A graphic of a male indoor cyclists using bike rollers.

How to Use Bike Rollers

Bike rollers are an incredibly valuable component of any indoor cycling routine, but there’s a big learning curve if you’ve never used them. If you want to use bike rollers but don’t know where to begin, we’ll help you get started.

Let’s begin by starting with what bike rollers are!

What are bike rollers?

View of bike rolls from a male cyclists in his living room.

Bike rollers are a set of spinning drums that lay flat on the ground beneath your bike while you cycle. They allow you to ride your bike indoors without moving forward at all, similar to a bike trainer. However, the main difference is that your bike is not connected to the rollers at all; you must balance your bike on top of the rollers while you cycle.

Although bike trainers and rollers are both excellent ways to cycle indoors, trainers are more beginner-friendly, and many cyclists regard rollers with flat-out fear. Still, riding with rollers has plenty of great benefits and is worth all the patience it requires to get started.

What are the benefits of using bike rollers?

Male cyclists on his indoor bike trainer in his living room with all windows.

Anyone who has seen bike rollers might wonder why many cyclists persevere through the challenge of learning how to use them. Well, there are several great reasons:

It’s a great workout.

For those wondering, “Are bike rollers a good workout?” the answer is an emphatic yes! Biking on rollers requires you to maintain your balance while biking on top of a set of spinning drums. In the process, you activate your core and strengthen it. Staying upright atop the rollers also requires maintaining a certain speed, forcing you to work harder to cycle.

You’ll improve your pedal stroke.

If your pedal stroke is jerky, it will be challenging to stay upright with rollers. As a result, regularly using bike rollers will help you establish a smooth and fluid pedal stroke, which will translate when you’re out cycling on the road. A smooth pedal stroke means you’ll produce even and efficient power, which will also help enhance your bike handling.

It enhances your focus.

Riding on rollers is no joke, so it’s easy to see how it would enhance your focus on the bike. Staying upright on bike rollers for an extended time requires a high level of focus. You also must remain calm and avoid staring at the ground instead of what’s in front of you, which can be challenging. However, if you can master these skills, you’ll become a mentally stronger cyclist, which is highly beneficial.

You’ll develop better bike handling skills.

If you can master biking on rollers, you’ll become a more confident cyclist. Learning how to ride on rollers requires excellent handling skills and a strong sense of where your body is at all times. If you keep at it, you’ll significantly improve your bike handling and reap the benefits when you ride outdoors as well.

How do you start riding rollers?

Female cyclists in her living room hanging her body her her bike after a long workout.

Biking with rollers is a great way to enhance your cycling routine. Here’s how to get started:

Set up your rollers.

Rollers consist of a set of front and back rotating drums inside a frame. Before you get started, you’ll need to adjust the length of the rollers to fit your bike. Once you feel comfortable with the fit, set up your rollers next to a sturdy, supportive feature like a wall. A wall with a window ledge is perfect because you can use the wall as support and the window ledge as a storage shelf for your water bottle, phone, snacks, and other essentials.

Mount the saddle and start cycling.

Set up your bike on top of the rollers and make sure your wheels are in the middle of the rollers. Put your bike in a moderate gear and support yourself by keeping one hand on the wall beside you. Begin pedaling and keep your hand on the wall for support as you gradually pick up the pace. The bike should be upright, not leaning, even as you use the wall for support. Try not to steer your bike in any direction; keep it facing straight ahead.

Establish a focal point.

Resist the temptation to look down at your front tire. Instead, look up in front of your bike and establish a focal point so you can focus and balance your body. Once you start feeling a little more confident and are riding steadily, you can let go of the wall. Getting started is tricky at first, but the more you do it, the easier it will become!

Tip: Setting up Vingo on your laptop in front of your bike is a great focal point! As you get better at biking on rollers, you can explore breathtaking Icelandic caves or routes with scenic ocean vistas, all while completing a challenging roller workout.

Maintain a steady pace.

Cycling on rollers is more difficult than it might seem because you never get a break. You can’t stop pedaling while you’re on them! As you get used to cycling with rollers, gradually increase the duration of your workouts. Doing too much too soon is a surefire way to burn out. Slow and steady is best!

Dismount when you’re done.

Dismounting on bike rollers can be tricky. To do it without falling off, continue pedaling as you gradually slow down. Lean on the wall next to you as you slow down to a complete stop. Once your pedals aren’t moving anymore, you can step down onto the rail of the rollers or the ground, if you can reach it, and dismount your bike.

Try, try, and try again.

If your first experience on rollers doesn’t go well, don’t give up! You’ve got this. It just takes a little practice. And once you feel more confident, you can add in things like wearing cycling shoes that clip into your pedals. Or you can tackle specific roller workouts. You might be surprised at how quickly you get the hang of it!

Additional tips for using bike rollers

A male cyclists on his indoor trainer wiping his face with a towel, biking close to his laptop set up on a chair, fan next to big windows in his apartment.
  • Don’t wear cycling shoes that clip into your pedals when you first start cycling with rollers. It will be easier to set a foot down when needed.
  • If you start to wobble or move side to side, push down on the pedals and cycle faster. Riding on rollers is more difficult when you’re biking slowly, but increasing your momentum will help keep you steady.
  • Relax! The more you relax, the smoother your ride will be. If you notice you’re squeezing the handlebars with white knuckles, focus on relaxing your hands, arms, and shoulders.
  • Don’t forget to set up a fan or two to stay cool. A good roller workout will have you sweating buckets.

How long should you use bike rollers?

Two cyclists in a room on their indoor bike trainers watching separate iPad screens while cycling.

Bike roller workouts can be incredibly challenging and demanding. During your first few attempts, just cycle for 5 to 10 minutes. As your confidence on bike rollers increases, add a few minutes to each workout. Eventually, you’ll be able to complete 30-minute roller workouts, and they’ll feel much easier than when you first started.

Are there any disadvantages of bike rollers?

Female cyclists on her indoor trainer with wheels watching her tv screen during her fitness routine.

Like any other type of training, bike rollers have a few disadvantages to consider:

  • It will take time to learn how to bike with rollers. Unlike just hopping on a trainer, riding on rollers takes time and practice. So don’t go into it expecting to nail it on your first try.
  • You may experience some additional wear and tear on your tires. Many people wonder if bike rollers wear out tires, but generally, they don’t cause any more wear and tear than riding outside would. However, some people report seeing some additional wear on their tires (usually the back one).
  • You’ll still need to cycle outdoors for a well-rounded training plan. Although biking on rollers comes closer to imitating the feel of the road, you’ll still need to get outside and bike if you want all the benefits of multi-surface cycling.

Key Takeaways:

Learning to use bike rollers can be challenging, but it’s an excellent way to boost your fitness, focus, and bike handling skills.

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