Bike Trainer Reviews and Buyers Guide
In the past few years, the demand for indoor bike trainers has enhanced significantly. More and more trainers and cyclists are getting interested in purchasing a suitable product for their routine use. So, if you are also training for an important event or simply wish to enjoy the comfort of training in your home, a good-quality bike trainer is everything you need.
In this article, we are going to discuss some of the best bike trainers available in the market and their pros and cons to help you decide on a particular product. We will also explain different types of bike trainers, features that make them different from one another, what to expect with your investment, and how to select the right product for your particular requirements.
Table of Contents
- 1 Bike Trainer Reviews and Buyers Guide
- 2 Editor’s Choice
- 3 Types Of Bike Trainers
- 4 Types Of Resistance
- 5 Other Buying Considerations
- 6 Budget
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8 Final Thoughts
Sportneer Fluid Bike Trainer Stand, Indoor Bicycle Exercise Training Stand
This trainer can fit every bike between 26-29 inches and is also compatible with 700C bikes, which means you don’t have to spend more money to get another well-matched equipment. You can simply use what you have and start training right away.
- MAKE YOUR OWN STATIONARY BIKE: Bring your bike inside for an indoor cycling workout! The Sportneer Indoor Bike Trainer fits bikes between 26-29 inches, and is also compatible with 700C bikes. You won’t have to break the bank to invest in new equipment. Simply use what you already own
- SMOOTH SILENT SPINNING: Break a sweat without disturbing those around you! The fluid, high-quality resistance wheel ensures easy spinning that’s whisper quiet.
- BUILT TO LAST: Here at Sportneer, we want you to have the best. That’s why this bike exercise stand is made with a heavy-duty stainless steel frame that maximizes durability! You’ll be able to use it for years on end
- SOLID, STURDY AND SAFE: A stationary bike workout should be just that— stationary. The dual locking system easily locks your bike in place, and the extra wide frame and front wheel riser block eliminates wobbling. You’ve never had a ride quite like this
- LIGHTNING-FAST SETUP AND EXTREME PORTABILITY: Assemble your bike trainer stand in no time, without the need for extra tools! Installation is effortless and intuitive. The frame can be folded into a tiny 24" x 7.9" x 25.2" size for easy storage and small enough to take with you so that you can enjoy a workout anywhere
The package includes a bike trainer stand, a fluid resistance wheel, a front-wheel block, and an accessory bag. The wheels feature specialized noise-reduction technology to make your workout quiet and peaceful. The trainer’s reduced friction design extends the lifetime of the tires and gives maximum riding time in every session.
This bike stand is made from strong stainless steel frame to enhance the durability of the product. The dual locking system can help keep your bike in place and eliminate wobbling via front wheel riser block. The Sportneer Fluid Bike Trainer Stand can be assembled and dissembled in a few minutes. When required, you can also fold the frame to ultra-compact size for convenient storage.
- Stable during workout sessions
- Long-lasting and durable
- Poor assembling instructions
Tacx Neo 2T Smart One Color, One Size, Indoor Bicycle Exercise Training Stand
If you are looking for a top-of-the-line product for your next training session, Tacx Neo 2T is the only option to consider. This trainer is probably the slickest ride in the market, even if you are riding over terrains like boards and cobbles.
- Resistance: magnetic (32 Neodymium magnets)
- Foldable: yes
- Wireless: ANT+, Bluetooth
- Operating System: iOS, Android, macOS, Windows
- Includes: front wheel block, power cable, quick-release skewer, thru-axle skewer, axle adapters for 130mm QR, 135mm QR, 12 x 142mm thru-axle, 12 x 142mm Boost, 1 month Tacx Premium software
Thanks to its wonderful features, Tacx Neo 2T is the only trainer in our list to facilities freewheeling on declines. The trainer needs no calibration and is still the most accurate of all power readers out there. It uses communication protocols like ANT+, Bluetooth, and FTMS to deliver lag-free connectivity and power accuracy.
The big flywheel of the bike trainer goes a long way to produce inertia needed to fuel a real ride. In addition to this, there is a fair amount of programming and technology for smooth riding on rough spots. The motor and magnets of this product reduce movement from air displacement and vibration to deliver a smooth and noise-free ride.
The overall structure is very simple, stable, and straightforward. The weight is not ideal but still inevitable in the world of high-performance bike trainers. The best thing about Tacx Neo 2T is that it runs on your power, so even if you don’t have a power outlet nearby, you can still sync the trainer to your phone and manage resistance.
- Most versatile trainer
- Doesn’t require calibration
- Super accurate
- A bit heavy
Alpcour Bike Trainer Stand – Portable Stainless Steel Indoor Trainer
The Alpcour Bike Trainer Stand is an ideal option to suit your adventurous lifestyle. It features smooth magnetic function, adjustable resistance, integrated noise-reduction technology, and quick-release lever for an effortless training session.
- MAKE THE SWITCH TO STATIONARY! – Mag Bike Stand Converts Any Mountain or Road Bike Into a Stable, Smooth-Riding Indoor Stationary Bicycle for All-Season Training, Conditioning, Fitness & Exercise – A Must-Have for Dedicated Cyclists!
- SUPER QUIET MAGNETIC TECHNOLOGY – High-Quality Flywheel Mechanism Creates Drag Against Tire to Replicate Real Cycling Experience – Built-In Super Noise Reduction Eliminates Whir, While Reduced Friction Extends the Life of Your Bike
- 6 LEVELS OF FIXED RESISTANCE – Convenient Handle Bar Mounted Cable Controller Lets You Choose Your Incline From Flat to Steep – Simulate All Kinds of Hills, Roads & Intervals – Extra Wide Base & Low Stance Ensures Perfect Balance at Every Setting
- SAFE, STEADY CONSTRUCTION – Stand is Composed of Durable, Heavy Duty Stainless Steel & Includes a Front Wheel Riser Block & Anti-Slip Rubber Pads to Prevent Movement – Connects in Seconds & Releases Via Quick Lever—No Tools Required!
- FOLDABLE FRAME FOR EASY TRAVEL – Portable Stand is Hard-Wearing Yet Lightweight & Compact So You Can Fold, Pack & Go – Kit Comes w/ FREE Sturdy Bag for Effortless Carrying & Storage – Compatible w/ Most 26-28 In & 700c Wheels
This trainer delivers a cool, stable, consistent, shake-free training experience, which is impossible to experience with other stationary-styled products. This stand is designed and manufactured for stability and features 4 rubber-coated pads to give an anti-slip performance. Like an easel, it can rest evenly on almost every type of surface, like carpets, mats, hardwood, and even tiles.
The trainer’s front wheel is supported by a given riser block, which helps fuel the feeling of a real outdoor ride. With its advanced magnetics resistance, the system allows you to enjoy an excellent spin performance with as little friction as possible.
Six levels of fixed-resistance and a convenient handlebar-mounted cable enable you to choose your ascent from flat to steep. The extra-wide base and low attitude ensure great balance at each setting so you can stimulate all sorts of hills, intervals, and roads of your choice.
- Foldable frame
- Compact and lightweight
- Safe and steady construction
- Not adjustable enough
An indoor bike trainer is undoubtedly a valuable tool, but it can be a bit hard to understand what to get and what to expect from a certain product. Luckily, we have put together an extensive bike trainer buying guide to help you narrow down the overwhelming choices.
Types Of Bike Trainers
Indoor trainer bikes can be categorized into four types i.e., wheel-on trainers, direct-drive trainers, tire drive trainers, bike simulators, and smart trainers.
This type of compact and affordable bike trainers can be attached to the axle of a bike’s rear wheel. It then uses a roller pushed against the tire to produce resistance.
- The drivetrain compatibility is inapplicable
- Less expensive as compared to direct-drive trainers
- Most of the models are foldable for convenient storage
- Expensive models offer application connectivity
- Can easily be mounted to every bike model
- Occasional wheel slippage
- Less stable than direct-drive trainers
- Causes wear on the tires and wheels
You can connect a direct-drive trainer to your bike in place of the rear wheel. As their name implies, these trainers require installation of rear cogs (cassette), after which they provide a strong platform and smaller footprint to give maximum riding performance.
- Gives a road-like feel unlike wheel-on trainers
- Quiet and less noisy operation
- Reasonable resistance control and efficient power transfer
- Offer wireless application connectivity
- No tire slippage
- Cumbersome due to intricate design
- Heavyweight makes transport and storage a little difficult
- More expensive than wheel-on trainers
Tire Drive Trainers
A tire drive trainer can be connected to your bike through rear dropouts with the rear wheel in its position. The wheel is compressed to the outside of the quick-release lever, and the resistance comes via an adjustable roller.
- Have multiple options in terms of resistance
- More cost-effective and lightweight as compared to direct-drive trainers
- Compact storage and small footprint
- Additional tire wear due to trainer’s drum
Bike simulators are premium standalone bike trainers that are best known for offering realistic riding feel over a stable, strong, and comfortable platform with wireless app connectivity.
- Give real-world cycling feel
- Whisper quiet functioning
- Training application connectivity
- Durable and strong built and adjustable ergonomics
- Great for multiple riders
- Heavy-duty construction so require a dedicated raining arena
Rollers are known as the original indoor trainer. A lot of people still prefer using rollers than any other form of trainers simply to improve their balance and to achieve better pedaling efficiency and training core strength.
Rollers have three drums (two at the back and one in the front). These drums spin when you pedal the bike. The resistance here depends upon the rider’s gear choice and the size of these drums. Some high-end models in the market also offer internal resistance beyond everything. Their design and built are very straightforward, but they are a little hard to use due to concentration and balance issues.
Types Of Resistance
Bike trainer stands are manufactured with different types of resistance. Every type has its own function and advantages depending upon the requirements of the rider. The type of resistance in a trainer has a direct influence on its durability, price, noise, weight, and road feel.
These are the most lifelike trainers available in the market. The resistance delivered by fluid based trainers is almost similar to that of the road. The fluid typically used in this type of resistance is turbine oil that can effectively deal with heat production while riding.
The fluid is present in a chamber with a sharp bladed drive driven by pedaling strokes. The inside walls of the chamber consist of stationary flat blades to generate resistance from the fluid going by. The harder you work the trainer, the more resistance will produce automatically. Though fluid trainers are loved for their quiet resistance, the trend towards electronic trainers is taking the top position with each passing day.
Considerations: Since fluid based trainers are the most realistic ones out there, a lot of buyers have complained about leaking and overheating. Impending models are getting better about this problem, but keep this factor under consideration if you want your product to last longer.
Wind-based trainers are the most common and basic design as far as the indoor trainers are concerned. These trainers produce resistance by generating air. The wheel spins over the roller connected to a large disc with blades.
As you produce power, the blades start to whirl around, creating wind resistance. The resistance keeps increasing as you pedal more. Due to the high amount of wind generated during high-intensity training sessions, these trainers can be extremely loud. Also, the offered resistance has a certain limit once you reach high power levels.
Considerations: They are usually an inexpensive option, but they are also quite noisy and have low resistance customization. Therefore, these models are not suggested for riders who want to have multiple options and skills.
Interactive trainers feature dynamic resistance control by using power meters and sensors present on the bike trainer stand. These sensors then interconnect with the applications on your smartphone and deliver the most accurate resistance according to your chosen parameters.
But how do they work?
The resistance here is operated via a power meter located within the smart trainer. The trainer then transmits power data to your desired training application, such as Zwift.
For instance, if you like to ride hills climbs in the virtual training session of Zwift, your app will transfer the info to your trainer, and it will make the resistance similar to the situation. Conversely, if you want to ride downhill, the smart trainer will discharge complete resistance, and you must move accordingly to gain more resistance and speed.
Other Buying Considerations
Now that you know about different types of bike trainers and resistance, it is time for you to look into further considerations that might heavily affect your buying decision.
The footprint can be defined as the physical size of any product. In terms of bike trainers, the larger the footprint, the more space you will require to set up and keep the equipment. However, it also means increased stability. The most important parameter to look here is the overall width of the trainer and its length.
The width delivers stability and can even balance the long length of the bike. Unlike many bikes that remain locked in their place, many units available in the market have foldable legs which are very convenient from functional and storage point of view. Cheap trainers usually feature a smaller footprint due to which some can be a bit unstable due to bigger height.
A bike trainer taking up more than enough space can become a huge problem. If you have a dedicated spot for the bike trainer in any room or garage, then there is no trouble, but if the space is thin, you must go for a trainer with a lesser footprint.
Depending on different factors like the area you live in, the number of people in your house, and the intended purpose of your trainer, the amount of noise produced by the equipment can be of utmost importance.
Almost every bike trainer produces some amount of noise despite claiming to be noise-less. Most manufacturers provide the decibel level of their product at a certain cadence or speed, so if you don’t want to disturb other people near you, look for products with the lowest number possible.
Moreover, while comparing noise levels produced by different trainers, make sure that you inspect the decibel level at a certain speed because there is no set standard at which this parameter can be measured accurately. For your guidance, know that fluid-based systems are usually considered the most silent ones while the wind-based systems are the loudest.
Compatibility With Other Bikes
If you have a wide range of mounts in your stable, it is important to know if your bike trainer is compatible with the equipment’s mounting supplies. Mountain bikes usually feature thru-axles while road bikes have a quick release system. Both of them have different widths and mounting options. Your bike may have another mounting requirement, so it’s better to go for a future proof model that accepts different varieties of bikes.
Modern trainers are usually able to house most of the bikes, but know if you plan on using anything other than a typical road bike.
Another important consideration to make is to make sure that the cassette on your trainer (direct-drive type) compliments your bike in terms of gears. For this, check with your shop or manufacturer for further information on compatibility.
The weight of any bike trainer or smart bike trainer can be divided into two parts i.e., the weight of the equipment and the maximum weight it can hold.
Here, the trainer’s actual weight is of more importance if you want to take the trainer to different places as a warm-up gear. In such circumstances, bring a trainer that is easy to assemble/set up near your car to the warm-up spot. If you have to set up the equipment in a permanent spot, then the weight will not be an issue; in fact, it will provide more stability to the trainer. However, if the constant movement is required, be sure to know the weight before buying.
The maximum load a trainer can hold is also important to consider. Many products out there list their maximum weight by including the weight of the bike and rider while others may only consider the rider’s weight, so double-check the value before buying.
At the end of the day, your indoor bike trainer experience will depend upon a combination of road feel, performance, connectivity, and price. While there are so many inexpensive options out there with good road feel and quality, they often don’t have connectivity features that are required for virtual training.
Investing more money may mean higher quality and practicality of the training experience, but the products are usually diminishing returns.
You can easily get a bike trainer under 200 dollars, but don’t expect a lot from it. They will not have advanced features like connectivity, durability, smoothness, and automation. Trainers at this price range are often tire-drive ones and require manual changes to the resistance.
Within this price range, you can purchase a basic, straightforward trainer. They might lack the connectivity features and automation control, but you will still get a great training tool or warm-up device to live up to your expectations.
Many models near $500 may have a basic level of connectivity with third-party apps, but they won’t be as better as the expensive ones. Roller trainers, direct-drive trainers, and tire-trainers are all available at this range, but if you wish to own a smart trainer, check out the next price bracket.
Almost every best-selling bike trainer today is available within this price range. Here, you can get electronic resistance control options as well. The footprint, weight, and noise production is similar to expensive options, but other features like power accuracy, gradient, and flywheel weight might be less.
The price range of smart bike trainers can extend to $2000, but the only difference is of high power accuracy, slop capacity, heavy flywheel. Other parameters, such as durability, noise production, and weight, will be the same.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Should I Get An Indoor Bike Trainer?
There are many benefits of using an indoor bike trainer, among which some common ones are:
- It is very convenient, the set-up is ready-to-go, and there is no more wasting of that precious time.
- You can make significant training gains in a short amount of time.
- You don’t have to deal with rough and tough outdoor weather conditions like snow, ice, wind, and rain.
- Trainers allow you to target your particular training goals with better precision.
- Great external resistance control. You can set specific power to allow third-party applications to control trainer-based demands of your workout sessions.
- You can work out as long as you want without any interruptions.
- The focused and structured nature of bike trainers guarantees consistency in your sessions.
Can I Use A Mountain Bike On A Bike Trainer?
Yes, you can use a mountain bike on your trainer. Just like road bikes, nearly all the trainers out there can easily fit mountain bikes; however, always double-check for any trainer you are about to purchase to know its compatibility.
Where Can I Set Up My Bike Trainer Stand?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to bike trainers. Setting up the trainer usually depends upon the usage and trainer’s gathering dust. Practically, you will only require 4′ X 8′ where there is no need to take the whole equipment apart after use and where you can save your time and effort on every session.
Try to look for an area in your house with a hard floor. It should be near a window and must have an electrical outlet nearby. Hard flooring will help you achieve great comfort and stability; the window will provide ventilation and optimum temperature control. Lastly, the power outlet is to connect your favorite entertainment system.
Garages are among the most recommended places to keep a bike trainer, but if it is not an option for you, look for a spot that hits as many criteria as possible.
What Are Some Common Mistakes When It Comes To Bike Trainers?
For almost every consideration that indoor bike trainers involve, it is crucial that you know how to treat the equipment at home just like you would do during a routine outdoor session.
- For better performance and training outcomes, ensure that you are properly fed and fueled at least one hour before your training session.
- Also, keep in mind that you may require more hydration when working out due to heat. To avoid getting dehydrated, keep water bottles with you near easy to reach places.
- Warm-up and warm down before and after each session. A lot of people do this when training outdoors, but forgets about it while using indoor trainers. Try to spend at least 15-20 minutes at the start and end of every session to achieve a steady pace for getting yourself in and out of the training.
- Don’t forget to pace yourself. While working outside, you are forced to stop at red lights and junctions, which may not be the case with bike trainers.
We hope that this extensive buyers guide has provided you with some valuable and informative knowledge regarding bike trainers. Now, you should be ready to purchase a bike trainer to fulfill your training and fitness goals.
Go ahead and buy the product of your choice and see a faster, stronger version of yourself in the next workout session.
Last update 2020-04-15. Price and product availability may change.