Are coronavirus mitigation measures preventing you riding outdoors?
Are you putting in more miles on your turbo trainer than you ever imagined possible?
Make sure you know how to keep your bike in top condition as you navigate every corner, and climb on Zwift with our blog!
Racking up the miles on your indoor trainer?
Regular hard sweaty sessions on a turbo trainer can put a whole different set of stresses and strains on your bike compared to outdoor training.
It’s easy to overlook these, and if you’re not aware of what to look out for, your bike can break down just as easily as it can from regular outdoor riding.
So read on to learn the four key areas to watch out for during long periods of indoor training!
1 - Chain and cassette wear
If you’re using a ‘smart’ trainer such as a Wahoo KICKR or Tacx Neo, it’s likely that you’re going to be in the same sprocket of the trainer’s cassette the whole time you train. Similarly, if you’re using a traditional trainer and changing resistance by switching gear on the cassette, you’re probably only using a very similar range of cassette sprockets.
Using a very small range of gears for a long time will put the chain and cassette under stress, and rapidly wear them down. The cogs of the cassette are liable to becoming rounded, and the chain can ‘stretch’.
Regularly check your chain for wear and inspect the cassette’s teeth – check out our video to the right for how to do this. The cassette sprockets should be square, not rounded. If either the cassette or chain are becoming worn, it’s advised to replace them.
And make sure to keep your chain lubricated to keep it running well! This is one of the easiest things to overlook during indoor training.
2 - Corrosion from sweat
We all know that training indoors generates sweat. Lots of sweat. And your handlebars, bar tape and headset are in the firing line of the majority of those droplets of salty, grimy sweat given it’s our face and neck that generates the most heat. Over time, all that sweat can do damage.
The soft fabric of bar tape is liable to rot and decay when it regularly absorbs a lot of sweat. This will not only smell and break down the tape, but can also damage the metalwork beneath.
The salt in sweat can decay steel and alloy materials in your handlebars – so change the tape before it ruins something else. If you’re a heavy sweater and spend a lot of time on the trainer, we would suggest a new wrap every two-to-three months.
Just as sweat can rot your bar tape and even do damage to the handlebars beneath, it can also corrode bolts.
During long periods of indoor training, check all your bolts for rust frequently. Ensure you check both the bolt head, and the thread within. If either of these areas start to deteriorate, components can slip and become damaged, or bolts can become stuck and will need drilling out.
We advise you fully remove all the bolts around the front end of your bike (handlebars, stem etc) every month or so, inspect them, then clean, grease, and re-install them. When re-installing, be sure to use a torque wrench!
3 - Frame damage
Just as our brains don’t always like riding indoors, the bikes themselves don’t particularly like it either. Bike frames are made of brittle materials designed to be ridden on roads, with a certain amount of lateral play to soak road buzz and give comfort.
However, when a bike is clamped to a trainer for a long period of time, the frame can become liable to damage. When the bike has no room for lateral movement but the rider on top of it is putting out big efforts racing on Zwift or carrying out high-power intervals, the stress can only go to one place – the frame. The seat stays are particularly high-risk areas given they are where a trainer locks onto your bike.
Check around the seat stays and front forks every few weeks for chips or cracks. Chips will be relatively easy to see; however, cracks will be hairline and harder to spot. Hairline cracks are the ones to be most wary of as may continue deep into the frame.
If you find any damage, you’re best staying off the bike until you’re able to have it looked at by your local shop. Riding a cracked or damaged frame could leading it to totally snapping… so better to be safe than sorry!
4 - Sidewall splits
Many trainers require a front wheel stand to keep the bike level. Leaving your front wheel parked in one of these for a long time can lead to damage to the tire’s sidewall.
With the bike held static but still holding weight and likely rocking slightly under the strain of your victories on Zwift and hardest of intervals, the tyre takes a lot of load, and will rub against the wheel stand.
Make sure to regularly check your tyre sidewall for damage. Rotating the wheel in the stand between every training session can help prolong the life of the tyre, but will not make it last forever – so be conscious that you may need to replace it every few months.