Best Options for Indoor Cycle Training
I am looking to purchase a commercial standard indoor cycling device.
In summary during the summer (dry) season I average around 10-12 hours a week, and normally two 6-8 hour rides per month.
During the winter (wet) season this drops to around 10 hours per month.
I'd like to keep up cycling fitness during the winter period and I'm after a piece of equipment that most closely simulates out the outdoor cycling experience and is the best for general fitness.
I have two bikes, a Trek MTB which cost me $4000 and a Trek Road Bike which cost me $5000, I've further modified the bikes I purchased.
From my initial investigation there are 3 options for indoor cycling:
Exercise Bike - Upright, Recumbent and Racer
Trainers - Where I can use my MTB or Roadbike
Rollers - Where I can use my MTB or Roadbike
Iíve used exercise bikes in the gym (normally Life Fitness), and found these ok when it comes to getting the heart going. However, I find the training doesnít directly relate to the fitness needed for outdoor cycling and the resistance doesnít quite match the feel of a real bike. Having said this, I prefer the recumbent bike as itís slightly more comfortable and allows me to easily read or watch TV.
I have not tried a Racer Exercise Bike.
I quite like the idea of trainers and rollers. I have two very good bikes, and if a good trainer or roller can offer the fitness, simulation and exercise, this would be ideal.
The pieces of equipment I am considering are:
Trixter Racer Exercise Bike
Trixter X-Bike 1000
Trixter X-Bike 700
The other brand I am considering is Life Fitness.
Life Fitness 95C Inspire
Life Fitness 95R Inspire
Life Fitness Classic Upright
Life Fitness Recumbent
I have a Life Fitness Treadmill and Iím extremely happy with the quality. Iíve used all of the above in the gym and on the whole as a cardio workout they all do the trick. Iím not so convinced the fitness achieved translates to the fitness required for outdoor cycling.
The other Life Fitness bike is the LeMond RevMaster. This is also a Racer Exercise Bike.
I am considering the following Trainers.
Tacx have a number of offerings, VR Trainers, Ergo Trainers, Cycle Trainers and Rollers.
What I like about this option is I can use the bikes I have already, and I image this is the closest to outdoor cycling simulation.
Finally the other brand I am considering is Elite. There are two items:
I am tempted to go with a roller or trainer, because I have two good quality bikes; so there is less incentive to purchase a indoor exercise bike.
I understand that nothing compares to cycling outdoors, but as with my treadmill and rower, during winter and dark nights I can catch up on reading, TV and keep my fitness up.
From the various forums, reviews and my personal experience, the pros and cons of each option are:
Life Fitness Upright:
Proís: Looks great and it good for cardio. No set up, good range of exercise modes.
Conís: Very Expensive, Iím not really interested in an interactive screen as I prefer reading or watching TV. Fitness doesnít directly translate to outdoor cycling.
Life Fitness Recumbent:
Proís: Looks great, good for cardio most comfortable for reading and watching TV. No set up, good range of exercise modes.
Conís: Very Expensive, Iím not really interested in an interactive screen as I prefer reading or watching TV.
Life Fitness or Trixter Exercise Bike Racer
Proís: Much cheaper than a normal exercise bike, apparently most closely simulates outdoor cycling, no set up required, easy to adjust resistance, good range of exercise modes. Good for reading and watching TV.
Conís: Is it as good as a indoor trainer with a good bike?
Elite or Tacx Trainer
Proís: Cheaper than a normal exercise bike, easy to watch TV. The more expensive ranges offer a range of exercise modes, VR racing and resistance. Good for reading and watching TV. Used by professionals for warm up and training.
Conís: Wear and tear on the bike frame, wheels and tyres Ė this is particularly a concern for me as the bikes I have are expensive. Tacx are reportedly difficult to set up. Elite are easier to setup, however; setup is still required. Iím not sure with both types of trainers the time required to set up.
Elite or Tacx Roller
Proís: Best simulation for outdoor cycling. Cheap. Good for core and balance training. No wear and tear on the bike (well unless you keep falling or riding off).
Conís: Resistance has to be set before jumping on the bike . May take considerable time to get used to and always requires concentration. Not good for reading (maybe possible to watch TV after some practice). No set up required.
On the basis of the above and my requirements:
1 Ė Expense, Iíd rather not spend more than £1200 ($1500).
2 Ė Fitness and Simulation.
3 Ė Reading and Watching TV.
Iíve ranked my preferences as follows:
A trainer and a roller.
Iím not sure which trainer to go for:
Tacx Bushido, Cosmos or Flow
Elite RealTour Elastogel Turbo Trainer, RealAxiom RITMO CT Conconi ElastoGel Trainer or RealPower RITMO CT Conconi ElastoGel Trainer.
I am after a trainer which:
1 - ideally has zero strain, wear and tear on the frame (I understand there will be some on the tyre).
2 Ė is very quick and easy to set up (do you have some figures)
3 Ė Iím not convinced by VR training; however the option to select from a range of courses/tracks would be ideal.
Iíd also like a roller simply for those days I want to train core and balance. The choices are:
Tacx Antares T1000
Elite V-Arion Parabolic Inertial Rollers
The advantage of the Elite is the ability to set the resistance, the Tacx however has an optional support for the front wheel.
If there are no Trainers which can guarantee zero strain, wear and tear on the frame or there is considerable set up time, the best option appears to be the Tacx Antares T1000 with optional Support.
Iím not sure if Elite offer an optional support?
Does the optional support put strain on the frame?
If the Tacx Antares T1000 optional support puts strain on the frame, Iíd consider a Trixter or Life Fitness Exercise Bike Racer and either the Elite or Tacx roller.
Based on my requirements above, could you please recommend the best products and answer my questions regarding Set Up Time and Strain, Wear and Tear on my bike.
I look forward to your response.
Long Distance Cyclist
Personally, I like using a fluid trainer, and Rowan likes using rollers. We have both.