When I talk to friends planning to start exercising indoors on a bike trainer, they always worry about possible damage to their bikes.
And to be honest, for a long time, I thought trainers could damage my bike. But then I did some research and contacted the most popular bike manufacturers.
So are bike trainers bad for your bike?
Spoiler alert: they are not, but with a warranty, it is not always that simple.
1. Carbon Expert Explains
Raoul Luescher is one of the biggest carbon fiber experts around. In Maven’s video below, he answers whether indoor trainers can damage carbon frames.
He smiled and shook his head.
None of the bikes he has touched (and there have been many) have been damaged by a bike trainer.
2. New Testing Protocols & Improved Technology
Thanks to indoor cycling apps, indoor cycling’s popularity is rising. This trend has also led manufacturers to implement new testing protocols.
When you attach a bike to a bike trainer, the forces are mainly transferred onto the rear triangle. However, modern bikes can easily withstand these forces with improved technology. Additionally, some bicycle manufacturers offer a warranty that covers their bikes even when used on a bike trainer.
Canyon has a great support page that assures its customers that its bikes are compatible with bike trainers.
What about other popular bicycle brands? I contacted about 25 manufacturers* and asked if their warranties covered the use on a bike trainer.
*Not all manufacturers replied.
Some brands I contacted recommended using their bikes only with direct drive trainers. Their warranty applies only if the bike is properly mounted in a trainer using the adapters provided.
DISCLAIMER: Always check the owner’s manual and warranty information, or contact the manufacturer directly, to determine if use with a bike trainer will void your warranty. This list does not replace the official warranty terms!
Bike Trainers Friendly Brands
- BMC (direct-drive only)
Bike Trainers Unfriendly Brands
NOTE: I created this list based on replies from manufacturers in February 2022. Other brands like Pinarello, SCOTT, Ridley, Cannondale, Bianchi, and more did not reply to my email.
3. GCN Also Busted This Myth
Honestly, I take GCN’s information with a grain of salt (especially their product recommendations). But I can’t disagree with them on this one.
Their experience and discussions with manufacturers confirm that you can use a carbon bike on wheel-on (turbo) and direct drive trainers. This is also because using a carbon bike on a bike trainer will not void your warranty (i.e., it’s safe).
4. GPLama Explains
GPLama is one of the best-known reviewers and experts on bike trainers (and power meters).
He explains in the following video that it is ok to sprint on a carbon frame while it is mounted in a bike trainer. But you should use the skewers that come with the trainer, not the titanium ones.
5. Where Are the Horror Stories Come From?
Based on the logic that bike trainers damage carbon bikes, you should be able to find hundreds, maybe even thousands of broken carbon bikes.
But after doing some research, you find that these stories are rare. I couldn’t find any pictures or videos of frames being damaged by indoor cycling.
So where do these horror stories and myths come from?
I can only guess…
Are you still concerned about your bike trainer damaging your bike?
Then try a rocker plate!
It will allow your bike trainer (and bike) to swing from side to side, reducing the stress on your frame and bringing other benefits.
However, the rocker plate technology is still pretty young, and more research needs to be done on how much they reduce bike stress.
Bike Trainers and Bike Damage FAQ
Based on my experience and experts’ opinions, I hope I have helped you decide whether you can use your bike with a bike trainer.
The only way you can damage your bike on a trainer is through sweat. So, after each season, check for corrosion on exposed parts such as handlebars (unwrap the tape), stem, headset, bottle cage mounts, etc.
If you still have doubts (which I hope you don’t!), feel free to use a cycling rocker plate that allows your bike to swing from side to side. It reduces stress on the frame and makes your indoor training more comfortable.