Set Up Your Mountain Bike For Indoor Training | How To Choose A Cycle Trainer

Set Up Your Mountain Bike For Indoor Training | How To Choose A Cycle Trainer


– In addition to actually
getting out there and riding, there are lots of options for putting together a training plan that means you don’t even
have to leave your home. And one of them is by using
a turbo trainer, like this. Now, I can feel some of
you rolling your eyes, but bear with me here, because there are some
really, really cool tech that I believe can genuinely
help make you a better rider. (mellow music) There are some great reasons
for using a turbo trainer as part of a training program, because, quite simply, you
can put together a very hard and very controlled training session in an environment like this. That means you don’t
need to leave your home, it means there’s no other factors that can slow it or hinder it, okay? So, it is no substitute for genuine riding out on the trail. Mountain biking is as much about technique as it is about fitness. However, by taking one of
those out of the equation, it means you can spend more time having fun on your bike
and being a better rider if you don’t have to worry
about the fitness stuff. Now, here in the Northern Hemisphere, it is typically very dark and
very wet at this time of year, which means we don’t get as
much time out on the trails as we’d like to have, say, if we lived somewhere like California. So, what is really important is putting together some
kind of training plan, which means it keeps you
topped up on your fitness. Or, better so, it means you
can be at maximum fitness by the time spring rolls up, and it means you’re not
going to have to mess around with that stuff, because any daylight
opportunity or nicer weather, you can get out and just enjoy yourself and become a better rider. It’s using your time more wisely. And, of course, also what it does mean is, by the time you hit
those trails in spring, you’re up to race pace, if
that is what you’re after. No blowing out the cobwebs needed. There are various different ways you can approach turbo training at home, from a basic and
fundamental, and a budget, roll-on turbo trainer with no frills, and to do that, you’ll
probably get on some loud music and just smash it out, all the way through to a
fully interactive set-up that works with compute software to build you a structured program. It’s entirely up to you how you do it. There’s many different methods. Now, in this video I’m
going to break it down into a few things. We’re going to look at
turbo trainers themselves, to give you some ideas of
what you can expect to see. We’re going to be looking at the bike you’re going to use on the turbo trainer, and how you actually get it set-up, ‘coz there’s various
different ways to do that. We’re going to be looking at
some examples of some software. We’re going to be looking
at all the details with the computer specs,
or maybe your phone device, how you’re going to use that stuff. And, of course, the room
in which you do it in, because that plays an
important part as well. (mellow music) Okay, so, for the turbo
trainers themselves, there’s three main styles you can get. You can get rollers. You can get regular, non-smart trainers. And, of course, you can get the full smart,
interactive trainers. First up are rollers. These can be quite inexpensive, but you will need, at the
least, some slick tires or some separate wheels with slick tires, or even a road bike, to
get the most out of them. Now, rollers don’t offer much
in the way of resistance, but what they do offer is the ability to spin at a high cadence, getting that heart-rate going, and they’re really good for coordination. In fact, it was a thing for a while of doing multiple tasks
whilst actually playing around on the rollers themselves. We’ve seen people juggling, we’ve seen people making
coffee and smoothies, we’ve seen people even playing the guitar whilst using their rollers. So they are a good, fun thing to use, in addition to be able to
keep a good base fitness. Now, you also expect to
see rollers at many races, ‘coz they’re very popular
for people racing, in the terms of they want to
get warmed up for the race, and afterwards, warming down as well. It’s quite an important thing. Next up would be a good
old-fashioned turbo trainer. This one has a magnetic flywheel on it. It’s got adjustable resistance on it, and you essentially put
your bike on it and go. Now, it is best to have
a separate rear wheel with a cassette already on there, and a slick tire. You don’t want to be doing
this on a knobbly tire, it makes a horrendous noise and it’s just not a good experience. Now, these can be quite basic. They can be very cheap and affordable, so they are a good thing to have. Again, great for warming up on, but you’re going to have
to be quite vigilant and quite strict about
the way you use them. If you don’t want to go
the interactive route, you just want to smash
out some miles on them and improve your power, get that resistance cranked up, get some heavy metal or
some drum-and-bass going on, and, basically, put
yourself in the pain-zone. That’s what these things are cracking for. However, you can do
with a bit of a hybrid, and you can use these with smart software, such as Zwift and various others, by having some other things on your bike. Now, if you’re serious,
say, a cross-country rider, you might already have a
power meter on your bike. You might have the cadence sensor that came with your Garmin, and you may well have
a heart-rate monitor. If you have those things, you can use a regular
turbo trainer like this, in combination with other software. Now, software, I mentioned Zwift earlier, I’m going to use that
throughout the video, it’s an easy one to refer to. That will do number crunching and it will give you some watts on screen. And you’re going to be
able to put together a very structured training program. However, it’s never going to be as good as using a dedicated smart trainer, which we’ll get to next. But, like I said, they’re dirt cheap. Next up are the smart trainers, or the smart turbo-trainers. Now, these are generally quite expensive. They’re a very specific piece of kit, but what they do enable you to do is put together a very
structured training program. Now, most smart trainers will come with some form of software or a link to a subscription-based
piece of software. And what this does is, once you’ve done your
basic testing on there, known as the FTP Test, which we’ll get to, it builds a training program
based on your fitness. And, because it’s a smart trainer, it will learn around you. As you get fitter, it
will change the parameters of what you need to do. You can target specific parts
of your riding, as well. Perhaps you want to be training
to do a 12 or a 24-hour race, in which case you’re going to
want to focus on your endurance. You can do just that. Again, if you’re lacking in power, you can do a power, or explosive
power, training program. They’re very, very good, very targeted and very efficient. Now, of course, the fully-featured ones are quite expensive, but there are many bargains to be had. Tacx, for example, make
one called the Vortex, and they’re a bit of a
bargain, to be honest. They’re not that much more expensive than your traditional, non-smart turbos. But something that is important to say is the cheaper smart turbo trainers
available on the market, they don’t offer as much resistance and they don’t offer
as much power handling. So, if you’re an insanely
strong power sprinter, for example, you’re going to
need to spend a bit more money to get a turbo that’s
going to be able to handle what you can put through it. And, likewise, with the cheaper ones, they’re not going to be able to simulate the really steep gradients. You might get six or seven percent, but they might not go over 10%. And, for mountain bikers, a steep gradient in training
is a really good thing to have, as we’re going to get to. However, you can build a really good structured training program, which, in combination
with off-bike training, and also regular riding, of course, on the more important stuff, out on the roots and the rock, and hitting dirt jumps, and stuff, it’s going to make you a
really good, fit, strong and well-balance rider. And the last thing to take into account, there are two different mounting options within the turbo range, as well. You get the wheel-on types, which, literally, you clamp
it around your wheel axles, your wheel goes directly
onto the flywheel itself. Again, you’ll need a slick tire for these. There’s various different types as well. You get the magnetic resistance, you get the faren resistance and you get the fluid rollers. The fluid rollers are
the ones to look for. They’ve got a very realistic feel. They feel a bit more like
turning the cranks over, basically, and turning it on tarmac. And then, of course,
there’s the direct mount. So, you don’t need the
rear wheel for this. You have a cassette
mounted directly onto here. Now, when using a
direct-drive turbo trainer, you’re going to need
to be quite particular about the hardware that goes with it. For example, at the moment,
this bike is a boost rear end. And it’s got the 148
millimeters adapters on here. You can also have 142, or you
can have a 135 quick-release. So this could be used for a road bike or for a mountain bike, no problem. And you also take into account as well the style of cassette and
how many speeds you have on the back. Now, if you use, for
example the SRAM system, you’ll need an XD driver body. Now, you’ll need to check
if this is the case, that the turbo trainer
that you’re purchasing is actually compatible. Now, Tacx, Elite and also Wahoo make turbos that do accept these, but none of them currently offer the Shimano MicroSHIFT system. Now, this has got a regular
splined cassette on here, but you might notice this is
a 12-speed Shimano set-up. A cool little hack for that one is by using the SunRace cassette. Now, the SunRace cassette
fits on a regular splined freehub body, so it means
it will be compatible with a 12-speed. And the same with SRAM, as well, if you don’t have a spare
cassette lying around, you could use one of these. You can get them for around
70 or 80 quid online. The only down-side, really, is, you lose that 10-tooth that you do have on both the Shimano
and the SRAM cassettes, thanks to their unique mounting systems. However, for the money, it’s a much cheaper cassette, and it’s perfect for
use on a turbo trainer. Now, something to bear in mind, though, is, when using a mountain bike on a turbo, you’re never going to be
able to go quite as fast as the road riders can, or if you use the road
bike on your turbo trainer, purely ‘coz you don’t have the gearing. Now, smart trainers put resistance
into what you’re riding, according to the gradient that you’re on, and the wattage and your cadence, and things like that, but you’re not just going to be able to go the same speed as someone that’s got a bigger chain reel, or perhaps a smaller, close ratio block at the back. Just take that into account when you’re doing races and workouts and different things on
your, sort of, virtual world. However, it is excellent for
building cadence and power, and things like that, when used in the smart way. And there’s also, if you look at things like Zwift, they actually have an off-road element and specific off-road training programs that are designed for low
cadence and high power, the sort of stuff that you
need on a mountain bike, where you’re really
grinding up those climbs. In which case, you’re going
to be fine using this. Just don’t try and compete
with those roadies. And finally, one last bit
of hardware that you can get if you’re really serious
about this sort of thing. I mean, it’s pretty
expensive, to be honest. This is called the Kickr,
and this is from Wahoo. And this actually
replaces your front wheel. You make your wheel axle through here, there’s various different
adapters available for different types of bike. And what happens is, when you’re riding up a steep gradient, it raises the front of the bike so it simulates the
gradient that you’re on. It’s an ingenious piece of kit. Now, what it does is, it basically enables
you to move on the bike, which, on a mountain bike, is
very important that, actually, ‘coz it engages different
muscles as your position changes, and it makes things a lot harder. It does come at a price, though. This is a serious piece of kit, so, perhaps, you want to
start a bit more basic first, and see you get on. (mellow music) Next up is the bike set-up
for using on the turbo. Now, you’ve got three main options here. The first option is to use
your daily mountain bike. And I’ll show you about that in a second. The next option would
be to have a road bike. Now, some people buy dirt cheap road bikes just for use on training indoors, where they won’t be
seeing riding a road bike. Now, the other option, of course, is to build something
specifically for use on a turbo. The advantage of having
a smart-style turbo is you don’t need a rear
wheel, straight out. And, really, you could
do without a front wheel. You basically just need a frame. You need some cranks. You need a drive train. And that’s more or less about it. Of course, you need a saddle to perch on, a pair of bars to hold, but you don’t need a full bike. You won’t need the brakes
and other expensive things. Now, for mountain bike set-up, you’re going to need to have a few things. Now, if you’ve got a roll-on trainer, you will need a spare rear wheel. It’s the easiest way of doing it. Buy yourself the cheapest
possible rear wheel. Get yourself a slick tire. You can actually get specific tires with a very hard rubber compound for use on turbo trainers. So, it’s worth investing in one of those if you can find a compatible
one to suit your wheel size. Now, you’ll also need a cassette. I recommend getting the
cheapest offering possible. Get a steel heavy-duty one, if you can, which just last a bit longer. Same applies if you’re
using a direct-drive, except you don’t need
the wheel and a tire, but you will need to buy a cassette, otherwise, you’re going to be constantly taking the cassette off your riding wheel and putting it onto the turbo trainer. Now, something important to say, especially so if you’re doing this, is to make sure you monitor chain wear. You’re going to be using it indoors, you’re going to be using it outdoors. In a controlled indoor environment you’re going to have less
problems with chain stretch and chain wear, and stuff, because you haven’t got the grinding pace that you get from riding off-road. However, going between the two cassettes, you do need to monitor
your chain wear on there, ‘coz you can prematurely
wear those cassettes. All you need is a chain
wear indicator tool. They’re very cheap. Definitely worth having one. Now, if you’re using your
regular mountain bike and it’s a full suspension,
like my Canyon here, then you’ll definitely want to make sure that you have the shock as locked out or as firm as possible. This particular bike has a
remote lock-out on the bars. If yours doesn’t, then you want to put the
compression on as much as possible, just to basically make
it a bit more efficient. It’s like riding on the
road, at the end of the day, you don’t want a bike
bobbing around unnecessarily. Also, take into account
that you can maximize on having your full
extension on the seat post, no need for a drop of post to be down. And, of course, a lot of mountain bikers tend to run their saddles
very slightly lower than the maximum efficiency
of riding height. Make the most of it. Use the full extension on your leg. Obviously, make sure
it’s the correct height, so you’re using your knees correctly. And also, clip-in pedals are a good idea. Of course, if you’re a flat pedal user, you won’t be interested in this, but clip-in pedals are very efficient, and you can really concentrate on a really good cadence, really efficient way of pedaling. And especially, if you’re
going to the hassle of using a smart trainer, you’re going to get more
out of it if you do that. Now, if you’re going the
whole hog with a smart set-up, that is, using a smart turbo trainer and using some kind of software on a computer or a phone-type device, you’re going to need some sort of way of mounting your phone to your handlebars, or, perhaps, even your iPad,
if you’re doing it that way. The reason for that is, on some of the software you
get the ability to interact, and you don’t want to be having
to reach for a computer mouse or anything like that. You want it at hand on your handlebars. Also, on Zwift, they’re starting to build in features where you use the
accelerometer in the phone to actually steer the bike. So, further interactive
features are coming, and they’ve been testing this out with some of the mountain bike stuff, which is very cool and
it does work quite well. Now, smart turbos
effectively have power meters built into them. But something that will be to your benefit to add to your selection of components and things you need to do this, will be a cadence center. Now, if you have any kind of
cycle computer for your bike, it’s likely that they
either make a cadence sensor to go with it, or it might have even come with one. Now, you can see, I’ve got mine here on the left hand crank
here, facing in-board, and that’s to monitor the cadence. That’s really important
when doing smart training, because it might, say, for example, tell you to ride at 200
watts at 60 rpm, for example, for 10 minutes. It’s targeted training, and it relies on these things. You can even get dirt cheap
cadence sensors online, non-specific brands that
are compatible with Wahoo, they’re compatible with Zwift, they compatible with Tacx, all the different options out there. They’re very cheap and
they’re really worth having, ‘coz they can improve your riding. Finally, the essential one, really. You need a heart rate strap. This is a Garmin one,
it came with my Garmin. It works on the ANT+ system. It’s also compatible with the software and also compatible with the
actual turbo trainer itself. The combination of the turbo trainer knowing what cadence you’re in, what your heart rate is doing, and what power you’re able to put out, means it’s a very powerful
process for building you a very structured and
specific training program. Now, if you’re using you’re
regular mountain bike but you don’t have a full smart trainer, you can still do some
of the smart training, but you’re going to need to have power meter cranks on your bike, which probably have cadence sensors built into those, as well. I know Henry’s been using
some rotor cranks recently for some videos. Super useful addition. They can tell you exactly the
power that you’re putting out. And the software itself
can sync with those, so we can do a bit of number crunching, and it can figure out the wattage that your putting through
that turbo trainer. It’s not going to be, and it will never will be, as accurate as using a full smart trainer, but it’s a good option if you’ve
got that stuff on your bike and you don’t want to
lay out the extra money for a more expensive turbo trainer. Now, the last point is quite important. Make sure that your set-up
is extremely comfortable and it fits you correctly. Unlike mountain biking, where you’re moving around
constantly on the bike, when you’re doing road riding
and turbo training like this, you’re in a fixed position
for quite a long time. You’re soon going to find out whether your saddle is comfortable, whether or not the chamois that
you’re riding with is good, if your grips are
comfortable, the position. Take a bit of time to get it set up right. You’ll probably need to
do a few shake-down rides, just to make sure everything’s all right. You might need to tip
the nose of your saddle down a bit more than you
previously thought you had to. And make sure you’ve got a load of water easily at hand, as well. Once you start on your program, you don’t want to have to
stop and lose where you are, especially if you get involved in the world of online racing, ‘coz you can actually race
your friends doing this. They can all start at
the same time together. Forget the reset of the pack, you can have a race with your friends when it’s howling a gale outside. And you can get off your
bike 45 minutes or so later, having done something pretty productive, that’s going to contribute
to your summer fitness. (mellow music) Next up is the software. Now, if you invest in a smart trainer, they’re going to come with
some kind of software, or perhaps a trial period
for something like Zwift. Now, Tacx make their own software, and there are various ones around, and they work really efficiently, and enable you to have a
structured training program built around your FTP, which is your Function Threshold Power. So, essentially, the amount
of power you can, basically, pump out for a specified amount of time, and then it builds a
training program around that, to cater for your fitness. And, being a smart trainer, as you get fitter, it adapts and it makes things harder, so you get fitter again. Really, really clever stuff. But it does involve you having to have the heart rate monitors, the cadence sensors on the bike and all of that stuff, to really get the most from it. Now, Zwift itself is
probably the most popular one at the moment, because it’s not only just a trainer,, it’s a virtual way of racing online. And you can race, as you can see at the side here, there’s a whole bunch of people that are also online at the same time. So you can go on, you can race your friends, or you can just have a workout, or stick to a training plan. And a training plan will tell you, it’ll prompt you on-screen what you need to do at a specified time. Now, the thing that
really sets smart trainers aside from the old-fashioned
method of training, is what’s known as the
ERG mode, or the SIM mode. Now, the ERG is a method of the
software applying resistance to the turbo trainer, essentially to keep you at
a specified power level. So, when you’re doing a
workout, a training workout, basically, the software
will engage the ERG mode on the trainer. Now, what this does is, for example, it might
tell you to do 200 watts at 80 rpm for 10 minutes. What you need to focus on is your cadence. And there’ll be prompts on the screen. Obviously, I’m not moving at the moment, so it’s not saying it, but you’ll be power here, there’ll be cadence here, and you’ll be a heart rate here. It will tell you what to do on-screen. Now, for example, if
you’re spinning away at 80 and you start lowering your cadence, the ERG will kick in and
make the resistance harder. So you’re still kicking out 200 watts, but you might lower
down to 60, for example. It enables it to build a very
structured training problem, that means you’re not getting away from putting that power out. You have to put the power out. Of course, that is not
that realistic, though. So, when you’re doing rides, which is the other side
of what Zwift can offer, there’s called SIM mode,
or simulation mode. Now this, essentially, is
based on your rider weight, the gradient of the terrain your riding, the speed you’re riding at, in combination with
the cadence, the power, all of the other stuff. And it’s the nearest you’re going to get to riding on the road, literally just sat on the
saddle in your workshop, or even in your front
room, with the telly on. It is absolutely insane what you can do, and it can make really steep
climbs absolutely mullah you, just like they would in real life. It’s a real, very realistic situation, and it’s really good fun, as well. Now, also, if you’re
using the Zwift set-up, so you get the app on the phone, as well. You’ll mount this on the handlebars. It’s known as the companion app and it basically mirrors what’s going on. But there’ll be circumstances
when you’re riding the trail, and perhaps you want to
give someone a thumbs up that overtook you. Bang, you hit the screen, gives them a thumbs up, let them know that you give them a bit
of love on the way past. But also, it accesses some
secret areas, as well. Now, Zwift have recently
announced, basically, their MTB trail. Now, to get to this, you need to go into the
Watopia area of Zwift and look for a trail called
Muir and the Mountain. And when you’re riding that trail, you’ll literally see a sign that’s got a question mark on it. If you turn off there,
you go onto Repack Ridge. Now, this is where the
Zwift companion comes in. This is really cool. As you’re steering on the bike, it actually steers your
avatar on the screen. So, in addition to providing you with the resistance from climbing, and all that sort of stuff, you can actually steer it. Bit of a game, if you like, within an actual training program. And I suspect that just the sign of a few things to come down the line, where there’s going to be a lot more mountain bike content coming. Now, to use a lot of this software, you can get away with just
having it on your phone. You could put it on your handlebars. That would be sufficient. And you can go and have great fun. The better way, though, if you’re able to, is to have it on a desk-top computer, or, if you’ve got Apple TV, something like that. You can display it on that, so you can get the full screen experience. It’s much better if
you actually, you know, to think about it, you’re on a bigger screen, you can see the races going on, and you can also have
the advantage of using that companion screen, as well. Now, something important to say, which you could struggle with, ‘coz I did, on this computer, it wouldn’t, it’s quite an old computer and it wouldn’t pick up
the blue-tooth for the ANT, so it wouldn’t pick up
my heart rate strap, which I know works, ‘coz it is compatible with my Garmin and other things. And it wouldn’t pick up the
actual Wahoo Kickr, either. So, what I had to do
was get a separate ANT and a blue-tooth dongle, just to plug in the back. Didn’t cost a lot of money, mind. You just get those online. You can specific ones for
different bits of software, as well on different bits of hardware, so just make sure you get the one that is compatible for yours. And, of course, if you are investing in one
of these pieces of software, just make sure, obviously, that it’s compatible with
your operating system on the computer. (mellow music) And finally, is, well, the actual room that you’re going to be
doing your training in. First up, you’re going
to want some sort of mat on the ground. You might notice, I’ve got a
mechanic’s floor mate here. That’s because there’s going
to be a puddle of sweat there in probably about half-an-hour’s time. Next up, something like
some sort of protector for your bike is a good idea. Muc-Off do this Sweat Protect. It’s essentially a corrosion inhibitor, with no lubricant. Put this on stuff that
would be rusty afterwards. And a fan. You’re going to get so hot. You’re going to want, basically, at least the ability to open your windows. You can buy specific
fans that match to your, basically, your rolling speed, so it feels like the wind in your face. Quite expensive, though. I’m going to put up with the heat. But just bear in mind that if you’re going to be
doing this in a confined space, it’s going to get extremely hot. Mildew can be a problem, so just take that as you will. Ah well, there you go. Hopefully, that is
everything you need to know about setting your mountain bike up for indoor training. Like I said, there’s a few
different ways of doing it. And it’s just an additional thing to do. It can definitely make you
a better rider, though, by improving your fitness, meaning you spend more
time doing the fun stuff when you hit the trails. Now, if you’re still unsure about this, I’m going to throw you to
a video right down there, “Henry versus Neil”. Neil using his lunchtime on a turbo, and Henry hitting the hills. As always, don’t forget to give us a huge thumbs up there at tech. Let us know what you
thought in the comments. Hit that subscribe button. Cheers, guys. (wheels whirring)