"new" bike for trainer only?

I currently have my Cannondale Slice as my trainer bike because i don’t want to put my lovely Cervelo R3 on it and get it soaked in sweat and to have to mess about with the through axle.

It works ok and certainly i’ve managed to cover 5000 miles a year in this way but I often wish i had a road bike there instead.

Does anyone buy a cheap, rubbish old bike (from eBay?) for the trainer only?

Think its a good idea. You could also just buy a frame and build it up yourself. It might not need all the parts of a full bike, for example, it won’t need brakes. And you’ll probably be ok with a 1x system, so no front derailleur either.

If buying an old ebay bike, to me the most crucial but would be to get the same position as on your road bike.

1 Like

As I produce about a swimming pool’s worth of sweat for even the easiest of sessions, a turbo-only bike is what I’ve used up to now. You’ll be surprised what deals you can get on eBay - my latest turbo bike is a Bianchi c.2000 which I got for virtually nothing because of a crack in the headset tube. I’ve had it for almost 5 years, although it is on its last legs now.

The only problem is the position. As a TTer, I know I ‘should’ be training in the aero position as much as possible, but don’t want to take my TT bike anywhere near the sweaty mess that is my turbo room. Fortunately, I’ve recently acquired a frame and some spare parts, so plan to build up a new turbo bike from scratch, and use clip on aero bars to get as close to my TT position as possible.

I guess it depends how much you sweat - however many towels I use, my turbo bikes always fall to bits eventually, so I’m reluctant to start using my ‘proper’ bikes on there.

Yep, exactly what I did. Old Peugeot steel frame, friction shifters to give a very cheap 11 speed setup.

I didn’t purchase specifically but I repurposed on older bike I had to be a trainer only bike.


I’m headed that way. About to get a new road frame, and I’m going to transfer most of my components over to it; I don’t mind relying on my smart trainer’s erg mode most of the time so I don’t need derailleurs, brakes, a full cassette, or even functioning shifters. Just an old handlebar with old hoods, a crankset, a single-speed cog and a chain tensioner.

It is valuable to replicate the fit of your other bike(s), and probably the biggest loss that I see with relying 100% on erg mode is that you lose the option of self-pacing VO2max efforts, which is notable simply because the prescribed FTP percentages for those is a best-guess guideline (as @chad has mentioned many times on the podcast). If you go with a complete (albeit cheap) bike on the trainer, that problem can be addressed too of course.

The semi-simple way to address that in ERG mode is to decrease the Workout Intensity from 100% down to what you have learned works for each rider.

  • I made this chart to understand the exact impact of changes from the typical 120% of FTP setting for VO2Max.

I’ve always had this odd dream of building the most minimal trainer bike I possibly can…

Something like a steel road frame with downtube shifters (so I can not deal with modern brifters - though you could do this with drifters as well), a single rear wheel (my trainer uses a front wheel mount - though I enjoy the idea of “building a bike” with no wheels, given your trainer works that way ), 5-7 speed cassette (or more if you are going brifters), no need for brakes and a completely modern cockpit with the position I want.

I have always given myself a budget of $500 to get it done.

The only thing that has stopped me is I live in an apartment and don’t have space to leave the trainer setup. But when I have dedicated space you can bet I’ll be doing something like this.


I’ve had a similar idea, but love your take with using the older bike and DT shifters. Might take some effort or the right mix to match up with some wheel-off trainers (8 speed cassette minimum), but all doable.

1 Like

Right? Downtube shifters are so elegant (in their own way), especially the indexed ones.

You can still find new Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 downtube shifters (10-speed compatable - off wheel trainers would be no issue) fairly easily.

The hard part is finding a frame that isn’t a 80s/90s noodle with downtube shifter mounts.

All other parts can be modern.

1 Like

I don’t think tracking how my FTP and VO2max power vary against each other over time and outside of TrainerRoad entirely is the “semi-simple” solution. I think the simple solution is to shrug, accept it as a limitation, and find yourself sometimes backpedaling at the end of a too-hard VO2max interval, especially when the mouse and keyboard are nowhere near your trainer. :slight_smile: Or use resistance mode and self-pace the efforts…

The real solution is a lot of work from TrainerRoad, both in software (tracking VO2max power separately and using that as the baseline instead of FTP for those intervals) and in exercise science (how to design a test that can estimate VO2max power with a non-zero compliance rate).

1 Like

Well, the context of your comment that I quoted & replied to was very specific to ERG mode and single-speed use. As such, adjusting Workout Intensity is a quick way to accomplish adjustments live, in similar fashion to what I presume you were hinting at:

  • Using a geared bike in Resistance mode, and self-selecting a gear and power that feels right for the interval at hand?.

You can start at the full 100% and adjust after the first interval based on how it felt, what you see ahead and prior knowledge about similar workouts. And my use of “semi-simple” was very deliberate in recognizing it is not a perfect solution, but one that can work with minimal effort and be applied (or removed) at any point in any workout.

You followup comment is also interesting and been discussed in great detail elsewhere.

I pretty much dedicate my road bike to the trainer and only ride my tri/TT bike outside. My road bike is a triple ring 9-speed aluminum Specialized Secteur so nothing special, but since I use a KK Road Machine and a dedicated trainer tire it’s more time consuming to switch it in and out than to just swap my Favero pedals over to my Tri bike. The super close gearing on my 9-speed cassette works really well on the trainer for nice incremental jumps though and I have clip-on aerobars for an extra position to use so it’s pretty versatile.

After a long while of watching various forums, eBay, bootsale sites and Facebook marketplace I finally found a virtually unused CAAD 8 to stick on my trainer. Almost the same geo as my road bike for the cost of a big night out.

Saves the crucial couple of minutes taking bike ln and off the trainer, which is one less excuse to train out of the way, plus I saves putting my decent bike through all the stress and sweat.

Only downside now is spending the same again on a saddle…

1 Like

That’s the part where I disagree, though. Whether it works “with minimal effort and be applied (or removed) at any point in the workout” depends precisely on whether that’s true of adjusting workout intensity in your setup, which you seem to be assuming is true. (From a user experience perspective… I don’t think it’s ever true, but it gets even worse if you have to hop off the bike to change the intensity.)

That’s why it’s worth mentioning as a factor to consider.

Sure, it is subject to setup, no question there.

The ideal is to have the least possible number of potential barriers (i.e. excuses not to do it) to turbo training, especially for low-motivation days.

A dedicated turbo bike is perfect for this purpose.

Having a set-up that’s ready to go is a real asset for me. I’ve an old “winter bike” that has a dodgy fork and other aluminium corrosion that renders it unsafe on the road but fine on the turbo, permanently set up on the trainer, in its own shed, so all I have to do is switch on and go.

Its riding position is the same as my other road bikes.

1 Like

I have the same dream - the ultimate trainer bike - but mine is more like this: Ti frame with thru axle rear dropouts and the exact same front triangle geometry as my road bike, no brakes / flat mount / etc., longish rear chainstays (better chain line), and the same cockpit as my road bike with ETAP shifters (zero cables)

1 Like

OMG i’ve been looking through eBay for a couple of days thinking i can get a truly cheap and nasty bike for the trainer but i just can’t bring myself to do it.

Can you really just put £50 of old steel bike on there and not hate every second of riding?

Or should i buy a proper frame and proper cranks and gears and build one up minus the brakes and wheels?

I used to use a really old bike. Now I have a TT bike that I don’t dare ride outside in the city I use it instead.

Key thing with using a decent bike is to remove as much as possible so it can’t get damaged, particularly the front brake. You don’t need to brake cable the bike. If you have a wheel off trainer you don’t even need wheels; just dig out an old wheel with worm rims. If you use ERG mode a lot forget the gear cables too.

Just make sure you replicate your good bike’s position. The one and only thing I would spend money on is the seat, but even there you can often get a much cheaper version with Steel rails or a Chinese fake.

1 Like