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Rollers?!

Old 08-26-23, 03:01 PM
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Rollers?!

Fully functional, some miles, only $20 at the thrift store. I think I tried rollers once or twice in my early 20s just as the Racer-Mate came out and went in that direction.



I’d like to see how I like them during the winter. I suppose the vision is smoothly spinning while sipping and espresso and reading La Figaro. I think there’s a better chance of me going off the side and landing in an inglorious heap.

Tips, suggestions for a first-timer?
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Old 08-26-23, 03:37 PM
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Set up the rollers in a bedroom doorway. You want the door jam about even with your shoulders. This allows you to move around but you will bump the door jam if you go too far, but you won't ride off the rollers. It's also something to grab onto when you start.
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Old 08-26-23, 04:01 PM
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Everything above, plus use gears and tire pressure to change resistance. If you really want to get technical use a heart rate monitor. Enjoy something that requires no electricity, wifi or a monthly subscription.
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Old 08-26-23, 04:59 PM
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Nothing like keeping it all vintage!
One suggestion: take a fat sharpie and mark a line a couple inches inboard of the edge of the front roller on both sides. You probably don’t need it, given the high flange on those rollers, but you will have those moments when your minds wanders. First thing you’ll do when you realize that you’re not paying attention is to look down at the front roller to check that you’re not about to ride off the edge. The lines will give you a quick visual check on your position.
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Old 08-26-23, 05:04 PM
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agree with etoocs, set up in a door way until you get the hang of it.
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Old 08-26-23, 05:15 PM
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I like Mike Boyd's youtube content, here's his learning experience:
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Old 08-26-23, 05:27 PM
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The short version:
It's not that hard but it's not trivial either.
It's very much like learning to ride all over again.

I did it by using raised 2x6s to provide a platform either side to put my feet. It's confusing as heck at first.

BTW a bike with low standover is helpful.
I had a TALL one, think French fit. Lemme tell you, I was focused 😬

cheers -mathias
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Old 08-26-23, 06:30 PM
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Here are my suggestions from my experience:
  1. To start, use a doorway (as suggested) or a narrow hallway that you can reach the walls with both arms.
  2. Wear tennis shoes, not your clip-in cleats, to start/learn.
  3. Get a small step stool beside the rollers to mount the bike and to keep one foot on the step stool for initial balance.
  4. When mounting the bike on the rollers, lock both brakes with your levers/hands.
  5. With the non-stool foot, make sure that you are ready to press down on the crank to get the wheels going. As soon as you start pedaling, lift your other foot onto the pedal.
  6. DO NOT LOOK DOWN. Look down ahead 5 to 6 feet. Use your peripheral vision to make sure that you are staying on the rollers and not drifting to the edge.
  7. Once you are pedaling, it's not difficult to stay up. "It's like riding a bike". Just be smooth with your pedaling. Don't shift gears at first, just pedal. Shifting will cause you to shift your weight and balance on the bike which it turn will cause the bike to shimmy on the rollers. You'll find the bike is very sensitive to movement and/or shifting weight while on the rollers.
  8. To dismount, slow your cadence. Be prepared to put your foot on the stool. As soon as you do or start to move your foot toward the stool, clamp the brakes to stop the wheels. The bike will basically fall toward your dismounting foot and the stool.
  9. Be prepared to sweat a lot. It doesn't take long to build up the body heat and the sweat will pour off of you, even in an air conditioned house. Put a large fan in front of the rollers. I would use my rollers on the front porch in 30 to 40 degree days in the winter and would ride in a t-shirt. It felt great.
Good Luck! It's fun, but I could only do 20 - 30 minutes before it got too monotonous for me.

John
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Old 08-26-23, 06:40 PM
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Therese are great, thanks! Keep ‘em coming…
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Old 08-26-23, 07:57 PM
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I used to have a set of Weyless rollers. These had a set of steps/platforms attached on each side, making it trivial to put a foot down when you felt you were about to fall off on a side. It was quite nice to not worry about falling 4 inches before you could put a foot down!



I had the benefit of some tutelage when learning to ride rollers. For those not so fortunate, the old Cyclo-Pedia catalog had a page of instruction to help folks get started...



I never bothered to tighten the toe straps, though. There's little drag in most rollers, leading me to ride in a high gear. Even then, there wasn't much reason to tighten the straps, especially when learning.

Whenever I see someone weaving left and right and unable to ride a straight line, I often think "There's someone who should spend a winter on rollers". Rollers will definitely teach you to ride in a straight line.

Steve in Peoria
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Old 08-26-23, 08:14 PM
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I find it easiest to just have a wall on one side of you. I never liked being in the door frame as if you ride off the rollers you can ding the crap out of your frame or yourself. also I find it easier to just focus on a spot ahead of you vs having anything on the rollers to look at. one thing is if ride off you basically just stop so don't panic which is usually where people get hurt.
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Old 08-26-23, 08:43 PM
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You'll get the hang of it pretty quick- as others have said, in a doorway, or at least near a wall is the way to get started. It's kinda fun, but then it gets boring (like any other stationary bike 'experience'), but nice to have available during an upstate NY winter! I set mine up on the porch- still gets cold, but without the wind-chill it's manageable. Cue up a podcast and spin away.
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Old 08-26-23, 08:59 PM
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Most important, and not yet mentioned, make sure the front roller is adjusted to fit the wheelbase of your bicycle. The center point (axle) of your front wheel must be slightly behind the center point of the front roller.
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Old 08-27-23, 06:31 AM
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I found rollers incredibly beneficial and practical for riding outdoors. You quickly become aware how each and every bodily movement is transferred/expressed in the movement of the bike, not only in holding a straight line, but in fore/aft movement. You really get a good idea of how to ride smoothly, with a quiet body, so to speak. They're also useful for a quick warm up when it wasn't real warm outside, like 5-10 minutes. When you go out on the road you find all those abilities realized in riding rollers are applicable to the road. Myself I looked at rollers more as a way to get into the rhythm of cycling than ever as a "trainer". I don't think I ever rode rollers for more that 30-45 minutes as just sitting in one spot spinning is very tedious. Even riding them outside didn't matter. I like actually moving along outdoors, with all the variance that nature offers.

A wall or anything solid to grab hold of is all I ever needed to begin. After a while a while I didn't need anything. I always take riding "tips" as "suggestions" to get you going, but I'm more of the kind of person to just jump in and realize my own inherent way. I can't say anyone "learns" to ride rollers, or "learns" anything, rather it's more like expressing the inherent abilities already inside you, conscious or not.
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Old 08-27-23, 09:22 AM
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I like my rollers. I’m convinced they help my outdoor riding. Good advice above so I’ll just add: higher cadence is your friend. When you start, spin up as quick as you can. That really stabilizes the bike for me. I’m ok at 60 rpm but very stable at 90. I can, now, ride no hands when above 90rpm.

Persist then enjoy.
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Old 08-27-23, 09:23 AM
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I have used my rollers for winter training for many years now. Starting out you definitely need to have something nearby to brace yourself, but I think a doorway may be a little confining. I ride mine in my garage, and if your sweater like me, you'll leave a puddle after a good workout. I like to put a small microfiber towel over my handlebars/headset to catch sweat and i also use it to wipe my face once I really get going. Don't spend a lot of time watching the front wheel, start pedaling like you're beginning a ride on the road - look forward and use your inner sense of balance. Start with the bike in a gear that will give you some resistance, if you're spinning too fast you'll start weaving.
Once you've mastered staying on them, I suggest using some of the videos offered on GCN youtube channel for training. The Power Pyramid on the Passo Pordoi with Matt Stephens is one of my favorites, and provides a good 45 minute workout, and is much better than just mindlessly spinning along.
Inspect the belt on your new rollers for any cracks. If your belt breaks while riding you'll probably hit the deck... ask me how I know. Also, don't leave the belt in place when you're finished using them. Slip it off in a more relaxed position, this will extend the life of your belt.
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Old 08-27-23, 05:38 PM
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Everybody should try Rollers at least once .
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Old 08-27-23, 07:02 PM
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I was able to do it but I didn’t master it.

In 1982, I worked at Toga Bike Shop in Manhattan when we sponsored racers. Sometimes the racers would ride the rollers right next to me on the repair floor. One guy was so good at it, he could ride no-hands. He even removed his jersey over his head while pedaling.
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Old 08-27-23, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider
I was able to do it but I didn’t master it.

In 1982, I worked at Toga Bike Shop in Manhattan when we sponsored racers. Sometimes the racers would ride the rollers right next to me on the repair floor. One guy was so good at it, he could ride no-hands. He even removed his jersey over his head while pedaling.
Dirty little secret about riding rollers --- riding no hands looks impressive but is easier than riding hands-on.
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Old 08-27-23, 07:35 PM
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Rollers really helped me smooth out my pedal stroke. One tip that I'd add to the good one already given - start in a low gear and get your spinning nice and smooth first.
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Old 08-27-23, 08:11 PM
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The type of rollers also make a HUGE different. I didn't realize that until I rode other rollers. I have the Minoura which has smooth aluminum drums. They are super sensitive to steering inputs. The groved rollers and the plastic ones are way less sensitive.
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Old 08-28-23, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Garthr
You really get a good idea of how to ride smoothly, with a quiet body, so to speak.
The term from the old days was 'souplesse'. Conversely, every spring you can spot riders who spent the winter on a fixed exercise bike: stomping at the pedals, bobbing their torsos and swaying their shoulders.

Your brain will imagine when you ride off the edge of the rollers you'll go zooming across the room - but no. You and the bike have no momentum, and the momentum in the spinning wheels isn't enough to even budge you forward.

It was said that Dan Henry (yes, THE Dan Henry) could strip down to his skivvies while riding rollers, and he would demonstrate this at bike rallies.
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Old 09-01-23, 07:01 AM
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@tcs that reminds me of how I heard of the same benefits from riding a fixed gear — with a low ratio — in the winter. So I tried it. And it’s true. I rarely ride fixed anymore, but the skill stays with me. Riding fixed in the winter has other benefits: 1. Since you’re always moving, it makes you warm, and 2. It’s more work, so you get more of a workout per distance.
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Old 09-01-23, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by steelbikeguy
I used to have a set of Weyless rollers. These had a set of steps/platforms attached on each side, making it trivial to put a foot down when you felt you were about to fall off on a side. It was quite nice to not worry about falling 4 inches before you could put a foot down!
I still have my weyless rollers. They are in the attic in pieces though. I need a belt if I ever want to ride them again. I only ever got 3 of the 4 posts for the steps. I think I might have set up one of the steps in the past. But mostly it never seemed too important, the only thing that scared me was riding off the edge because I was too busy watching tv to pay attention
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Old 09-01-23, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
..... But mostly it never seemed too important, the only thing that scared me was riding off the edge because I was too busy watching tv to pay attention
My experience was that rollers required constant visual attention to avoid drifting too far either way.
Radio, podcast, music, etc., was my preferred means of entertainment while riding rollers.

Steve in Peoria
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