For a lot of people, being able to train all year round is really important, especially if you live in countries whereby it's cold or miserable outside during the winter months. It can be dangerous, sometimes being icy, snowy or even just cold and wet.
Owning a turbo trainer can be a great alternative to say a stand alone exercise bike, allowing for a much more realistic feel and ride quality. Plus with the added benefit of being able to be stored away safely, without the need for bulky static machines.
Today we are going to take a look at Fluid Bike Trainers, explaining what they are, how they work, how to get the best out of them and of course a few places to find ones for you to enjoy.
If you haven't already, be sure to check out our latest reviews, or the top rated indoor bike trainers we have on the right hand side.
What Is A Bike Trainer or Turbo Trainer?
Bike trainers are a clever little piece of engineering that allows everyday cyclists, pro cyclists and even beginners to use their normal bicycle, be it a mountain, road or specialist bike to cycle anywhere they like, well as long as you can set it up.
The main two categories are either Fluid Bike Trainers, which we will look through today.
Surprisingly they use fluid to increase resistance levels, or magnetic ride trainers, which use electromagnets to increase difficulty and resistance, you can read about them, here.
You will find that these turbo trainers will come in either V or U shaped designs, due to how they work, with 2 spokes set up to lock your wheel into place with, and then a roller designed to slightly touch your bike wheel, this roller is used to provide the resistance required.
Most of the time, these indoor bike trainers are easy to set up and get going with, allowing you to quickly unlock your bike and take it out on the open road if it suddenly becomes hotter than the Sahara desert.
These trainers can be a great alternative to the stationary exercise bikes, or the flimsy looking mini exercise machines that appear.
What Is A Fluid Bike Trainer?
Both types of bike trainers run on quite similar mechanisms, the only major difference is what creates the resistance required to make these items worth using.
For fluid bike trainers the resistance is provided by a tiny impeller house inside of fluid, this spins, as time goes on and heat increases, so does the resistance.
This means you can achieve a higher resistance or a longer time-frame of resistance by cycling quicker, or for longer.
From our experience fluid trainers are quieter, though more expensive than their magnet counter parts.
How Does A Fluid Bike Trainer Work?
As mentioned, these turbo trainers have a similar mechanism to the mag rides, though instead of magnets they use a chamber of fluid and a impeller inside.
The fluid becomes more difficult to 'move through' as time passes and the heat increases. Which means you slowly starting to increase the difficulty and resistance the further you get into your cycle, or the quicker you go.
Unlike mag rides, fluid bike trainers don't have click resistance settings as there are no adjustable mechanical parts that can move closer or change the resistance.
How To Use A Fluid Bike Trainer?
Thankfully turbo trainers are usually easy to set up and even the get going with.
The large majority of magnetic trainers follow quite a similar design. With 2 individual holding rods either side of the frame.
Depending on the frame, or the type of bike you own, you can usually slot your existing wheel in, without needing to change out the type of wheel you run, the size of the wheel or the wheel spindle either. Some do require a change in the wheel spoke, but thankfully most don't.
Again, depending on the quality of the trainer, you will also find either a screw or leaver designed to help you put the fly wheel as close to your wheel (you want it just touching).
This is to allow for different size wheels and tyres when locking your wheel in place. So are slightly better designed than others, or allow for a much more precise movement of the mechanism.
Once the bike is locked in place and you have moved the fly wheel and the roller into place, you are ready to go.
Are Fluid Bike Trainers Any Good?
Yes, to put it simply, though a lot of this is dependent on how good the manufacture is or if even the age of them.
We have found that older models do tend to have issues with fluid leakages, and it is a problem that does appear, but again not something that appears as much with the new trainers we have looked at and reviewed.
They are more expensive than their mag counter parts, but the tech behind it in our eyes is a bit more advanced, they are usually quieter and they run a lot nicer, so worth the few extras $/£'s you may have to shell out to get them.
Fluid Bike Trainer vs Magnetic Bike Trainer
The big decision comes down to, how much are you willing to spend, what your performance level is at and how realistic you want your indoor biker trainer to feel.
If you are after a more realistic, smoother and slowly increasing resistance level, then the fluid biker trainers are going to be the ones you want to look at. They can be more expensive, over the £150 / $200 mark at times, compared to the £50/ $100 starting prices for magnetic rides. But they can be worth it.
Fluid Bike Trainer - Conclusion
Now that a lot of the models that had issues in the past have been updated, less leaks are reported and that the price between the two different types has somewhat closed, fluid bike trainers really can be seen as the more sensible option for most of the time.
Of course, if you are running on a budget, then fluid turbo trainers may not be the answer for you, but keep an eye out, you may be surprised what you can find.