Using a mountain bike on a trainer benefits

I usually use my cross bike for my trainer road workouts on my Kicker. I’m entering the Build Plan LV and thinking about using my Enduro bike to change things up. I’m a little concerned because when I use my full squish mountain bike it’s harder to do workouts because the suspension eats a lot of watts. I’m wondering if it’s better to stick to a rigid bike/cross bike. The reason is that I can do workouts at a higher wattage. The VO2 workouts will be higher, SS workouts will be at a higher wattage and thus the adaptation will be better on a non-suspension bike.

The one benefit I can think of using a mountain bike is that teaching your body and pedal stroke to put down power on a full squish bike has advantages. There is so much pedal bob on an enduro bike I’m thinking the advantage might tip the scales towards using a mountain bike and the positive effect it will have on pedal smoothness. Any other experience from gravity oriented riders in this area? What does the collective think?


im an xc racer. this winter i went from training on my road bike to training on my mountain bike since thats my focus. seemed to make sense to me. but xc is less squishy sooo i dont know. i really only commented so id see what everyone else has to say.

While you could do this, in my opinion it would make more sense to just work on your fitness and leave the enduro bike for the trails. Trainer intervals are all about efficiency and as soon as you put your enduro bike on there, that efficiency goes down the drain as the suspension robs you of a ton of watts.

Bottom line, keep the efficiency on the trainer and use your rigid bike. Then, you can hit the trails with great fitness and drop your friends!


Also, if you install a full suspension bike on a trainer, the trainer axle support better rotate freely.

Some trainers (like the Cycleops Hammer) have a non-pivoting axle mount. Not the best setup if you expect that the suspension to be moving a bunch.

I’ve never used my mtb on the Kickr but I did adjust my road bike (it never leaves the trainer) so it was a closer fit to my gravel bike (super comfy) which is closer to my mtb bike fit. I swapped out the stem and adjusted the seat position. My body is more upright, and the reach is corrected. And you could also adjust your seat and shoe cleats to better mimic your mtb foot position.

Stay rigid so you better understand the numbers and can compare them to others if you want to.


I changed from a old roadie on the trainer to my actual full suspension MTB XC race bike with the only change being a rear slick being placed onto it. The Geometry and gearing made a huge change in how I was training as well as a positive 14 watt difference in FTP.

Changing was easy and suspension was a easy fix, I just locked out the rear suspension via my remote and reached down and turned my front setting to its firmest setting. Loss of wattage solved…

My 2 pence:

I ride “Enduro” 160mm full squish. I train on TR on a roadie. If you’re riding an Enduro bike they aren’t for pedal races, and I bet you bought it for the downs. Enduro races aren’t timed on the ups, only the downs. All the training I do on the roadie makes me fitter and faster on the pedally bits when I ride MTB for sure.

If I wanted to race pedally MTB, I’d buy an XC bike. If you are wanting to race pedally MTB, you need a new bike :wink::grin:

Hi @Crownan I hear what your saying but I live in Texas so the Enduro stages in Texas/Arkansas/Oklahoma definitely have a pedally component. I’ve raced California and BME Enduro’s and they are basically enduro’s in bike parks (with exceptions) so I found last year TR really helped putting down max power for a 2-5 minute stage. I think it also helped make my pedal stroke less choppy. The consensus seems to be to use a road bike.

I spent one winter using the Road Bike on the trainer. I could tell a major difference in strength when I switched to the mtb for outside. Last winter I stayed on the mtb and did not have the same issue. I think @Jonathan talked about specificity on using his mtb vs his cross or TT bike when training indoors. Shoot, the guys all talked about specificity when they were discussing the 40k TT.

If you can, use the mtb if that is what you will race on. If you will do both, change it up!

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Specificity, or my impression of it, really is marginal gains. So if you’re at the sharp end of a race, you need an edge and the bike specificity really is your limiter then sure, I get it. Otherwise I just don’t see the point.

If you’re going to fully lock it out then you may as well be on a rigid anyway. Gains on the trainer, on a rigid will be more than transferable, unless, as I say above, you’re really looking for those marginal gains.

Just my 2 pence :slightly_smiling_face:

The point of being on your “race bike” in the trainer is to train the muscles in the way they will be called upon on race day. Possibly more so with regards to MTB. So if you race MTB and you train on a road bike that holds you in a different position, that may affect your power during MTB races. In an extreme example train for a week upright then train for a week in aero position and see if you notice a difference. Not to mention the positional and mental habits you may form over a long winter on the trainer.

For instance, if I train on a road bike and I find during long hard intervals I’m switching my hands from the tops, hoods and drops, those options won’t be available come MTB race season. Not only are you training the body but you’re also training the mind. So if I don’t have the luxury of switching hand positions on my MTB, why would I allow months of training where I do? One could argue that all that matters is power and raising your FTP. When you enter in MTB and certainly ultra endurance MTB (marathon or 100s) its more than just raising your FTP.


@MI-XC I think you described the crux of the argument. I really can see the benefits and detriments of both using and not using a mountain bike.

My instinct is telling me to use a road bike for SSB1, SSB2, and maybe Power, then switch to the mountain bike for speciality. Or maybe switching to a mountain bike during the last few weeks of the Power plan.

In addition to the mental benefits you describe I think as you get closer to the A race/race season it’s good to start strengthening all those little stabilizer muscles that get used when putting down power on a bike with suspension. While in the sweet spot phase it might be more beneficial to do the workouts on a road bike as you are maximizing the amount of power you will be able to do during a particular workout and thus your adaptation is being maximized. If you can do VO2 max intervals at 350 on a road bike rather than 333 on a mountain bike the adaptation will be greater due to the higher overall number on the road bike, correct??

I’m planning on using a coil shock for the season and even with a lockout there is significant pedal bob that zaps power. I’ve noticed that if I am smooth in my transition from one power zone to the next then the amount of watts that are zapped is significantly reduced. Basically don’t be a spaz and try to go from 150 watts to 500 in 2 seconds and take the time to transition from 150 to 500 over three seconds makes a big difference in how the bike handles, reacts and accelerates to changes in power. An airshock handles quick changes in power output much better but comes along with the disadvantages of an air shock. I would think a month or so on the coil bike in doors would be beneficial as I transition to outside rides/workouts. I mean at some point it’s not going to come down to raw power output and you are going to enter the season with whatever ftp your training has given you and the gains are going to come from bike handling skills, cornering, and stage strategy.

Ok. Way off topic. It’s soo exciting to be a gravity athlete right now with so many options regarding training, equipment and riding along with the base of knowledge and putting it all together. Thanks for listening to this deep dive. In definitely interested to hear other’s anecdotal evidence on this topic.

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Like I said, sure, if you’re at the pointy end :+1:t3:

I think specificity plays a big part. Yeah, I can generate more watts on my road bike within it’s geometry, and yes, some of that will transfer to my mountain bike, but to get the most mountain bike benefit you need to put the time in on the mountain bike within its geometry. It’s why all of my triathlon training is done in the aero position. When Chad suggests trying the aero position for a few minutes at a time during the workouts i just smile. I’m just getting into mountain biking and will be using my mountain bike to get the most benefit. Here in AZ it will soon be too hot to ride after work during the week so I’ll be on the trainer then and on the bike on the weekends.

THanks for all of you for your input.

Can I use the cassette that came with my Kickr 2018 as-is for my MTB with SRAM XX1?

I don’t see that as a good idea. The 12-speed Eagle chain is more narrow than the 11-speed chain, and the cassette cog width is similarly narrowed. Putting a 12-speed chain on a wider 11-speed cog may lead to issues.

See the following for related info:

  • Cassette cog spacing is 3.8mm on their 11-speed groups, but that shrinks to 3.65mm for Eagle’s 12 speed (with a slight bit more room between the smallest two cogs to accommodate the angle of the chain there). Chain width goes from 5.6mm on 11 speed to 5.25mm with 12 speed. The change in width isn’t really even important, it’s everything else they did to make it the best, strongest, quietest and smoothest chain. Ever.

No pro here but I use my old road bike for all things trainer and trainerroad. With that being said I always plan atleast 1 ride outside every week. I race marathons so generally I put 2-4 hours on my mtb every week in that 1 ride. I find doing this helps me keep my body “adjusted” to my style of racing even though I have a road bike on my trainer. Unless I was getting paid to compete, which I am not, I don’t think there is a big enough difference for us mortals to get that specific. It may make a difference, it may not. I don’t know but that’s my thought process behind what i do.



Old thread, but am using my hard tail race bike and love it. Maybe it’s the wider Q factor or just the position, but I’m crushing every workout and am almost finished MV Speciality. Only issue is on a Hammer the bike isn’t level, so need to adjust saddle tilt.

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