Hello everyone. Today’s guest post comes from Ron Fritzke who is a cycling products reviewer, a former competitve runner and currently directs his competitive efforts towards cycling.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the best fitness programs combine both good diet and regular exercise. While healthy eating habits can take a seasonal ‘hit’ (think Halloween candy and Christmas sweets), staying diligent with regular exercise can also get to be a problem at certain times of the year. I’m talking about trying to stay in shape through the cold storms of winter.
That’s where an indoor bicycle trainer can come to the rescue.
There are three basic styles of bicycle trainers, each categorized by the way in which they create resistance. Starting at the top, they are fluid trainers, magnetic (mag) trainers, and wind trainers.
Fluid Trainers Sit On Top
If you have the money, it’s hard to beat a quality fluid trainer like the Cycleops Fluid 2. Fluid trainers are the quietest type and are able to provide sufficient resistance to satisfy even the maximum efforts of Tour de France-type riders.
While being quiet may not seem like much of an issue, it doesn’t take too much time at maximum velocity on a wind trainer to agree that ‘silence is golden’.
Riding for long periods of time on a trainer can be quite uncomfortable. That’s why some of the most effective indoor trainer workouts involve easy riding interspersed with periodic sessions of high intensity. This ‘interval’ style of training maximizes the benefits of time in the saddle.
Fluid trainers are well suited for interval workouts since they will resist the rider’s efforts no matter how strong the cyclist is. That can’t be said about some of the mag or wind trainers.
Mag Trainers Are Improving
When I first started getting obsessed with bike trainers it was difficult to find a satisfied mag trainer owner. There were stories of mag trainers ‘listing’ to one side, and tales of them being hurled across the room by angry cyclists. That isn’t the case today when it comes to the latest mag trainers produced by top notch companies like CycleOps, Kurt Kinetic, Blackburn, and Minoura.
One of the more interesting mag trainers to hit the market recently is the CycleOps Magneto. CycleOps claims that this is the first and only mag trainer to provide ‘progressive resistance’. While other mag trainers won’t change their levels of resistance levels without the cyclist’s intervention, the Magneto alters the workload by varying the position of the magnets in the flywheel automatically using centrifugal force. The faster the rider pedals, the further away from center the magnets spin, progressively making the ride more difficult.
It’s a pretty simple system, no doubt leaving the other companies scratching their heads and murmuring, “Why didn’t we think of that?”
Wind Trainers May Be OK For Casual Cyclists
In the ‘hard core’ world of cycling that I come from, wind trainers wouldn’t suffice. They just aren’t capable of producing enough resistance for hard intervals. But not everyone is foolish enough to train for bike racing.
Wind trainers are very simple in design, which means that of the three types, they’re the least expensive as well as the least likely to break down.
This type is best suited for lower intensity, sustained efforts. When putting the pedal to the metal on a wind trainer, you’ll notice two things…a wind trainer can create one heck of a roaring sound, and the resistance tapers off at the upper end.
So if tooling along at a sane intensity fits your fitness goals, you may not have to look any further than a wind trainer.
You Don’t Have To Start The Summer Out Of Shape
You may have been caught in the seasonal fitness cycle for the last few years. You know…work hard on your conditioning all spring, summer, and fall, only to slack off during the winter and have to do it all over again.
But if you spend a bit of effort maintaining a semblance of fitness through the cold months, you won’t have to start over from ground zero every year. Benefiting from the convenience of an indoor bike trainer can go a long way toward the goal of staying fit year-round.
About the Author:
Ron Fritzke is a cycling product reviewer with a passion for ‘all things cycling’. A former 2:17 marathoner, he now directs his competitive efforts toward racing his bike, and searching for good cycling gear.