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Resistance Trainer (turbo) vs. Gym exercise bike

I'm thinking of getting a turbo. But am currently wondering if it is worth the expense, or if I should just carry on with the bike machine in the gym.

I can see that the pros for a turbo are:

- You can use your race bike, so practice/get used to an aero riding position (activating/using the various core muscles that you need to maintain that)

- You can do it in the comfort of your own home

Advantages of the gym machine

- I don't have to pay extra for it

- It won't knacker the tyres on my race bike.

- It won't take up a load of space in the house, make loads of noise, which will no doubt annoy the missus

- It has a power meter, which is typically an extra (and expensive) purchase

I'm pretty short of space - no garage or shed which would be an obvious space.

So: Those of you that have turbos, have they changed your life? Are they worth the investment (I was looking at a Gist magnetic one for around the £100 mark). How indispensable is a power meter?


  • husslerhussler Posts: 237
    Turbo every time!!!

    Dont worry about power, its just another way of training, I use both Power and Heart rate in training, mainly as my turbo has power on it, but in races I only use HR and Perceived Effort.

    Power isnt the be all and end all of training, some may disagree and tell you how good they are to use and how you will train/race better... but at the end of the day its all just numbers!

    The gym bikes are completely the wrong postion and will not prepare you for riding a road bike. Unless your gona fix some road wheels to a gym bike I wouldnt bother with them and spend the £100 your gona spend on a turbo....
  • Jack,

    I have a turbo trainer and also dont have a garage or shed to put it in. It gets set up in my living room. The missus gets a bit funny about it now and again but its not particularly difficult to set it up or take it down and it folds up so it can be put away easily.

    As you mentioned, it does mean that you are sitting on your own bike and therefore get a lot more time to get used to it. Not that I have used too many gym bikes, but I did read somewhere that generally, you are not anywhere close to the position that you would be in, if on a road bike, and therefore your pedalling action will not be the same. Someone a bit more bike technical might be able to shed a bit more light on that subject.

    In respect of the power meter, I suppose it might be handy to know, but to be honest, my legs can usually tell me whether I'm working hard enough.

    As you can tell, I'm all for the turbo. Just get yourself some old towels to cover your bike. You'll never believe that your body contained that much sweat!!!
  • garyrobertsgaryroberts Posts: 869
    i too have asked myself this question. I have been looking at trainers but the fluid 2 is £180!! The gym bike is free!! And i get to watch other peeps work out, which is better than being stuck in the kitchen at home.

    I am also concerned about the tyre/wheel requirements.

    The bottom line for me is this.....

    ...if a turbo (rather than the gym bike & road practice) will make me perform better, then i MUST have one.

    Can you all recommend turbo's...because at the moment the only one i am considering the fluid 2, which is more than the £100 mentioned earlier in the thread!
  • husslerhussler Posts: 237
    I would recommend the Tacx Flow if you want a turbo with Power meter but they are around £250!

    Otherwise go for the Tacx Satori £150


    Excellent turbo, quiet, hard wearing and very good feel whilst riding ie no slipping on the bikewheel/roller etc.

    Be weary of buying a cheap turbo as they can be noisy, it will piss you off and you will dread using it.

    It will make you a better cyclist if you use a turbo over a gym bike. Plus if you get the tacx flow, you can hook up the I-magic software interface too so VR training becomes available at half the price of I-magic/cosmos turbo unit.

    If you are comparing a turbo to a gym bike then the turbo wins in every department. Most importantly you are in the incorrect position on a gym bike. This can cause injury when jumping on a road bike as you work different muscle areas.

    BUY A TURBO!!!!!!!!
  • Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    Thanks! Super answers!

    That Tacx Flow is making me drool. And it looks to be compatible with my polar HRM strap. Oh yes, I want one.

    I've probably got enough data to make the business case to the Mrs. But, will have to spend the next few days being very very nice to her, all the same
  • I used to be an ardent gym goer but have now stopped altogether. the money i save on membership goes on swiming now and little bits for tri. I have a cheap treadmill but mstly un outdoors and have recently bought turbo, I bought a tcx sirrus and was from wiggle. not too expensive really for the use i get out of it and best of all its not actually noisy!!! I worry about peeing off the neighbours winoise from the treadmill but the turbo is too quiet for them to hear!! Id really recommend it!!

    Turbos are much better than the gym bikes. i used t use gym bikes a lot but you dont get the same 'feel'.. with a turbo you get used to how your legs back neck and arms are going to feel out on the road... i.e. painful!! plus if its a sunny day and id rather be out and about i can take it off the trainer and out the door. brilliant!!

  • sfullersfuller Posts: 628
    Fluid 2 every time. I have one, its hard wearing and easy to setup and use.... has a resistance curve too so resistance is controlled by gear change. You will need a Turbo Tyre as well though, Continental is the one I would recommend. Therefore, you will prob need a spare rear wheel to fit the turbo tyre on too!
  • garyrobertsgaryroberts Posts: 869
    Fluid 2 every time. I have one, its hard wearing and easy to setup and use.... has a resistance curve too so resistance is controlled by gear change. You will need a Turbo Tyre as well though, Continental is the one I would recommend. Therefore, you will prob need a spare rear wheel to fit the turbo tyre on too!

    i thought as much.......so, in conclusion, i need to get a fluid 2 (£180), riser block (£15), rear wheel and cassette (£have no idea), and tyre (£20-30). Therefore a total of approx. £300.

    I just can't afford it [:(][:(][:(][:(][:(][:(][:(]
  • thats where my mistake is cos i havent bought trainer tyre yet. i will do thoguh. can i aska dumb question... what bits the cassette and do i really need a new one for my trainer?!!
  • garyrobertsgaryroberts Posts: 869
    the cassette is the 'cogs' part of the back wheel. I am guessing you don't get one as standard when you buy a wheel (don't know as i have never bought just a wheel)....

  • jacjac Posts: 452
    The other option, of course, is to join a tri club.

    Not sure if all do but mine hire out turbos and members can use them on bike training nights gratis.

    Personally I haven't got one yet because of the fact the club has them/ I can't really afford one/ i like to get out on the bike rain or shine.
  • sfullersfuller Posts: 628
    Conehead, you do need a turbo tyre.... otherwise you turbo will churn your road tyres up! Gumtree or ebay for cheap ones.
  • garyrobertsgaryroberts Posts: 869

    ok......let me get this straight...

    ....i definitely don't need to change tyres or wheels, as long as i fit a strong tyre i will be ok?

    ....i take your point about the riser block!

    ....what about the fancy varible resistance stuff you get with the fluid 2?? Or to put it better, should i be looking for these types of features or are they all sales crap??

    If this is true i could be turbo-ing in a day or two...[:D][:D][:D]
  • husslerhussler Posts: 237
    My first turbo was a fluid 2, I then bought the Tacx Flow, 100 times better!! I would recommend Tacx over any other brand! The Sirrus or the satori are prob the best turbos in their price bracket.

    Also you dont need to buy a riser block as it comes with the skyliner or whatever its called which is the riser.

    I use Continental Turbo tyre I have covered around 5000 miles on it and its still like new. Before I bought this tyre I used a normal cheap tyre and again it was fine lasted around 3000 miles before wearing out.

    With the Tacx trainers you calibrate the brake unit everytime you get on it and depending on what figure it comes out with it automatically adjusts the brake unit. With the fluid 2 you have to adjust the brake unit manually so it feels like your on the road, which can be annoying if your having 'one of them days'.

    Therefore I highly recommend getting the Tacx Satori for £150 (£30 cheaper than fluid 2 and Better!) from the link I posted further up!
  • Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    @conehead: I take your point about the economics. But it is also relative to how much disposable income you have! (a £1 for a millionaire is relatively a lot less than for someone on job seekers allowance) - "more money than sense" is an expression that come to mind.

    Anyway, the Mrs has come round to the idea - must have been the fine weather and the two hours of tennis this afternoon! It nicely fits the amount I have saved by not drinking this lent too[;)]

    Just need to find a good place to buy it from!
  • Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    @conehead: You were... but I am in the same boat is Gary... and planning to spend £250! So, how do I justify spending £250 rather than £99, if it isn't really going to make any difference. Answer: I have more money than sense.
  • Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    It's the Flow for me: Can't resist all those measuring devices.

    £255 from these: http://www.totalcycling.com/index.php/product/parts_accessories/turbo_trainers/TT_TACX_FLOW.html

  • I stumped up for turbo when the weather was really crap with the snow at the beginning of the year, it arrived and the snow melted.. subsequently the Turbo is still sat in my kitchen in it's box never even opened!! Nice purchase Scott well worth the money!! I have come to ask would I rather actaully cycle on the roads or indoors with the associated sweat.. but I'm lucky as a lot of cycling is my commuting (and I'm in the home counties not the big smokes[:D])

    It does beg the questions when would I use the turbo?? in the deep mid winter?

  • jacjac Posts: 452
    That's a good point Scott.

    Personally I always try and get out on my bike. If it's really crap I'll get the all-weather gear on and go out on the mountain bike.

    If you really want to turbo hire one from your local tri club.
  • sfullersfuller Posts: 628
    Turbos are well worth the money if you use them. They allow you to do specific training in specific zones, be it power/HR or whatever.... not jjust for winter use.
  • Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    I've just come back from a fantastic bike ride. The day was the warmest we've had. The wind had dropped. A lovely route through some of the most picturesque parts of the Penines. I'm fortunate enough to live in a "leisure" area - it's full of cycle routes, hiking paths, bridal ways for horses and MTBs, places to picnic, sights to see.

    So, a fantastic ride. But it isn't training. Aside from the distractions of the scenery, there are alway hills - great fun, but it is hard to concentrate on a plan. A hill will break the rhythm, the scenery makes your mind wander. So if you are trying to stress a specific aspect of your system - e.g. a lactate threshold ride, then you can't do it. I can get the heart rate up, then a descent comes along, and down the HR goes.

    So, outside for fun, fartlek type rides, and recovery/easy/getting the miles in.

    Turbo for things like power building, lactate threshold, benchmarking performance, developing concentration/mental strength.
  • Sounds sensible guys.. I've never been that scientific about my training.. can you explain more or point me in the right direction of said Turbo training sessions..

  • sfullersfuller Posts: 628
    read Joe Friels Training Bible.
  • Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    sfuller wrote:

    read Joe Friels Training Bible.

    The cyclists one, or the triathletes one!

    Or both??
  • sfullersfuller Posts: 628
    Are you a cyclist or a triathlete?
  • Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262

    I guess the question is, is there enough unique material in both of them to justify buying both?

    I'm following Jack Daniels for the running, and would like the equivalent for cycling. I've got the TI stuff for swimming. I would quite happily buy into a Tri specific one also, but not if there isn't anything new in them.
  • sfullersfuller Posts: 628
    The Triathletes Training Bible has tells you all aout how to plan for a race, race, nutrition and training. I have made a plan up from it and will be sticking to it throughout the year. Easy to understand too.
  • hbiker108hbiker108 Posts: 23
    Hiya Jack

    I bought my turbo just before xmas and its saved my life!! I bought a Tacx Sirius (after checking with my coach as i wanted a silent one). Its not silent but very quiet, I can hold a conversation and watch TV without adding extra volume and it was only just over the £100 mark from wiggle.

    Happy riding

    Hbiker x
  • Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    Well, I've ordered the Tacx Flow from TotalCycling.com. I've not bought from these before, so will see how it goes. I like to do a bit of "due diligence", especially when you see a bargain (they're a good £40 lower than most of the other online sellers - and that's the all-in price, including delivery). I contemplated chainreactioncycles.com - the web site seems to be a lot slicker - but they were £10 more. Wiggle, whom I have bought from before and are nice and reliable, were £296. TotalCycling (like ChainReaction) are in Northern Ireland, so going and shouting at them isn't really an option.

    I can cope with waiting for a few days - as my shiny new bike won't be ready until the weekend.

    The Tacx Flow is billed as an "Ergo Trainer" - which basically means that it has all the measurement gadgetry (heart, cadence, power, speed); all viewed, and resistance controlled, from a handlebar mounted display/control panel. It does require a mains outlet - so might not be too good for a garage. But as I tend to use it in the dining room (about the only room with out a wooden floor), I'll have no problems with power there.

    Looking forward to it, as so far, the cycling is something that me knee injury is allowing me to do.

    P.S. Placed the order about 10 mins ago. Received the acknowledgement email. Found how to check out an order status and it already says "dispatched". Interesting....
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