Best bike rollers to add variety to your indoor cycling

Tacx Antares Rollers
(Image credit: Picasa)

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.

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.

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However, using rollers can add variety and they're ideal for high cadence sessions, tempo training and easier recovery days.

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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.”

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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.

With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.

Tacx Antares Rollers

best rollers for indoor cycling

(Image credit: Picasa)

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.

Buy now at Wiggle for £164.99 or at Jenson USA for $199.99

Tacx Galaxia Rollers

best rollers for indoor cycling

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.

Buy now at Wiggle for £219 orfrom Jenson USA for $269.99

Feedback Sports Omnium Rollers

best rollers for indoor cycling

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.

Buy now at ProBikeKit for £299.99 orJenson USA for $399.99

Elite Arion Digital Smart B+ Rollers

best rollers for indoor cycling

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

Buy now at Muziker for £499.99 or from Jenson USA for $269.99

Elite Nero Interactive rollers

best rollers for indoor cycling

When it comes to rollers, the Elite Nero are about as Gucci as they come. First and foremost, they are smart, capable of generating up to 830w of resistance and simulating a seven-percent grade. They are both ANT and Bluetooth enabled so the rollers can talk to any head unit or the training app of your choice.

Elite has also built-in what it calls a floating system which introduces a bit for fore and aft movement into the rollers to absorb abrupt movement caused by changes of speed and prevent you from flying over the edge.

Buy now:Elite Nero Interactive Rollers from Sigma Sport for £750orfrom Amazon for $899

Kreitler Alloy 4.5 Rollers

best rollers for indoor cycling

Kreitler has been making rollers for nearly half a century, and once you buy a set, bar replacing the band every few years, they will probably be the only set you'll ever buy — which is good because they are not cheap.

Rollers with larger diameter drums are usually a bit easier to ride, especially if you're new to it, but even having spent many years riding in place we still like the 4.5in drums. They are made from aircraft-grade 6061 alloy and manufactured using a CNC lathe to be within two-thousandths of an inch concentricity. Kreitler uses ABEC 5 bearings to keep the rollers spinning smooth, and should you be after a bit more resistance has a weighted flywheel or Head Wind fan available as add-ons.

Buy Now: Kreitler Alloy 4.5 Rollers from Amazon for £472.77or from Competitive Cyclist for $599.99

Saris AL Roller

best rollers for indoor cycling

They fit 16in wide aluminium drums that are precision lathed to prevent distortion from heat, and they are pretty darn quiet too.

Buy now: Saris AL Roller from Halfords for £240 orCompetitive Cyclist for $299.99

LifeLine RT-01 Roller Trainer

best rollers for indoor cycling

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.

Buy now at Chain Reaction Cycles UK for £129.99 or from Wiggle for $192.99