What gear to use on a turbo trainer

Jauncarlos67 Posts: 95
edited January 2013 in Road beginners
At the moment once I have warmed up, I use the big ring on the front and small cog on the back, my turbo Trainer has 5 levels, and I flick between 1 & 2. (5) being the hardest level
I do an hour session and ave 20-21 mph this includes warm up/ cool down through the gears.

Am I using the right gears once warmed up, as I sweat absolute buckets.
Any help/suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance
Wilier La Triestina
Specialized Tarmac Comp


  • robklancs
    robklancs Posts: 498
    Firstly, expect to sweat on a turbo, a lot, no wind resistance to keep you cool, invest in a fan, a big one! Regarding the gears, I don't bother with changing the resistance of the turbo, I set mine at 3/10 and keep it there, I then adjust resistance using the bikes gears, for me it's more realistic and has a better feel.
  • skyd0g
    skyd0g Posts: 2,540
    +1 Big fan & open the window. :wink:
    Cycling weakly
  • robklancs
    robklancs Posts: 498
    Sky dog, if your doing it properly your chamber of pain should not have a window, too distracting and not miserable enough :D
  • elderone
    elderone Posts: 1,410
    If you have a heart rate moniter then you can use zones to train with,this will give you specific targets and you adjust gearing to keep your HR in the right zone.Doesn,t always have to be balls out and variety does help the boredom.
    Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori
  • paul64
    paul64 Posts: 278
    Yes you should sweat a lot as others have said.
    Some further thoughts to add.

    Towels always get knocked off the bike in my experience when you put them on the top tube, eventually I bought a Tacx Sweat Cover and it does the job (a club rider I rode with many years ago corroded every bike he used because of this and that was from normal riding on the road!)

    A couple of years ago I changed from the rear-wheel resistance type of trainer to an Elite fluid Crono with a swing arm that freely moved the wheel on and off the flywheel and I prefer this. It means no clicking, you just ride and change gears as normal. On your type I would keep the resistance low and use the bike gears as others have mentioned, especially as tyres will wear quickly.

    Fit a proper trainer tyre if you haven't already done so to save your road tyres, even better fit a rear wheel you keep for this purpose, just a cheap one with a cassette and trainer tyre. It's an initial outlay but then you're done, it's always there any time you like. Having accumulated various wheels through the years I was able to do so and it's a nice luxury to have. I keep both front and rear trainer wheels fitted with trainer tyres because I also have rollers and found that the front can also wear.

    The turbo trainer can be pretty mind numbing so I use music and earphones, I have an old jogging arm-band designed to hold the belt-loop of a phone case so I can keep the phone playing the music out of the way but still access it to change music. Keep a towel close to hand too.

    Because you are locked in you are not confined to sitting still. I will hold the hoods and count 50 pedal turns, lean forward and move my hands to the drops and count another 50, lean forward and rest my elbows on the tops fully stretched out and count another 50, hold the tops and stand up to pedal out of the saddle and count another 50 then sit and hold the bar tops for a final 50. That's one rep then I change up a gear and repeat this 250 pedal turn rep in each gear. The i do the same coming back down through the gears. It burns the minutes and distance quickly as you go through the gears, builds the resistance progressively, gives you time to recover each time you sit down from the out of the saddle rep, stops hot-spots from sitting still in one position and also allows you to cool down. Takes maybe 45 minutes. YMMV but it works for me.
  • The Mechanic
    The Mechanic Posts: 1,277
    I do my turbo training in the garage. This time of year it is baltic in there but I still sweat buckets. I have started using my Mac Book Pro on i-player and watch TV programmes or movies. It makes the time go much more quickly. I also have a couple of training DVDs that I use.

    +1 for the Tacx sweat catcher. Very good investment. I have a Tacx Flow training and usually leave it in 3/10 resistance and use the gears to create differing efforts.
    I have only two things to say to that; Bo***cks
  • I'm only my 2nd week into having a Turbo ( Tacx Blue Motion ) so no expert. Tonight I'm trying a Sufferfest video - Angels - oh heck! Previously I have been using live music DVDs on the littel portable I have in the garage. Sweating is the norm for a turbo.
    As to how to use it, this is what I tend to do. Warm up on level 1 for 5mins then increase to level 2/3 keeping the cadence around 95-105. If a faster song comes on I try to increase the resistance to 5 and push for the whole song or at least part of it until my cadence drops too 80, before lowering the resistance and getting the cadence back up. I'll do this a few times and mix in a mega spin on Level 2/3 of maybe 130rpm for a minute or so. Some songs I'll do at Level 4.
    All this altering resistance is done on the turbo as opposed to the gears which I have ( I think ) in the 7th out of 10.

    The way I undestand it is that you can cheat if you up the Turbo resistance and then lower the gears, which kind of defeats what we are trying to achieve?
    2012 Bianchi Via Nirone Xenon

    960 miles in 8 days starting 6th April 2013

  • smidsy
    smidsy Posts: 5,273
    I have a Taxc Satori Pro and leave it in 3 or 4 resistance and then use the bike gears. No idea if that is a good or bad tactic but I do know that its damn hard work in top gear so must be doing something.
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • stueys
    stueys Posts: 1,332
    Same here really. Tacx satori, left in setting 5 (of 9) and use the gears for resistance. I sometimes crank it up to mimic gradients but to be honest once you go past 6 on resistance it's loses any fluidity in motion and feels quite unnatural.

    Definitely get a big fan. I got a huge thing from amazon for £35.
  • wavefront
    wavefront Posts: 397
    Yup, also my second week of a turbo.

    I find switching gears is better/easier than changing the resistance. Left mine in 5 and that gives me mega easy to pretty tough changes through the gears (though i stepped up through to 8 and back for a bit of fun today)
  • I went upto to 10 the other day - for all of about 10 seconds!! Does anyone else find it gets quite lumpy ( the pedalling action ) once the resistance goes over 5? I've just got a specific trianer tyre so will see if that makes any difference.
    Mind you, it could be that we are all just not strong enough!!
    2012 Bianchi Via Nirone Xenon

    960 miles in 8 days starting 6th April 2013

  • jonomc4
    jonomc4 Posts: 891
    I find the turbo not a lot of use for training without using a heart rate monitor and cadence sensor.

    I have probably about 10 different workouts (5 scenarios at 2 levels of difficulty) on my Garmin 800 and vary the use of these. I try to keep my cadence at 90 but occasionally drop the gear real low and just go for heavy resistance and slow cadence - this is for times when I feel my "power" could do with improvement - but I don't do it often.

    Like others I just use the gears - the only time using the resistance on the turbo trainer would make any difference was if you were measuring speed or distance but as I only care about time, heart rate and cadence - the rest is irrelevant
  • Cadence, dont forget the cadence. 100rpm min.
  • Thanks to all for the advice, I do have a turbo trainer tyre and a sweat guard and will be getting a Garmin this week end.
    Thanks again
    Wilier La Triestina
    Specialized Tarmac Comp
  • RonB
    RonB Posts: 3,984
    From my experience don't be tempted to do without padded bibs, or at least padded undershorts.

    On the shorter, high intensity sessions, as others have mentioned, you can end up being less mobile than when you're out on the road which can lead to the dreaded numbness in the nethers. Even after 30mins or so.
  • I don't agree with just using the gears though. If the resistance is on 1-3 then its fairly easy to turn the pedals regardless of gearing. Obviously the high the resistance the less chance you have of keeping yourslef in the top gear ( again depending upon your fitness/strength ). Big front cog and 7th on back and I'm struggling above resistance 5 for much more than a few mins. Mind you, I suppose it does depend on what you want to keep your cadence at as well.
    2012 Bianchi Via Nirone Xenon

    960 miles in 8 days starting 6th April 2013

  • marylogic
    marylogic Posts: 355
    If you can't afford/be bothered to fit a trainer tyre would going for low resistance high gearing result in less tyre wear or does it not make much difference?
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,458
    turboslave wrote:
    Cadence, dont forget the cadence. 100rpm min.

    Why? What happens if I drop to 99 or, heaven forbid, 90?
  • I find the turbo utterly utterly dull, so I bought some rollers instead. Great fun, and I have started riding them with a fixie so I am not tempted to switch around the gears like I was on my road bike - Not fallen off yet, but it is inevitable

    2 Types of riders ride rollers, the ones that have fallen off an the ones that will fall off

  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Yup, fixed gear on rollers, helps keep your focus and vary the cadence for intensity. Have come off doing a sprint at 180rpm - as you're not moving, you have little kinetic energy so you simply fall-over.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • Velonutter
    Velonutter Posts: 2,437
    The last few weeks I have been using the turbo for up to 2 hours at a time.

    I adjust the wheel so that it is just touch to the roller, once you are on the bike it applies more pressure, it still leaves a black streak on the roller but as I use a specific turbo tyre/wheel then I find a turbo tyre lasts me through the winter or about 2000 miles.

    I used to used magnetic turbo's but having worn two out, I switched a Cyclops fluid turbo as that way the resistance is applied the faster you ride.

    It depends whether my wife is using the laptop or not, if she is then she watches films with a 1.5m extension lead for the head phones, I then use my iPad mounted on my sheet music stand with an extension lead for the head phones, it helps if you chose a film that matches the length of the training session, if you are going for a long ride, then chose a film of about 120 mins, otherwise split the film in half for your hour sessions.

    I used to use an Elite Sweat mat, but lost it, so I now just lay the towel over the head set, I use a Minoura training mat underneath to catch the sweat.

    It still gets uncomfortable after about an hour and a quarter, but it's bearable but does give you a numb dick at the end of 2 hours! :shock: :cry:
  • ForumNewbie
    ForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    I've got an Elite Cromo Gel turbo with no resistance settings - the weight of my body presses the tyre on the roller, and I think this makes it a very similar resistance to riding on the road. I just use bike gears to change resistance. My average 'speed' seems similar to what I would get on a flat road with no wind. Presumably if you have a turbo with resistance levels and you do the full turbo ride on a low resistance level, you would see on your computer a higher average 'speed' than you would normally get on the road?