Choosing between Resistance Trainers vs Rollers… trying out the rollers!

November 23, 2008

I’ve known for a few weeks that it’s going to become less and less practical for me to get out and bike several days a week with the sub-freezing weather setting in.  Sure, I’ve gotten the hang of some of the layering and gotten a decent light for these shorter days, but even so…. it’s just not happening as often, even when I take the bike with me to the hotel.

We certainly have other cardio options.  There’s an elliptical and a recumbent bike here at home, both are nice quality and easy to use, when we’re properly motivated.  But I hate to get less “bike-seat time”, so I’ve been looking at my options for using our bikes indoors, especially after seeing Scott Lang’s Resistance Roller a few weeks ago.

So… the primary consideration as been a Resistance Trainer, the type that clamps the rear wheel skewer and lets the bike ride on a resistance wheel.  I’ve been trying to find a balance between price, value and functionality…. magnetic trainers vs fluid trainers.


Heading over to the bike shop, I wanted to see a few more of these up close and personal…. even got on a couple of demo units….. and there it was… sitting next to the r-trainers was a “Roller”….. very simply, 3 rollers that lay flat on the floor, two that the rear wheel sit on top of and spin on, and the third for the front wheel to ride against.  Hmmm…. “What’s that like?  Is it very hard to use?”  They grabbed a bike and showed us how it worked.  The LBS-guy, who does some talented things around the inside of the shop on bikes, got off to a wobbly start, but soon was spinning very smoothly.  Picture someone putting there bike up on a roller conveyor and then start pedalling…. yikes.  I watched a bit, then asked if I could give it a try.  Well… let me tell ya… I tried a few times to get underway, but each time would loose balance and ride off the side of the rollers.  I wasn’t about to let this piece of exercise equipment get the best of me, so I kept trying… unsuccessfully, I might add.  So one of the guys brought over a stand that I could hold on to while I got the pedals spinning.  After a bit, I let go and weaved back in forth on the rollers until I got things stabilized.  With good momentum going, it wasn’t hard to balance at all.  Penny gave it a shot too, but opted to remain in contact with a solid object for balance while pedaling.  As she put it, her heart was racing a thousand miles a minute…. “Well that settles it!! This is a great cardio workout!”  The intimidation factor alone will get your heart rate up!!”


What I see as “pros/cons” for the rollers:

  • Requires balance and uses the upper body and front wheel for adjustment
  • Keeps the core strength up (as part of balancing)
  • Simulates a nice “moving bike” indoors
  • Possible to fall off of and crash into something

What I see as “pros/cons” for the resistance trainer

  • Held in fixed position so that focus can be placed on the spin technique
  • Doesn’t require effort to balance (both a positive and negative)
  • Can just mindlessly spin along
  • Locks your body into an artificial position and can’t simulate “climbing” except on high-end units

Given some of these, I decided I wanted the rollers.  The challenge of the balance and keeping the body’s core “in play” was nice.  Since we do both mountain biking and road biking, I think it will be good to keep all of the muscle groups used for biking engaged.  The resistance trainer seems just bit too much like another piece of “fitness room” equipment, and I have access to enough of that type of equipment already.

With all this in mind, I ordered a set of rollers.  With any luck, it might even be suitable for transport to hotel rooms this winter.



  1. you just made a bit of a leep into the hardcore cyclist only territory – good for you!

  2. So far the rollers have worked out pretty good!

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