Advice On Indoor Cycling For Complete Beginner (Sorry Long Post)

Hi, I am thinking about getting either an exercise bike or a road bike and turbo trainer combo but I'm not sure which one and I am completely new to cycling (although I know how to ride a bike but haven't done very much since being a kid).

I am nearly 40, male, 5ft 7 and weigh around 12 stone (or 77 kilos). I am overweight but not massively so and would just like to lose a bit of weight (maybe a stone or so) and generally keep fit (but I'm not a fitness fanatic). I do go out walking (not so much now during winter) and can walk up to 20 miles in one day (takes me roughly 6 hours) up steep hills and over moorland so I think I am relatively ok at doing exercise.

I like the idea of cycling but don't want to do it outside due to the terrible traffic and drivers near me, bad weather and I prefer just going for a walk.

So I thought about maybe getting an exercise bike but then I started reading about turbo trainers and the use of apps like Zwift and TrainerRoad etc. I would prefer to just use the app to go for a ride more than to do dedicated workouts or training sessions or anything competitive. I know some of the apps like Rouvy have an AR aspect to them using real routes and roads which sounds interesting to me.

I don't know if any of them have any kind of Google Earth or Street View integration where you can ride real-world routes that people have made and uploaded or you could create your own but that really appeals to me as then I could go for an actual ride without being outdoors. There is a product by VirZoom called a VFit which is a bluetooth device similar to what you would use with other smart trainers but it allows you to connect it to a virtual reality headset like an Oculus Go or Quest and then either play games while using your bike to propel you in the game or, more appealing to me, be able to go inside of Google Earth's Street View and ride in the (virtual) real world.

Having said that I know from using my HTC Vive how hot a VR headset can make you and add to that the exertion of cycling, I think the sweat produced would be by the bucketload!

Continuing on the game front, another reason why indoor cycling appeals to me is that I already spend a lot of time playing a game called Euro Truck Simulator 2. In that game, you drive a truck and deliver goods along real-world roads and motorways, all over Europe. I can spend hours playing this game and I absolutely love it because it offers a calm experience where you are just travelling from A to B and concentrating on the road ahead.

I think indoor cycling would offer me a very similar experience and feel to that game (using one of the trainer apps) and so I don't think I would get bored and would enjoy it a lot more, while getting some exercise.

So, to that end. Would people recommend I get an exercise bike or a real bike and turbo trainer setup? Bearing in mind, I haven't rode a bike for years and have hardly any experience with them.

I am veering towards the idea of getting a real bike and turbo trainer and bluetooth dongle etc but I don't want to spend a fortune seeing as I don't ride bikes anyway (be it outside or in a gym) and probably wouldn't be using one to ride outside.

I think my best option would be to buy a second hand bike (does it matter what kind of bike I get, could I literally just get a cheap MTB for £50 and use that?) and second-hand turbo trainer (unless there are cheap new ones).

What else would I need? I know I would need a bluetooth sensor and receiver (I'm thinking of hooking it up to my PC and using my PC's monitor to see the app) but which ones? Would I be better getting a smart trainer or non-smart? I know the smart trainers cost more but I don't know what to do. I'm a little hesitant at spending a fortune having never done this before and not really knowing if I will like it or not.

Sorry for the very long post but I wanted to be detailed so you can get a clear idea of what I want and who I am (being a non-cyclist).

Thanks for any help people can give.


  • shazzz
    shazzz Posts: 1,077
    edited December 2019
    A couple of quick thoughts
    - forget about wearing a headset for the reason you have stated
    - turbo training at home can be pretty boring if you don't have a clear goal in mind, and therefore a plan. Just riding on a trainer soon gets dull.
    - Zwift could be a good option for you given the VR and 'gamification'
    - it is pretty spendy to get set up from ground zero and you may not like it
    - I would try to find a local gym or bike shop where you can do some spinning classes, zwift sessions or similar to see if you like it before shelling out hundreds on the kit to set yourself up at home.
    - if you do try a gym, class instructors are highly variable. It may take a few goes to find one that you like.

    Good luck!
  • StillGoing
    StillGoing Posts: 5,211
    Zwift can be done cheap. A basic wheel on turbo, a speed, cadence and HR sensor, free trial and away you go. You won't get resistance, but the your weight, speed and the gradient will be calculated to correctly amend your speed on climbs. You like it, take out a subscription. You don't like it, try something else.

    However, for the full benefit of training software, you ideally want a smart trainer that will work with ERG mode. For training platforms, ERG mode will ensure that the resistance is set to make you hit the required watts or in Zwift feel like you're cycling up hill. It's more expensive than a basic set up, but worth it if you intend to utilise indoor training more.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.