This is the second article in our series on the different types of resistance units found in bike trainers available on the market.
Magnetic Turbo Trainers
Magnetic resistance turbo trainers are, as the name suggests turbo trainers in which the resistance is provided by magnets. Now, I’m sure you could have figured that one out for yourself, so here’s a bit more detail:
The resistance unit usually contains two magnets and the resistance felt while cycling is caused by the force that is created by the two magnets towards each other. Because this force doesn’t change with the speed that you’re cycling at, most magnetic resistance turbo trainers do not have the same type of realistic resistance curve that a wind or fluid trainer has. Changing your resistance curve while on a magnetic trainer is therefore usually a matter of changing between higher and lower gears.
Magnetic resistance turbo trainers will usually have a number of single resistance settings. These different settings achieve varying degrees of resistance by moving the magnets closer together or moving them further away from each other, therefore increasing or decreasing the force between the magnets.
Changing these resistance settings is a matter of either changing a dial on the turbo trainer itself or using a supplied handlebar lever which you can use to change the resistance setting without getting off your bike.
As far as noise levels are concerned, magnetic turbo trainers sit somewhere between loud wind trainers and almost silent fluid trainers. The noise produced by a magnetic turbo trainer is usually directly related to the price you pay for it, with top of the range models being as quiet as fluid trainers and some bottom of the range models being louder than wind trainers.
Some of the turbo trainers with the highest power outputs are magnetic turbo trainers as it is possible to use very strong magnets to achieve power outputs of up to 1000 Watts.
In addition to this a number of indoor trainer manufacturers have created hybrid models of magnetic-fluid turbo trainers which combine the adjustable base power of a magnetic trainer with the realistic resistance curve of a fluid turbo trainer.
Getting a magnetic turbo trainer is usually a really solid choice and there is a wide variety of models on the market. They are ideal for training in a consistent manner and can be great for training your strength during high power workouts. I would watch out however, if you really need a quiet turbo trainer and don’t have a huge budget, you may be better off going for a cheap fluid trainer rather than a cheap magnetic trainer.
Pros: Large choice, resistance variable, high power training possible.
Cons: Can be fairly noisy, no natural resistance curve.
Ideal if: You are looking for a decent powerful turbo trainer and want variety in your indoor training.
Recommended magnetic turbo trainers: