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Whether the weather outside has taken a turn for the worst or riding under the scorching mid-day sun isn’t your thing, then indoor training is great for keeping in shape and on top of your riding skills any time of the year. Bicycle rollers are a type of trainer that make it possible to ride your bike indoors without the necessity of moving forward, making them ideal for use in the garage, spare room or kitchen. You can even set one up while your favourite tours on TV and race every part of the way as if you were taking part.

Old School Rollers

Old school rollers.

The difference between a roller and other types of indoor bicycle trainers are that rollers don’t attach to the frame. This leaves the rider to balance for him or herself on the rollers while training. This makes the roller great for improving your balance, core strength and bike handling skills for when you hit the road. Rollers can also be used for warming up before a ride or as light day recovery. The art of rolling can be picked up quickly and the added benefits of stability and development of a smoother pedal stroke will be evident in your outdoor riding.
But rollers aren’t a modern day invention. For the last 70 years rollers have been used for roller races or gold-sprints around the world. Typically this involves two or more bikes being placed on rollers side by side. Each individual’s roller is connected to a timing system. Traditionally this is in the form of a large analogue clock with a hand representing how far each rider has travelled in terms of distance.

Modern roller race

Modern roller race.

The heyday for roller racing was in the 1950s where races would often precede films at the cinema or take place in between dances at dance halls. Roller racing is still taking place in Britain today which largely comprises of the London bicycle messenger community organizing events under the name of Rollapaluza.

However, rollers are often overlooked by a lot of cyclists due to the fact that they can take a little bit of extra time to get used to, although a lot of riders swear by them in comparison to a normal stationary trainer. Although training to avoid ‘hitting the wall’ during your next race or ride, may involve a few impacts with the floor until you get used to your new roller.

There’s the age old question; if you fall off your roller in your garage and there’s no one around to see it, does it make a sound…well only if you’re videoing it! Thanks to camera technology and the internet, there’s always someone round to watch (and hear) you fall.

However, this should not act as a deterrent to roller novices. As a certain Mr Lance Armstrong once said: “If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on”.

Tacx Antares RollersIf we haven’t scared you off yet then you’re probably interested in seeing what rollers we have at here PBK. Elite Arion Limited Edition Italia RollersTacx are a big name in cycle training and their rollers are definitely up there with their range of turbo trainers. The Tacx Antares Rollers is a common site at many a velodrome around the world among both pros and amateurs. The Tacx Antares distinguish themselves from other rollers through the blue heavy duty conical rollers that create the momentum of mass inertia which make them great for warming up before a race or a bit of indoor training. One of the major features of this set of roller is the fact that they are collaspable to a size of  80 cm and are therefore easily transported.

If you’re looking for something a little different check out the Elite Arion Limited Edition Italia Rollers. Train with a bit of Italian style using these Limited Edition set of  rollers from Elite. Released to celebrate 150 years of Italian unity Elite have coloured the parabolic rollers red, white and green to mimic the Italian flag. Fully sealed bearings ensure a quiet smooth ride offering a great alternative to turbo trainers. If you’re looking to build balance, strength and form at the same time to offer a great winter training aid. The nice people at Elite have even thrown in a couple of Limited Edition Italian water bottles which are great for keeping you hydrated while using your rollers.

Once you’ve got your rollers up and running with a bit of practice you can start to master the art of cycle roller tricks. Although not officially recognised by the UCI (as of yet) this new discipline of cycling looks to be the next big thing. With a few hours rolling under the belt you could even be as good as this guy (please note the soundtrack to this video contains some naughty words):

Some impressive stuff. If you’re still a bit sceptical check out the PBK recommendations for a safe rolling experience:

1. Always set up your rollers up within a short arms reach of a wall, door frame or sofa. This allows you to catch yourself if start to feel off balance or at least have a soft landing.
2. Make sure the surrounding area is clear of any tools, sharp edges or household pets. If you do happen to fall hopefully you won’t injure yourself too badly.
3. Always train in the appropriate apparel.
4. Try to fix on a point in the distance rather than looking down at those toned legs.

Since rollers don’t hold the bike in place like a trainer, riding on rollers does require some practice, but once mastered it is a great indoor training aid. Check out the range of training rollers on the PBK website.

So there’s a little introduction to the world of rollers. As usual we want to hear from you. What are your best/worst roller experiences and has anyone actually recorded the evidence for friends and family to share?

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