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Stationary bike vs trainer

Old 01-13-22, 05:30 PM
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quadripper
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Stationary bike vs trainer

TLDR: do legit riders use stationary bikes or does everyone use real bikes on trainers?

I have been riding outside for years and average about 1500 - 2000 mi/ year.
I've got a new place where I'll have enough room to have an indoor bike set up. I have my main road bike (that i don't want to have to take a wheel on/off every time i want to hop on the indoor bike) so i am planning for a separate dedicated indoor cycling setup.
I have an old bike that I could use on a trainer - but it is a 7-speed and it looks like most of the modern direct-drive trainers are designed for use with newer 11-speed bikes. So if I go for a trainer, I think I would either need to use a friction drive trainer or also buy another bike to use just on the direct-drive trainer. I'm not really interested in riding on rollers as I would prefer a relaxed (non-balancing) exercise while zoning out indoors.
Because of all that, I'm kind of leaning towards a stationary bike. The ones that I've used at the gym are typically fly-wheel friction style. But it seems like it limits the realism of the workout and it may not be able to do everything like hills and stuff.

Budget, flexible, i am imagining in the $500 - 2000 range. Anybody have any thoughts or suggestions? Can i just get a friction trainer and use my old 7-speed that fits me well? What is the longevity of that solution? Should I get a dedicated stationary bike? The extreme option would be a whole new 11-speed + direct drive trainer. I am not really interested in that right now because it would cost a lot and I have yet to see how my indoor riding habits are. I like to ride outside and i have other activities I can do if the weather is bad, so not sure if I need to go all out on this.

Thanks for the help!!
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Old 01-13-22, 05:40 PM
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You can use pretty much any wheel-on trainer with your existing bike. Direct-drive should also not be an issue provided you put the right spacers in for your cassette.

I much prefer a stationary smart bike to any trainer, but they're very expensive. Cheap non-smart bikes have notoriously inaccurate power curves. If all you want is a workout and you don't care about simulation accuracy or accurate training load metrics, then any stationary bike is typically less fussy to hop on and ride, easier to adjust, cleaner, and quieter.
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Old 01-13-22, 05:47 PM
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I don't think there's any reason you couldn't put a 7 speed cassette on an 11-speed freehub, as long as you had enough spacers. Or you could get a wheel-on trainer like a Kinetic Road Machine.
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Old 01-13-22, 06:05 PM
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As above, the ultimate solution is a full-on "Smart Bike" like the Wahoo Kickr Bike, Tacx Neo Bike, Stages SB20, Wattbike Atom. But unfortunately those are well above your intended budget. Cheaper stationary bikes tend to be more like gym "spin bikes" with manual resistance controls etc. They are not really much like riding a road bike IME.

Given your budget, your best bet is to get a direct drive smart trainer (e.g. Wahoo Kickr Core), which will actually fit a 7-speed cassette with the appropriate spacer. So you should be able to set up your old bike on that. A wheel-on smart trainer would be your cheapest option (e.g. Wahoo Kickr Snap) but they make a lot more noise and are less accurate in power. But I would still go that route over a cheap stationary bike.

Yet another option to consider is the Peloton stationary bike, which is kind of halfway between a gym spin bike and smart trainer. But also pretty expensive and not compatible with 3rd party Apps like Zwift.
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Old 01-13-22, 06:48 PM
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Thanks for the help guys. Seems like all the options are viable so maybe i need to keep thinking about it...

from what I have looked at so far, i am thinking between the Schwinn IC4 stationary bike or the Kickr Core, either of which runs about $1000.

I've ridden a stationary bike before but never ridden a trainer. any suggestions on how to think about this? what is the difference in experience between these two?

more considerations, I'm trying to avoid a monthly fee, i don't mind manually entering my workouts on strava. and i prefer something lower maintenance. Something I am thinking about with the trainer is that my old bike is originally a $400 budget bike and it seems silly to put a cheap old bike on a trainer that costs more than twice as much. But the bike is comfortable so i guess that's ok - but how big of a deal is chain wear, and maintenance etc, if i go with the trainer option?
also about my training goals - mostly i am just trying to maintain cardio fitness and leg strength. I am not planning on racing, at most i will participate in one organized ride a year, like a century.

thanks again
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Old 01-13-22, 10:31 PM
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I would recommend against the Schwinn IC4 as it may not connect to all the available third-party apps, or give the most accurate power numbers, or provide automatic resistance changes in those apps. It's likely if you have any issues the support you receive may be limited also.

The Wahoo KICKR Core would be a far better choice! It's designed to sync seamlessly with all training apps (Zwift, FulGaz, RGT, Rouvy) and operate in ERG mode for training if you wish. It's rock solid and very reliable.

A cheap bike on a smart trainer is fine. Maintenance is the same as a "regular" bike. Just keep it clean and try and wipe the sweat off it! That said, I hardly give mine any maintenance love, just wipe it down, lube the chain every so often. It's got hundreds of indoor hours on it.

If budget allows, I almost always recommend a direct-drive smart trainer.
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Old 01-14-22, 05:19 AM
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I would second the Kickr Core. Boredom is by far the biggest factor to consider when it comes to indoor cycling. A smart trainer is far more engaging than a manual spin bike (which is what the Schwinnn is). I know you mentioned trying to avoid a monthly fee, but trust me, a Zwift, Rouvy, FulGaz, SYSTM etc subscription is worth every penny to encourage you to actually ride regularly indoors! I've owned stationary spin bikes in the past and they always quickly turned into clothes hangers. I can tolerate them at the gym for a sub 30 min session, but not at home. Whereas Smart trainers have successfully kept me engaged for years. It's far more like riding outdoors.

Once you have your old bike set up on a Kickr Core it won't need much maintenance. Just make sure the drivetrain is clean and in good condition when you first set it up. Then it should just need the odd bit of lube as you go. Dry wax-based lube is the way to go too. No oily mess on the floor or clothes.
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Old 01-14-22, 08:32 AM
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I agree with using the Core. I have a Kicker (not Core) and have adapted it to run with my 8 speed and it works really great. Since yours is a 7 speed just make sure it can be adapted with the proper cassette and what ever spacers are needed. if i recall the Core does not come with a cassette so you wil need to buy one anyway. just check on the proper size spacer needed.
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Old 01-14-22, 08:55 AM
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I use a KickR Snap wheel on trainer and rotate through my bikes. Some are 40 years old, but who cares, works fine. The only problem is that if my rear wheel is at all out of round, not so great.

This way, I can be just like the pros: climbing bike, endurance bike, TT bike. Even a touring bike!
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Old 01-14-22, 10:44 AM
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I would recommend the Kickr Core and use your regular road bike. It takes less than 30 seconds to remove/re-install the rear wheel, and by using that you get to ride the modern bike that you’re intimately familiar with.
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Old 01-14-22, 11:31 AM
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I just throw my bike onto rollers with a fork stand (keep meaning to learn to ride without the stand, but I haven't yet after many years). Get to keep using my normal bike without removing the rear wheel. Takes a tiny amount of time to flip the quick release and pull it off the fork stand and then put a front wheel on and flip that quick release in place. Requires a power meter somewhere in the system. Have used powertap hubs and assioma duo pedals and both have worked well. No fancy smart resistance changing features, but I can still ride in worlds and do races.
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Old 01-14-22, 02:28 PM
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Only thing about the Core (and all the direct drive trainers) is that you need to have 130mm rear spacing, and some 7sp were still the older 126mm - though if your old bike is steel you can just spread it, without even bothering to cold-set it.

Other than that - yea, get a 7sp cassette and go to town. It's a complete blast, and you won't enjoy it any less on a 7sp bike than you would on the latest and greatest 12sp.

I have a Kicker V5 (current version), Core, and had a Snap - to me, the Core is the sweet spot in the lineup - though if your bike is spaced at 126, the Snap would deal with that better.
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Old 01-15-22, 12:27 AM
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For what the OP is planning, I’d suggest just getting a used CycleOps Fluid 2 trainer, bolt on the bike, and ride. Everything else is either a lot of money, a waste of money, a fair amount of hassle, or all three.
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Old 02-16-22, 04:59 AM
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I'd caution that if you are a keen outdoor cyclist, any kind of indoor cycling may not scratch your itch.

I personally use indoor cycling as a quick fitness blast when kids are in the house or I only have 15 or 20 mins. I rarely do more than 30 mins, albeit the miles can build up as it's not a huge time drain to do 5 or 6 workouts a week on it .

I have the Wahoo Kickr (which I got second hand in early stages of the pandemic) and it is far more like 'real' cycling than a spin fit or exercise bike.
do find the bike can stay on there for weeks at a time and it does discourage me from doing outdoor rides, even during good weather and when I have the time for it.

Ideally I would get a 2nd hand bike to leave on there permanently and keep my 'main' bike ready for outdoor riding.
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Old 02-16-22, 08:05 AM
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Whatever option you choose make sure you get a big fan to cool down the engine! I personally have a TacX Vortex wheel on trainer with an older 9 speed aluminum bike and a full 12 month subscription to Zwift. I ride 3, maybe 4 times/week in the winter and once/week in the summer if it's raining or stinky hot. At that price point, I'm comfortable with the number of rides I get out my set up. Would spending more make me ride more? maybe, but only out of guilt for the money I spent.

Always nice and tired after a group ride or race and my legs are still sore despite only simulating about 8% gradient. The numbers on Zwift are a little wonky anyways so I don't pay much attention to the accuracy and just enjoy the exercise.
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Old 02-16-22, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by gthomson View Post
Whatever option you choose make sure you get a big fan to cool down the engine! I personally have a TacX Vortex wheel on trainer with an older 9 speed aluminum bike and a full 12 month subscription to Zwift. I ride 3, maybe 4 times/week in the winter and once/week in the summer if it's raining or stinky hot. At that price point, I'm comfortable with the number of rides I get out my set up. Would spending more make me ride more? maybe, but only out of guilt for the money I spent.

Always nice and tired after a group ride or race and my legs are still sore despite only simulating about 8% gradient. The numbers on Zwift are a little wonky anyways so I don't pay much attention to the accuracy and just enjoy the exercise.
Just an FYI, i only pay for zwift during the winter months. when i am not a paying customer i still use zwift in a limited way, they allow up to a 25 KM ride before a notice comes up to ask you to join. i dismiss the notice and continue to ride. i've done this this a few times over the summer for similar reasons as you. in fact, right now i am not a zwift paying customer and recently did a workout in the makuri islands, about 40KM. I just restart my subscription when the time comes.

disclaimer: it never really rains here.
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Old 02-16-22, 09:20 AM
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I built my stationary setup using what had been a 7-speed road bike as a dedicated trainer bike and a direct-drive smart trainer. I updated the drivetrain on the bike to 11-speed using a Microshift derailleur and bar-end shifters, although strictly speaking, that wasn't necessary. As it turns out, I do 99% of my riding in erg mode, and for that, I don't need any gears at all--if I had known ahead of time how I'd use it, I would have set it up as a single speed.

+1 to getting the Wahoo Kickr.
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Old 02-17-22, 07:18 PM
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I'm about to transition from a road bike/trainer to a dedicated trainer. The new trainers, like the Neo Bike Smart, offer way more options and less maintenance than a road bike on a trainer. No drive train, unlimited fit options, lots of gearing options, etc. Works for me, but as usual YMMV.
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Old 02-20-22, 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by dmanthree View Post
I'm about to transition from a road bike/trainer to a dedicated trainer. The new trainers, like the Neo Bike Smart, offer way more options and less maintenance than a road bike on a trainer. No drive train, unlimited fit options, lots of gearing options, etc. Works for me, but as usual YMMV.
I went down that route this winter with a Wahoo Kickr Bike. It's very impressive and very convenient. My previous setup was a mid-range smart trainer (Elite Direto X) using my regular road bike. That was pretty good too, but not so convenient. The only real downside to a dedicated smart bike is the cost relative to a smart trainer. But it does keep wear and tear off a potentially expensive road bike. Using an old road bike with a well-maintained drivetrain on a smart trainer is the best option on a budget. But a Smart Bike is the ultimate solution if cost is not critical.
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Old 02-20-22, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
I went down that route this winter with a Wahoo Kickr Bike. It's very impressive and very convenient. My previous setup was a mid-range smart trainer (Elite Direto X) using my regular road bike. That was pretty good too, but not so convenient. The only real downside to a dedicated smart bike is the cost relative to a smart trainer. But it does keep wear and tear off a potentially expensive road bike. Using an old road bike with a well-maintained drivetrain on a smart trainer is the best option on a budget. But a Smart Bike is the ultimate solution if cost is not critical.
Cost is always an issue, but once I sell off my road gear I'll have enough to buy either the Wahoo or Tacx smart bikes. I'm leaning towards the Tacx since I've been using a Neo 2T and really like the feel of that unit. No purchase until May, however, since I can't really ride for a couple more months.
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Old 02-20-22, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by dmanthree View Post
Cost is always an issue, but once I sell off my road gear I'll have enough to buy either the Wahoo or Tacx smart bikes. I'm leaning towards the Tacx since I've been using a Neo 2T and really like the feel of that unit. No purchase until May, however, since I can't really ride for a couple more months.
The Wahoo bike uses a motorised virtual flywheel similar to the Neo rather than their own trainers. However, it doesn't have the road "feel" simulation of the Neo. But for me the climb function was more important.
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Old 02-20-22, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
The Wahoo bike uses a motorised virtual flywheel similar to the Neo rather than their own trainers. However, it doesn't have the road "feel" simulation of the Neo. But for me the climb function was more important.
Yeah, I've got to try both of them. I've never experienced that climb simulation, so who knows? Nice to have choices.
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