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Gears on Trainer versus on the Actual Road?

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Gears on Trainer versus on the Actual Road?

Old 05-22-18, 07:17 AM
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Spartan420
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Gears on Trainer versus on the Actual Road?

I have two trainers, both fluid classic trainers (Cycleops Fluid 2 and new Road Machine). Sun, I did my longest outside ride at 83 miles. It took 4:38. I was in my big gear up front and cruising along happily with a 90-95rpm cadence and a low zone 2 HR. I was never out of breath and my legs were never fatigued.

On my trainers, in the exact same gear, I can only get up to a 60rpm cadence, only hold it for a few seconds and my HR is in overload. There is absolutely no comparison.

Is this normal? On my trainer, I have to keepit in the small chainring and feel like a wuss.
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Old 05-22-18, 07:42 AM
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The way that load increases on the road isn't the same way that load increases on a trainer, unless the trainer is specifically designed for that. So trainer gear and cadence don't translate to the road, and vice versa.
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Old 05-22-18, 07:50 AM
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I have about 18 years on my Fluid 2. I am on the third resistance unit now. I see about a 3 mph difference being slower on the trainer than on the road in a given effort level. For me 16mph on the trainer is an all out sweat-fest but on the road, 16mph is a 120bpm heart rate recovery ride. It is what is it is.

My fluid 2 is on its last leg though as the clamp mechanism has wearing out the metal in the stand and it wont close down as tight as it used to. I hope to find another, maybe a smart trainer, that is more realistic as far speed to effort goes.
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Old 05-22-18, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by jitteringjr View Post
I hope to find another, maybe a smart trainer, that is more realistic as far speed to effort goes.
On the road, speed-to-effort varies with terrain, with wind, with road surface, with climate, with fitness, and with fatigue. On a trainer, speed-to-effort varies with fitness and fatigue. Trainers are what they are. They don't provide "realistic" training load -- they provide consistent training load.
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Old 05-22-18, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by RChung View Post
On the road, speed-to-effort varies with terrain, with wind, with road surface, with climate, with fitness, and with fatigue. On a trainer, speed-to-effort varies with fitness and fatigue. Trainers are what they are. They don't provide "realistic" training load -- they provide consistent training load.
I am hoping a smart trainer will compensate for the terrain at least. If you are riding on zwift, will it compensate for a simulated head wind? But it's not like my fitness level changes from Monday on a trainer ride to Tuesday's outdoor ride though. I still see a 3 mph difference when these other variables are about the same such as fatigue level and climate
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Old 05-22-18, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by jitteringjr View Post
I have about 18 years on my Fluid 2. I am on the third resistance unit now. I see about a 3 mph difference being slower on the trainer than on the road in a given effort level. For me 16mph on the trainer is an all out sweat-fest but on the road, 16mph is a 120bpm heart rate recovery ride. It is what is it is.

My fluid 2 is on its last leg though as the clamp mechanism has wearing out the metal in the stand and it wont close down as tight as it used to. I hope to find another, maybe a smart trainer, that is more realistic as far speed to effort goes.
then set it on the 2nd resistance unit. or 4th. whichever is easier.

your trainer has no idea what your terrain is like.

relevant training metrics = effort + time.
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Old 05-22-18, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by jitteringjr View Post
I am hoping a smart trainer will compensate for the terrain at least.
A really smart trainer can compensate for the *average* load but not the instantaneous load. That is, (some) smart trainers can get the total drag right but I'm unaware of any smart trainer currently on the market that can get the acceleration and deceleration right. A huge part of riding on the road is that we experience different acceleration whether we are going uphill, downhill, or on the flat; and when we increase our power by a watt, we get different acceleration depending on the situation. No smart trainer that I'm aware of can reproduce that piece, and that's why trainers aren't "realistic." As long as you don't have unrealistic expectations about how realistic a trainer can be, you'll be okay. They provide a consistent platform for training.
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Old 05-22-18, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by redfooj View Post
then set it on the 2nd resistance unit. or 4th. whichever is easier.

your trainer has no idea what your terrain is like.

relevant training metrics = effort + time.
You clearly have no idea here what the fluid two is. The other resistance units were sent back to Cycleops for refurbishment. Both had dead bearings as they seized up from being used too much.
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Old 05-22-18, 02:02 PM
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I just find that riding outside is so different from a trainer that I don't give any credence to the trainer numbers anymore. Note that I didn't say to the benefits though, just the numbers. On a trainer, my FTP is about 180, not that high from what I've seen others publish, but outside I can easily ride at a much higher power level. 200 watts? An easy spin. 300 watts, now my HR goes up. But here's the thing I still don't get, how is it I can put out more watts on the road using the same power meter for both? And I can understand that the outside riding is less consistent than the trainer, but I just checked average watts over similar timed rides and the outside rides are always a good 20w greater, and these are frequently less grueling and include easy street riding. I'll feel totally beat up on a trainer, and it worked wonders over the winter. My HR also bears this out. I have a higher HR on the trainer for the same watts.

And to all of you above, speed on the trainer is totally meaningless. You are using your wheel (assuming a wheel-on trainer) to move the resistance unit, how fast it spins has no bearing on how much power it takes.
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Old 05-22-18, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Spartan420 View Post
I have two trainers, both fluid classic trainers (Cycleops Fluid 2 and new Road Machine). Sun, I did my longest outside ride at 83 miles. It took 4:38. I was in my big gear up front and cruising along happily with a 90-95rpm cadence and a low zone 2 HR. I was never out of breath and my legs were never fatigued.

On my trainers, in the exact same gear, I can only get up to a 60rpm cadence, only hold it for a few seconds and my HR is in overload. There is absolutely no comparison.

Is this normal? On my trainer, I have to keepit in the small chainring and feel like a wuss.
It just means your trainer is giving you more rolling resistance at the same gear and cadence than you would experience in a combination of rolling resistance and wind resistance outdoor. Very simple.

Basically the roller is holding your wheel back more than the actual road would. So yes, it is normal. Although most people would prefer the rollers to mimic the real road as closely as possible.

If you were to switch to a smart trainer, I think those can more closely match the real resistance of a flat road, uphill sections, etc. But those are much more expensive.
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Old 05-22-18, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by jitteringjr View Post


You clearly have no idea here what the fluid two is. The other resistance units were sent back to Cycleops for refurbishment. Both had dead bearings as they seized up from being used too much.
Your apparent speed is meaningless on a trainer.
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Old 05-22-18, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by redfooj View Post
Your apparent speed is meaningless on a trainer.
This is you trying to cover up the fact that you thought you could change resistance levels in a Cyclops fluid2. And speed is not meaningless either because you can use the published speed resistance curves to train by power and not have to spend $1000 on a power meter. If I need to do a 400 watt interval, I can just look at the resistance curve and see how fast I need to go for the interval. And I donít think itís too much to ask especially with the smart trainers to have a resistance curve that closely matches real life conditions: Maybe not acceleration and deceleration but steady state at a given power output - yes.
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Old 05-23-18, 01:04 AM
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Originally Posted by jitteringjr View Post


This is you trying to cover up the fact that you thought you could change resistance levels in a Cyclops fluid2. And speed is not meaningless either because you can use the published speed resistance curves to train by power and not have to spend $1000 on a power meter. If I need to do a 400 watt interval, I can just look at the resistance curve and see how fast I need to go for the interval. And I donít think itís too much to ask especially with the smart trainers to have a resistance curve that closely matches real life conditions: Maybe not acceleration and deceleration but steady state at a given power output - yes.
Friendo, you brought up the fact you were on resistance X. It doesn't matter whether it's a weight, magnet, turbine area, liquid volume, the tightness of your tire to drum....you barked up that tree.

The further you stray from measurement of torque or strain, the less value your power estimate is. Doubtful your curve was calibrated to you specific production machine, much less 18 years ago.

​​​​​​Because you mention training to a target power, it implies you might have a better reference for power, i.e. a direct force pm. In which case, use that gear on the trainer. And if not, then stick to the chart for consistency.

Otherwise you're chasing a misguided objective.
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Old 05-23-18, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
But here's the thing I still don't get, how is it I can put out more watts on the road using the same power meter for both? And I can understand that the outside riding is less consistent than the trainer, but I just checked average watts over similar timed rides and the outside rides are always a good 20w greater, and these are frequently less grueling and include easy street riding. I'll feel totally beat up on a trainer, and it worked wonders over the winter. My HR also bears this out. I have a higher HR on the trainer for the same watts.
What's been explained to me in the past is that, among other things, poor heat dissipation and oxygen depletion can be problematic indoors, even with a multi-fan set-up, and that it's fair to assume that outdoor performance will better than on the trainer. I would also imagine that the freedom of movement on a ride would allow for the recruitment of other muscles vs the trainer, too, but that's just a WAG.
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Old 05-23-18, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by redfooj View Post
Doubtful your curve was calibrated to you specific production machine, much less 18 years ago.
Would you at least please look up what a a Cycleops fluid2 is so you can add some useful input to the discussion? This comment makes no sense to anyone familiar with a fluid2. Cycleops publishes resistance curves on pretty much all their trainers and there is nothing to calibrate. Are the curves as accurate as a real power meter? Of course not, but its a lot cheaper than a set of Garmin Vector pedals or a crank based PM. But the real ignorant part of your post is you claiming the 18 year part when I said I was on the third resistance unit. I didn't kill the first two resistance units in the first year. Do you not know the resistance curves are based on the resistance units? My current resistance unit is about a year old.
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Old 05-23-18, 07:58 AM
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In his defense, the resistance curves are NOT based on the individual units, but on an average unit. These can vary a lot. Then there is the warm up factor, where the resistance increases as it warms up from riding. I have the charts to prove it too. Let me see if I can find them on Facebook. It will show me following a workout on The Sufferfest using virtual power based on the Fluid 2 curve vs. the power recorded from my Assioma pedals on my Wahoo Bolt, both then downloaded to RidewithGPS.
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Old 05-23-18, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
But here's the thing I still don't get, how is it I can put out more watts on the road using the same power meter for both? And I can understand that the outside riding is less consistent than the trainer, but I just checked average watts over similar timed rides and the outside rides are always a good 20w greater, and these are frequently less grueling and include easy street riding. I'll feel totally beat up on a trainer, and it worked wonders over the winter.
Even if you control for cooling, crank inertial load is different on a trainer than on the road. My legs hurt more on a trainer than on the road even at a lower work load -- conversely, my lungs hurt more on the road. But that's just me -- I've learned that I'm sensitive to crank inertial load. Other guys I know don't appear to be bothered by it at all.

Originally Posted by jitteringjr
And I don’t think it’s too much to ask especially with the smart trainers to have a resistance curve that closely matches real life conditions: Maybe not acceleration and deceleration but steady state at a given power output - yes.
That depends a lot on their load generators and their ability to dissipate heat. Some smart trainers have a relatively anemic load generator so while they can generate 250 watts of drag at high wheel speed (such as when you're supposed to be on the flat) they fail when trying to generate 250 watts of drag at low wheel speed (such as when you're supposed to be climbing). That was the problem with an early electronic ergometer I used to have.

I wish that trainer reviews would do two things: 1) describe not just their average behavior but the envelope of wheel speed and drag where they start to fail; and 2) their acceleration-deceleration response (e.g., what the crank inertial load looks like).

Since I have a PT hub I've given up on electronically-braked trainers and gone back to a fluid-based dumb trainer and a set of rollers with an anemic fluid-resistance unit. I curse them all the time.

BTW, PT hubs have dropped in price so a power meter that you can use outdoors + a dumb trainer costs less than even an anemic smart trainer.
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Old 05-23-18, 08:32 AM
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If you have a power meter, you can make the experience on the trainer mirror the experience outside, except for the soul-sucking boredom and sweatfest that go hand-in-hand with being on a trainer. While Zwift does help, in general I would rather ride busy urban streets in the rain than spend time on the trainer.

Oh, and trainer "speed" isn't even a thing. Set the resistance level to something medium, and I can hold 30mph on the trainer for an hour. Doesn't mean anything. One hour @ 102rpm, avg. HR of 139bpm, avg. power 199W, that means something. Had to stop pedaling at 30 minutes to turn up the fan, but very typical of suffering on the trainer:

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Old 05-23-18, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by jitteringjr View Post
Would you at least please look up what a a Cycleops fluid2 is so you can add some useful input to the discussion? This comment makes no sense to anyone familiar with a fluid2. Cycleops publishes resistance curves on pretty much all their trainers and there is nothing to calibrate. Are the curves as accurate as a real power meter? Of course not, but its a lot cheaper than a set of Garmin Vector pedals or a crank based PM. But the real ignorant part of your post is you claiming the 18 year part when I said I was on the third resistance unit. I didn't kill the first two resistance units in the first year. Do you not know the resistance curves are based on the resistance units? My current resistance unit is about a year old.
The most input was given in post #2 of the thread: stop trying to compare road to trainer and you wont be so frustrated.

It matters not whether youre training on a fluid2 or a magnet5000. Use a better point of reference than wheel speed.
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