Questions regarding getting started

Hopefully, this is the appropriate place to ask these questions.

TL;DR - Looking for really good indoor cardio - my work schedule is weird

I had looked at Spin Bikes, but stumbled upon actual indoor cycling trainers which seem to be a much better option for someone who is actually interested in metrics and progression (I like numbers and seeing progress) - I lost 75 lbs last year and I’m trying to get routine cardio going. Outdoor stuff is generally bad (it’ll be dark when I’m able to do these workouts) and I have really poor feet so high-impact things are pretty inadvisable.

Programs like Trainer Road seem like a viable option for me, but I’m at a bit of a loss as I don’t have any cycling equipment whatsoever. There seems to be a bit of a rabbit hole in terms of what you can spend and the gear you can get - specifically what kind of bike would someone like me need if it’s going to be a primarily indoor event - it doesn’t seem like having a really expensive frame and wheels, etc. would actually matter much - does anyone have any suggestions on this subject

It seems like all the information is typically geared for people who already have a bike and ride outdoors, but I’m trying to do it somewhat backwards I suppose with starting inside and maybe moving outside if my lifestyle changes at some point.

Thanks for any input.

I ride outdoors. But when indoors, I use a Concept2 BikeErg. It seems to work OK with TrainerRoad. It won’t control the resistance for you, but otherwise it’s fine. The reason I got one was that I already had a C2 rower, and liked it so much I figured the bike would be a good thing to have. It’s cheaper than a Peloton lol!

Edit: I just checked and they’re all sold out except for some that people are selling on ebay for a 50% markup. Oh well…

For indoor riding, the bike weight, material, etc matters very little. A 2nd hand frame that fits is just fine.

Equipment, etc doesn’t really matter that much either - about the only things worth spending money on are a couple of pairs of cycling bib shorts, and some powerful fans.

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I think the key on the bike is comfort. Indoor cycling is less comfortable the outdoor so you really want the bike to fit you well. Other than that you should be good to go and if you are buying a smart trainer most do the cadence for you on bluetooth so you don’t need to buy another sensor.

Here is the minimum (and what I use): A trainer or rollers (go with the trainer at this point). This can be a “Dumb” trainer - you can get these used off Facebook marketplace or craigslist for reasonable amounts.

A bike. Any bike can work. But you need to know that it fits you. This does not mean you need to go out and get a bike fitting by a professional. Ask around, find someone that is highly experienced and have them help you get in the ballpark. Or just go with what feels right. Do you have any cycling friends that can help you find a used bike? If not, let us know. We can probably help get you help.

Then you need one more piece of cycling equipment - a speed sensor. These are about $40 new. This will let TrainerRoad give you virtual power for your numbers. Most likely you will want a bluetooth enabled one.

What else will you absolutely must have? A computer or a device to run TrainerRoad. Here is the catch - whatever you use to run TR needs to be able to communicate with the speed sensor. That is where the bluetooth comes in. (I use a USB dongle from back when TR started).

That is it. Now, you will WANT a fan. You will WANT towels. And you will WANT the ability to watch something to keep yourself entertained (unless you are like me right now and really only want music).

First, congrats on your progress so far.

Here is a blog post from Trainerroad that gives a good overview of getting started. The Beginner’s Guide to Indoor Cycling Training - TrainerRoad Blog

Like the others said, I would also recommend getting a used/new road/fitness bike that fits you and feels good. Most trainers can mount a pretty wide range of bikes. I use a wheel on trainer where the trainer squeezes down on the rear wheel axle and holds the rear tire against a roller. Some “dumb” trainers have adjustable resistance and others do not. So to change resistance, you change gears on your bike. The adjustable dumb trainers have some lever to adjust resistance. Smart control trainers will connect with the Trainerroad app and can adjust the resistance for you. A good option for this is something like the Kinetic road machine smart control: Kinetic — Kinetic Road Machine Control Bike Trainer - Bike Trainer

Good luck!

I use an older Trek Domane as a dedicated trainer bike so I don’t have to change the tire when I want to ride outside - you will want a trainer tire if you get a wheel-on trainer. You are correct that you don’t need an expensive bike or high-end wheels. I use a Saris M2 smart trainer and it has served my purposes as a novice cyclist. I like it because it controls the power changes automatically. Comfortable shorts are important. An hour on the trainer is much harder on the back side than an hour on the road. It’s worth spending a little more on the shorts.

Thank you for the reply, the fit for the bike was one of my primary concerns - so any advice or a good article would be great. None of my friends are into fitness or cycling so I don’t have any good resources in that way. The computer stuff shouldn’t be an issue I’ve got plenty laying around to be repurposed.

I never even considered the clothing aspect - I guess that makes sense though - thank you for the help

Thanks, I’ll check this video out - if you have any tips on finding/picking out a bike that’d be great

It’s always worthwhile to go to the local bike shop. Some stores will sell used bikes. So look for a store that carries something like Trek, Giant, or Specialized. If they do sell used bikes, then they usually have a mechanic look over the bike and will help find one that fits and will work for what you want.

On Facebook, they are region/state specific bike buy/sell groups that are a good option. Craigslist can be sketchy.

Most people use a road bike on the trainer, but some trainers will fit mountain bikes too which might require an adapter to fit. If it uses a quick release (QR) for the rear wheel it should work. If it has a through axle it will need an adapter. But if you are bargain hunting you would most likely end up with a QR style rear axle. Also for trainers that are wheel on, make sure that the rear tire is smooth. A mountain bike tire with big knobbies will be loud and not fun at all. There are trainer tires for different sized wheels but regular smooth/slick tires work fine.

Proscloset is another place to look if you don’t have lbs nearby. A good lbs is a win for you. Lots of experience there that can be a great help.

Trainer Road is focused mostly on indoor workouts, you can do the workouts outside but I don’t find them to be as focused or as time-efficient. I didn’t start doing trainer road until I had a “dumb” indoor fluid trainer.

One the low end, all you really need to start is a cheap bike that can go on a trainer, compatible trainer, HR sensor, and sensors for speed / cadence. There are also some spin bikes that are compatible too (Compatible Devices and Sensors – TrainerRoad).

FWIW - I bought the trainer used off a friend who was into cycling.

If you upgrade to a wheel-on smart trainer for about $400 (The Smart Trainer Recommendations Guide: Winter 2020-2021 | DC Rainmaker), it should be able to estimate your power more accurately and make the workouts more effective.

Thanks for the link - I’m not really sure what qualifies as “cheap” for a bike for this purpose (holy cow they get expensive) - it seems that I only need to worry about the size of the bike, drive train/gears, and pretty much everything else for this particular purpose is relatively pointless to spend money on. I have a LBS I may try to go to just to see what size I might need - I’m 5’9" with a 30-inch inseam so I assume it’s going to be a rather standard/normal type of size.

I wouldn’t say I have a strict budget but I’d prefer not to acquire a lot more hardware than I reasonably need.

Cheap bike means what you can afford. It could be a used bike for $200. My trainer bike is an aluminum framed Fuji which I bought about 5 years ago for $700.

The cost of a used bike + a used dumb trainer is going to be much less than say a gym quality spin bike or a peleton. You also can’t use an indoor trainer without a bike.

Asking how to to use trainerroad without a bike (either a compatible spin bike or a bike to put on a trainer) is a bit like asking how to do indoor rowing without a rowing machine or indoor running without a treadmill. Bottom line, you’re going to need some sort of bike if you want to cycle.