A question is often posed to me this time of year:  What do you recommend for a bike trainer, or do you prefer rollers?

Rollers and trainers each have a specific purpose, so I like both. Keep in mind that there are different types of trainers and rollers with various features, so this is a quick look at my favorites that can help you hone your skills.

 A good turbo trainer can be used at home or easily ported to any location such as races for warm-ups. I prefer a fluid type such as Cyclops. These are fairly quiet and very smooth. Magnetic trainers are fine but will be noisier and a rougher ride. Set-up is very quick, simply attach your bike and hop on.

If you’re looking for a system to gauge power and other data, a CompuTrainer is an excellent machine. It can be used for monitoring, testing, and trending all sorts of information about your rides. In addition to doing your own workout, CT’s are pre-loaded with courses such as the Coors Morgul Bismarck, Tour de France stages, and a myriad of other courses from warm-up segments to Ironman routes. Real-course videos are also available. Initial set-up for video mode includes installing software on a computer or laptop. Full disclosure: I am a dealer for CompuTrainer and have used them for years with my athletes who have been successful. Contact me for a CompuTrainer system to suit you.

Rollers are a very good addition to your trainer sessions. They are best used with a track bike for optimal results, but your road bike will do just fine. Rollers are not meant for simulating a road ride, however. Use them for shorter sessions, generally higher cadence, to improve foot turnover and refine pedal stroke. With rollers, there is no coasting or slacking off with pedal stroke. You must keep going to stay upright. As with a turbo trainer, set-up is quick. Some models do have a front fork attachment option, but that defeats the purpose of perfecting the skills that rollers are so well designed for.

When choosing a trainer, consider what you want to accomplish with stationary cycling. There are many choices to get you to your goals.

Gina Poertner, CHES

Gina Poertner, CHES is the owner of Life Balance Sports who specializes in bicycle fitting and positioning, Myofascial Compression Therapy, and adapted sports. Gina coaches cyclists, triathletes, and track & field athletes at all levels of ability from beginner to elite. Gina’s expertise in sports physiology coupled with her detailed approach to bike fitting and coaching has given her athletes success across the US and Europe. Gina is a Certified Health Education Specialist focusing on exercise physiology and sports nutrition. As an Intern at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, Kansas, Gina studied under orthopedic surgeon Dr. Charles Henning while serving as Athletic Trainer for Wichita Southeast High School and studying physiology at Wichita State University. She has authored and co-authored a variety of training and nutrition articles for Pez Cycling News, Ironman.com, LAVA Magazine, and Prologue Cycling Magazine. Gina has served on the sports medicine staffs of AAU Junior Olympics, National Gymnastics Championships, National Indoor Track & Field Championships, and individual world class, Olympic, and professional athletes. She is also a Certified Official for USA Track & Field and USA Cycling and continues to officiate local, national and international events.

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