Welcome To The Pain Cave

The time of year when many cease riding in the elements and retire to their pain caves is nearly upon us. With that comes trainer season for your shop.

Setting up the perfect pain cave is considered an art form by many. Not only does it give the rider a chance to ensure they’ll be comfortable while maximizing their VO2 and determining their functional threshold, but it also gives shops a chance to make some money in an otherwise slower part of the year. Trainers are about as seasonal as it gets in the bike industry, and the main selling window is extremely short. By keeping a few things in mind and implementing some simple strategies, however, you’ll be able to maximize your sales during that short selling season. 

Appearance Is Everything

How a trainer appears on the sales floor goes a long way toward driving a customer’s purchasing decisions. Properly merchandising your shop’s trainer area is an effective and easy way to watch your stock dwindle and your sales spike.

Sell Outside The Box

Customers want to see what the trainer actually looks like, not the box that it comes in, especially if they are a first-time buyer. The most effective, and easiest, thing you can do is have one of each model on display, unboxed. By allowing customers to pick it up, look at it, and try it out, they’re able to form a stronger connection to it than if they were just seeing a photo on the packaging. Display the unboxed trainer next to a stack of boxed ones, so they can easily grab one to buy.


Offer Test Rides

Different trainers have different ride qualities based on the brand, the type of resistance, and their price point. Since they are a several-hundred-dollar investment, many customers aren’t interested in buying one without trying it out first. Have a demo model of each trainer you carry for tests with their own bike or a bike off the floor. (Hint: those unboxed models can double as demos.) 

Complete The Pain Cave

The trainer section of your shop should include much more than just the trainers themselves. Group together accessories and products that will complement a customer’s trainer purchase and complete their home pain cave. Everything from the obvious (riser blocks, trainer mats, and trainer tires)to the maybe not so obvious (Bluetooth speakers or headphones, hydration, and chamois cream) could work to elevate their experience while boosting your sale.

Get The Word Out

All that great trainer merchandising you’ve been doing will be a moot point if your customers don’t know that you’re doing it. Find a way to promote that you have everything they need for their winter training. Shout it from the rooftops if you have to. However, you could also try the tactics on the next page.


Host Trainer Nights

Hosting a trainer night is a fantastic way to let people know that you’re their local trainer experts. It’s also a pretty simple one: pick a night, set up some trainers, and get the word out on social media. Bonus points if you play a movie while everyone is spinning. Extra bonus points if said movie is cycling-related (see below). Some people who show up might already have their own trainer and that’s totally OK. Trainer nights can also be used as an opportunity to educate customers on some of the many accessories available to them as well.

Work With A Fit Studio

If your area has a fit studio or coaching center, try to partner up with them. See if you can provide trainers for their clients to use. In turn, you become the go-to shop they recommend to customers who are looking to buy a trainer. If your shop doesn’t have enough space to host a trainer night, see if you can work together and hold the event at the studio. All of this will provide excellent word-of-mouth promotion for your shop and will help you deplete your stock of trainers before the narrow sales window closes.


Creating the perfect den of suffering is more than just buying a trainer and setting it up. By outfitting your customers with all the necessary training accessories, you can ensure they’ll be comfortable during the indoor season (well, as comfortable as one can be while training at threshold). Successful accessorization goes beyond the merchandising we discussed earlier, though.


Ask Questions

Sometimes asking a simple question will spark the realization of a need in the customer’s mind. It’s been a long summer—how is their stock of hydration mix going into the winter months? Chamois cream? What condition are their bottles in? Many people don’t associate these things with a trainer purchase until they get home and realize that they need them. Ask questions and save them the extra trip to your shop. Additionally, make sure that trainer-specific accessories aren’t an afterthought either. Towels, trainer mats, riser blocks, sweat guards, and trainer tires are all things that should be sold with a new trainer purchase.

Bundle Up

Offering accessory bundles or discounts to go along with trainer purchases will make it more enticing for the consumer to leave with more than just a shiny new trainer. Offer a hydration bundle that includes some drink mixes and water bottles. Or how about a riser block, mat, and sweat guard combo? A 20% discount on accessories if they buy them with their new trainer? All of these are great ways to make accessorizing their newly-purchased trainer more accessible while also boosting your sales.

Get Virtual

Let’s face it. There’s only so long you can stare at a wall or poster of your favorite pro cyclist before you never want to even go near your trainer again.

Add some excitement back into your customers’ off-season training by carrying or recommending virtual ride programs. While each one offers different features, these programs give cyclists the chance to ride with others in real-time, experience what riding in another country would feel like, and complete targeted training sessions. To get started, check out Zwift, TrainerRoad, and Sufferfest. One caveat: different programs work with different types of trainers so make sure that you know what your customers are using before recommending any specific program. 

By utilizing some or all of these strategies, you’ll be able to effectively and successfully become the go-to trainer shop for your customers. The important thing to remember is that while a trainer purchase might only happen once every few years, accessory purchases are ongoing, so creating a strong relationship with customers will keep them coming back for all of their future trainer needs.

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