People often ask me if bike trainers are worth it. They don’t see all their benefits or don’t know how to justify the purchase.
Don’t take me wrong, 9 out of 10 riders will prefer a three-hour outside ride to a three-hour ride on a trainer. I am no exception.
But there are many more reasons to get a bike trainer than just ‘weatherproofing’ your training.
So, here are the most important reasons why I believe a bike trainer is a good investment.
Bike trainers are worth it because indoor training is more time-efficient and safer than training outdoors. Smart trainers will allow you to do more precise structured training and eventually race indoors. Bike trainers are also suitable for recovery rides, pre-race warm-ups, and cool-downs.
How Much Do Bike Trainers Cost?
Before diving into the reasons to consider buying a bike trainer, let me summarize the price range to expect.
You don’t have to spend $1000 on a high-end smart interactive trainer. If you just want to spin your legs occasionally, you can buy a budget (dumb) wheel-on trainer for around $100.
A smart trainer can take your indoor cycling to the next level. It can transmit your ride data to 3rd party training apps. Smart interactive trainers can even adjust the resistance based on the training app.
The following table shows the estimated costs for different bike trainers.
|Up to $300
|Low-end wheel-on bike trainers
|Smart wheel-on bike trainers
Rollers with resistance
|Direct-drive bike trainers
|Bike simulators/smart bikes
6 Reasons to Use a Bike Trainer
1. You Avoid Crashes and Aggressive Drivers
Although this reason may sound a little bit silly, it is the one that I can’t forget to mention.
One thing I hate about road cycling is the traffic. I experienced a lot of close calls or being sprayed with windscreen wash by aggressive drivers.
You will never experience this when cycling indoors in your pain cave. Additionally, the risk of you crashing will decrease to zero.
If you are unfortunate like me a few years ago and you break your collarbone, for example, you can start riding even before you fully recover.
I jumped on my bike trainer after the first week or two when I recovered from a crash because I couldn’t ride outside then.
2. Indoor Cycling Is Time Efficient
Bike trainers are super time-efficient. They allow you to take a quick training session within a few minutes – without the need to ride to your favorite segment.
Those living in cities know it takes time to get through the traffic, traffic lights, etc. If you just want to spin your legs, this can cost you the time you could otherwise dedicate to the riding.
When I lived in Prague for a few weeks, it took me about 15 minutes to get out of the city. It takes me about a minute to get outside the village I live in now.
Bike trainers also allow you to multitask. You can watch TV, listen to a podcast, read, answer emails, etc. But many people cycle to relax, so don’t overdo it!
Or, if you have children and you can’t leave them with your partner to take care of them, you can jump on your trainer and train while keeping an eye on them.
3. They Can Simulate Precise Structured Training
One of the most challenging things when doing interval training is finding a location to do the intervals.
The area you live in can be too flat, too hilly, too busy, or otherwise unsuitable for your structured training.
You don’t have to deal with these things with a bike trainer. All you have to do is use a third-party app like TrainerRoad to turn on your plan and start training.
4. They Are Great for Convenient Race Warm-Ups and Cool Downs
Bike trainers are popular among professional racers, especially for race warm-ups and cool-downs.
You can ride as hard or easy as you need. You don’t risk getting a puncture or missing a start.
Additionally, you don’t have to worry about the traffic and can focus on yourself.
After the race, you can just spin your legs, flush out the excess lactic acid from your muscles, and start the recovery process.
5. They Are Ideal for Recovery Rides
The whole point of recovery rides is just taking it easy. If you don’t live in a flat area or area without many intersections, your recovery ride can quickly transform into bad interval training.
One of the reasons why bike trainers are so popular is that you can adjust their resistance, and it will remain consistent.
6. They Allow You to Race Indoors
What’s more exciting than competing against riders from around the world? But you can’t race without a bike trainer.
Some races (depending on their prestige) allow you to participate even without a smart trainer (you just need a power meter). But, for more official races (and better riding experience), the smart trainer is a must.
There are many more reasons to buy a bike trainer than just that they make your training ‘weatherproof.’
They make your training more time-efficient, allow you to do effective warm-ups and cool-downs, help you avoid aggressive drivers, and much more.
Do you agree with the reasons I listed above? Tell me in the comments below what are the reasons against bike trainers.