Practical Guide to Indoor Cycling

Whether you’re a dedicated cyclist training indoors to stay in optimal shape during the winter or more of a hobbyist attempting to work in some exercise on your lunch break, the following tips will help you make the most of your time on the bike.

What are my bike options for indoor cycling?

If you’re looking to get into indoor cycling, you’ve got a range of choices. There are smart bikes like the Tacx® NEO Bike Smart Trainer, which is the pinnacle of indoor cycling and is a stand-alone smart bike that delivers realistic road feel and a wealth of data. If you’d prefer to ride the bike you use outdoors, direct-drive smart trainers like the Tacx® Flux S Smart Trainer also collect a wealth of power data and can pair with third-party apps to deliver resistance so real you’ll forget the hill you’re climbing is a virtual one. You remove the back wheel of your bike to mount it on a direct-drive trainer.

If you’d like to use your outdoor bike indoors and keep both wheels on, you can use wheel-on trainers like the Tacx® Flow Smart Trainer, which still allows the rider to train on realistically simulated inclines of up to a 6% gradient, or you can purchase a bike roller trainer. 

What are bike rollers and how do they work?

Bike rollers are trainers that make it possible to ride your racing bike or mountain bike indoors without moving around the house. They don’t attach to your bicycle frame; in fact, think more of a treadmill for your bike. A roller consists of a stable frame with three cylinders attached. These cylinders support the weight of a bike (and the rider) in a state of suspension above the ground, but the rider must maintain balance like they would if riding outside.

Some people train on rollers to lose weight, while others simply like the indoor option to practice balancing on a bike and improve cadence and pedal smoothness.

When and where to train

Whether you’re training on a roller or a smart trainer, the ideal environment for indoor cycling is a well-ventilated room. Cycling indoors can lead to heavy sweating, so it’s advisable to have a towel and a fan handy. You’ll want to be sure to stay hydrated and avoid overheating. As for when is the best time for indoor cycling, the answer here isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Perhaps you feel more productive if you jumpstart your mornings on the bike, or maybe you prefer pedaling to destress at the end of a long day. When you’re safe in the comfort of your own home, there really is no wrong time to ride.

How and how much to ride

We get this one a lot: how and how much to train indoors? Obviously, the answer here won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution either. The duration and type of training you use for indoor cycling is directly linked to your own individual goals and physical condition.

If you’re new to indoor cycling, you’ll want to start with a gradual approach. A 20- to 30-minute session at a leisurely pace 2-3 times a week is a good way to become familiar with the bike. The more you enjoy it, the more you can increase both your speed and the length of your workouts.

However, if you’re a more experienced cyclist, it’s going to take more work to see results. For you, it may be ideal to diversify your training sessions, alternating between training at a constant pace with longer outings on the road and working in indoor sessions with variating rhythms to improve endurance and speed. Looking for some help designing your sessions? Tacx smart trainers pair with the Tacx® training app, which allows you to ride virtually all over the world and track your training stats.

How to ride a bike to lose weight

Indoor cycling can help you lose weight if you have a consistent strategy and follow a balanced diet. If you are attempting indoor cycling to lose weight, try using either a wearable with a heart rate sensor or a chest heart rate monitor to push your heart rate to around 60-70% of its maximum capacity. Although many people keep a constant pace on a bike and treat it more like cardio training, it can also be useful to switch it up in more HIIT-like sessions in which you alternate pace and intensity of pedaling to reactivate the metabolism and allow the body to burn more calories.

Garmin products for indoor cycling

Now that you’re excited to start cycling indoors, you’ll want to make sure you’re equipped to maximize your experience. From bike rollers to smart trainers to stationary bikes, Garmin has a full suite of products to ensure you never want to stop pedaling. Already have a bike? Check out our range of GPS bike computers or smartwatches to help make the most of your time on it.