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How to Bicycle in the Winter without getting Cold

I admit cycling indoors in the winter is pretty boring compared to the scenery and the constant threat of being run over by a car...

But on the plus side you can listen to music or watch a movie while you bicycle.

"Bike Trainers" as they are called are basically gadgets you can attach to your bicycle in the safety of your living room and then cycle to your heart's content.

If you are still feeling guilty about all the food you ate during the Holiday Season and want to burn some off via some heavy duty cardio exercise, a Bike Trainer might be just the thing you are looking for because they are a great way for people struggling to regain their fitness to do just that.

And the beauty of them is that it doesn't matter how much rain and snow is outside because attaching one of these things to your bicycle is so easy a 10 year old can do it.

Here is a short primer on bicycle trainers so you can stop sitting on the fence undecided and add it to your exercise routine.

Learn About Them First

People looking to buy cycling trainer should learn a few basics before they spend their hard earned cash on a bike trainer that might not meet their specific needs for winter exercising. They may choose a product that isn't 'enough' trainer for them, or on the other hand, they may waste money getting something that they don't have the power or resolve to make adequate use of. So try and find one that is right for you, not just the most expensive one you can afford.

There are three types of Bike Trainers: Wind, Mag and Fluid.

Wind Trainers

If you're a casual rider, a wind trainer may be enough for you. These are the simplest trainers with the least number of things that can go wrong. With a minimal number of parts, high quality (good metals and bearings) wind trainers from companies like Kurt Kinetic, CycleOps, Minoura, or Blackburn will last forever... and never need replacement parts

However wind trainers can be loud. Loud enough that some cyclists wear earplugs when using a wind trainer. Enough to annoy the neighbours.

But there's another downside to wind trainers (or upside if you are new to this). They don't produce enough resistance, even at high speeds, to provide a good workout for strong cyclists. They're great for beginners, but professional cyclists will want something with a lot more resistance to make them really strain their leg muscles.

Most people use their bike trainer for mild to moderate steady state workouts so a wind trainer may be all you'll need to burn fat. You aren't training for the Olympics so you don't need anything more than that, right?

Magnetic Trainers

Magnetic (mag) trainers have a bad reputation thanks to the internet being littered with old complaints from mag trainer owners who didn't appreciate their trainers clattering their way to the scrapyard. The newer Mag Trainers don't have this problem, but the old complaints are still there.

This class of bike trainer develops resistance by rotating repelling magnets past each other. Most Mag Trainers provide the ability to be adjusted through multiple levels of resistance.

The most common method of 'switching gears' is to dismount and change the resistance level at the trainer unit itself. But if you spend a few extra bucks you can get a Mag Trainer that has a lever which attaches to the handlebars, enabling you to increase or decrease the resistance while riding.

The latest innovation is the CycleOps Magneto, which is designed to 'progressively' increase resistance the harder the cyclist pedals. Using centrifugal force, the Magneto changes the configuration of its magnets without any input from the rider.

Mag Trainers are appropriate for moderately serious cyclists who want more resistance than a wind trainer can provide.

Fluid Trainers

Fluid trainers are the quietest and most expensive of the three types.

Fluid trainers are willing to motor along at low intensities, but are ready and able to fight back no matter how hard the cyclist wants to work them. Thus this category of bike trainer provides what could be termed an 'exponential' increase in resistance - the harder you cycle the more difficult it gets.

A chart of the type of resistance that fluid trainers provide, you'll see an ever increasing slope that gets steeper and steeper the more the speed increases. So if you want to burn calories hardcore, a fluid trainer will give you that challenge.

Fluid trainers are really only for serious cyclists who aren't afraid to spend lots of money on cycling equipment and who know they will be using their trainers for high intensity workouts.


So there you go! A complete guide to how you can bicycle in the winter without leaving the safety and warmth of your home, and a guide to what kind of bike trainer is right for you!

Happy Cycling!

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