5 Apr 2016


Turbo trainers are great for training when time or weather is a problem, but they do have a flaw – they’re incredibly boring! Rollers provide the same benefits, but because you have to balance and concentrate, they’re far more involving to use. That’s a big help for motivation on busy or filthy days. They take a bit of getting used to, but follow our guide and you’ll be spinning away in no time.

Choosing your rollers
Look for:
• Flanges and/or shaped rollers to keep you coming off the sides
• Folding frames if storage space is an issue
• Multiple support points for stability
• Low-profile rollers, if learning is a priority – they’re easier to get on
• Non-metallic rollers for the same reason – they’re grippier
• Larger rollers if you plan a lot of big-ring hammering
• Metal rollers if you’re after a smooth, silky spin at speed
• A set of training wheels to quickly swap to – rollers can destroy tyres!

Setting up
Site your rollers on a flat, solid surface near a wall or halfway through a doorway. It’s a good idea to put a rubber mat down first, to catch sweat and mute noise. The front roller should be just ahead of your front axle. Adjust as necessary.

You don’t need a Brumotti-sized sense of balance to ride rollers, but you will help develop your handling skills!

Getting started
Consider using regular shoes and not clipping in at first. Start in a gear that gives reasonable speed, and not a short, twiddly climbing one. You don’t want to have to change gear straight away! Get balanced on the bike with one hand on the wall/door jamb, without pedalling. Keep the other hand on the bar top. Start pedalling while still leaning on the wall. Don’t look at the front wheel! Look up and ahead, as if riding on the road. Increase your pedalling speed – the faster the wheels turn, the more stable the bike gets. Stay relaxed, avoid ‘deathgripping’ the bars and gently move your hand away from the wall. Don’t worry if it takes you a few runs to get this far!

Once you’re rolling
Work at smooth, constant pedalling – keep the noise you create as even and monotone as possible. Stay relaxed, and support yourself on your core to keep most of your weight off your arms and the front wheel. Keep looking ahead. Stay relaxed! We can’t emphasise this enough… the tenser you get, the less stable you get. Let the bike shimmy. Build up in sessions until you can ride for 20 minutes or more. Experiment with gear shifting, drinking and moving from the tops to the drops.

How to stop
Don’t panic! You’ve made it this far. Smoothly stop pedalling and freewheel, while putting your hand back onto the wall or door jamb. Don’t brake. Just let the wheels spin down. With one pedal at the bottom of the stroke, slide your foot down onto the rails or the floor. You may need to tilt the bike slightly to do it. Remove the other foot and step down.

Check your surroundings. If you haven’t toppled into the TV to the wails of a sprinting cat, or wheelied through the double glazing – congratulations! You’ve done it. All that remains is to work out a suitable training plan for your future sessions.