Can a Mountain Bike be Used on a Trainer? (for Indoor Training)

Picture this: you’re cycling on your usual bike, pedaling as hard as you can, but something’s different — you aren’t moving.

In fact, you’ve been in the same corner of your garage for the past thirty minutes!

When you love biking, a few drops of rain or a layer of snow aren’t enough to slow you down. But when the weather makes cycling near impossible, it’s best to take the training indoors.

A trainer is a great tool for an avid cyclist to have.

Here’s everything you need to know about trainers and how to hook your mountain bike up to one for indoor training.

What Is a Trainer? 

Yaheetech Magnetic Bike Trainer Stand
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A trainer turns any bike into a stationary bike. If you’re an avid cyclist, you’ll know that the rear wheel turns when you pedal, pushing the front wheel and propelling the bike forward.

A trainer lifts the bike’s rear wheel, which allows the rider to pedal to their heart’s content without moving. This is the simplest trainer, although it requires the rider to exercise a lot more balance and control when cycling.

If you’re looking for a trainer with more support, there are trainers that require the rear wheel of the bike to be removed entirely.

From there, the bike is locked into the trainer. This is more comfortable, and we recommend it for beginner cyclists.

Finally, there are trainers that work off the friction created from cycling. The rear wheel is placed on a roller that turns as you pedal.

Similar to the first trainer, this requires skill and balance. Make sure to start slowly and follow the manufacturing details correctly to avoid injury.

Benefits of Using a Trainer

There are several benefits to using a trainer, and with a bit of research, you’ll find most professional cycles have one that they use regularly.

More Opportunities to Cycle

Fluid Bike Trainer Stand, Sportneer Indoor Bicycle Exercise Training Stand
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Not everyone is comfortable cycling in the rain or at night, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to cycle as much as riders who are okay in the rain and dark.

A trainer gives you more opportunities to cycle, which can help you build your stamina and lengthen your distances.

Want to hop on the bike for a few minutes in between meetings?

How about using it in the evening or during a snowstorm when even walking outside feels like Mission Impossible?

As the name suggests, a trainer will train you into being a more diligent and stronger cyclist.

Budget-Friendly 

buying a trainer is a great purchase
Buying a stationary bike is not a small decision, especially if you’re on a budget. A trainer is a small and relatively inexpensive purchase compared to an entirely new bike (that doesn’t even move)!

There are a variety of trainers on the market, which means you’ll be able to find one to keep you training at all hours of the day without breaking the bank.

A trainer is also a great purchase if you aren’t sure how much use you’ll get out of a traditional stationary bike. That way, you aren’t stuck with an expensive exercise machine that has turned into a makeshift clothing rack or dust collector.

Helps Tailor Your Workout 

BalanceFrom Bike Trainer Stand Steel Bicycle Exercise Magnetic Stand
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There’s only so much control you can have over an outdoor cycle. You can decide where you want to cycle, provided it’s within your area unless you want to drive to a cycling destination.

The traffic, weather, and wind — all of which can massively impact a ride — are out of your control.

With a trainer, you can tailor your workout to exactly what you need. No cycling to a special destination or over-extending yourself because the wind was in your face the whole time.

Do More While Training

you can do more with a trainer while training
When you cycle outdoors, the only thing you can do is cycle.

You might be able to get away with listening to music, but only if you know there won’t be any incoming traffic you might miss while the music’s blaring.

With a trainer, you can watch TV, read a book, or chit-chat with the kids when they get home from school. If you’re feeling particularly productive, you might even answer a few emails.

Can a Mountain Bike Be Used on a Trainer?

Bike Trainer Stand for 26"-28" Mountain & 700C Road Bikes
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You can absolutely hook a mountain bike up to a trainer!

Training for mountain bike trails on a trainer is an efficient way to get ready to power up hills and through muddy puddles on the weekends.

Mountain bikes and road bikes vary greatly. They have different tires, a different number of gears, and mountain bikes are usually a lot heavier and thicker.

You may not reap the same benefits of using a trainer with a mountain bike, though.

Mountain biking is difficult and includes steep inclines and challenging terrains that require a lot of skill to navigate.

How Do I Attach My Mountain Bike to My Trainer?

How to Put a Mountain Bike on a Trainer - Wahoo Kickr Core Set Up

The biggest thing you need to keep in mind is that you will need the right adapters and an extra cassette to hook the bike up properly.

The cassette can be found on the rear wheel. It’s the roll of chains that moves as you pedal forward.

If you have a simple trainer where you don’t need to remove the rear wheel, you simply screw the trainer into the wheel’s axle.

Just make sure that the trainer fits the size of your wheel. If it’s too small, you could end up wearing down your tire and potentially damaging the wheel!

Alternatively, if the trainer requires you to move the rear wheel, it’s a direct drive trainer. Make sure you have your extra cassette on hand. You will also need a freehub (driver body).

Find out what size your rear axle is before you purchase an adapter for your trainer. Not all trainers require this, so check beforehand.

Once you’ve gathered your tools, remove your rear wheel and screw the back of the frame into the trainer. This is where you’ll be grateful for the extra cassette — no need to worry about transferring the cassette every time you want to use your bike indoors!

Be sure to check on your bike midway through a cycle to ensure there isn’t any unwanted friction or tension building up in the rear.

Can You Use a Mountain Bike With a Turbo Trainer?

Magene Bike Resistance Turbo Trainer For Indoor Riding
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A turbo trainer is a kind of stationary trainer that creates resistance when you cycle to stimulate pedaling on the road. It’s a great device to keep you feeling challenged and build strength when cycling indoors.

For the most part, turbo trainers are compatible with mountain bikes. They provide a lot of stability, which allows riders to pedal harder for longer.

Most turbo trainers accommodate quick-release rear wheels, so you should be able to release your rear wheel from the frame and hook the frame up to the trainers in a matter of minutes.

Feeling high-tech? Some turbo trainers hook up to your phone, so you can track your cycling progress even on the days where you don’t leave the house!

Can You Use a Mountain Bike on a Roller Trainer?

Tacx Galaxia Indoor Retractable Bicycle Rollers
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Roller trainers are for the most experienced riders, but they do work with every kind of bike tire, including thick, knobby mountain bike tires.

A roller trainer looks very simple. It is made up of two cylinders on the back and one on the front. You place your bike on top of the cylinders and process to cycle as normal.

What’s great about roller trainers is that they require little to no setup.

You don’t need to remove the rear wheel or screw the trainer into an axle. All you need to do is plop your bike on top of it and start pedaling.

With that being said, roller trainers require an immense amount of balance. You will also find that standing up on the bike while pedaling is incredibly difficult.

If you decide to invest in a roller trainer, be prepared to spend some time getting used to it. You won’t be able to hop it in and cycle 20 minutes the very first time (but if you do, please let us know).

To Wrap Things Up

There are a lot of ways mountain bikes are different (and potentially better) than road bikes, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of a trainer with one.

Have a think about the type of setup you’re willing to do every time you want to use the trainer. If you don’t mind removing your rear wheel, a direct drive or turbo trainer might be the best option for it, especially since it is the most stable of all trainers.

On the other hand, if you’re up for a challenge, we recommend trying out a roller trainer. Your core and stability will thank you later!

If you want something in between, opt for a trainer that screws into the axle of your rear wheel and lifts it off the ground. The setup is simple, and it will provide some stability.

What’s your experience with trainers on mountain bikes been? Do you have a preference? Let us know in the comments.

Good luck!

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