A question most commonly asked and I’ll put at the top of my FAQs is “Will a turbo trainer damage my tyre?” The answer is YES they will wear out quicker on a cycle trainer stand, but what you really need to know is “How quickly will my tire wear out on a turbo trainer?”
Below I will go through:
- Why your tire will wear out quicker?
- Do you need a new tire for a turbo trainer?
- Other reasons you may want to change your tire.
- What is the best tire for your training style?
- Top turbo trainer tires
- My Conclusion about tire wear on turbo trainers
As I have stated above Yes your tire will wear down on a bike trainer but there are many factors that must be brought into account before you rush out and buy a new tire.
First you should know why a tire wears down quicker when the tire is on a smooth roller and not a rough road.
Why does a tire wear down on an indoor cycle trainer?
It’s all down to heat and heat dissipation. When you ride on the road you may have felt that your tire gets warm to the touch and this is normal. This is due to the friction of the tire contacting the road, but it can’t over heat as it is constantly cooled down by the movement of air and the cooler road.
Here is a mind bender for you… How can the tire be warmed up by the road and also cooled down?
However on a turbo trainer there is no cooling air passing from forward motion and using a fan doesn’t cool the tire and roller enough, also the tire is in contact with the same piece of the roller and both of these heat up so there is no cooling from the roller like the road.
The result is meltdown. The tire actually melts and flies off all over the floor.
Below I’ve found a video of tire wear after only 15 minutes
But will this happen to your tire?
As shown above, heat is the killer of tires so now it comes down to how much heat you think you will produce.
What type of rider are you?
Who are you and what type of training do you intend doing? These are important factors in tire wear.
- A fit experienced road cyclist wanting to stay at peak performance?
- A fit mountain biker again wanting to keep in shape during the winter months?
- Recovering from injury and wanting to regain fitness?
- Unfit novice cyclist wanting to use the bike training stand to get fit and lose weight?
Each one of these profile types will produce different speeds and therefore different heat in the tire.
Next – What type of training do you intend doing?
- Long distance 4 hour training runs
- 1 to 2 hours a day
- 30 minute intense spin sessions
- 30 minutes easy cardio exercise in front of the TV
And there are many more ways to train on your turbo trainer… But each of these training types also produce different heat build-up I the tires.
Another consideration is the type of tire already fitted to your bike.
Is it a slick narrow road tire or going to the other extreme a super wide knobbly off-road tire these will also produce different rates of heat build-up and vibration.
Vibration can also be a concern as it can cause your tire to slip on the roller also causing more heat to build-up.
And talking about slippage we come to the type of turbo trainer you have. If you have a cheap magnetic resistance trainer and you are a slow unfit cyclist you should have no problem, but if you are a fit powerhouse able to maintain high speeds you will find that your tire will slip on the cheaper end of the trainer market causing more heat to build up.
So as we can see from the variables above there is no fixed true answer to “will a turbo trainer damage my tire” and instead it “how much will a turbo trainer damage you tire”.
Before I get onto do you need a new tire or can you keep using you old one there are a few more questions that you may be asking.
- Does the type of turbo trainer roller make tires wear down quicker? – I have seen 2 types of rollers on bike trainers and they are either smooth or dimpled. The dimpled roller is supposed to improve grip and prevent your tire from slipping, I have come across no mention of one wearing the tire out more than the other.
- Where are you training, does a small warm enclosed room like a bedroom or a cold airy garage affect tire wear? – The only answer I could find was that a cold room will reduce tire wear but it will be by minimal amount.
Do you need a new tire for a turbo trainer?
There are 2 groups of people I would immediately say “Yes get a new tire” and that is to the:
- Experienced road rider expecting to train more than an hour at a time… Get a slick turbo trainer tire. It will be cost-effective for you to swap out your road tire for a hard slick training tire… Update: I have found a video showing a setup that uses a road tire both on the trainer and road with no extra wear from the cycle trainer.
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 – http://amzn.to/2Dbcpsx
Continental Grand Prix 4000s II Cycling Tire – http://amzn.to/2FzhiRA
- A fit mountain biker with knobbly tires on… You don’t have to get a training tire. You may want to start with a cheap road tire and see how that holds up.
If you don’t fall into the above groups use your common sense. If the tires you have now on your bike are expensive don’t take the risk, swap them out for a cheap tire and see how you get on with that.
If you know that you won’t be pedalling at peak power for long periods stick with your normal tire but keep an eye on its wear.
I myself am a slow rider who enjoys short rides out (only 1 to 3 hours) on and off-road and keep in shape on my turbo trainer with 30 min sessions a few times a week over the winter months … I have a road tires on my bike and use these on the trainer as well. I have noticed no noticeable wear from the turbo trainer, so for the unfit and slow keep your old tires on.
Other reasons you may want to change your tire.
Apart from wear of your road tire there is another reason for getting a new tire and that is the noise the tire makes on the roller.
The rougher / more tread the tire has the more noise it makes…and it does make a lot!
When I first started using an indoor cycle trainer my bike was fitted with off-road tires and when I was up to speed they were extremely loud… As there was no one else to disturbed I just put my headphones on and got on with it. Even so the tire noise was still invasive!
When it came to renew my tires I went for road tires and the difference was astounding. Don’t get me wrong they are still noisy but I can now listen to my laptop without head phones. And the reduction in vibration (that I hadn’t bothered me before) was amazing which has made using the trainer much more enjoyable.
A lot of people who chose to replace their road tire with a slick training tire, it’s not for the wear but for the reduction of noise that they make during training, so as not to annoy family and neighbors.
Check out my post for more information on making a turbo trainer quieter.
Which are the best turbo trainer tires to get?
Trainer tires are more expensive than road tires but they are longer lasting, smoother and quieter… A turbo trainer tire is a viable option.
Turbo training tires are cost-effective. I asked my friend who uses a training tire “how long do turbo training tires last?” His reply was that he has only bought one and that was 4 years ago and still no noticeable wear… Looking on forums other riders also back up his claim.
Check out the price of Turbo trainer tires here and compare them to the cost of yours. If you are likely to wear out your road tire over the winter by using it on a cycle trainer, then over the years the trainer tire would pay for its self.
Not only will a turbo trainer tire last much longer than a road tire but they grip the trainer better causing less slip… Giving you a training session without annoying niggles.
The BIGGEST reason that riders chose to use a trainer tire is for the reduced noise levels compared to a normal road tire.
What color of turbo trainer tire do you need?
There is nothing special about the colors; it’s just a manufacturing choice. If you are inclined you can buy a TT to match your bike color.
Top Turbo trainer tires
Below I have listed the top 3 turbo trainer tires and linked them to Amazon if you wish for more information and price. But when and if you decide that they are for you check that they do your wheel size, some of these don’t cover the full range of sizes.
Tacx Trainer Tire – http://amzn.to/2oTnkmh
Note: You do need an inner tube with these.
Conclusion to “Will a turbo trainer damage my tyre”
This subject has been a strange and contradictory one. I have shown videos of road tires wearing down after only 15 minutes and another where the rider swears he’s done hours and hours with no wear!
Turbo trainers will wear your tire down faster than riding on the road. However for the vast majority of people who use a turbo trainer this will not be a problem… It appears to be mostly the super fit fast riders who will have a serious problem with wear.
My advice to you would be to use your original road tire on your indoor cycle trainer first and see if there is any significant wear and tear.
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