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I started using aluminum rollers to ride indoors this winter and noticed streaks left on the tires. I've also seen tires specifically advertised for use with rollers.

I'm wondering whether using the rollers will tear up or degrade a high quality road tire in any way?

  • I ride my rollers on a mountain bike, with 26" x 2.5" Maxxis Hookworms. And I have pretty small diameter rollers. After 2~3 years, I started to get a bubble in the tire that grew and grew. I was probably running them around 35-40 psi. I swapped out another set (still hookworms) and I run them at about 50 PSI now, which is very high (but not over Max) for a tire of this size. So they certainly can damage SOME tires. But road tires? No clue. – l008com Feb 3 at 9:34
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It's generally a good idea to use a trainer tire for a trainer, because the tire wears down significantly faster (plus they get hotter, make more noise, etc).

Rollers don't cause as much tire wear as a trainer does, but they aren't exactly the road. Many people use their regular road tires on them without any adverse effects. Some people experience increased wear (on the back, usually).

If you're really worried though, just buy some cheap 15 dollar tires and put them on your wheels. On a trainer, they wont last as long as a trainer tire but they will save your good tires. On rollers, you generally have less wear, but still, you're going to save your original tires (since they aren't being used).

  • +1. I've never seen the need to buy a trainer specific tyre. A cheap hard compound tyre has always done me fine. Only thing to watch for is softer compound tyres on plastic rollers as I've heard of heat build up causing blow-outs. – Andy P Mar 3 '16 at 9:00
  • I actually have plastic rollers and ride them every now and then. It's surprising how little heat build up there is. On the other hand, static electricity build up is a problem. – ojs Mar 3 '16 at 20:45
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There is a difference in that rollers don't generate much heat when you ride them whereas many trainers do. The heat is what helps strip the tires and degrades the rubber on your tread.

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If your tire has any amount of tread, absolutely. I know you said a road tire, but some of them still have tread. The trainer also has a tendency to square off the tire.

I prefer to use a trainer tire because they are often a little quieter, but also I don't like the idea of my front and rear tires wearing at significantly different rates over the year.

UPDATE: I confused roller with trainer (trainers do have rollers...), so the differential wear shouldn't apply much. I imagine the squaring off would still though, as would wear due to having treads. They might be quieter, though you wouldn't have quite as much contact as with a trainer.

  • Trainers and rollers are different things. These are rollers: youtube.com/watch?v=3WCUN7-nezQ – ojs Mar 3 '16 at 20:41
  • Ah, right, I have seen those, but wasn't immediately thinking of those. I would imagine the squaring-off would still apply, especially if you're accelerating a lot. But the differential wear wouldn't. – jhaagsma Mar 3 '16 at 21:03
  • Squaring off can be minimised by buying rollers with a valley profile rather than flat ones. – Criggie Mar 3 '16 at 22:59
  • @Criggie that's interesting. I'm curious why a flat road wouldn't square off tires just as much? – ebrohman Mar 3 '16 at 23:31
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    @ebrohman If you stayed vertical on a road, the tyre will slope off with the most wear on the side nearest the center of your road. We ride on the left so my tyres are more worn towards the right, due to the camber of the road. On rollers, one doen't tend to push the bike about so much, and of course there are no corners to lean around, so the bike stays quite vertical. The valley profile (a slight curve over the width of the roller) provides a bit of that back. – Criggie Mar 4 '16 at 0:48

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