Have you ever attempted to ride on rollers? They can be quite challenging, can’t they?
Each comes with its own set of pros and cons. But once you get the hang of them, they can really boost your cycling game?
With our handy guide, we’ll help you understand how to ride bike rollers and how they can help improve your pedaling style and cadence. And don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with recommendations for the best rollers too.
So, are you ready to master the art of indoor cycling on rollers? Let’s get going!
HINT – they’re great for learning an efficient pedalling technique.
This guide will outline the various types of cycling rollers out there. Their advantages and disadvantages. What are easier to ride and do they work on Zwift.
You’ll find the one we think is best suited for you.
Table of Contents
Best roller if you’re a little bit nervous starting off
Minoura Trainer Rollers Moz Folding With Step Guard
Minoura Folding Trainer Rollers with Step Guard is a good start. The setup is fairly simple with good-sized drums at the contact points and a stepping point to help get started.
It has an adjustable wheelbase from 950mm to 1090mm so you can get the best workout possible in your space. It also includes an 80mm diameter alloy roller drums and noise insulator, which means you’ll train without disturbing others or getting distracted by outside noises.
The painted finish will give you increased stability and anti-slip properties that are even better than what most rollers offer, while the step guard will protect your flooring from scratches when moving about during workouts.
Not the cheapest, not the most expensive, but covers all the bases if you want to get started with rollers.
- Step guard – to help with balancing and starting out.
- Lightweight – good for traveling with.
- Insulator on rollers – we all know how noisy trainers can irritate others
- Occasional issues with adapting size.
Best Budget Cycling Rollers
Tacx Antares T100 Rollers
Here is another option for anyone looking for a simple product to see if they want to get into riding this way. Tacx is a pretty good manufacturer of trainers so you can rely on them getting the product right.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly set of cycling rollers to help improve your endurance and stamina, then look no further than the Tacx Antares Rollers. These models are made from high-quality materials that create a strong foundation for your workouts while also being easy on the wallet.
The conical/ parabolic drums have been designed with dips in the middle (for more on this see our guide further down), which provides more stability. This is an excellent feature for beginners (although it still takes some getting used to). The rollers themselves are 11cm so there is less resistance than something like the Minoura.
On the downside, there have been issues reported re. the assembly in terms of stability. So there might be some fiddling before you get them right.
The lower price on this model makes it perfect for those who want to test rollers out without breaking the bank.
- Parabolic rollers – stay centered for stability.
- Larger drums for less resistance – easier to control.
- Good value – good value for the build.
- Occasional issues with the assembly.
Best Rollers If You Want to Get on Zwift
Elite Arion Digital Parabolic Rollers
if you like the idea of going on rollers but don’t want to give up your dose of cycling apps like Zwift, then this is for you. These rollers come with progressive resistance and are “smart” in the same way that trainers are.
In fact, these rollers can handle power as high as 1100W. Here the adjustable resistance is electromagnetic. That said, it is not straightforward setting the resistance while peddling. The elite Myetraining app is not the easiest to use when you’re focusing on staying on the trainer. However, it can be connected to your laptop via ANT+ or Bluetooth.
The Elite Arion Parabolic Roller has been designed by cycling experts who have years of experience developing high-quality indoor trainers. It features an ergonomic design that allows you to cycle comfortably while maintaining good posture throughout your workout.
With its advanced technology, this bike will help you achieve maximum results from every ride!
- Power meter – lets you get on Zwift
- Parabolic rollers – helps keep you from moving around too much.
- Quality brand – Elite has been making trainers for years.
- You need a sensor to connect ANT+
Best Rollers if You Want to Accelerate or Do Intervals
Tacx Galaxia Rollers
The Tacx Galaxia rollers are a new and innovative design for indoor training. They have many features that make them stand out from the crowd of other trainers on the market.
These include a patented swing system, conical rollers, and a suspended chassis. The patented swing system is designed to allow you to accelerate while remaining in place.
This consists of rockers beneath the twin rear drums and on wheels at the front, rather than on rubber feet. When out of the saddle, the acceleration is absorbed and stability is increased. Something that is really helpful when you consider how much you can move around when cycling on rollers.
For us it was this feature that really push this product out and made a little bit different from some of the others here. The Tacx Galaxia is worth considering if you’re in the market for an excellent trainer with some unique features!
– The patented swing system is designed to improve your ride feel and stability
– Curved rollers to keep you cycling in the middle.
– Downside – it is a little on the noisy side when compared to the others. But then again you are hardly going to be using this in the same room somebody’s watching TV.More
Best Hybrid Roller – To Keep You Steady
Feedback Sports Omnium Hybrid Roller – one drive version
If you want to try rollers but are a little nervous about the stability challenges then hybrid rollers may be the thing for you. As you can see in the picture, these are designed with a tripod at the front to hold your bike steady at the forks.
The rollers themselves have a lovely smooth ride feel when you get on them and they also come with progressive resistance – enough for around 600W to 700W by our reckoning. Some people have compared the feel of a fluid trainer.
One of the other benefits of using this design is its portability. The whole thing can be taken apart in less than a minute (it comes in two main sections) and it fits in a small bag. The contact points – and there are plenty of them – mean that you don’t need to put it on a turbo trainer mat.
Overall, it’s a neat simple idea. But it negates some of the positive reasons for getting into rollers in the first place i.e. focusing on your core and stability.
- Portable – quick to set up and fits in a small bag. Great if you’re on the move.
- Ride feel – feels like a fluid trainer but better on the tires.
- Resistance – you’ll be mostly relying on the gears.
- Lets face it, it’s more of a trainer than rollers.
Cycling Rollers Buying Guide
Bike rollers are designed to allow you to ride your bike with both wheels on and get a realistic experience.
If you’re not familiar with rollers, they provide resistance while you pedal. They also provide lateral motion in a way you’ll never get with a smart trainer. But the downside is you will have to balance on them.
The drum size is actually quite an important feature. It is the one point of connection between the bike and the trainer and has a lot to do with the ‘feel’ of the ride.
Generally speaking, the larger the roller the less resistance. So for example, rollers tend to come in 4.5-inch or 3-inch sizes. The larger size will require some additional resistance if you want to get out of anything light training mode. Large 4.5-inch drums
Larger drums come with less resistance so you will need to ride with higher gears to make sure there is some effort required. However, you also get a better ability to coast and roll along. This is really helpful if you need to stop.
Medium-sized 3-inch drums
These will provide around 40% of the resistance you get on the 4.5-inch drums. So it gives you more options in terms of training load.
Smaller 2.25-inch drums
These come with around 85 to 90% more resistance than the 4.5-inch versions. Enough said. You only really want to be looking at these if you are an incredibly strong rider.
Most sets of rollers include three to five drums or cylinders which spin against each other and your rear wheel while your bike is stationary.
As you pedal, your rear wheel makes contact with each drum or cylinder creating resistance against the rotation of your tire. That resistance is increased by how tight the drums are to one another. The closer together they are, the more difficult it becomes to pedal because there is less room four your rear wheel to slip through.
As you pedal faster or with more force, the drums will begin to rotate in the opposite direction due to your increased momentum, thereby easing up on the resistance. The tighter they are together, the less give there is during these transitions and the more difficult it becomes to pedal smoothly.
It takes a bit of time to get used to riding on stationary rollers. There’s a good chance you will fall at the beginning; that’s why you need a step-guard or something hybrid like the Omnium Zero-Drive. Rollers are known for requiring more of a learning curve than traditional trainers.
What bikes can rollers be used with?
Rollers can be used with any bike whose wheelbase – the distance between the rear and front axle – fits the roller. Measure your bike to make sure you get the correct size.
Roller wheels offer an excellent workout experience that feels like real cycling. They provide resistance and cushioning, so you get a full range of motion while working out. This makes them ideal for people who want to work up a sweat without hurting themselves.
Power meters can be very useful when it comes to cycling on rollers. While it’s true that rollers offer less resistance, power meters can still be very helpful developing cadence and pedalling style.
What to Look For in Cycling Rollers
When shopping for rollers, there are several features you should keep in mind. Some are more important than others, but all will factor into your overall experience and help you determine what roller is right for you.
There are rollers on the market today that fall anywhere in the £100-£500 price range, giving you a wide variety of options. When shopping within this, there are two main variables to consider; drum spacing and materials.
More affordable rollers are usually lighter and easier to transport but lack the precision needed for serious training sessions. The less expensive models will usually have drums spaced further apart, giving you less resistance while cycling. The wider drums also create more give during accelerations which makes it hard to gain momentum.
The more expensive models typically use an adjustable drum design to adjust the spacing between each cylinder. This gives you more control over your cycling workout intensity and makes maintaining a steady cadence throughout your ride easier. It also prevents any one area of your tire from wearing out too quickly.
Three things to consider
1) Noise level: This will depend largely on how much noise it makes and where you place it. If you’re looking for a quieter ride, choose one with less vibration.
2) Weight: The heavier, the better, as they tend to provide more resistance. However, if weight isn’t necessary to you, then lighter models can work just fine.
3) Size: You want a model that fits well into your living space.
What types of cycling roller are there
As you properly guess traditional rollers are fairly simple. In fact, they’re probably not too much different from what Eddie Merckx was using back in the 70s. From a design point of view, they tend to have one drum at the front and to the back.
In terms of resistance, it largely depends on what gear you are in. Getting about these is they are largely preassembled and ready to use out of the box. The only thing you really need to do is adjust the rollers to suit your bike length.
if you want the feel of riding on rollers but you also like diving into Zwift or one of the other training apps, then smart rollers are for you. These tend to have electromagnetic resistance built into them as well as connectivity through Bluetooth or ANT+.
So you can get the most out of both worlds. As an aside one of the issues of using swift and spending a long time on a bike trainer is that it can get uncomfortable with the lack of lateral movement. the only downside to this is that you will struggle to get the kind of power you find on something like the Tacx Neo or Wahoo Kickr.
if you are a bit nervous about the balancing challenge that comes with using rollers (at least at the beginning) then hybrid rollers are quite a good alternative. With these you get the roller at the back will and the front is held in place at the Forks.
They can also come with magnetic resistance. A good example of this is the omnium portable trainer that is reviewed above. Again, these types of rollers are fairly easy to set up. The only downside is the question over with a get “the full roller experience”.
The material used to make the frame can affect how well it holds up under pressure. If you’re looking for a cheap model, then plastic could work just fine. However, if you want one with longevity, metal frames tend to last longer than their counterparts made out of cheaper materials.
Another factor to keep in mind is whether or not the manufacturer offers any warranty. This means they won’t replace parts that break down after a certain period.
The design of the bike roller can also affect its sound level. If the frame has been made with thick steel tubing, which makes the whole thing heavy, then it won’t rattle around too much. However, if the frame is lightweight aluminum, then it could quickly start to vibrate during use.
Configuration: Singles vs Doubles
The majority of rollers on the market are sold in sets of two or three drums with varying spacing between them. However, there are a growing number of single drum models available as well.
A single roller can make it easier to maintain your momentum over longer distances. The downside is that you will have to work harder once the tire reaches the narrower drum and is no longer supported by the broader drums, creating a functional threshold workout.
On the other hand, you can double up on rollers with a pair with greater spacing between their drums for quieter indoor workouts or additional resistance during interval sessions. This arrangement is more challenging to ride and provides lesser give than a single roller, but it gets easier once you get through the transition area between drums.
These are designed so your bike stays in the middle of the rollers. Basically, there is a slight dip in the middle.
On the one hand, this means there is less chance of you coming off. But on the other, with parabolic rollers you lose the opportunity to focus and build your core as you try to keep the bike centered.
Fixed Drum vs Swivel Base
All rollers feature a fixed drum that remains stationary as you pedal against them. The base of each roller does rotate freely, however, allowing the drum to move back and forth as you pedal. This feature gives rollers their “turbo” feel and provides the resistance needed to create a taxing workout. The more expensive models will swivel on a ball-bearing base, while the less expensive models use a fixed plastic sleeve in which the drum rotates.
The better swivel base makes it easier to maintain your momentum because the rollers turn in unison with you, so there is no pause or interruption in your pedal stroke. However, if you do not have a strong cycling background, this feature might amplify any bumpiness in your riding style and increase the amount of noise generated by clunking pedals against the plastic base.
Lastly – make sure you really want them
The thing to be aware of is rollers are a totally different experience from what you get on a smart trainer. When you’re going on a trainer you just turn it on, connecting with whatever app you are using, and get on the bike. At that point, it is simply a case of peddling and following what is on the screen.
Rollers are a completely different experience. Yes, they feel like the road. But they also require 100% focus.
That’s because you’re constantly moving around on and you constantly need to make adjustments to stay on track. This requires a really strong core – core training is another benefit you get out of them. This is not the kind of thing you do while watching TV.
Another drawback is an inability to stand on the pedals, do power intervals, or do any kind of hill training. Rollers are really targeted at an intermediate to an advanced cyclist who is looking for an outdoor experience while building pedaling efficiency with core strength.
So there we have our thoughts on what are the best cycling rollers. Rollers are an excellent way to keep in shape – they might seem like another version of a smart trainer but they do a bit more than that.
If you’re interested in learning how to ride them check out this post – 12 Simple Tips on How to Ride Rollers.
Rollers don’t just keep you fit. They change the way you ride making your pedaling more economical and saving energy, rather than wasting it. And what’s more, they’re extremely flexible. Most fold and you can easily take them outside and just put your bike on them.
So, you can occasionally get out of that pain cave.