Trainer on a budget

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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Joined: 14 Dec 2020, 3:43pm

Trainer on a budget

Postby stu92 » 14 Dec 2020, 3:56pm

Hi all,

Relative newbie to road cycling and first post on this forum! I am wanting to increase my cycling next year and am taking part in a charity challenge to cycle 10k every day for a year. I am due to move pretty close to my work in the next few weeks, meaning my commuting distance is now quite small, and I also live in the west of Scotland where weather isn't great for large chunks of the year. I'm therefore looking to get a trainer set up to supplement the outdoor training.

I don't need anything that is all singing, all dancing, but I would like a relative degree of accuracy. I've been recommended something like this ( with a speed sensor like this ( to allow me to do Zwift races/log rides on Strava, etc. Is this all I need, or to get the distances accurate (less concerned about time, effort, etc) will I need to splash out more?

Your advice would be much appreciated!

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Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 10:01pm
Location: North Hertfordshire

Re: Trainer on a budget

Postby drossall » 14 Dec 2020, 6:17pm

As I suspect you know, trainers divide broadly into smart ones that can receive feedback from Zwift etc. - allowing Zwift or whatever to control the trainer and simulate hills by making pedalling harder - and dumb ones that either have constant resistance, or have some kind of knob or lever allowing you to change it manually. Then you have wheel-on trainers, like that one, where you use a whole bike, and wheel-off trainers where you remove your rear wheel, and fit your bike instead onto a cassette attached to the trainer, so that the bike is driving the trainer directly. Wheel-off trainers tend to be high-end, so are always smart.

I've had very good results with a dumb trainer not unlike that one. Mine's actually an Elite, but similar features. You need a speed sensor, a cadence sensor (both combined in the unit to which you linked) and, especially for Zwift racing, a heart-rate monitor - I don't think you're allowed to start many events without one of the latter.

A power meter, if you can get one, is much preferable to a speed sensor (you don't need/can't use both at the same time). I started with the speed sensor, but Zwift fundamentally works on power, so it has to estimate your power from speed and knowledge of which trainer you have. In my case, when someone helped me out and let me have an old power-meter wheel, my power nearly doubled overnight for no extra effort! As far as I can gather that's exceptional, so by all means try with the speed sensor. In my possibly-exceptional case, though, a lot of frustration with going far slower than IRL (in real life) suddenly went away. Now I go somewhat faster than IRL, I suspect :-)

Someone will be along soon to tell you that a smart trainer is essential. That's not my experience. I've spent a fair bit on bikes over the years, though mine are now older (mostly steel). I feel no impulse to spend £500 or whatever on a set-up to ride to nowhere, even though I'm actually quite hooked on Zwift.

Just one more remark if you're on a budget. Trainers have been in enormous demand in lockdown. If you want to consider it, as lockdown eases and, in the coming months, the weather begins to improve, you'd expect there to be quite a lot of cheap second-hand gear around.

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Location: South Birmingham

Re: Trainer on a budget

Postby rmurphy195 » 17 Dec 2020, 4:46pm

I recently bought a Minoura dumb trainer, with a magnetic adjustable drag thingy. And a cheap wireless speedo which I run from the back wheel. That might be a bit basic for your needs, but on the other hand it is budeget priced (about £120 for the whole setup, new). Couldn't find a used trainer at a sensible price at all, and had to resort to internet purchase because of the current shortage!

One or two things did occur about smart trainers - there are some with a cassette fitted so you don't use your own wheel. I think its termed "wheel-off". But consider how your chain wears-in to your sprockets, or alternativley into the sprockets on the trainer, unless you move your cassette across in which case how would you use your bike without a lot of faffing? (Same applies to the tyre of course, but I accepted a compromise so I can use the bike on the trainer and on the road)
Brompton, Condor Heritage, creaky joints and thinning white (formerly grey) hair
""You know you're getting old when it's easier to ride a bike than to get on and off it" - quote from observant jogger !