Will a turbo trainer fit a mountain bike? What to look for

Will a turbo trainer fit a mountain bike? If your mountain bike is a full sized, adult bike it should fit into a turbo trainer YES, but there are thinks to look out for when looking for a turbo trainer. Also the next question you probably ask yourself is “Do I need a new tire?” and the answer is… Depends!!!

Quick links to sections covered in this post

I myself have used knobbly tires in a turbo trainer it was OK but there were problems which I cover in this post.

Using a standard mountain bike is not perfect on a bike trainer, there are a few things you will run into with and I’ll go through these and the solutions found for them.

I’ll also let you know what to look out for when buying an indoor bike trainer for a mountain bike.

A few years ago I was given a turbo trainer and as the only bike I had was a mountain bike I wondered will a turbo trainer fit a mountain bike? With nothing to lose I fitted the bike into the trainer… Success it fits in fact no problem at all.

So yes an adult mountain bike will fit into a turbo trainer. But using it wasn’t a pleasant experience… passable at first but there were problems.

Do I need to buy a slick training tire?

Problems you may expect using knobbly tires on cycle trainer:

  • Noise
  • Vibration
  • Tire wear
  • Slipping tire on the roller

Overcoming these depends on the fitness of the rider. I believe there are 3 types of riders who want to use their mountain bike in a trainer:

  • The unfit who want to get fit, healthy and lose weight – (me now.)
  • The fit who want to maintain their level of fitness – (was me!)
  • Riders recovering from an injury

And depending on your fitness level will determine whether you need a replacement tire immediately and also the type of turbo trainer you should look for.

Those of us who want to get fit and lose weight?

You may have already been told to replace your rear tire with a slick but I would suggest at first to forget that and try a turbo trainer with the knobbly tire that are already fitted to your bike. See if using a cycle trainer is for you, before splashing out on expensive tires.

I would say yes they are noisy and there is vibration even excess wear, but just try it out first with your normal tires on… It may be OK for you; it was for me… at least at the start. I just put my head phones on and got on with it.

It was only after I decided that I would use the bike trainer and had already used it for some time that I made changes to reduce the noise and vibration.

Problems for a Fit mountain biker

Do you, a keen mountain biker want to stay at peak performance and think an indoor bike trainer is for you? I’m afraid that you will run into problems at high speeds (peak power) with knobbly tires fitted with the excessive tire wear, noise, vibration and even your tire slipping on the roller.

So I would recommend that you get either a cheap road tire if you are still unsure that a trainer stand is for you, or you know you will stick at training indoors then buy a slick trainer tire along with your turbo trainer.

Other cyclists I talked to who went down this route made things easier for themselves by getting a spare wheel and fitted that with the slick tire… It saves time and effort of changing tires when you want to train or go out.

Why does a fit cyclist need special tires?

It’s all down to the speed that you can peddle at. The faster the tire spins the hotter it gets causing the tire to overheat, melt and wear down extremely quickly. I saw one video where the rider manages to visibly square off the tire in only 30 minutes… But that was extreme!

I would not expect a novice cyclist to maintain such high speeds (I couldn’t) so the tire does not get as hot… I did however notice wear over the months but when that happened I just fitted a normal road tire… And the difference was amazing to say the least.

Fit a road tire instead of a slick tire.

I have never been a fast cyclist but I was/am fit so over heating was never my problem nor was the vibration, however when I fitted a road tire I was able to peddle faster (but not so fast that my tire overheated) and this turned my workouts more to a cardio rather than strengthening my legs.

The ride also got smoother and easier resulting in a more pleasurable workout (I didn’t think the vibration was a problem but I wouldn’t go back now!)

Most of all was the sound difference that putting a smoother tire on does. While still not by any means silent I can now hear my laptop without headphones.

Can’t hear yourself think for the noise

If noise is a concern of yours check out my post on “How to make a turbo trainer quiet

But to surmise there are three main noise sources when you train on a cycle trainer:

  1. The tire – The more tread the more noise.
  2. Vibration – Vibrating sound through the floor.
  3. The turbo trainer resistor unit – It is usually (but not always) the more expensive the turbo trainer the quieter it is.

The first and easiest way to reduce noise is to fit the smoothest tire you can. A cheap road tire is a good start but getting a slick turbo trainer tire is better.

Fitting a smooth/slick tire also reduces the vibration and the transmitted noise made through the flooring.

Other ways to stop sound traveling through the floor is to place a mat under the trainer and you bike.

For extreme silence you can make a vibration reducing platform… See the video below for details. It’s a drumming platform and if it can reduce drum sounds it can work for a cycle trainer.

Which Turbo trainer for a mountain bike?

There are 4 main types of Turbo trainer and choosing the right one is important.

First you have to look to see if your bike will fit into the trainer stand.

I have seen that some people are worried that there bike will be too wide… This is not a problem for any mountain bike I have heard of.

But a problem you may encounter is with the wheel size. If your bike has a 29” wheel and tire, you must check that the cycle trainer that you chose will accept this size… All others sizes are usually catered for.

The next point to take note of is the way your rear wheel is mounted to your bike. I have seen some stands only able to accept the quick release fasteners.

A cheap entry level magnetic turbo trainer (but not the cheapest they will give you a whole world of pain when you use them) is perfectly adequate for the novice cyclist, however the fitter you are the better the turbo trainer you will have to get.

My first cycle trainer was a cheapish magnetic resistor type (not the most basic) and at the time I was a keen cyclist, but when I first used it I was able to power through the resistance of the magnets which made it useless.

I know magnetic trainers have got better (stronger) but I would advise you to steer clear of the cheaper end of the market… Mine stayed at the back of the garage until I grew fat and unfit!

Below is a video of 4 turbo trainers being tested. It will give you an idea of the type of bike trainer that will be suitable for you.

I have found Amazon links to the trainers used to give you an idea of the price of each type.

Tacx Blue Matic Training Base

Tacx Satori Smart Wireless Training Base

Tacx Genius Smart Trainer

Tacx Neo Smart Direct Driver Trainer (with 11-Speed 11-28t Cassette)

Turbo trainers are boring!

Anyone will tell you that training with a cycle trainer is boring, but there are ways to keep yourself entertained.

There is the high tech route of apps and smart trainers. In fact some cyclists use these all year round and not just in the wet and cold months, with a whole new sport and competitions built around them.

The most popular apps are Zwift, TrainerRoad and Sufferfest but there are many more.

You can use the apps on their own without a smart trainer and these will still relieve the boredom as you follow tracks, do time trails or even race.

Other ways to keep you occupied is to follow a spin class on YouTube, or just watch any YouTube videos that keep you entertained (this is my favourite way to keep entertained).

Or you can simply listen to music on your phone… You can even step it up a notch by pedalling hard for one track then easing off for the next… This is how I started.

Extras you may need to help train

  • Yoga mat – Most people who train indoors use one. It makes a smoother training session and it also catches the oil, muck and sweat making cleaning the floor easier.
  • Fan – essential… keep cool, you will get hot sat in one spot with no airflow. You can find my post on best cycle trainer fans here
  • Entertainment of some kind – As stated above it can get a little tedious staring at the wall.
  • Towels – Protect your bike from your sweat especially if you have carbon fibre
  • Sweat net – protect your bike from sweat, use a bike thong they work… You can find more info here on cycle sweat nets.
  • Quad lock bike mount for mobile phone  – lets you see your progress if you have any training apps connected.
  • Wheel raiser – these usually come with your turbo trainer but if not to level your bike you can use a wheel raiser which will prevent back and wrist ache… Or you could just put a book under the wheel (I did)

Conclusion to will a turbo trainer fit a mountain bike?

Yes a mountain bike will fit a turbo trainer and no you do not necessarily need a new slick trainer tire.

I myself recommend slick tires but don’t splash out yet. Try yours. If it’s too loud get slick tires. Too much vibration to cope with – get slicks. If you are ending up with rubber all over the floor – get slicks

Also when buying a turbo trainer look out for the wheel sizes and buy one to suit your fitness level.

Thank you for visiting BikeTrainerStands.com. I hope you have found my post helpful. If you think I have missed anything please let me know in the comments below.

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