Cycling on a trusty, reliable set of bike rollers can be the best choice for indoor cycling. The variety and simplicity of rollers make them great for when you’re spinning your legs inside.
Rollers generally consist of three cylindrical drums, connected via a belt which allows them to rotate beneath the wheels of the bike.
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Riding the rollers requires balance – and it can take some time to master the technique. Learning how to do so is often a journey that begins between two door frames (where there’s nowhere to fall), with the rider gradually reducing their reliance on the support of a solid surface as confidence grows.
Most cyclists need quite a bit of practice before they can complete their toughest interval sessions on the rollers, and when it comes to high resistance efforts, the turbo trainer still rules the roost for all but the most talented roller riders.
However, using rollers can add variety and they’re ideal for high cadence sessions, tempo training and easier recovery days.
The fact that you don’t have to attach the wheel or drivetrain means they’re great for pre-race warm-ups; it’s common to see WorldTour riders warming up on rollers ahead of big mountain days.
Reigning World Masters points and individual pursuit champion Andrew Bruce believes rollers are essential for building technique: “I got some old Tacx rollers and for three weeks I thoughts they were ridiculous, dangerous and couldn’t ride them,” the Scotsman said.
“But I eventually focused on learning how to ride them. You have 36cm to ride within so you can’t wobble and you learn the ability how to ride where you want to be riding. You can identify someone in the bunch who can ride on the rollers because those who can’t wobble everywhere.”
The shape of rollers doesn’t change that much between brands – but there are a few variables. Differentiating factors include how compact they are when put away, how easy they are to ride (some have grooves to help you out) and the amount of variability in the resistance on offer.
Best rollers for indoor cycling
We have picked out some of what we believe are the best rollers on the market covering all price budgets.
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Tacx Antares Rollers
The Tacx Antares rollers are particularly popular because of the conical shape of the drums – they dip in the middle, so the bike remains in the middle of the drum pretty much the whole time.
If you’d like more assurance, or perhaps a ‘half-way-house’ in learning to use the rollers, Tacx also has a Tacx Antares Rollers Support Stand you can purchase for an extra £41.99 or $54.95 here. This clasps the front wheel and lets you get used to the feeling on the rear before going all the way.
The rollers are collapsible, and have several wheelbase adjustments.
Tacx Galaxia Rollers
Go one step up the rungs with Tacx and you can get their Galaxia rollers. These feature a patented ‘swing system’, which allows them to swing back and forth very slightly.
Disconcerting as this may sound, it allows the roller to absorb some of the forward motion when you accelerate, change speed, or otherwise stamp on the pedals.
All the rest still applies – and both Tacx pairs retract (rather than fold as most do) to 80cm.
Feedback Sports Omnium Rollers
The roller itself aims to offer a real-life feel, thanks to the use of ‘Internal Progressive Resistance’. You could use this trainer for full indoor sessions, but it really shines when it comes to race warm-ups and the like.
A steel frame offers a sturdy attachment for the fork, and will accept both standard QRs and thru-axles. Its length is adjustable to match the wheelbase of your bike and ranges 840mm / 33in to 1200mm /47.2in. The set up comes with a heavy-duty, padded tote bag for transport and storage.
Elite Arion Digital Smart B+ Rollers
These rollers offer electronically controlled resistance. ANT+ is utilized to send power, speed and cadence data to computers, whilst Bluetooth connectivity means that you can use indoor cycling apps like Zwift and Trainer Road. Added to that, this impressive piece of kit can even simulate climbs up to five percent.
The rollers are parabolic, with a slight lip at the edge. They’re capable of managing up to 645 watts, and the resistance unit is Electromagnetic. Like all the others, they’re foldable and feature several wheelbase adjustments.
Read more: Elite Arion Digital Smart B+ E-Rollers
Elite Nero Interactive rollers
Kreitler Alloy 4.5 Rollers
Saris AL Roller
They fit 16in wide aluminium drums that are precision lathed to prevent distortion from heat, and they are pretty darn quiet too.
LifeLine RT-01 Roller Trainer
These are a basic, entry-level set of rollers from Wiggle’s in-house brand LifeLine.
The body is made from steel and plastic, while the rollers are Polyurethane and the feet have rubber covers. Each roller is slightly raised at the end to help make it harder to ride off the edge.
There’s a good amount of adjustment to allow for a variety of wheelbases, the bearings are sealed and these come with a spare drive band which is a nice touch.