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I bought a turbo trainer for winter training last year, but the hassle of using it (lugging my bike up the steps and into my narrow apartment, changing the wheel to one with a trainer tyre, setting up something to watch at the same time, getting the bike computer set up right), plus the noise (the NOISE!) whenever I get up to a decent speed, mean I probably won't be using it much.

So I was thinking of getting a standalone exercise bike instead, figuring it will be easier for me to hop on when I feel like it and less noisy.

Edit: (to make it less subjective): What I'd like to know is what are the drawbacks of using an exercise bike when you're used to riding a road bike?

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cheap exercise bike are not very good, so how much are you thinking of spending? –  Ian Sep 14 '10 at 12:45
    
not much, < £100, If I get one I'd be looking for a second hand one on ebay –  Jonny Cundall Sep 14 '10 at 13:24
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Get yourself some cycle clothing in unfashionable fabrics and enjoy the variation of weather. (Your climate may vary. Hail isn't much fun in my experience, but it is infrequently in sensible places.) –  Tom Hawtin - tackline Sep 14 '10 at 14:19
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@Johnny: This question is fairly subjective in its current form, and invites a discussion board-style response. Please consider rewriting it to give a single, objective response. –  Neil Fein Sep 14 '10 at 16:02
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@Unsliced, yep that's about it. I would be using it mainly for weekday evenings. I don't have any problem commuting through crap weather but I can't be arsed to ride through London in the dark for extended periods just to stay in shape. –  Jonny Cundall Sep 14 '10 at 16:23

4 Answers 4

what are the drawbacks of using an exercise bike?

  1. Noise (you mentioned this)
  2. Many quickly get bored riding on an exercise bike
  3. Promotes bad cycling form
  4. Can be large, heavy, expensive

My favorite alternative to riding in the snow in the winter is to ride on rollers. The rollers I have used have several advantages

  1. Not as boring
  2. Amazing for form
  3. Foldable space saving models exist
  4. More like actually riding on the road
  5. No switching out tires
  6. Ride on bicycle

Getting comfortable with riding on the rollers took me about 2 hours and I feel that it has been a great way to stay in shape and in good form while I'm not able or willing to ride out in the weather.

Photos of my rollers: alt text alt text


Is an exercise bike good enough for keeping fit in the winter

Yes... and no. Completely depends on what level of 'fit' you are trying to attain and how consistent and hard you work on the exercise bike. If you are just trying to keep your blood moving and stay generally fit, then an exercise bike is a great winter workout tool. If you are working towards a 206 mile - 1 day race in the summer then you will probably want to mix your exercise bike workouts with other exercises like weight lifting and yoga.

Is an exercise bike going to be better than a turbo trainer?

Depends. Exercise bikes tend to be more upright in their posture which may make the exercising more comfortable. Pricing and space will also be something to take into consideration when looking at exercise bikes vs. trainers. If you are wanting to be better trained and acclimated to riding your bike for races or rides, then a turbo trainer will probably better suit your needs.

There is another bicycle stackexchange question and answer similar to what I have said. I wish to get fit, therefore should I have a heavy bike?

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The noise will always be an issue and it will depend on your personal space issues, but I went on gumtree (a London equivalent of craigslist) and got a dirt cheap, old beat up road bike as my turbo bike - at least that would remove the hassle of lugging it up and down the stairs. That way, I wasn't killing my normal road machines, nor did I have to reset everything every time.

My tri club often did classes on spin bikes, but I just didn't get on with them. I found that exercise bikes just aren't the same as even a turbo, IME.

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My wife & I "share" an exercise bike, mainly because we don't have room for it as well as my wind trainer :-( It was fairly cheap, from Aldi, so you might want to keep an eye out for one. I don't mind it, as it is easily adjusted and quiet.
The only thing I would change if I could would be the seat. It is a typical exercise style one and is way to short and wide. In terms of training, I find that I can get just as good a workout with it compared to the wind trainer. And since it is quiet I get more chance to do so, since I can ride either early in the morning or later at night without disturbing others.
The only minus is that it has a funny shaped pair of bars and after a while I get rather bored with the hand positions. I find that the road bike's drop bars give me more variety.

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Most exercise bikes don't simulate the same riding position that you have on your road bike. If your goal is to improve your performance on your road bike, you'll either need a specialized exercise bike that lets you get in the same position, or you'll need to use your road bike. There really is no substitute for getting miles in using the same position as when you're riding "for real".

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