It’s never going to be the same as cycling in the great outdoors. Fresh air, open space and the thrill of the open road or mountain trail are what it’s all about!
But sometimes our busy lives make it impossible to set aside the time for real cycling, and once you factor in the weather and changing seasons it’s sometimes a wonder we manage to venture outside at all.
That’s where turbo trainers come in.
Turbo trainers can help keep fitness levels topped up when we’re short of time, or when nights draw in and the weather is treacherous.
And they’re ideal for pinning down specific training goals, honing in on cycling weaknesses and improving your riding.
But what is a turbo trainer? Read on to find out more…
A turbo, as they’re are more commonly known, is a device which clamps around the quick release rear skewer of a bike’s rear wheel, holding it securely in a suspended A-frame. It enables you to pedal your bike without moving as the rear wheel sits on a roller which turns as the wheel spins against it. With some turbos, you can manually set the amount of resistance to your pedalling, others get harder automatically the faster you go. The most fully-featured models can connect wirelessly to online simulators and even mimic cycling up and downhill!
Benefits of turbo trainers
Turbo trainers are a great way of maintaining fitness when cycling conditions are less than ideal, and experienced cyclists use them for targeted training, too. With winter just around the corner – meaning the inevitable wind, rain and ice – using a turbo is a safer and more comfortable option than a big road ride.
They also allow you to concentrate on the physical effort of cycling – either a quick sprint, or a long, arduous ‘hill climb’ – without worrying about your route, road junctions and traffic, and can be great if you’re short of time. A quick half an hour blast every other day works wonders for cardiovascular fitness.
Top tips for turbo training
>If you can, join a turbo training club (watch out for one coming soon via us and Velo Hay) or set aside a specific room for turbo training at home. You’ll generate a lot of noise and sweat, so make sure it’s well ventilated – open windows or leave a fan on.
>Your turbo will probably raise the rear wheel a short distance off the floor. Make sure you balance things out by raising the front wheel, too, with an elevator block, heavy book or piece of wood.
>Plan your sessions – simply riding will achieve very little. After a 10-20 minute warm-up you should aim to ride a series of ‘intervals’ – periods of high intensity cycling interspersed with easier ‘rest’ breaks. Intervals can be tailored towards particular training goals and fitness levels. You can find plenty of interval training info online – or, as before – you can join a club with a structured training session.
>Print your interval session out or write it on a board and have a stopwatch to hand so you can pace your efforts.
>Sweat dripping on mucky wheels can flick dirt around the room – give your bike a wash beforehand, or be prepared to mop the walls! Consider placing a towel over the top-tube of your bike to protect your frame from corrosive sweat drips, or buy a dedicated sweat catcher. Keep a handy towel close by to mop your face and arms.
>You’ll get thirsty, so keep plenty of water close to hand.
>End your session a with a 10-minute, gentle warm-down to flush your muscles out and aid recovery.
Buy a turbo trainer
We stock TACX turbo trainers which range from basic, entry level models coming in at under £100, to bells and whistles smart trainers with ANT+ plus wireless connectivity, compatible with online virtual reality simulated rides. You can even ‘race’ online against your friends – assuming they have similarly hi-tech equipment!
The TACX Blue Twist (RRP £110, our price £99.00) is a cinch to set up and has seven resistance settings to get the most from your training session. It’s compatible with a range of wheel sizes up to 29” mountain bike.
The TACX Satori Smart (RRP £260, our price £234) is the cheapest smart trainer in the TACX range. It connects wirelessly via ANT+ or bluetooth to compatible devices including tablets, smartphones and laptops so you can use training apps such as Tacx training, Wahoo Fitness and Zwift.
The TACX Vortex Smart (RRP £375, our price £337.50) throws interactivity into the mix, with the wireless connectivity working both ways, so your training app or ride simulation programme (eg, Zwift) can control the turbo trainer as well recording data from it. In practice, this means you can ride an online virtual reality simulation of an Alpine classic, and the electronic wizadry will automatically increase the turbo’s resistance to mimic hill climbs, for example. Link up with your friends in the cloud and ride online together without having to brave the rain!
Finally, the TACX Neo Smart (RRP£1200, our price £1080) is the brand’s flagship trainer. As well as simulating hills up to 25% gradient, it can mimic riding downhill by speeding up. A direct drive system (you remove your rear wheel entirely to slot your bike into the unit) makes it the quietest indoor trainer on the market.
Stay tuned for news of turbo training sessions coming SOON to Hay-on-Wye Parish Hall, where you’ll be able to demo the top-end TACX Neo Smart in the flesh!