The advantage of having a turbo trainer is to continue cycling when outdoor conditions make this difficult. They allow you to stay indoors and simulate going for a bike ride without any risk of getting wet, frost bite, punctures, lost, knocked off or any of the usual hazards associated with cycling at night in the English winter.
Types of indoor trainer
There is quite a good choice these days but most are the turbo trainer, like the Tacx Blue Matic T2650 featured here.
There are various versions but all lift the rear wheel and provide some form of resistance. The resistance on basic versions is a fan but these can be noisy and worth bearing in mind if you have neighbours close by. A noisy fan makes it more difficult to listen to music, watch TV etc. Next up is the magnetic type, such as the T2650 and where magnets can vary the level of resistance. More upmarket models have a fluid or gel based resistance which feels more road-like.
Alternatively rollers do simulate real cycling with the front wheel having it’s own roller which is turned by means of a pulley coming from the rear. Balancing on these requires a bit of practice! There is less scope for using any resistance and arguably less useful for some training objectives. Cyclists who do master this say they like it but it does depend on what you are trying to achieve i.e. balance, self awareness, endurance, spinning, high speed cadence and so on.
The Tacx Blue Matic T2650
The Blue Matic is widely available through LBS and chains such as Evans, Wiggle etc. Made in Holland by the well established Tacx company this model is modest in the range. The normal RRP is £159.99 but Evans were discounting it by 20% a few weeks ago. My LBS kindly agreed to match this price and so the deal was done for under £130.
Assembly is, I thought a bit fiddly but at least there’s not much to do. The instructions are multi-lingual and a little cryptic. Helpfully a hub quick release squewer which gives a good fit for the unit’s hub clamps. The actual mounting of the bike into the frame is fairly straightforward but it’s worth taking time to get it just right.
There is a way of adjusting the tension of the roller against the tyre. Too much and the tyre will wear too quickly, too loose and the tyre won’t grip. On this point, I think there is a slight problem. The roller is a smooth polished metal which does not grip the tyre terribly well; this shows itself when pedalling in a fairly high gear and start pushing hard. This can be dealt with by adjusting the tension but eliminating the slippage will increase tyre wear and but undue pressure into the smooth running bearings.
The trainer comes with a means of adjusting the resistance. There is a handlebar fitting lever which in turn is connected by means of a cable to the flywheel housing. It gives an excellent range of resistances which is useful.
The Tacx Blue Matic is fairly stable but not completely rigid. It is only if you were doing a stimulated sprint finish you might get a little movement but it is well within reasonable limits.
I am really pleased I have got this trainer. It should give many years (winters) of good exercise in the garage and while far from being the top of the range or perfect, it is priced fairly modestly (compared to some) and is enjoyable to use. Like many of these training aids, they’re only as good as they are in use.
One more thing, there is a CD-ROM included in the box. Not sure what that is about as yet but I’ll blog about that later on,