How to Choose an Indoor Trainer - Part 2

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In the last post, we introduced most of different types of trainers found on the market today. In this post, we will be looking at different types of Smart Trainers. In a smart trainer the resistance unit has built-in electronics that transmit your speed (and so much more) to an ANT+ or Bluetooth capable device. From there, the information is transmitted to your device, where you can tap into various training apps, or to Zwift, a turbo trainer game that enables you to ride with other cyclists in a virtual environment.

 

Budget Smart Trainer (sub-$500) Budget: these tend to be basic in functions, and lack automated controls, but some do still have some electronics.  Most apps support these in a basic manner.

A great low budget Smart Trainer (apprx. $400) that gets excellent reviews is the Tacx Satori Smart (Click on the link to get all the specs). This is one of the trainers currently featured in our store.

PRO:

·      It self-generates ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart signals so doesn’t need a main hook-up

·      effortlessly syncs power, speed and cadence data to iOS, Android and Windows PCs.

·      The free training software is intuitive and it’s compatible with Zwift or other online simulators.

·      it comes with a front wheel-levelling block.

·      Ride feel is smooth and balanced

·      there’s a mechanical remote lever to add resistance.

CON:

·      Like most budget trainers, the metal-sheathed roller can slip under sprint loads until you get the tension right

·      It’s noisy at high speeds

·      No Slope variance

 

Mid-Range Budget Trainer ($500-$1000): Mid-Range $400-$1,000: These are where we see electronic resistance control, as well as the majority of features and full app integration.

The CycleOps Magnus (approx. $800) has proven to be a solid trainer at this price point (click on link to get all the specs). This trainer can be special ordered with 2 day delivery to our store.

PROS

·       Light and quiet: Noise level at 20 mph is a quiet 69-70 decibels

·       The trainer is equipped with dual ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth 4.0 technologies, allowing any cyclist to connect to their favourite virtual training software program, such as CycleOps Virtual Training, Zwift or Trainer Road.

·       comes with CycleOps patented clutch knob that gives you the perfect roller to tire tension during each ride = consistent virtual power.

·       It also simulates up to a 15% incline

·       It doesn’t have direct-drive, which allows you to remove your back tyre completely and fix your bike directly to the trainer.

·       the CycleOps Magnus requires you to connect to power to operate as a smart trainer. If you don’t connect it to power, it will operate as a regular fluid trainer.

 

High-End Trainers ($1000 +): High-End $1,000+: These are the high-end trainers, and primarily distinguish themselves from the mid-range by increasing durability and reducing noise.

The CycleOps Hammer Direct Drive Smart Trainer (approx. $1620) is really one of the very best on the market. If you are looking for the ultimate indoor cycling experience, this is the trainer for you.

Pros:

·       direct drive system (allows you to remove your back tyre completely and fix your bike directly to the trainer.)

·       incomparable bike compatibility and device connectivity (by far the best on the market)

·       ability to replicate real world inertia

·       the Hammer isn’t silent, but it’s also not loud

·       fast responding electromagnetic resistance

·       the sensation of rolling on smooth asphalt

·       simulate grades up to 20%

·       lightweight (46lbs) and foldable for easy storage

·       front wheel block

·       connects to Zwift, TrainerRoad and all your favourite apps,

CONs:

·       You must provide and install a cassette. the Hammer supports Shimano 8/9/10/11 speed cassettes.

·       you’ll need to make sure you have the right tools to install a cassette

·       required to be plugged in, unlike the Tacx Neo ($1800) that can be used wirelessly. (See below for a short description)

That was a brief look at the different types of Smart Trainers on the market right now. That said, there are tons more out there. According to my research, these 3-4 stand-out in their price range. Others worth mentioning are the Tacx Vortex Smart and Tacx Bushido. (Mid range $$). Learn more about these Tacx Interactive Trainers here.  In the next post, we'll be looking at some of the best cycling apps and the virtual cycling experience. **(All the trainers mentioned in this article can be special ordered and delivered to our store in 2 business days) 

 

Another Excellent High-End Trainer that needs mentioning is the TACX NEO SMART. 

  • Real direct drive trainer with a powerful motor placed directly onto the cassette, eliminating additional gearing
  • Low revolutions, reducing noise to a minimum
  • Foldable and compact frame design
  • Can be used completely wireless or hooked to a power outlet
  • Bluetooth and ANT+ FE-C capable
  • Measure speed, cadence and power
  • Maximum resistance 2200 Watts
  • Realistic climbing up to 25% and downhill to -5%
  • Simulate real road pattern such as cobblestone, ice and concrete plates

How to choose an Indoor Bike Trainer - Part 1

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As the snow begins to fall in this part of the world, many cyclists are reluctantly storing their bikes and already looking forward to hitting the road next spring. To keep your cycling legs strong and your endurance up, we recommend a cycle trainer. Using a trainer is great a great way to keep fit for riders of all levels during the winter months. Although they will never compare to Outdoor cycling, the world of Indoor Cycle Trainers has changed a lot in the last 10 years. There are many model from basic roller-type trainers to more advanced “smart” trainers that talk to training programs or allow you to ride or race in a virtual environment.

 

There are four basic types of Trainers:

Tacx Galaxia Training Roller

Tacx Galaxia Training Roller

Rollers: the oldest of the indoor trainer styles where the bike sits freely on three rollers, which turn as you pedal. Resistance is be provided by shifting gears and very little by the rollers themselves. There is nothing to hold your bike vertical, so balance is key.


+ Least expensive trainer, provide a more realistic “road feel”. Elite cyclists swear by them for some workouts, and they’re great for improving your form.‌
- Resistance range isn’t great, and they take some practice to get used to (balance), they are designed only for road and flat, touring style tires.

 

CycleOps, Wind, Training Base

CycleOps, Wind, Training Base

Wind Trainers: this is another one of the original trainer models, where pedalling powers a fan which provides resistance.

+ Low price point, simple and durable, less likely to break

- Very noisy, resistance level is non-adjustable, and they provide a relatively low road-like ride.

 

Magnetic Trainers: in place of a fan, this trainer functions with the use of a magnetic flywheel on the back of the device to provide resistance. Although there are now electromagnetic versions of this type of trainer, the basic concept remains the same.

 +Many affordable options, resistance is adjustable, nearly silent (great for watching your favorite show while working out), wide variety of options,  new electromagnetic versions are fully featured.

  - Resistance range is limited, not as durable.

 

CycleOps, Jetfluid Pro, trainer

CycleOps, Jetfluid Pro, trainer

Fluid Trainers: a type of magnetic trainer (based on a magnetic flywheel), but adds chambers of viscous fluid to further tune the resistance options. This is the most common type of stationary trainer available today. The major benefit of a fluid bike trainer is that as you begin to pedal faster and faster, the resistance to the rear wheel begins to progressively increase.

+ The best “road feel” of any style of trainer; fluid offers a wide range of resistance adjustment (electronically controlled on the nicer models); they're very quiet; and they have a wide variety of features and options (like power and connectivity)‌
 - Fluid trainers improve on durability every year, but they’re susceptible to  overheating and cooking the fluid.

 

So which version is right for you? Even within these four broad categories, there’s a wide range of choice. Magnetic and fluid trainers in particular go from fairly simple models with a handlebar-mounted remote to vary the resistance, all the way up to versions that pair to your computer, track power, and offer downloadable workouts.

·      If you just need a basic model for pre-race warmups
Consider: a wind trainer or simple magnetic model with folding legs for easy portability

·      If you want to work on your pedal stroke
Consider: rollers—there’s no better tool to smooth out a clunky cadence

·      If you need to do structured workouts
Consider: a fluid trainer that tracks power output, or a smart trainer that pairs to your computer head unit

·      If you get bored easily (who doesn’t when riding inside?)
Consider: a smart trainer that can interface with independent training programs like TrainerRoad or Zwift.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article, where we will look at attachments available for trainers, and using different apps as part of your indoor workout. 

Tips for Storing your Bike for the Winter

There are 2 types of bike owner, those who lovingly care and clean every inch of their ride, and then there's the rest of us, who need to consult a bike mechanic when something doesn't feel quite right. When it comes to storing your Bike for the winter, Pete has got a few tips for you to consider.

  1. Storage: Best case scenario is to store it inside, and hang the bike from the ceiling/wall or just turning it upside down so that there is no weight on the tires. But if you live in an apartment and store your bike on the balcony, make sure you lubricate the chain, turn the bike upside down (unless your bike has hydraulics or a suspension system) and put a tarp over it to protect it from the elements. Avoid storing your bike in direct sunlight. 

  2. Tires: They should be inflated, as they will deflate over the winter. If you store your bike in an unheated garage, a good idea is to remove the tires and bring them inside a heated area. This will protect the rubber on the tires form cracking and/or warping. 

  3. Lubricating the Chain and Cables: If you are storing your bike outside or in an unheated garage, it's a good idea to lubricate your chain and cables. But if it's in a heated area, lubrication is not really necessary. 

Pete recommends keeping winter storage simple, “Bring your bike in for a tune-up at the end of the season rather than in the spring” he says, “Then all you have to do is turn your bike upside down in a warm place for the winter.” Next April, when you’re ready to ride outside, your bike is ready too. Just pump up the tires and go. 

 

The 10 Essentials for Fall Cycling

As we transition from Summer to Fall, the Lanark County colours explode into a vibrant mix of autumn hues. What better way to enjoy the brisk temperatures and vibrant colours of the leaves turning than from the view of a bike?  Yet to make the transition from Summer to Fall to Winter riding safely, it’s wise to make sure that your bike is working and that you have the proper cycling apparel to keep you warm and also motivated to ride in the cooler temps.

At Heritage Bikes, we recommend getting a tune-up, having a set of reliable lights (a new Ontario Bylaw has been passed making it mandatory all for bikes to have lights) and wearing the right bike clothing.  Here’s our list for Fall Cycling:

1. Wind Vest – The wind vest is one of the most used pieces of cool weather gear. It keeps your core body protected from frontal winds, but vents in the rear to keep you from overheating. The wind vest is also very versatile and can be added to different clothing combinations, using it with regular jerseys, winter jerseys, and arm warmers. It’s also easily stowed in a pack or shirt pocket.
2. Wind/Rain Jacket – It’s always a good idea to keep a water resistant jacket handy when rain is in the forecast.
3. Arm Warmers – Arm warmers are a must during the Fall season.  While they don’t take up much room, they are great for temperature control.
4. Full Finger Riding Gloves – When riding in cooler temps, one of the first things to freeze is the fingers. Protect your hands with full fingerers and / or windproof gloves.
5. Knee warmers, and Pants – As the temperatures drop, it’s a good idea to cover your knees. Many cyclist prefer tights whereas others prefer leg warmers.  Consider trying out each option and experiment to dial in your preference.
6. Skull Cap – The vents in your helmet that are such an asset during the summer months become a major liability when the temperatures begin to drop. To prevent from losing heat from your scalp, be sure to wear a thin skullcap or headband under the helmet
7. Wool Socks – Keeping your feet dry and warm can be a challenge in the cold weather, but nice wool socks are your best bet.
8. Shoe Covers – Shoe covers, also known as booties, cover the exterior of your shoes and protect from cold and wind.  There are several options: some that cover just the toes and others that encompass the entire foot. Toe covers are great for Fall but as you transition to Winter riding, you may wish for a pair that covers your entire foot.
9. Lights – Within a month, the days will be much shorter! Plan ahead and get your lights ready. Get a red blinker for the rear that mounts to the bike or your pack, and a decent headlight for the front.
10. Tool kit – The bicycle tools needed to have on hand in inclement weather matter.  Discover what the best bike parts for fall commuting  and build a tool kit that meets your needs.

BONUS TIP! Reflective Vests/Bands - If you are going to be riding at dusk, dawn, in fog, or at night, it's very important to be seen. Fluorescent vests with reflective strips, reflective bands on ankles and bags, along with lights are key to bike safety. 

Why is all this important?  Because having access to resources, tips, and a supportive environment makes it easier to enjoy all the benefits cycling has to offer.  It gets you outside – on the bike and riding!  Whether you are enjoying the vibrant mix of autumn hues from a scenic country road, or commuting to work/school, fall bike rides in Lanark are the best way to get up close and personal with the season’s colours while filling up their lungs with the crisp Autumn air.

Designing the Space

What we are trying to create is something more than a place where you rent bikes; we want to create an experience for our customers, our community. We want the people who come into our store to feel “at home”, and a sense of belonging. As teachers, both Pete and I know the importance of creating this when building a community (or a classroom). It puts everyone at ease, and allows everyone to feel safe and willing to try something new.

 Also, we want the store to reflect that it is a bike shop with gears, spokes and grease; to emphasize the industrial part of the business, all the while embracing our love of the natural, the simple and the hand-made. What a tall order to fill. All this got us to thinking about branding and design, something we know very little about.

 I’m a huge believer of the 80-20% rule. When creating something new that is not in your expertise, take it to your 80% and let an expert do the rest. I found this to be a real help when I wrote my book, “The Artist in You”, which has been picked up by Hachette Children’s Publishing House, UK. This led me to take a couple of Skillshare courses on Branding (if you’ve never tried Skillshare, I TOTALLY recommend it, and Craftsy too). I'm still trying to make or tails out of it, but I'm getting there and feeling excited about how our Vision can be reflected in all that we do for the business.

 I also started a board on Pinterest called, “Décor Ideas”. We are thinking of going for a Rustic Industrial look but brighter, warmer. A huge trend right now in the states is Bike and Coffee shops. We like the look of those types of stores, like Heritage General Store and Kingdom Coffee and Cycles. Although we love coffee and will certainly serve some coffee, I don’t think we will focus too much on it. There are already some great roasters and coffee houses here in Perth. Anyway, feel free to check out the Pinterest board and let us know what you think, or if you have suggestions for us.