Trainer specific bike advice

I’m looking to (inexpensively) set up something permanently on the trainer so I can stop pulling my good bike on and off. I have read a few threads on here but I’m wondering a few things still:
Are there any current recommendations for sourcing a cheap aluminum frame/bike?
How cheap/old is too cheap/old for this purpose?

  • The used marketplace (Craig’s List, FB Marketplace, EBAY, etc.) is a place to look. You can look for older models that are often affordable and perfect for trainer use.

To offer more specific info, what exact trainer do you have?

I have the Elite Suito. It has an 11 speed cassette but I’m rarely out of erg mode anyway.

OK, then you could reasonably use most “modern” bikes down to a 9-speed if you want. Might work fine on the trainer with the 11-speed cassette. Worst case you could swap the cassetted.

The main goal should be to find a bike sized appropriately for you so you can get close to your fit on your regular outside bike.

I appreciate the help.
So basically any aluminum 9 or above speed in my size off of craigslist or ebay should work.

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My daily rider is a 2017 Giant Defy Advanced 2 with an 11 speed cassette. Like you, I wanted to be able to just jump on and ride without constantly moving the bike. I found a 2013 Giant Defy 5 really cheap, so I bought it. It’s an 8 speed, but it’s dedicated to the trainer, so I just took the cassette off the rear wheel and swapped it onto the trainer. Also like you, I stay in ERG the majority of the time, so it’s really no issue. I now have a cheap trainer bike that’s the same geometry and set up exactly the same as my daily rider. If I decide to do a free ride on Zwift (which is rare) I just adjust the difficulty so that more closely resembles riding my 11 speed.

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Any bike would work, except for SRAM XD, which would need a hub driver.

7 speed, or less, cassette sizes would need extra spacers. Some older bikes used freewheels instead of cassettes , so be wary of that, and it only applies to 7 speed or less.

8, 9, and speed use the same 1.85mm spacer. Shimano cassettes may need an extra 1mm spacer, when unsure read the pdf file for the cassette model. The 1mm spacer is considered part of the cassette.

As long as you have spacers and a Shimano HG free hub bike, you’re good.

One other thing to look out for, wider Q factor cranks such as MTB cranks or touring triples. They are fine, but some people may be sensitive to it. It only applies if you’re looking at older hybrids.

With a static config you can make any bike fit and feel the way you want. Riser blocks to raise the front. Smaller front wheels to drop the front, etc. in addition to the normal stem riser and the like. The only fixed number is the q-factor of the cranks. And since it’s a fixed bike, longer chain stays won’t be an issue, nor is head angle, etc.

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I have an old 10 speed hard tail MTB on my trainer permanently. I set the saddle height and fore/aft relative to the cranks the same as my road bikes and have the same saddle. I rarely go out of ERG mode but I can.
It’s different as chain ring size is much smaller but what the hey.
Reach to bars also similar but fewer hand positions. Benefit is as you’ll find out and others already know its always ready to go.
There’s a few other threads about this - if you can get something cheap that you can make mirror your other bike you’re away. You don’t even need brakes on it.

Weight also unimportant. :joy:

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Yep I’ve used an old Specialized Rockhopper with drop bars. The beauty of 9 speed. Road and MTB compatible, and you also don’t need brakes. You cal so put bar ends all over the place, if a flat bar. Safety is not an issue.

I currently use a hybrid bike frame, I bought for $60. To get road cranks on I had to hammer the chainstay to get the Q factor in and not rub the chainring. But it’s not moving so who cares.

I’ve a 7 speed as my permanent trainer bike on my hammer. As others have mentioned, if came with a freewheel. However, you can get 7 speed cassettes. I got extra spacers at the same time. I used a UK site SJS cycles to deliver here to Ireland.

When it was just TrainerRoad and Erg, I didn’t even bother indexing it. I just got it “indexed” on the middle of the block. I indexed it at the start of lockdown back in March to try zwift.

It worked fine, but ultimately I swapped it for the winter bike for the summer. I put the 7 speed back on again, and then we got locked down again, so the winter bike has gone back on as I plan more zwift for the next few weeks and the winter bike needs a service which I won’t get to during this lockdown anyway.

For TrainerRoad, I am happy with the 7 speed.

I have to say, zwifting I missed the snappier 105 gear changes, as well as the extra gears. It was fine for zwift just the 11 speed is better so it has reignited my internal debate as to whether to get a second wheelset for the gravel bike for winter road riding. It’s not just a zwift related debate, as the winter bike is mechanical discs v gravel bike hydraulic discs.

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Awesome, thanks for the responses all.
This is the inspiration I was needing…

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A second set of wheels is always a good idea. :joy: :+1:t2:

I’ve found it’s important to get a cassette with as close to a straight block as possible, because cadence is important on an indoor trainer.

Personally, after figuring out what gear ratios I needed for my power profile and the types of workouts I do, I switched to a 1x setup up front just to keep things simple and clean. I’m using a 12-25 11sp cassette in the rear with a 38t chainring.

Another suggestion is that while it is important to set up your seat height and setback the same on your trainer bike as on your other bike(s), consider a flat bar setup. No point killing your back on an indoor trainer - which doesn’t allow you to move around as much as you naturally would on the road.