Guide to Turbo Training
Which one to choose?
There are two main types of turbo to choose from and they are
usually classified by the type of resistance they offer - magnetic
Magnetic resistance turbo trainers are usually cheaper but can
be louder and heavier - fluid resistance also improves the ride
feel and smooths out the resistance, reduces the rear wheel
slippage and makes the pedalling feel more authentic.
There are a few other options - direct drive units have a fixed
cassette with the bike mounted straight onto the turbo. This means
there's no tyre wear and is meant to best simulate road riding.
They can be tricky to set up if you are not comfortable with
adjusting the gearing and they are usually more expensive than
Another recent trend is the 'smart' trainer - this just means
that it has the ability to hook up to your laptop/PC and provide
interaction when hooked up to software, such as Zwift or Trainer
road. They can also provide automatic resistance, allowing you to
increase speed or power without having to change gear like you
would on a regular turbo, making the experience more fun and
As well as the turbo, there's a host of accessories which are
designed to make it a much more pleasant experience. You don't need
all of these below, but some are very useful to have.
Trainer Mat: These are designed to soak
up the vibrations from the turbo, reducing the noise and wear on
your floor. They can also offer sweat protection, as turbo mats are
usually easy to wipe down - especially handy if you have carpet!
They are essential if you live in a flat or need to dampen the
sound as much as possible.
Riser Block: When your bike is mounted on
the turbo, it raises the rear wheel up off the floor. This small,
usually plastic unit sits under the front wheel which levels out
the bike. This means that your riding position is level - much
similar to that on the road. It also prevents the front wheel
moving about when doing harder intervals.
Sweat cover: a sweat cover protects the
bits that are prone to excessive drips from the hard work! Sweat is
corrosive to parts of the bike so a sweat cover is vital to keep
your steed safe in the long term.
Turbo Wheel: If you plan on logging
plenty of hours on the turbo, getting a dedicated turbo wheel and
tyre can save plenty of money in the long run. A cheap rear wheel
and turbo specific tyre, which has a harder, longer lasting
compound rubber, can be swapped in for the regular rear wheel for
each turbo session. This is ideal if you have expensive tyres and
want to save them for riding on the road. Having a dedicated turbo
wheel means it is quicker to change over than swapping tyres each
time, and it doesn't matter as much if it gets damaged, unlike
those expensive new carbon wheels!
A fan: We certainly think this is
essential! Riding on a stationary turbo means you'll get hot, so if
the environment isn't right, you'll be a sweaty uncomfortable mess
5 minutes in. A big floor fan pointing up is a great way to
alleviate the heat and keep you riding longer.
Firstly, you'll need to prepare your turbo training space. It
needs to be a decent size to accommodate your bike, plus a little
extra to manoeuvre and for a fan if you have one. We recommend a
nice, flat surface that's stable. If you have a trainer mat, lay
this out and place your turbo at one end. Once you've checked its
level, you can now fix the bike in using the quick release lever
(or mount to the cassette if its direct drive).
Once the bike itself is fixed in place, it's now time to set the
resistance. Most turbo trainers have a screw which sets the
resistance against the rear wheel - screw this in until the unit is
firmly pressed against the tyre. Turn the pedals by hand to check
if the resistance is too tight or too loose and adjust
Once everything feels right, it's time to turn your fan on,
swing your leg over and start pedalling. This is when the hard work