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Courtesy of the Tredz - pros and cons of turbo trainers versus rollers

Some other places to look for info Cycling Weekly and Cycle Republic

There comes a point when the bravest, most foolhardy cyclist comes to the conclusion that the weather is too nasty even for their hack bike. 

Cycle outside if you like, but when it starts to sleet outside you're on your own. We're racking up our miles inside. 

Once you've established the need to take the bike inside, the biggest choice you have to make is whether you’re going to ride on a turbo trainer or on bike rollers. They both offer a great workout, but do so in very different ways.

In a static, sweaty battle royale between the different methods of indoor bike training, which is best?


Turbo Trainers


  • Easy to use. Once you're set up you can't really do anything wrong.

  • Folded away takes up hardly any space.

  • Can be an incredibly hard workout – even more so than the road.
     And you like sweat don't you?

  • Very stable.

  • Good value (cheaper than a winter at the gym!). 

  • These are, generally, better for doing the sort of power based interval
    training that Chris Carmichael has got us all doing.


  • Tyre wear (with added pressure of trainer this is considerably higher than on the road or roller).

  • Noisy. You have to spend a little more to get a fluid trainer before they quieten down a little.

  • A little too easy. You're not really cycling, just pedalling – makes them just too boring to use for many.

  • The stability means your body doesn't get anywhere near the same workout you would on the road. Core muscles for instance hardly get touched. 




  • Feels a lot more like you’re riding a bike out on the road as
    you aren't 'plugged in'.

  • Not being attached means that rollers are less stressful for
    our bike.

  • You will have to be switched on 100% of the time, most riders
    find this helps the time go a lot quicker. 

  • You are genuinely controlling the bike on rollers, and as such are
    working the same muscles you would out on the road.

  • Most people notice a genuine improvement in 'road form' after a few months on rollers. A lot less bouncing around on the bike and a slicker cadence.


  • There is a reason why you'll start off in a door frame… There isn't much room for slip ups. 

  • It is a new (if valuable) skill. Don't expect to get on a roller and hit high cadence work outs from the off. You'll be concentrating on just getting on to start with.

  • Entry level rollers don't come with variable resistance. 

  • Rollers are also noisy.

  • Generally more expensive that trainers.


They are so different that it's difficult to pick. It comes down to what you want to achieve from your winter training. If it's an out and out improvement in your wattage: get a turbo trainer. It's the easiest, most measurable way of improving your power – maybe even more so than actually out on the road. 

Rollers on the other hand will improve your pedalling form and balance, leaving you a better rider for your efforts. 

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