Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Q&A: Trainer with Bolt-On Wheel, Fixie Fix

Q: Hi Jim,I bought a Bell Motivator Mag Indoor Bicycle Trainer and it came with a quick-release skewer. I heard that it's better to use that skewer than the one on your bike, so it doesn't mess up the original one. My bike doesn't have a quick release in the back wheel, only the front. My question is how do I put the skewer into the wheel? I have a hybrid Schwinn road bike. I looked all over the internet and couldn't find anything on how to replace the axle w/the skewer.
Thanks, Karen

A: Hi Karen,
I'm not experienced with the trainer you have, but in most cases, trainers today are designed to work with bicycles that have quick release wheels (with skewers) and ALSO with bikes that have bolt-on rear wheels (no skewer; like your bike). So, before converting your rear wheel to make it quick-release with a skewer, you should try the bicycle and see if it fits into the trainer as is.
Usually the two pieces on the trainer that screw in and hold onto the skewer on each side of the trainer are hollow (see photo), which means that your bolt-on axle will slide right in and the trainer's wheel holders will then press on the axle nuts and support your bike just fine. Give that a try.
If it doesn't work, you can convert your wheel to quick release, but you might want to have a shop do it for you. It's not hard but you need a few special tools so it will be cheaper to have it done than to do it yourself. They will simply remove your original axle set and replace it with a quick-release axle set with a skewer. The skewer that came with the trainer is only one part of the system. You need the entire axle set, too, in order to use the skewer. The other option is to replace the entire rear wheel, but that will cost even more. My best guess is that that trainer will work fine with your bike just the way it is so you won't need to spend anything at all.
Good luck!

Q: I have a question concerning my single-speed, Jim. I would like to convert to fixed gear without going through the process of getting a flip-flop hub. The hub I currently have has two sides meant for two different freewheels sizes only. Meaning, no step-down thread for Fixed Gear. My question is, would there be anywhere to lock the freewheel and make my bike a fixed gear?

Thank you,

A: It sounds to me like all that's needed to make your bike a fixed gear is to install a fixed-gear cog (also called a "track cog," instead of a freewheel http://www.excelsports.com/new.asp?page=8&description=Dura%2DAce+Track+Cog&vendorCode=SHIM&major=8&minor=6.
You don’t have the step-down threading on your hub, which is for the reverse-threaded lockring that holds on the cog. But, it's possible to ride fixie without one. What you can do is thread on the fixed cog and then on top of it, thread on an English bottom bracket adjustable-cup lockring from an older-style 3-piece bottom bracket.

The lockring is the same thread as your hub and the fixed cog, but having the cog tightened on and then in effect, having a nut on top of it, means the cog is held pretty well in place on the hub and won't come off too easily when you're riding. To keep things tight, when you install the lockring, put some blue locktite on it to help it hold fast and keep the cog from turning. You might also be able to install two lockrings if you have the room for it on your hub for double the protection from unscrewing.

Hope this helps you out,


mdw_23 said...

Jim, thank you very much! Its amazing that no one mentions that trainers work with bolt-on wheels!

Jim Langley said...

I agree mdw-23. They'd surely sell more of them if they made it clear that they work with most bicycles, whether they have quick release wheels or bolt-on ones.

Maybe they'll see this and take our advice!


Ross Evans UK said...

Wish I'd seen this before taking my back wheel apart (in an effort to convert to quick release for use on my tacx satori turbo trainer) and completely buggered it!

Janice said...

My Schwinn Trailway has 15 mm bolt on rear wheels. I've read in various places the the bolts may come in different sizes and therefore may not fit the trainer. Do you know if 15 mm bolts are a standard size? I have no way to get my bike to a store to make sure they fit before I buy something online. I see lots of stuff regarding quick release, but not much about bolt on wheels. I even asked a seller on eBay, and all he could tell me is "it may fit." I'd appreciate any advice! Thanks!

Jim Langley said...

Hi Janice,
The 15mm they mention is the size of the nuts that you turn to tighten and loosen the rear wheel. It is not the size of the axle. The axle is most likely 3/8 of an inch in diameter, which is the standard for bolt-on axles on road bikes. It's not the bolt that needs to fit the trainer, it's the axle. The ends on most trainers are hollow, so the hole in them just needs to be large enough for the axle to fit. You just need to ask the company or person selling the trainer whether or not the ends that clamp onto the rear wheel are hollow and if they will receive a 3/8-inch axle. I have several trainers of various makes and ages and all accept bolt-on axles like on your bike. But you should make sure before buying one. You might want to just visit a bicycle shop to buy your trainer. It'll probably be cheaper than buying one on eBay anyway, with shipping and the high prices sellers on eBay frequently ask for used stuff. From a bike shop you'll get a brand new, fully guaranteed trainer and can make 100% sure it works with your bike. Hope this helps! JIM

Janice said...

Hi Jim,

Thank you so much for the info. I had no idea about axle size being a factor in fitting my bike into a trainer. You've definitely saved me a potential headache! Have a wonderful day.


ormond said...

Have a trainer with no adjustment on left hand side. The bike fits OK, but I am unable to centre the bike on the roller. There is no adjustment on the roller as it is welded to the frame. The bike sits too far to the left.I have heard that an adaptor is available, but I cant find one on line. Can you help please?

Jim Langley said...

Hi Ormond,
You should be able to make an adapter piece to go between the trainer and your bike on the left side to move the bike's wheel to the right on the roller (and this will move the whole bike to the right). For most bike and trainer designs, you just need a piece of pipe or tubing that's the right diameter and reasonably strong so it can hold up to the clamping force of the trainer and the weight of the bike and rider when you're sitting on the bike and riding on the trainer. If you look at the part of the trainer on the left side that is already there, you can see the shape and diameter that you need to try to copy for the right side of this home-made adapter piece you need to fabricate. Usually, with a piece of pipe you could buy at a hardware store or might have at home, if it's the right outside diameter and inside diameter to match what came originally on the trainer to grip the wheel's axle/quick release, you can machine it to match the trainer's axle holder piece with simple hand tools like files. It just needs to fit onto your bike like the trainer piece does. Once that end of your adapter is done, you then need to figure out how to attach this new adapter piece to the trainer. But this should be pretty easy. Because the trainer holds the bike by pressing tightly together on the axle, all you need is some way to keep your home made adapter from falling off the trainer. It doesn't have to be bolted or welded or glued to the trainer because it will be held in place by the compression of the trainer's clamping action that holds the bike. So you could probably just use a smaller diameter bolt or piece of tubing that you place inside the trainer end so that the bolt protrudes out a little. Your new home made adapter would then sit on the bolt/tubing piece that's sticking out. When you clamp the bike into the trainer it will take up any slack between the parts and as long as your adapter piece is fitting your bike axle nicely and bottoming out securely on the trainer side, it'll work great. And, with the adapter in place, your bike will be moved to the right and if your adapter is the right width, the tire should be centered on the roller (if not, you can make a longer adapter or a shim to widen the one you made). I hope I explained this clearly enough. It should be a pretty easy project to make this adapter. You could probably bring the trainer to a hardware store and tell the store guy what you're trying to do and a good hardware guy would probably pick out the parts you need to make this adapter with the least cost, time and effort. Let me know if you need more help or send me some photos so I can see your exact setup and provide more detail. My email is jim at jimlangley dot net and I can accept any size photos so don't worry if they're big - and bigger is always better for me to see the details. Best wishes for a trainer that works! Jim Langley

Anonymous said...

Aug 24,2015, Dear Jim,
Thank you for your advice I finally found the answer to put my bike on the trainer, I do not have a qr on it and all the other site said I had to change the shaft, thanks again I did not have to change anything DJ from Florida

Scott Petrowski said...

Thanks for all the comments just got my trainer and I had the same problem my back wheel had no quick release and yes it fits perfect with the wheel nuts...cheers made my life easier


Jim Langley said...

Thanks for letting everybody know, Scott!
Jim Langley

Deb said...

I have a bike that has no quick release and 15mm bolts on the back as well. I was wondering if I could cover the bolts with some sort of rubber before I push them into the trainer because the skewer has form fitted ends. Maybe rubber tubing?

Jim Langley said...

Deb - you should try your bike in the trainer to test fit it and see if the ends of the trainer's rear wheel holders are shaped to tighten securely and hold against the 15mm axle nuts. As long as the ends can do that, you won't need any adapter in-between. If the ends don't fit nicely against the nuts, then an easy solution would probably be to install large washers on the axles to give the trainer something to tighten against and securely hold the wheel. That should work.

Jim Langley

Anonymous said...

I have a Electra Townie 3i and am attempting to use a Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer . My bike does not have rear wheel quick release but rather bolts which do fit into the trainer, however, on my right back wheel is an attached rear wheel brake that is attached to the outer wheel bolt keeping it from fitting into the trainer. How do I fix this problem? Thx for your input

Jim Langley said...

The Electra Townie 3i is a 3-speed bike and that small mechanism on the right side of the rear wheel is the shifting actuator. It's in the way and not letting you put the bike in a trainer. Unfortunately, there's no easy workaround for this. If you don't mind not having your 3 gears, you could have a bike shop remove the shifting mechanism and install a regular nut and washer on the right side. The bike would then fit in the trainer. But, you would not be able to shift the gears anymore. That might be okay when riding in the trainer. But, it probably won't be okay when you're riding outside. So, another or probably best option would be to buy a second bike that you always use on the trainer. Just make sure the second bike doesn't have hub gearing like your Electra. You want a bike with no gearing or derailleur gearing. On those, the axle ends are free for inserting in trainers. The trainer bike doesn't need to be new. Even an old and used bike will work fine for trainer riding. Hope this helps. Jim