Can riding on a turbo trainer damage your carbon bike?

We examine if there's any truth in the horror stories, and how best to set up your steed

Triathlete on a turbo trainer

The quick answer to this is no – not if the bike is set up as intended and well looked after (writes Andy Blow).

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Of course, if a bike is not set up properly it’s more than possible to do some damage, and carbon tends to be more fragile than aluminium, steel or titanium, so that might explain why you’ve heard such stories.

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This is because metals have a certain degree of elasticity (flexibility), so that when force is applied to them they can change shape but revert to their original form, whereas carbon is strong but comparatively inflexible. Hence why so many carbon bikes have little-to-no flex in the bottom bracket.

To set a bike up correctly on a turbo trainer, first you need to make sure that the skewer in the rear wheel is a good, positive fit for the mounting points that hold the wheel above the roller. This should be the only part of the bike (except the rear tyre on the roller) to touch the trainer.

Many turbos come with a steel skewer for this, which ensures a secure fit so that the bike can’t slip out when you’re pedalling hard. Make sure that the rear wheel is clamped in tightly and that the surface you’ve set everything up on is level to avoid any instability that might cause excessive flex or pressure on the bike or the trainer frame.

To further protect your bike (and not just a carbon one) it’s also good idea to have something like a towel across the handlebars to catch the sweat (sweat can be very corrosive to metal parts). Plus, make sure it gets a good clean down after every use, followed by a quick going over with a light spray lube to prevent any rust.

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For lots more bike advice head to our Training section