.99), your bike’s rear wheel is removed, and your bike is mounted on a rear axle built into the trainer.  Your bike’s chain is then engaged on a cassette mounted on the trainer. The Kickr Trainer then allows you to control the resistance unit and record your workout with an app running on your iPhone or iPad.  The Kickr Resistnace unit also features a heavy flywheel unit to more accurately represent the accelerating, and is extremely quiet.

Other considerations in choosing a trainer include noise:  fluid resistance units are the quietest, and wind units are noisiest.  If you are tight on space, or want to travel with your trainer (some athletes will bring a trainer to competitions for warming up), the CycleOps Pro models can all be folded flat without assembly, and there is even an optional travel bag.

The staff at Bicycle Garage Indy is ready to help you choose the right CycleOps or Wahoo trainer for your goals and budget, and we have the indoor trainer accessories to optimize your trainer experience.   Browse through our complete selection at Bicycle Garage Indy & BGI Fitness on the north side (82nd and Dean Road)  or Bicycle Garage Indy & BGI Fitness in Greenwood (just west of I65 on County Line Rd.)   We also have a limited selection of trainers at Bicycle Garage Indy Downtown in the Indy Bike Hub YMCA.