Anyone who wants to train the whole year round can’t really avoid getting a home trainer. There are quite a few different types at a wide range of price points. Are you new to the world of indoor trainers? Here are some things to help you decide which one(s) to get your wheels on.
Let’s start at the beginning: the rollers. These are ideal for a short training session, a warm-up before a race, or cadence drills. Rollers are more exciting than other trainers — you just put your bike on them and go. But you have to keep your balance and the trick is this: pedal really fast and have something nearby to hold on to! The most basic models have three rollers linked with a rubber band. That’s it. There are also high-end rollers like the Elite Arion Digital which add resistance into the mix, and can also communicate with online training programs like Zwift.
The classic home trainer is effectively a compact version of the rollers, with one major difference: you clamp the back wheel into the trainer and a resistance roller is then pushed against the rear tyre. Result: no more balancing. The advantage which the classic has over the rollers (which the exception of the Elite) is that you can set resistance to make your training tougher. The design means that the back wheel is pushed onto the rollers which means you can also train at low cadences with high resistance. There are normally up to 9 grades of resistance to offer everyone a challenge.
Smart trainers look like the classic rear-wheel mount home trainer but they offer more: power data. The built-in sensors measure how many Watts you are putting out during your training — this means you can accurately track your efforts and adhere to power-zone based interval training sessions.
There are two types in this category. The cheapest is built similarly to the Classic — the rear wheel is clamped into a frame with a resistance roller for the tyre. The more expensive smart trainers effectively replace your rear wheel — you mount a cassette directly onto the trainer and clamp your rear drop-outs into the trainer. The resistance is delivered directly onto the cassette, making the power measurements more accurate, and the whole setup is a bit more stable than the classic construction.
Another advantage of trainers with this design is they’re a lot quieter than traditional home trainers, with the exception of the sound of the speeding chain, of course.
The interactive trainer — this is the one everybody really wants in their pain cave. These trainers are causing a major buzz at the moment, thanks to the rise and rise of the internet-based training camp Zwift. In addition to power readings, interactive trainers adjust the resistance automatically using training program software displayed on a screen. In the simplest sense, this means that if there’s a hill on the screen, the resistance will increase.
Because not everyone trains in the same way, manufacturers such as Elite have a range of trainers in this category with the obvious price differences to match. Elite’s interactive rollers are the most basic model and the top-of-the-range trainer has an error margin of less than 1%.
Depending on accuracy, the functions you require, and the size of your wallet there is a huge range of possibilities for the basic ingredient of your pain cave. Still not sure what type of home trainer you want? The Elite Trainer Selector can help you in the right direction.