This is my first post to the forum, thanks for having me. I am new to gravel riding and am actually picking up my new bike tomorrow (Niner RLT steel) and super stoked. Living in rainy Oregon though, I am not new to trainers. I have been using them on and off for 20 years and have tried most styles. That said, I have not ridden a gravel bike on one, but I started using a trainer with MTBs. I quickly learned that with mountain bikes at least, slicks are the way to go. I don't know how a gravel tire would perform on a trainer and it depends on the trainer type. I have used standard trainers with the back tire on a hydraulic wheel, I sometimes use rollers which are amazing for improving bike handling skills and I currently use a "smart" trainer, the one I use is the Wahoo Kickr. The Kickr is just amazing, but it costs $1000+ so it's not for everyone. There are other smart trainers out there for little less but the Kickr is the best out there imo. Smart means that it has an integral power meter and links to your laptop and runs a bunch of training apps like Zwift or Trainer Road. A lot of people get bored to death on trainers and can't last 30 minutes. An interactive training app (Trainer Road) or social media type app where you ride against/with people from all over the world (Zwift) really helps keep things interesting. You can also just get a standard trainer and watch cycling vids/crank tunes but I have found that the smart trainers have increased my fitness a ton. It's been great having a structured workout in my garage.
So long story long, trainers are not for everyone, but for me they work great because I can ride super early in the morning (rain or shine) and if you can stick with a structured program (intervals) you can get an incredible workout in an hour. The Kickr is the best but it's not cheap, that;s for sure. I also have a basic Tacx stationary trainer and fwiw, they make some good ones too. For rollers, e-motion Inside Ride are the best and really provide a realistic road feel.
Thanks - good post. The Kickr and Lemond trainers, and similar are a good, but expensive idea. You remove your back wheel and hitch your bike to a device with a compatible cluster. This means you wont destroy tires or have to worry about wheel compatibility. These devices also, depending on price, include monitors and real time measurement- even power- for analysis and download to your computer. If however, $1,000+ isn't in your budget, you may want to consider trainers like the Kurt Kinetic road machine. You would likely have to install smooth tires- or even purchase a second wheel to use on the trainer. But, you can buy an inexpensive wheel and tire for this purpose, and still be ahead in cost. Frankly, if I were still racing, I would probably purchase a Lemond or Kickr. But I jus did an interval workout on my 12 year old Kurt Kinetic this afternoon. More than OK for me.