There’s more than one reason that we love cycling. From group rides, to exploring the countryside, to coffee and cake. But Strava is one of the bigger reasons I fell in love with the sport, and it may be the same for many of you. Asides from being able to analyse your ride data, what makes Strava so special? Taking a KOM.
There’s no feeling quite like coming top of a leader board and getting another gold crown. And it’s this ‘gamification’ of exercise likely explains Strava’s surge in popularity.
In this article, we’ll be covering a few topics; from finding segments to target, tips for taking KOMs and growing your list of KOMs in the future.
If you’re not familiar with Strava, KOMs are awarded for taking the top position in a leader board. Male athletes take the KOM title (King of the Mountain). Whilst female athletes take QOM (Queen of the Mountain). For ease of the article and as a male, I’ll be using KOM in this article.
This type of award system is what generates so much competition in Strava’s community. As soon as you take another athletes KOM, they’re alerted by email (and in app) and will try to take their title back.
It can get a little addictive.
Finding the Right Segment for You
If you’re a regular Strava user, there’s a good chance you’ve already got your eyes on a few segments. But that doesn’t mean these tips won’t help you find a few more to target.
Let’s be honest, the more KOMs you bag, the better a cyclist you are. That’s how it works… right?
Review past activities
If you have a few past activities on Strava, the best way to start is by perusing the segments you’ve already ridden. If you’ve placed in the top ten for a segment, your place will be listed next to the segments you rode.
Use Strava’s Segment Explorer
If you don’t have any past activities, you can use Strava’s Segment Explore feature to find some segments near you. You’ll also have access to the current KOM for those segments, allowing you to gauge their difficulty.
Play to Your Strengths
Not all segments are the same and neither are all cyclists. The length, terrain and gradient of a segment can all influence your performance. But there’s more to taking a KOM than the segment itself.
What form of cycling you’re most inclined to will also affect your effort. This is to say, whether you’re a climber, sprinter, time triallist, etc. I tend to do best on short steep segments that need a quick burst of energy. And I don’t do so well on the straights, flats or downhills.
Don’t let this dissuade you from attempting certain segments. Truthfully, you never know what you’re capable of until you try. And if you read on, many of our tips may help you take a KOM regardless of what type of cycling you’re best at.
Get a Feel for the Segments
Once you’ve identified KOMs you want to take, I’d suggest you go out and ride the segments a couple of times. By getting a lay of the land, you can determine a few things that will help you set a decent time.
Firstly, you can spot any obstructions on the route (potholes, overgrowth, etc.). Secondly, you can take note of traffic density in the area of the segment. Finally, you can identify the most difficult sections of the segment.
When you’re going out to test these segments, I’d suggest using Strava’s Route Builder. In doing so, you can get a good idea for how long you can rest between segments. Energy conservation is key.
16 Tips for Taking Strava KOMs
So, here come our top 16 tips on how to take a KOM. I’ve covered a few of these in the sections above, but they’ll be covered in more detail here.
1. Know Your Strengths
When KOM hunting, it’s important to understand where your strengths lie. If you’re better on the hills, that’s where you should be starting. If you’re better on the flats, focus on those. This may seem obvious, but it can be tempting to go for a KOM with high competition. After all, there’s more glory in that.
But if you want to start building a collection, I’d advise you to play to your strengths. This doesn’t mean you can’t go for the bigger ones in the future but get some miles in your legs first. The more you’re out, the fitter you’ll get and the more viable other KOMs become.
2. Study the Segment Data
There’s a range of data Strava provides for some good research on a segment before you go out. The biggest indicators of a segment’s difficulty are: distance, average gradient and elevation gain.
You can use the above to discern whether you think you take the KOM. If it seems reasonable, you can dig a little deeper into the data to prepare. It’s also worth looking at other Strava users’ efforts for the segment. This will allow you to identify where you need to conserve energy, and where you should go all out.
3. Remember Where the Segment Starts and Finishes
This is essential, as very few records are set blindly. I’m not saying you have to approach this like a dirt track racer and memorise every twist and turn. But you do want to start with a good cadence, and you don’t want to finish with fuel left in the tank.
There’s no feeling like giving a segment your all, and that’s not possible without a little bit of research.
4. Identify Landmarks
This is a great tactic for breaking down segments and knowing where to apply power. The most obvious application for this is by using landmarks to identify the beginning and end of a segment. You can identify these using the satellite map on Strava or by going out and taking a look for yourself.
However, you can also use landmarks as indicators for when to change pace. For example, if there’s a road sign two thirds of the way through a segment, you know when to make your final push.
I used potholes as landmarks for many of my favourite segments… you know they’re not going anywhere soon.
5. Go for a Test Ride
Before you go for gold, go out and try a segment out. You don’t have to go all out on the first try, just do a bit of reconnaissance.
Hey, you might want to try it a few times to get a real feel for the road.
6. Get a Flying Start
Beginning a segment at a higher speed gives you a bit of an advantage. This is especially helpful when used in conjunction with tip #4 (using landmarks). If you can see where the segment is going to begin, pick up the pace and hit it with a flying start. This way you’ll have a higher cadence much earlier in the segment.
But I want to make it clear that you should only attempt this when it’s safe. And never enter a segment blind at high speed. By this I mean; don’t pull into a side road or lane quickly when don’t know what’s around the corner. The KOM isn’t worth your life.
7. Start Before and Finish After
That’s a bit of a confusing tip at first glance, but I mean it quite literally. Always start your effort before the segment begins and finish after it ends. This is because GPS isn’t always the most reliable. And there’s nothing quite as irritating as smashing segment, for the GPS not to have registered your effort.
This is another way you can use landmarks. If you know exactly where the segment begins and ends, you can make sure you add an ample distance either side.
8. Start Fresh
You want to be able to give a segment your all, and so I don’t recommend going for a KOM at the end of a long ride. This isn’t to say you should warm up, in fact that’s very important if you want to put in a good effort. But you won’t be able to give it your best with shaky legs.
Although, it is more than possible to take a KOM at the end of a big ride. When you’re in the zone, not much can get in your way. And I’m a big believer in cycling being as much as a mental challenge as it is a physical one.
9. Stay Fuelled and Hydrated
Another obvious one, but one I have to mention. If you plan to be out for less than an hour, you’re not likely to need to take food out with you. But you should eat before you go out. You’ll need a good source of carbohydrates to maintain blood glucose and stop you from ‘bonking’.
‘Bonking’ is that feeling you get when your energy stocks are plummeting, and you wish you’d never bought that bloody bike. But then you eat a flapjack and a handful of jelly beans, and all is right in the world again.
In this same vein, it’s also recommended you bring a bottle of water with you if you’re out on the bike for over an hour. However, when you’re out KOM hunting you’ll want one with you regardless. If you aren’t drinking at the top of that hill, you will at least want to pour it on your face. Trust me.
10. Give it Everything You Have
As I mentioned in tip #8, your mental resilience is often as important as your physical capability. If you’re serious about KOM hunting, then you’ll need a strong mental faculty. If your drive falters for even a second during your attempt, and you stop pedalling that one bit, then all may be lost. Just keep going.
At the end of the day, the only one stopping you from taking that KOM is you. Unless the Tour of Britain happens to pass through your favourite segments. (Oh, how many I lost in 2018 to riders much better than I could ever be).
11. Ask for a Little Help
There’s no shame in asking for some help. There are some segments that you try and try to take, but still evade you by a few seconds. If you have a few mates who’re cyclists, get them to come out with you and lead you into the segment. By going aero you can build up more speed and lower resistance. Then, they can pull off in the last section of the segment and you can take the KOM.
Now, from experience I can warn you that one of them may get some ideas about going for the KOM themselves. You can stem that betrayal by offering the same service to them for another segment. You know they’ll have their eyes on at least one, and if you offer to help, they may show you some mercy.
12. Get Competitive
Sometimes it isn’t enough to have virtual competition, sometimes what you need is some live action. Take a few friends out and treat the segment as a time trial, this should give you some extra motivation.
The only downside of this is if one of your friends takes the KOM instead. But then you can just spend every waking hour trying to take it from them… so no biggie.
13. Be Aware of the Weather
This one’s a bit out of your control, we all know how the weather can quickly go south (especially in the UK). But I’ve included this to emphasise how bad weather can affect a KOM hunt.
Rain is the biggest perpetrator and leads to poor visibility and slippery surfaces (obviously). On the converse end of that scale, the hot days aren’t too great for it either. They can leave you dehydrated and with heatstroke (in the worst cases). But how many hot days do we see anyway?
Now, wind. This one’s a bit of a wildcard. If you’ve got a strong headwind, you might as well give up on the segment, unless it’s well sheltered. However, you can try and get to a segment where the wind is an advantage. Tail winds can be a real blessing, especially on flat straight segments. I’ve taken a couple of KOMs I couldn’t have dreamed of getting otherwise with this tactic.
14. Compare with Other Riders
One of the many things I love about Strava is the capability to compare your efforts with other riders. To do this: click the ‘compare’ button in a leader board or segment and choose another user from the list.
You can then watch both efforts take place at the same time and identify the sections where you need to improve. (If you have a Strava Premium account, you can compare up to 5 efforts).
15. Use Strava Live Segments
This one’s another way you can use Strava’s tools to your advantage. Live Segments allows you to receive notifications for upcoming segments (whilst you’re out riding). Once you’ve completed the segment, you’ll get a list of personal records alongside your most recent effort. You’ll also have access to friend’s times and the record set by the current King of the Mountain. And of course, you’ll get a notification if you take first place.
Live Segments can be used on most GPS bike computers and mobiles devices. In fact, many bike computers will have some sort of virtual rider or partner features that allows you to race against your previous times.
This is a handy feature as you can retry the segment immediately if you didn’t quite take it the first time.
16. Try and Try Again
Our final tip is a very simple one. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Failure is a natural part of life and learning, and it’s no different in cycling. At the end of the ride, you’ll have collected valuable data concerning your efforts. And that will prepare you for your next attempt. A KOM may not be within your reach now, but there’s no reason it can’t be. Besides, if you’re taking every KOM the first time around… you should start thinking about the Tour de France.
Although, if you suspect someone to be cheating, don’t be afraid to flag their ‘ride’. I’m sure we’ve all seen a KOM with an average speed of 40mph (seems legit). But don’t go flagging left, right and centre for no reason. Sometimes, they’re just faster than you.
Finding Segments in the Future
When you’ve done the best with your initial segments (for now), there’s a nifty way of finding more. If you take a look at the leader boards you placed highest in (or most enjoyed), you’ll start seeing the same names cropping up. These are your new competition, and you can use their activities to your advantage.
Take a look at their KOMs or peruse their activities and take note of the segments most convenient for you to get to. If you’ve placed similarly on segments already (or you annihilated their time), there’s a very good chance you could take their position. You may think this tactic slightly unsporting, and it’s totally up to you whether you want to use it.
However, in doing so you encourage further competition with other riders. And if you think your KOMs are safe once you’ve taken them, you’re going to get a real shock. If that isn’t your style, but you can’t find any other segments near you, why not create a few of your own? The beauty of this is you can choose an area you already excel in and create the segment there.
But don’t assume you’ll take the KOM just because you created the segment. Your’s will be the only effort recorded at first, but Strava takes a while to compile all the times set by other users. So, you may be top when you first check, but find you’re not even on the leader board the next day.
Let’s wrap this up
If you’ve done your research on segments, and put in some good training, you’re likely to start seeing positive results. You can then use the data collected from those rides to inform your future strategy. And remember: PRs mean progress.
If your plan is to collect a large amount of KOMs, take note of the segments you did best in. Then repeat the process of planning routes, testing the segment and going for the KOM. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, put yourself out there and go for something a little different.
The best advice I can give is to be careful. I said this up in tip #6 and I’ll say it again: No KOM is worth your life. This especially applies to downhill segments, which require a little more skill and confidence to attempt. I’m sure most of the cycling community is sensible and doesn’t put their lust for first place before road safety. But we’ve all heard a story or two about those who don’t consider this.
As a last note, I realise that KOM hunting is usually more popular in the warmer months. But that’s no reason you can’t go on setting records in the winter. If you have a Turbo Trainer, I’d suggest using it with a game like Zwift. This will allow you to continue to train and compete with friends when it’s cold outside. If you don’t currently have access to one, take a look at our Turbo Trainer Buyer’s Guide. There’s plenty of affordable options available.
This article ended up being a lot more comprehensive than I intended it to be, and I’ve taken as much as your time as I can ask for.
However, if you have any of your own tips and tricks for taking Strava KOMs, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or get in touch.
Win a limited edition A5 print of ‘Your 2018 in Cycling’ showcasing your Strava statistics. Perfect for the office desk or windowsill to help motivate you on for a smashing 2019. We’ll even send you the digital copy.
Important: Data on artwork is retrieved via email after the winner is picked. The winner can retrieve this from their Strava profile page. Non-Strava users must provide data through other means.
To enter, click the button below to get up the form. And get more entries by sharing with your friends!
UK entrants only. Print will be shipped to the UK only. Entrants must be 16 or over. Cannot be redeemed for cash or equivalent. Cyced retains the right to withdraw the prize or offer a value equivalent. Print will be shipped in late January.
It seems there’s always more ways to spend money on cycling, whether you’re upgrading bike parts or splashing out on some new gear. But let’s be honest, we can be a frivolous bunch, and a lot of us are happy to throw money at our hobby just to be that one bit better than our mates.
But you don’t always need to break the bank to do this. Bike stickers, also known as bike decals, are one of the cheaper additions you can make to your set up. And can often mean a bit more to us than just changing the colour of our bar tape.
What are bike stickers?
If you’ve never seen a bike sticker/ decal, they’re small custom stickers for your frame that’re usually inscribed with your name. They’re often placed on the top tube just in front of the seat post, but in truth, you can stick them wherever you like. Whether it’s beneath the handlebars or even on your helmet.
[Bike Stickers from Names on Frames]
Why would you buy a name decal?
Many of us will see the appeal of having our name on our bike. To me, certainly, the bike is an extension of who I am, and the sticker is just a reflection of that. A way to personalise my bike.
For others, it might be a small way feeling a little bit more like a pro. If you really need a logical explanation for it, they also allow you to identify your bike when you’re riding as a team or taking part in a large cycling event.
If you own one of the more popular bikes of the year, it allows you to avoid the “wait this isn’t my bike” moment… Or is it only be that happens to?
But are bike stickers cool?
Obviously, bike stickers aren’t for everyone. Some prefer to strip the bike down, as much as they can, for a more minimalist look. But for those of us who can barely fit our heads into our helmets and talk the talk a little more than we walk the walk (or cycle the cycle?… no?), they’re the butter on our bread.
And who cares what everyone else thinks anyway? As a cyclist, you should be used to the odd cheeky comment.
Can you remove bike stickers?
Yes, most bike stickers will be removed by slowly peeling it off with your fingernail or using a bit of heat from a hairdryer to soften the glue.
But it wouldn’t hurt to check the retailer’s FAQs or product reviews before purchasing, just to make sure.
This might be an obviously point to make, but don’t attempt to peel it off with a knife or any other sharp implement. You will scratch your frame, and you’ll only have yourself to blame.
How to apply bike stickers
You’ll want to take your time when applying your bike stickers. This will avoid any damage and ensure that both name decals (if you’re applying two) are evenly aligned.
Spray the frame with some cleaning fluid, wash off any excess and wipe the frame dry with a microfiber cloth.
– This will remove any muck or oil from the frame, which might interfere with the sticking agent.
– Using a microfiber cloth is important as it won’t leave any lint or residue on the frame after the wipe down.
Peel off the paper backing of the sticker, and you’ll see that the name decal is stuck in the centre of a larger sticker, paper or tape backing.
Apply the whole sticker to the bike, being careful to apply it straight and smooth.
Then apply pressure from the centre outwards to ensure there are no bumps.
Very carefully remove the outer layer, leaving the name decal attached to your frame.
Tip: If you’re sticking another decal on the other side of the frame, use some painter’s masking tape to more easily align the second sticker with the first.
Where to buy bike stickers?
Below we’ll list a few options for where to buy bike decals, which should all be of a good quality. But a little of your own research wouldn’t go amiss as they’re not all identical. E.g. some stickers aren’t weatherproof (shockingly).
Also, each of these options offers slightly different pricing and customisation capabilities, but we’ll discuss that in the following.
Names on Frames
[Names on Frames Homepage]
This company is based in the UK and has a 5-star average review on their Facebook page. Your sticker is generated on the page as you chop and change details and design, so you have a good idea of what the end result will be.
4 Stickers: £7.95
8 Stickers: £9.95
20 Stickers: £12.95
Bulk discounts are available.
Post and packaging
You’re able to choose from a large selection of flags, and the ability to format your name stacked or side-by-side.
White Text on Black Background
Black Text on White Background
White Text on Clear Vinyl
Black Text on Clear Vinyl
Names on Frames also offers bespoke labels for those with more specific design requirements, such as sponsor logos and team stickers. You just need to get in touch for a quote.
Based in the Czech Republic, Bicistickers also boasts a high Facebook review average at 4.6-stars. Your stickers are generated on the page, and you’re able to customise the name, flags, text colour and background colour. You can also choose between matte or glossy sticker types.
They have four options for name formatting; classic, professional, MTB and custom. The custom option allows you to select a font for your name.
You’ll only have one option for the quantity of bike stickers you can purchase, but you can order as many of these sets as you’d like.
6 Big + 6 Small: £14.95
Bike stickers are manufactured and shipped within 2-3 business days of your order placement.
Europe: 1 – 2 Weeks
USA & Canada: 2 – 4 Weeks
Asia & Australia: 2 – 4 Weeks
Other: 2 – 4 Weeks
The bike decals themselves are high quality vinyls, are weatherproof and supposedly last up to 7 years.
You may well have heard of the famous Flandria cycling team, but you might not know they sell customisable bike stickers. They have a selection of styles to choose from, but unlike the others on this list your decals aren’t generated on the page.
The customisation is also a little more limited than other options, but you can still select a country flag, choose a main text colour and add a contrasting border.
The lowest prices below are based on a 4 pack of custom name decals.
This company has been mentioned in publications like Cycling Weekly and Bike Rumor. Although, the customisation on the bike stickers is a little basic. Where you can choose from a number of flags, you can’t customise colours, fonts, or text formatting (your first name has to be in italics and your surname in bold).
Packages are also a little different to all others on this list, as rather than buying packs you choose between three options.
Basic (white surfaces only): £9.99
10 black stickers | no white in your flag
Pro (light and dark surfaces): £16.99
5 black stickers | 5 white stickers | weatherproof
Plus (light and dark surfaces): £29.99
5 black stickers | 5 white stickers | individual cut letters
This is a bit of an odd pricing structure, but on the bright side post and packaging are free.
There are many other companies and individual retailers that sell bike stickers, especially on Amazon and Etsy, but we wanted to cover some of the larger companies. Feel free to get in touch if you know of an alternatives with high quality results.
If having your own name on the bike just feels a little too narcissistic, why not go for an inspirational or motivational quote? A friend of mine had a ‘shut up legs’ sticker on the top bar of his frame, which is a fun twist on the concept. Take a look at our 50 Incredible Cycling Quotes to Motivate You article for a few ideas.
Truthfully, it doesn’t even have to be a cycling quote. Just whatever keeps you pedalling at the end of a long ride.
There’s a good chance you’re on Instagram, and there’s also a good chance you’re a cyclist. The hashtag (#) acts as a way to not only tag your Instagram images, but also helps you get found. If you’re like me, you’ll want your pictures seen by a wider audience. I mean just look how clean my bike is!
As a growth marketer working in the cycling industry, I see common mistakes from both cycle company and cycle individual when using hashtags and Instagram in general. I’m going to clear that up.
In this Instagram hashtag guide, I’ll share the best cycling hashtags you should be using right now as well as some awesome tips for your account to make you stand out. After all, a hashtag is only a small part of the bigger picture… (rate my pun.).
How many cycling hashtags should I use at once?
You need to be careful not to overuse hashtags as this can come across spammy and shows that you’re just targeting aimlessly rather than having any strategy. Use the hashtags defined below, or use extra niche ones you’re aware of to really hone in your messaging.
There’s two sides of the coin when it comes to exact counts.
A marketer will generally say use 5-6 because it comes across as less spammy and more targeted yet some research suggests the best engagement comes from using over 11! With everything, test and test again. See what works for you and if it is infact true you are getting better growth and engagement with over 11 cycling hashtags, then stick to that method.
United Kingdom Cycling Hashtags
For those that are UK based and only wish to target other UK cyclists, use these niche hashtags to get involved in the country’s conversation. Remember that quantity is not everything. Quality hashtags are important unless you’re just after a vanity mark.
#UKCyclingEvents (if you’re at a sportive or race)
#WelshCycling (if you’re in Wales, or are Welsh)
#BritishCycling (the largest group but low engagement)
Generic cycling hashtags
These type of tags are generally useless unless you’re after lots of likes and no real quality. The bigger the hashtag is, the more people are shouting for attention and it all becomes far too contentious for any genuine growth. So in the case of the big belters below, be warned you aren’t going to be getting much value from them and probably a spam bot’s “Nice shot!” comment occasionally.
Photography cycling hashtags
Want to move away from a candid casual picture and showcase photos you’ve done on your DSLR camera? These tags are good for showcasing professional photography or those trying to make a name for themselves in the photography world. These are all pretty big cycling hashtags too, so some tough competition to get noticed and quite a lot of spam engagement.
#CyclingPhotographer (slightly more niche)
Women specific cycling hashtags
If you’re targeting towards women only, or want to find other women who are out cycling and sharing their imagery then there are many specific hashtags out there. All of these are specifically cycling and have no cross-over with motorcycles which some ‘bike’ tags do.
Cycle fashion hashtags
Want to show off your new jersey or get some inspiration for your next pair of cycle shoes? Hit up the fashion and latest trends with these cycling hashtags.
#SockDoping (cycle specific)
General Instagram Advice
There’s more to Instagram than the hashtag. You know that. I know that. Now you’re sorted with cycling hashtags that will get you noticed, here is a quick run down of some other tips you can use to accelerate your Instagram’s account growth.
Tell the story behind the image
Instagram posts are a lot like normal content. They need to be engaging and interesting and a common trend has gone away from it all being about the picture, but now more about the story behind it too. We’re seeing longer form post text performing well as it delves into the story behind the image.
But the image is important too. Bright images generally do well on Instagram, but the cycling industry is rooted in the black and white gritty photography. Go with whichever best suits the mood of the story behind the image and remember to be honest, true, and entertaining.
Talk to other Instagrammers
Cycling hashtags work both ways. Get noticed, but notice others. The most successful accounts are interacting with other people in the cycling industry and letting them know what they like about their images. The magic is in the DM (direct message), so don’t be afraid to reach out and give a genuine compliment or ask for advice.
The Gary Vee’s $1.80 strategy is a good way to keep on top of this. In short, distinguish the top ten hashtags for your account, and for the top ten images each day, leave a genuine comment about what you like about the image. This will build new relationships and get new eyes looking at your account too.
Be active and post regularly
The more you’re showing your images, the more chance you have to be noticed. Don’t forget, it’s common knowledge that the best times to post are during lunch hours 12:00-13:00 or around 18:00 when Monday-Friday when people are clocking off work.
Cycling hashtags are often chronological so the more you post, the more you’re likely to be seen at the top of these searches. Instagram are also highlighting top posts in the bigger cycling categories, so if you’re ever lucky to get a lot of recognition, you may see a big growth spike as you’re put and held at the top of the feed for several days.
Any specific questions you have about Instagram, feel free to drop them in the comments below and I’ll get round to answering.
Exactly how long does it take to cycle 10 miles? It’s a question many new cyclists ask before setting out on their first ride or commute of this length. Having started out on an old mountain bike in the Spanish hills, it took me on average 10.5 miles an hour as seen in the first image. Fast forward 1.5 years later, and I’m going further and quicker; albeit on a road bike and less climbing. This comes in at around 45 minutes for 10 miles and variables are a key factor.
The variables of cycling 10 miles
It is no surprise there are a lot of factors to take into account when cycling this distance. The most obvious example is a powerhouse cyclist completing 10 miles time trial in under 20 minutes.
Let’s take a look at the different things that will effect your time, which will also help you calculate your own 10 mile completion.
Like anything, the more you get out on the bike the better you’ll be on it. That’s to say after weeks of cycling 10 miles, you’ll be faster than the first time you had a go at it. Around 1 year after I started cycling my time improved so much that I was doing 10 miles in 33 minutes (I asked Evie to calculate)! You’ll be shocked how quickly your fitness improves just as I was recently. Pair that with a good diet and you’ll be cycling 10 miles in no time.
The 10-mile route
A few people will laugh if you base all your data on average speed. That is because how long it takes you to cycle 10 miles on a flat route is different to how long it takes you to cycle 10 miles on a hilly route. It sounds pretty obvious but I’ve beaten myself up about going slower before when the routes have been just more challenging. If you map out your route beforehand you’ll get an idea if it will be slower than expected.
Whether the Weather is nice or not
Sunny and dry days are perfect for cycling 10 miles and it is likely a cyclist will do it faster than normal. Rainy days make it a little tougher because the tyres friction on the road is higher making you ride marginally slower in wet conditions. And then there’s wind; a bitter sweet cycling relationship. On one hand it may be behind you and you’ll zoom swiftly by, whilst on the other hand it will make your legs work overtime and have you cursing into the gales coming straight at you.
Alternatively, just accept some days will be good and other’s bad. Just understand if it’s windy and wet, you’ll be a little bit slower – the worst think you can do is fight it during those 10 miles.
If you want to jump into some science, I can recommend Cyclist’s article. Apparently, there’s a sweet spot… Who knew? Just give yourself a five hour window of opportunity to do your commute and you may just find it…
How long does it take you to cycle 10 miles? Ask the bike and the lycra.
If you are after marginal gains then open up your wallet. It’s true that a rust bucket of a bike will make cycling 10 miles much more difficult than a Pinarello carbon beast (not actually a bike name), but if you have a standard road or mountain bike then your fitness is the real key to speed.
Back to the route though quickly. If your 10 mile cycle is uphill, using a mountain bike is going to take you longer than a road bike on most occasions. That is down to a bike’s weight. The heavier the bike the harder it is to cycle uphill. There’s no two ways about it. But you can make yourself lighter by either wearing lightweight lycra or carrying less items.
Cycling more than 10 miles
Planning on going a little further than 10 miles? Unfortunately you can’t just create a calculation by multiplying your 10 mile time. Whilst it will give you a really rough estimate, it won’t give you a true account. When I first cycled over 50 miles, it was the hardest day of exercise I have ever done. I recall it taking me 6-7 hours which if using my 33 minute 10 miler data, I should have gone over 100 miles. I wish.
The rationing of food and drink and fatigue it takes to first rack up big miles is exhausting and can by no means be calculated for a first timer. Make sure you gradually pick your miles up rather than jumping into the deep end and prepare efficiently.
If you are just starting out on the bike, have one hour in mind for cycling 10 miles. This time will slowly edge down as your fitness improves. Many variants in cycling will sway your results and this often can not be helped. Do the best you can and take it steady.
Cycling is more than just about getting fast times and hard data. Enjoy the sights, the senses and the complete enjoyment. Good luck with your next 10 miles; and I sincerely hope you find the sweet spot.
Where do you even start when it comes to purchasing big ticket items such as a turbo trainer? There are so many individual factors, brands, and models to take into consideration that it can become an overwhelming task.
Not to worry though, we’ve gone out and done some research to make this whole process that little bit easier. Below you’ll find a bulk of information concerning turbos, some of the different types available, and some example models that may interest you.
What is a Turbo Trainer?
Before we get to the nitty gritty of turbo trainers, it’s worth saying that there are two options for indoor cycling training apparatus; rollers and trainers.
Rollers require you to ride on three cylinders (drums), which are joined to axels inside a frame. Two drums are situated at the back, with the third drums at the front. The rear wheel turns the back drums, which pulls a rubber belt that rotates the front drum. These take a little more finesse than trainers, as there is no form of clamping, and you are much more responsible for keeping the bike upright. However, this almost has the feel of being on the bike.
A turbo trainer keeps the bike stationary, as your rear wheel will be clamped to the frame. They provide resistance using a roller with a flywheel, this resistance is created using a few different methods
This article will be concerned with turbo trainers, but keep your eyes peeled for a separate piece covering rollers.
Why Use a Turbo Trainer?
Excluding BMXs, Turbos can be used with almost any kind of bike, even mountain bikes can be fitted by replacing the back tire with a slicker one. They allow you to ride in the comfort of your own home and are great for finding solace in cycling during the winter months, however there are a few other reasons you may want to use a turbo trainer:
– They’re an effective method of training; many professional cyclists implement them in their training regime
– It may be too dark when you’d like to ride
– You’re time constrained
– Great for warming up before a race!
– You can avoid busy roads
Tips for Setting Up a Turbo Trainer
Before you go putting the thing together, find somewhere sensible to set up. Ideally you want to be away from other people, as some trainers can get a little noisy. Also, you’ll want to be able to get in the zone. Secondly, the turbo needs to be on a flat surface. This is because you’re about to be doing a lot of moving, and the last thing you need is to topple over mid-session.
For a few more tips concerning the set up of your turbo trainer, see the below video from the beloved cycling channel GCN!
Tips for Using a Turbo Trainer
This follow up video from GCN has all the information you’ll need for training indoors:
Additionally to the tips you received from this video; as is the expectation for an indoor workout, it’s about to get very hot. You’ll want to keep some essentials near you to keep the whole session as stress free as possible:
– Water. A lot of water
– Some snacks, e.g. fruit/ flapjack
– A towel
– Music or TV (as cycling without moving can be a little boring)
– Stopwatch/ timer
Types of Turbo Trainers
As discussed in the introduction, there are a few different types of turbo trainers. This difference is usually denoted by the method through which resistance is created, although there are a few other types that are categorised by their technological prowess. Below you’ll find a list of these types, with a few recommendations for models you could consider.
A magnetic turbo trainer creates turning resistance on the back wheel through the force of a magnetic field. The resistance is usually controlled using a handlebar mounted manual lever. These Turbos are quieter than other variations but are limited in the levels of resistance they can provide.
Resistance: 7 Levels Adjustable through a handlebar mounted remote.
Wheel Sizes: 24”, 26”, 27”, and 700c
Includes: Instructions Manual and Special Quick Release Skewer, 1 Year Warranty
Power Generated: 425w at 40kph/ 662w at 60kph
This is a great entry-level turbo trainer, at a comparatively low cost. The frame is a lightweight steel, that weighs around 5.5kg, and provides a wide and stable footprint. The resistance is controlled through the handlebar mounted trigger, through which you have access to 7 levels. The Turbo is basic compared to others on the market, but the B60-R is a grand improvement on the old Minoura B60-D.
These turbos use a propeller that spins inside a fluid chamber to create resistance. These provide a smoother resistance change than magnetic turbos and are controlled using the gear system on your bike.
Resistance: Progressive Fluid Resistance
Wheel Sizes: 22” to 29”
Frame: Powdercoated Steel with Aluminium Parts
Interface: Bluetooth Smart
Includes: Kinetic InRide Hardware, Kinetic Skewer, FREE 1-month subscription for Kinetic Fit Power-Training app, Unconditional Lifetime Warranty
Power Generated: Up to 3000+w
So, we’ve been a bit cheeky with listing this under fluid trainers. It does indeed use fluid to create resistance, but this is technically also a smart trainer. These are defined by their use of technology to collect data and stats on your workouts.
The Kinetic Rock and Roll Turbo Trainer 2 takes full advantage of this new tech and can connect via Bluetooth to smart phones, tablets, and laptops to work with apps such as Kinetic Fit, Zwift, and TrainerRoad.
This turbo is also the only free moving fluid trainer in the world, giving you a more realistic indoor training experience through tilts and shifts, and one hell of a core workout. It’s a little heavier than other turbos out there, but the frame is foldable for easy storage and portability. If that’s not enough for you; it also comes fully assembled.
Resistance is created through a fan/ blades spinning in the air for these types of turbo trainers. These have a reputation for creating a lot of noise, and so have become least popular amongst cyclists, but the price makes up for it.
Resistance: Progressive Wind Resistance
Wheel Sizes: 650b, 700c, 26”, 27”, and 29” (up to 2.0 tyre)
Includes: FREE Race Day DVD (Race/ Training Tips), Life Time Manufacturer’s Warranty, Quick Release Skewer
As with any turbo that creates resistance using a fan, this is a noisy bit of kit. However, the CycleOps Wind Trainer boasts a wide range of resistance levels and a ‘road-like’ feel. The frame is foldable and can be adjusted for uneven surfaces.
It is designed to fit common road and mountain bike frames, but the use of a trainer tyre is recommended. If you aren’t bothered by the noise, the price of this equipment and the experience it gives you really does make this a fantastic beginner’s turbo trainer.
These trainers are some of the most expensive, this is because they link up with your computer for you to be able to race virtual routes with other cyclists from around the globe. The resistance in these models is controlled through your computer, according to the course you choose to ride. They are some of the most advanced and realistic trainers on the market.
Price: £1047.99 – 1499.99
Interface: Bluetooth Smart
Includes: Handlebar Mountable Computer Console, USB Dongle, Gel Block Front Wheel Riser
Power Generated: 500w at 15kph
Yes, this is an expensive turbo trainer. But what do you expect when it comes to virtual integration? The resistance is computer controlled and depends on the virtual course you wish to ride on. 18 courses can be accessed across a few DVDs, which are included with the turbo. Although, it’s not just the technological features that make it. The electromagnetic breaking system uses an advanced magnetic power that varies in viscosity according to the electrical current passed through it. The provides resistance to the blades being rotated as you pedal.
The handlebar mounted computer console allows you to control the software without leaving your saddle and is connected to your device using a USB dongle. Your time, distance, gradient, cadence, wattage, and heart rate are all displayed in real-time on your device, allowing for a much more strategic training session. You are also able to create your own courses, download GPS routes, and even race against yourself. The possibilities with this piece of kit are seemingly endless.
There have been a few grievances concerning the models size (a full effort can cause the turbo to move), and the feet sliding during all out training, but this are incomparable to the whole world of opportunities this turbo provides.
These turbos are defined by their ability to connect wirelessly to smartphones, tablets, and computers using Bluetooth. You can do a quick search of your preferred application store to find free and paid apps that are designed to control the resistance and record data.
Frame: High Strength Steel
Wheel Sizes: 650c RD, 26” MTB, 700c RD, 650b MTB, 29” MTB
Interface: Bluetooth Smart, ANT+ and ANT+FE-C
Includes: Front Wheel Riser Block, Power Cord, Power Brick, Quick Release Skewer, Quickstart Guide
This is a relatively low-priced turbo, considering the amount of tech involved. Some users have said that the model is noisy, but this doesn’t seem a likely story, as electromagnetic turbos are usually among the quietest. The feet are adjustable for uneven surfaces, and the legs fold away so the trainer can be nicely stored. There may be a slight lag in virtual races, as the power is measured behind the flywheel in this turbo’s case. However, it should still record data to a high standard. Plus, not many other companies include the riser block with the trainer.
This type of trainer removes the rear wheel from the equation. The cassette on your bike connects directly onto the turbo and avoids the wear and tear on tyres that other models exacerbate. Your session will also be a lot quieter, as less friction is created in the process.
Interface: Bluetooth Smart, ANT+ and ANT+FE-C
Includes: Front Wheel Riser Block, Power Cord, Power Brick, Quick Release Skewer, Quickstart Guide
Suitable Cassettes: Various Shimano, SRAM & Campagnolo
Compatible with: Tacx Utility, Zwift, Kinomap, Skuga, Trainer road, FulGaz, The Sufferfest, Cycleops Virtual Training, BKOOL indoor, Golden Cheetah, Maximum Trainer, Perfpro & VeloReality
If what you really need from a turbo trainer is silence, then this is the one for you. Direct Drives are incredibly quiet compared to the alternatives, and this is coupled with an electromagnetic breaking system (which also happen to be very quiet). There is also the added benefit that they don’t slowly destroy all your tyres.
It also happens that this trainer has the capability to connect to your laptops, smart phones, and tablets wirelessly to collect your training data. This data includes speed, cadence, and power readouts. You are also able to use this trainer with several cycling ‘virtual reality’ programs out there, but make sure the graphics card on your computer can handle that sort of thing.
How do you decide which turbo trainer is best for you?
There are a few factors to take into consideration when making a buying decision such as this one:
Turbo trainers are an expensive piece of kit, and constantly improving features and technology are driving up prices all over the place. So, it’s important to manage your expectations when it comes to choosing a model.
To help you determine which brand/ model is best for you, try and think of what you actually need from the trainer. If you’re a beginner to intermediate cyclist, you won’t need to choose one with all the bells and whistles. But if you’re looking to optimize your training sessions through the analysis of quantitative data, you may need to fork out a few more bucks for a smart trainer.
If you live with your family, or your walls and particularly thin, then the noise a trainer produces is definitely a factor to consider. Although, this won’t affect the price of your purchase too much, as it’s easy to find relatively low cost magnetic turbos.
Believe it or not, not all trainers are made to be portable. Some of the larger, more complicated, options are made to stay where you set them up. If you need to take your trainer everywhere you go (which makes us greatly appreciate your commitment to the sport), then it’s best to do your research beforehand.
Frame Design and Mounting System
It’s very likely that any turbo trainer you set your eyes on will be able to work with your bike. However, it never does any harm to check the product websites for a full spec on what is and isn’t compatible.
That’s probably enough chat about turbo trainers for now, although you should keep your eyes peeled for upcoming articles concerning Virtual Reality Games for trainers, and rollers!!! In the mean time, check out our list of inspirational cycling quotes to get you motivated for the coming year!