Resistance Settings For Your Indoor Cycle Bike or Bike / Trainer Combination

Ride Fit videos display a digital dashboard that typically includes a target resistance setting, and/or the narration will inform you what resistance setting is recommended. Resistance settings used on Ride Fit videos fall into the following categories:

  • Light (representing a steep downhill grade);
  • Light-to-Moderate (representing a moderate downhill grade);
  • Moderate (representing a flat road);
  • Moderate-to Heavy (representing a moderate uphill grade);
  • Heavy (representing a steep uphill grade);
  • Intense (representing a severe uphill grade).

To effectively use your Ride Fit videos the first thing you should do is establish what resistance setting on your indoor cycle bike (also known as a spin bike, stationary bike or exercise bike) or road bike/trainer combination corresponds to a flat road or "Moderate" resistance. At this resistance setting, you should be able to cycle with moderate effort (which we will define for the time being as exercising while being able to talk comfortably) with a cadence of about 70 - 80rpm for an extended duration of an hour or more. Establishing this "Moderate" resistance level allows you to then set other resistance settings (such as Light-to-Moderate) with stepped increments as described in the following sections.

Indoor Cycle Bikes

Indoor cycle bikes typically come with two types of resistance setting mechanism; either some sort of resistance knob/dial or a cycle computer often controlled by buttons or a lever. In my own case, I work out regularly on a Keiser M3 indoor cycle training bike. This bike features a magnetic resistance system, and the M3 cycle computer allows the user to select a wide range of resistance settings via a mechanical lever whose physical position is conveniently translated to a numerical value displayed on the M3 computer screen. My default workout resistance settings on the Keiser M3 are as shown in the table below.

Ride Fit Resistance Levels - great indoor cycle training videos

Note: When I first started indoor cycling my "Moderate" resistance level was 11, and all other resistance values were also two lower. As you improve your physical conditioning expect to change your default resistance values accordingly.

On an indoor cycle bike with a dial/knob controlled resistance setting, such as the CycleOps 100 Pro, then initially set your "Moderate" level by feel (noting perhaps the number of full and partial turns this occurs from the minimum resistance setting). Resistance increase/decrease can then be controlled by turning the dial/knob either clockwise/counterclockwise a set amount. A quarter or half turn is typically adopted by many users; the chosen amount is obviously dependent on the makeup of your specific training bike.

However the resistance level is set on your indoor bike, it will invariably take a few workouts to determine the most appropriate "Moderate" resistance setting and the required resistance increments. It is important to pay attention to your cadence or RPM when establishing the "Moderate" level. There are economical aftermarket cadence meters that can be installed on your indoor cycle bike if the model you have does not contain a built-in computer with this feature.

Road Bike used with a Trainer

For a road bike combined with a cycle trainer, the trainer in most cases provides a fixed resistance to the back wheel of the bike and the rider simulates different resistance levels by changing gear. On the majority of trainers, the resistance offered to the back wheel can be adjusted to suit your preference.

The simplest way to vary your resistance settings throughout your workout is to leave your front chainring selection unchanged and then select your rear cog in a manner shown in the table below. This table corresponds to using a 10-speed rear cassette with a 12/25T cassette sprocket.

Ride Fit Resistance Mapping - great indoor cycle training videos

Your nominal "Moderate" resistance setting can be adjusted in one or more of the following ways:

  • Change the resistance setting the trainer offers to the rear wheel of your bike;
  • Change the selection of the "Moderate" rear cog;
  • Change the selection of your front chainring.

If changing the selection of the "Moderate" rear cog, for the initial setup described above the "Moderate" cog selection could vary from 3rd Largest (21T) to 7th Largest (15T) and still allow you to select the six levels of resistance - see the table below.

 Ride Fit resistance mapping -great indoor cycle training videos

 This article has been abstracted from the Ride Fit Training Guide.