What Is A Turbo Trainer? – Cycling Training In Your Own Home

What_Is_A_Turbo_Trainer

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I never really knew what a Turbo Trainer was when I first started taking up cycling. It wasn’t really until my dad gave me one as a present at Christmas. Knowing that I was growing into cycling he had done some research and came across these Turbo Trainers and decided to get me one. When I first opened it I was like what is a Turbo Trainer!

Of course, I opened it up the box and read the set up and I couldn’t believe I didn’t even know about these and how much I would have loved to have one had I known before. After Christmas had calmed down, I used a chance to get this thing set up in my garage and gave it a go and wow! The workout this thing gave me in my own home was incredible!! I finally have something that I can use for training in my own home, on my own bike when time is short!

For anyone who was like me who wants to gain a better understanding of what Turbo Trainers are, then read this post where I will aim to give you information on what they are and how they can help you as a cyclist.

What Is A Turbo Trainer?

In basic terms, a Turbo Trainer or “Turbos” as they are sometimes called, is a device that enables you to ride your bike stationary indoors or anywhere you want, yes that’s right, using your own bike as a stationary exercise bike!!

They have become a popular piece of equipment for cyclists to help with fitness training, certainly in the winter months when the weather is isn’t very pleasant and they don’t fancy getting geared up to head out. Turbo trainers are also popular for cyclists to use for warm-ups ahead of racing and maybe cooling down after a race.

Turbo_Trainer

Turbo trainers are pretty easy to set up, they usually come with a quick release skewer, so all you have to do is remove the current skewer going through the axle of your rear wheel while it is sitting on the A frame of the turbo trainer, then push through the skewer that came with the trainer, tighten and clamp it in on, then you are ready to go. Usually, they come with a cable leaver which you attach to your handle bars so that you can adjust the tension setting on how hard you have to pedal, just like a spin bike, as the rear wheel sits on a roller. These are typically called Magnetic Turbo Trainers.

There are some trainers now on the market that don’t even use your back wheel, in fact you remove your back wheel and connect your chain to the gear cassette on the trainer itself, these are called Direct Drive Turbo Trainers. I haven’t tried one of these out yet but I am sure at some point in the near future, I will write a review on these.

Why Use A Turbo Trainer?

One of the main reasons why I use my trainer, is to do fitness training, such as interval training. I would watch turbo training video clips where there is an instructor tell you how fast to pedal, when to sprint, when to slow down, what tension you should be on. I would sweat so much doing this that I had to have a towel handy and make sure I was using the mat which is supplied with the trainer so it catches the sweat and also so it prevents the bike and trainer moving.

There are cyclists that find turbo training fairly boring, but during the winter months, many cyclists call it “turbo time” when the roads are icy and wet so they feel safer doing fitness training in their own home still using their own bike.

Yes OK, being stationary in your home of course isn’t going to be as challenging and exciting as being out and about and taking in the views, but that is why I use certain programmes and videos to watch on a tablet, phone or laptop where you have a trainer pushing you.

Buying Guide

There are different types of turbo trainers out there now on the market, which one you go for can depend on budget and experience and also how often you plan to use it.

Magnetic Turbo Trainer

Magnetic_Turbo_Trainer

If you’re just going to use them as a quick 10-minute workout and you’re a beginner, then a Magnetic Turbo Trainer would be a good place to start, plus these are usually the lower end of the price range.

Fluid Turbo Trainer

Maybe you plan on spending that bit more on a trainer than a Magnetic Turbo Trainer, the next up is a Fluid Turbo Trainer, these offer a more road-like feel on the bike and are also quieter than a Magnetic Turbo Trainer when training. These use a complex system where the rotor spins in an oil bath to produce resistance.

Direct Drive Turbo Trainer

Direct_Drive_Turbo_Trainer

If you are looking for a more high realistic riding experience, then the Direct Drive Turbo Trainers are a good choice, especially for the more cyclist enthusiast who wants to improve power and technique.

Roller Turbo Trainers

Roller_Turbo_Trainers

These are a very different set up to other turbo trainers, roller trainer use cylindrical connected to a belt drive which are spun by your bike wheels. There are many cyclists who enjoy these and find that these provide a great realistic experience because like on the road, you need to maintain balance as well as speed and focus. For this reason they can take some time to get used to in terms of balancing, plus they do take up more space, so these aren’t the best choice if space in your house or garage can be an issue compared to the alternative choices.

Smart Turbo Trainers

The Smart trainers have become very popular on the turbo training market, and understandably why with technology used these days. The Smart trainers offer internet connectivity, which allow you to take part in online cycling races. A bit like me where I am using a magnetic trainer with my laptop, the only difference is these are equipped with sensors and gadgets which are used to help provide you with feedback on how you performed and also change the resistant setting on your trainer to mimic the environment on the screen. A great peice of kit to turn stationary biking from boring to an excellent challenging experience.

Top Turbo Trainers

Here is my top picks of Turbo Trainers that might be worth checking out, in no particular order;

1. Tacx Vortex Smart Turbo Trainer

Tacx_Vortex_smart_turbo_trainer

This smart turbo trainer is actually down the cheaper end of the price range. This maybe down to the fact that this turbo is somewhere between a standard turbo trainer and a full smart turbo trainer.

Check out the latest prices on Amazon UK

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2. Elite Qubo Power Fluid turbo trainer

Elite_Qubo_Power_Fluid_turbo_trainer

If you need something that is on the quiet side when it comes to training, this Elite Qubo fluid trainer would be a good choice, especially if your someone that likes to train early in the morning or late at night, maybe when the kids are in bed!

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3. Tacx Booster

Tacx_Booster

I’ve added this turbo trainer in as this is the one I own myself. This is a perfect trainer for someone who is starting out. It can be on the noisy side when in use but that has never been an issue in my house as I usually do it in the garage or if the house is empty, I set it up in the kitchen. It is simple and easy to set up, probably why I haven’t bothered to upgrade to a more advanced one.

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4. Wahoo Kickr Smart

Wahoo_Kickr_Smart

Perhaps one of the best trainers on the market. Higher up the price range for this reason. Easy to move and comfortable and a good choice for the extreme cyclists who loves to train hard during turbo time!

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5. Tacx Neo 2 Smart Trainer

Tacx_Neo_2_Smart_Trainer

Another Tacx added to the list as these are one of the top manufacturers when it comes to trainers. As you can see from the picture, a very futuristic design for a direct mount trainer. Great to use with training apps that you can download to your smartphone, tablets or laptops. Another bonus is that it is a nice quiet trainer to use too.

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6. Jet Black Z1 Fluid Pro

Jet_Black_Z1_Fluid_Pro

A great choice for someone who is after a realistic ride and wants a quiet trainer but don’t want to pay the higher price tag like other trainers.

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Why Not Train Indoors Or In Your Own Home?

So if you don’t quite feel confident or safe going outside during winter in the ice and wet, then these are a great way to train in the comfort of your own home so you don’t lose any fitness, you have it all to gain with one of these.

Or maybe your into racing and would like something you can throw in the boot of your car and quickly set up to warm up on your bike.

I love my turbo trainer and it has served me well over the last few years, I really would recommend these to everyone who is into cycling to keep up fitness or to improve fitness.

Check out some more Turbo Trainers on Amazon UK or Amazon US.

Why not leave some comments below about Turbo Trainers and share your thoughts or maybe your experience on these, or feel free to comment for any help.

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8 thoughts on “What Is A Turbo Trainer? – Cycling Training In Your Own Home”

  1. These things are amazing. My father got one for his bike from my uncle from Austria just a few months ago so that he can exercise his legs (knee problems) at home using his own bike. Long story short, he’s freaking out how he didn’t find turbo trainer before! Have you used any of these trainers? And which one would you recommend? Thanks!

    1. Hi Ivan, cycling is great to help our with the knees and he sounds like me about how he didn’t know about turbo trainers. The one I have is the Tacx booster trainer and I’ve had this one for years now and still works perfect for me. In terms of recommendations, I would need to know how advanced you are, budget and how much you plan to use the trainer? That would give me a better idea to what is suited for you.

  2. I had no idea these existed! What a great idea as you can use them for when it’s winter. I am not into cycling, but if I was I would totally use this! Which one is your favourite?

    1. Thank you Anna. They are a great piece of kit. My favourite would be the Tacx Neo 2, more to the shape looks great but also Tacx are a fantastic brand. I will be looking at these when I feel the need to upgrade myself from my current trainer.

  3. Waooh!!! This is the first time I heard about Turbo Trainer. Seems it is a great idea for cycling and fitness sport. What I like is the fact I can use it everywhere I want. Cycling at home is very fun for me, and I think the Magnetic Turbo Trainer can be perfect for me.
    Very inspiring post.
    Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks Sebastian, they are great for working out on. Seem to produce a lot of sweat on these so clearly they make you work out! If your starting out and not worries about a bit of noise then yes the magnetic turbo will be good for you.

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