How to Turn a Bike Into a Stationary Bike

How to turn a bike into a stationary bike

Verywell / Zackary Angeline

If you love cycling but find your bike is collecting dust in the garage due to mucky weather or freezing temperatures, we have good news. Upgrading your regular bike into a stationary bicycle is an excellent plan B to keep cycling when the great outdoors has you cooped up. All you need is a stand that transforms your regular bike into a stationary bike trainer.

Converting your two-wheeler into a stationary bike isn’t only for die-hard road warriors. Research shows that indoor cycling is a great way to stay healthy and be consistent with your workouts. For example, a 2019 study revealed that indoor cycling improves aerobic capacity, blood pressure, lipid profile, and body composition.

Read on to find out how you can quickly and painlessly turn your bike into a stationary bike. Then, they the next time weather or time constraints have you sidelined, you can still get in your daily ride.

Types of Stationary Bikes

For those who don’t have the indoor space or extra cash to splurge on a deluxe home stationary bike such as a Peloton, indoor bike trainers and rollers can provide economical and compact options. Whether your goal is to maintain a riding schedule, train for an event, or you simply prefer biking indoors, trainers and rollers can be indispensable tools for any cyclist.

But, choosing between a bike trainer and rollers can be tricky as each has pros and cons. Choosing the right one depends on several factors, including your personal needs, cycling experience, and whether you have sufficient indoor space.

“Most cyclists, even the ones who do it as an occasional hobby, will likely prefer indoor cycling bikes [over other options],” says Matt Claes, head coach and founder of Weight Loss Made Practical. “The reason is that they resemble the feel of a real bike a lot more compared to upright bikes, air bikes, or recumbent bikes. This is because of the bent-over position and the feel of pedaling itself.”

Trainer Bikes

A bike trainer is a stand that lets you ride a regular bicycle while it remains stationary. They’re often used to help cyclists warm up before races. Also, they come in handy when weather conditions or time constraints prevent you from riding outdoors.

Most trainer stands can accommodate any type of bicycle and range in price from $45 to $1,000. Additionally, trainers are not only a suitable option to beginners, but professional riders use them in the off-season as indoor cycling now has its own professional ranks.

There are two types of indoor bike trainers—direct-drive and friction. Direct-drive trainers attach to your bike’s rear dropouts, which replaces your wheel and provides a direct connection to the resistance unit. These tend to cost more but are worth the investment since they’re more accurate and deliver the highest levels of resistance.

With friction trainers, a small roller is installed against the rear wheel which uses magnetic or fluid resistance. These are typically lighter and easier to transport than direct-drive trainers but are less accurate and provide less resistance.

Roller Bikes

According to experts, rollers are the most basic type of indoor stationary bike but they also require the most technique because your bike is perched atop three rollers instead of being fixed in place. This allows the resistance to range from zero to the equivalent of a direct-drive trainer.

Rollers are helpful for refining your pedaling technique and improving your cycling form because you’re required to balance and stabilize while riding.

If you’re new to indoor cycling (or biking in general), rollers may not be your best option. Rollers are best suited for experienced riders because they require more riding skills. That’s because rollers need you need to focus on balancing and keeping the front tire straight while riding.

Pro Tip

When first getting used to rollers, install them in a doorway to support you while you get the hang of it.

What You’ll Need to Turn Your Bike Into A Stationary Bike

The most critical piece of equipment you’ll need to convert your ride is a bike stand, which will serve as the foundation of your stationary bike set-up. You can find expert-recommended stands—including such top brands such as Saris, Blackburn, Wahoo, Elite, and Tacx—online at reasonable prices.

You can use two-piece stands which need to be fitted to your bike for proper installation. Alternatively, you can use a one-piece stand for easier installation and set-up.

To help in the conversion process, you’ll need to have some tools on hand, such as a metric Allen wrench. And, when laying out the stand parts, position them in the correct orientation that they’ll be in once assembled.

There are a variety of bike trainer kits that can be combined with a bike into a stationary bike,” Claes explains. “Such kits contain most of the things you need to do this conversion but you may also need some extra standard tools to take off the back wheel and replace the axle with the special one in the kit.”

How to Turn Your Bike Into a Stationary Bike

If you are thinking about turning your outdoor bike into a stationary bike, the process is relatively simple. Here’s a guide on converting your regular bike into a stationary bike to help save you money and time.

Assemble the Bike Trainer Stand

Make sure you assemble the stand in its permanent location to avoid having to remove or reinstall it once you determine where to position your stationary bike.

"[Assembly] varies from brand to brand but typically involves turning a few screws to build the construction and attach the resistance mechanism," says Claes.

Install Your Bike Onto the Trainer Stand

Take out the axle of the back wheel of your bike. Shift gears to the lowest cog to help the rear wheel slide out more easily. Then, loosen the axle lever by rotating it counterclockwise.

Support the wheel and pull out the axle. Then, insert the special axle that came specifically with your kit into your bike’s rear wheel. Finally, clamp the rear wheel axle into the designated area of the bike trainer kit.

The next step is to attach the resistance adjustment mechanism of the bike trainer construction to your handlebars. Ideally, your handlebars should be set at the same height as your saddle to make it more comfortable and allow for a firm grip when using your stationary bike.

If you are using your own bike, there probably is no need to adjust handlebar height as your own bike should be set up to your own riding style, fitness and flexibility. But once you verify your handlebars are where you want them, put the stand that came with your kit under your front tire.

Check Your Work for Safety and Installation

Before giving your new set-up a test ride, check all components to ensure everything is tight and secure. You want to make sure the stand is set up correctly and that your saddle and handlebars are set to the correct height for optimal comfort. Adjust the components as needed until you’re confident your stationary bike is safe and ready to use.

Test It Out

Once you have everything set up and ready to go, it is time to test it out. Some riders enjoy watching something while they ride while others enjoy listening to a podcast.

But if you are looking for a little more than just keeping your mind busy, you may want to check out the host of training videos and interesting entertainment options out there. A few you might want to check out include Zwift, Trainer Road, Paincave, Rouvy, and Sufferfest.

A Word From Verywell

Whether you are an expert cyclist or just purchased your first bike, using an indoor stationary bike is a great way to be physically active while avoiding inclement weather and outdoor elements. Plus, setting up a stationary bike in your home, office, or garage is quick and straightforward.

If you are uncertain whether your bike stand is set up correctly or if you are having issues installing your bike, contact a professional bike mechanic. They can help get your stationary bike up and running in no time.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I turn my mountain bike into a stationary bike?

    Any bike, including mountain bikes, can be converted into a stationary bike using a bike trainer stand. However, some trainer stands are designed specifically for mountain bikes, while others are for road bikes.

    Though you won’t get the same workout per se as riding down a mountain trail, trainer stands are still a great way to stay in shape and keep your legs strong during the off-season when the weather doesn’t permit an outdoor ride, or you are pressed for time.

  • What is a bike trainer?

    A bike trainer is a piece of equipment that allows you to ride a regular bicycle indoors while it remains stationary. Cyclists commonly use them to warm up before races or when weather conditions or time constraints prevent them from riding outdoors.

  • How do you put a roller on a bike?

    According to the bike experts, rollers have three rotating drums nestled inside a frame. The front and middle drums are connected by tubing or a belt, and the rear roller spins independently so you can easily adjust the spacing between the front and rear rollers to suit the size of your bike.
    To get started, all you need is an adjustable wrench. Set the rollers on a flat floor and ensure the cable is resting in the grooves on the sides of the roller drums as this cable is critical for connecting the drums so they rotate together.

    The next step is to check that your bike fits in the roller. Adjust the front drum position to fit your bicycle’s wheelbase. Using the adjustable wrench, shift the drum forward or backward so that the front wheel hub is slightly behind the drum. Once the rollers have been adjusted to the correct size, check that everything is tightened. Then, it’s time to start pedaling.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Chavarrias M, Carlos-Vivas J, Collado-Mateo D, Pérez-Gómez J. Health benefits of indoor cycling: A systematic review. Medicina. 2019 Aug 8;55(8):452. doi:10.3390/medicina55080452

  2. Bike To Work Day. How to turn a bike into a stationary bike: Things to know.