Do Bike Trainers Work With Mountain Bikes?

Bike trainer’s work with mountain bikes but you must be sure to find a trainer that complements the specs of your bike. One such example is the omnium drive trainer designed to function through the front wheel mount, but also has a free rear wheel. This type of configuration minimizes stress on the rear triangle and works almost the same as the rear wheel mount trainer.

This design enables the wheels to float on the drum providing a real road-like feeling. Apart from the example given above, most mountain bike trainers in the market have been designed to accommodate different types of mountain bikes and to fit different riding styles.

Setting Up a Mountain Bike for Indoor Training

While the front wheel bike trainer is considered the best for a mountain bike, we will explore the back wheel option and provide you with a step-by-step outline on how to set up your mountain bike on a rear-wheel trainer.

To set up this trainer with your mountain bike, you will first have to remove your bike’s rear-wheel and then mount your bike on the trainer. The advantage of using direct drive trainers is that they are compatible with the varieties of mountain bikes. But to ensure that the mountain bike and the direct drive trainer integrate properly, you must invest in the right adapters.

Riders and fitness enthusiasts must also ensure to invest in the relevant cassette that can easily integrate with the drivetrain on their bike.

  • For starters, riders must invest in a separate cassette so that they don’t have to re-install their cassette every time they want to ride indoors
  • Information about the brand of the drivetrain and the number of cogs in the cassette should be collected, the setup process also requires the rider to have the correct driver body for the cassette. For example for the Shimano and SRAM 8, 9, and 10, the rider must have an HG driver body. This can also be used with the Shimano 11 speed drivetrain. For the SRAM 11 or 12-speed drivetrains, the XD or the XDR driver body would be perfect.
  • Most mountain bikes have four rear axle setups including the rear skewer with boost. (QR x 141mm), and the rear skewer without boost. (QR x 135mm). Knowledge of the size of your rear axle will help you with the purchase of an adapter, usually used in the setting up of the bike on an indoor trainer. And to be sure of the hub spacing you can always turn your bike upside down and then measure the distance between the two dropouts. Alternatively, you could retrieve the information from your manufactures website.

Removing the Rear Wheel of the Bike

You will first shift to your smallest cog before starting, loosen the skewer. To remove the wheel you must push on the bottom pulley of the derailleur. This move will loosen the chain and enable you to pull the body of the derailleur out of the way. Some mountain bikes come equipped with a button that enables them to keep the derailleur open and the chain loose and which should be locked into place.

Shimano drivetrains are characteristic of a clutch lock on the derailleur and which should be adjusted to the off position when the wheel is to be removed. The rider must also be sure to turn it back on before they ride their trainer. The next step is to place the bike onto the trainer with the adapters and then line up the dropouts with the holes. At this stage, the rider must also ensure that the chain has been set at the smallest cog of the trainer cassette. They will then fasten the rear thru-axle or the skewer and then proceed to test it out.

Tires for the Bike Trainer

When riding the trainer it is always advisable to use the trainer-specific type of tires, and which are not exactly easy to find. The road tire is not an option for the mountain bike, but you can always invest in a slick mountain bike tire such as the Maxxis refuse. The above is not a trainer tire but obliterates the unnecessary tear and wearing out of your tires.

Riders and training enthusiasts might also want to purchase an extra set of tires for their bike and obliterate the need to switch the tire back and forth.

Types of Bike Trainers

When it comes to picking the right trainer for your mountain bike there is no one size fits all kind of trainer, the more reason why you should take your time in finding one that resonates with your riding style and the specific style of mountain bike. Below is an outline of some of the bike trainers that you will find in the market.

The Fluid Trainer

The fluid indoor bike trainer has been designed to offer a wide range of resistance. It is also known for offering a quiet and consistent ride coupled with a real road-like feeling. The trainer comes equipped with an easy-to-store frame, and it is compatible with Zwift among other indoor training applications.

Fluid trainers have low noise levels ranging between 68-72 decibels and that is at a speed of 20mph. The trainer comes equipped with a resistance knob and leveling feet that facilitate easy adjustment on uneven ground. The manufacture of the bike has incorporated a cooling system, an external self-cooling mechanism and has also equipped the trainer with a patented fan design that ensures the unit performs better and for a longer time.


Are available in the form of cylinders, in isolated occasions they are availed in the form of drums so that they can help balance the bike. One drum is, therefore, positioned under the front wheel, while the remaining two are positioned under the rear wheel. The above is so that when the wheels and the drum rotate the bike stays in place facilitating seamless pedaling.

The roller works quite differently when compared to other types of bike trainers, with the rollers riders are compelled to balance the bike the way that they normally would while riding on the road. The above then enables a real road-like experience.

Direct Drive Trainer

The direct drive trainer is deemed as one of the most accurate trainers, and to exploit its full potential you must first remove your bike’s back wheel so that the trainer can take its place. And then the bike’s chain will drive a cassette that has been connected to the trainer.

The Rear Wheel Attachment Trainer

This type of trainer has been configured to integrate with a skewer designed to go through the back wheel and which leads the trainer to bolt the rear wheel into place. The wheel will then be pushed against a cylinder and which enables resistance via fluid or magnets.

The Wheel-less or Direct Drive Trainers

Have been established to offer a realistic riding experience at least when compared to the wheel on trainers. The turbo trainers are smart and come equipped with an inbuilt power meter. This trainer retains the bike in its place obliterating any chances of friction resistance consequently minimizing the wear and tear of your bike tire.


Why are direct drive trainers expensive?

The direct-drive trainers are expensive because the internal drive system features a more complex design, generally, the parts of the drive trainer are what makes it expensive.

Which is the most reliable bike trainer?

The modern smart bike trainers are the best because they can integrate with an app that will give you information on your performance.

Patrick Flinch

Patrick Flinch is a professional cyclist, according to him, cycling is a sport that also helps people stay in good shape. Cycling takes many forms, and styles and so does the cycling equipment, however, this information is not available to everyone and that is why Patrick thought it wise to consolidate the most important information about cycling on “For the Bike Magazine.” Beginner, intermediate and professional cyclists will be furnished with useful insights. They will be able to understand the differences and benefits of both online and physical cycling. Apart from Cycling, Patrick is a family man, he is passionate about cycling and when not on duty, he loves to enjoy biking with his crew.