Suggestions for using MTB on Trainer for TR

I’m an old guy returning to training and would like to do age-group XC racing. Can I use my XC bike on a Trainer with Trainer Road. What trainers would be best? Thanks in advance. J.R.


A direct drive trainer, you’d have to do some research.

Are you shopping for a trainer?

What bike, and more importantly, what rear axle system do you have on the bike?

  1. Old 9mm x 135mm Quick Release
  2. Newer 12mm x 142mm Thru Axle
  3. Newerer 12mm x 148mm Thru Axle (Boost)
  4. Newerest 12mm x 157mm Thru Axle (Super Boost)

What is your budget?


Hi Chad. Thanks.

Epic Expert with 12 x 148.

If I can use the bike that I have, I’m happy to spend bucks on a Trainer that will enable me to use Trainer Road.

I saw one of the TR promos where one of the Pro Women had her MTB on a trainer (wheel off type). Intuitively, that looks good to me. I think it was the Wahoo Kickr.

Would this setup allow me to use all the programs on TR?

Thanks again.

Thanks. I’ll head towards Direct Drive.

I understand you addressed and replied to Chad, but just jumping in here.

There are “lots” of pro MTBers that use a trainer. Wheel off is generally preferred as wheel on is not “as good” as on a road bike. With knobbies, you’d need a wheelset to run slicks, it’s a bit of a pain. You can run knobbies on a wheel on trainer, but it is loud.

Yes, with a trainer, you can use all the programs available. The type of bike you have is really not that important, as far as TrainerRoad goes.

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Thanks for that.

Do you have a suggestion or know the consensus on a good Direct Drive unit in the $800-$1000 range?

I am jaded, having been burned on Wahoo. I’m not a good person to ask. I am currently using a Saris H3, but I understand there may be fit issues with an eagle cassette and derailleur (bumps into the trainer body). I’m not sure on that.

FWIW, I use a different bike to train as it sits 24/7 on the trainer, gears don’t matter to me on a trainer. All that matters is time in zone, cadence, and building endurance and strength. My MTB does not get put on a trainer. That’s a bit different than you, though. I also participate in all aspects of riding, MTB, gravel, road, so it doesn’t matter much to me what sits on the trainer.

The only thing I would add, for XC racing, is that you need to keep your skills on the bike from degrading…especially if your XC race is not “dirt roadie” but technical XC or XCO. That doesn’t take long to refresh and rebuild though, but if you’re preparing for A races, you will need to do outdoor work.

FWIW, friends of mine use the Kickr and Kickr Core 2017. I also have the Kickr 2014, but have problems with that one. I now use the Saris H3.

I enjoy my Tacx Flux S. DC Rainmaker and GPLama have the best reviews though.

Here is a great guide for trainer info:

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Thanks, Sam. I’ll go look at those.

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Thank you. Lot of good stuff to mull there.

I hear you on keeping the “skills.” With the weather here in Santa Cruz I’m pretty blessed for being able to get outside most of the year.

I probably need to carefully balance the “comfort” on indoor training with the “learn’n” from cycling through the scree. Best,

I just picked up a new H3 and put my gravel bike on it with an eagle cassette and the cassette does indeed rub on the plastic shroud. Anyone have any experience with this? Was thinking I could remove one of the cogs and add the 10spd cassette spacer or something similar. Mix and match the cogs and spacers to loose a cog and essentially fir the cassette outboard. Can’t imagine it would be a big deal to go back to an 11spd drivetrain… I know, so 2017… :wink:

I have the 12x157 super boost rear hub on my mountain bike. Do you have any recommandation on a smart trainer (Direct Drive) ?
I have a hard time finding information.


I don’t think any support super boost right now but I could be wrong.


Agree, even boost spacing was difficult a couple years ago, but now there are options. I don’t think super boost will be compatible and rollers may be your only option.


I have a saris H3 as well but for my road bike. It is a solid and nice trainer. You will get a lot of recs depending on the brand they like but here are a few I like and would consider.

H3, Wahoo Kickr, Tacx Neo. There are smaller versions of these trainers like the Wahoo Core or Tacx Flux. Somone else posted the DC Rainmaker link which is a good link to get you familiar.

As already mentioned, there are no 157mm axle compatible wheel-off trainers. I am not sure if any of the wheel-on trainers could handle that width even if you can find an adapter axle.

That “standard” is still really new and not widely adopted. Plain rollers are something to look at. But wheelbase must be verified since these bikes are often longer than rollers can handle.

One option to check that avoids the rear axle problem is the Feedback Omnium Rollers. It is a fork mount system that avoids the rear axle.

The issue with them is that they have no fly wheel and very little rolling inertia as a result. May be just fine for MTB training, but it is very different than the great feel you get with most wheel-off trainers.