Perfecting Your Pain Cave: 4 Essential Steps To Build An Unbeatable Indoor Cycling Bunker

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reviewed by Ben Gibbons
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Cycling indoors in a so-called “pain cave” is a fantastic way to elevate your cycling to the next level.

Indoor training can serve as the key to maintaining motivation, establishing a consistent exercise routine, and becoming more deeply involved in the sport you love.

While outdoor cycling is undoubtedly enjoyable, there are instances where going outside is not feasible.

There are several compelling reasons to consider indoor cycling: it offers convenience, time efficiency, freedom from weather constraints, and eliminates the hassle of dealing with a dirty bike.

Additionally, indoor cycling enables targeted workouts to enhance endurance, speed, cardiovascular fitness, VO2 max, and more.

In this article, we’ll be covering:

  • What Is A “Pain Cave”?
  • Step 1: Choosing The Right Space
  • Step 2: Transforming A Space – Pain Cave Ideas
  • Step 3: Getting The Right Equipment
  • Step 4: Personalizing Your Space

Let’s dive in!

Perfecting Your Pain Cave: Title Image

What Is A “Pain Cave”?

A pain cave is a term coined for a dedicated space for optimized cycling training indoors.

In terms of what setup you will need for your very own pain cave, there are both the essentials and then the nice-to-haves.

Don’t get us wrong, for indoor cycling, the real essential is just a room big enough to fit a turbo trainer in with your bike, no other frills.

But when making a pain cave and crystallizing a space dedicated to a certain threshold of cycling output, there are a couple of other minimums.

We’ll cover these in more detail in this article, but here’s the list:


  • Biking equipment: Turbo Trainer/Smart Trainer/Roller/Indoor Smart Bike
  • Side table: for water, snacks, and anything else you need in easy reach: for your computer or tablet so you can engage with whichever virtual riding app you’re using
  • Virtual riding apps: such as Zwift, TrainerRoad, or RGT


  • Fan(s)
  • TV/monitor/laptop
  • Dehumidifier
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Wifi booster
  • Speakers
  • Mirror
  • Laptop stand
Woman wearing black and grey sits on an indoor trainer with the sun coming through the windows.

Step 1: Choosing The Right Space

The significance of a well-designed pain cave should not be underestimated, as it can make all the difference between staying motivated and simply longing to be outside riding your bike. 

We recommend taking into consideration three key factors when choosing the right space: 

  • Noise
  • Temperature
  • Available Space

#1: Noise

When selecting the room for your pain cave, consider its proximity to a road and other sources of noise in your home.

It’s important to ensure that the pain cave is tucked away, away from any sound pollution.

On the other hand, sweating it out in a pain cave while playing music and immersing yourself in cycling apps can generate a significant amount of noise.

Therefore, it’s crucial to soundproof the area and keep it out of the way as well.

#2: Temperature

Managing the temperature is crucial when selecting a space for pain cave cycling.

This consideration is important because excessive heat and moisture can give the perception of expending more energy than you actually are while riding indoors. 

Choosing a suitable space that allows for proper airflow and preferably avoids direct exposure to the sun’s rays on the roof or ceiling can help maintain a cool room. 

Ideally, the goal should be to quickly reach and maintain a temperature of below around 18 degrees Celsius in the pain cave (and ideally lower).

That can be a tall order for those without air conditioning, so if that kind of temperature is unachievable, make sure that the room is at least well-ventilated and away from direct sunlight.

#3: Available Space

You, of course, need the right-sized space to have the most effective training sessions. 

Each home is different, however, and if you only have a cupboard-sized space to fit in a turbo trainer and your bike, don’t worry. 

A pain cave happens in the mind before any of the bells and whistles! 

Woman wearing black and grey cycles on an indoor bicycle with the lights off.

Step 2: Transforming A Space – Pain Cave Ideas

So you’ve now chosen a space that fits your criteria: somewhere that can hold a decent cool temperature, has ample room, and is out of the way of disturbing neighbors or being disturbed.

Short of getting the right gear in, the next step is making sure the space is conducive to dedicated workouts.

At this point, you should consider the following:

#1: Ventilation

If your available space allows, strive to position your setup in proximity to an open window. 

Ideally, aim to have windows open at both ends of the room to facilitate optimal airflow throughout the space.

#2: Safety

Ensure the area is free from any potential hazards that could pose a risk during cycling workouts. 

Remove tripping hazards, secure loose cables, and create a clear and safe exercise environment.

#3: Lighting

Assess the lighting conditions in the chosen space. Adequate lighting is essential for safety and visibility during indoor cycling sessions. 

Natural light or adjustable artificial lighting can help create an inviting and well-lit pain cave.

Man wearing white and black sits on a red indoor trainer in a well-lit room.

Step 3: Getting The Right Equipment

The main feature of your pain cave will be the trainer which you spend most of your indoor cycling activity on. 

Integrating this equipment with a virtual cycling app (like Zwift, TrainerRoad, RGT etc) is generally through a compatible device such as a computer, smartphone, or tablet via Bluetooth. 

Types of Indoor Bike Trainers

The question is, do you go with a turbo trainer, smart trainer, roller, or a fully-fledged smart bike?

In this step, we’ll cover the basics of each of these options and why you would choose each one.

Turbo Trainer

An indoor cycling trainer with the trainer attached to the rear wheel.

As you’d expect, turbo trainers are compatible with basically all bikes. The bike mounts onto the trainer using a skewer through the rear axle, and the back wheel interacts with a rotating cylinder as you pedal along.

One thing to note with a turbo trainer is that it can cause some wear and tear on grippy racing tires. So with this in mind, you could consider investing in a pain cave cycling-specific (indoor) tire. 

The problem with a turbo trainer is that it is short on providing full immersion. 

Therefore, if your budget can accommodate it, we highly recommend investing in a smart trainer. It provides a more comprehensive engagement with virtual riding apps like Zwift, which we will cover in more detail below.

Smart Trainer

A cyclist rides a Zwift smart trainer in her living room.
Credit: Zwift

A smart trainer is a trainer equipped with a cassette that connects to the chain directly after you’ve removed the rear wheel of your bike.

To attach your bike, you’ll use a skewer either through the rear dropouts or the thru-axle itself. 

As opposed to the turbo trainer, this different function means you don’t have to be concerned about wearing out the back tire. And you guessed it, when you’re ready to go back and cycle outdoors, just reattach the rear wheel.

Smart trainers are a little bit more expensive, as they tend to offer a smoother and more realistic cycling experience, including the ability to manually change gears, as well as make use of the ERG modes in cycling training platforms. 

ERG mode is a setting that regulates your power output, matching your resistance to cadence automatically.

On top of this, smart trainers can replicate changes in inclines, providing a more challenging and immersive workout.

This is definitely particularly useful when targeting specific heart rate zones (when paired with a monitor).

Cycling Rollers

A cyclist wearing red and white cycles on and indoor roller.

Unlike other trainers, rollers rely solely on pedaling momentum to keep the bike upright, offering a more natural riding experience. 

This characteristic has both advantages and disadvantages. Riding on rollers enhances core strength and balance, but it can be challenging to start as a beginner.

For beginners, it’s recommended to start near a supportive object for stability. 

Rollers are also compact and easy to store, making them suitable for individuals with limited space at home.

Indoor Smart Bike

The real deal for an ultimate pain cave would be a smart bike built for indoor cycling. 

These aren’t the everyday spin bikes that you’ll find in the gym, but state-of-the-art pieces of technology that measure in real-time your pedal stroke, cadence, heart rate, and power output.

A female cyclist cycles on an indoor trainer while looking at a monitor.

5 Worthwhile Pain Cave Accessories

#1: Fan

Fans are crucial equipment for any cyclist’s pain cave. You want to keep your body temperature at a certain maximum if you want to go for longer.

Indoor training generates body heat, and the indoor space can quickly become hot and sticky. 

A fan helps regulate core body temperature, providing a refreshing airflow to keep you cool and prevent excessive stickiness from perspiration.

#2: TV Monitor/Laptop

Incorporating a screen of some sort will take your pain cave to the next level.

Setting this up in front of your cycling station so you can engage in your favorite virtual cycling platform will be key for immersion and putting in the hours.

#3: Dehumidifier

Another consideration for an accessory to have for a pain cave would be a dehumidifier. 

We’ve already discussed choosing a space based on a good ambient temperature. Further regulation of the environment will be key. 

Incorporating a dehumidifier so you can keep control of the humidity will help you go for longer by maintaining your body’s core temperature.

#4: Heart Rate Monitor

A heart rate monitor is a valuable tool in a cycling pain cave as it provides real-time feedback on your cardiovascular exertion. 

It allows you to monitor and optimize your training intensity, ensuring you’re pushing yourself appropriately and avoiding overexertion.

  • The 10 Best Cycling Heart Rate Monitors

#5: Wi-Fi booster

It’s also really crucial to have good connectivity in your pain cave. Consider investing in a wifi booster so you can stay connected and at good speeds for those apps.

Man wearing white and black wipes his face with a towel while sitting on an indoor bicycle.

Step 4: Personalizing Your Space


Using speakers in a pain cave enhances the immersive experience by providing high-quality audio. 

It adds motivation and excitement, allowing you to enjoy music, training cues, or virtual environment sounds while cycling indoors.


Mirrors are valuable additions to a pain cave as they allow you to monitor and improve your form and technique

By checking your movements in real-time, you can make necessary adjustments to your posture, positioning, and pedal stroke, leading to more efficient and effective indoor training sessions. 

Mirrors also create a sense of space and openness in the pain cave, making it feel larger and more inviting.

Side Table

To ensure convenient access to all your essentials while cycling, it’s important to have a shelf or table near your bike.

This way, you won’t have to repeatedly dismount and remount your bike during an interval training session. 

Laptop Stand

When it comes to fixing up a proper pain cave, having a dedicated laptop table or iPad stand within reach can be incredibly useful for placing your device conveniently. 

Woman wearing black and blue cycling clothes sits on an indoor bicycle.

Now You Know All About A Cyclist’s Pain Cave…

By following these steps and selecting the recommended items, we hope you can create a pain cave that suits your needs and allows you to commit to serious training.

Why not take a look at our other articles on indoor cycling:

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Born and raised in London, Luke is a passionate writer with a focus on travel, sports, and most importantly, cycling. Luke in his spare time is an avid chess player, cyclist and record collector. He also has experience with addiction, and so sponsors multiple people from different walks of life in their recovery programmes.

1 thought on “Perfecting Your Pain Cave: 4 Essential Steps To Build An Unbeatable Indoor Cycling Bunker”

  1. I don’t care much about the physical equipment (except the bike and the trainer) rather than having a good entertainment on the bike inside. I use Rouvy for that and visit a different country every time I ride.


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