Living in the UK, the inevitable question always comes around - should I remain cycling outdoors or bring it inside to be able to train away from the inclement weather? There are a number of benefits to both of these choices but in order to do either, you will likely need additional equipment to make them possible. Here, we will look at the pros and cons of opting for a turbo trainer or opting to enhance your cycling wardrobe and stay cycling outside over winter time and the equipment needed for either option.
Contents and quick links
- Turbo Trainers
- Smart Turbo Trainers
- Extra Turbo Accessories
- Cycling Headwear
- Cycling Jackets
- Other Winter Cycling Tips
Cycling indoors - Turbo Trainers
In order to move your pedalling indoors, the first thing you will need is a trainer itself. The good news is that they come in a wide variety of price points and capabilities. You can usually get a turbo trainer for under £100 for a basic version all the way up to over £1000 for the best smart turbo trainers (if you dig a little, you can find our range of sale turbo trainers). Here we will look at each in turn and describe the main differences between regular turbo trainers and smart turbo trainers.
Non-smart turbos will come in around £100 up to about £450 for an advanced model. With these trainers, such as brands like Elite, it is common to mount your entire bicycle on to a stand and your rear wheel will sit on a flywheel so your rear tyre will drive the wheel. You can usually change the resistance level to get more or less of a workout and these flywheels will be either fluid or magnetic. On the more expensive models, aside from being quieter, you can view your metrics such as speed and distance and even connect to some online training software. A helpful tip here is to get a turbo trainer specific rear tyre as these trainers will wear through your regular tyre very quickly.
- Cheaper than their smart trainer equivalent
- Simpler mounting due to not having to remove rear wheels
- Stay out of the rubbish UK winter weather
- Connection to training software only possible on higher end models
- Will wear through your rear tyre quickly if you don't use a trainer specific one.
- Motivation can be difficult if you are not connected to training software.
Smart Turbo Trainer
Smart trainers are also known as 'direct mount' as you will remove the rear wheel of your bicycle and mount this onto a cassette attached to the trainer flywheel. These trainers can simulate different gradients and take more power through them than the non-smart equivalent. All smart trainers can be paired with cycling training software to offer virtual courses or create training programmes to keep motivation high or tailor your training to your specific cycling needs and get tailored results whether you are a climber, sprinter or all-rounder.
Turbo trainers that have smart capabilities will connect to compatible mobile, laptop or tablet devices for you to view your course or training schedule. Smart trainers will also be able to give you all metrics that you could need for training in the comfort of your own home such as power, cadence, speed and elevation climbed (if you are logged in to the online software).
You can find our turbo trainer sale range here and stay tuned for the latest brands of trainers.
- Connection to immersive virtual riding, racing or training programmes
- All the metrics required to improve your training
- Adjusts resistance according to the virtual course. No need to change settings on the fly
- Stay warm and safe indoors in winter
- A bit more fiddly to get your bike mounted
- Significantly heavier
Extra accessories for Turbo setup
Aside for the turbo trainer itself, there are a number of extra products that will make your indoor turbo trainers more comfortable and enjoyable. The first is a biggie - you are going to want to get yourself a large fan (or two - trust us on this one, it's warm work on a turbo trainer).
Other items that will protect your bike trainer and bike is a cover to catch the sweat as it would be terrible if you have spent all this money on an indoor training setup to stay away from the salt water on the roads for your bike to be damaged by... salt water from you. On that note, a training mat is also vital for protecting your floor from sweat or from the trainer legs where it contacts with the floor. If you are using your mobile to track your rides or view routes, a smart phone holder keeps the phone in your eyeline and within easy reach. and last, but not least, is some sort of a headband to keep your hair or sweat out of your face.
Aside from those listed above, there are more optional extras that you can get to make the setup more lifelike such as an attachment from Tacx that can raise or lower your front wheel to simulate the pitch of your bike depending on the gradient you are on.
Ok, so that's indoors covered if you want to train in the comfort of your own home but what do you need if you want to keep cycling outdoors through the winter months?
Cycling Outdoors - Clothing fit for purpose
Cycling outdoors in winter can be incredibly enjoyable but it is essential to buy the right equipment to make you safer and more comfortable when the weather gets colder and wetter. We are going to take a look at some essential items for cycling in the cold and wet weather. We will go top-to-bottom and cover the items needed for each.
See all cycling clothing and brands
Protecting your head in the winter time is essential for warmth and protection from rain and snow. A good winter cap will keep your head and ears warm while a cap with a peak will keep the worst of the rain out of your eyes when you are cycling - particularly important for people who wear glasses while they cycle. A visor on a helmet will do the same job.
If there is ever a part of your anatomy to prioritise in the cold and wet weather, it's your torso. A good waterproof jacket will keep you warm and will prevent the worst of the wet from getting to you whether you are commuting or on winter leisure rides. A pro tip is to have options to layer underneath so you can either add or take away base layers or mid layers depending on the temperature. You can see some of our winter cycling jackets here.
When cycling in winter, your hands take the longest to warm up so it is vital to get a good pair of long fingered gloves to protect your hands on chilly or downright cold mornings. As your hands will eventually warm up (provided you have got your core protected), a good pair of gloves will give you warmth but will also allow your hands to breathe.
What you choose to wear on your legs will depend on which discipline you are riding. If you are riding road bikes or gravel bikes, it would make sense to go for a pair of thermal bib tights to offer warmth and breathability without being restrictive to your movement in a more bent over position. If you are a commuter or an electric bike cyclist, a good pair of waterproof over trousers might be the best shout as these offer a great deal of warmth and can be worn over your work clothes (just be sure not to overheat on the way).
Similar to your hands, your feet can take a while to warm up so while it's important to keep them warm initially, you want a breathable option so they don't get too sweaty. A good pair of winter socks will provide excellent warmth and wick the sweat away from your feet for all cycling disciplines. For people who ride mountain bikes, road bikes and gravel bikes will likely choose a pair of thermal shoes with cleats or just a good pair of overshoes for their year-round shoes as overshoes can provide a great amount of warmth and have the added bonus of keeping the rain, snow, sleet and road spray away from your feet and socks.
Other winter cycling tips
We have a dedicated blog on full cycling winter tips but here is a sneak peak.
Ideal for keeping the worst of the salt water from the road away from your precious drivetrain and also keeps the dirty road/gravel/mud spray off your clothing.
As it gets more slippery from the wet, the ice and leaves, a wider tyre is a good idea for more traction if you are cycling in winter. If you are literally out in all weather, including ice, you can buy a set of spike tyres for cycling in icy and snow conditions.
Clean your bicycle (or have someone do it for you)
Your bicycle does not like salt water, in particular your drivetrain. We have literally seen chains rust overnight so if you are cycling through winter when the roads and paths are gritted and salted, it is vitally important that you clean your chain and cassette and put a good lubricant on your chain.
There are not right and wrong answers when it comes to whether you train inside on a turbo trainers or continue to cycle outdoors through the colder months. As long as you have the right set up for you, either will be perfectly enjoyable.