A bicycle trainer is a piece of equipment that makes it possible to ride a bicycle while it remains stationary. They are commonly used to warm up before races, or when riding conditions outside are not favorable.
A smart trainer is different than a model with electronically controlled resistance. “Smart” means it can communicate wirelessly with a training app on your smart phone or virtual riding world like Zwift—and automatically adjust resistance.
Bicycle trainers are categorized by how the unit provides resistance.
- Wind — The unit uses a fan powered by the cyclist’s legpower to provide resistance on the rear tire.
- Pros: Resistance progresses with cyclist’s speed, creating a realistic feeling of cycling on a road.
- Cons: Noise, limited resistance.
- Magnetic — A magnetic flywheel creates resistance on the rear wheel.
- Pros: Nearly silent operation.
- Cons: Resistance has an upper limit, prone to breaking.
- Fluid — Combines magnetic flywheel with fluid resistance chambers.
- Pros: Nearly silent magnetic operation with added progressive resistance.
- Cons: Repeated friction heating and consequential expansion and contraction of the fluid can result in seal leaks.
- Centrifugal — Specially designed centrifugal pressure plates provide resistance.
- Pros: Nearly Silent, resistance curves may be adjusted by the user.
- Utilitarian — The output power is used to drive a useful device such as generator; or even to spin laundry as one inventor has done.
- Pros: Pedal-powered clean clothes.
- Cons: Considerable do-it-yourself engineering required; imperfect design requires a strong cyclist.
- Virtual Reality — this is a very comprehensive simulator, the rear wheel sits on a motorized roller and the front forks fit in a frame equipped with steering sensors, the whole system is linked to a computer with ‘virtual world’ software. Riders steer their way through this virtual world and pedaling gets harder (the motorized roller ‘loads’ the rear wheel) when going uphill. The sophistication of the computer system allows it to be linked to the internet to provide additional information.
- Pros: Intent is to hold the bicyclist’s interest and the user can fit their own bike into it.
- Cons: Expensive and requires a computer with an advanced graphics card and a monitor.
- Direct Drive – trainers that act as a replacement for the rear wheel.
STAC Zero Halcyon
The unique proposition of the STAC Zero trainers is the fact that they are totally silent. They use magnets to provide resistance in conjunction with your wheel rims, which makes this trainer very Jetsons like.