Rollers are the original indoor cycling trainer. But despite the prevalence of smart trainers, many people still use them. For example, you’ll see them at track events as riders warm up.
They look pretty cool. But like most stylish things, they take some getting used to.
So here are a few tips on how to ride a bike on rollers. And if you are interested in buying a set, here is our blog on the top 5 best cycling rollers.
1. Get something to hold onto
Try and set up the rollers next to a doorway or a wall. A doorway is best because if the training is set up in the middle, you have something to hold onto if things start to go sideways.
2. Go for level ground and check the rollers are unimpeded
Next, make sure the rollers are set up on the level ground. Check there is nothing underneath that could come into contact with the rollers. Another thing to do is ensure there is something soft underneath. There is a chance you might come off.
3. Get the bike positioning right
When the bike is on the rollers, make sure the rear wheel is on the rear roller and the front axle is bang over the front one. Pretty much any roller should have a fair amount of adjustability so you can get this to fit your bike.
4. Think about going clipless
Resist the temptation to put on your riding shoes – at least at first. Again, if things start to get a little bit shaky, you want to get your foot onto the ground and hold yourself steady. Better still, think about using flat or clipless pedals.
5. Get the wheels spinning
As you start trying to think about getting the wheels moving quickly. It’s a bit like when you first learn to ride as a kid, you realize it gets easier the faster you go. In this case, it is about getting those wheels moving as quickly as possible and more smoothly too.
6. Use the opposite foot to your steadying hand
When you get onto the bike, hold onto the wall with your right hand and put the left foot into the pedal. That way, you’ll be more balanced. Or vice versa if you’re a leftie.
7. Be prepared for the bike to move around
Now, holding yourself in place, try to get into the first few pedal strokes. Build up to some good leg speed. As in the previous point, the aim here is to move the wheels as quickly as possible. At this point, assuming you are still on the bike, you may feel that it is beginning to feel a little awkward as the bike moves around. Try not to overreact to this. Just ride into it slightly in the same way as you would do on the road.
8. Don’t focus on the front wheel
It’s important at this point to try and get into the groove. Focus ahead of you rather than on the front wheel and what it is doing below.
9. Pedal smoothly
Pedal as smoothly as you can. Resist the urge to use a big gear and push too much power into the pedals and the rollers. The smoother it is, the fewer adjustments you’ll make. Remember, rollers are perfect for doing a recovery spin. Think smooth pedal stroke.
10. Relaxed grip steady core
Keep a relaxed grip on the handlebars. Again treat it just like you would on a bike and keep the upper body relaxed. The only thing you need to stay pretty steady here is the core, which is essential for staying upright on rollers.
11. Caution first – just put a hand out
If you start to feel like you’re going over, just put a hand up to the wall to help steady yourself. You’ll know when you’re making progress if you do this less and less.
12. Get off safely
The next thing to think about how you have got used to sucking on rollers is to get off safely. The easiest thing to do is touch the brakes a little and lean towards the contact wall or whatever is next to you. But at this point, you should be able to take at least 1 foot off the pedal and get onto the ground.
There you go. That is probably the simplest way to start getting into riding rollers. However, there is one last point to make. It will feel pretty complex and unusual at first. Nobody gets it the first time around. It usually takes a while to get the knack of things.
If you can’t be bothered with all the faff, check out this video as an alternative way to do it.
Just keep going, and as long as you have something to hold onto, you should be reasonably safe from hitting the ground.
That said, do make sure you put something soft down. And probably most important of all – make sure the bike is not damaged if you do come off.