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turbo or road? which is best?

chris_basschris_bass Posts: 4,913
edited February 2016 in Road general
This may well be a question that has too many variables to ever answer but if you only have limited time which is best for exercise? an hour on the turbo or an hour out on the road? I seem to remember reading somewhere that an hour on the turbo is worth 2 on the road due to lack of freewheeling, junctions, stopping traffic etc but have never really looked into it.
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  • neebneeb Posts: 4,303
    Depends on the road and what you are trying to achieve. If you are trying to train at near threshold with prolonged constant efforts and it takes you 20 mins to get to a road without frequent junctions and lights you'd be much better off on the turbo. But if you are doing short high intensity efforts and you happen to live somewhere with steep rolling roads and little traffic you'd be better off doing hill repeats outdoors than simulating them on them indoors..

    Of course if you live right beside a perfectly flat country road with no traffic you can do exactly the same things you can do on a turbo but with the advantage of actually riding your bike.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 10,818
    As neeb says, it depends on what you want to achieve from your 'exercise'. If you want 60 minutes worth of focused training, then a turbo is hard to beat. If you want to enjoy yourself on your bike for an hour, then you're probably better off going out on the bike...
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    If you can be motivated enough to do an hour on the turbo, it's probably best for fitness, especially at this time of year. However I find it hard to do more than half hour sessions on the turbo, but I am getting on a bit.
  • diamonddogdiamonddog Posts: 3,350
    Imposter wrote:
    As neeb says, it depends on what you want to achieve from your 'exercise'. If you want 60 minutes worth of focused training, then a turbo is hard to beat. If you want to enjoy yourself on your bike for an hour, then you're probably better off going out on the bike...
    ^^This IMO.
  • Alex99Alex99 Posts: 1,436
    I can do a session on the turbo in an hour that leaves me with wobbly legs when I get off. I've rarely had that from an hour on the road. It's not a fair fight though. Evil short intervals will be done on the turbo, and cooling is not as good which makes me more 'wrecked' vs an hour on the road.

    Buy, rent or borrow a power meter then you'll know for sure.
  • Chris Bass wrote:
    This may well be a question that has too many variables to ever answer but if you only have limited time which is best for exercise? an hour on the turbo or an hour out on the road? I seem to remember reading somewhere that an hour on the turbo is worth 2 on the road due to lack of freewheeling, junctions, stopping traffic etc but have never really looked into it.

    I think double is probably overstating it, I would go for more like 1 hour on turbo being worth 1hr 30 min on the road. Also it depends what you're doing, just as outside you can pootle along on the turbo and not really achieve anything.

    On an hours turbo ride I look at my heart rate and it goes up and stays up for the entire ride, effort all the time. Whereas 1 hour outside my HR will be up and down depending on the terrain, although it may reach higher values within that.

    Plus you have to factor in the faffing about time. How long does it take to get your kit on for outside, get the bike out, sort out your helmet, lights etc, and get out of the door vs time taken to set up your turbo, fans, software etc.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,145
    Yes - if we are talking training - then the turbo. No distractions. No junctions. No traffic. Hopefully.
  • fenix wrote:
    Yes - if we are talking training - then the turbo. No distractions. No junctions. No traffic. Hopefully.

    Especially if you combine it with power based workouts, the likes of Trainer Road or Zwift workout mode. There's no hiding then!

    But the real answer of course is whatever you can sustain. If you're going to sick of it then it isn't going to get you fitter.
  • chris_basschris_bass Posts: 4,913
    Plus you have to factor in the faffing about time. How long does it take to get your kit on for outside, get the bike out, sort out your helmet, lights etc, and get out of the door vs time taken to set up your turbo, fans, software etc.

    Actually that is a good point, especially at this time of year it takes bl00dy ages to get all the gear on (and off again after).
    I have a bike set up on the turbo all the time so no setting up time.

    So for limited time turbo probably wins, if time isn't so much of an issue outside wins as it is easier (less boring) to do more time and more often.
    www.conjunctivitis.com - a site for sore eyes
  • I have a bike always on the turbo too, so have to agree there. I tend to ride at 5.30am which means I don't have to factor in weather conditions or anything I just get on and ride. There's still some work to get my kit on, fill the water bottle, start the fans, put on the TV, start up Zwift etc.

    One advantage I find is actually the stopping, if I'm needed for anything I can just stop and instantly, I'm at home ;)
  • Turbo is very good for targeted training. My training is all TT specific (and on my TT bikes) and I do it early in the morning before work, so it's perfect. It being very boring does mean that not everyone manages to maintain the motivation to really push themselves as much as going outside, though, so it's not always the best thing you can do with the time you have available.
  • shipleyshipley Posts: 551
    I'm in training for the Tour of Flanders Sportive so do a long ride on a Sunday (weather permitting) but am also doing 3 turbo sessions a week. Minimum 1hr but usually 1hr 20mins and the only way I have found to maintain my sanity is to rotate my viewing.

    iPad / YouTube for Eurosport recordings of Flanders and other classics and DVDs from 'success cycling', again with the classics and built in dashboard. It's important to have the turbo bike set up for comfort but I am starting to enjoy it and it's helping both my weight reduction and endurance targets.

    Each to his own but it's working well for me
  • chippykchippyk Posts: 529
    I agree with a lot of the above. One huge advantage of the road is you're X hours in and an hour from home and on your censored , you've got to keep going. On the turbo you're keeping at X watts on a video of Ventoux and you're knackered the temptation to get off at Chalet Reynard and go upstairs for a beer is too much sometimes.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 10,994
    Which is best for training? Turbo.
    Which is best? Road. Sometimes I think that people forget why they cycle in the first place.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 19,554
    definitely an interval session on the turbo

    Dutch cyclocross seems to have stopped now so it's time to get mine going again :(
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • ravey1981ravey1981 Posts: 1,111
    Just started zwifting and have to say my fitness is way ahead of last year due to that alone. Normally find turbo boring but time flies by on zwift. Joined the ZTR race on tuesday, legs got an absolute battering but I know I'll be flying by summer. I just can't get the hours in outside at this time of year with work, darkness and crappy weather.... Solid hour on the turbo is just a walk upstairs...
  • What kit do you need to use zwift ?
    Any advice to break the boredom welcome ;-)
  • ravey1981ravey1981 Posts: 1,111
    noste500 wrote:
    What kit do you need to use zwift ?
    Any advice to break the boredom welcome ;-)

    easier to read this than for me to explain.... http://road.cc/content/feature/169616-h ... rted-zwift
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 5,579
    If you have suitable roads I'd disagree with most of the above and say road is better than turbo. Certainly for sprint practice a lot of it is about technique, position on the bike and the way a bike accelerates none of which is going to be quite the same on a turbo. Even for longer intervals though if you have the roads what would be the advantage in sitting on a turbo when riding on the road is going to be closer to what you are actually training for.

    I take the convenience argument which is why I have used a turbo and a wattbike but you can get into doing say 2*20s on the road then you soon find you can empty the tank just as you can on a turbo. I think sometimes people feel they can work harder on a turbo as they are overheating.
    AFC Mercia women - sign for us
  • ravey1981 wrote:
    noste500 wrote:
    What kit do you need to use zwift ?
    Any advice to break the boredom welcome ;-)

    easier to read this than for me to explain.... http://road.cc/content/feature/169616-h ... rted-zwift

    Thanks for that , can't seem to work out if my cateye strave double wireless
    Has ant+

    It's about 3 years old , so net the most recent model .
    Sorry op for the thread jack
  • davep1davep1 Posts: 725
    No-one's mentioned wear and tear to your (outside) bike at this time of year. I can't face a turbo trainer, my garage leaks and is a censored -pit, so if I am going out of the house I may as well go out on the bike. Only at the moment it is in the shop having various parts that have got muddy/wet/gritty replaced! I'm sure you could work as hard out in the real world as on a turbo.
  • bobmcstuffbobmcstuff Posts: 8,053
    Sufferfest advertise that 45 mins of their sessions equals 1 hour on the road (=1h on the turbo being 1h20 on the road) so that's even a bit lower than the 1:1.5 ratio suggested above.

    Obviously as DeVlaeminck says there's some types of riding you can't really replicate on the turbo, but there is plenty that you can as well. Getting out of to a road where I can actually do a proper 20 minute effort takes a little while, and finding good roads for proper structured intervals is not that easy in general.

    I'd rather ride on the road, and there's a small hill local to me which takes me a bit over 2 mins to get up flat out so I do reps on that quite often. But once you're doing reps on a silly little hill in town in the dark and p!ssing rain I don't think it's actually that much more fun than going on the turbo. Character building though!

    Generally speaking if I only have an hour or so I'll usually go on the turbo but if I have 90+ minutes then I would go and ride outdoors. Except my front light is broken so I'm turbo restricted in the evenings until payday...
  • singletonsingleton Posts: 1,536
    I know it's not what was asked, but I'd rather do 2 hours on my bike than 45 minutes on the indoor trainer....

    However, as others have said, 45 minutes indoors can be very, very hard work as you are better able to keep a constant effort / pain level going.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 10,994
    singleton wrote:
    I know it's not what was asked, but I'd rather do 2 hours on my bike than 45 minutes on the indoor trainer....

    However, as others have said, 45 minutes indoors can be very, very hard work as you are better able to keep a constant effort / pain level going.
    That depends on why you are doing it.
    I would rather do 8 hours on the road than 45 minutes on the turbo.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • mamil314mamil314 Posts: 1,103
    'With great power, comes..'

    If one mostly trains on turbo, does that mean that he or she would become fast but have no handling skills and thus endanger self and others?
  • bobmcstuffbobmcstuff Posts: 8,053
    mamil314 wrote:
    'With great power, comes..'

    If one mostly trains on turbo, does that mean that he or she would become fast but have no handling skills and thus endanger self and others?

    I would have thought it doesn't take that much riding outdoors to develop passable handling skills. Particularly if you have been riding bikes since childhood. Maybe if you could literally only just ride a bike upright and then did a whole stack of exclusively turbo training, but who would do that?

    While having excellent bike handling skills might make it easier, I think everyone has a bit of a learning curve when it comes to close group riding regardless of how much real life solo riding you have done.
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,303
    I admit to a tendency to choose the turbo over the road when it's dark and/or very wet. I would rarely go out for (i.e. initiate) an outdoor training ride in continuously pouring rain. I do actually worry that as a result I could be at a disadvantage when it comes to wet weather handling skills compared to people who are regularly doing long rides in the rain. Technical descents in large groups in the rain scare the willies out of me...
  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,086
    mamil314 wrote:
    'With great power, comes..'

    If one mostly trains on turbo, does that mean that he or she would become fast but have no handling skills and thus endanger self and others?

    Yes, in amateur racing, can be seen in early season races, lots of weird crashes, good grp riding skills takes time to develop but is so important to learn., even if you dont intend to race

    though i love my turbo, no way can i get really fit on it, the extra motivation from riding outside, means the effort is so much harder, even if it doesnt feel as though i m going harder.... if that makes sense?
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 10,994
    neeb wrote:
    Technical descents in large groups in the rain scare the willies out of me...
    I would be more concerned about the willies going in. :wink:
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • ravey1981ravey1981 Posts: 1,111
    noste500 wrote:
    ravey1981 wrote:
    noste500 wrote:
    What kit do you need to use zwift ?
    Any advice to break the boredom welcome ;-)

    easier to read this than for me to explain.... http://road.cc/content/feature/169616-h ... rted-zwift

    Thanks for that , can't seem to work out if my cateye strave double wireless
    Has ant+

    It's about 3 years old , so net the most recent model .
    Sorry op for the thread jack
    No it doesn't. You need at the most basic level a garmin ant+ speed sensor (other brands are available, probably) and an ant+ reciever for your computer.
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