What bicycle training stand should I get?
April 5, 2016 6:30 PM   Subscribe

I have a 1999-era Bianchi Volpe (a touring bike) moldering in my garage, despite having it recently tuned. I'd like to get a training stand to get some low-impact cardio in and also harden myself to actual rides again. Which stand should I get?

My budget is up to $500 or so, although $300 would make me happier unless I was getting a noticeable quality upgrade. This will be in the mostly-detached garage, so noise isn't a big issue. I'd prefer something that was reasonably simple to get the bike on and off of, but I am fairly handy and don't require a toolless setup or anything. Mostly I don't even know what questions to ask - so I'm asking you!
posted by restless_nomad to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You basically have two choices: magnetic trainers and fluid trainers. The latter is quieter but runs $150 and up; the former works pretty much the same and is well less than $75. Stick with a major brand, say CycleOps, and you'll be fine. This one would be fine.

Both types work by clamping onto the back axle, which is pretty easy, and applying resistance to your back tire.

The most important part of a trainer is thus this: get a cheapo tire for use with the trainer, because it will run that tire bald pretty quickly.
posted by Dashy at 6:42 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Have you considered getting rollers instead of a stand? The main difference is that it's much more engaging and fun - with stands, it's kinda boring because you don't move: with rollers you're literally riding on the rollers (and can totally fall off, which feeds the engagement/ fun factor). Also with rollers you don't have to do any attaching, and tire wear/ noise is less. I've had this basic model from Performance Bike for years and it totally does the job.
posted by 7 Minutes of Madness at 7:35 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

A benefit rollers have that you won't get with trainers is that riding on top of roller-wheels dramatically improves the smoothness or fluidity of your pedaling. (When you begin on roller-wheels you quickly discover how herky-jerky your rotation is because your unstable motion threatens to push you over the edge of the front roller like bathwater splashing free of the bathtub.) Whether you ride alone or in groups, this will make you a more efficient cyclist, and a safer one. Try to find roller-wheels using steel rather than plastic rollers.
posted by little eiffel at 9:10 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I like my CycleOps Fluid. It's quieter than my old magnetic one, but not quiet. I've used several trainers over the years and they are super simple to set up until you get to the super high end ones (the CycleOps Silencer which mounts directly is sort of a PITA.)

BTW, these are constantly on Craigslist and the local Triathlon club list. There is no need to buy one new.
posted by 26.2 at 9:12 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also, looking at pictures of the Volpe, it appears quite a few folks have got knobbly-ish tires on there. That won't do with trainers or rollers - for trainers you'll need a smooth tire on the rear, for rollers you'll need smooth tires front and rear. Per Dashy's note, trainers will munge your tire and standard practice is to throw on a cheapo (again Performance Bike is your friend here), but this also raises the additional point that if you want to switch between a trainer and going for rides, you're probably also going to have to switch out (read: pain in the neck) your rear tire (or wheel, if you're financially exuberant/ less tolerant of neck pain).

(Oh, and I seem to remember that some brands of trainer will require you to replace your - presumably Bianchi - rear skewer with a custom one which fits specifically to their stand. This kinda bugged me when I had a sweet Coda groupset and then this weird cycle trainer brand skewer on the back).
posted by 7 Minutes of Madness at 10:42 PM on April 5, 2016

Always get a fluid trainer. If you are even sort of decent on a bike, you will be able to over-power a magnetic trainer eventually. A good fluid trainer will increase tension as you increase your rear tire speed.

I went all out and spent $600 on a Kinetic Kurt Road Machine 5+ years ago (they actually only cost about $350 now), and it has been worth it.

Consider getting a trainer-specific tire or keep an eye on the tire you use. Don't use any tire you have used with a trainer on the road again--it WILL blow and be quite slippery until it does.
posted by TinWhistle at 5:58 AM on April 6, 2016

For $500 you could get a great Kurt Kinetic, a cheap wheel, cassette, and trainer tire and be set. Then you can just swap rear wheels when you want to ride outdoors.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:13 AM on April 6, 2016

I like my Cyclops Fluid2 trainer quite a lot. I think they're usually around $300 (although I found mine on closeout for $250). I would also strongly recommend getting a Zwift subscription if you're going to start whiling away the hours indoor.
posted by slogger at 8:24 AM on April 6, 2016

This book holder is great for tablets (netflix) and phone and magazines. Well, not great -- it edges into where my wrists want to be -- but it does the job.
posted by Dashy at 8:40 AM on April 6, 2016

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