Why is my cycling turbo trainer jerky?

Experiencing a jerky ride on your trainer? This is something that you must pay attention to. You can damage your bike or your trainer if you ignore this situation. Plus, a jerky indoor ride is no fun.

Why is my cycling turbo trainer jerky? Tire slippage is one of the main cause of a jerky turbo trainer. This could happen if the tire does not have enough pressure or there is not enough tension between the rear tire and the trainer roller.

Read on for troubleshooting and maintenance tips for your turbo trainer.

Troubleshooting a jerky turbo trainer

If your trainer is jerky, check your tire pressure first. The recommended tire pressure for most trainers is around 100 PSI. But you can check with the company website as to what their recommended pressure is.

Remember that you may have to calibrate your tire from time to time to ensure that its pressure is within the recommended range.

Aside from preventing tire slippage in the trainer, the right tire pressure will also make your power readings more accurate. Plus it can prolong the life of your tire.

It is also possible that your tire is worn out or already out of shape. Try swapping with another tire and see if it changes anything. Check also if there is anything stuck on your tire as this could affect the smoothness of your ride, aside from potentially damaging the trainer rollers.

Personally, I recommend using a trainer-specific tire for better indoor riding experience and to avoid wearing out my road tire and damaging the rollers.

If that doesn’t solve your issue, the problem may be with the tension between the resistance unit and your rear tire. It is possible that there is too much or too little tension between them. Try to tighten or loosen the roller tension knob and see if it helps.

Also, check if you have properly mounted your bike on the trainer. It could be possible that the quick-release skewers of your bike are not compatible with your trainer. Use the one that comes with your trainer. Ensure that the clamps are tight enough around the skewers to prevent your bike from slipping.

Any wire or objects that get trap on your rear wheel or any part of your trainer could also be the cause of jerky movements on your trainer so be sure to check on that too.

When you have followed all these steps and the jerky motion doesn’t go away, call the company and have your trainer checked professionally.

Unless you are very skilled and your warranty is already up, I don’t recommend you to fix the trainer on your own.

Some manufacturers offer lifetime warranty so it is possible that you will not spend a dime for the parts if ever they need replacement.

How to maintain an indoor trainer

Even if your indoor trainer is running smoothly, it is best to do maintenance to make it last longer.

I already mentioned using a trainer tire or at least making sure that the tire you use is clean to prevent damaging the roller. Here are the other things that you can do.

  • Clean the roller with a window cleaner or rubbing alcohol. Wipe away dust and the sweat that might have dripped on the trainer.
  • Lubricate the thread on the roller tension knob and the threaded rods.
  • Periodically check if the bolts are snug and tighten accordingly.
  • Trainers with fluid or electronic components must be stored above freezing temperatures.
  • It is best to unplug your smart trainers when not in use.

Will my fluid trainer leak?

Manufacturers have vastly improved their design for fluid trainers but sometimes, leaks can still happen.

If you want a fluid trainer but you are afraid of the possibility of leaks, I say go for a brand that offers a lifetime warranty to the original owner like CycleOps. They would replace your resistance unit at no cost.

Why is my indoor trainer noisy?

There is no indoor trainer in the market that is completely quiet. The friction between the roller and the rear tire will always result in sound and vibration.

Fluid trainers tend to be less noisy compared to magnetic and wind trainers.

Expect also more noise as you pedal harder and faster on your bike.

To reduce the noise from your trainer, use a trainer-specific tire. Use a mat or carpet to dampen the vibration.

If the noise is louder than the usual, then have your trainer checked by a professional.

Will my indoor trainer damage my bike?

The rear wheel is in direct contact with the trainer rollers so this is what will have the most wear especially if you have long and frequent rides on your trainer.

Your best bet is to get a trainer-specific tire so you will not wear out your road tire. Just remember that trainer-specific tires are not designed to be used outside so don’t forget to swap when biking outdoors.

Make sure that you use the quick-release skewer that came with the trainer. The skewer that came with your bike may not withstand the pressure when you tighten the threaded rod. Besides, the cup of the trainer may not fit well with your bike’s skewer.

I also recommend putting towels over the top tube of your bike. Though the trainer itself will not directly do damage to your tube, your sweat while you are training can. It is also best to wipe your bike after training just in case there are some sweat drips that your towel wasn’t able to catch.

Speaking of sweat, I also recommend putting a mat or a towel on top of your carpet or floor to keep them clean.

How do I properly store my bike for the off-season?

If you plan to store your bike for a long period, be sure to prepare it properly.

Remove all the attachments from the bike like the water bottle holder, electronic accessories, and the like.

Clean your bike and wipe it dry to prevent rusting.

Lubricate the chain, gears, and bearings.

Choose a secure storage spot. For bike storage ideas check out our previous articles.

10 bike storage solutions for your apartmentOpens in a new tab.

10 Crazy Wall-mounted Bike IdeasOpens in a new tab.

Best Free Standing Indoor Bike OptionsOpens in a new tab.

How to Indoor Bike Storage Garage CeilingOpens in a new tab.


Tire slippage is the usual culprit when you are experiencing a jerky ride on your trainer.

Tire slippage could be due to improper tire pressure or improper tension between the roller and the tire.

Adjust the tire pressure and the tension knob and see if it helps.

Also, check if your bike is properly mounted on the frame. Check your tire and ensure that it is in good shape and nothing is stuck between the treads.

When all else fails, call the manufacturer for assistance. It may be possible that the trainer itself has some defect.

Related Questions

What do I need to wear when indoor cycling? I recommend wearing a comfortable sweat-wicking top and padded cycling shorts. You should also invest in a good pair of cycling shoes.

Are cleats on my cycling shoes really necessary? I am biased towards cleats so I highly recommend them for the best indoor cycling experience. But some people may find it unnecessary.

Adam Johnson

As a middle-aged, 40-something cyclist, my riding goals have changed over the years. A lover of all things retro, and an avid flat bar cyclist, I continue to live off past triathlon glories.

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