Mag trainers a safe way to go

Mag trainers offer a safe form of exercise.

Mag trainers offer a safe form of exercise.


I’ve given up hope that we’ll ever go on bike rides, but I managed to get my wife on a bike, even if it is a mag trainer. It’s safe exercise that gives her a workout in privacy.

At 5 feet she has issues with bikes that fit. Her bike with 24-inch wheels makes it a challenge to find a trainer. I found two brands: CycleOps, which requires an adapter for 20- and 24-inch wheels, and Redline Minoura 2024. Both will set you back more than $200.

Fortunately she can ride my mountain bike with the seat bottomed out, so I spent only $90, tax included, for a new trainer. Used ones can be found for about $45 on Craigslist. Most trainers handle 26-inch mountain bike wheels and 700c/27-inch, as well as the newer 29-inch mountain bike wheel.

How loud are they?
I’ve read a lot of complaints about noise. Wind trainers are louder than mag(net) trainers, which make no noise other than the whir of the tire on the metal bar. Be advised knobby tires are much noisier than smooth tires. Outdoors you can hardly notice the mag trainer while pedaling.

In a confined space indoors there’s going to be more noise, but it’s not bad. Many people listen to music or watch TV while riding, which easily drowns out the noise. If your mag trainer is so noisy it’s bothersome, consider buying a different brand.

New mag trainers are easy to set up, especially if you have a bike with a quick-release rear wheel. Most collapse to a small size for easy storage. Some mag trainers supply a quick release skewer that’s especially designed to fit the mag trainer. Just be sure you have the wheel clamped down snug so there’s no wobbling back and forth.

Another doo-dad you’ll want is a front-wheel riser block. It levels the bike, although it’s not essential. I couldn’t make my wireless bike computer work on the rear. You may need to buy one that’s designed for the rear, if you want to record mileage.

No hills here

Some buyers complained about the lack of variable resistance, beyond shifting into a higher gear. It’s not much of a change in resistance compared to actual riding. If you’re serious about training, you may want to look for a trainer with a cable adjustment for variable resistance.

For the hard-core rider, there are rollers. If you want to know what that’s like, just enter “Eddy Merckx on rollers” (12:30) into a YouTube search. He takes his for a quick spin.

Now that reminds me of a roller race held at a San Francisco bike shop back in the 1980s. I’ll recount that story in an upcoming blog.

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2 Responses to “Mag trainers a safe way to go”

  1. ted pauly Says:

    great footage ray, and it looks like the guy really used his indoor cycling device for good use!!!
    great stuff. loved the trophy footage to, while he’s riding up the mountain. fabulous!

  2. jkeehan Says:

    Mag-trainers really work. I don’t get out on the road nearly as often as I like, but using these trainers (I have a Tacx and Kinetics brands) really makes a difference . (I also have a Concept 2 rower which gives a great workout but doesn’t help for cycling very much IMO.)

    One thing trainers don’t do very well is replicate the feel of climbing. The most realistic road feel they give is similar to riding Foothill Expressway from Arastradero to Edith–a very slight sustained uphill. But they will help in all aspects of your riding if you use them in a focused manner. VeloNews has a book of various trainer workouts which was good for me to mix things up.

    Maybe it’s because we live in an area with year round cycling that causes these great training aids to be overlooked.

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