Rollers or a Trainer? Factors You Need to Consider Before Choosing

When the weather is providing less than hospitable conditions for cycling, having rollers or a trainer in your home can be a life-saver, both for your riding technique and sanity!

Many cyclers opt for rollers or a trainer in an effort to further build their strength and endurance as they come in handy when traveling, in a time crunch, or the aforementioned unsuitable weather rears its ugly head.

If you’ve decided that you want to take your cycling to the next level by investing in your training, it’s time to make an important decision.

Related : Rob Lee

Rollers or a trainer?

If you don’t know where to start, don’t sweat it! We’re going to tell you everything you need to know so you can come to the decision that’s right for you- starting with how each one works and the differences between them.


Rollers are a bunch of tubes that are attached to a frame lying on the ground. It’s going to take some practice but if you’re dedicated to it, you’ll be balancing on them in no time! As far as skill building, rollers require more engagement from the rider than a trainer does.

The best rollers are typically made of aluminum, have resistance units, and can even come with bumpers and secondary frames to allow you more stability in the learning stage.


A trainer is a frame that sits upright and screws into your rear axle, mounting your bike slightly off the ground. The most current model is a direct-drive model where you remove your rear wheel, mount your bike, and have resistance applied by electronic or fluid methods. In older models, resistance was typically applied by a fan, magnet, fluid, or electronic component.

Where and how will you use them?

The answer to these questions can easily narrow down your decision-making process. If you know that you are going to need your training unit for warmups at races, you will need a lightweight, durable unit that doesn’t require electricity. In this case, a foldable roller unit or foldable trainer will be the most practical decision as they are light and collapsible.

Also convenient for at-home use if you need to store it when it’s not in use.

A direct-drive trainer with a heavier flywheel can simulate more of a long-road riding experience. If you’re looking to use the trainer strictly for shorter, more intense rides to simulate climbs or mud, you can get by on a cheaper trainer.

If you are a beginner looking to use a unit to gain basic skill, you may want to opt for a trainer as it will provide you with the most stability and a broad footprint.

The hardest part will be the mounting process but once you figure that out you will be good to go. It should be noted that not all trainers fit every bike, so you will need to ensure before purchasing that the trainer you buy is going to actually fit your bike.


Rollers are typically going to be more affordable than trainers and that is because they have utilized the same (or similar) technology for decades. There are many ways to customize a trainer, therefore, they end up costing more, however, if you aren’t looking for something super fancy, you can absolutely find a quality trainer to suit your needs.


If you’re looking for your unit to require higher levels of concentration, build more skill, and get you the most bang for your buck, we suggest the Omnium Over-Drive Portable Trainer.

It is a wise investment to make both financially and for sake of skill. It’s designed simply and easy to travel with so you can use it for the days you’re stuck indoors or for pre-race warmups.

It also utilizes internal progressive resistance to allow you to feel as if you’re on the road and another plus to this product is that it isn’t noisy- a common complaint about many trainers in general.

The adjustable wheelbase will fit many bikes and you only need to unfold it to use it. This is the perfect product for someone who has to take it out and put it away after each use as it weighs only 14 pounds. It is also compatible with virtual training apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, The Sufferfest, and Kinomap.

The OverDrive Pro Rollers are also a wise investment as they are quality rollers made of aluminum and also utilize internal progressive resistance. If you don’t need the mount to stabilize yourself and are looking for more freedom of movement, the rollers will be a better choice for you.

If you are a beginner, you’ll want to exercise with caution and awareness because you can come off. Don’t let it deter you from purchasing them though because you are not likely to fall dramatically off your bike. You’re most likely to lose balance on one side and head in that direction.

You can try it in a door frame for a while to get your bearings. This unit folds in half and can be stored upright without taking up much space and weighs 17 pounds. It can be used indoors for practice and outdoors for race warmups.

In the past, rollers were the go-to because of their durability, however, due to the increases in the design and technology used in building quality trainers, there’s much more to the debate these days and what led us to our suggestion.

Older trainers were more prone to heat-failure within the resistance units but you hear much less about problems like that now. They’ve also become easy to transport which was another disadvantage of them before.

On the other hand, you have rollers which require more effort on your part to stay balanced and simulate pretty accurately the experience of riding on the road.

It is up to you to choose which will be better for you based on your current skill set and what level of skill you’re looking to acquire through the use of your unit, the information in this article can push you in the right direction. Good luck!