Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Acquiring A Bike Trainer Part Two: Research

In a previous post I mentioned the reasons why I began looking for a bike trainer, and then I began researching different types of trainers, brands, etc. For the core of my research, I poured over multiple blogs, but relied most heavily on the counsel of a trusted friend and one time competitive cyclist, Derek Roberts.

My dad and brother had told me about a cool site called Nashbar and that’s the first place I began researching different trainers. Of course I also visited sites like REI as well to look at benchmark prices. You can buy a trainer for as little as $119 and you can also spend several hundred for one.

So here are the three types of trainers listed the least expensive first. All three types have their benefits and if you are going to use it, any trainer is better than none at all.  All are essentially a tool that allows you to convert your road/mountain bike into a stationary bike.  As such, be mindful that they will wear tires just like riding on the road, and you also need to be careful to keep your tires inflated properly.

Wind Trainer—This is most simple and least expensive form of trainer. The faster you pedal, the more wind resistance is picked up by the fan on the trainer, and so your pedaling becomes more challenging. The negative of this type of trainer is that the faster you pedal, the louder the trainer becomes. If you live in an apartment complex, you might get complaints from your neighbors with this one. The real benefits are that they are simple and inexpensive.

Magnetic trainer—This type of trainer is slightly more expensive, and utilizes magnets to create resistance and change tension for you as you ride. One of the criticisms of this type is that there are occasions during which riders applied enough force as they pedaled to break through the tension of the magnets. This means minimal resistance as you pedal. These trainers are more quiet than the wind trainer, and so could be beneficial if you live close to others.

Fluid trainer—The most expensive of the three basic types, these trainers rely on resistance created by an enclosed flywheel spinning through a viscous fluid that does not expand significantly when heated (as when someone pedals quickly for long periods of time). These are the quietest of the three types of trainers, and come the closest to simulating riding on the road. As one shifts through gears, the resistance increases, and many consider these to be among the most long lasting types of trainers as they are an enclosed system.

So as I visited websites and listened to the counsel of others, my friend Derek suggested that I consider taking a look at Craigslist. He thought I might be able to find a quality trainer at a reasonable cost, and also might be able to help out another person who bought a trainer but never really used it.  I was a little skeptical of Craigslist, but more on that in another post.

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