How To

How to make the most of indoor training for year-round fitness

Thresholds, sweet spots, one-legged pedalling and more with Mike Cotty

Turbo vs Rollers

A set of rollers or a turbo trainer each have their own benefits and appeal so it’s a case of looking at how you intend to train indoors and choosing which suits you best. A turbo trainer normally involves clamping the rear of your bike to a frame which houses a roller. Resistance can vary from magnetic, fluid or air depending on the model.

Turbo trainers and rollers each offer something different to your indoor training session. pic: ©Media24

A turbo will fix your bike in place, providing a stable set-up, but one that lacks the overall feel and freedom of riding on the road. One big advantage of a turbo trainer is that you really can stick your head down and just pedal, allowing you to really push yourself with no fear of falling off. It’s also easier to ride out of the saddle than it is on a set of rollers so can be better for those new to indoor training or anyone looking to really push it to the limit.

Pros: stability to perform intervals and ride out of the saddle, easier to use and a good choice for beginners.

Cons: can be louder and more effort to set up with a less natural feel than rollers.

The rollers are exactly that, three rolling drums two at the rear and one at the front. The front drum is connected to one of the rear drums by a band to keep both wheels spinning at the same speed. These are housed in a frame that you simply balance your bike on and ride. There is no clamping involved so the initial setup is much easier. They do however take a lot more skill to ride on than a turbo trainer.

It will take time to perfect your balance and gain confidence using rollers, however persistence will certainly pay off. Rollers will help improve your technique, balance and pedal stroke as they teach you to ride smoothly. They also feel much more like riding on the road and are generally much quieter than a turbo trainer.

You cannot let your guard down on the rollers. pic: ©Media-24


You cannot let your guard down when on the rollers which means you have to remain focused on what you are doing (much like on the road) so many consider them to be more enjoyable. They can vary in price as some of the more advanced models now come with variable resistance however a basic set will do exactly what you need to get started.

Pros: Feels more like riding on the road, quieter, helps improve technique, balance and pedalling technique, easy to set up and fun to ride.

Cons: Needs practice to get used to them. Harder to do high intensity interval sessions and technique training until you are confident on them.

I hope that helps you get the most from your indoor training. If you need any further advice then feel free to  contact me on twitter at @cottydale.

Enjoy your turbo time!

Mike Cotty

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