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You've Decided to Buy a Bike Trainer. Now What?
How to find the right training set-up for you and your goals.
Whether you're extending your season or looking for a very focused workout, an indoor bike trainer is your best solution when riding outdoors isn't feasible. But which bicycle trainer is best for you, your goals and your environment?
Simply put, how does one start the process of riding on a trainer? Let's take a closer look.
Factors that Impact Indoor Training
Choose Your Adventure
First, think about your goal for indoor training. Is this a time to simply ride base miles to maintain fitness, a chance to lose unwanted weight with a safe cardio exercise, or are you looking to ramp-up your season through hard efforts indoors?
Determining your end goal, and establishing why you are coming to the trainer in the first place, can have an impact on which bike trainer makes the most sense for you. These factors can also play a role in how and where you should set up your training space.
Check Your Expectations
While training goal and time spent riding might appear to go hand-in-hand, we recommend parsing these factors into separate categories. Ask yourself: how much time to I realistically expect to be spending riding inside?
In short, planning ahead and keeping your expectations in check will help ensure your trainer was a worthwhile investment.
Location, Location, Location
Before you buy, take some time to figure out where you'll be riding.
Finding a dedicated place in your home, office, gym, or local bike shop, can help reinforce – and grow – how much time you can dedicate to indoor training.
Think of Others
Once you have landed on a ride goal, ride duration, and training space, turn your thoughts to those around you.
Do you need to be concerned about annoying neighbors? Waking up a sleeping child? Dragging your trainer out of the closet into the middle of the living room at your house and annoying your roommates?
Trust us, planning ahead pays dividends in long-term success. And by being mindful of those around you, you might pick up a few new cheerleaders along the way.
Are You Not Entertained?
The biggest complaint about riding an indoor bike trainer is that it's boring. Nip that negative vibe in the bud by utilizing your favorite audible guilty-pleasures.
Make a plan that'll help keep you engaged while pedaling it out indoors. Do you want to listen to music or podcasts? Or will you plan to watch movies or binge watch a must-see show? Maybe you'll dabble with YouTube bike trainer sessions or opt for a subscription to an indoor cycling app?
Keep trying different options until you find one that works for you and has you coming back for more.
What's Your Scenario?
Now that you have figured out your training style and time, found a comfortable space, and figured out your entertainment plan, it's time to figure out which type of trainer works for you. Let's examine a few different scenarios.
Pro Tip: remember to factor your budget alongside your plan to stay engaged.
1) Basement Base Miles
Goal: To build base miles, and wouldn't mind shedding a couple extra pounds before the season hits.
Time: Do not want to spend more than an hour on the trainer, but would like to get a good sweat in.
Location: Your basement is your reprieve. It's quiet and away from your roommates.
Other People: Your roommates could care less about what you're doing in the basement. Win-Win.
Entertainment: Reading and studying for classes.
Recommendation: You'll need a trainer with a nice level of resistance. One that won't let you max out your effort immediately, while not having to worry too much about noise, such as the Fluid2 trainer. We'd recommend a sweat guard or towel to protect your bike and suggest a leveling block to even out your bike to make studying a bit easier.
2) Time-Crunched Triathlete
Goal: To land in the Top 10 bike split at your upcoming triathlon.
Time: Your efforts will be hard, focused, and will not exceed forty-five minutes.
Location: Guest room.
Other People: You'll be training in the morning while your family sleeps.
Entertainment: Heart-pumping music or in-app workouts with controlled resistance.
Recommendation: The H3 Direct Drive Smart Trainer is a top choice for triathletes across the globe. It pairs with your favorite indoor cycling app for precise workouts, and features a headless/erg mode with the a similar progressive resistance curve as the popular Fluid 2 wheel-on trainer. Add a training mat to protect the floors beneath your bike (and to not alarm future guests with pools of dried sweat).
3) Group Ride Junkie
Goal: To be just as fast on the first group ride as you were on the last.
Time: Two hours, max.
Location: You have the luxury of setting up a training space anywhere. The world is your oyster!
Other People: The only people you're concerned about are the other people waiting to race you on that training app.
Entertainment: Indoor cycling apps, such as Zwift, Rouvy, TrainerRoad, are your bread and butter. You look forward to each and every ride, racing against your friends, and pedaling along your favorite group rides. Who says riding on an indoor trainer is boring?!
Recommendation: For the best experience with an indoor cycling app, you're going to want to go with a smart bike trainer, such as the M2 or H3. Simply connect your favorite app to your smart trainer and presto, it's game time.
4) Fitness Fanatic
Goal: To incorporate your bike into your collection of year-round fitness equipment. You've gone to a few spin-type classes, and you'd like to do something similar at home with the ability to mix up the workouts here and there.
Time: No more than 90 minutes, unless you're really feeling it.
Location: So many options! There's an unused corner in the living room, the three-season porch and if it's nice out, the back deck.
Other People: Your family gives you free reign to set-up where you want (and they definitely appreciated you asking first).
Entertainment: A mix of music, media, online workouts and rides.
Recommendation: We'd suggest starting with the Fluid2 Smart Equipped. With the included magnetless speed sensor, it's easy to ride to the cadence of your own workout or pair to a cycling app to go virtual. Plus, it's quiet enough to be ridden in the living room for a family movie night.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of scenarios. After more than 20 years in the business, we've seen a wide spectrum of training requirements, goals and equipment to take into consideration. If you're still feeling lost and want more support or recommendations, we suggest paying a visit to your local Saris trainer dealer, visiting with your coach or teammates, or chatting with your riding buddies. And as always, our customer service team is here to help too.
Want More? Check out these resources.
- Getting Started with Indoor Trainers
- Saris Bike Trainer Comparison Chart
- An Overview of Indoor Cycling Apps