The Arion is the base model of a range of six sets of rollers from Italian manufacturer, Elite.
Priced at around £150, the Arion has offered an enjoyable method of breaking up the winter training blues and the dispiriting effects of cycling indoors.
Riding rollers is always more involving than using a turbo trainer: mastering the technique and staying on top of the rotating drums requires more concentration than simply attaching the bike and pedaling, as is the case with a turbo trainer.
I have found that the smooth pedaling technique we all aspire to is more achievable if you spend the winter not only braving the weather but also riding atop a set of rollers. As the excellent Jo McRae pointed out in an article not too long ago on this very site “…roller training can improve your ability to relax and respond lightly and not suddenly to changes in road surface or direction…”. Wise words, and ones that I heed as I step astride the Test Rig on the conveniently flattened section of the Arion’s resin frame.
Early impressions have been positive. While the pedant in me forbids describing the drums as parabolic, the raised edges certainly helped to keep the bike in line or caused a braking effect that halted progress altogether. The rollers span up to speed easily and while they may not be as large as others (Tacx and Kreitler have larger diameter offerings) their near road-like feel and gliding smoothness has been welcome. At 7.3kg, they were light enough to fold up and transport around the house or to the shed.
The resin frame has a range of holes on its inside to make sure that your bicycle fits perfectly betwixt front and rear rollers. The drive band from the rear to the front roller seems durable. We’re not wholly convinced by the design of the set, in particular the clunky hinge; one in which we’ve managed to trap the band repeatedly. We could perhaps chalk this up to ineptitude, but it’s certainly a source of minor irritation.
When in use, however, the Elite Arion has proved faultless. This is a great set of rollers for the uninitiated. The plastic drums are grippy and combat the icy feel that many newbies complain of on other trainers.
If you don’t want to perform resistance-based training but wish instead to concentrate on leg work, tempo, spinning and speed intervals, then these are an excellent companion. There’s a case for arguing they should be used year-round as a skills sharpener, and not just dusted off for the winter months.