With the current health crisis and social distancing regulations, a lot of us are spending a lot more time indoors than we have before. However, just because you are inside, doesn’t mean you have to stop riding your bike. There are lots of indoor cycling options.
So what is “Indoor Cycling”?
Well…it’s kinda just what it says…riding your bike inside. If you’ve ever taken a spin class, or ridden a stationary bike at the gym, then you’ve done some Indoor Cycling. However, when we talk about indoor cycling, we are typically referring to using an “Indoor Trainer”, a device that essentially turns your bike into a stationary bike.
Why would you want to ride your bike indoors?
There are a number of reasons that you would want to ride your bike indoors as opposed to outside. The first and most common reason is weather. Every winter lots of cyclists choose to set their bike up on indoor trainers in order to keep up their fitness when the days are shorter and it’s too cold to ride outside. Or if you were really looking forward to getting a ride in on your day off, but it’s pouring down rain, you can just set your bike up on an indoor trainer and still ride.
Indoor cycling can also provide a much more efficient workout if you are crunched for time. We all live busy lives, and although we would all love to be able to go outside and ride our bike for hours and hours, that just isn’t practical. When you ride your bike on an indoor trainer, you don’t have to deal with things like traffic lights or variable terrain, so you are able to keep consistently pedaling. This constant level of work means that a workout that would probably take 2 hours outdoors, can actually be achieved in a shorter time indoors. Lastly, a great reason to take up indoor cycling would be if there was a global pandemic and you are self isolating.
Different Setups for Different Budgets
No matter what your budget is, there is an indoor trainer solution to fit your needs. Wether you are looking to spend a few hundred dollars, or a few thousand dollars, there is an indoor setup for you.
Traditional Wheel On Trainer - $200-400
These are a great low cost option. The Saris Mag Trainer starts just below $200. These are great for a workout, but they don’t quite give you that realistic road feel. You can upgrade to a fluid trainer like the CycleOps for $400 Fluid Jet Pro and those give you a bit better feel. With any type of wheel on trainer, you will lock your rear wheel into a roller, which can be quite loud. You will need to be mindful of wear on your, so consider a Trainer Tire to keep the noise down and be sure you're not burning through tires.
Wheel On Smart Trainer - $500-700
These are functionally just like the traditional wheel on trainer, with the addition of a “smart” motor that controls the resistance on the rear. These smart trainers, like the Wahoo Kickr Snap, also open up a world of companion apps such as Zwift, TrainerRoad, and Sufferfest. These applications create a much more engaging training experience and you gain the sense of community from other riders who are also indoor cycling and using the apps.
Direct Drive Smart Trainer - $900-2,000
With this style of trainer, you actually take the rear wheel off your bike and connect it directly to the drivetrain on the trainer. This means you're not wearing out your tire. This paired with a much bigger flywheel compared to lower end trainers also means that you get a much more realistic ride feel. Pair a direct drive smart trainer like the Wahoo Kickr with a an elevation simulator, like the Wahoo Climb, to really feel like you're riding out on the road.
Indoor Smart Bike - $3,000+