An indoor cycling trainer is a device that attaches to the rear axle of the bike and holds the rear wheel off the ground. The indoor cycling trainer features a roller, usually metal or hardened rubber, that presses against the rear wheel to provide resistance when pedaling, and some trainers feature an adjustment lever so the cyclist can change the amount of resistance pressing against the rear wheel. To choose the best indoor cycling trainer, it helps to first determine your fitness goals, your ability level, and your budget.
It is very important that you choose an indoor cycling trainer that features a sturdy, and well-built frame. The frame will endure a significant amount of force during normal use, as the bike and the weight of your body twists and impacts the frame. A poorly constructed frame is likely to snap, warp, or bend, rendering the unit less useful or even completely useless. The unit should also be very adjustable, as axle widths can vary from bike to bike, as can the distance between the roller and the tire.
The resistance unit of the indoor cycling trainer will have a significant impact on the price, usefulness, and noise level of the unit. Many resistance options exist, from magnetic resistance to wind resistance, and even fluid resistance. It is a good idea to try out several different indoor cycling trainer models that feature the different resistance units to find the one that works best for you. Regardless of the type of resistance unit you choose, try to choose a trainer that features a control unit that mounts to the handlebar of the bike. This will allow you to raise or lower the resistance level without having to get off the bike during a workout.
Pay close attention to the type of roller the indoor cycling trainer features. This roller will make contact with your rear wheel, and some rollers will wear out the tire very quickly, while others may slip when the wheel presses against it, meaning you may miss some of the resistance the unit is supposed to provide. Some trainers feature a gel roller made from hardened rubber and gel; it will be less likely to wear out the tire quickly, but the roller itself may wear out more quickly than a metal roller will.