Tim vs. the bike rollers

As the weather got worse and worse here in the North East it became clear I’d have to do some type of indoor riding to keep my progress moving forward. I went back and forth about a getting a trainer, or rollers – my biggest fear was getting something I wouldn’t want to use.

You can spend a fortune on these things, so initially I started to look for them used on Craigslist, but as you can imagine, the way the weather is here people don’t look to get rid of them very often. I saw a few come up used, but quickly figured out I could get a brand new set of Nashbar reduced radius rollers for under $100 shipped to my doorstep.

I went for rollers over a trainer for the following reason:

  • I have heard trainers are mind-numbingly boring, whereas rollers are more interesting due to the challenge of staying on them – plus 1 for the rollers.
  • It’s said that rollers help you work on your form, spinning and concentration – failure to do so results in a carpet burn on your face – plus 1 for the rollers.
  • Rollers seemed to be cheaper than trainers while achieving what I was looking for – done deal.

I ordered the Nashbar reduced radius rollers and they showed up 4 days later (not bad considering I only paid for ground shipping) in a big box.

Box o' pain

Box o' pain

Setup is really simple, the only adjustment you need to make is based on the wheelbase of your bike. You basically measure the wheelbase then move the front roller to match, very easy, 2 bolts.

I was up and running within 15 minutes of taking them out of the box. I found the horror stories about riding rollers had some truth to them, no doubt about it they’re hard to stay on. The key for me was to hold on to something at the side that was at hand level until I was up to a decent cadence, then I could let go.



My quick tips:

  • Use something to grab on to at hand level, you’ll need it.
  • Don’t look down at the front wheel, next thing you know you’ll be looking at the ceiling from the floor. Pick an object 2-3 feet in front of the rollers to focus on.
  • Don’t use the brakes while using the rollers. If you do the wheel stops but the rollers don’t, end result is a nice flat spot on your tire, and a smell of burning rubber that will have your wife wondering “What’s on fire?”.
  • If you have clipless pedals, I wouldn’t clip them in to start with, and once you do just do one – worked well for me.

So far I’m loving the rollers, I have about 2 one hour sessions on them so far, I am thrilled at how quiet they are – that was a main concern. I’ve got to the point where I can watch TV on the rollers with no problem and thanks to the quietness of the rollers I only have to turn the TV up a little higher than usual. Having never ridden anywhere other than the road I’m really glad I didn’t get a trainer, on the rollers I find myself clock-watching, I can’t imagine how bored I would have been on a trainer.

The resistance takes some getting used to, it’s managed by changing gears on the bike, but doesn’t seem to vary a whole lot. It’s a different kind of riding I find, I sweat like crazy on these things, something I never do when riding on the road. I’ve also heard of people stuffing an old towel underneath the rear rollers to add resistance, not sure how true this is, sounds like a fire waiting to happen. 🙂

Bottom line is, I’m really happy with these rollers, and my roller vs. trainer decision.

Happy rollin’ 🙂

Help me meet my Pan Mass Challenge fund raising goal


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