Does a Bike Trainer Damage Your (Carbon) Bike? (Myth Busted)

Does a Bike Trainer Damage Your Bike? An aluminum Canyon road bike mounted in Elite Novo Force wheel-on trainer

When I talk with friends who plan to start training indoors on a bike trainer, they are always worried about the possible damage to their bikes.

And honestly, for a long time, I thought bike trainers could damage my bike. But then I did some research and contacted the most popular bicycle manufacturers.

So, are bike trainers bad for your bike?

Spoiler alert: They are not, but with a warranty, it is not always that simple.

Here is why.

1. Carbon Expert Explains

Raoul Luescher is one of the biggest carbon fiber experts out there. In a video by Maven, he answers if indoor trainers can damage carbon frames.

He smiled and shook his head.

None of the bikes that passed under his hands (and there were some) were damaged by use in the trainer.

The only problem with indoor cycling is sweat damage (corrosion of some parts due to the reaction of aluminum and carbon). More about this here.

Carbon fiber expert Raoul Luescher explains that carbon frames are strong enough for indoor cycling

2. New Testing Protocols & Improved Technology

Thanks to indoor cycling apps, indoor cycling’s popularity is growing. This movement also forced manufacturers to implement new testing protocols.

When you mount a bike into a bike trainer, the forces are transferred mainly onto the rear triangle.

But, today’s bikes can withstand the forces easily with improved technology. Additionally, some bicycle manufacturers cover their bikes with a warranty even when used on a bike trainer.

Canyon has a great support page ensuring its customers that their bikes are bike trainers friendly.

Canyon support page: use of Canyon bikes with a bike trainer doesn't void warranty
Canyon Bike Trainer Warranty | Source: canyon.com

So, what about other popular bicycle brands? I contacted around 25 manufacturers* and asked them if their warranty covers the use on a bike trainer.

*Not all manufacturers replied.

Some of the brands I contacted did recommend using their bikes only with direct-drive trainers. Their warranty also applies only to cases when the bike is properly attached to a trainer using supplied adaptors.

DISCLAIMER: Always double-check the manual and warranty info, or ask the manufacturer directly whether the usage with a bike trainer voids the warranty. This list does not replace the official warranty conditions!

Bike Trainers Friendly Brands

  • Argon18
  • BMC (direct-drive only)
  • Canyon
  • Cervélo
  • Factor
  • Fuji
  • Giant
  • Merida

Bike Trainers Unfriendly Brands

  • Colnago
  • Focus
  • Lapierre
  • Look
  • Specialized
  • Time
  • Trek

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 the information from GCN with a grain of salt (especially their product recommendation). But I can’t disagree with them on this.

Their experience and discussions with manufacturers confirm that you can use a carbon bike on a wheel-on (turbo) and direct-drive trainers. That’s also because using a carbon bike on a bike trainer doesn’t void your warranty (ie. it is safe).

Guys from GCN explain that it is safe to use carbon bikes with indoor bike trainers

4. GPLama Explains

GPLama belongs to one of the most well-known reviewers and experts on bike trainers (and power meters).

He explains that sprinting on a carbon frame while it is mounted in a bike trainer is ok in the following video. You should use skewers that come with the trainer, not titanium ones.

GPLama explains that sprinting on a carbon frame mounted in a bike trainer is ok

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 these stories are rare. I couldn’t find any pictures or videos of frames being damaged by indoor cycling.

So, where are 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


Conclusion

Based on experience and expert opinions, I hope I’ve helped you make sure you can use your bike with a bike trainer without any problems.

The only way you can damage your bike in a trainer is through sweat. Therefore, 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 (I hope not!), feel free to use a cycling rocker plate that allows your bike to swing from side to side. It reduces the stress on the frame and makes your indoor training more comfortable.

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