Time Trialing And Turbo Trainers
By Ron FritzkeMany of you are aware that Michael has written detailed training plans for use on an indoor bike trainer. When I approached him about writing a guest article it seemed natural for us to meld his expertise in time trialing to my preoccupation with turbo trainers. After all, his passion is in helping you achieve your best on your time trial bike while my recent focus is in researching dozens of bike trainers for the readers of my site. There are advantages to doing some of your time trial conditioning on a trainer. When the weather's too poor to venture outside a trainer's always there to allow you to perform your workout without the discomfort and danger of riding in cold, slippery, or dark conditions. Another benefit of an indoor bike trainer is the control-ability of your workouts. On a trainer you never have to contend with inclines when your workout calls for flat riding. You don't have to deal with crosswinds when the objective of the day is a smooth pedal stroke without the distraction of getting blown off the side of the road. Another advantage an indoor bike trainer provides is the convenience of tweaking your position on the bike. It's a lot easier to change the seat height, slide the saddle fore and aft, or change the various dimensions of your aero bars when your tool kit's next to you on the coffee table. There are three basic types of trainers on the market, each with their strengths and weaknesses.
Wind Trainers Probably Won't WorkWhile wind trainers are fine for casual cyclists, anyone serious enough to be getting workouts from Michael most likely will find that a wind trainer doesn't provide enough resistance. Structured training entails many workouts consisting of intervals of high intensity altered with easy riding. A wind trainer won't provide enough resistance to get in high wattage workouts. Additionally, wind trainers are notorious for being noisy. Many are the tales of irritated spouses, cyclists doing workouts with earplugs, or disgruntled neighbors in the flat next to a rider doing a workout on a wind trainer.
Mag Trainers Are Getting BetterOne rung up on the bike trainer scale are the mag trainers. These trainers provide resistance by rotating resisting magnets past each other. This reliability of this group has gotten much better in the last couple of years...gone are the days of cyclists throwing their mag trainers across the room in a temper tantrum after the trainer quit working smoothly. One of the most innovative designs in this group is the CycleOps Magneto. Using centrifugal force to alter the position of the magnets, the Magneto provides what the company calls 'progressive resistance'. Magneto users don't have to get off their bike to change resistance levels, or attach a cable and lever to their handlebars to change levels manually. I've come across reports of powerful riders having a problem with their mag trainer when they stand and sprint. When pushed too hard the magnets go beyond their ability to resist each other and the rider's suddenly left with no resistance. You can imagine how disappointing that would be when straddling the top bar.
Fluid Trainers Are Likely The Ticket
The trainers that are the quietest and produce the most resistance are fluid trainers like the Cycleops Fluid 2. Leakage of the fluid due to o-ring seal failure previously plagued this type of trainer. There are few complaints of trainers leaking anymore. In fact, cyclists using the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine can just about kiss any leakage possibility good-bye. By sealing off the fluid chamber from the roller and then connecting the two sides using powerful magnets, there are no o-rings to fail. The massive advantage that fluid trainers have is their ability to provide resistance that increases exponentially. Looking at a graph of speed versus resistance reveals an ever increasing slope that nears vertical at the uppermost speeds. With this style of trainer, a time trialist would be hard pressed to ever 'run out of trainer'. So while each type of trainer has advantages and disadvantages, it's probably the fluid trainers that hold the edge for a serious time trialer.
About the author: Ron Fritzke is a cycling product reviewer with a passion for ‘all things cycling’. A former 2:17 marathoner, he now directs his competitive efforts toward racing his bike…and looking for good cycling products.
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