TNW Rules and Info

Indoor Cycling: Rollers vs. Trainer

A question was posed to me recently, one that I hear quite often:  What do you recommend for a bike trainer, or do you prefer rollers? 

Rollers and trainers each have a specific purpose, so I like both. Keep in mind that there are different types of trainers and rollers with various features, so this is a quick look at my favorites that can help you hone your skills. 
Cyclops wind turbo.

A good turbo trainer that can be used at home or easily ported to any location (we take them to races for warm-ups), I prefer a fluid type such as Cyclops. These are fairly quiet and very smooth. Magnetic trainers are fine but will be noisier and a rougher ride. Set-up is very quick, simply attach your bike and hop on.

Photo courtesy of RacerMate Inc.
If you're looking for a system to gauge power and other data, a CompuTrainer is an excellent machine. It can be used for monitoring, testing, and trending all sorts of information about your rides. In addition to doing your own workout, CT's are pre-loaded with courses such as the Coors Morgul Bismarck, Tour de France stages, and a myriad of other courses from warm-up segments to Ironman routes. Real-course videos are also available. Initial set-up for video mode includes installing software on a computer or laptop. Full disclosure: I am a dealer for CompuTrainer and have used them for years with my athletes who have been successful. Contact me for a CompuTrainer system to suit you.

Photo courtesy of
Rollers are a very good addition to your trainer sessions. They are best used with a track bike for optimal results, but your road bike will do just fine. Rollers are not meant for simulating a road ride, however. Use them for shorter sessions, generally higher cadence, to improve foot turnover and refine pedal stroke. With rollers, there is no coasting or slacking off with pedal stroke. You must keep going to stay upright. As with a turbo trainer, set-up is quick. Some models do have a front fork attachment option, but that defeats the purpose of perfecting the skills that rollers are so well designed for. 

When choosing a trainer, consider what you want to accomplish with stationary cycling. There are many choices to get you to your goals.

Happy riding!