When it gets colder during the winter it can be difficult to want to ride outside. Not only does the snow and ice make riding on the road more difficult, but it also makes for a more dangerous riding experience. This increased risk not only applies to mountain bikers, meaning pretty much anyone cycling on the road may get hurt because of the trickier riding conditions.
One way to stay in shape during the colder months is to use an indoor trainer to get your workout. A trainer is an piece of equipment that attaches to your bike’s rear axle and presses a resistance roller against the rear wheel so you can ride in place safely. This device is great for keeping in riding shape from the comfort of your home if the trail or road you ride on is unsafe. Check out our article on the the best bike trainers.
In this article we’re going to break down some common questions about using your mountain bike on an indoor trainer, as well as list the top 5 bike trainer benefits. We’ll also explain some of the different types of of trainers and discuss popular options like Zwift. We wrap up this article by explaining how riders can get started with trainers to make sure you have all the information you need to make the most of your winter riding workouts.
Also see our article on the Horizon GR6 spin bike review.
Mountain Bike Trainers At BicyclesOnline.com.au & Amazon.com.au
If you don't have time to read the full article, here is our quick review.
Bicyclesonline.com.au have a nice range of trainers that are suitable for all types of training. Prices start at $399.95, and go all the way up to the professional range. The most popular brand is Elite. (Available at Bicyclesonline.com.au & Amazon.com.au)
PRICE RANGE (at time of writing)
$399.95 - $1399.95
Can You Use Mountain Bike (MTB) on Trainer?
While you can use a mountain bike on a trainer, you have to make sure the indoor trainer you use has the specific design made for your mountain bike. If you use a trainer that isn’t made to support the size of your mountain bike, you’re risking damaging your mountain bike.
For example, a trainer that’s designed for a road bike is going to hold the bike differently than one designed for a mountain bike. That’s why it’s so important you do your research before deciding on what trainer is best for your specific mountain bike model. The opposite is also true in that if you have a road bike you shouldn’t try and install it on a trainer designed with a mountain bike in mind.
Will a Trainer Damage My Mountain Bike (MTB)?
As long as you take your time and think about what sort of indoor trainer you need for your mountain bike, the trainer will not damage your bike. If you’re not sure which trainer is best for your type of bike, you can contact your local dealer to see what trainers they recommend for your mountain bike.
In addition to having the right trainer, you should also pay attention to the instructions that come with it that shows you how to attach your bike and use it on the trainer. That last thing you want to do is buy the right trainer for your mountain bike, only to damage you bike by not installing it properly.
Top 5 Bike Trainer Benefits
There are a number of reasons that trainers are great for bike riders who want to be able to ride throughout the year, no matter what the conditions are outside. We’ll break down the top 5 benefits of using a bike trainer so you have a better idea of why you may want to put your money towards investing in one of these devices.
Riding During Bad Weather
If you like to ride your mountain bike during the year but live in an area that experiences bad weather, an indoor trainer is a great way to stay safe while riding. It doesn’t matter if the outside conditions that are keeping you away are rain, wind, or snow, having access to an indoor trainer is the best way to keep riding despite the weather or risky road conditions outside.
You can also ride more easily at night because you don’t need to worry about visibility or potentially dangerous mountain bike paths if you’re riding on an indoor trainer. This is especially useful if you work long hours and only have time set aside to ride after work during the week.
Mountain biking may be a great way to get off the road and experience rougher terrain, but if you want to get the most from your riding, you need to look into smart trainer options. Smart trainers come with built-in power meters that help you control your power output so you can hit certain goals easier. These smart trainers are also perfect if you want to improve your pedal stroke or upper body control while hitting a certain speed.
Smart training devices are the best way to get the most from your indoor cycling because you can control certain elements like resistance to get better workouts each time you get on the trainer. Even if you only have time to get on the trainer one or two times a week, you’ll get more from the experience each time you’re finished.
It can be difficult to get the most from your cycling ride if you have to deal with other riders, pedestrians, traffic, or unexpected obstacles on the road. While dealing with all of this is part of the work of riding bikes in real world environments, it can make it hard to enjoy your ride. This is especially true if you have a specific goal in mind, such as preparing for a race or training to improve your upper body strength.
Using an indoor device to train will help you feel that you’re getting more from your training workouts. Not only will you not have to deal with the many road distractions you’ll encounter on your ride, but you have more control over your riding conditions so you can focus on specific goals while training.
Convenient Cycling Experience
If you’ve spent a lot of time planning bike rides outdoors you know how time consuming it can be. From picking a trail or road to ride, to finding the right weather conditions that will work, it can feel like most of your training or riding time is spent just getting ready to go.
In contrast to all of that work, using an indoor bike trainer means you can start cycling is less time from the comfort of your home. Your body will still benefit from the training session but you won’t need to spend so long just trying to get the many circumstances just right for the ride.
Improve Your Cycling Technique
Whether you ride a mountain bike or a gravel bike, you need to spend the time fine-tuning your technique to get the most from each ride. Not only will you feel better after each riding session, but you’ll exert less energy on the path or road because you’ll know how to ride better for the best workout results.
Using a trainer to train helps you focus in on areas you should improve so you can see improved results. Whether that means increasing your specific speed, focusing your power, or fixing your pedal stroke, having a trainer to hone your technique makes all that sweat worth it.
What Different Types of Trainers Are There?
When you’re looking for a trainer for your mountain bike, you’ll likely be surprised by the number of different options that are available depending on how you want your trainer to be used. To help you keep all of this straight, we’re going to break down the popular trainers you can get, as well as provide a brief summary of what you can expect from the trainers.
A fluid trainer provides riders with progressive resistance along with a quieter experience than other types of trainers. This trainer is often considered superior to magnetic trainers because it offers an improved resistance system to help you train more effectively. The downside to this type of bike trainer is that it costs more than the magnetic alternative, requiring you to put more of an investment into the device.
Direct Drive Trainers
When you attach your bike to a direct drive trainer you have to remove the rear wheel so you can attach the bike to the unit. While direct drive trainers are the most accurate, they are also the most expensive type of trainer you can buy. The reason the direct drive trainers cost more is because they provide the highest level of resistance when compared to other options. This resistance is one of the reasons people like this type of device because it provides one of the best workout sessions for indoor riding.
Rollers have drums that are used to balance your bike in place as you ride on the trainer. On the rollers, one cylinder sits under your front wheel, while the remaining two cylinders sit around your rear wheel. As you pedal your bike the wheels and cylinders turn together, giving you an indoor workout you can enjoy. Rollers provide a suspension that is popular among mountain bikers because it gives you the more real world workout without being outdoors.
Rear Wheel Attachment Trainers
In a rear wheel attachment trainer you have a skewer that passes through your rear wheel. This skewer locks the wheel into place and presses the wheel against a cylinder that provides you with the resistance through either magnets or fluids. This type of trainer is less expensive than other models, giving you a way to train for a race or do speed training without spending too much money.
Should I Use Zwift for Indoor Training?
While a lot of riders think that trainers are mostly for road bike users, mountain bikers can benefit from the right trainer if used properly. Having the proper trainer has helped many different riders with their training, as well as given them a way to be in front of their bike when they’re unable to be on the trail or road.
To see even more of a benefit from training efforts, you can invest in Zwift, an online training program that is designed to help you with your power output and riding technique while on the trail. Zwift is also perfect for staying in shape during harsher riding conditions when the road isn’t as safe to be on because you can’t see in front of you as well.
Zwift is designed to function like a video game, showing you a virtual screen that displays your riding avatar as you ride. A few specific features of this training program include a smart trainer that controls certain elements of your ride, a race mode that pits you against other bikes to see how well you ride, and a goal system that helps you reach specific goals such as improved power or wheel control.
Some reasons you should consider investing in Zwift for your training include the following:
- Zwift smart trainer will measure your power output for more accurate training results
- It’s easier to put in the time during the week to do training with Zwift
- Training with Zwift helps you hone your power and see more from your efforts
- Taking part in a Zwift race is a fun way to compete against a friend or two who rides bikes
- Training with Zwift is like playing a video game while exercising
- The Zwift social community is very active and engaging
- Zwift lets you see your training efforts directly through the program
What Accessories Do I Need to Use a Mountain Bike (MTB) Trainer?
There are a few different accessories you should invest in to provide the most results from your efforts. While most of these are things you likely have around your home, there are a couple items you’ll likely have to purchase before you set a training schedule for your week.
Some of the common items you should consider having on hand include a large fan, a towel or two for the sweat, a container so you have fluid at hand to stay hydrated, mats to catch the sweat, and exercise clothes. A few specialty items that’s worth having include two wheel blocks, a thru-axle adapter, and a set power source near your workout area.
You should also consider any custom bike parts such as custom mountain bike handlebars or pedals.
How Do I Get Started with Indoor Training?
To start training indoors you have to make sure you have the space required for the trainer with the bike’s suspension set up and installed. If you plan on having two bikes next to each other, you will have to ensure you have the space next to each other to train properly without the bikes being too close together. Usually a room on the main floor is best because you won’t have to worry about carrying the bikes upstairs to install them on the trainers.
Once you have the equipment for your indoor training, you have to decide when during the week is best to set aside for training sessions. While it’s easier to ride an indoor trainer than planning a time to hit the trail outdoors, your efforts are wasted if you can’t be consistent with your exercise schedule. Even if you plan a power session to drive yourself for 45 minutes a night you’ll quickly discover how beneficial it can be for your form and strength.
Investing in the proper indoor trainer is great for staying in shape during the off season for cycling. Not only do you not have to deal with distractions while on your bike, but you can keep training when the weather turns cold or unsafe to ride on. There are also a number of useful apps and programs that can take your training sessions to the next level.
You just have to ensure that you do your research beforehand so that you have the right equipment for your mountain bike. However, once you have your indoor cycling room all set up, you have one of the best ways to stay fit while honing your technique for the warmer weather.