Electromagnetic resistance turbo trainers are a more sophisticated version of the popular mag trainers. Whereas the mag trainer uses permanent magnets to generate a resistance/drag against a spinning metal (steel) disc, electromagnetic trainers as you can probably guess by the name use electromagnets. Without getting too technical spinning a steel disc relative to a stationary magnetic field creates 'Eddy Currents', which in-turn generate a drag on the metal disc (i.e. what makes it harder to spin your pedals).
The main advantage of electromagnetic turbo trainers over standard magnetic trainers is that you have more control over the resistance. In fact since you can vary the resistance (strength of the magnets) by simply increasing or decreasing the current passing through the electromagnet you can theoretically vary the resistance in almost infinite steps. The maximum amount of current is however limited because it causes the coils within the electromagnet to heat up, and at a certain point this can become damaging and/or dangerous.
Turbo trainers with electromagnetic resistance units tend to be more expensive than standard mag trainers, but they can be controlled digitally and wirelessly from either a handlebar mounted console or even via a smart phone, tablet, and computer. What makes these turbo trainers so popular (and cool) is that you can run computer programs that automatically vary the resistance of the turbo trainer as you cycle, and even cooler you can ride real-life films of famous cycling routes (e.g. a stage of the Tour de Frane) and when you cycle up an incline on the film the resistance accurately increases in your turbo trainer. If this interests you check out our new Best Virtual Reality Turbo Trainer Guide.
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