MTB tires and flat pedals on trainer

Hello everyone

I’m an enduro rider and currently train indoor on my road bike and a CycleOps fluid trainer ( using virtual power.

Lately I’ve been entertaining the thought of dropping my road bike for training in favor of my MTB but have doubts mainly regarding two things:

  1. lifespan reduction and performance effect on my knobby rear tire (Maxxis Minion DHR).
  2. I ride flat pedals on my MTB and doubt how they would work on the trainer.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated.


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I call myself an enduro rider too, I train on TR on a road bike.

Knobbly on a wheel on trainer just wont work, it will be vibey, noisey and as you say will wreck it. You’ll want a spare wheel with slick/trainer tyre on it.

I rode flats on the trainer for a long time, I’m a flats rider on the MTB. It was fine. I only got cleats as I was offered a second hand pair of shoes cheap.


I would agree with @Crownan here. MTB tires on a non-direct drive trainer will just be loud and inconsistent AND will destroy a very nice/expensive tire. If you want to train with your MTB on the trainer, picking up a slick tire is the best bet. I have personally used the following tire on my MTB for local computrainer classes in the past and it was great!

As for Flats on the trainer, you absolutely can but we recommend being clipped in just for the efficiency of it on the trainer.


Wow! thanks for the quick replies.

I will maybe stick to the road bike then, switching tires every time seems unpractical.

Thanks again!

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I ride flats on my mountain bike. So, I put flats on the trainer as well, so that it’s like my outdoor bike. There are pedaling drills that I can’t do in flats, but I get as close as I can. -Jim

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I will disagree with @Ian on changing to clips for the trainer. Ride on the trainer like you ride outside. I use clips in both situations. Why change? So some drills are tough to do – but will they make YOU a better rider in flats later?

I do MTB on the trainer and my trainer tire has lasted over 5 years so far. Going strong. Worth the $$$

I’m definitely someone who is big on specificity, but balance practicality. My thoughts on this would be to keep the road bike if it’s not a big deal so that you’re not constantly changing wheels. Instead, I would do some measurements on my MTB to get seat height, saddle to bar distance, and bar height as close as possible. Try and replicate your position that you’ll be doing work in, but recognizing that it’s not the end of the world.

I definitely wouldn’t go melt an expensive MTB tire, though.

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This is the exact reason I bought an old road bike. I hated having a MTB tied up on the trainer. I ride flats on the MTB too and I use clipless on the trainer so I can do all of the efficiency drills. I still feel like my mtb goals are being met for now but I am only on SSB2. When my training gets more specific I might have to switch over or maybe change the gearing on the roadie to simulate the mtb.

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I have been wondering about body positioning on the trainer lately. I use a somewhat vintage road bike with a very stretched out position on the trainer and I set my mtb up more trail oriented than XC so there is a drastic difference. I feel like I have without a doubt improved this way but I wonder if those long slow MTB climbs are still kicking my butt because of the muscles being used differently or if its just because I’m at 2.5w/kg.

As far as flats v.s. clipless on the trainer I use clips so that I can complete the efficiency drills. I use a somewhat extreme flat pedal on my FS MTB; the Pedaling Innovations Catalyst Pedal. I and a standard flat on my HT. I can still say that the efficiency drills have helped even on flats.

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+1 for the Catalyst Pedals…

Although I just recent upgraded to a Kickr I was riding my All Mountain bike/Flats on my fluid trainer with a cheap road tire. Definitely no go in the house on the knobbies… It was a signficant change from the road bike but IMO for the better.

Also fully agree about the pedaling drills on Flats, definitely doable and shows your weaknesses.

Although somewhat controversial checkout the Flat Pedaling manifesto from James Wilson

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May I ask what your opinion of the Catalyst Pedal is? I am doing James Wilson’s Ramping Isometrics now and have been thinking about that pedal. Not sold on the principle…

Thanks in advance!

I like the catalyst pedals for mellow trail riding. They certainly take some getting used to but I do believe that they deliver the ability to stomp up climbs with more power. I can feel different parts of my leg muscles burning when I use them on long climbs.
That being said, I am no longer using them. I have them stashed away in a drawer and instead use iSSi Thump pedals with replaceable pins. The reason for this is I don’t ride mellow trails often if at all. I ride aggressively pretty much every ride. I found myself slipping off of the catalyst pedals when things get chunky or wet. I never did get around to trying them with longer pins but I am very happy with my new pedals and i won’t be going back at least not on this bike.

There are plenty of people that have installed the longer pins and love them. If I were to try and get my dad on a bike again I would probably put him on a pair of those pedals for the added comfort and support.

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