Choose your bike trainer
The most important piece of gear, except for your bike, is the bike trainer. There is a lot to choose from. If you don’t already own one, here is a quick overview of your options. You can decide based on your budget if a simple turbo trainer is enough or if you’ll try rollers or splurge on a high-tech smart bike.
These are probably the most common type of trainers. You can get the cheapest for less than 100 euros. You just attach your bike onto them through the rear axle and start pedalling. The more you pay the more realistic experience you will get. At the mid-range, you will find direct-drive turbo trainers. These often have a cassette attached to an internal housing so you have to remove your rear wheel and hook the chain onto this cassette. These are usually much quieter and can simulate a wider variety of rides. If you have a sizable budget, go for a smart trainer. These can automatically increase and decrease the resistance, which allows them to work with virtual cycling and training apps such as Zwift, Rouvy, Sufferfest, and others.
These consist of free-spinning cylinders on which the bike stands. When you start pedalling, the cylinders rotate to simulate the ground moving beneath your wheels. They are generally cheaper than turbo trainers, they are better for storage and transport, and they also generally have better and more realistic feel while riding. The problem is that they are not very beginner friendly and you can’t connect to those popular virtual training platforms.
If you want to splurge on your setup, you can buy a high-tech smart bike that’s designed solely for indoor cycle training. These offer the ability to monitor your power output, your pedal stroke, cadence, heart rate, and pretty much everything else you can get from any other trainer. Wattbike is one such example but other brands including Stages, Wahoo, and SRM also offer these products.
Get your accessories ready
When you find a good place for your trainer, make sure you have your bike set up properly before starting. The right fit is more important indoors than outdoors because you won’t be as dynamic. Check out our article on bike fitting if you need a few tips. Now, let’s go over the other gear you will need.
A fan – Having someone to cheer you on as you pedal at home would be nice but a mechanical fan that blows air is much more essential. Indoor training is hot work and requires suitable ventilation and temperature control. Most experienced indoor riders opt for multiple fans to keep body and room temperatures at a comfortable level.
A floor mat – It will save your floor from pools of salty sweat and perhaps add a little bit of noise dampening for the neighbours.
A towel – It might sound a bit excessive but without the cool wind outdoors, you might end up sweating a lot and getting all of that salty liquid on your bike wouldn’t be a good idea. You can even add a headband or wristbands if you tend to sweat a lot.
A stand – You will need something to put your screen, towel, snack, or a fan on. Having it close to your bike will allow you to stay on your bike during the whole session.
A water bottle – Try to stick with drinking from a bidon on your bike. Having more practice pulling it out and putting it back in the cage never hurts and it will make you feel more like you’re actually riding outdoors.
Cycling clothes – It might seem like you can use any clothing at home but you will find that a stationary bike makes you more prone to chafing and comfortable clothing is more important than ever. Also, changing to cycling clothes will help get your mind ready for a training session.
Don’t forget about inspiration and entertainment
The last piece of the puzzle is something that will make your training more enjoyable and give it meaning. For some, a poster of a favourite rider or an upcoming race on the wall is enough. Others prefer listening to music or podcasts or even watching a Netflix show while riding. Recently, another great option for indoor cycling has emerged – virtual training. You can socialize with others training at home, it gamifies your training, and you can experience routes you wouldn’t otherwise have. We will go over the most popular virtual training platforms in the next article in the series.