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Do I Need a Special Tyre for Turbo Trainer?

Do I Need a Special Tyre for Turbo Trainer?

When I first started on turbo trainers, I wondered what tyre I need for indoor bike training. Do I need a special tyre? Or do regular road tyres work on turbo trainers?

Short answer: Regular bike tyres will work fine on turbo trainers but road tyres have treads making more noise and accelerating the wear out of the tyre. Trainer-specific tyres are recommended if you are training more than four to five hours a week. It will make less noise and provide you with more specific data.

While turbo-specific tyres have benefits, there are different opinions on whether you should get a turbo-specific tyre or not as we will see.

Why do Trainer Tyres exist?

Standard tyres are specifically made to grip asphalt whereas the barrel roll touching the tyre on the trainer is smooth metal, a surface having its complications. Instead of treads, a trainer tyre has a smooth surface that grips the metal.

Another factor is the heat that is produced on a trainer. There is no air passing on the trainer as on the road making cooling, a big problem. Now, anyone who reads this will suggest getting a large fan for cooling the tyre. Well, that won’t work because there is another complication in cooling the tyre.

When riding on the road, the road surface is constantly changing as you move forward. This difference of temperature in the surfaces of the tyre and the road causes the tyre to naturally remain cooler. However, there is no such cooling factor when it comes to the trainer.

The same tyre keeps rubbing against the same roller surface causing both surfaces to overheat by heating each other. This overheating causes the tyre to melt. Trainer tyres are specifically made to deal with the melting problem.

However, while training indoors, you don’t have to worry about the grip in corners or wet road surfaces. So, trainer tyres are made specifically for the surface of the roller, which means, they can’t be used outside – in the real world.

Benefits of using a Trainer Tyre

Turbo trainers, other than direct drive or smart turbo trainers, have rollers on which the rear tyre of the bike sits. Contact between the tyre and the roller provides resistance giving the feeling of pedalling against something.

Constant friction between the roller and tyre generates a lot of heat which is more than that on the road. Standard road tyres will heat quickly making them wear out faster. People destroy road tyres within weeks on trainers.

If you do this to a set of £30 to £40 tyres every week, indoor training will be a lot more expensive for you. Trainer-specific tyres are made of a harder compound which is also heat resistant through proper dissipation of heat that can handle the heat produced on the rollers.

Of course, the heat-resistant property of the trainer tyre makes it more durable than a regular road tyre due to which it lasts about three times longer than the regular road tyre. On top of that, these tyres aren’t expensive as well becoming a very economical option.

Another benefit of a trainer tyre over a regular tyre is that it is specifically made for the roller surface. Therefore, the grip it provides on the trainer is superior to that of the regular tyre. Regular tyres slip on the rollers which can cause inaccuracy in measuring your performance. Trainer tyres, on the other hand, avoid slipping giving a more accurate measurement of your performance.

Indoor trainers are annoyingly loud. Regular tyres with treads only add to this noise. The compound of turbo-specific tyres has a particular tread pattern along with noise-reducing properties within the compound to significantly reduce the noise made on the trainer – appreciated by every rider.

Should I Get a Trainer Tyre or not?

With so many benefits mentioned, you would be inclined towards buying a trainer tyre. But should you get one? Can you do without them? But why would you not use trainer tyres if they are so beneficial?

There are a couple of reasons to avoid buying a trainer tyre. First is the obvious – the budget. Good trainer tyres can be expensive. Not as expensive as buying an expensive road tyre every week, but you still have to buy them. We will discuss tackling that a bit later, so bear with us.

The second is what most people would relate to. Laziness! If you are a user of a turbo trainer, you would know that it is already hard enough to get yourself on one. Changing a tyre every time you want to use your trainer, now that’s just preposterous.

There is no way you will be using your trainer or trainer tyre for long. You will either lose the trainer tyre or the road tyre or lose whatever motivation you have to use the trainer altogether. You will make a compromise after some time.

It’s fairly easy to get over the tyre-changing problem. Just buy a new wheel. A new road wheel is cheap to buy, and changing a wheel is faster and easier than changing a tyre. Plus, the spare wheel can be used in other unfortunate situations where you damage your rear wheel.

Speaking of spare wheels, I still have to address the first point. You don’t have to get yourself a trainer-specific tyre. Some people never get a special tyre for the trainer. They use an old tyre. If they use expensive tyres in their cycle, the old rear tyre makes an excellent trainer tyre.

The treads fade away so the tyre produces less friction which means less heat and less noise. If you don’t use expensive tyres in your cycle, you can get a good old worn-out tyre from somewhere. The technique of using old tyres on trainers work, that is why you would find it being recommended on cycling forums by so many people.

But, should you get a trainer tyre or not also depends on your use. If you use your trainer once a week, just clean off your road tyre and you can use it on the trainer. Keep an eye on the wear though. However, for longer periods on the trainer, get a dedicated tyre for your trainer, or use an old one.

Do I Need a Special Tyre for Turbo Trainer?