Bike Check for Trainer Season

Here in Indianapolis the days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder, and the indoor trainer is starting to get a lot more use.  We hear about an awful lot of damage to bikes when the winter starts to ease and people get back outside.  The thought that you can save your bike from wear and tear by riding the trainer and avoiding the elements is a common one, but that can be far from the truth.  

We thought it would be good to go through our indoor training checklist to make sure you can ride all winter and don't have to replace components come spring time.  

A Clean Bike Is A Happy Bike

If you are resigning yourself to a winter of trainer miles, its a perfect time to do one last deep clean on the bike while the weather is still warm enough to do a bike wash.  We have a great step by step guide on how to get a squeaky clean ride here.  Once your bike is clean and protected we can move onto the drivetrain.

Degreasing a drivetrain

Check Your Drivetrain

Just like when you are out on the road or trail, your chain needs to be lubricated.  This is a great time to check your chain for wear so you don't spend all winter wearing out a cassette.  A chain that is stretched beyond its intended life will really wear the cassette and chainrings so this pre-season check is important to save you money in the long run.  

Once you confirm the chain is in good shape, make sure to lubricate your chain on a regular basis.

Indoor Lube Intervals

Miles are the way we typically recommend lube intervals but that doesn't equate all that well on an indoor trainer.  We like to change it up a bit to be about 20 miles per hour where we use hours.  If you ride 10 hours in a week, that can equate to roughly the wear you would put on the chain by doing 200 miles.

Super Secret should be dripped on about every 200-250 miles so that means every 10-12 hours is a good ballpark to shoot for.  

Synergetic, our oil based lubricant, can go rather far between intervals.  You can likely get 15-20 hours of riding before you need to re-lube with Synergetic.  It can be a good option for indoor riding as it is extremely good at reducing wear in dry conditions, is really quiet, and you can go the longest between applications of any lubricant in the SILCA family.

Trainer Season Bartape Check

If you want to preserve your handlebar, it might be a good idea to add new tape going into the winter.  Sweat, water, and dirt can get under the tape and cause corrosion of metal components and lead to a pretty unpleasant odor.  Checking at the beginning of trainer season gives you fresh new tape to be more comfortable all winter, ensures your bars are in great shape, and will help to eliminate any lingering smell.  

If you want to skip the early winter bar tape check, at the very least make sure you give it a thorough check before you head out on the road for the season.  We have talked about it before but we hear stories every year of riders crashing in early season group rides because the corrosion on their bars cause them to snap.

breaking handlebars

Grease Bearings

Headset bearings are often the first casualty of a long trainer season.  We always recommend cleaning and re-greasing the headset bearings at the start and end of the winter.  Starting the trainer season with fresh grease in the bearings can really save you in the long run so you aren't starting that year with the corrosion already starting.  Efficiency isn't the key here so a really good water repelling grease is ideal.

Regular Trainer Season Maintenance

Just like riding outside you want to make sure to give your bike a quick wipe down after each ride.  This can really go a long way to ensuring that your bike stays in top shape all winter long.  Using a gear wipe to wipe down the bars will help attack the sweat on them so it doesn't seep down the to the handlebar.  It is also a great idea to wipe down any area that you would have sweated over including the top tube, top cap, and even the floor.  You can always use something like the Ultimate Ceramic Waterless Wash once or twice a week to ensure that everything is clean and protected for rides to come.

This regular maintenance is likely to be your best defense all winter against  having to replace all the expensive components come spring time.  it is inexpensive, doesn't take much time, and really makes riding your bike much more enjoyable.  

For other riding tips, be sure to to check out our other posts below and please leave a comment, question, or let us know your favorite trainer season tips at


  • Travis Verhoff

    @Bradford great question. It is probably unlikely that a flat spot developed, but much more likely that some corrosion is causing your issue. Cleaning that headset bearing should help your problem quite a bit.

  • Bradford A Cox

    Can riding my bike in a trainer for extended periods cause a ‘flatspot’ in my headset bearings since I am not turning and the handlebars are pointed straight the whole time? I have noticed this on my bike once I took it off the trainer this week. There seems to be a flat spot as I turn my handlebars back and forth and they hit the center pointing the front wheel straight. How to avoid this?

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