Rollers or a trainer?

Mike B.

Turbo Monkey
Oct 5, 2001
State College, PA
Well we're experiencing at least our third consecutive winter of highly erratic weather where I can't count on being able to snow ride often enough. Time for some indoor miles but can't decide whether to go rollers or trainer. Both have there good points but it's been quite a while since I used either. Years ago I had a cheaper magnetic resistance trainer and have used rollers that belonged to a friend.

Option 1: Kreitler rollers with or without the head wind resistance unit. A co-worker has this setup (with head wind) and seems to like it quite a bit. I've not had the chance to try her setup since she's not had it for too long. Rollers seem to give a quicker workout from my limited experience with them and help with form.

Option 2: Kinetic trainer with the road or pro resistance units. This was touched upon in a recent thread regarding higher resistance workouts and what I've read about them since sounds good to me.

Cost ends up about the same so that's not a factor. I have plenty of room to leave either set up all the time and I'll be using my road bike on either exclusively. No need to use the mountain bike on either one.



Want fries with that?
Jan 4, 2002
i prefer small diameter rollers w/ a resistance unit. for me they offer a good resistance that allows me to get out the power i would normally push at the normal speeds. it also allows me to not fall asleep while riding. riding the trainer bores the crap out of me and as long as the front wheel is spinning i'm paying attention to what's going on.


Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
Burlington, Connecticut
That's a pretty good point about rollers forcing you to pay attention to what you are doing.

I recently completed 2 trainer sessions in my garage on my old trainer I got from splat in exchange for a fork or something like that. It is hard to stay motivated on the trainer - thank god for a good narlus Ridemonkey Secret Santa CD to keep my spinning. :thumb:


Oct 17, 2002
My LBS shop owner likes a trainer more for actual exercise and conditioning. He uses the Spinerval DVDs. He'll use the rollers much less.

I've tried both and like neither, so last week, we bought an elliptical trainer cuz it's something my wife will use and I like it more than either cycling tool. Granted, I haven't tried Spinervals yet, so that might help me.


Turbo Monkey
Aug 23, 2002
Roanoke, VA
Split it down the middle...
Cheap large drum rollers and cheap magnetic or fluid trainer.

When I had to deal with winter, that was my solution. I would often ride both the rollers and the trainer in one session.

From a physiological perspective the neuromuscular force production profile and recruitment patterns of riding a trainer (unless it has a very, very heavy flywheel) are different than riding on the road.

The same is true with the rollers (but in a different quadrant of the force/velocity plot), so they sort of dove-end each other. Warm up and cool down on the rollers, do steady-state intervals and technique work on the rollers, and do sprints, threshold and supra-threshold efforts on the trainer.

Helps to avoid boredom too...


Turbo Monkey
Mar 18, 2002
G14 Classified
I don't ride as much as I should or could, but I have (had?) a decent spin thanks to rollers. Imo, riding rollers helped to develop a good sense of balance and a decent spin.

I have never set wheel on a trainer.

Cant Climb

Turbo Monkey
May 9, 2004
Riding indoors by default is boring. What else can be expected....?

Just make the best of it.....do some sprints, intervals, standing sets.....at least get something out of your time investment.....it's not hard to get creative with a simple wristwatch that has a countdown timer.....

Just sitting there and spinning really is going no where fast.....

I ride the trainer maybe twice a week......depends when i can fit real riding in....

Mike B.

Turbo Monkey
Oct 5, 2001
State College, PA
Thanks for the feedback all. I'm leaning towards rollers at this point. Any thoughts on the Kreitler head wind system versus the rollers with a magnetic resistance unit?

Looks like CycleOps has a set with 3.25" rollers and a mag unit but with Kreitler you can get down to 2.25". I've heard only good things about the Kreitlers. In fact I believe the set I used years ago was 20+ years old.


Jun 10, 2002
I used rollers last year. No thanks. They're good for working on technique, and "cruising", but for a workout, nah. I traded my Cycleops rollers for a mag trainer.