For those of us that live in cooler/cold weather climates, we often need to make adjustments to our riding plans during the coolest and potentially wet, frozen, and slippery times of the year. I’ll be the first one to admit that winters entrance doesn’t need to send us deep into hibernation but it certainly causes us to think longer and harder about venturing outdoors. As I compose this article, the thermometer reads 40F (4c). Now some of you would say that is chilly and you would be correct. Appropriately dressed, the temperature is very bearable even on a bike at 20 MpH (32 KpH). The issue with a trek outdoors is the rest of the forecast. The sky is slate gray with winds from the east gusting to 15 MpH (24 KpH). A winter weather advisory warns of accumulating snow and the radar picture details the precipitation stretching from the Canadian border to Texas.
When it is all said and done, today, tomorrow, and the rest of the week do not offer what I would call, optimal riding conditions. Thanks to circumstances like these, we find a way to ride inside.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of indoor riding. Nothing offers the same experience as a being atop your ride among the elements. As I mentioned in my first post, there is nothing like two wheels, pavement, and pedals. When forced to ride indoors I leverage two different platforms. The first is a traditional trainer. In my case, a Kinetic Road Machine. Road machine was my first training. It offers a fluid-based resistance design and performs well under the most demanding conditions. Since I first purchased the road machine, the company has added new capabilities to my trainer in addition to several new offerings. As you might expect these platforms are smarter and enable connectivity to smartphone applications and riding platforms such as Zwift and TrainerRoad. The Road Machine is a solid platform and is reasonably priced which may be what the occasional indoor rider in looking to invest.
As my riding skill improved, I found myself looking for an alternative to augment my Road Machine. My local bike shop turned my on to rollers. You may recall, I mentioned these in my last blog post. Rollers offer an entirely different type of indoor ride experience. Unlike the fixed rear wheel configuration of most traditional trainers, rollers all the rider to ride more naturally. Yes, by that I mean, both wheels are spinning. Yikes! Imagine that you are in your basement, workout room, or maybe even you garage. Your bike is configured just as it would be to ride outdoors. Before you is a device that allows you to ride is a manner most like you would outdoors. It takes a little practice, and you probably want to clear the immediate area of anything that could hurt you in the event of a fall from your saddle. Don’t be discouraged if at first, you struggle. With a little persistence and a desire to succeed you will find your rhythm. Once you do? Whoa! Pedals engaged, wheels spinning, and even a little side-to-side shifting as you work through your gears.
Enough of the build-up? These are the rollers.
The team at Inside Ride have developed and produced this product under the name eMotion rollers. The early versions of the product were strictly stand-alone offerings, but with the availability of smartphone applications and on-line riding platforms, as mentioned above, the roller platform has evolved to enable integrated and realistic riding experiences. I believe eMotion rollers were the first product of the sort when first introduced. There are several offerings on the market today, including one from Kinetic known as Z-Rollers. I don’t have first-hand experience with the others, and I can tell you the I love my eMotion rig. There are lots of options and price points. As with any purchase, do your research and make the choice that is best for you and your riding needs.
Another consideration for the indoor rider is a smart trainer. Similar to the first option we discussed these trainers make use of a stationary configuration. Unlike the traditional trainer, these incorporate smart technologies that mimic real riding conditions especially when paired with riding platforms like Zwift and TrainerRoad. I’ve just started my research on these trainers, but I’m impressed with the offerings I have looked at to date. One that stands out is the Wahoo Fitness Kickr.
The Kickr integrates an automated electromagnetic resistance control with ANT+ and Bluetooth communications capabilities that track speed, cadence, power, and distance. The platform is the most expensive of the three discussed in this article. List price, according to the WahooFitness website is $1,199.99 for the unit. Bundles are also available for added costs. By comparison, the eMotion rollers will set you back $900 for the core unit. Smart resistance capabilities can be added for an additional charge. All in, the rollers and the Kickr platform are at the same price point. The Road Machine, as discussed and configured above, will cost approximately $349.00. Kinetic offers a smart trainer with advanced features similar to that of the Kickr known as Rock and Roll which retails for $849.00 for the base configuration.
So there you have it. Options for the insider rider are numerous. Whatever you choose, look into the ride platforms (Zwift and TrainerRoad) I mentioned earlier. You will enjoy indoor riding more than looking at a cement wall, listening to tunes, or watching a movie or some other unrelated video. Zwift and TrainerRoad will get you engaged and riding socially with your mates along some stunning roadways. Wait until these apps figure out the whole virtual reality experience. It will be stunning if not a little nerve-wracking. Interested in seeing the state of VR for stationary cycling? Check out this video from DC Rainmaker at CES 2017.
Until next time…
As individuals, we have to continuously move with forward motion, never looking back. Our future is molded by our actions today. What we did yesterday is in the past, let it go, don’t forget about it, and carry on.