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  1. #1
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    Indoor trainer questions

    Thinking about setting up an indoor trainer “pain cave”, have some questions as I know nothing about them. Have searched a bit and there is some info but didn’t find what I was looking for.


    Do any of the apps or programs have the ability to upload your local trails, or those that you select to add? (Thinking it would be cool to pre-ride local trails or something I hope to ride on the trainer when weather isn’t good)


    Thinking direct drive trainer maybe TAC-X or Wahoo Kicker, but no way to try either locally that I am aware of. Any big differences or reason for either other than price/availability?

    What bike? I have FS mountain bikes, and have read that you should lock out the suspension. Leaning towards getting a road bike to use on it, but wondering what others have done. Do you get a POS road bike and only use on trainer, or a decent road bike and use for trainer in winter, then have something to ride on pavement if you want to?

    I would like whatever the eventual setup is to be able to add these miles to my yearly totals on tracking apps like Strava or garmin connect. Anything special needed?

  2. #2
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    I can't speak to the newer trainer tech, but I have a dedicated trainer bike, mine is a late 80s Specialized Allez with 600ultegra, it works great as the trainer bike.
    If you go that route and era, look for Japan built steel bikes with Shimano 105 or 600Ultegra, which are really solid low maintenance groups, and you'll get used to the downtube shifters. Other than Specialized, look for Miyata, Nishiki, the Dave Scott Ironman bikes, - and there's lots of other interesting low-value stuff around.
    skidding is the signature of the novice; learn how to use your brakes.

  3. #3
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    The DC Rainmaker website will answer all questions with in depth unbiased reviews of all sports tech, particularly trainers, training apps etc.

    An appropriate Garmin Edge will allow you to ride courses you have ridden and recorded on the Edge using the elevation profile to control resistance. There are apps that will do similar.

    I use one of my two road bikes on the trainer. In the past I used an old bike on the trainer but have since cut down my stable and just use my backup road bike. It's up to you to decide if you want to get a old cheap bike for the trainer or use a decent road bike that could double for road riding. Getting both wouldn't be a bad idea either.
    Do the math.

  4. #4
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    Yeah DC Rainmaker has all the answers. I use the Wahoo Kickr Core, its a great unit but it is known to fail. I've been using one for roughly 6 months and have sent 1 back for warranty because it wasn't registering speed/power. I have a hard time recommending it because of the known problem it has, but I would have to say that Wahoo's warranty department is the best in the business. I'm not sure if zwift uploads to strava, but I know trainerroad does.

  5. #5
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    Spent a bit of time on DCR’s site, thanks for the suggestions. Not sure yet exactly what I want, but leaning in a direction that I think will work out. Probably be a little learning curve getting it all setup right, but looking forward to doing it.

  6. #6
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    I have a wahoo kickr core. Bought a cheap trainer first. Running it with an old 2004 mountain bike. If you are doing wheel on you need a trainer tire or road tire.

    Knobbies would be terrible.

  7. #7
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    My current thought is to get the TAC-X smart, that seems to be what DCR recommended and uses himself. Plus i have lots of garmin stuff and have had really good luck so far with it. Already have a few fans and flat screens I can use.

    Now it is down to what bike... I know that a MTB can work but my thought is to buy a decent road bike, and use it on the trainer, then I can take it outside when weather is good also. There are several miles of paved trails around so I wouldn’t actually ride on the road. IF I went cheapo bike on trainer, I will still have to pull it off so my wife can use the setup occasionally with her bike, and I would be less likely to ever ride it outside.

    probably overthinking it...

  8. #8
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    Wheel-on trainers can certainly work well. You need a slick tire to ensure smooth adequate friction against the roller, and the usual recommendation is one that is trainer specific, or at least a tire you dedicate to trainer use as use on the trainer can cause the plies to come apart. Some will use their used road tire on the trainer over the winter and put a new tire on in the spring before going back out on the road. Others might have two rear wheels set up with tires, one for use on the trainer and the other for on the road. Having a dedicated trainer obviates tire/wheel swapping considerations.

    The friction of the tire against the roller is important to minimize slipping during hard efforts. Also, the rolling resistance of the tire against the roller is a significant part of the total resistance and is variable depending on tire pressure, roller pressure, and tire temperature. The usual drill is to ride the trainer for 5-10 minutes before each session to heat up the tire, and then do a roll-down calibration which the software used to determine and include the rolling resistance in setting resistance and determining power.

    Direct drive trainers are a significant simplification over all of this, and tend to be quieter as well.

    I'm using a Cycleops (Saris) Hammer direct drive trainer.
    Do the math.

  9. #9
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    I'd recommend getting a beater bike to be dedicated to the trainer. Use whatever app you want (Trainerroad is a good choice) and just follow their workout plans. If it is just a "pain cave" for the purpose of getting stronger, don't worry about simulating your local trails. Just get in, do the prescribed workout, and be done with it.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    I'd recommend getting a beater bike to be dedicated to the trainer. Use whatever app you want (Trainerroad is a good choice) and just follow their workout plans. If it is just a "pain cave" for the purpose of getting stronger, don't worry about simulating your local trails. Just get in, do the prescribed workout, and be done with it.
    This is great advice.

    A trainer bike gets pretty beat up. My CX bike was mainly my trainer bike. I've replaced more bearings on my that bike than any of my other bikes. Don't put a bike you plan to race or ride often on your trainer.

    If you're serious about training, get a wheel off trainer and sign up for trainerroad and follow the plans. You will get faster.

  11. #11
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    I actually just received my Elite Suito trainer. It was 10% off $799 so not bad for a good quality wheel off trainer. I basically got one to train over the winter and get in even better shape for my mountain biking. I am using the Trek Checkpoint AL4 I got a couple of months ago. I do road ride with it too and did my first gravel ride today. The Suito came with a free month of Zwift so I will be using that for now. Had to get a 10 speed cassette to use with my bike. The Suito came with an 11 speed cassette.

  12. #12
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    I went through this 15 years ago when there was less options.

    I got a nice road bike first, then rollers (Krietler), and then trainer (1UPUSA). Then I went from MTBing only to road group rides, and eventually road races/crits (raced enough to upgrade to Cat 3). The road group rides and races is where I saw the most benefit, it's a pretty fun world there.

    The trainer is nice for my wife to use and for warming up for races. Looking back and as much as I integrate cross training last several winters, I probably shouldn't have gotten the rollers. Of course I prefer the rollers over the trainer but considering cost/benefit, it really isn't worth it.

  13. #13
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    Going to look at a couple bikes this week. Sidewalk nailed it the important thing for me is to be stronger next season. Want to get it all setup so I can get into some type of routine once the trails start to close around me.

  14. #14
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    Stronger next season? Do a structured training plan using erg mode on a smart trainer. I like Trainerroad the best for that, but Zwift has training plans as well. The Zwift plans are a little wack, but still work OK. I used to use both, Trainerroad for structured training and Zwift for just riding in slope mode. I just use Zwift now.

    Erg mode is where the power controlled by the trainer irrespective of cadence or gear. Usually you don't shift in erg mode. There is no cheating as if you ease up, the resistance increases to compensate. This is the most effective training method IMO.

    Slope mode is where the trainer resistance is base on the grade of the terrain to simulate actual riding and you shift as you normally would.
    Do the math.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    Stronger next season? Do a structured training plan using erg mode on a smart trainer. I like Trainerroad the best for that, but Zwift has training plans as well. The Zwift plans are a little wack, but still work OK. I used to use both, Trainerroad for structured training and Zwift for just riding in slope mode. I just use Zwift now.
    What do the Trainer Road plans look like? It's hard to find any info on them online. I'm sure I can get a trial code, but haven't gotten around to that yet. I've seen Sufferfest plans and they're pretty bad so I was kinda skeptical of canned plans made by app developers.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodninja View Post
    What do the Trainer Road plans look like? It's hard to find any info on them online. I'm sure I can get a trial code, but haven't gotten around to that yet. I've seen Sufferfest plans and they're pretty bad so I was kinda skeptical of canned plans made by app developers.
    They are good. Its easy to match structure to you goals and power demands/weaknesses. They feature a Base, Build, and Specialty(approaching/in race season) They also offer a pretty good interactive training calendar.

    Its much more scientific than most all of the plans in Zwift. Many of them arent intense enough or are just overly hard for the sake of being hard with no strategy at all.

    There are some good plans on Zwift, but not that many good MTB plans. You get the ability to do Races, group workouts and have something to watch. the "build me up" plan is good, but it is not very flexible and that makes it very annoying to implement if you travel or ride outside a lot.

    I really enjoy climbing in zwift for some reason. They have a replica of Alpe d'Huez, that I go up. Its actually what I did my last 20Min Test on. They time every switchback so it gives you some real time feedback. Its more strava-ized..competing for segments and against people (races). While trainer road is all down to business.

    The cool thing is you can run Trainer road on IOS and just stream youtube on TV while you ride.



    My wife and I put a 250 dollar used road bike on the trainer with older 105. My Father in law bought a 300 dollar used Scott hardtail. I'd say get a bike that fills a gao you have where you could ride it in a pinch.

    Other advise if to throw a dropper seatpost, or have an extra seatpost and saddle for your Signifigant other to also be able to ride it. If you try trainer road, you guys could have zwift as well, or he/she could.

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  17. #17
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    ^^^ yeah. Basically, among the tons of plans listed, you choose a plan that fits your goals and schedule. It'll give you 3 or more rides a week that vary from 1hr to 2+ hours each. Each ride is different but basically has a warmup, intervals of various duration/intensity/reps and a cool down. They target specific physiological adaptations in a coordinated way. Normally, you start out a plan with an abbreviated FTP test to establish a starting point and the resistance level all the plan's workouts are based on. At the end, you do another FTP test to quantify progress. During workouts, all you see on the screen is the graph of the workout, your progress along along it with power, cadence, HR plotted. Messages come up on the screen describing the goal of the session, what's it's targeting, interesting anecdotes, target cadence, etc...

    Plans and workouts in Zwift are very similar, though during a workout you're riding in the virtual world. Resistance is based on the workout, not the virtual terrain. You can tell what riders in the virtual world are doing workouts because they have a virtual screen floating in front of their bikes as they ride. Times I'm on Zwift it seems half the riders on doing workouts. Zwift's plans and workouts do seem pretty wack compared to other apps. There's a lot more seemingly random variation within each workout than any other app has.
    Do the math.

  18. #18
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    Another thing to add here is that Training Peaks workouts feed into Zwift (not sure about TR) so if you get/have a coach or even a canned plan on/through Training Peaks it'll push the workouts to Zwift.

    Google isn't too helpful but it looks like worst case you can export/import to TrainerRoad. Anecdotal but most of my base workouts are more or less the same and adjusting them is super simple in TR - far better workout creator tool imo.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodninja View Post
    What do the Trainer Road plans look like? It's hard to find any info on them online. I'm sure I can get a trial code, but haven't gotten around to that yet. I've seen Sufferfest plans and they're pretty bad so I was kinda skeptical of canned plans made by app developers.
    I've got a couple codes to try TrainerRoad if you're interested.

    I'm completely sold on the TR system, it's transformed my riding and racing. The ROI in terms of time and expense is a no-brainer if you want to get faster. I actually look forward to training now...well, most of the time -- not when there are long, hard intervals on the schedule.

    For equipment, I use a dedicated bike on a Wahoo Kickr with a Kreitler fork stand. It's an old Santa Cruz Tallboy LT with a carbon fork, 2x10 drivetrain, and aerobars -- it's quite the eye-sore but it works.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoahColorado View Post
    I've got a couple codes to try TrainerRoad if you're interested.

    I'm completely sold on the TR system, it's transformed my riding and racing. The ROI in terms of time and expense is a no-brainer if you want to get faster. I actually look forward to training now...well, most of the time -- not when there are long, hard intervals on the schedule.

    For equipment, I use a dedicated bike on a Wahoo Kickr with a Kreitler fork stand. It's an old Santa Cruz Tallboy LT with a carbon fork, 2x10 drivetrain, and aerobars -- it's quite the eye-sore but it works.
    I would be I'm trying to decide on what ecosystem to use for gravity based workouts.

    Sent from my SM-N975U1 using Tapatalk

  21. #21
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    I also highly recommend trainerroad it takes all the thinking out of training you just have to do the work. And I have a few referral codes for anyone interested, PM me if interested. I think the prices have recently gone up from $15 to $20 a month, but its well worth it if you're a time crunched cyclist.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Train Wreck View Post
    I also highly recommend trainerroad it takes all the thinking out of training you just have to do the work...
    Agree TR is very good, but that's pretty much true for all these apps. Once you select the plan, you just get on the bike and do the workout, and in erg mode, that means just pedal at the specified cadence.

    And most all these apps will automatically upload your ride data to whatever platform you use to log and analyze it.
    Do the math.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoahColorado View Post
    I've got a couple codes to try TrainerRoad if you're interested.
    Sure, if you can spare one!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by tuckerjt07 View Post
    I would be I'm trying to decide on what ecosystem to use for gravity based workouts.
    Quote Originally Posted by bloodninja View Post
    Sure, if you can spare one!
    Send me a DM with your full name and e-mail. It's good for one free month.

    They have a "Gravity" plan for the specialty phase, BTW. If you're unfamiliar, with TR you go through base, build, and specialty phases. All-in, that's 28 weeks.
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  25. #25
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    I also have two referrals available for anyone interested. Like NoahC said, DM me a full name and an email.

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    slightly off topic - when using Trainer Road, Zwift, etc, is anyone using Training Peaks as the stand-alone tool for tracking all workouts, whether online or real world? I seem to recall that it will track HR TSS as well as other tools and is a pretty comprehensive program but haven't used in a few years.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuck D View Post
    slightly off topic - when using Trainer Road, Zwift, etc, is anyone using Training Peaks as the stand-alone tool for tracking all workouts, whether online or real world? I seem to recall that it will track HR TSS as well as other tools and is a pretty comprehensive program but haven't used in a few years.
    Yes, I use it to track and aggregate everything, including all rides, inside and out, strength training, walking with the dog, and my Whoop uploads my daily recovery and sleep data to it. It's pretty nifty and capable.


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  28. #28
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    I like training peaks, did the trial and paid for 1 month. Its a great service, I just couldn't justify spending $20 a month for the premium service. If it were like $50 for the year I'd definitely get on board.

  29. #29
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    Speaking of trainers, and this is a bit off topic, but Zwift is now experimenting with Singletrack and steering. They have a couple miles of ST on the Watopia Course and it uses the accelerometer in your smart phone to sense steering efforts....Its surprisingly cool...Hopefully they will add more ST or even a complete ST course in the future.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuck D View Post
    slightly off topic - when using Trainer Road, Zwift, etc, is anyone using Training Peaks as the stand-alone tool for tracking all workouts, whether online or real world? I seem to recall that it will track HR TSS as well as other tools and is a pretty comprehensive program but haven't used in a few years.
    Trainer Road now has a tool built in that is similar to TP. I was using TP, but dropped it for trainer road's tool as it's just as good, and included.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuck D View Post
    slightly off topic - when using Trainer Road, Zwift, etc, is anyone using Training Peaks as the stand-alone tool for tracking all workouts, whether online or real world? I seem to recall that it will track HR TSS as well as other tools and is a pretty comprehensive program but haven't used in a few years.
    That's on topic.

    Trainer road is quickly getting to be a replacement for Training peaks or at least very close.
    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Disney's Frozen Head View Post
    Another thing to add here is that Training Peaks workouts feed into Zwift (not sure about TR) so if you get/have a coach or even a canned plan on/through Training Peaks it'll push the workouts to Zwift.

    Google isn't too helpful but it looks like worst case you can export/import to TrainerRoad. Anecdotal but most of my base workouts are more or less the same and adjusting them is super simple in TR - far better workout creator tool imo.
    You can also build your own.

    My issues is I am IOS based with apple TV and havent quite tested the functionality, but I know it can be done

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrIoRb4aOkU

    This covers Training peaks and pushing straight to IOS.

    with Training peaks, custom workouts show up IF you have put them into your calendar on training peaks but only on that day. I may go this route to drop workouts in for my wife.

    I'm on the road working and she's at home doing the structure getting stronger and stronger. Her Threshold is 250+ now

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