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I'm starting to get a pile of what looks like tire rubber under my trainer. Could it be something else like dry chain lube coming off? Is this normal? Have I set up my trainer incorrectly? Do I just have to accept that my rear tire will need replacing in the spring?

Shredded material under trainer

Trainer setup

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    That’s why people use old tires or special trainer tires on their trainers ;) I don’t think it’s chain lube, but it doesn’t hurt to wipe down the chain with a rag occasionally (to remove excess lube, dirt/dust etc.). – Michael Feb 17 at 15:17
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    Get a dedicated tyre for a friction trainer. They are very hard and durable. It will be perfect if you own a second rear wheel or lay your hands on a cheap second-hand one. – Carel Feb 17 at 15:43
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    Use up those old tyres you have laying about which are too good to throw out. We all have some. – Criggie Feb 17 at 21:18
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    Too much power. – Phil Frost Feb 18 at 15:35
  • I had another realization: because of concussions, I run my tires fairly low (~ 50 - 60 PSI), which may be contributing here? I guess I should up the pressure up for the winter on the indoor trainer. – Mike Ounsworth Feb 25 at 15:28
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Yes, its tyre rubber. People typically use either old/worn, cheap hard compound or dedicated turbo tyres for this reason with wheel on style trainers.

The bad news is that more typically sprays off backwards than down on the mat where you see it, so there's a good chance the rest of your room has a light coating of rubber particles too!

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Road tires are not designed to be used on a trainer and they will wear more rapidly than when used on the road.

  • Optimize your rig
  • Use a tire designed for trainers to reduce wear

Here are some tips from "Coach Levi" on setting up rollers - the information should help in your setup.

Stationary trainers are known for eating away at rear tires because of the pressure used to press it against the drum. Since the bike doesn’t move or lean like it would outdoors, all this pressure is concentrated on a very small portion of the tire’s tread, leading to a worn out tire.

You can’t completely avoid this, but setting up the trainer properly will help maximize tire life and riding comfort.

First, make sure things are clean. Wipe down the roller surface using isopropyl alcohol. Wipe down your tires, too, if they’re dirty.

Second, inflate the tire to a suitable pressure. This varies depending on the tire. A good rule of thumb is to use the same as what you’d use out on the road.

Third, tighten down the roller.

Typically you tighten things down until the roller is just tight enough on the tire that it doesn’t skip when you ride. It should be no tighter than is necessary.

Start out by tightening it down some, just until the drum touches the tire. Then give the tire a quick tug and see if it slips. You should pull in the direction of rotation, i.e. up and back when pulling from behind. If the tire slips, tighten a bit more.

Once the wheel no longer slips when yanked by hand, get on the bike and ride. If the wheel skips, tighten the knob a bit more. Repeat as necessary.

Lastly, after your workout, loosen the drum so it’s not pressed against the tire. If you leave it tightened down when not in use, the tire will develop a flat spot and will ride terribly.

Even if everything is adjusted perfectly you will still get tire wear.
There are many tires designed to be used on trainers, for example:

  • Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Home Trainer
  • Continental Hometrainer
  • Tacx Trainer Tire
  • Kinetic by Kurt
  • Schwalbe Insider
  • Tacx Trainer Tire
  • Others
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    Once the wheel no longer slips when yanked by hand, get on the bike and ride. If the wheel skips, tighten the knob a bit more. Repeat as necessary. How tight you need to make the roller contact the tire is strongly related to the highest power level you're going to put out. If all you're going to do is 150-200ish watt z2 base "riding" the roller doesn't have to be anywhere near as tight as it needs to be if you're going to be doing 600 or 800W anaerobic capacity intervals. – Andrew Henle Feb 17 at 17:00
  • “Wipe down the roller surface using isopropyl alcohol. Wipe down your tires, too, if they’re dirty.” — Isn't isopropyl alcohol moderately damaging to rubber? – Kevin Reid Feb 18 at 18:38

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