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It’s that time of year again when the thought of a ride outdoors is that bit less tempting. The weather and diminishing hours of daylight may make it less of an option too. So maybe now’s the time to think about moving some of your training indoors. Here’s what you need for the perfect indoor training set-up.
The days of indoor workouts being mindlessly spent bashing out the base miles or doing repeated fast and slow cadence intervals against the same resistance are well and truly over. Modern indoor riding can be just as immersive as the great outdoors, you don’t need to worry about traffic, so you can concentrate on your pedalling, and the weather inside is usually better.
There’s a complete infrastructure that’s built up over the last few years to support the indoor rider, with no end of gadgets and extras available to make it an engaging and challenging experience.
We stock quite a lot of those gadgets here at Pearson, many from Wahoo, which has really carved out a niche in indoor kit. You don’t need to buy the lot to get going indoors - a quality trainer is a great place to start and you can hook up to a training app via your smartphone - but here’s our shopping list of equipment for the perfect indoor set-up.
Yes, we know it’s obvious, but unless you have a private indoor velodrome you’ll need a turbo trainer for starters. We stock everything in Wahoo’s training infrastructure, starting with its Kickr trainers. They’re all smart trainers, which you can connect up to a training app, for an interactive training experience.
Wahoo’s trainer range begins with the Kickr Snap wheel-on trainer. It’s a good starting point, but wheel-on trainers mean you need a trainer tyre so you don’t wear down your outdoor tyres and they can put a lot of strain on your bike frame that it may not have been designed for. Some brands specifically caution not to use their frames in a trainer.
Direct drive trainers are set up without the rear wheel, with a cassette on the trainer substituting. You’re not going to wear out your rear tyre and direct drive machines are usually quieter and will give a more realistic ride feel than wheel-on models.
We stock the Kickr Core trainer as well as the more expensive original Kickr. At 7.3kg, the Kickr’s flywheel is heavier than the Kickr Core’s 5.4kg and it can simulate 20 per cent gradients as against 16 per cent, but both using an electromagnetic resistance unit that can be hooked up to your training app.
Both give you accurate power measurement as you ride - Wahoo claims 1 per cent for the Kickr and 2 per cent for the Kickr Core and you can blast out up to 2000 watts on the Kickr. With the Kickr, you can also add Wahoo’s Kickr Axis Action feet, which let you rock the bike through 5 degrees as you ride, again upping the realism.
With some models of trainer you might need a front wheel riser, so that your bike is more level and held more firmly in position.
An alternative to a turbo, rollers are a great way to work on your pedalling fluidity and cadence. With the bike unsupported, you’ll get good at balancing too and rollers are a good complement to a turbo as you need to stay more alert and can’t just switch off and mash the pedals. Most rollers have limited resistance though, so out-and-out power workouts aren’t an option.
Flashier rollers do provide multiple levels of resistance and some like Elite’s can vary the resistance automatically as you ride, so you can do interval sessions, simulate gradients or even link up to a training app.
Or an indoor bike
For the ultimate indoor training experience, an indoor bike like the Wahoo Kickr Bike lets you work on climbs and descents as it tilts on its axis, so you can put in out of saddle efforts that simulate gradients up to 20 per cent. Wahoo claims power measurement accuracy of 1 per cent, so better than most cycle power meters.
You can set the Kickr Bike’s geometry up exactly like your best bike. You can also change gear like on a road bike, mimicking shift patterns from the main brands and programming gear ratios that match your outdoor ride.
A climb simulator
If you’re using a turbo rather than the Wahoo Smart Bike, you can still get the out of saddle climbing experience with the Kickr Climb. It attaches to your fork blades, connects to your training app via Bluetooth and uses a motor to raise and lower the bike’s front end, simulating up and down grades so your bike is positioned as it would be in the real world on climbs of up to 20 per cent and descents of up to 15 per cent.
Even if you’ve taken over your garage and it’s the depths of winter, you’ll get hot. So a fan is a great idea to help keep you a bit cooler. Obviously, you can buy a fan for next to nothing at Argos or the likes, but Wahoo has a smarter solution with its Kickr Headwind. Yeah, it’s a fan, but it’s a very clever one that links into your training set-up via Bluetooth and varies the speed of its airflow as your output or your heart rate change.
Wahoo says that it can blast air at you at up to 30mph / 48km/h and does it in a pattern that matches the airflow you’d experience riding in the real world, further increasing the realism of your set-up.
A floor mat
Even with your Kickr Headwind, you’re going to sweat lots if you’re putting in serious intervals or chasing avatars on your training app. Protect your best Persian carpet with a floor mat under your turbo.
Again, Wahoo has an option. Its Kickr Floormat is thick enough to reduce noise and vibration heading through your floorboards to the flat downstairs and its anti-slip surface means you won’t fall over in the pool of sweat you’ve made and break a leg when you dismount after your session.
A towel or bike bra
It’s not just your floor you’ll want to protect from your sweat. The salt it contains is highly corrosive to bike parts and can eat through your handlebars, your controls and your bearings if it’s not washed off after each session.
Better still, protect them in the first place by placing a towel over them as you ride, or track down a “bike bra” which clips over your bars and helps catch your drips.
A training app
Training apps have taken over indoor training. Yes, you could just do intervals on your trainer using a stopwatch, but the more immersive experience of a training app will keep you much more motivated.
Top dog training app has to be Zwift. Most of the Zwift action happens in its Watopia virtual world, but you can also ride simulations of real world courses like the road world championship course in Yorkshire.
There are alternatives to Zwift which you might want to try, like Bkool, which simulates the weather and offers loads of route simulations as well as training plans designed by experts.
Other alternatives include RGT Cycling, which also offers real world route simulations and has its Magic Roads feature which will build a simulation of a GPX route file you upload. Rouvy is another option. It projects its avatars on video of actual roads and was used for the Digital Swiss 5 race series by the pros during the April 2020 coronavirus lockdown.
All the apps host events, where you can race against real people from around the world and there’s also the option to race against bots, so you’re never riding alone.
If you do prefer to train alone, most cycling computers, including the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt and Roam, include interval series which you can follow. The Elemnt computers will control your Kickr to adjust the resistance level for each interval. You can also use them to follow training plans from the likes of TrainingPeaks and Sufferfest, which is yet another Wahoo product.
Somewhere to perch your computer or tablet
You’ll need somewhere to put your computer, smartphone or tablet as you work out. And yes, Wahoo has that covered too, with its adjustable height Kickr indoor cycling desk.
The alternative is to project the images from your training app to a television. Apple TV is an option for most cycling apps.
Did we mention that you’ll get hot? You can just ride your trainer in your normal outdoor cycle clothing or bib shorts and a base layer, but there’s a recent trend for brands to offer indoor cycling specific gear. So you can find indoor cycling shorts and jerseys and even shoes, designed to help you keep your cool and made with lightweight mesh fabrics to make the most of the blast from your Kickr Headwind fan.
Finally, don’t forget your water bottles - you’re sure to need plenty of fluids as you ride - and a pair of wireless headphones for some extra distraction or conversation with other riders.
Click here to view our full range of Wahoo indoor cycling range.