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Turbo Trainer

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 kevin stephens 03 Dec 2019

It's not been a good year for me on the bike, minor old person's injuries, latterly far too much work and time spent sea kayaking, hence I've got unfit and fat (apart from my shoulders).  Previously my regular cycling helped me shed a stone over summer.  I will have a lot more time from now on but concerned the beckoning winter will have a demotivating and icy impact on my regular Peak district hills, so I'm thinking of getting one of them smart turbo trainers to tide me over until it gets nice again.  It would be a significant investment so I would want reasonable confidence it would do some good.  What are folk's comments, experience and recommendations for going down this (virtual) road in terms of fitness, weight loss and motivation?

Post edited at 09:35
In reply to kevin stephens:

Lots of information on GCN - https://www.globalcyclingnetwork.com/

Turbo's are very effective (if used properly).

I have an Elite Turbo Muin with Bluetooth. Almost the price of a budget bike but I've used cheaper models and I prefer the 'substance' of this model. My particular model is relatively cheap!

I don't do Zwift but 'real' cycling friends do and they rave about it.

 Rigid Raider 03 Dec 2019
In reply to kevin stephens:

I bought a smart trainer and joined Zwift when recovering from a busted clavicle. Having the moving picture does help a little to alleviate the tedium of turbo training even though it was a little depressing when the virtual Emma Pooley overtook me at warp speed.  Once I'd got back on the bike I cancelled my membership because being out on the road is 100 times better than sweating in a hot bedroom. I've owned and sold two other trainers before this so I'm not really sure I will ever reactivate the Zwift account as it's sooooo boring.

In reply to kevin stephens:

If this is your first experience of a turbo I would recommend buying a cheap basic one or a second hand one you can resell at a similar price.

There's a good chance you will hate it.

 Rigid Raider 03 Dec 2019
In reply to kevin stephens:

Last time I looked Machine Mart sold a fan type trainer for very small money.

In reply to balmybaldwin:

> If this is your first experience of a turbo I would recommend buying a cheap basic one or a second hand one you can resell at a similar price.

> There's a good chance you will hate it.

Whilst I don't disagree in principal (I think you have to be really motivated and have a purpose for turbo training - I like training which helps) my experience of cheaper models skewed me away from turbo. Once I'd tried a friend's decent trainer (which felt very similar to being on the road) I bought, relatively, expensive. It's tricky.

 kevin stephens 03 Dec 2019
In reply to balmybaldwin:

I have an old mechanical turbo which I used to use some years ago at regular weekly club training sessions, at a time when I used to enjoy evening 10s and before Strava, so used to HR zone training etc

In reply to kevin stephens:

I have a wattbike atom which I really like. I mainly use the wattbike hub app in erg mode which has loads of training programs/plans as well as grand tour climbs. It is not as immersive as zwift though (but is free)

Things I like are the fact it is a complete system which does not require a bike to use, and can be used by another person in the house with just adjustments to the seat height and handle bars. It has a good bracket for mounting a phone or ipad right in front of you.

I might invest in a rocker plate to add some side to side motion to add realism to the ride in due course. 

Not the cheapest solution so possibly risky if your not going to use it much (although they really hold their value)

Edited to add that to relieve boredom I have the bike in an outbuilding (not heated so chilly which is perfect) that has a TV which I now use to watch premiership football or Netflix/Prime using a roku stick. I also mounted a decent fan to the wall that is remote controlled so can control it from the bike whilst riding which is good.

Post edited at 11:30
 Jon Greengrass 03 Dec 2019
In reply to kevin stephens:

I cannot emphasise enough how boring riding on a Turbo trainer is, it doesn't matter what trainer you get, the key factor in using the damned things is finding a way to keep you motivated

If you like racing try Swift.

If you like watching professional road racing and like to kill yourself for an hour then try the Sufferfest.

For base training you will need a very comfy saddle, good shorts and something? to alleviate the boredom.

You will need a big fan to keep you cool, I did even when it was -5c in the garage where I had the turbo set up.

You also need somewhere to set it up, if you live on your own no problem. Otherwise you will get complaints about the sweat dripping off you making the house smell, complaints about the noise, complaints about using the only TV in the house to watch a video to stave of the boredom.

 wilkesley 03 Dec 2019
In reply to kevin stephens:

Last year I bought a Wahoo Kickr Core (smart trainer). In 2017 I had bought a cheap turbo trainer from Decathlon, to help me get fit after a major operation. It did the job, but the boredom was almost as bad as the operation!

The Kickr is expensive, around £750. However, it will work with most of the cycling virtual reality apps. I didn't really want to do any structured training, but be able to do some decent rides when the weather was awful, or it was very dark. I settled on Bkool which has routes from all over the world, available either in 3D, or video. It makes riding much more enjoyable om dark, cold and wet winter days. It does also have various structured training programs.

Most apps offer a free trial. Apps I have tried are Bkool and Rouvy. I use the Bkool app on my android phone and cast it to a 24" monitor using chromecast. 

 shaun walby 03 Dec 2019
In reply to kevin stephens:

I picked up a used Tacx Flux S for £300 iam using zwift. If you cannot get out and run during the winter Turbo training is the next best things for keeping your weight/CV fitness up unless your a keen swimmer?

I rode Geneva to Trieste this summer 800 miles  9 days 75,000 ft climbing, lots of my training was on the turbo....they work, especially when using HR monitor and input your age weight height etc to get an accurate work out.

Id defo recommend used....loads of good ones out there.


 JamButty 03 Dec 2019
In reply to kevin stephens:

I got a second hand one last year for £15,  (costs about £150 new).  Just attach your road bike to it and off you go.  It is a pretty sad thing to use,  and its boring,  but I've used it when the weather has been too cold/grim/dark to go outside.  I keep it very basic and change gears on the bike for resistance changes and use some youtube videos like GCN which give you some nice scenery and drills to follow.  I've not even gone near Zwift or anything.

I think you'd be brave to go all in for something expensive as it is like any "gym" equipment,  the risk is you'll never use it.

Other option is to go and find some spinning classes at your local gym, they'll give you an idea of some of the kit you could spend a fortune on.

 Dave B 03 Dec 2019
In reply to kevin stephens:

I've got a cyclops magnus. They are around £300 for the newer version the m2. Last year I used zwift. This year I'm using trainer road.

For mucking about zwift is a good way to get you into training on the turbo.  I could do 60 minutes much more easily on that than I could do 30 minutes previously on a simple trainer. I raced about twice a month over winter on zwift  but in the end I found when the days got lighter I went and rode outside, so cancelled the subscription. 

This year I looked at different systems from zwift, sufferfest, trainer road. Trainer road had the best training plans for me as this is what I wanted. The plans lasted over multiple phases over about 20 weeks, which takes me to my first tri next season.

I need to be v time efficient and get some solid progressive training in to hit a couple of targets this year. 

Trainer road also will link to my power meter and use that to read power but still control the trainer. V useful. 

Zwift training plans I did were not great for triathletes and the workouts were overly complex. 

Sufferfest plans were too short in weeks, but too long in time per workout for me. 

I don't need the scenery to ride a race. 

I'm also happier to support a Company that has what I think is a sensible business model. Rather than zwift which is burning through investor money to try to get market dominance. However, it is the most expensive atm. 

Issues I've had with my turbo and subscription : calibration. Wheel on trainers are harder running calibrate correctly for power. Tyre pressure. Temperature. Turns on the dial all go onto it. I have had several rides mucked up by poor calibration. Including races. Sometimes it takes a while to recalibrate correctly. The magnus is poor in this respect as most apps other than Rouvy don't work! Other smart trainers work better. 

Tyres. I got through about 3 was last season annoyingly. It didn't help the bike was being used outside and on the turbo. I just wiped the tyre down. Glass cuts into tyre shredders was the order of the day, though one was a poorly installed tyre issue. This year, new summer road bike means the old (steel) bike just lives on the turbo and I put on a turbo specialist tyre. No more issues.... Almost. You need to wipe the tyre and roller with meths about once a month to prevent screeching noises. Only takes 5 minutes. 

Losing connection during races. Really annoying when you lose a connecting and jams at a particular wattage, either really high... Which means for honesty you have to quit, or 0 and you roll to a stop... Final km.. No thanks. 

Over the summer I control the turbo from my wahoo bolt which works except it doesn't mimic routes properly. It's a cheaper way of doing it. You can then upload sessions you design yourself from either training peaks (free) or you can side load them from various apps. I have added about 4 more sessions to the ineos ones that come on it. This means I can do a sprint session or a sweet spot session if I feel like it to try to keep the fitness up even if I don't go out side. I find it hard to do specific session s outside as most people do. 

I'd say so go for it and get a smart turbo. Look at zwift for a winter season to see if you like this way of training and then review what you think will work for you best after that. 

 Hugo First 03 Dec 2019
In reply to kevin stephens:

I’ve bought, and subsequently sold, a range of smart trainers and rollers. I always used to be able convince myself that ‘I’ll get into it this time and get fit over winter’, yet every time I managed to prove myself wrong.

the boredom factor is so huge I just can’t get into it. This may or may not help, but my winter tonic for a few years now has been, buy some really good (bright) lights and ride off road. Suspect you’ll have a fair few to explore if you’re Peak based. Pros to this for me are:

- you’re still outside which is a total mental health blessing for me

- really helps develop bike handling skills which you’ll never get on a turbo

- can do it with friends and urge each other to get out whatever the weather - this is pretty crucial imo as you need that regularity 

- the spirit of adventure and exploration: learn all the local trails within reasonable distance of home and consistently change your routes to keep it interesting/ exploratory. I’ve been amazed what exists on my doorstep which I’d otherwise have been ignorant to

- you can buy a new bike rather than a turbo! A nice cyclocross / gravel / hardtail for do it all adventures

 kevin stephens 03 Dec 2019
In reply to kevin stephens:

Thank you for all the replies and in particular the time spent to put in so much detail

I am concerned over the boredom factor and ending up with a white elephant - I am due got plenty of time off over Christmas so I'll brush the dust of my winter bike and try to follow Rule 5 in the cold and rain.  A turbo trainer may become more relevant if/when I get upset again over my mediocre Strava times again on the local hills

xyz 03 Dec 2019

I currently use a Wattbike Pro but when it’s released next year I’ll upgrade to the new Wahoo Kickr Bike. A stand-alone trainer has a lot of benefits compared to putting your own bike onto a turbo trainer but it comes at a cost.

I am a pretty obsessive cyclist and use Zwift religiously during the winter months. Zwift is simply brilliant, there have been a few negative comments on this thread but my experience, as an elite level amateur rider, is that training on Zwift from October to March each winter has transformed my performance. Over two years my FTP has increased 20% just by training on Zwift. I agree with some of the comments that the Zwift workouts are a bit limited but you can run Xert or Trainer Road workouts in Zwift very easily. That is you can use a different training focussed application and then run that in Zwift to get the best of everything. However, the thing that’s made the biggest difference to my fitness and performance has been doing endurance group rides and racing on Zwift. Racing is brutally hard but also insanely addictive and tremendous fun.

My advice would be to get a stand-alone trainer and there are only really three candidates (1) the Wattbike Atom which is the cheapest but also has limitations (2) the Tacx Neo bike which is now available to order and sounds pretty good but also has a few issues and (3) the Wahoo Kickr bike which sounds amazing gets great reviews but is not available to order until the New Year. There is a review of all three on DC Rainmakers website (I’ll post a link) 

if you want to go for a turbo I’d personally suggest any Wahoo product as their customer support is exceptional.

Good luck

xyz 03 Dec 2019
 NorthernGrit 03 Dec 2019
In reply to kevin stephens:

Not a fan of zwift personally. Trainerroad to give me the numbers to hit and stick a film on.

In reply to kevin stephens:

I think these posh new turbo trainers are missing a trick limiting their software to cycle racing. 

Use the speed and cadence interface add a steering sensor and some action buttons to the handle bars then use your bike to play computer games. 

Grand theft auto anyone? 

In reply to kevin stephens:

I'm still following rule 5 and commute most days so get an hour or so in the saddle daily.

When life gets too icy I will head back indoors. I picked up an elliptical trainer for not much money on eBay a few years ago and I have it set up in front of the TV. I can rattle out a good hour's cardio watching a film. Horror movies work well as there's precious little plot to follow and a raised heart rate makes it feel a bit more interactive. 

 Rigid Raider 04 Dec 2019
In reply to angry pirate:

What about a raised heart rate while watching, er, *cough* adult movies?

In reply to kevin stephens:


Whatever you do, don't buy a peleton bike after this "dangerous, sexist and plain stupid " advert

In reply to xyz:

That's a great summary. I would agree with most of that. I would add that we are talking about smart bikes here, you are sat still in a room watching a screen pedalling . An extra £2k for better gear levers and ability to tilt seems a bit extreme for most punters who just want to maintain fitness over the winter. 

The Atom is noisy so would not be great in a flat. But it's footprint is small compared to the others and it is very well built and looks great IMO . It is slightly slower to change resistance to the others but this is being improved with firmware updates.

Atom £1600, TacX £2400 Wahoo £3500 (I heard, but that might be wrong)

There is a new Wattbike Atom X coming out which will be for commercial use with built in screen and probably sturdier for public gym use. I expect that will be very expensive though.

 bleddynmawr 05 Dec 2019
In reply to kevin stephens:

I watch GCN or CTXC training videos on YouTube. CTXC are my favourite, I reckon I could navigate around Melbourne now!

 Rigid Raider 05 Dec 2019
In reply to kevin stephens:

Imagine how good it would be if the trainer could be made to work with a cycling version of Grand Theft Auto? You could whizz around all over the place, holding up corner shops, shooting motorists, racing off into beautiful landscapes with an assault rifle strapped on your back, hijacking better bikes than your own... the mind boggles.

 JLS 05 Dec 2019
In reply to Rigid Raider:

>"with an assault rifle strapped on your back"

Could we make it something lighter like a tazer and hunting knife to do the killing with?

The extra watts lost to lugging an assault rifle round would really p!ss me off...

 Phil Kelly 05 Dec 2019
In reply to xyz:

I agree (and I’ve seen you passing me a number of times on Zwift!)


In reply to kevin stephens:

So I'm a very keen amateur triathlete and the bike leg seemed to be my weakest discipline. I decided a few months ago to invest in a smart trainer (direct drive) and can honestly say its the best thing I've ever bought. I have mainly stuck to trainerroad as whilst the "fun element" of zwift is appealing and apparently far more immersive, I wanted something that would generate results in a more structured way. Its really worked for me, but perhaps that's because i'm quite obsessive and find working towards an end goal very addictive.

The most important question is what do you want out of it? If you just want to loose weight you might struggle with long term motivation, however if its part of a wider improvement plan or you've got a set of specific objectives in mind it might be really effective. I train 5-6 times a week before work and whilst training do a mixture of listen to music on threshold / max effort stuff and watch films for endurance / sweetspot workouts. I train in my garage and live in Stirling. Its not much fun to begin with on frosty mornings but you soon warm up. I leave everything set up and don't need to dismantle / take anything apart after each work out, which definitely makes the mental effort of starting a session less.

A direct drive model is more upfront cost, but its significantly less hassle. There are tones of reviews online, both good and bad so just make a balanced decision based on that within what your budget allows. 

Good luck with the purchase and happy spinning! 

 The Grist 24 Dec 2019
In reply to kevin stephens:

I use one in the winter. Never linked it to any apps and tend to just go at it for 30 minutes at a time whilst watching climbing films. It is definitely good training and you sweat a lot. I got one that you could take the rear wheel off and clip straight into the trainer. Feels stable and quite realistic. I just focus on the watts output to track how hard the session is. Would I recommend? Yes.......but in a similar way I may recommend a Beastmaker. It relies upon dedication and a want to train attitude. 

 SebCa 24 Dec 2019
In reply to xyz:

I also use a Wattbike, although opted for the Trainer rather than the Pro. Have to say its probably the best investment for my training I ever made. Its always set up, its ready to go, anyone can use it and it turns me inside out within 30min. I can reliably see results and track my fitness purely based on the numbers. I got mine on 0% and is now paid off, Im still using it almost daily over the winter, and then during the summer with the children and work etc. I can still jump on it and get something done. Yes they're expensive but very much worth while.

 birdie num num 25 Dec 2019
In reply to kevin stephens:

CTXC. On YouTube. Good short efforts sessions to get you started

 kevin stephens 03 Feb 2020
In reply to kevin stephens:thanks for all of the advice

I've bought an Elite Suito smart trainer (seemed good value) and a year’s subscription to Trainer Road (seemed expensive!).

Very impressed. The initial ramp test seemed accurate and a good base for the workouts I e done since. I really like the Trainer Road interface, a bit bewildered by the vast array of workouts but it really comes down to different interval or endurance .

I find an hour goes reasonably quick and with a few sessions a week I’m looking forward to improvements on my local hills when the light evenings and good weather arrive. It’s also great for training whilst nursing various old age and skiing related knee niggles.

I need to get a Bluetooth compatible chest strap to get most out of it rather than using my Garmin alongside the iPod  

I can’t see myself signing up for Zwift yet unless I start to get really bored

 Tobes 03 Feb 2020
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

‘Come on peloton you can sweat more than that!’ 

they just look gross-‘hey Kevin in accounts this is for you to aspire to, stink out your spare room whilst you flood it with sweat’ 

as for the head swaying the avatar ‘coach’ does to motivate the peloton-I don’t think I’ve ever done that on a bike, like ever.


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