Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Got: A follow up post

So back in mid July, I wrote this post about a roller trainer that I was pretty well obsessed with for a while. I'd been riding the cheap mag trainer I got at Costco for about five months at that time as part of a diet and exercise regimen. I was a little leery of the price, and I wanted to make sure that indoor training was going to be something I was going to stick with, and not something I'd do for three weeks and quit. After putting nearly 1,000 miles on the old trainer, I seriously started to consider picking up a new trainer.

Well, in December, I finally broke down and shelled out the $800 for the Inside Ride E-Motion Rollers. I have not been disappointed. My pre-purchase research consisted of reading a bunch of reviews. I found one particular site with reader reviews that was very helpful. You know how when you read reviews on Amazon for a really great product, there's always about 5% of the reviewers who like to be contrarian and rate something a 1 out of 5? Well, I could not for the life of me find a negative review of these rollers. The only cons I came across were 1) price, and 2) portability (they don't fold up).

Some background on rollers for those who didn't click the wikipedia link: Bicycle trainers essentially consist of two types. The first are mag, fluid, or wind trainers, all which provide a different resistance mechanism, but are similar in that they lock a wheel in place, basically turning a regular bike into a stationary bike. The second type are rollers. Rollers consist of a frame surrounding three drums. The back wheel sits between two drums, and the front wheel rests on one (see image). A belt connects the front drum to one of the back drums, so when you pedal, the front wheel spins as well. The catch is that there's nothing holding you up except your balance and the forces that hold you up when riding on the road. What makes rollers difficult is the lack of visual cues that you have on the road. You have to retrain your brain to know that you'll stay upright even when things aren't zooming past you.

Inside Ride's E-Motion rollers differ from regular rollers in that they are "free-floating". The drums are attached to a frame that sits within a second frame (see video - note: that is not me). The frames are attached by rubber bands, which allow the frame with the drums to surge back and forth, simulating the feel of riding on the rode, and making them much easier to manage. In addition, they have bumpers in back and front of the back wheel, which keep you from jumping off the drums when pedaling hard, and they have in-line skate wheels that sit horizontal to the ground on either side of the front wheel. These serve to kick you back on to the drum if you drift to the edge. It's very hard to fall off of these rollers once you get the feel for them, which happens quickly. I've only really fallen once, and that was because the Kings were on, and Raitis Ivanans got in a fight, and I drifted a little too far while I was focused on the game.

But there was a dilemma. My old trainer was set to a very low resistance level. I was going for a spin workout, to get the heart pumping and to burn calories, but I wasn't building leg strength or stamina. When the E-Motion rollers showed up, I couldn't pedal for more than about a minute without being totally gassed. Every stroke feels like the third or fourth stroke you take on the road. A lot of resistance with no momentum. I just didn't have the leg strength. I was afraid I'd just dropped 800 bones on a product I wasn't going to be able to use effectively. Fortunately, within a few weeks, I was building leg strength and stamina, and now I can ride a good 30 minutes+, but I'm doing it in a low gear. In a few weeks, I'll be riding that long in larger gears, but for now, I'm getting a better workout than before, and I'm building leg strength, which will really help when golf season comes around. I stop for occasional breaks, not because my legs dictate it, but because I'm still not comfortable toweling off and drinking water while riding (you can't really coast very long).

So I'd add my review to the ones I read before. This is a great product if you like to train indoors. In the winter, that's almost mandatory here, and in the summer, I like the option because I can watch baseball while working out. And the trails around where I live, particularly the Lakeshore trail, gets very, very busy. But these rollers are awesome.

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