The Lowdown on Spinning Bikes

I hate to use a good bike on a trainer. It gets sweated on, the headset might get pitted because the front wheel is held rigidly in place, and there’s some concern that hard riding might stress the frame. So for years I had an old blue Gios from the late 1970s that I use used on the trainer to spare my good bikes. Years of hammering pretty well wrecked it. Sweat even corroded the top tube. So I searched for a stable, sweat-resistant “spinning” bike to replace Big Blue.

I have a Lemond RevMaster that I have used for about 10 years. It was designed by 3-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond (www.lemondfitness.com). I wrote about my experience searching for and using a spinning bike in my RBR eBook, Off-Season Training for Roadies. What I learned can be useful when you make a buying decision about any spinning bike you find.

The RevMaster is stable. I can stand and sprint without worrying that the bike will topple over. The seat adjusts to my saddle height and can be moved fore and aft, just like the saddle on a road bike. The handlebar goes up, down, forward and backward in the same way.

The bike comes with a spinning-style handlebar that resembles the cowhorn aero bars used by time trialists in the late 1980s. I didn’t like it but an adapter allows a regular road bar to be installed. Doing so makes the RevMaster much more road-specific. The crankarms accept the standard pedal thread, so you’re able to use an old pair of clipless pedals and road shoes.

Compared to standard wind, fluid or magnetic trainers, the resistance is quite varied. It can be adjusted from none at all (the 40-pound flywheel spins unimpeded) to as much as I want. In fact, I can crank the resistance down so tight that I literally can’t turn the flywheel. It’s easy to do 50-rpm pedaling drills with plenty of drag. And that drag is smooth rather than jerky.

The stock RevMaster (and most other spinning bikes) has 2 faults — but they’re easily fixed.

The first is a wide, padded saddle. I didn’t like it, although it may work fine for other riders. It was easy to replace with my favorite racing model.

Second, there’s no way to tell exactly how much resistance you’re using. The resistance is increased by turning a knob that pushes a brake shoe against the flywheel. Although you can count how many times you’ve turned the knob, in the absence of a consistent starting point, this method produces an estimate at best.

An option for the RevMaster features the typical measurement functions of a standard bike computer, including HR and calories burned, cadence, etc.

Tip!  Perhaps your only chance to pedal though winter is in a spinning class. Will it really help your cycling? You bet. Anytime you’re pedaling a bike hard and fast, your fitness will improve. The trick is to pick a class designed for cycling fitness rather than general fitness. The latter often include various gyrations to stress the upper body and very fast spinning against minimal resistance, which won’t help your cycling-specific power.

If you’re looking for other possible off-season workouts, we’ve got you covered. Check out our 16 off-season eBooks, eArticles and DVDs in our Seasonal Training section of the RBR eBookstore.


Adapted from Coach Fred’s Solutions to 150 Road Cycling Challenges, a helpful eBook especially for cycling newcomers. Coach Fred Matheny has decades of experience as a competitive racer and cycling coach. He is the author of 13 RBR eBooks and eArticles.

Published with permission from RBR Newsletter or RoadBikeRider.com. Copyright 2011 RBR Publishing Co. Inc. All rights reserved. RBR Newsletter is a free weekly newsletter emailed to road cyclists around the world. It is posted every Thursday at http://www.roadbikerider.com/current-newsletter.RoadBikeRider.com provides expert advice, tips and shared knowledge to road cycling enthusiasts. Its eBookstore,http://www.roadbikerider.com/ebookstore, features in-depth eBooks and eArticles on all aspects of fitness, training, skills and tech.

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