Get on yer bike – the art of using rollers indoors…..

You’ve seen the pro’s use them ….you’ve flirted with turbo trainers, and experienced the boredom of lots of cycling effort and no reward in terms of scenery and being outdoors. Now you’re tempted to try out rollers. Go on – go on – go on – you know you want to……

The outdoors isn’t too kind just now – we’ve seen 70mph gusts, freezing temperatures, lashing rain, scudding clouds  – and all of that in just one morning.

Things you need to know about using rollers:-

1. Theres no on and off switch…..

No seriously – its a bit of mechanical kit thats as simple as it gets. No power is required – unlike some turbo’s. The beauty of this is that its easy to store , bung it in the car if you need to go places etc. The set up is equally easy – take out of cupboard, lay on floor – sorted. Get bike – put on roller – get going. easy!  (Well, I say easy….but read on…)

2. They say that the use of rollers is most like riding your bike ….

…except that when you stop on your bike outdoors, you rarely fall over (generally speaking).

Because you are in more elevated position on the rollers – and consequently higher up off the ground, things like stopping, starting and getting on and off takes a little bit more thought, practice and technique. Once you get it though , it’s immensely rewarding. Riding on rollers helps you with your pedalling technique – People who have a good circular pedalling rhythm don’t sway around so much , whereas people who mash up and down aggressively on their pedals may find it difficult (at first) to keep going on the roller without swaying left and right a lot. Good technique is therefore a reinforced learning habit on the rollers.

3. Getting started requires perseverance….

Its the getting started bit that takes the effort, once your upright and spinning away merrily, it’s all good the centrifugal and gyroscopic forces acting on the wheels keeps you upright. It does however mean that the two most wobbly moments where you are most likely to make an undignified exit from your bike is either right at the start, getting going or right at the end, when your trying to get off.

My best three tips are :-

  • When starting out on rollers, set it up within a door frame (with the door open obviously) which gives you a ready support mechanism to lean on, hang on to until you get going.
  • Once on the bike, push off confidently and get the wheels spinning as fast as possible, in the least time possible to get and keep your balance. Go with the flow and accept that the back and front wheels will move from side to side / sway about before you steady up
  • Use SMALL adjustments to steering only to adjust you balance.

4. Be aware ! The use of rollers is far from boring…because you need to concentrate….

With apologies to my Facebook friends – who will have heard this before – I had a great learning experience when I set up and was using the rollers in my kitchen. All was going well until the dog came in, caught my attention in my side vision and as I turned my head to look, I wobbled to the side sufficiently to dismount from the rollers and clatter my bike and me down the side of my kitchen cabinets before coming to rest on the floor at the end of the kitchen! So be aware – the use of rollers does require concentration, and unlike a turbo, once you get on and get going, you ain’t going to stop! None of this sitting up and taking breaks/ having a sandwich whilst watching TV malarky!  – You’re either on and rolling –  or your off your bike. Just like in the real world, really.

Anyway, this all a preamble to a most excellent video that I came across recently,  which really does outline the basics of getting started on riding rollers indoors.


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