Here in the Pacific Northwest, we get to experience a wide variety of weather throughout the year. Really, I enjoy these changes and the uniqueness each of our seasons bring, and, who doesn’t relish a good opportunity to blame stuff on the weatherman? That’s got to be a seriously tough gig here.
On account of these things called “seasons”, I’d venture to guess that the majority of Pacific Northwest road bike riders own a trainer of some sort, be it rollers, or axle/skewer mount. Back in my upright bicycle days, the family gifted me a CycleOps resistance trainer, the kind that clamps onto your rear axle/skewer and then you adjust the turning drum, or whatever you call it, up enough to come in contact pressure with your wheel, enough so that there is no slippage between your wheel and the drum surface. Resistance on my particular trainer was flat, provided by a magnetic system, you wanted harder, you changed gears. It was an older generation model of the CycleOps Magneto Trainer, and worked great for my Wilier Road Bike.
After I purchased my recumbent trike (catrike 700), I thought, given that my trike has the same 700 rear wheel providing the drive, my same CycleOps trainer would work. And it did, except for one minor technicality, which I ignored. This is probably not true of every different model of recumbent, but for the Catrike 700, in it’s stock configuration, the axle/skewer attachment point to the trainer, ends up wanting to occupy a conflicting location with the rear derailleur cable. I saw this from the start, but figured pushing the cable down just a little wouldn’t be a big deal, so I did.
As everything settled into place with my new trike, I developed some shifting issues, as in, the shift points were a bit out of whack and I couldn’t get rid of that annoying, partially in gear noise coming from about 40 percent of my gears. Now, I’m getting better about being a bike mechanic, but knew this was past my abilities, so I took my trike into the local recumbent shop (Coventry Cycle Works, they have since been purchased, half of the staff going to grow Rose City Recumbent Cycles, and the other half, staying with the purchasers, beginning Recumbent PDX), and immediately their mechanics noticed that the barrel adjuster that controls micro adjustments for your rear derailleur cable tension, was broken. In my mind, I knew the guilty culprit was my trainer, and, well, me forcing it together with my trike. The replacement part was cheap, but I still had to pay the more expensive labor fee (which was still pretty affordable, they have treated me well).
This coincided with the beginning of the fair-weather riding so I didn’t have a problem with wanting, or even needing to use the compromising trainer, but I knew in the back of my mind, I needed to change to a different trainer. Beginning the research (the professional computer nerd thing helps out with this), I came across a review on bentrideronline.com by Bryan Ball, detailing the SportCrafters OverDrive Trike Trainer with Progressive Resistance. This was exactly what I needed!
With Coventry Cycle Works closing it’s doors, and the other two recumbent shops not yet fully operational, I was left without a local vendor, so I ordered the OverDrive Trike Trainer directly from SportCrafters.com. The ordering process was easy, and even though at checkout and completion of my order, it was speculated that I would have to wait a few weeks before receiving my trainer, it shipped and arrive the next week. Not to completely abandon CycleOps, I still had one of their Climbing Riser blocks for the non-drive wheel, and ordered a second one as to level my trike with the trainer, and hold my front wheels better in place. These riser blocks can be found from multiple retailers for around $25 each:
SportsCrafters makes solid products, I think they have some pretty highly rated rollers for bicycles, in addition to these tricycle specific mini-rollers. For this trainer, your rear (drive) wheel rests on/between the two drums, there’s no clamping onto the frame (and in my case, no compromising the cables on your trike!), then in best practice, you block your front wheels ( you could leave them resting on the floor, I suppose, although you will be pitched forward a few inches), then pedal. The OverDrive Trike Trainer features two modes, orientate the rollers with the red-capped drum at the front and you get standard/flat resistance. Reverse this direction, with the red-capped drum located in the back position, and presto, you get their smooth progressive resistance. So far, still building my ‘bent legs, I’m only touching the beginning speed of the progressive resistance, but when I get up there, I can really feel the burn. Here’s a little graph detailing how this works:
My first several spins, I had some trouble centering the trainer in the right place, tilted too far to one side or the other, and your rear wheel tends to wander to the side of the rollers, and potentially off, which made me paranoid (looks like they make these rollers with the ability to attach side rollerblade type wheels, which would probably help with this worry, used and sold in their dual wheel drive configuration). Also, until you get the jitters out of your legs, you are prone to a large amount of forward/backward rocking when you crank up the intensity of your pedal. Lock both of your front wheel brakes, helps/eliminates this problem until you smooth out your pedal, I find your rear wheel stays centered more easily, and without worry, as well.
Riding your bike or trike indoors can become extremely tedious, TV watching doesn’t work for me, I get distracted, however, music, if upbeat, really helps me keep tempo with my work out. This is speaking for myself personally, as everyone is geared differently: I’ve found that I just don’t get my heart rate as high on a trainer, as I do out on the road. The workout doesn’t really feel less, I manage to sweat just as much or more. Looking at the reported numbers from my trainer rides as opposed to the outside rides, my cadence seems to compare pretty close to the same, while my speed goes up, and my heart rate goes down. Someday (they tend to be prohibitively expensive), I’d like to get a power meter for some more accurate nerd analysis. Until then, riding on this OverDrive Trike trainer has noticeably smoothed out my overly spastic and uneven pedaling, which has begun to transfer to my outside rides as well, and it keeps me out of the nastiest of the elements. Here’s my trainer ride from last week:
And a few pictures of this SportCrafters trainer setup for my man-cave riding, oh, and I’d consider this trainer to be reasonably quiet, if you have room, and more importantly, talk your wife into letting you setup shop in the living room.
The SportCrafters OverDrive Trike Trainer with Progressive Resistance, in my opinion, is a must and as good as it gets if you ride a recumbent trike, and on occasion, are forced to pedal inside on account of the weather, or darkness. Outwardly, a simple design, easy to setup, maintenance free, low-volume, extremely smooth, and when you need that extra burn, the progressive resistance system can really bring the heat.