By Renie Gaddi
In the middle of March with the prospect of being stuck indoors and not able to get outside for any bike riding, I broke down and bought a smart bike trainer. For years I have resisted the temptation. I always had the gym, spinning classes, and walking so I was never compelled to purchase a bike trainer. This article recaps my experiences over the last month.
The first place to start is with what kind, what make, and how much money to spend. The first thing that I decided was that I wanted to spend the extra money for a smart trainer. I figured I might as well go with the latest technology. Glad I did! There are many choices out there; most of them, in the same price category, have basically the same features. For a smart trainer you can expect to pay from $400 to over $1,500. I decided to stay closer to the $400 range.
A smart trainer is simply a bike trainer that has some built in sensors to detect your speed, some software to make some calculations and the ability to send and receive information to a smartphone, tablet or computer. Syncing your trainer with some third party software like Zwift or Rouvy is when the fun really starts. With these software apps installed on your smart phone or tablet you can virtually have training rides, races or special biking events all over the world. You can meet up with friends and ride together, virtually. You can even link your smart device to your TV and really have a truly exciting biking experience. With a smart trainer and the app soft-ware, not only do you get to see the route you are riding, as the terrain changes, the trainer’s resistance changes accordingly. Most of the training apps use high level computer generated graphics with either actual or imagi-nary routes. Rouvy uses Augmented Reality. Rouvy routes are along actual roads and the scenery is what’s actu-ally on the route. Sort of like a streaming Google Street View. The augmented part is computer generated rid-ers, mile marker, signs etc. Zwift is another popular program a little more robust on the social interactions with the other riders but the scenery is all computer generated. However, since it is computer generated you can do U-turn and ride the route in reverse. I have not tried this but I did see it on a YouTube video.
So far I have used my trainer 25 times using the Rouvy and I do enjoy it.
My thoughts about bike trainers are:
- There still is nothing like riding outside.
- If you cannot ride outside, a trainer gives you a good workout and keeps you fit for when you will get out.
- If you are going to invest in a bike trainer spend the extra money and get a smart trainer. It lends itself to a much more realistic and enjoyable ride. Riding and changing gears on a smart trainer is the same as if you were riding outside.
- Riding on a smart trainer is harder than riding outside. Unlike riding outdoors you are constantly peddling –even down hills. There is very little coasting with a trainer.
- Use a rear tire that is designed to be used on a trainer and keep it properly inflated. You can use your out-door tire but it will wear out a lot quicker than a training tire. A trainer tire costs a lot less than your road tire. Also a road tire cannot handle the heat generated by the tire against the roller and can actually start to melt. It is a good idea to wipe down your tire both before and after using.
- Definitely put a fan on –you will work up a good sweat. If you sweat a lot put a towel over the handle bars and maybe even one under the bike.
Enjoy and hopefully we will be out riding together soon.