Bike trainer for someone with a knee problem?
July 30, 2011 6:15 PM   Subscribe

Which wind trainer would be ok for me, given my injured knee and fairly limited budget?

I've got some inflammation (and crunchiness) in my knee (and plantar fasciitis in the opposite foot), due to an ill-fated attempt at a too-ambitious running program.

So now I'm only allowed to cycle or swim for a while. I'd like to get a bike trainer for convenient riding in my basement. I hated the wind trainer I had about 25 years ago, because I couldn't coast and it felt like I had to keep up a speed that I wasn't comfortable with.

I know that fluid and some magnetic trainers allow progressive resistance, but most of them are pretty pricey. I'm also not sure that I need a wide range of resistance, since I am basically starting at zero with my fitness program.

Would a wind trainer be good enough for my purpose, or would I end up hating it (and therefore avoiding it)?

I don't really need links to reviews (I've read as many as I can find), unless you know of one that says "This trainer is really good for fat beginning cyclists with knee problems".
posted by SuperSquirrel to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: My question is "Which BIKE trainer...", not "Which wind trainer..."
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:56 PM on July 30, 2011

What "progressive resistance" means in regards to magnetic and fluid trainers is that the traner's resistance curve more closely mimics what you'd actually feel on the road as your speed increases or decreases, not that it gives you the ability to make things more difficult. In general, any trainer will do, but more expensive ones with better progressive resistance will just feel nicer. I have a CycleOps Mag+ and it works fine; I've also used a friend's CycleOps Fluid^2, the resistance of which feels much nicer but I'm not about to go buy a new trainer just for that. Next time I have to buy one, I'll just buy the best one I can afford at that point.

Really, the fact that your knee is a bit inflamed doesn't have any bearing on which trainer to buy, since your knee will heal but you'll still have the trainer. The real question is: will you enjoy any trainer? I train on mine in the winter. It's great for interval workouts. But man, riding the trainer sucks. Your sit bones get sore, there's no coasting, and you're staring at a wall listening to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me! podcasts and counting down the seconds until the workout is over.
posted by The Michael The at 7:17 PM on July 30, 2011

Like The Michael The, I find it excruciatingly boring to ride on a home trainer. If I have to ride indoors, I much prefer riding on rollers. Since your bike isn't attached to anything, you have to work to maintain your balance.

A basic set of rollers from a mail order company like Nashbar starts at about $200. Basic rollers don't have resistance, though, so they are good for training yourself to spin smoothly at high RPMs but not so good for getting an aerobic workout.

Rollers with resistance units are a little pricier. CycleOps has a set of aluminum rollers with a 5-level magnetic resistance unit for $380 (MSRP). Kreitler rollers are more expensive but offer a wind resistance option. I have a set of TruTrainer rollers, which have a flywheel inside one of the roller shells that is driven at a higher speed than the rollers. The result is that the faster you pedal, the more resistance they offer, mimicking wind and rolling resistance. They're great for long workouts.

However, if you haven't used rollers before, you might want to try them out somewhere first, or buy from a place that gives a 100% money-back guarantee. Some people don't get the hang of riding on them, and some people find them too nerve-wracking to use. There may be someone in the Joliet Bicycle Club who has a set you could try out.
posted by brianogilvie at 3:56 AM on July 31, 2011

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