How to Maximize Your Indoor Training Space With Indoor Cycling Accessories

To ride an indoor trainer, you only need two things: a bike and a trainer. Simple as that.


But to have an enjoyable experience on the indoor trainer, you need much more than that. You’ll need entertainment, engagement, cooling tools, food, and water. Without all of the aforementioned accessories, you might as well be staring at a wall and sitting in a pile of sweat. Not fun. 
Through years of indoor training experience, here are some of the most important additions, accessories, and necessities to add to your indoor training space.

Fans — A powerful fan is the single-most important addition to your indoor training setup. Without it, you will be left forming a puddle of sweat, suffering in the heat and humidity of an indoor space.

Many of us take the cool breeze for granted when we’re riding outside. But in reality, this breeze (as fast as we’re traveling plus additional wind speed) is what keeps us cool when we’re out on the bike. But on the indoor trainer, that wind and its cooling effect are entirely lost.

A fan pointed at your face, chest, or back is critical for not only improving your enjoyment, but also your indoor cycling performance. Heightened core body temperature is one of the first limiting factors of human performance, and that’s why it’s so important to stay cool on the trainer. We recommend a large, industrial-sized fan for indoor riding; and if possible, use multiple fans.

The best indoor cycling setups have one fan pointed straight at the rider, with two smaller fans on each side, and even one blowing on their back.

There are some branded indoor trainer fans that you can buy such as the Wahoo KICKR Headwind, but you can also make due with any other type of fan. Keep it on the floor, mount it on the wall, or place it on your trainer desk — whatever gets that cool breeze onto your body is best.

Towels — It should go without saying that you will also want a towel and or sweatbands when riding indoors. With increased core body temperature comes increased perspiration, and sweat is not only unpleasant, but it can also damage your bike. I have seen riders sweat through their handlebar tape, ruin their shifters, and clog up their brakes. And I have even seen riders fill up their headset with crusted salt, and short-circuit their electronic shifting with dripping sweat.

When riding the indoor trainer, make sure to have a large towel at the ready to wipe excess sweat from your hands, arms, and forehead, and use sweatbands on your head and wrists if possible. Don’t worry about looking too dorky either — you’re only riding inside, so no one will see you. Plus, you’re putting in the hard work and getting stronger!

Trainer Mat — You’re going to be sweating a lot on the indoor trainer, and no matter how many fans, towels, or sweatbands you have, you’ll never be able to catch all of it. Some sweat will inevitably end up on the floor, and depending on where you’re riding, that can become a huge problem.

If you’re in the basement on a concrete floor, dripping sweat won’t be that big of a deal. But if you’re temporarily setting up in the office, in the corner of the bedroom, or especially in the living room, you don’t want to leave your sweat and stench all over the floor.

Trainer mats typically cost less than $100, but you can also use an oversized yoga mat, rubber flooring from the hardware store, or an old carpet. Whatever absorbs your sweat and can be easily rolled up and stored is going to be your best option.

Trainer desk — While it is not a necessity to have a trainer desk, it is almost impossible to enjoy your ride without somewhere to put all of your stuff. That includes your phone, computer, laptop, or tablet, plus your headphones, water bottles, nutrition, and towels. And if you want to add in some entertainment, you’ll need somewhere to put a TV, laptop, tablet, or monitor as well.

There are a few purpose-made indoor cycling desks on the market (such as the Wahoo KICKR Desk); and while they are near-perfect in terms of function, they are quite expensive. You can certainly use a normal desk, a standing desk, a windowsill, or even a barstool. Just make sure that your desk is stable, especially if you perch expensive electronics on top of it.

Rocker Plate — It has become an increasingly popular trend to perch your indoor trainer setup on top of some sort of rocker plate, or a moveable platform that helps add dynamic movement to the base of your trainer. Take the Saris MP1 Nfinity Platform, for example.

This piece of equipment attaches to your indoor trainer and your bike, simulating fore and after movement as well as some side-to-side movement. While the precise physics of different platforms vary, they all add an element of micro-movement and stabilization patterns that are similar to outdoor riding.

Outdoor riding, of course, is much more dynamic than indoor riding which is much more static. When we ride outside, we are constantly balancing the bike as we pedal along. We lean into corners and get out of the saddle, and adjust our position whether we’re in a headwind or riding in a bunch. The indoor trainer is completely limited to pedaling, and platform pundits argue that a significant amount of energy is lost in the static movement (or lack thereof) of indoor riding.

While the Saris Nfinity Platform is quite expensive, you can find cheaper rocker plates for less than half the price. Some trainers — such as the Wahoo KICKR — even have movement built into their feet, such as the KICKR Axis Action Feet which cost less than $100 on their own. If you’re a dedicated indoor rider who spends lots of miles on the indoor trainer, it’s worth looking into a rocker plate or some kind that can make your indoor training experience much more enjoyable, powerful, and sustainable.

Wireless Headphones — One of the biggest upgrades I ever made to my indoor training space was swapping a pair or wireless Bluetooth headphones for my old wired pair. The different was stark, and it completely changed by comfort levels with indoor training. On top of all that, the upgrade cost me less than $50.

You might not realize how annoying wired headphones are until you try wireless ones; but once you make the switch, it’s almost impossible to go back. You’ll never need to worry about bumping or pulling on the cord, accidentally unplugging your headphones or dragging your entire setup to the floor, or sweating through your headphones during a hard workout. Go wireless.

Written by Zach Nehr

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