Next Level Cycling
By Jason Johannpeter

Cycling is a year-round sport with recent advances in trainer technology. One of the drawbacks about cycling is that weather plays a part in our ability to enjoy the sport we love. As the days get shorter and colder, it can be hard to continue the cycling habit we cultivated during the summer. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Cycling indoors has arrived to the 21st century and what’s great about it is that you get to ride your own bike. No more stationary spin bikes at the gym. To have a great indoor cycling experience, you’ve got to have the right setup. That can vary from cyclist to cyclist, but the key components are: your bike, a trainer, and a fan. These components will get you setup to put in miles during the winter, all in the comfort of your own home. But that’s just the basic experience. Indoor cycling can be so much more. With a smart trainer and smart television, you can have an interactive experience that keeps you engaged for your entire ride and cause you to want to do it again tomorrow.

The Smart Trainer Experience

What is a smart trainer? It’s a trainer that has the capability to connect to your phone, tablet, computer, or smart tv via Bluetooth or ANT+ and interact with a variety of great indoor-cycling apps. The most popular of the indoor-cycling apps is Zwift and it’s best described as an interactive indoor-cycling video game. You can create your avatar. You get to pick the course or route you want to ride. You get points for every mile you ride. You level-up to the next level by achieving certain goals and with those achievements you earn new cycling kits, wheel upgrades, frame upgrades, and so on for your avatar. Beyond that, what makes Zwift engaging is that as your avatar begins a climb on the course you’re riding it communicates with your smart trainer telling it to increase the resistance in real time and in proportion to the incline you’re riding. Likewise, when you start do go down that hill, it decreases and can even reduce the resistance beyond the baseline.

Not All Trainers Are The Same

Quality trainers can range in price from $190 to a few thousand dollars. Smart trainers are part of that range and they begin at $500. The components that are key to a good trainer are: quality construction, solid engineering, and user friendliness. Saris trainers, formerly known as CycleOps, are manufactured in Wisconsin from materials all sourced within the United States. They’ve always had a lifetime warranty on their products, their customer service is outstanding, and they deliver tremendous value at each price point. In contrast, you can find a lot of inexpensive trainers from unknown brands online. Their price induces you to thinking you got a good deal. However, many of these inexpensive trainers aren’t capable of working with modern bike standards like thru-axles or possibly boost spacing if you’re wanting to use your mountain bike. Another major issue with these inexpensive trainers is trying to get support from the manufacturer. If you’d like to give yourself headache, try finding a phone number for one of these companies. Unfortunately, if you have a problem with one of these inexpensive online trainers, you’re typically left to figure it out yourself or take it to your local bike shop.

Your Local Bike Shop

First off, your local bike shop is your neighbor. They’re part of your community. They’re people that have the same passion for cycling as you do and they’ve decided to make a living of it. So, your local bike shop is your best resource in determining what indoor cycling experience you want to have. Many of the shops in town have a demo center in which you can experience the products first hand. If they don’t have the exact model that you wanted in-stock, they’ll order it for you. When it comes in, they’ll get it setup and can make any adjustments to your bicycle if needed. And, if you have any questions during or after your purchase, you can go to a friendly face at your local bike shop to get help, not the run-around!

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