I have a few that I use,
One, a set of rollers that I believe are useful for balance and cadence, these I ride for 30 mins at 100+ RPM, or have a go at my Max. achieved 187 rpm twice, but I can’t seem to better this, at my advanced age.
Anyhow the best home trainer I have is an old Repco Ergometer that I won as the third highest fund raiser in an SA Heart Foundation in the mid to late 70’s.
This I lent to the chap that was the coach of the SA Cycling Squad at the time, as he was considering retiring from competitive cycling, because of family commitments.
I had not seen him for 2 weeks, until I saw him warming up for a track meeting at Hanson Reserve, where he told me he was so impressed with his form, (had not ridden a bicycle for 2 weeks) that he was going to increase the gearing on his bicycle in on order to compete at his best that evening.
From this track racing, I said I had a different opinion, as I had said that all I wanted to do was to train my body, in a sit up and beg position, at about 70 rpm, as I wanted to climb hills better. He then made some of these Ergometers, for team members and put variable speed gears on them, in their racing position, thus my 70 rpm on my old clunker was superseded. (the original version, mine is a single speed)
From this he convinced me, from my position, of saying I was training a body in the sit up and beg position. His reasoning was you must train in the position you race. So I made my position on the ergometer exactly the same as my road bike.
That my friends is the beginning of the story. From this he advanced to become the Australian Coach, and arguably the most successful cycling coach in the World, in his day. He was a trade school teacher, as well as a tradesman, and could convince riders how they should train with this tool, if they wanted to get the best out of themselves.
So get yourselves an old Repco Ergometer, I have seen them bought for $2.00 at garage sales. Besides this I have leant mine to 3 people that have had knee replacements. Sold it once and bought it back, as a result I know it and am quite fond of it. The real reason is that one can monitor exactly what one does, without wind behind, nor in front, no traffic stops, no talking. You are responsible for your effort. It is not a way of training for the fainthearted, it’s bloody hard. Soft pedal and reap the rewards, it’s up to you.
History! I can say that from these humble beginnings of the Repco Ergometer (without the arm exercisers) all of these modern home trainers evolved, and I’m not convinced they are any better. But I do know that anyone who wants to be a competitive cyclist will be better off, with some sort of tool where, they can measure progress. And with this one can, as primitive as it sounds, the only way you increase the load is to pedal faster, or longer. Intervals or what ever. Simple.