Ask a Mechanic: Basic Trainer Setup

Hans says: “I’m sold on the importance of indoor training during the rainy season, but is setting up my bike in a trainer going to be a hassle?”

Trainers are a very effective way to maintain fitness during the fall and winter months. If you can’t get outside because of the weather or limited daylight, the trainer will give you an intense workout in a short amount of time.

Setting your bike up securely in the trainer is crucial, but not complicated. Correct set-up will let you pedal hard without fear of tipping over. Of course, some trainers are more stable than others, so if you intend to really crank out the watts look for a trainer with a wide stance and a robust frame.

This is a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine 2.0, but most trainers follow a similar set up routine. First, unfold the trainer’s legs, making sure they are at full extension. Back the resistance unit out and open up the axle supports, making room in the frame for the bike’s rear wheel. The resistance roller should be not touch the tire at first.

Next, remove the skewer from your rear wheel and install the skewer that came with the trainer. This will not only save your skewer from damage, but the stock skewer will fit the axle adjuster cups securely.

Put the rear wheel of your bike into the trainer, and adjust whichever axle support does not have a quick release-style adjuster so the tire is in the center of the resistance roller. If there is a lock ring, secure it when the proper positioning is achieved. Next, slide the other side adjuster onto the quick release nut. In this case you’ll open the quick release, move the adjuster, close the quick release, and tighten the knob.

Now it’s time to put some resistance on the wheel. Tighten the rear knob until the roller contacts the tire, and then give one to three more full turns, or until your desired resistance is achieved. More resistance equals more wear on your tire, so you might want to have a trainer-specific tire or even wheel and tire if you spend a lot of time training indoors. Give your bike a good shake to make sure it’s solid in the trainer.

Finally, you’ll need to level your bike. You can stack two-by-fours under your front wheel, but a riser block will be much more stable. Most risers will have several positions to match the rear wheel’s height. If you have a long enough level you can place it on the bike’s skewers, but judging by feel should be adequate.

Now it’s time to get on the bike and start hammering. There are many guided workout videos available that will help you achieve whatever training goals you have. Or, you can get creative and come up with your own workouts. Either way, you’ll maintain fitness and maybe even come out of winter stronger than before. Art’ has the best trainers and accessories for your off-season needs, so check us out and keep spinning.