Sunday, December 2, 2007

Going Nowhere: The Technology

I get a fair amount of questions about my trainer, that nifty device that turns your ordinary bike into a stationary one. So here's a few words about two devices that help to keep the suffering going even when I can't (or won't) go outside due to inclement weather.

The Trainer
Cycleops Fluid 2 by Saris Cycling Group

This trainer uses hydraulic resistance to simulate road riding conditions. And it does a great job. It's very quiet, smooth and the resistance curve is nearly infinite as far as I can tell. I can't come close to "topping out" on it. All you do to change resistance is shift gears as you normally do on the road.

Other trainers use mechanical resistance (usually wind) or magnetic resistance. These are louder, easier to top out, and require getting off the bike or using some kind of wacky remote to change resistance levels. If the hydraulic system seems costly to you at first, think of it this way: it's still about a third of what you'd pay for a lame, upright stationary bike from Sears.

As you can tell, I'm a big fan of my trainer. I'm not the hard core guy who insists on rollers, but I do like the fact that there is a lot of similarity between riding on the road and riding indoors with this trainer.

Two other features worth noting: it's east to take your bike on and off (like, 15 seconds or so easy). To go from the road to the trainer, though, you should have a metal rear-wheel skewer rather than the nylon ones that usually come stock. The trainer comes with one. We bought another so that Les and I could both use the trainer.

The Treadmill
T9500 Deluxe by Vision Fitness.


What can I say? This is a big expensive treadmill. We've had it for 7 years or so, and it's been fine all that time. I am ambivalent about it. On the one hand, it's good. On the other hand, we had to spend a lot to get one that is good AT ALL. And still, after all that, it's a treadmill.

To be fair, this one has a nice UI and a bunch of features like heart-rate monitoring and elevation changing. It looks and feels like the ones in a gym. If you need one and can lay out for it, I'd have no reservations recommending it. That said, if you buy only one device for going nowhere...get a bike trainer.

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