Help a new guy with dumb trainer

I downloaded the Sufferfest app (not the 14 day free trial yet) and am looking to see how to best work this. I have the CycleOps Fluid 2 dumb trainer and Wahoo Cadence and Speed sensors. 27 speed mountain bike. Don’t really ride outside but looked to this app and trainer to get into (some sort of) shape. The trainer has a knob which looks to be resistance by pushing into the tire. Do I use this for the app or is the app just based on the bike gears? If so, how should I gauge what I think is the resistance knob? As you can guess by these questions, I am super new to this. I don’t even know what gears to use on the bike when outside on a hill compared to flat road - there, I said it. Is there a super new person video to watch or get on the app and it will walk me through? What’s the best way for a super newbie to start the suffering? Thanks.

Welcome @rkooz. Not saying you won’t get useful answers here but I’d highly recommend that you contact the Sufferfest minions for help in getting started. They’ll be able to point you to the various references available for newbies and are well versed in the world of virtual power and CycleOps Fluid 2. Need help with The Sufferfest App? Contact the minions for fast support!


It is quite simple in my opinion but I will also take the time to give you some guidance:


  1. Put your bike on the middle ring in the front and 2-3 gears from the bottom at the back.

Now start pedalling and calculate your cadence (leg speed) by counting the number of times one leg (normally the dominant leg) reaches the top of the pedal stroke before it starts going down.
This takes place over a 6 second period. So let’s say you start pedalling and get a natural rhythm and then proceed to start counting once the dominant leg reaches the top. If you get a number higher than 7-8 times then you can use this as a starting point (5 out of 10) or so.
Now, you can then use the resistance of the trainer to increase the effort level or even adjust the rear down for a higher effort level.

I have the Fluid 2. It is an excellent trainer despite the fact that it doesn’t have an ergometer. I would recommend a trainer tire and also checking the PSI of the tire each time you ride. You want consistency so that your numbers are comparable. The knob should turn until it clicks. Once it clicks it has automatically found the correct resistance. Since you mentioned knob I am assuming you have then more recent version of the trainer - there is an older version that has a lever. If you have that, replace the lever with the knob. There is a part replacement you can find online. Also, when you are done riding, spin the knob back a bit to take pressure off the tire to avoid longer term tire issues.

Your speed and cadence sensors will connect to the SUF app and the app will be able to calculate your virtual power. SUF knows the power curve for the trainer (you can find it online if you search around) and makes the calculation using your wheel size and the speed of the wheel. Since you don’t have an ergometer you are the one changing the resistance on the bike - by changing gears. If you want to do some math you can compute the power for various gears and cadence combos but frankly it is just easier to select one the the “Open” workouts on SUF, play around with the gears and find them on your own and write them down.

I would also recommend a heart rate sensor if you don’t already have one.

Best of luck!

Hi @rkooz, welcome!

I think the knob on the trainer is mainly intended to make sure the trainer is contacting the tire properly and that there is no slippage. It may have some effect on resistance, but with most dumb trainers, the main way of changing your effort is changing the rear wheel speed by changing gear or pedaling speed.

If you’re going to be doing a fair bit on the trainer, I recommend you get a slick tire for the back wheel for use on the trainer. It will be much quieter than a knobby mountain bike tire.

Regarding gears, there will be plenty of information on the internet about how they work, and which gears to use. An example is here:

Most cyclists will feel comfortable pedaling at a cadence (pedal rotation speed) somewhere between 70 rpm and 100 rpm, but it’s definitely possible to go lower and higher.

I’d suggest trying riding the trainer first without the SUF app, just to get a feel for riding the bike on the trainer. You can practice shifting gears to see what effect this has on the resistance you feel. Once you’ve got this part done, you can add in the app. The usual entry point is to do one of the power tests (Half Monty or Full Frontal) so that all the other workouts can have power targets based on your actual numbers. Prior to that, you can use the RPE scale (Recommended (or Rate of) Perceived Exertion). There are a couple of SUF articles on this:,

Let us know if you have other questions.

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Thank you all. Very helpful information. I also reached out to the minions and that has been helpful. Looking to get on some time this week.