My husband is a fanatic about cycling and for his birthday wants a turbo-trainer to keep up his fitness without getting soaked every night! Could you suggest which one would be the best for him please? He is 6?4?, 15.5 stone and has a Rohloff Sport tourer bike (as recommended in CW last November).

He has read somewhere about a trainer which can be hooked up to a computer so he could be cycling in a virtual Tour de France in the comfort of our attic room! Do you have any reviews or recommendations for this type of trainer? Where could I get one and could a novice rider like myself also use it to get fit?

Jeni Owen, Treorchy, South Wales


Turbo-trainers range from the very basic, just sit on and pedal type, to the all-singing, all-dancing, virtual reality home trainer, which you mention. The key here is price. In its simplest form a turbo trainer will cost under £80 and will allow you to ride in the comfort of your own home.

Three main types are available, according to how the resistance is created. Fan-driven is the most basic, non-adjustable, cheapest and most noisy. Magnetic resistance is much quieter, smoother, usually adjustable and still quite affordable, as most are under £150. There is also fluid, or hydraulic resistance, usually at the highest price point, but these are very quiet, smooth and adjustable and closely simulate road cycling.

The big downside with training indoors is the boredom of staring at the wall for an hour or so. That?s where the virtual reality kit comes in. At the very top end you can indeed sit and ride classic stages of the Tour de France with real DVD footage, from start to finish, and actually control the riders? actions on the road and even in a race situation.

Beyond that, the software will record all of your data, including power outputs heart rates and best times, for comparison against future attempts of the same route, making it an excellent training aid. You don?t have to be an experienced cyclist to use it. The same benefit and enjoyment could be had by anyone, but expect to have to part with around £600 for the privilege.

Stu Bowers
Tech expert. Sports science graduate, bike fitter and national-level cross and mtb rider.