Bike Trainer Review: The CycleOps Fluid 2 Indoor Trainer
Indoor Bike Trainers: Do I Have To?
Just about every cyclist I've ever met shares similar feelings regarding indoor bike trainers. They suck.
But as rough as it can be, most cyclists I've met will say the same thing when it comes to winter cycling: If it's possible to ride outside; that is, if there is no ice or snow on the roads and I can get out there during the daylight hours, then I don't care how cold or windy it is, I still prefer to be out on the road than on an indoor trainer.
Attaching Your Bike to the Cyclops Fluid 2
Well, Yes, Sometimes You Have To
The first problem with winter and outdoor cycling is of course the snow and ice. Unless you are mountain biking on trails, you don't want to be anywhere near these elements when you are cycling.
This is a big problem because there can be patches of ice on the road even if it hasn't snowed or rained in weeks.
When deciding whether or not ice will be a factor on your ride, you really need to pay attention to the temperatures and precipitation every day. This is the only way you will know when there is the possibility of rain or snow melt that has had the opportunity to freeze.
You'll also want to be extra careful if your route takes you through any parking lots or poorly-drained roads. Water can hang out in places like these for weeks during the winter months, freezing and unfreezing over and over again. One small patch of black ice can really put a damper on the day's ride.
The second problem with outdoor winter cycling is the salt on the roads. I don't like to ride until there has been a good rain to wash away all the salt from the sides of the roads. Salt is highly corrosive, and the thought of any of it settling into the nooks and crannies of my bike to go to work is scarier to me than the original Exorcist. You know, the one where the girl's head spins around and those creepy flies are always in that cold room.
Lastly, outdoor winter cycling is tough due to the reduced hours of daylight. Most people get home from work after 5:00 p.m., meaning that any rides after work during the week are out. This leaves only two days of the week when riding is possible outdoors - a real issue for those who like (need) to get out there at least three or four times a week.
For these reasons, and in spite of the fact that most of us prefer an outdoor ride over an indoor one any day of the week, an indoor bike trainer is an absolute necessity for any cycling enthusiast.
Indoor Trainer Riding Tips
- Let's face it, riding an indoor bike trainer is BORING. To ease the pain a bit, I have an arsenal of cycling DVDs that I always watch when I am riding indoors. There's nothing like watching riders battle their way across the muddy cobbles of an epic Paris-Roubaix or watching as Lance attacks on Mt. Ventoux and Ullrich can do nothing but watch him get smaller as he rides away.
- There's no air circulation indoors, no wind blowing in your face to cool you down, so it's going to be hot and you're going to sweat. Make sure you have a fan on high blowing steady onto your face and torso.
- I also don't like to have all that corrosive sweat dripping down onto my sweet ride, so I keep a towel draped over my top tube and bars. I also use the towel to wipe the sweat off my face while riding.
- Cover up any digital clocks within view, like the one on your cable box. While you can ride 10 miles outdoors before you even realize that you're on your bike, inside the minutes creep by like snails chasing molasses -- better not to know how long each minute is taking.
Take Me to Your Trainer
After putting my budget at about $300 and doing a lot of research on the subject, I decided to go with the CycleOps 2 Fluid Trainer and so far, I have been very happy with my decision.
- First off, the CycleOps 2 does have a fairly realistic road-like feel as advertised. No trainer can perfectly replicate riding outdoors, but the CycelOps 2 does a really good job and provides for a smooth ride.
- It's also a very quiet trainer, which I find to be a big plus so that I can hear Phil Liggett declaring that some rider has just "blown the race apart, there's no catching him now, it's all over, that's the end of the Tour de France!"
- The CycleOps 2 couldn't possibly be easier to set up. A few turns of a nut, a little adjusting, a few more turns, and you're good to go. Once properly adjusted, hooking the bike to the trainer and removing it from the trainer are both as simple as the turn of a single lever -- it really is simple. Which is why it is a great mystery that they couldn't have explained the hook-up process better in the instructions. It's the simplest thing in the world, but if you read the instructions, you will have no idea what to do. The best course of action is to Google or Youtube "CycleOps 2 set up" (or see video provided above). This is what I did after about a half hour trying to read directions that were written by somebody who apparently didn't have a very strong command of the English language.
- The CycleOps 2 also has an"infinite" resistance band, meaning that you will get as hard of a workout as you want.
- Finally, it is a small trainer that can sit in a corner of the room or in a closet when not in use.
I did purchase the training mat also, to keep the trainer from scuffing the floors. A little steep for a big piece of rubber, but it's very easy to roll out and roll back up when I'm done with my ride.
Overall, I am very pleased with the CycleOps 2 Fluid Trainer. Does it take away my dread of going for an indoor ride? Not really. But I think it eases the pain as much as any indoor trainer can.
Indoor Cycling is HARD -- Refuel With Protein
Don't forget that every mile you ride on an indoor trainer is the equivalent of 1.5 - 2 miles riding outside. You will burn a lot of calories riding indoors, so be sure to try one of these delicious whey protein shakes to refuel your muscles following your ride.