High end bikes on trainers, durability - separate bike?

I have a new Trek Madone and am still working out some of the kinks/adjustments through the local bike shop. In our discussion, they mentioned not using “super bikes” on the trainer because of the general wear and tear, and these high-end bikes are not exactly meant for everyday use.

On the Madone, definitely less than 1000km and it has the Isospeed bolt issue (seat mast sway).

Does anyone else have concerns about high end bikes on trainers? NOT talking about frame issues - just wear and tear and the notion that high end bikes are not meant for everyday use.

I don’t think there’s really a problem with using high end bikes on the trainer, especially with a rocker board, but I think it’s fair to say that the high cost per hour of use for a really expensive bike is less worthwhile on a trainer where the bike offers basically no advantage over a cheaper trainer bike. The biggest element of wear and tear for bikes on a trainer is sweat interacting with steel and aluminum parts. If you can afford a really nice outdoor bike, maybe you can afford something cheap but decent for the trainer. Other benefits include less time wasted getting the bike on and off the trainer, potentially needing to adjust shifting repeatedly, and having a spare bike to use outdoors if your #1 ride needs repairs.

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you have to be pretty thorough about cleaning your bike if you’re going to use it on a trainer because sweat will find it’s way into everything. i use my winter bike on the trainer and i find it gets into the bottom bracket, the headset, under the hoods, between the brakes etc. if there’s a seam or a joint somewhere then you can bet sweat is going to find a way into it

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I have two very high end bikes:

Canyon Ultimate CF Evo SRAM Red E-Tap
Cervelo S5 2020 SRAM Red E-Tap

The Canyon has almost 30,000km of hard riding, including commute riding (me with backpack on). It still looks new. The S5 also.

The outdoor riding isn’t the problem if you look after them, it’s indoor with sweat getting over and into everything. I’d suggest using a regular frame for trainer use. Or better still a Kickr Bike if you can afford it because they are very adjustable and you have a permanent bike setup with no tweaking drivetrains, no messy chains to break or replace, etc.

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In the last year, two of my fellow Zwift friends have had sweat collect under bar tape to point where it corroded and, in on case, broke the handlebars. The tape didn’t look worn, but dark deeds were taking place out of sight.

So I agree with the others, sweat gets into everything when you’re indoors and doesn’t dry quickly (no motion, no wind).

Edit: Less of an issue if you have carbon handlebars and frame but there’s still usually vulnerable metal in the headset etc.

ANY bearings. I destroyed SpeedPlay bearings and had to rebuild the pedals. The inner bearings were completely rusted and seized. (Didn’t know how bad until my noise blocking headphones died mid-ride, and I heard the squeaking! Yikes)

My compact Ultegra 8000 range crank set looks like it’s filled with sweat. The seams are all white making me think it really got into those, and I’m hoping that crank lasts until I can replace it. But, get a thong, wipe it all down frequently, use lots of towels, do a shower/bath every couple of months, check everything especially any bearings, use a spray on protector compound. (Check headset, crank, pedals, etc)

I use a towel draped across my handlebars for every indoor session. Can’t imagine not doing that. I also have a sweat catcher that stretches from the seat post to the handlebars. This, along with headbands, takes care of most of it, but not all.

I think the rub would be if it comes to frame warranty when there has been considerable time on the trainer with the bike. Many high end Treks, including mine, have the Isospeed bolt issue, which is a function of usage. If the frame assembly fails, would it still be under warranty given considerable time on the trainer…? I have yet to contact Trek or otherwise research, but I anticipate pushback based on “frames are not warranted when used on trainers” or something to that effect.

I am using my Emonda (carbon) indoor. No sweat problems so far, because of using towel for face/neck, head band, cheap ciba mesh handgloves and headwind.

Key to me is headwind and good airflow, otherwise overheating quick and rainy conditions.

Frame is wiped once a week with light oil (ballistol).

Especially Trek Emonda 2020 has some problems with H2O outside as well, all bearings were rusty after a wet ride. Had to replace them all twice, because factory grease beneath sealing was poor. Now that diva has house arrest.

If i had to go from scratch, i would use a thru axle carbon frame setup with sram etap or 105 di2 components. Bottom bracket bsa or hope bb86 mtb style. Aluminium frames are not strong enough for my style of riding.

My two cents is that there are two main aspects to consider. First is avoiding excessive “abuse” of nice bike from the indoor use, such as sweat/corrosion, and this is very cheap/easy to manage. Second is what I’d consider a more financial consideration related to drive train/variable costs. I like to point to the chain as simplest example. Prior to Zwift/indoor, I had two main bikes–the rugged everyday commuter and the “A” bike snazzy/fast one. On the “A” bike I’d spring for higher end Ultegra or Dura-Ace, but on the commuter there’s no reason to put the wear & tear on a $50 chain versus a heavy/rugged $20-$30 one. Side note–no matter how cheap/expensive the chain, keeping it clean, replacing when stretched, etc. always saves more expensive drive train components down the line. So, one indoor/Zwift came into the mix, I chose to avoid using “A” bike on Zwift mainly because I didn’t want to have to speed up replacing the fairly expensive drive train components when none of those have any benefit to my Zwifting performance, affect my racing speed/results, etc…

Another opinion.
I like having separate bikes because I think the change in geometry and riding position helps me develop other core muscles while giving others a rest.
Since aero is pointless on the trainer, I change my riding position.
Some folks want to be in exactly the same position indoor and out but I’m old and need to give my body parts a rest.

Seconding the use of a Wahoo Kickr Bike. I’ve put about 20k km on mine with absolutely no problems. I don’t perspire as much as most people but run the triangular sweat catcher as well as a hand towel draped over the bars. And I run four (yes, 4!) fans. Two squirrel cage blowers aimed at my feet, a pedestal fan aimed at my upper body and a Vortex circular blower aimed at me bum. They all have remote switches and I can vary the speed of the pedestal fan with the remote. Probably also helps that I ride in the morning when the room is cooler.

Before I got the Kickr Bike, I ran a trainer bike on a Kickr V4 direct drive trainer. The trainer bike was an older Scott CR1 carbon frame I no longer used and slapped a drivetrain on it with no brakes. You could build something similar for 500 bucks probably. This worked especially well because my wife started riding indoors then so I just had to build a trainer bike for her and we didn’t need to fiddle with moving seats and bars around. She’s no longer riding so the Kickr Bike has been the perfect solution for me.

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If you don’t sweat (much) you can ride forever on a high end bike on any trainer.

If you sweat like I do, you find your Ultegra crankset has suspicious sweat accumulations at the seams on the crank arms, seriously, and the top and down tubes are channeling the sweat to run down the seat tube and puddle on the top of the BB shell (I flooded bike thongs), and also drip down from the bottom. I went through a chain in record time due to the sweat displacing the lubrication on, and in it (it was a rusted seized mess: toss). The aforementioned pedals and just about any bearing swamped by it needs to be replaced occasionally, and I double wrap the bars on a bike on a trainer (and smart bikes too) and the bar tape just seems to hermetically seal the sweat against the bars and really has to be swapped as often as you want more practice wrapping handlebars (and do not smell the bar tape, just don’t :nauseated_face:).

I have a smart bike, and it seems to take the deluge better, but it tends to get really gross rather quickly. I use a heavy duty cleaning wipe on it nearly monthly. The surface it sits on has to be taken into consideration. Get a really large durable mat, and do not put it on carpet, or other softer floor coverings. Feet of bikes/trainers tend to tear the mat, and what they can’t do, cleats will. This is with eight fans AND a multi-split cassette over my head.

If you can afford to replace it, and sweat a lot, maybe buy another one? I was horrified to see the sweat accumulating on that crankset. Is that what makes them fall apart?

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You know 3R got those races that gives out buffalo bikes to 3rd world? We need one of those cheap bike for Zwifting!

On my ultegra di2 group, my front dérailleur was seized by rust in one month, my front ring were so corroded I had to use mallet to take them off, and rear disc brake caliper had to be changed (totally corroded by sweat). Headset too.

I bought a Neo bike, and I wipe it every time with watery towel then dry towel…

If anybody has the cash for a high end bike, a dedicated bike or a smart bike should be mandatory!


:open_mouth: Didn’t even think to look at the front derailleur! Although it seems it works. I think I need to try to get the chain rings off. Yikes.

I was just surprised that the chain was such a mess, and the cleats rotted out from under me, and the pedals themselves seized. They were actually squeaking. I thought it was the trainer making that noise. The T2 almost ate my rear caliper, sweat had nothing to do with that, but it is amazing how much of it gets into so many places. Yuck…

And my crankset still concerns me. They are known for ‘falling apart at the seams’…

the 6800s are the most prone to that, i snapped one myself. if it’s sitting in the back of your mind then it will always bother you so do what i do and just take the 100g weight penalty and use 105 cranks. they’re really well engineered, and they aren’t double bonded so they won’t fail

I don’t know if it’s ‘kosher’, but I used a vinegar solution, and a Scotch Bright pad, and then after it dried I used clear nail polish to ‘seal’ the seams. AND…

I still had grossness around some of the seams. It eventually came to involve ALL of the seams. So the only thing I can think is either there was a lot of sweat still in there, or the nail polish was a bad idea.

I’m just hoping it lasts until the day after I leave this planet. I doubt that killing a Shimano R8100 crankset has any useful cachet anymore because they seem to want to kill themselves. OUCH!!

Shimano seemed to have a power meter problem, and a longevity problem if used by a heavily seating carbon based biped on a trainer as a way to make up for their somewhat aberrant life (and humanities latest pandemic*).

*There have been hundreds of pandemics, large and small, but how they have been dealt with is the true measure of a society. But what do I know, I lost 22 points on my FTP.

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I’ve got to admit, I’m a bit surprised by all of the sweat you all are dealing with. Perhaps I’m lucky. I have very little issues and ride my Canyon Ultimate 8 CF SL without worry. My only maintenance is periodic chain waxing, and the occasional wipe down with disinfectant wipes.

I use a very high power, squirrel cage blower (925 cfm), and our central AC is usually cranked well before rides to dry the air. The relative humidity is around 50% in my home during the summer, and the temp varies between 68-72 F (20-22 C). I’m covered in salt after a long ride, so I assume that sweat is doing it’s job and providing evaporative cooling. Maybe it’s worth considering cooling/dehumidifying first and foremost as a preventative if sweat is a concern.


Same here, but although my setup is in a room in my house, it’s beside an open door and one large fan and a towel seems to be sufficient for me. Having said that, I’m not using it in anything above 18c or so and for much of my indoor riding season I’ll have outdoor temperatures below 5c.

Now that Shimano has recalled them, I’m sure mine will be replaced. And of course I have a dual power meter. Oh well…