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 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.
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).
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.
Here is what the setup looks like:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)