I Want to Ride My Bicycle

January 05, 2011

With the goal of getting into better shape and losing some weight set for this winter and spring I need an activity (that I'll stick to) to burn some calories. My plan is to get a stationary trainer, hook up one of my bikes, and pedal away some pounds.

Turns out there are at least three categories of trainers: the old squirrel-cage fan jobs, magnetic, and fluid. The squirrel-cage fan models use wind resistance to simulate riding. They tend to be noisy, and usually don't provide a realistic resistance curve as you ride harder.

The magnetic models use a magnet incased in aluminum to provide resistance. Turns out that while aluminum isn't ferrous it does react with a magnet when the magnet (or the aluminum) is moving. I don't pretend to fully understand the physics involved, but I can accept that it works. The fluid models have an impeller immersed in fluid, and the faster you pedal more more resistance you feel.

Both the magnetic and fluid approaches produce a more realistic resistance curve; as you increase your pedaling speed the resistance increases as well. Plus they tend to be much quieter than the old wind-resistance models.

Presently I am leaning toward either  a CycleOps Fluid 2 or a Giant Cyclotron Auto II trainer. The Giant is magnetic, and the CycleOps (as hinted at by its name) is fluid filled. The Giant is about $40 less expensive at $220 locally. Reading what reviews I can find online neither is a clear cut winner or loser. Given that I am woefully out of cycling (or any other kind) of shape, I'm sure that either trainer would suit my purposes.

If I can hold off on spending the money until the weekend, I may take my old Cannondale road bike into the store and ask to try both to see how they feel in action.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.