How To Make A Bike Stationary: DIY Exercise Bike

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When time is tight or bad weather is closing in, it can be hard to drag yourself out for a ride. Learning how to make a bike stationary could be the perfect solution to help you get your exercise fix or stick to a training plan!

Making your bike stationary is a great alternative to an exercise bike and lets you ride your normal bike indoors whenever its convenient – and with a wide range of options for sale, there’s bound to be one to suit you!

Don’t worry – you don’t need to make any permanent modifications to your bike!

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • 3 benefits of a stationary bike
  • how to make a bike stationary: Turbo Trainers Vs Rollers
  • Recommendations for each type of setup
  • 4 Steps To up your perfect indoor cycling space

Are you ready to add a new way to improve your cycling fitness?

Let’s get started!

3 Benefits Of A Stationary Bike

#1: Save Time And Suit Your Schedule

It can be challenging to find time to ride in our busy day-to-day lives. But by making your bike stationary, it’s ready to go any time you have a spare half hour for a pedal!

How To Make A Bike Stationary

And if you want an early morning or after-work spin once winter comes around, a stationary bike means you don’t have to venture out for a ride in the dark!

#2: Stay Safe

The roads around your neighborhood might be heavy with traffic day and night – but your living room isn’t! A stationary bike will also keep you safe when wind, rain, and darkness are making the roads especially dangerous.

#3: Focussed Training

Stationary bikes allow you to focus on your training as you control the resistance and effort you put in. This means you can ride at the required intensity to reach your goals.

How To Make A Bike Stationary: Turbo Trainers Vs Rollers

There are two main ways to make a bike stationary: turbo trainers and rollers. Both have their own advantages!

Option #1: Turbo Trainers

Turbo trainers consist of a frame that the bike clamps on to and a mechanism to create resistance when you turn the pedals.

Turbo trainers are the most popular option for cyclists looking to make their bikes stationary, but there are a few different types to suit different needs and budgets.

Magnetic Resistance Turbo Trainers

Magnetic resistance turbo trainers use a magnet to control the amount of resistance on the flywheel. Most magnetic resistance turbo trainers allow you to change the resistance manually by turning a dial on the handlebars, just like a spin bike.

They are straightforward to use and are ideal for interval training and leisurely rides. Magnetic resistance turbo trainers are especially great for apartment living, as they are quiet and easy to store when not in use.

BikeTips Recommends: Alpcour Magnetic Resistance Turbo Trainer

This design from Alpcour is a great example of a magnetic resistance turbo trainer. It works with any type of bike and provides smooth and ultra-quiet indoor training.

It has 6 resistance levels that you can select via a handlebar-mounted controller. This helps you to simulate hills and is great for interval training.

We like the robust build and stability of the Alpcour turbo trainer. Its stainless steel construction, wheel riser block, and anti-slip rubber pads do an excellent job of preventing the assembly from moving under heavy pedaling.

This turbo trainer is portable and compact, so moving it around and storing it is effortless.

Direct Drive Turbo Trainers

A direct drive turbo trainer works by bolting your bike to the unit with your quick-release axle. Therefore, you don’t use your back wheel, and you get more resistance than a magnetic resistance turbo trainer. These turbo trainers cope better with hard pedaling and sprinting.

How To Make A Bike Stationary

However, direct drive turbo trainers are heavier and bulkier, making them more difficult to move around and store away.

BikeTips Recommends: Elite Suito T Interactive Trainer

If you like the idea of a direct drive turbo trainer, you may want to check out the Elite Suito T. This turbo trainer is interactive, so you can get a realistic experience when you ride. It is also very quiet and has a solid construction, demonstrating the quality of its build.

The Elite Suito simulates climbs up to 15% and is one of the most powerful turbo trainers you can buy. This extra power is put to use enabling big efforts and fast sprinting.

You can seamlessly connect the Suito to Zwift and My E-Training for an interactive training experience.

Fluid Resistance Turbo Trainers

Fluid resistance turbo trainers feel super smooth through the pedals. They are also very quiet, so you can stay friends with your neighbors. You don’t manually change the resistance, as the resistance increases the harder you pedal.

BikeTips Recommends: Alpcour Fluid Resistance Turbo Trainer

Alpcour makes an excellent fluid resistance trainer that is well priced compared to others on the market. It uses an impeller that spins in the liquid to heat it, increasing resistance. This design is an excellent example of how quiet these machines can be. 

With the Alpcour fluid resistance trainer, you don’t need to worry about increasing the resistance, but it still realistically simulates hills road riding and allows you to do interval training effectively.

The other great thing about this trainer is that it has a foldable and lightweight frame. This makes it super easy to store and transport.

Smart Trainers

Smart trainers are high-tech turbo trainers that connect to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth. The result is a whole host of training experiences, from virtual racing with people worldwide to haptic feedback through the bars as you ride over different simulated surfaces.

How To Make A Bike Stationary

The apps can also automatically change the resistance to suit your training program.

BikeTips Recommends: Garmin Tacx Neo 2T Smart Trainer

The Tacx Neo 2T from Garmin is widely regarded as the best smart trainer money can buy. This direct drive smart trainer is designed to give you the ultimate experience from making your bike stationary. 

This new version has been enhanced to create a more realistic feel, especially when simulating climbs. It is one of the quietest, most powerful, and most accurate smart trainers available too.

The powerful motor fits directly to the cassette, so you don’t have to use additional gearing. But this also means you can keep an eye on all the necessary metrics, including speed, power, and cadence.

It even analyses your pedal strokes so you can refine your technique!

Option #2: Rollers

When you are looking for other ways on how to make a bike stationary, rollers are a worthy alternative. Rollers consist of cylinders connected by a belt which allows them to roll under your bike wheels.

Unlike turbo trainers, you don’t bolt your bike to the system. Riding rollers therefore requires lots of balance and a steep learning curve. Most people start riding rollers in a doorframe, as there is nowhere to fall. Once you get to grips with it, you will feel confident enough to ride without support.

How To Make A Bike Stationary

It will take a while before you can do intense interval training on rollers, and you won’t get as much resistance as you would on a turbo trainer.

Though rollers require a bit more practice to master, some riders prefer the more natural feel of being in complete control of the bike with both wheels moving, unlike turbo trainers.

BikeTips Recommends: Tacx Galaxia Retractable Rollers

Tacx makes some excellent roller systems. The Tacx Galaxia has a patented design that prevents you from riding off the rollers. It has conical rollers that taper to keep you riding in the center for more safety.

This system has a large footprint, but it is also foldable, so you can hide it under a bed when you’re not using it or transport it easily. Many racers use this system to warm up their legs before an event.

4 Steps To Set Up Your Perfect Indoor Cycling Space

The key to effective indoor cycling is the environment you do it in. Here are some tips on setting up the perfect indoor cycling space.

#1: Find A Great Spot

Your first priority should be choosing a spot you enjoy being in – if you set up your bike in a damp, dark basement, you’re a lot more likely to avoid using it!

Find a place where the noise won’t annoy your neighbours. If noise is a problem, you may want to buy a noise-damping mat for sound insulation.

How To Make A Bike Stationary 10

It’s best to set up near an open door or window for cooling, as riding indoors can be a bit sweaty! If this isn’t possible, a fan can help too – and we’d recommend choosing a room with a hard floor to avoid getting sweat into your carpets.

#2: Sweat-Proof Your Bike

Sweat corrodes your bike frame and components, so you should protect it from your sweaty workouts. Some high-end turbo trainers come with top tube protectors. If not, have a hand towel ready and wipe your bike down after you finish riding.

#3: Stay Entertained

Slogging away without the scenery rolling by can take some of the fun out of cycling. Setting up some entertainment – such as movies, TV, music, and podcasts – can help. For some cyclists, this might even be the biggest benefit of a stationary bike!

You may want to create a motivational playlist or find one on Spotify. There are also many training videos online that you can follow – we like!

#4: Strava It

You can now do virtual Strava segments on your turbo trainer to monitor your progress and for some extra motivation to keep your activity levels up!

How To Make A Bike Stationary – Answered!

How To Make A Bike Stationary

Now you’ve read how to make a bike stationary, it’s time to choose the best option for you!

For cyclists with a budget to burn, a smart trainer gives you the most structured training and variety.

That shouldn’t put you off if a smart trainer is out of your price range though – any stationary bike can be a great option for indoor cycling!

Found this article helpful? Check out some of our other expert guides below!

One of BikeTips' regular content creators, Tom lives in the French Alps. When he isn't writing, he can be found charging downhill on a mountain bike or snowboard. Tom's other passion is fitness, which goes a long way to help him make the most of the Alpine lifestyle.

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