As cyclists around the world continue to experience the claustrophobia of enforced social restrictions, another kind of rider celebrates a newfound love for the act of cycling. Indoor training has become a sport of its own making, and we're about to see the benefits emerging for riders who'd otherwise never get on a bike.
In only a few months, indoor home training has multiplied globally. The trend continues as persistent waves of Covid19 create lockdowns and limit outdoor social and sporting activities. Bikes permanently attached to trainers are now everyday. For those who missed purchasing a trainer pre-pandemic, there remains a waiting list for smart trainers across the globe.
The spike in indoor training is reciprocated by the increased use of Virtual cycling programs. In April this year, a most well known virtual training game Zwift doubled its user base compared to a previous January peak. In this period, Zwift actually recording nearly 35,000 riders at one time.
One of the appeals of home trainers is the range of styles available. Apart from physical characteristics, they arrive with different features and capabilities, some with complementary programmed benefits and others offering easy use and conveniences.
Trainers start with the simplicity of rollers, move to a basic machine like the Minoura trainer series. These are magnet resistance operated machines requiring a removal or installation of a rear wheel. Then come the smart trainers that link to programs to record and compare stats (cadence, watts, km's, heart rate and training programs). You'll need electricity for these. The most popular reliable smart training model we've used for the last 5 years is the Wahoo Kickr.
There's pretty much a suitable trainer for any budget. Then we have the Ferrari of trainers that seem to have it all ... the Kickr Bike - Wahoo's latest addition to the sartorial cycling household. But with its 6000$ price tag, what are the advantages and is it worth it?
Before discussing who uses what, the reasons you train will influence your choice of trainer. For many professionals its of high priority to retain or increase competitive fitness, stamina, efficiency, speed and power. Other riders use a program to compete in virtual events or bunches, to provide a daily regime. Much like cycling outdoors, the indoor training community attracts those who want to compete and others who like to chat throughout the session. Virtual globally accessible training apps, like Zwift, make this all possible.
While there are many differences, there's a common trait shared by all trainers... The activity can be done in a safe, familiar environment without judgement. Trainers can be positioned away from pandemics, cars and disruptive weather.
Home training requires little skill. A trainer has near to no expectation of fitness levels, and when you sit on a trainer you can wear whatever's appropriate for your comfort. The indoor trainer is totally devoid of judgement. Here lies a beautiful accessible tool allowing a new wave of aspiring athletes to participate.
Home trainers are more than machines providing athletic benefits. With the introduction of the Wahoo Kickr Bike, a new bevy of rider is developing - one that may have considered but never purchased a road bike. It's not so much that a Kickr Bike will replace the bicycle, the appeal is that it offers a level of confidence that many cyclist need to start riding outdoors.
Yes, the Kickr Bike is a long term investment for motivation and fitness, but its also an avenue to build confidence and inspiration. In short, for some it offers a refuge.
Owning a bike shop and meeting thousands of differing riders, I know a huge contingency of potential riders believe their ability to join a cycling community is hampered by the thought they lack bike handling skills, athletic ability or confidence on the road.
For these riders the chance to finally and safely engage in the activity of cycling brings new possibilities.
Trainers are no longer just a tool to fuel performance. Smart trainers can enhance your riding experience, allow you to network in virtual bunches across the world, and continue to motivate even during the bleakest winter days. If you've tried the Wahoo Kickr Bike, you'll know where the penny's go. There is the smoothest transition through gearing, its customisable to simulate your own position or assume a new one and allows climbing features otherwise unimaginable on your average trainer. This is certainly in a league of its own
- There's huge potential for riders who start with a Kickr Bike. Firstly, the confidence of an indoor trainer will create challenges and achievements in fitness giving confidence to get in a cycling kit and get involved in a bunch.
- A Kickr Bike can also prepare riders to anticipate the freedom and adventure of cycling outdoors.
- Above all, a Kickr Bike can be the step to creating long-lasting friendships within a bunch.
Even the most established riders can appreciate these three benefits cycling is responsible for.
While the price of a Kickr Bike may not be for everyone, for those who can't attend a gym and want to start cycling, its clearly one of the best initiations to the sport.
With this machine, you can avoid the bother of attaching the bike - fantastic news on several levels. It means less confusion if you're mechanically challenged. There's also no risk to damaging your bike because you avoid installing it at the drop outs. What's more, a Kickr Bike is minimal in size compared to a complete bike and is more stable.
Did I mention in comparison to your average trainer, you don't have to undo all your good work (to reinstall the rear wheel or skewer) every time you want to take the bike outdoors?
Benefits of the Kickr Bike
Training Programs: With this smart trainer, the Kickr App allows you to link to multiple training platforms making engagement with other riders possible. I even know a friend who met a partner on Zwift. Besides accessing new found friends, programs are a great motivator to get involved in a community without bias. You can join social groups or club rides, even cycle with a friend virtually. All this is done in the privacy of your home and, as you build your fitness and your confidence, you can get excited about the bonus benefits that outdoor cycling will bring. Check out favoured and compatible smart trainer programs Zwift, Sufferfest and FulGaz
Ease of Set Up: On a practical note, to use the Kickr Bike, you easily adjust the fit to your position of comfort. If this pushes your mechanical comfort zone ensure you buy your Kickr Bike from a supportive bike shop. Firstly, they'll likely help with delivery (its too heavy for one person), set up, and after-service. If you already own a bike, an app will help replicate your existing position. With minimal effort, you can quickly start each training session.
Support: Lastly, another benefit to consider when buying a Kickr Bike is to buy from a reputable, friendly and capable bike shop. While the kickr is generally maintenance free, we don't recommend the Kickr be the end reward of cycling. Its easy to get lost in the excitement of feeling fit as well as the virtual attractions. But the simple pleasures of riding a bike, the freedom it invokes and the adventures a bike brings will not be replicated by a trainer.
A bike shop should not only offer you help with the Kickr, but assist you in getting started on the bigger journey of riding with others. We offer programs to start bunch riding so confidence continues outside the home and is inspired by the outdoor environment. You are welcome to contact us at Chainsmith to order the Kickr Bike, or find out more about how you can plan your entry into bunch riding.