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I use a trainer at home. It works quiet. But living in an apartment I would like to make it work quieter. What can I do to minimize noise of a trainer?

  • I put on a set of headphone and crank up the music :-) seriously, my trainer is a fan blade type and it is very noisy like turbine wheels spinning at high speed. I don't think it cause by the tire noise. – user9104 Jan 21 '14 at 18:44
  • I have the Giant Cycltron Auto trainer and it is also very noisy. However, it is not always noisy. While using it for a half hour, for example, it might start out loud and then quiet down or vice-versa. The tires are smooth and don't make noise spinning off the trainer and the trainer doesn't make noise when I spin the resistance mechanism by itself. I'm baffled. – user26172 May 23 '16 at 21:41
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    Hi and welcome to bicycles.se. This appears to be a new question posted as an answer, please use the "ask question" link to ask. Or possibly it's just an anecdote, in which case ... StackExchange is a question and answer site, not a chat forum, so your anecdote is likely to be deleted. If you'd like to ask a related but different question, please delete your answer and post a new question. – Móż May 23 '16 at 21:44
  • Get on your bike and go for a ride instead of on a trainer? Remember Rule 5! – Criggie Apr 26 '17 at 8:26
  • Although we don't do product recommendations here, there is one trainer that works by inducing an eddy current in your wheel's (metal) rim. It has no contact with the tire and is silent, apart from whatever noise your drivetrain makes. – Adam Rice Dec 3 '17 at 5:43

10 Answers 10

16

Baffling - place it on carpet or a rug (and several towels), this will both stop vibration through the floor and catch the drips of sweat.

11

I picked up a set of interlocking rubber tiles (for gym equipment) at Home Depot to put under my trainer and bike. They help with the vibration although I find it's still quite loud.

It also helps having neighbours that are noisier than me, they can't really complain about the bike.

  • 1
    +1 - it helps having neighbors noiser than me - I'm in college and my apartment is near all the frats, which means I can do pretty much anything at any time of night without anyone really caring. Trainer at 2 a.m.? Paint the walls at midnight? Rock out at night? Not a problem – crasic Jun 21 '11 at 3:21
9

I know this is an old question, but I think I have come up with a nice solution to this problem. I am an engineer and I have dealt with some vibration issues in scientific equipment. When I got my trainer and felt the vibration in the floor, I decided to apply the same principles to this problem.

Vibration vs. Acoustic Transmission

The first thing to realize is that there are two separate paths to be addressed here. The first is acoustic: the sound your trainer makes in the air around it that may transmit to adjacent rooms. The second is vibration: the motion that your trainer transmits into the structure supporting it (the floor).

Fortunately for me, my apartment has decent acoustic insulation, so what follows treats only vibration isolation. If your neighbor can hear you talking you may be out of luck.

Design

The first line of defense is to reduce the vibration created in the first place by using a smooth tire and a fluid trainer. The rest must be dealt with in the isolator.

We need a material that will absorb the vibration energy. I chose a material called Sorbothane. We also need a material to spread the load of the trainer among the isolators. For this I used Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF).

There is a practical limit to how much isolation can be achieved in a single stage, so I used a cascade of 2 stages (any more made it too unstable).

Side View

The Sorbothane is cut into small pieces in each layer. Note that it is not just a matter of putting some amount of Sorbothane in the layer, you must optimize the pressure to produce the minimum possible natural frequency. Following the equations provided here, I determined that I would use 6 isolators each 1.333"x2"x0.5" (you can cut 6 out of a 4"x4" sheet). That is for a 150 pound rider, a 15 pound bike, a 20 pound trainer, and 10 pounds of MDF. If your total load is significantly different, you may want to re-run the equations.

You can get the Sorbothane on amazon.

Results

Here is what the setup looks like:

enter image description here enter image description here

It works great! You can feel the reduction as you move your finger from stage to stage.

Note that it is not the most stable thing in the world... you have to get onto it very carefully. But once you're on it this actually makes it feel a bit more natural since you can sway from side to side a little.

  • This looks great! I would like to build something similar. When trying to re-run the calculations in Sorbothane's Vibration Calculator, I get a deflection of 77.5% (assuming 195 lbs divided over 6 pieces of 1.333"x1.5"x0.5" Sorbothane per layer). That seems quite high. Did I miss something, or would more Sorbothane rectangles actually be needed to get down to closer to 10-20% deflection? – Henrik H Jan 27 at 19:32
  • @HenrikH I dug out my calculations. Note 1: My squares are actually 1.333"x2", I corrected that above. Note 2: There's a step in the calculations where you have to read a number off of Fig. 4 (That calculator is new, I did it in excel based on the PDF). I used 5.5, the calculator is using 2.1. Perhaps 40 durometer would have been a better choice, or more squares as you mentioned. – Houston Fortney Jan 27 at 22:02
  • Thanks for looking into this. That explains. I will play around with different sizes and durometers in the calculator, and then get started on building a near duplicate of your setup :) – Henrik H Jan 29 at 21:57
3

There are tires (tacx.com) made specifically for the trainer. They use a different rubber compound that will minimize wear and contact noise. It won't help with the mechanical side of the trainer though.

  • Can you tell us more about these? I can't find the tires on this site. – Neil Fein Jun 20 '11 at 19:19
  • There are similar trainer-specific tires from other brands as well. E.g. the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Home Trainer Tire, which I've used and found quite good. Trainer-specific tires also won't wear as fast on a trainer as a regular road tire. – SSilk Apr 26 '17 at 15:29
2

As Zenbike says... Much of the noise is generated by the tires. Any smooth harder-compound "slick" is going to be quieter than a tread with a lot of pattern.

The one I have now, a Minoura, is decently quiet. I can't hear it over the TV. However, my previous item generated a high-pitched buzz that was quite annoying.

2

Aside from dampening it (foams) or switching to trainer specific tires (which will also last longer, like the Continental Hometrainer), the type of trainer plays a big part. You can have a fan, something thats magnetic , fluid, etc. - the fluid trainers tend to be quieter than the ones which are fans, for example. Even within the same class, some models may be quieter than others. So, you may be able to get quieter operation by appropriate trainer selection.

2

I cut up some egg crate foam and used it to line a cardboard box that has a large 6 inch wide slit in it for my tire and just put the box over my trainer. This worked extremely well, you just have to be sure to secure everything well so that nothing gets in the way of the trainer and tire.

You can also get thick styrofoam insulation sheets at Home Depot and fashion a box with appropriate slots for wheel and trainer stand. There is special glue to glue the joints of the box together.

2

Belt dressing works wonders for the high-pitched squeal when pedaling. You can get it at a good hardware or industrial hardware. Spray it on the tire when pedaling.

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    Good point - could you expand your answer to address what might happen if the spray lands on a rim brake surface? Would the braking be affected? How could the rider spray without risking their brake stopping power? Use the Edit link below your answer to grow the content. Welcome to SE too. – Criggie Apr 26 '17 at 8:07
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I like in an apartment, use a trainer regularly and have never had any complaints (I use a cyclops fluid 2 trainer).

My strategy is to use a mat with a plank on top. My thinking is the plank will spread the vibrations from the trainer more evenly into the mat, and thus further reduce the noise for the neighbors.

With regard to tyre choice, I have always used an indoor trainer tyre, which has little grip- I'm unsure if this has any impact on noise.

Last but not least, probably the best thing you can do to reduce noise is get a fluid or magnetic trainer, as opposed to a wind trainer (although these are more expensive.)

  • Trainer tires tend to be quieter, but also they last a lot longer on a trainer than a normal slick tire. I'd think that plank is dampening primarily just due to the additional mass -- a thicker mat might give more benefit, but the stability of the trainer on it might not be great. – Batman Apr 26 '17 at 13:38
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I just got complaints from my downstairs neighbour, so I'm going to have to build a platform of some kind to dampen then sound.

In the past I used a layer of carpet with a sheet of plywood on top, but back then I had nicer neighbours who never even knew I riding indoors.

  • Might work better if you try it elsewhere on the floor. Stairwells tend to be more solid with concrete construction. Try relocating. Also, loud for them might be quiet for you. Could also be that they are in the room below when you ride - time your ride when they're out, or not at night, or just not in the room below. Perhaps in the bathroom would work ? – Criggie Jan 12 '18 at 2:29

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