When I moved to an apartment building, my neighbor didn’t take long to complain about the noise she was hearing. I stopped riding indoor for a couple of days and researched what I could change on my setup to maintain a good relationship with her.
In my case, the vibrations were a bigger issue than the noise itself.
Adding two layers of rubber padding was the most significant improvement; however, it was not the only one I made. Let’s have a look in detail at what you can do for your own setup.
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STEP 1: CLEAN YOUR DRIVETRAIN AND ADJUST YOUR GEARS
Except if you buy a smart bike ($2,500-$4,000) where you don’t have a drivetrain, you will always hear some noise from your drivetrain. The noise level will depend on how clean your set up is and how well you adjust your gears. I highly suggest you start here.
Here are two videos from GCN and Park Tool which will help you with that:
You can find another video from Park Tool for the front derailleur if you have a problem with this one as well.
STEP 2: ALWAYS USE ERG MODE IN AN EASY GEAR
When doing workouts with the ERG mode activated, take the habit of using easy gears. The flywheel will turn slower, hence making significantly less noise and vibration.
STEP 3: BUY AN INDOOR SPECIFIC TIRE
If you are using a wheel-on trainer, investing in an indoor specific tire will make your setup quieter and save you money in the long run. Those types of tires are lasting longer than normal ones.
I have been pleased with the Tacx Indoor Tire (Amazon affiliate link) when I had a wheel-on trainer.
STEP 4: BUY AN EXERCISE MAT
On top of reducing the noise level, it will also retain your sweat. I have used simple towels in the past but quickly bought the one from Tacx (Wiggle affiliate link). With this one, the sweat is not going through it, and it is easy to clean.
If you want to have a mat from the same brand as your trainer, don’t worry; Wahoo also has its own 🙂 You can check the actual price by clicking here (Amazon affiliate link).
STEP 5: BUY SOME RUBBER PADDING
They are really easy to find in local home improvements shops or on Amazon. They are either made for garage floors or children’s playgrounds. Putting two layers reduced the vibration drastically in my room, and I didn’t need to go further down the list.
STEP 6: TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBOR
Once you made the above changes, it is probably a good time to have a quick chat with your neighbor and check if it still an issue. The next changes are going to be more and more expensive.
You might find another room in your apartment, which would bother your neighbor less, or agree on a specific time where you could train.
STEP 7: BUY A CORKBOARD
This material is well-known for noise and vibration insulation. I didn’t personally test it, but it might be worth a try.
STEP 8: BUY A NEW BIKE TRAINER
At this stage, you really want to go for a direct drive trainer. Having your bike directly attached to the trainer’s cassette instead of your rear wheel will significantly reduce noise. Unfortunately, this type of trainer is also the most expensive one ($600-$1300).
I currently own a Tacx Neo 2T (Amazon affiliate link). The trainer is virtually silent. The only thing I hear is my drivetrain’s noise (hence the importance of step 1).
STEP 9: MOVE OUT OF YOUR APARTMENT AND BUY A HOUSE
In this case, you could have probably skipped steps 5 to 8 but hey! now you have an amazing indoor setup and a new house 😀
Joke aside, it can be annoying, expensive, and time demanding to go through all of that to ride indoors. However, I think it is totally worth it.
On one side, you won’t escalate things with your neighbors, so you and your family can live normally, and also you won’t damage further the reputation of cyclists. Nobody will talk about you if you are training silently but if you are not, be sure that everyone in your building will know that YOU are the annoying cyclist.