Thankfully, 21st century cycling technology has graduated beyond old school stationary bikes with huge, uncomfortable seats and noisy fan-bladed wheels. There is now a broad range of options to fit virtually any riding style, level of fitness and budget.
The main advantage of stationary trainers is that they allow you to ride your everyday bike indoors without much fuss or setup. Most require no bike disassembly and support the rear wheel by way of a simple, yet secure clamping system. The wheel then rests upon a spinning cylinder that offers resistance in one of three ways:
Adjustable Magnetic Resistance
Magnetic resistance generally provides the least expensive entry into indoor training, yet at very high quality. Resistance is controlled by the amount of separation between two magnets, and can be changed by adjusting the magnet unit. Magnetic resistance is not progressive; meaning that increases in pedaling speed will not increase resistance..
This type of resistance is created by a disk spinning through fluid held within the unit. As the rider’s pedaling speed increases, the amount of resistance does likewise. These progressive properties provide a more realistic riding experience, not unlike wind resistance when riding outdoors.
This new resistance technology is very similar to progressive fluid resistance in most performance aspects, but is smoother and more lively. Progressive fine-tuning is based upon mechanical inertial resistance, which provides the most road-like riding experience.
Rollers are a set of three smooth, rolling drums strung together on a frame by a large band that keeps the front and rear drums spinning at the same rate. Riding rollers is really the most "natural" way of riding indoors because, unlike a stationary trainer, you balance on them just as you would the road. Many people are intimidated by rollers because they are afraid of flying off. However, as with anything, give it some practice and you’ll soon become a natural.