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Find out if the warranty still applies if your frame gets damaged while you’re using Zwift. You might be surprised

If you use your bike on a turbo trainer, does the warranty still apply? The answer is: it depends. 

This issue reared its head on Twitter recently when Specialized (@iamspecialized) said

“We do not design or test bicycles for trainer use and do not recommend carbon-fibre bikes on a trainer which is rigidly attached.”

That’s interesting because a whole lot of us use carbon-fibre bikes on trainers, especially during winter, and it’s becoming ever more popular thanks to apps like Zwift that make the experience more interesting.  

Find out how to get started on Zwift here. 

Trainers are also useful for warming up and cooling down at races. You’ll always see Team Sky riders on Pinarellos fixed to Wahoo Kickr direct-drive trainers, for example, within minutes of finishing a race – although they don't need to worry about warranties.

So are we taking a chance by fixing a bike to a turbo trainer or not? And does it make a difference whether that bike is metal or carbon-fibre?

We asked some of the biggest bike brands.

Bkool Pro Turbo Trainer and Simulator - qr clamp 2.jpg

Bkool Pro Turbo Trainer and Simulator - qr clamp 2.jpg

 

Specialized

It makes sense to start with Specialized. The US brand has just added an addendum to its Bicycle Owner's Manual: “There are lots of different trainer types available, including wind trainers, magnetic trainers, fluid trainers, trainers that attach directly to the bicycle, rollers, and others. Depending on the trainer type and use, it may potentially apply unusual forces on your bicycle, wear parts, and/or weaken or damage your bicycle. Use a trainer at your own risk.

“This is especially true for composite or carbon-fibre bicycles rigidly attached to the trainer. Improperly mounting your bicycle in a trainer or using an incompatible trainer may also damage it. Always follow the trainer manufacturer's instructions and consider using an old bike with a metal frame and components you are not using on the road.

“If you use your Specialized bicycle on any type of trainer, your Authorised Specialized Retailer should conduct a periodic safety inspection. When you take your bicycle off the trainer and back out on the road, always conduct a Mechanical Safety Check and make sure nothing is loose (eg wheels are correctly secured).

“Warning! Specialized does not design or test bicycles for trainer use. Using your Specialized bicycle on a trainer may compromise the safety of the bicycle and may void your warranty.” 

 

Trek

Trek doesn’t specifically rule out turbo use for bikes made of any material, but it points out that frames are designed to move and flex. 

“As soon as you start to clamp them down it limits how they're designed to move,” says Trek’s Jez Loftus. “This generally isn’t a problem but factors like how tightly the clamp is adjusted come into play.” 

A common issue is under-tightening the clamp, causing the bike to bounce about, according to Trek. Overt-tightening can cause issues too. 

“We use all our demo bikes in fit classes on turbos and they've been fine,” says Jez Loftus. “Thru axles probably help as well.”

If a bike used on a trainer does get damaged, Trek direct you to register a claim through one of its dealers, preferably the one from which you bought it.

If the dealer is unsure they'd send the bike back to Trek for examination and the brand would make the call. If the damage is deemed to fall outside of the warranty, Trek would offer a crash replace frame which comes with a reasonable discount.

Elite Volano Fluid direct drive trainer.jpg

Elite Volano Fluid direct drive trainer.jpg

 

Giant

Giant doesn’t have a blanket ban on the use of its bike on turbos either. 

“If there was an issue it would be taken on a case by case basis looking at the type of trainer, the skewer that was used and also what the damage is,” says Giant’s David Ward.

GIANT_TURBO_TRAINER_THRU_AXLE_ROAD_SKEWER (1).jpg

GIANT_TURBO_TRAINER_THRU_AXLE_ROAD_SKEWER (1).jpg

“We have an extended thru axle for our disc brake road bikes so they can be used on a turbo. Not using this on a thru axle bike would be a definite issue.”

 

Check out our turbo trainer reviews here.

Tacx Booster -3.jpg

Tacx Booster -3.jpg

 

Cannondale

Cannondale’s policy is set out in its owner’s manual.

“If you ride a trainer that requires the removal of the front wheel and clamps the fork dropouts: Be sure your fork quick release is tight! Relative movement will wear parts, weaken and damage your bike.

“If you ride a trainer that holds the bike up by clamping the rear quick release between two cones: Take off the nice, lightweight quick release that came with your bike. Substitute a heavy, classic all steel quick release and clamp it tight! Relative movement will wear parts, weaken and damage your bike.

“Be particularly cautious with a carbon frame or fork. Carbon is relatively soft, not abrasion resistant. If there is any relative movement, carbon will wear quickly.

“If you ride a trainer a lot, consider using an old bike. Corrosion from sweat will take its toll. Weight is irrelevant. Save wear on your expensive components.”

Wahoo Kickr Snap Smart Bike Trainer - clamp.jpg

Wahoo Kickr Snap Smart Bike Trainer - clamp.jpg

 

Merida 

Merida says that using its road frames for indoor training does not affect the warranty as long as there is no mechanical contact between the frame (chainstays, seatstays, dropouts) and the turbo trainer.

Bkool Pro Turbo Trainer and Simulator - qr clamp.jpg

Bkool Pro Turbo Trainer and Simulator - qr clamp.jpg

 

Boardman

Boardman Bikes is very clear.

“Does a Boardman warranty apply if a bike is used in a turbo? The easy and short answer is yes,” says Boardman’s Jamie Mitchell. “To us it's a big part of training all year round, so providing people use the correct QR or adaptor the bike will be covered by its usual warrantee.”

Cyclops Super Magento - screen 2

 

Canyon

Canyon’s official line is clear too, but it’s very different.

“Strictly speaking using our bikes in a turbo trainer are not consistent with intended use,” says Canyon’s Nick Allen. “Unfortunately, any damage or breakage as a result would not be covered under our standard warranty terms and conditions.”

 

Bianchi

There's nothing in Bianchi's owner's manual to say a bike isn't warrantied against turbo trainer damage.

“I think the only issue would be if someone gets too excited in a sprint and falls over," says Bianchi's Andrew Griffin. "That would be a crash and therefore not covered under warranty.”

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

27 comments

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Rapha Nadal [740 posts] 1 year ago
7 likes

I like Cannondale's wording in respect of turbo use.

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davel [2109 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

"no mechanical contact between the frame (chainstays, seatstays, dropouts) and the turbo trainer"...

=

wheel-on trainers only?

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rjfrussell [437 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Interesting also to look at advice about carriers-  Cannondale's advice is ultra-cautious and rules out virtually carriers, including those that lock the fork, or in any way clamp onto the  frame.  Not very "real world".

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ashliejay [74 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

seeing as how trainers are regularly recomended for training, warm ups or winter riding, it's about time bike manufacurers started to test bikes on trainers, and not just road bikes, mountain bikes too, as you always see riders warming up in the pits or at the start gate spinning away.

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Yorkshire wallet [1691 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Guess it also depends on the trainer. My Bkool is a weight down to contact trainer so getting out of the saddle is pointless, whereas my Tacx clamped up onto tyre and you could get out of the saddle and get a bit waggly.

Hasn't one of the trainers got an element of rock built into it? Probably a good compromise.

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CXR94Di2 [1951 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

Riding a turbo is predominantly a sit down routine.  Riding out of the saddle is a little limited to keeping the upper body rigid and not swaying too much.  So forget about out of the saddle sprints for the line routines, save that for the road.  Turbos are for building aerobic and endurance capabilities, pedal technique.

The Bkool trainer is very difficult to apply much power whilst standing unless you keep weight back and have sticky new tyre.  

Avatar
CXR94Di2 [1951 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
Yorkshire wallet wrote:

Guess it also depends on the trainer. My Bkool is a weight down to contact trainer so getting out of the saddle is pointless, whereas my Tacx clamped up onto tyre and you could get out of the saddle and get a bit waggly.

Hasn't one of the trainers got an element of rock built into it? Probably a good compromise.

 

Tacx Neo has sway capability- a little bit

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jollygoodvelo [1691 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Kurt Kinetic Rock'n'Roll is probably the 'rocking' one you're thinking of.

 

I'm torn on this.  On the one hand there are clearly very different forces going through a bike frame that's clamped into a trainer (either direct drive or wheel on).  This will be especially clear when out of the saddle, sprinting or "climbing" - anything that in normal riding would cause the bike to rock one way and the other.  If the bike can't move then you're putting those forces mostly through the chain stays and seat stays, and the latter especially are only designed to deal with compression forces along their length.  

Think of a cheese straw or breadstick.  They're relatively strong in tension and compression along their length - you could pull either end of a breadstick and it would probably hold (unless cracked already).  But not strong at all in torsion (twisting) or sideways compression.  The more expensive the bike, the more 'vertical compliance' it has been designed for, the more material will be trimmed from the frame and the less resistance to 'unplanned' forces.

Now, if you argue that bike makers should design their frames for all uses including trainers - that's fine, but it means more material (for a given level of technology) and thus more weight.

On the flip side, there are thousands of people using trainers now.  The last few times I've been on Zwift it's been around 3000, there are thriving communities using TR, Sufferfest, BKool etc.  If it was really a problem the Internet would be littered with photos of broken bike frames somewhere around the lower seat stay.  But it isn't.  So we must conclude that it's just not a problem for the great majority of users.

 

Ride on  3

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Bike Swanky [66 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Rule #9 was invented for this  1  LOL

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mrchrispy [499 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I've just relegated my 10 year old carbon frame to Turbo duties, be permanently attached to the Kickr now \o/  mind you, the rear dropouts had started to go anyway, fraying carbon is never a good sign...there's no way I'd take it out on the road

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Judge dreadful [277 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

#5 #9. Stop being lightweight and ride your bike on an actual road. There's no issue then.

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Harmanhead [63 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

  BMC?

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ianrobo [1219 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

whilst I get not everyone can afford N+1 bikes I went out and got a very cheap steel bike for my trainer, no way was I going to use my carbon bike on it.

Thats just my personal preference and I only use my trainer regardless of weather for short intervals and sessions under an hour.

Other than that as Judge Dreadful says, gget out there, I was yesterday morning at half 6 in the ice and snow. Once you warm up no real issues ! 

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J90 [421 posts] 1 year ago
5 likes

Well this highlights which manufacturers trust in their products.

Turbos are much better than the road for structured training during the winter. Riding on ice doesn't make you "hard", so many people feel the need to brag about riding in bad weather....yeah, you probably could've got a better workout indoors.

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prfeen [2 posts] 12 months ago
4 likes

Canyon selling turbo trainers on their website, but not for their bicycles. smiley 

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Rixter [55 posts] 11 months ago
4 likes

The response from Canyon and Specialized is so lame. All their pro teams use trainers and in the case of Canyon they sell them. How hypocritical of them!

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kil0ran [698 posts] 7 months ago
4 likes

Extra points for Cannondale, refreshing to see real world advice not wrapped up in legalese

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fukawitribe [2132 posts] 2 months ago
3 likes
ianrobo wrote:

Other than that as Judge Dreadful says, gget out there, I was yesterday morning at half 6 in the ice and snow. Once you warm up no real issues ! 

Hilarious machismo issues aside, why do you and JudgeDreadful think the only reason people use indoor trainers is because they have some aversion to going outside ?

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dacupacruz [1 post] 2 months ago
1 like

I am an owner of a Orbea Orca Silver 2012, accoridng to Orbea I have a for life warranty, but It doesn't say anything about turbo trainers so I send them an email asking if by using a turbo trainer I will lose my warranty and they answer me that I can use without problem a turbo trainer my warranty will apply without problem on my frame and I'm happy about that.  1

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don simon [1761 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
dacupacruz wrote:

I am an owner of a Orbea Orca Silver 2012, accoridng to Orbea I have a for life warranty, but It doesn't say anything about turbo trainers so I send them an email asking if by using a turbo trainer I will lose my warranty and they answer me that I can use without problem a turbo trainer my warranty will apply without problem on my frame and I'm happy about that.  1

I hope that you never have to test them out, they have form on not paying out on the warranty by looking for any excuses, it's usually about racing, but I guess the turbo is as good as anything.

Orbea Alma owner.

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Johnnyvee [142 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

I emailed Jamis and they said it was OK to use mine on a trainer. So I do.
Carbon Renegade.

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don simon [1761 posts] 2 months ago
3 likes
ianrobo wrote:

whilst I get not everyone can afford N+1 bikes I went out and got a very cheap steel bike for my trainer, no way was I going to use my carbon bike on it.

Thats just my personal preference and I only use my trainer regardless of weather for short intervals and sessions under an hour.

Other than that as Judge Dreadful says, gget out there, I was yesterday morning at half 6 in the ice and snow. Once you warm up no real issues ! 

Lightweight, I went out before I even went to bed... Pfft!

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julesselmes [8 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

There's so much urban myth and cr@p going around about this subject! 

I think we all know that some manufacturers will do anything to get out of honouring warranties even though they won't admit it! However, what concerns us is the health of our trusted steeds so bear this in mind:

Look at the GCN's video comparing Alu and Carbon handlebars. Now I know the layup of the carbon is different in different places on a bike but look at how much carbon can flex without failing. It's brittle on impact but flexes perfectly with non-impact forces ( https://youtu.be/0stL5Q9b_oo?t=36s ) Riding a trainer doesn't exert anywhere near as much force in these tests.

Secondly, listen to a guy who repairs carbon bikes for a living. He's had NONE as a result of trainer use! https://youtu.be/-qsLYlVWkbQ?t=3m24s

If you are still worried or in fact want a less fatiguing long ride on your trainer think about making a rocker plate for it. One version is here. https://youtu.be/JYzKcz46oOw?t=26s

Recently there has been simpler versions using the natural bounce/spring in tennis balls.

 

Ride On!

 

 

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julesselmes [8 posts] 2 months ago
1 like
Judge dreadful wrote:

#5 #9. Stop being lightweight and ride your bike on an actual road. There's no issue then.

I agree with this sentiment until the temperature falls below freezing. It is foolish to ride when icy, not brave. Please also bear in mind that some of us live in places in the world where it is below freezing (and very snowy) for many of the winter months, so turbo trainers are our only option to stay fit and healthy.

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mdavidford [31 posts] 2 months ago
1 like
Quote:

Overt-tightening can cause issues too.

So it should be done surreptitiously?

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SculturaD [41 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

Specialized answer is weird, considering they're something like 49% owned by Merida or were and their frames are manufactured by Merida. Merida being the 2nd largest frame manufacturer after Giant.
Sounds a bit hypocritical when Merida says yes, but Specialized says no?

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mbrads72 [222 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like
davel wrote:

"no mechanical contact between the frame (chainstays, seatstays, dropouts) and the turbo trainer"...

=

wheel-on trainers only?

Not really. With the correct turbo specific QR the bike's frame shouldn't be touching the turbo.