Winter is approaching, which means no more after-work sunset cycles on your favourite cycling routes – unless you are hardcore. But who wants to cycle in the dark and potentially icy patches of road?
There is another option though, the indoor bike roller. These allow you to use your current bike to cycle indoors. You simply place your bike on the rollers and pedal, though they do take some getting used to.
Who are bike rollers for?
Bike rollers are for anyone looking to keep up their cycling fitness levels during the winter months or for people who don’t fancy road cycling during high traffic times.
Bike rollers are also used by amateur and professional cyclists for warm-ups before races, generally because they can be easily transported.
Indoor Bike Trainer V Indoor Bike Roller
An indoor bike trainer is a larger machine that locks your bike in place. You usually have to remove the back wheel on the bike and attach the drivetrain to the trainer. These are more stable, but obviously take a lot longer to set up.
How much does a good bike roller cost?
You are looking at around £150 for a decent product. They are much cheaper than a high-end bike traniner.
Types of Bike Rollers
Conventional Bike Roller
A conventional bike roller is simply a basic rolling machine that you ride on, with no other features. These are the cheapest option.
Resistance Bike Rollers
As the name suggests, these biker rollers let you adjust the resistance of the rollers to suit your training.
Smart Bike Rollers
Like all modern exercise gear, smart rollers have progressed with technology too. You can now buy smart bike rollers that connect to an app on your smartphone to measure distance, time etc.
Let’s look at some of the bike rollers available in the UK. The 2 main sites I have looked at are Amazon UK and Wiggle.co.uk
Best quiet bike roller for flats/apartments
Tacx specialises in cycling gear and have been around since the 50s. They have sell a range of cycling trainers and boast about being the first to implement electronics onto bike trainers in 2000. Tacx are the technical partners for some serious cycling teams, so you are not buying a cheap Chinese-made roller. All their products are manufactured in the Netherlands.
The Tacx bike roller is a conventional roller with no resistance settings. This bike roller boasts a ‘real road feel’ and offer a super-smooth gliding motion. The machines weights 8kg and is easy to maneuver and feels stable. The bike roller size is 36 x 12.5 x 7.5 cm, so very easy to store and perfect if you live in a flat – and don’t worry this machine is quiet as a mouse so your neighbours will not hear a thing.
This product has 47 reviews on Amazon, 66% giving the product 4-5 stars.
Elite are an Italian based company who have been making cycling trainers for 40 years. They produce a good range of low cost bike rollers and high-tech trainers.
The Elite Arion Home Roller is similar to the Tacx product, a conventional roller with no way of changing the resistance – there is still some resistance built into the rollers to feel like road.
Elite have designed the actual rollers with a parabolic shape which forces your bike to the centre of the machine when you are cycling, keeping you stable and making the ride as smooth as possible. The rollers can also be adjusted back and forth to fit any type of bike or frame, it can also be used by kids to help with their balance.
This bike roller is very lightweight at only 10KG and can be folded for storing in cupboards or the boot of a hatchback if taking it to a cycling competition for a warm up.
The Elite Arion Home Trainer can also be connected via Bluetooth to their app via Bluetooth. Elite have a monthly subscription package where all your stats can be monitored and stored.
Lifeline is a Wiggle brand which distribute cycling accessories. The RT-01 bike roller is a standard conventional roller weighing 8.5kG.
This bike roller can be folded up, so makes it very easy to store and set up anywhere you like. When folded up the dimensions measure 71x51x28 cms, perfect for a standard cupboard.
The roller will suit any bike wheel and they are adjustable, you simply slide the roller into the desired position and lock in place. It can also handle a max. load of 185 kg and is 141 cm in total length once unfolded.
This bike roller has had 18 reviews on the Wiggle website, all mainly good. People loved the perfectly balanced resistance and how quiet it is to ride on.
Benefits of Using an Indoor Bike Roller
Use your own bike
If you have spent £1000 on a road bike, why only use it outdoors? People love training on their own bikes as they get a ‘better feel’. Bulky cycling exercise machines feel nothing like a real bike.
Easy to store unlike exercise bikes
Most of the bike rollers we have reviewed above can be folded up and easily stored. You no longer have an exercise bike sitting in your front room for months on end, we’ve all been there.
Starting out cycling on rollers can be tricky, but it will make you a better rider in the long run.
Improve your cadence if you are serious about cycling
What is cycling cadence? It’s a measure of cycling efficiency, measuring how much effort is required to go a certain speed and it’s not just about pedaling faster. According to Lance Armstrong, cycling at a higher cadence is easier – your cardio is up to speed while cycling at a low cadence puts more strain on your muscles.
Verdict: Which Bike Roller is Best?
There is not a great deal of choice across cycling websites, but we have found the top 3 bike rollers on the market. If we had to pick one, it would be the Tacx Galaxia as it is so quiet to use.
Winner – Tacx Galaxia Indoor Bike Roller
Indoor Cycling Resources
How to ride on Bike Rollers: A beginners guide
The Global Cycling Networks video on rollers shows how tricky it can actually be.
Setting up your bike rollers
1.Set up the bike roller next to a wall or rail so you can lean against it when starting and finishing. Getting on and off a bike roller in an open space requires practice and should not be attempted by beginners.
2.Make sure the front wheel is directly over the front roller for maximum stability, adjust roller if required.
3.Where your normal trainers, not dedicated cycling shoes with cleats.
4.Start off in a low gear to you can quickly get up to speed. The faster you go on the rollers, the easier it is to balance.
5.Where a helmet! Yes you are indoors but can easily fly off.
6.When starting out, you will be weaving about all over the place. Keep going, you will find your balance
Don’t overthink things and stare at the front wheel, just relax.
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