Indoor Cycle Vs. Ergometer Vs. Roller Trainers

Indoor Cycle Vs. Ergometer Vs. Roller Trainers – How Do We Want To Train?

The Koga Miyata from the 80s is mothballed for the winter, and work is only possible on the old trekking bike anyway. For me, shame and school sportsmen (abdominal approach and buffet offer) are out of the question for bicycles for training purposes from the golden leaves anyway: the weather is too fickle – the leaves too slippery and only the ice.

 That means: cycling inside – there are three options: indoor cycle, bike elliptical, or roller trainer. So that the choice is not a pain, here is a small comparison.

Indoor cycle or ergometer

There are different models of all three categories. You can see that in the price ranges: Indoor Cycle is available from around 300 to 3,000 euros, the most expensive bike ergometer costs just 7,000 euros (but that’s really – sorry – great !). Therefore you do not get any purchasing advice on the individual categories here; I want to introduce you to the essential features.
The classic in-home training: the bicycle ergometer


Ergometers offer comfortable training and can be real designer pieces.


Ergometers are probably the most versatile devices among the three. By definition, they offer a wattage indicator, which means the display shows the current output. This is made possible by an electronic resistance system that can also be adjusted automatically. In many devices, for example, wattage can be specified, and the system improves the resistance depending on the pedaling speed. So the performance is kept even. The accuracy of these systems depends on the quality of the ergometer – I don’t think a 300 euro ergometer measures precisely to the watt.
By automatically adjusting the resistance, many other functions are possible with ergometers. This includes adapting the resistance to the heart rate or pre-programmed changes in the strength (training programs). In general, ergometers offer the best control and display options.


Training on ergometers is undoubtedly the most comfortable endurance training at home. You train gently and (more upright) sitting, you can watch TV on the side and, if you take it slow, even read. Only recumbent bikes are even more comfortable because they have a correct seat, including backrest. This makes the training relaxed and, for example, also possible for people with back problems, since the load is much lower.


Ergometers have limitations when it comes to maximum performance. It usually ends between 300 and 400 watts – some exceptions, such as the LeMond ergometer, even offer over 1000 watts. However, this is not a world-shattering restriction. Three hundred watts are a real challenge yet as a well-trained home athlete and should mostly only be achieved with high-intensity training – at least that’s my experience. Ergometers are therefore primarily suitable for endurance and fitness training and for losing weight – but with the right models, resistance is also possible that will push athletes to their limits.

Exercise in the living room like on a racing bike: indoor cycle

Unlike the ergometer, the resistance in the indoor cycle is usually generated mechanically. That means a brake pad acts on the flywheel. The resistance can be adjusted manually. For the indoor period, therefore, it is not possible to measure the power (watts). Also, indoor cycles do not have a freewheel. That means: as long as the flywheel is turning, the pedals are also shifting. Of course, you can stop the wheel at any time. But this can be very unusual for beginners.
Training on the indoor cycle is modeled on that on a real bike. I think there is hardly a fitness machine with which the seat and handlebar positions can be adjusted individually and precisely. Also, indoor cycles offer the best stability, i.e., they are the most massive and the least wobble. This is possible because indoor cycles have straightforward construction, and this is necessary above all because indoor cycles offer the highest resistance of all devices. This makes them ideal for anyone who wants to work out during training. I saw my colleague Thore come out of a cycling course, and I honestly don’t remember ever seeing the boy as exhausted as there.

Training with the roller bitch

You won’t usually find a roller bitch on casting couches but on roller coaches, because contrary to what the nefarious name suggests, these are sports equipment. Roller trainers are engaging as training devices for anyone who wants to train like on a real bike.

Why? Because he or she teaches on a real bike. For this purpose, the wheel is clamped in a stand and runs on a roll. Of course, this has the advantage that you can really on your bike, but the wear is also quite high. And that’s where the roller bitch comes in. That’s what cyclists call their second bike, which is only there for the role. This is how the first wheel can be spared. It also takes some time to clamp and remove the bike each time.


What distinguishes roller trainers is the high resistance – roller trainers offer sufficient resistance performance even for professional athletes. Also, particularly good models usually offer good training software. With the industry leader Tacx, there is the option of driving routes that are reproduced in great detail. The resistance is adapted precisely to the route. That’s great.
I have only sat on a trainer a few times.

Two things bothered me: trainers can get loud, and if you put up resistance, it can get pretty shaky as a beginner. Untrained people like me tend to swing with their upper bodies when things get tough. This is firstly a very bad habit and secondly often a balancing act on a trainer.

The compromise: race bikes!

Since the fitness industry is quite innovative, a compromise has been found: so-called race bikes like the Taurus Z9. They are constructed like an indoor cycle with a rigid hub and a large flywheel mass, but like an ergometer, they have magnetic braking systems. This allows the resistance power to be adjusted, and even heart rate-oriented training is possible.

Conclusion : Indoor cycle or ergometer

So, I train on the ergometer at home (and sometimes I run). Everyone has to consider which device fits and maybe give it a try, you can do it in any of our branches, or you can sign up for a trial course in the gym, there are always indoor cycles and ergometers. In the category of ergometers, there is a suitable device for every training level, for every age and every training goal to find. 

Indoor cycle and roller trainers naturally offer the same training effects: more fitness, more endurance, more weight loss, but are otherwise somewhat more special. Personal trainers are too cumbersome for me personally because I don’t have a roller bitch at home. With the indoor cycle, I find the sitting position best, but I don’t get warm with the resistance system—a final word on ergometers. 

I have found that the number of programs is almost irrelevant to me: I don’t need manual control, a watt program, or pulse control. What is important to me is stability. By that, I mean that the ergometer is really rocked solid, even in the rare cases .

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