Training to complete a triathlon is a huge undertaking. For many, it takes months to develop and stick to an effective plan. The plan is oftentimes forced to change and adapt to the changing seasons. Many triathletes in training choose to invest in an indoor bike trainer or a cycle trainer to avoid the whims of the weather. With the different types of bike trainers, different plans on how to best prepare for a triathlon, as well as each individual’s specific needs, it can be very difficult to decide on which type of bike or stationary bike equipment to invest in. The following types of bike training aids will be explored and reviewed: wind, magnetic, fluid, rollers, and indoor bikes.
Wind trainers use a fan powered by the cyclist which increases the resistance as the pedaling increases. This method of increasing the resistance like that is similar to what would be found in the real triathlon, but using a wind trainer does not allow for much manual control of the resistance for training purposes. Another detriment to wind trainers would be that they are oftentimes very noisy, which can be an issue for triathletes training in an apartment or a condominium during the winter.
The CycleOps is one of the only wind trainers on the market currently. It is built with technology designed to last and to provide effective winter training indoors for any cyclist. The weighted metal fan blade generates wind resistance which is variable. At wheel speeds of 30 mph, the CycleOps can generate up to 600 watts of resistance.
- Easy to install and remove bike
- Virtually no set-up
- Loud, the fan generates a lot of noise
- No ability to select resistance
- Overall weak resistance
Magnetic Bike Trainers
These types of cycle trainers create resistance for the cyclist by a magnetic flywheel that works against the rear tire of the bike. They can provide different levels of resistance and are practically silent when in use. Resistance does not increase as you pedal faster, it has to be manually adjusted. Spring-loaded magnets are becoming an option on bikes to provide progressive resistance. These types of trainers are relatively inexpensive and quiet but usually need manual gear shifting.
The RAD MAG cycle is a magnetic cycle trainer with adjustable resistance. It is easy to install and is reported to work with a variety of bike styles. A front tire stabilizer is recommended with this product or else the bike will be slightly sloped downward from the rear wheel stabilizer and attachment. The trainer has 7 levels of resistance or resistance can be added by adjusting the bike’s gear shifts. These resistance levels are changed with a knob on the side of the attachment.
- Easy to install
- Lightweight and portable
- Relatively loud
- No progressive resistance adjusted manually
This magnetic trainer attaches to a variety of bike types, road, mountain or hybrid, by way of a quick release spring. Smooth training tires are recommended for the best and quietest training experience. This trainer offers a 330 lb loading capacity with 8 levels of training resistance. It is easily adjusted for varying heights and includes a front wheel support block to ensure the bike is level while operating.
- Comes with front wheel stabilizer
- easy to install and remove a bike
- excellent customer service
- Somewhat loud
- Described as having a rough and bumpy ride
- No progressive resistance
Kinetic is a very popular bike training brand as they are known for durability, reliability, and an easy user interface. This model of Kinetic magnetic trainers offers a 9 position thumb lever which allows for resistance adjusting. This model offers up to 850 watts of resistance at 40 mph. This model can accommodate 22-29 inch wheels and comes fully assembled with a skewer for the bike.
- Very lightweight aluminum build
- 9 levels of resistance
- Well known, reputable brand
- Does not come with risers for the bike
- some purchasers said it had a tendency to be squeaky
- overall agreed that training tires reduced the noise levels
Fluid Bicycle Trainers
Silicon is usually found inside the trainer which provides resistance to the cyclist’s bike. These trainers are very popular due to their ability mimic the feel of riding down the road whether it be a hill, flat, or sprint. Fluid bike trainers are very quiet and usually aa bit more expensive than a magnetic or wind trainer. They are considered to be long lasting, but their life spans can decrease with heavy use which heats the silicon up and reduces effectiveness.
This indoor bike trainer is designed to suit common road and mountain bike frames. There are three settings for the rear wheel spacing, 120 mm, 130 mm, and 135 mm. An alloy roller with a clutch knob allows for resistance changes when you are off the bike. This trainer is designed to work with the gear shifts on your bike to simulate more resistance as the gears increase.
- Great customer service for repairs
- Allows for resistance, some say a little tougher than the actual road
- Some assembly required
- Does not include bike blocks
- May require new parts or repairs over time and with heavy use
This is a fluid SmartTrainer that combines a fluid trainer with an app to track progress and record results. This allows for a wide range of workouts including intervals, threshold work and even recovery spins. The inRide sensor is pre-installed in the trainer with an iOS App that is free. The sensor measures power, speed, cadence, distance, and targets. The fluid resistance in this model is known to mirror and replicate an outdoor ride. This trainer features a larger sized roller for less tire wear and the trainer is built with cooling fans to alleviate the friction heat that builds up as you ride.
- App and sensor included for training
- Lightweight and lifetime guarantee
- Quiet and reported to be a very sturdy design
- Riser and mat for the trainer are not included and must be purchased separately
The Nashbar fluid trainer is a simple trainer design that is perfect for the cyclist interested in something with no setup, cables, or wires. It has an easy to use quick release design and offers progressive resistance. The more you pedal, the harder the resistance will be.
- Simple design
- Very quiet and smooth
- No manual resistance adjustment option
Rollers are a unique type of bike training device which lets both wheels actually work. The bike has to balance on 3 cylinders while pedaling. This is one of the best ways to train and develop a pedal stroke indoors, but it can be difficult to adapt to riding the bike in this fashion. Inexperienced riders could fall from the rollers while using them. Professional riders often use rollers for their practice and training routines.
This indoor trainer is a perfect option for a beginner to cycling with its parabolic rollers. It offers a ramped edge on the rollers which makes it easier to stay centered while riding. This model is compatible with 27 inches and 700 cc bikes.
- Easy assembly
- Allows for safe and centered riding with parabolic ramped rollers
- Small step for easy mounting and dismounting
- Can be used for physical therapy for knee injuries as well
- May use up tires quickly
- Difficult to balance at first
- Can be loud
The Kinetic Z Roller is a great roller bike training option because it features larger sized rollers and the equipment is able to fold up into thirds for easy storage. This roller system is known for its smooth ride and quietness.
- Easy assembly
- Folds up in thirds
- Good quality rollers
- Smooth, quiet ride
- Excellent resistivity
- Not parabolic or ramped rollers which may be difficult for beginners
- Some cyclists prefer bike trainers to the difficulty of balancing on rollers
These plastic rollers have a slight taper to them to help decrease the chances of riding off of the machine. This unit is recorded to being quiet and only emitting a slight hum while in use. The frame does collapse for easy transport and storage.
- Smooth and quiet rollers
- Plastic rollers instead of metal which can affect ride smoothness
- Possibility of difficulty assembling this roller, but the customer service is very helpful in that case
An indoor bike for triathlon training is usually equipped with a flywheel and is built to be more heavy duty than a normal indoor exercise bike. These bikes often have data management systems to remember statistics and ride information as well as interactive visuals and even feedback. These are not a portable choice for training, but can be a quality investment for a cyclist.
These indoor bike trainers are designed with speed, efficiency, and quiet in mind. It has a LED monitor which can record time, speed, distance, calories, and the pulse of the rider. This bike is designed to be modified to the rider based on their height, weight, and other specifications.
- Sturdy, unmoving bike trainer
- Records workout data
- Quiet pedaling
- Not specifically designed for cycling, more for a home workout
- Described as being suited for no one taller than 5’10”
Resistance can be added to your ride with just the twist of a dial with this brand of indoor bike trainers. It has wheels installed to help the ease of transport as this is a large stationary model of bike training. It does have a weighted flywheel to help encourage smooth pedal strokes as well as the ability to stand up and ride, like a normal cycle.
- Credited as having a smooth ride
- Good quality construction
- Very basic LCD screen
- Not intended for professional cycling
This stationary bike features a bi-directional flywheel that allows for tension to be adjusted mid-ride for a harder workout. This bike comes with a small LCD screen that tracks and monitors most common data needed.
- Add resistance mid-ride
- Comfortable for people of many heights
- Not intended for cycling, more intended for spin classes and home workouts
- Unsturdy handlebars