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Any thoughts on rollers?

Old 12-27-20, 10:35 AM
  #1  
Fredo_Adagio
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Any thoughts on rollers?

Any thoughts on rollers?

I have a set of aluminum rollers from Nashbar. They were relatively inexpensive and run smoothly, but they are noisy and require 100% concentration to keep from crashing. That's me cranking away in the video.


I recently purchased a set of TACX rollers, which taper to a smaller diameter at the center. These seem to be the rollers of choice for YouTuber tricks, but they still require about 90% concentration to keep from crashing. The main effect I've found from the taper is that it provides an extra sensory input for when the wheels are off-center. Compared to the aluminum rollers, they are similarly noisy but vibrate more. I have the Galaxia version, which have a rocker system that helps smooth out surges.



I am intrigued by the new Crown rollers, which taper to a larger diameter toward the center. The claim is that this actually provides a self-centering effect. They are relatively expensive - $650 for Crown rollers versus $260 for TACX Galaxia rollers. Perhaps the cost is worth it if you can truly zone out and watch TV while riding them.



My own hints at riding rollers are the following.

1. Look forward, not down. Focus on a point about a bike length in front of the bike.

2. Sit up and get your weight off the front wheel. I have a much easier time riding rollers on my track bike than on my triathlon bike.
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Old 12-28-20, 08:47 AM
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I rode a set of Krietler rollers for years. But I finally got tired of having to concentrate just to stay on the damned things, so I moved to a smart trainer, and then to Zwift. Rollers can be great for requiring good form, but damn, that got old.
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Old 12-28-20, 10:57 AM
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I have those same Nashbar rollers and they are not noisy. They make a little noise, but nothing like what I hear in your video. I've had them for around 6-7 years and they work great, are very smooth and have never had any issues.

Other thoughts:
  • You look to be riding a pretty low cadence in that video, which likely translates into a low speed since there's no resistance. The faster you ride on rollers, the easier it is to stay centered on them. Try speeding up.
  • Look forward, and imagine a point way down the road to help you stay perfectly balanced. If you're looking down at your wheel, you're more likely to swerve around.
  • The noise helps identify points in your pedal stroke that need work. You can hear in your video how the noise is oscillating with each pedal stroke as you apply more power at some points, and less power at others. A smooth pedal stroke will have the same constant noise throughout. So... in a way, the noise is a tool that you can use to your benefit.
  • I would definitely remove your aero bar, which is likely making your steering more difficult. It's been a long time since I've used an aero bar, but my memory is that they made the steering feel a lot less responsive.
  • Rollers are really intended to improve your form, balance, smooth out your pedal stroke. They do this by amplifying the mistakes, which forces you to concentrate or you crash off of them. Rollers that minimize this effect (like self centering) seem to defeat the purpose, IMO. If you really want to just zone out and watch TV while riding, a fixed trainer or a fork mount that locks your bike in place are good options to do that.
I used to watch Netflix/TV shows while riding rollers, but was never able to "zone out" while riding them. I have crashed off my rollers at least 3-4 times, usually as a result of not concentrating. It's a lot of work, both mentally and physically, to stay on them which I think is the point.
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Old 12-28-20, 11:04 AM
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One other thought: Have you confirmed that the rollers are correctly adjusted for the bike size? I noticed on mine that moving the front roller up or back by one peg hole made a huge difference in how it rode. I think the ideal setup has the front roller center just slightly ahead of the front wheel center.
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Old 12-28-20, 12:54 PM
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My Kreiter rig is great, highly recommended. But I get tired of "staying focused" at 5:30 am.
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Old 12-28-20, 02:40 PM
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I have a set of those old Nashbar rollers that I used for a couple of winters. They're not bad for what they are. I think I paid less than a hundred dollars new for them years ago. I rode off them a few times when I wasn't paying attention so I upgraded to a set of the inside ride rollers which have bumpers that make it harder to ride off and resistance so you can do harder workouts. I also got the floating-fork-stand that I can use if I want to do a long ride and watch a movie or whatever. In the winter, I only ride inside ~3 times a week for ~60-90 minutes a ride, which is just enough to maintain some fitness for when I start riding outside all the time in the spring. I'm not into any of the subscription services so rollers are fine for me. If I didn't already have nice rollers I would probably get a direct-drive smart trainer like everyone else.
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Old 12-28-20, 03:28 PM
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Kreitler rollers are still the best.

Rollers should be operated at speed. Pedal speed. Under a hundred rpm just as well to ride anyone else’s stationary bike. 150 to cool off and 200 plus for sprints is more like it. Everything works better with a fixed gear. Even old timers can do 200. Youngsters should aim for 250.

Riding rollers makes big lagoons of sweat. Put the rollers inside a childs inflatable wading pool. Protect the bike with towels. At minimum expect to clean bike thoroughly afterwards and do some floor damage.

There is better than best if willing to search (or build). Roller races of the past were done on large diameter rollers. Climbing up there is sort of scary, once underway they are phenomenally steady. On a fixed wheel the flywheel effect is just amazing. Suddenly 200rpm is not a peak, once there it can be held and held.
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Old 12-29-20, 08:55 AM
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200rpm on rollers on a fixed gear sounds downright terrifying.
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Old 12-29-20, 09:29 AM
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Kreitler rollers is what I started with many years ago. The new inside ride rollers look nice. I many use my rollers to keep my form up. I use a Kickr bike for workout riding and high watt rides.
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Old 12-29-20, 11:40 AM
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Buy the best rollers first; E Motions.
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Old 12-29-20, 08:57 PM
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A smart roller with fore-aft motion seems like it would be really nice.
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Old 12-30-20, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
200rpm on rollers on a fixed gear sounds downright terrifying.
The entire purpose of rollers is to improve form. If you pedal square, bounce, continuously indulge in extraneous motion, you will fly right off the rollers before reaching 200rpm. And nothing bad happens when you come off the rollers. Once you learn to pedal smooth at any speed that transfers directly to road riding.

Doing completely normal things on a bike is not terrifying. Deciding in advance that normal operation of a bike is terrifying sounds scary to me.
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Old 12-30-20, 06:03 PM
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200 rpm is really fast and I'm not positive I have ever been able to do that. But I think people should be able to pedal at above 120 without bouncing. It takes a bit of practice.
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Old 12-31-20, 09:58 AM
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Sure 200 rpm is quick. Nobody is ever going to need to do that on the road. It is purely optional. First step to getting there is to understand it is not hard and not unusual to do it. Or that it is not unusual on the rollers.

Most get on the rollers and have trouble staying there. Because they pedal square. Then decide that rollers stink. Those are the cyclists who need rollers most. Next step is to add a fork support and a resistance unit. At which point the rig is just a stationary trainer.

Agility is a good thing. Smoothness is a good thing. ‘Souplesse’ used to be a word in cycling vocabulary, not quite the same as smooth, it is useful to have. Out on the road it is a good thing to be able to place your wheel exactly where you want it. Out on the road it is a good thing to be able to respond instantaneously and not have to wait for the big gear to give you a pedal at 3 o’clock. Riding rollers helps with this.

A story. First time my brother rode the rollers was at a roller race. Age 15 which does make many things simpler. Roller races are mostly an excuse for wintertime socializing. For those who get up and race the response to the starter pistol is same as a real race. The plan had been to get in some practice somewhere in the gym on someone’s warmup rollers. Didn’t happen that way. He raced as soon as his bike was together. And he did fine. Racing means cruising at 200 and having 250-260 available to sprint. Brother did not win, he was present for the sprint. First time ever. The old set of ICA racing rollers were terrible. Not round. Besides pedaling smooth you had to soak up the lumps and bumps built into the rollers. Not everyone is going to have the easy facility of that 15 year old kid, it is still just not that hard.

Rollers still exist for for a reason. It is not a way to get a resistance workout. Does not build “fitness”. Trains you to pedal. Trains you to sit still on the bike.
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Old 12-31-20, 02:20 PM
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63rickert, you have a unique perspective on rollers. I ride a lot of fixed gear and a lot of rollers but never both at the same time. I can hold 150 rpm at ~30 mph on my FG for a minute or so which I always thought was respectable. 200 rpm is over 40 mph and 250 is over 50 mph at my gearing (44x17). I couldn't do that downhill let alone on my rollers. I do the same type interval workouts on my rollers as I would on any other kind of trainer.
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Old 12-31-20, 06:45 PM
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when you're learning, set it up in a door way. Good for form, not really for fitness.
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Old 01-01-21, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
Kreitler rollers are still the best.

Rollers should be operated at speed. Pedal speed. Under a hundred rpm just as well to ride anyone else’s stationary bike. 150 to cool off and 200 plus for sprints is more like it. Everything works better with a fixed gear. Even old timers can do 200. Youngsters should aim for 250.

Riding rollers makes big lagoons of sweat. Put the rollers inside a childs inflatable wading pool. Protect the bike with towels. At minimum expect to clean bike thoroughly afterwards and do some floor damage.

There is better than best if willing to search (or build). Roller races of the past were done on large diameter rollers. Climbing up there is sort of scary, once underway they are phenomenally steady. On a fixed wheel the flywheel effect is just amazing. Suddenly 200rpm is not a peak, once there it can be held and held.
250 RPM pedal speed? Seriously? Hard to believe.
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Old 01-01-21, 01:32 PM
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The only rollers worth investing in is a set with resistance. No resistance is simply too limiting. You want to be able to approximate real road riding conditions, so a similar amount of power at a similar speed. A good resistance unit will have a power curve not unlike the power curve w/r to speed one gets on the road. I've been using my Nashbar set with fluid resistance for over 20 years. I do most of my training on it in winter, a lot more than just enough to sort of stay in shape. I lay my foundation for the next season between October and January.

The OP is exactly right about steering toward a spot about a bike length in front of you. Then you don't have to watch where you are on the rollers. You just steer toward that spot like you would on the road.

In the Brumotti photo, the rider has his front axle way ahead of the roller's center. Should be right over. His tires are underinflated. Sometimes people do that trying to get a little resistance, but properly inflated tires ride better. One can add strong magnets to any set of rollers with aluminum drums. Search youtube for "diy magnetic resistance rollers". For a commercial set, I think SportsCrafters are about the best.

My rollers are plain cylinders. IMO that's just fine. The whole idea of rollers is that you have to pay attention and not let your mind wander. IME the way to get fit is to be a bit of a hard-ass about it. The difference between good and champion is how much attention they pay, how much in the moment they are. With rollers, you're always in the moment. That's a good thing, in fact it's a Buddhist teaching. Get Zen, folks, because it works. Paying enough attention to stay on also helps you to pay more attention to your pedaling and to holding your line.

There's no reason on this planet to try to pedal 200+ rpm. OTOH, there's good reason to practice pedaling steadily at 115-120 for long periods, 15'-45' and in the aerobic zone, so very low gears on a resistance set. The idea of learning to pedal fast and aerobically is to improve your neuromuscular control so you'll be more efficient all the time. Rollers are a good thing.
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