Just because your bike is mounted on an indoor trainer and not being subjected to the British weather and roads, it doesn’t mean you can skip basic maintenance.
Is it safe to use my bike on a turbo?
This is a perennial question and always sparks a heated debate - especially when talking about carbon frames. Some manufacturers will void your warranty if you use your bike on an indoor trainer so, do check but, as explained in the article linked below, British Cycling partner Cervélo have no issue with their frames being used in such a way.
Can I use my carbon bike on a turbo?
The main thing to take care over is that you’re using the correct QR skewer/thru-bolt adapter for your trainer as often the one on your bike will not secure your bike properly. Carefully follow the instructions for mounting your bike and double check that the QR skewer/thru-bolt adapter is secure before each ride.
If using a direct drive trainer, you should check the indexing, especially the upper limit screw, before riding. The hub spacing might be slightly different to your wheelset and could cause your shifting to be out.
You can easily and quickly check your indexing with your bike mounted on the trainer by following the instructions in the video linked below.
Indexing your gears
Your sweat is highly corrosive and, during an indoor cycling session, you’ll produce a lot of it! You should be looking to protect your bike, especially vulnerable areas such as the headset, as much as possible from it. A sweat cover or “thong” is probably the best option but a towel draped over your bars will definitely help.
You can also minimise sweating and improve your performance by keeping your pain cave cool, well ventilated and using plenty of fans.
For both preventing corrosion and hygiene reasons, give your bike a good wipe down after every session. You can use an anti-bacterial spray and also a water dispersant if you want. Don’t neglect giving the floor/mat a good wipe too.
Along with wiping down after every session, if you’re riding indoors regularly, we’d also recommend taking your bike off the trainer and giving it a proper rinse and wash at least once a week. This will help to get rid of any sweat deposits that wiping has missed and will allow you to give the bike a good checkover. Pay attention for early signs of corrosion - bolts are particularly prone. Also check under your brake hoods as sweat tends to get in there too.
Five-minute bike wash
As part of your bike wash, don’t forget to de-grease your drivetrain and then, having dried it, ensure you re-lube your chain.
Degrease and lube your chain
Running a bike on an indoor trainer can lead to faster chain stretch and drivetrain wear than riding outdoors. This is because there’s no easing to freewheel, loads tend to be higher due to interval type workouts and, in the heat of the action during an indoor race, it’s easy to end up cross-chaining. Use a chain-checker (see degrease and lube chain video above) and fit a new chain when it indicates your chain has stretched by 0.5%. Neglect this and you’ll find yourself having to fork out for a new cassette and potentially chain-rings too.