When you’re looking to buy discount bike rollers, wouldn’t it be nice to know which features you’ll need to check out…and what each of those features brings to the table?
Sure it would!
I’ve spent some time getting just about everyone’s opinion on the subject of bike roller features and have made my best attempt to condense the implications of each of them.
- Aluminum vs. PVC drums,Drum diameters
- Frame construction and finish
- Internal flywheels or not
- Folding or unfolding
- Sealed bearings vs. caged bearings
- and so on…
Read my very comprehensive review of the…
Here are some of my individual reviews of fluid trainers, starting with the…
Kurt Kinetic Road Machine
I’ve also done an individual review of the very popular…
CycleOps Fluid 2 bicycle trainer
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Kurt Kinetic Rock and Roll trainer here
Should You Buy Bike Rollers With Aluminum Or PVC Drums?
One thing about anything made of plastic, PVC or otherwise…they don’t do well when exposed to UV radiation. So if you’re going to ride your rollers outside (while showing off while warming up before a race) or even indoors near a window, stay away from PVC.
PVC drums have the potential to warp when subjected to UV rays.
The same danger of having your PVC drum warp applies to exposure to excessive heat…something to consider if you’re going to transport your rollers in a hot car during the summer.
PVC drums are a little bit quieter, since plastic absorbs vibration a bit more than aluminum.
As an aside, some bike rollers have drums that are parabolic shaped to keep you more toward the center of the drum. These drums are a little over three inches in diameter at the center and upwards of 5 inches in diameter on the edges.
Discount Bike Rollers And Sealed Bearings
Although just about all rollers come with ‘sealed’ bearings, some of them are merely caged bearings and are susceptible to moisture, dust, and even carpet fibers…to say nothing about all that dog hair I know is all over your floor.
Imagine that…discount bike roller failure at the hand of dog hide defoliation.
Look for sealed bearings with high quality rubber seals on both sides of the bearing.
Drum Diameters And Resistance
Drum diameters can range from as small as 2-1/4″ to over 4″.
Large diameter drums are easier to balance on due to more of the drum contacting the tire…just as more road contacts the tire in outdoor riding
On the road, the tire’s contact patch is longer than it is wide, giving it some directional stability. On bike rollers the tire’s contact patch is essentially round, ready to turn with little resistance.
However, there is less resistance with these larger drums so they are often sold in conjunction with resistance units.
Smaller diameter drums provide a natural increase in resistance due to increased tire compression.
A drum somewhere in the 3″ to-3 1/2″ range is probably a good compromise if a resistance unit (like a drum driven fan) isn’t used.
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Bike Roller Flywheels And Inertia
If you’re truly shopping for discount bike rollers, you’ll not likely encounter a roller with a flywheel.
And that may be a good thing…
Some manufacturers add a weighted flywheel to increase resistance to accelerations, adding extra effort to the bike roller ride. While this may seem like an advantage in getting a good workout, there are experts who argue that one of the reasons you buy bike rollers is because there is no inertia inherent in them.
Let me explain.
Bike rollers are used to improve balance and efficiency on the bike. It’s easy to understand the balance part of the equation, as the willingness to buy bike rollers in the first place is often hindered by the fear of falling off of them.
But the efficiency part is critical too. Accomplished pedalers pedal in circles, not in squares. Simply put, they don’t merely mash down on the pedals, but instead apply some pressure to the pedals throughout the pedal stroke.
Because there is very little inertia in bike roller drums, mashing results in a very noticeable ‘unsmooth’ ride.
If there’s a flywheel to keep the drum rolling even when the rider isn’t applying pressure to the pedals while the pedals are positioned at 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock, the rider can get away with inefficient pedaling…without it being apparent by excessive body movement.
In short, the rider is able to ‘coast’ through the dead spots if there’s inertia in the drums.
Frame Construction And Finish
Most bike rollers are ‘fold-able’ in the middle of the frame in order to make storage more convenient, but I suppose some discount bike rollers don’t include this feature in order to cut costs.
Another area in which to cut costs is in the finish of the frame. While almost all frames are welded from steel tubing, the higher end rollers are powder-coated, just like Navy ships. If you buy bike rollers without such a high end finish, you’ll probably be OK, since you are unlikely to take your roller ‘out to sea’ anytime soon.
When You’ve Become An Expert Bike Rollers Rider…
Should you buy discount bike rollers and REALLY get into it…you can get into bike roller competitions. In London, the bike messengers compete in what they call ‘Rollapaluza’, racing on side by side rollers.
Now all you have to do is get proficient on your roller, take a steamship to London, get hired on as a bike messenger, and then find out when and where they hold this Rollapaluza.
Have at it, Lad!
Here’s A Good Video On Using Rollers For Pedaling Technique Drills
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