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For the winter, I'm looking to get either a Turbo Trainer (like this one) or Training Rollers (like these)

What are the pros and cons of each?

I don't think I like the idea of not being able to turn the front wheel. Mind you, I do a fair bit of spinning, and it doesn't bother me there.

The rollers 'look' better, somehow more natural.

What are your experiences?

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If you turn the front wheel on a set of rollers, you're going down in a heap. However, when you can get to the point where you are doing one legged drills no handed on rollers, you've arrived. –  JohnP Oct 21 '12 at 17:22
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2 Answers 2

Stand trainers

Pros

  • no concerns of falling over/slipping off, especially for certain types of training, e.g. one-legged drills
  • better for interval/spike training, where transitions in speed are not smooth
  • more options for variable/controllable resistance

Cons

  • less natural riding style because of bike's fixed position
  • may develop pedal stroke imbalances (or allow them to go undetected)
  • requires special mounting skewer (most brands)
  • can cause significant tire wear

Rollers

Pros

  • more natural style; bike responds more like actual riding
  • can help develop smoother pedal stroke and better form

Cons

  • easy to fall off and cause damage (to body, bike, and surrounding objects)
  • fewer options for variable/controllable resistance (only a few makes/models offer this and they're expensive compared to options for stand trainers)

Many folks I know have both a stand trainer and rollers and focus their training using the relative strengths of each type, i.e. stand trainer for "power" workouts, and rollers for "form" training.

As to your specific concern about natural movement: there is at least one stand-type trainer that is somewhat more natural than a fixed stand. It is considerably more expensive and occupies a lot more space than a normal stand trainer, though.

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This is a good list, so I'll just add to it: a con of a trainer is the tire wear. IME, rollers wear tires a lot more naturally (and slowly) than trainers do. I also think that trainers produce a lot more vibration than rollers do, so if you happen to be someone's upstairs neighbor keep that in mind. –  Smashd Oct 23 '12 at 1:10
    
Thanks, I edited and added that. I did not add about vibration; if anything that's a con of both, though it depends quite a bit on the specific brand, and where you put it. A simple foam mat can mitigate all but the worst offenders. –  djangodude Oct 23 '12 at 2:32
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I'm afraid this is not going to be a complete answer, but it is a sort of answer, so I won't put it as just a comment (and after all, you asked for experiences).

I have never used the Turbo type, but have built myself a roller, actually a very questionable one, but it worked fine the winter I actually used it.

Regarding falling off, it never, NEVER was a real problem after the first ten minutes of getting used to it. I could spin as fast as 180 RPM (peak), and accelerate quite hard, without an issue. The "secret" is to have a proper distance between the rear rollers, so the rear wheel can "sink" a bit between them and stabilize the bike, and also to have the front roller in a neutral position so that it doesn't push the bike forewards/rearwards. This also makes it harder to roll, so if one wants to train "round stroke" the distance can be reduced, making the roller faster and more unforgiving. It's nice, and if you fall off, it's not at ACTUAL 30 mph...

Regarding adjustment of "hardness", for all my practical, self-determined purposes, the very own gear-shifting of the bike did it all. At the time, I rode mountainbike, and even knobby tires can work depending on specific tire thread and roller diameter.

I always trained regular riding style, playing with cadence/gear combinations. Half an hour was enough to wash the floor in sweat, but I suspect a better quality (not home made) roller would be more comfortable to ride longer. The effect upon my riding was very noticeable, specially the increased ability to spin fast at relatively high speeds ("Armstrong-style") for longer times, which can be an advantage over other riders.

I don't like, also, the idea of having the bike fixed, this seems like taking away what makes riding fun (balancing), and for orthodox training purposes, I believe it fulfills the needs of most riders.

Hope this helps!

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