More people are riding the trainer in the winter than ever before. Apps like TrainerRoad and Zwift and trainers like the Tacx Neo have greatly improved the indoor ride experience. But how much care are we taking to making sure that our bikes are protected from the rigours of indoor riding? Check out these 6 tips for keeping your bike safe when riding the trainer.
Use a Secondary Bike
Many people opt not to put their good bike on the trainer and instead use a beater or back-up bike. This is definitely the best way to protect your expensive carbon machine from the wear-and-tear of trainer riding.
Make sure that whatever bike you use on the trainer matches the fit and feel of the bike you would use out on the road. Changes in position can have an effect on not only performance but perceived enjoyment and comfort on the bike.
Lube It Up
For those of us that have to use our primary bike on the trainer all winter, there are some ways you can keep your machine pristine for summer riding. The first is to keep it well lubed. Many of us neglect the lube in the winter because the bike isn’t being exposed to elements. It’s important to keep that chain cleaned and lubed up. It makes for a quieter and smoother indoor experience. And if you use a trainer that measures power, a cleaner drivetrain means your measured power output more closely matches your real output. This is especially important when using a platform like Zwift!
But its not just about lubing the drivetrain. Sweat is corrosive to aluminum and steel parts. Take some grease and smear a thin layer on your stem cap and stem bolts to protect them from sweat. Vaseline works well if you dont have proper grease (dont use chain lube!).
Cover It Up
Sweat will get in places you can’t even imagine. Nothing will wreck headset bearings faster than sweat. Wrap electrical tape around joints where your headset meets the fork on the top and bottom and tape up your fork spacers. This will help prevent sweat from getting into the headset and turning your bearings into a rusty mess.
If smearing your bike in grease seems like a mess waiting to happen, drape a towel over your handlebars. This will help absorb some of that sweat and also keep it from getting into your brake levers and shifters.
Wipe It Down
Make sure to wipe down the frame if you have external cables. All that sweat can gum up and corrode your cables and your cable stops. Sweat finds a way to get on every part of your bike. Make sure to wipe your bike down after sweaty session. That includes the bottom bracket!
Rotate Your Front Wheel
Spokes, especially front ones, weren’t designed for continuous direct load, they rely on a constant rotation of the wheel to transfer load around the rim. Each spoke is only loaded for a brief moment. When on the trainer only a handful of spokes on your front wheel are bearing all the weight. They’re strong enough that they likely won’t snap while you’re riding, but not rotating your front wheel occasionally means that a few spokes have suffered from structural fatigue more than the others. Spin your front wheel every time you jump on the trainer to help spread the load, literally..
Release the Tension
If you use an wheel-on trainer where a resistance unit presses against the rear wheel of your trainer, make sure to release the tension at the end of each session. Just like your spokes, when not in use, the tension on the roller places uneven load on the bearings. When using the bike, this load is shared as the roller spins. Not releasing that tension at the end of your session could lead to squeaky, and/or rough sounding bearings.
Follow these tips and your bike will run great come spring when you hit the roads!