Bike rollers are a great way of improving your bike handling and pedalling skills when it's cold and wet outside.
Unlike training on an exercise bike at the gym, rollers let you ride your own bike, so you'll have the same set up as you're used to. They are also convenient as you can set up in your kitchen, living room or garage and turn your house into a gym.
Why buy bike rollers?
No matter what the weather is doing outside, you can train all year round. A turbo trainer is great for short, high intensity training sessions that aren't easy or safe to achieve on the road. The added resistance they provide also improve your fitness.
Rollers are designed to improve your overall balancing, coordination and pedalling skills – essential for success in a race or sportive ride.
Regular sessions on rollers improve pedalling efficiency and smoothness that you can't get on a turbo. Turbo trainers require no balancing skills so you can mash the pedals and focus on power training. Rollers also offer a convenient pre-race warm up as you can simply hop on and off.
Rollers vs turbo trainers
How to ride on rollers
Rollers can be tricky to learn how to use. Unlike a turbo trainer, your back wheel isn't fixed in place – you're simply balancing on the rotating drums.
- Setup near something to hold onto – e.g. door handle or chair arm
- Stand straddling the top tube
- Put outside pedal at 6 oclock and place foot on pedal (clip in with clipless shoes)
- Place hand on wall
- Sit on saddle and place foot on inside pedal (clip in)
- While still holding onto the wall, start pedalling
- As you build speed the bike will get more stable
- When you're ready let go of the wall and hold the handlebar
- Start to freewheel and place one hand on the wall
- Let your wheels naturally slow down (don't use the brakes
- Spin one pedal to 6 oclock and remove/un clip that foot
- Place that foot on roller's frame
- Remove/ un clip your other foot and place on the frame
- Get off the rollers
Features to look for
More rollers are now coming fitted with resistance units in the rear two drums, offering a wide range of training intensities. They are designed to bridge the gap between a turbo and rollers. You can improve handling and your fitness at the same time.
High-end rollers are ANT+ enabled and can be wirelessly connected to your PC, laptop or smartphone. Some can adjust automatically or based on custom workouts.
Parabolic roller drums
Parabolic roller drums taper outwards at the ends to create a shallow section in the middle. This helps your wheel sit in the centre of the drums for maximum stability and safety. If you're new to rollers then parabolic drums can make training easier so you can focus on pedalling efficiency rather than balance.
Rollers with sealed bearings will run quieter than those that don't feature them. This is ideal if you don't want to disturb the family or neighbours if you live in a flat.
When space is at a premium look for rollers that can be compacted or folded down. This will also make transport easier if you're taking rollers with you as a pre-race warm up tool.
Rollers are a great tool for improving your bike handling skills and pedalling efficiency – both are essential for improving your all round performance. Look for those with parabolic drums for easier mounting, sealed bearing for quieter riding and resistance units if you want to improve your power.