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Do I need a spare wheel for indoor turbo trainer? Save time?

Do I need a spare wheel?Yes you can save time with an interchangeable wheel and they are a great idea but they do come with their own problems and pitfalls. Check out below what these problems are and if you even need a spare wheel for indoor turbo trainer.

The day is dawning, the sun is shining and the roads are dry… Yes a perfect day for a ride out… but your bike is still clamped to the turbo trainer. It will take ages to change the tire from the trainer to your road one and you know you want to be back on the trainer tomorrow, is it worth the hassle of changing the tire back again?

No problem if the tire is on another wheel it’ll only take a minute to change. Bish bosh bash in and out in only a few minutes, that’s the advantage of a spare wheel for your trainer.

But beware not just any old wheel will do, there are considerations to take into account and the remedy may get a little expensive!

Why do you need a trainer tire in the first place?

I do not want to put you off getting a new wheel and tire, but do you have to get one? Or are you getting one because you have seen others with this set up, or are you positive that you need one.

Reasons for getting a trainer tire.

There are a number of good reasons for wanting and using a slick trainer tire on a cycle trainer.

  • The first is the reduction in noise. Indoor cycle training can get very noisy and a trainer tire is a great way to reduce noise.
  • You have a mountain bike with off-road tires. These when used on a turbo trainer are extremely noisy with massive amount of vibrations.
  • Reduced vibrations – Reduction in vibrations make a more pleasing training session and reduce the noise of the trainer being transmitted though the floor to adjoining rooms.
  • If you wish to protect your road tire because you have used your trainer before and your tire showed wear.

These are immediate and valid reasons to get a turbo tire, but you may not need one!

Not all tires wear the same… Not everyone trains the same and not everyone has the same indoor cycle trainer.

Below are 2 short videos showing the two extremes of tire wear. One showing massive wear and suggesting that a trainer tire is essential, the other saying that there is no need for a trainer tire.

I have found Amazon links to the turbo trainer used in the video and the tires fitted to the bike if you wish to check them out.

Elite Power Fluid Trainer –

Continental Grand Prix 4000s II Cycling Tire –

Also check out my article on “Will a turbo trainer wear out my tire

If you are new to training indoors I would suggest that you first try training with your usual trainer tire. This could save you money and preparation time.

Also instead of buying a trainer tire first invest in a fan. (Check out suitable fans here for ideas and pricing)This will make your training session more pleasant and increase the likelihood of you using your indoor trainer long-term. Using an indoor trainer is boring and not for everyone.

OK you have to use a trainer tire; do you need a spare wheel?

You now have 3 options

  1. Change your tires every time you wish to swap from training to road use. Great practice for tire changes during a race!
  2. Get a spare wheel with a trainer tire permanently attached; just swap wheels when you want to change from road to indoor trainer. A massive time saver and motivator, with a greater chance you will use your indoor cycle trainer more often.
  3. Get a second bike which is permanently set up in the trainer stand. Not as extreme as it sounds as you will find out with the problems of a spare wheel.

What are the problems with a spare wheel for use in a cycle trainer?

road bike gear changeUsing a spare wheel to fit your trainer tire too is a great idea, with a massive saving on time and without the disheartening chore of changing your road tire for the trainer one every time you wish to train.

But you may run into problems if you just slap on any spare wheel. As you know your bike and gearing is set up to your present wheel, cassette type and gearing ratio.

Using a different cassette type could cause your chain to jump out of gear unexpectedly and an increase wear and noise. It is recommended that when you buy your spare wheel you also buy the same cassette type as the one you currently use and also the same number of gears. For example Shimano, Campy etc.

Purists will suggest that you get the exact same make, cassette and gearing ratio so your training sessions mirror your road experience, while others suggest you use a close ratio type for smoother resistance steps… the choice is yours.

Second hand spare wheels are great money savers.

A great money saver! If you gone down the route of sourcing a used wheel and there is also a used cassette type suitable for your bike that is great. But be aware you have to watch out for chain wear from the old cassette.

Do you need disc brakes on your spare wheel?

Is your bike is fitted with disc brakes?  You will not need them on a turbo trainer as you don’t have to break to slow down, so no save money, you don’t have to get a spare wheel with disks on.

Warning: Insert a bleed spacer. While you don’t need brakes on a cycle trainer you will eventually use them from habit. A bleed spacer will save you time and heart-break.

Should you use a permanent spare bike in the trainer?

Going back to the idea of a permanent spare bike fitted to the indoor trainer as an alternative. When you cost up the price of a new spare wheel and cassette you may be surprised to find it close to the price of a whole used bike! If you have the space this is a viable alternative.

Training on training standUsing a permanently fitted bike to your trainer will save you even more time when you want to use your bike on the road, also it will be more motivation to get on and use your trainer.

Summary as to whether you need a spare wheel for turbo trainer.

Using a spare wheel with a trainer tire fitted will be a massive time saver when you wish to swap your bike from the trainer to road use, also the time and effort saved is a great motivator to use your indoor trainer.

Make sure the spare wheel cassette is set up similar to your road tire and this will give you a more pleasing training experience and will preserve your chain.

Finally ask yourself “Do you need a slick trainer tire in the first place.”

I hope that I have answered your question and query about the need for a spare tire in an indoor cycle trainer.

If you have more questions about using an indoor turbo trainer please check out my site

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