This is the third article in our series on the different types of resistance units found in turbo trainers available on the market.
Fluid Turbo Trainers
Fluid resistance turbo trainers work very similarly to wind turbo trainers. As with wind resistance bicycle trainers the roller is connected to a fan. The fan on a fluid resistance trainer is however not open to air as with the wind trainers. The fan on a fluid resistance turbo trainer is suspended in a thick fluid, hence the name fluid trainer.
It is best to imagine the fan in these trainers like small cups like the ones on wind vanes. As with the wind trainers the faster you cycle, the faster the fan turns. This in turn increases the resistance which the fluid exerts on the fan. This is the same effect that you experience when cycling outdoors. The faster you move the higher the resistance you generate while pushing against the surrounding air.
Because of this the resistance curves on fluid turbo trainers are as close to actually cycling as you can get and they feel very realistic to train on. In addition to this the fan is completely enclosed in the fluid which means it doesn’t generate any noise. This is a stark contrast to the noise generated by wind resistance trainers.
The fluid inside these turbo trainers can be different from model to model meaning that you can have different densities, allowing for different resistance curves. This is something that wind trainers can’t provide as the density of the air they use is always the same.
One of the downfalls of a purely fluid turbo trainer is that you can only have one single resistance curve. While you can adapt the resistance by using your bicycle gears the range is ultimately limited. A number of manufacturers have however created hybrid magnetic-fluid trainers which allow for the resistance curve of fluid trainers and the adjustable settings of a magnetic trainer allowing for a winder scope to your training.
Due to the fact that the resistance unit contains a sealed compartment filled with fluid there have been reports of that compartment cracking and leaking rendering the turbo trainer unusable. These incidents are however extremely rare and shouldn’t put you off buying a fluid resistance bicycle trainer.
Overall fluid turbo trainers sit at the mid to upper end of the market price wise and are a good choice if you are looking for a realistic resistance curve coupled with ultra quiet operation. However if you are looking to do really high powered intensity workouts then you might be better off getting a magnetic trainer or a hybrid.
Pros: Large choice, realistic resistance curve, good resistance levels.
Cons: Can be fairly expensive, not adjustable.
Ideal if: You are looking for a high quality turbo training experience with a realistic resistance curve
Recommended fluid turbo trainers: