Best Bike Trainers
If you’re an avid bicycler then you know that winter can be a bummer, as it takes you off the road as you have to wait for the snow to melt so you can get your bicycle back on the road. Well, I am here to tell you, there is a solution that will get you prepared for the summer weather when you can get back outdoors doing what you love, and that is the bike trainer. The bike trainer allows you to set up your bike in your home or garage in a stationary position and lets you to continue to keep up your practice of riding your bicycle by turning your road bike into an exercise bike. These are simply used to deliver stability to your bike and keep it locked in place. But, bike trainers are far from simple devices. They can feature ANT+ and Bluetooth technology for access to various applications and software that can be used in conjunction with it.
Now let’s say you have decided that you want to get a bike trainer and keep the feel of your bike during the winter and not invest the money in a exercise bike. This way you can simply use your own bike but do not know where to start in deciding which one best fits your needs or works best with your bike, I am here to tell you we have done the research and listed the top ten bike trainers below. Not only have we listed the top ten on the market today, but also why they made our list and some criteria to keep in mind when picking the right bike trainer.
- Health Line
- Conquer Magnetic
- Very Durable
- Cycleops Fluid 2
- Self Cooling
10 Best Bike Trainers
There are eight levels of resistance that can be adjusted through your handlebar, in conjunction with your pedal speed. While perhaps not suitable for hardcore enthusiasts, it still provides a realistic riding experience.
The price tag should indicate that this is not a smart bike trainer. If you are looking for Bluetooth and ANT+ technology, look elsewhere.
Thanks to the upgraded magnetic turbo technology, the noise as a whole is reduced to a tolerable level.
Before you do anything, you need to ensure your bike has a quick release skewer. If it does, then check to see if your wheel size will be compatible (this will fit 26-inches and 28-inches).
Durability and Stability
The cheap price tag is surely not indicative of poor quality, that is for sure. A terrific combination of the heavy-duty frame and its extra-wide nature guarantees both a durable and stable experience.
Do not be fooled, this is a great investment and is ideal for intermediate users looking to simply ride their bike in the winter. However, it simply does not sport all the bells and whistles that smart bike trainers possess.
- Features a specially designed fan to prevent the roller from overheating
- The foot pad is skid-proof and can be adjusted for height
- You can adjust the resistance via your handlebar
- Not the smoothest ride is delivered
- Some will prefer more resistance levels
Much like other magnetic bike trainers, this is designed to create drag against the rear-wheel of your bike. As such, you can adjust the resistance by shifting the gears present on your bicycle.
Once again, no smart technology is integrated into this training machine. It is still fully functional, you just miss out on external training programs.
No doubt, this is the biggest caveat of this magnetic bike trainer. There have been several users and reviewers that have belly-ached about how loud this machine is. Be prepared to plug in your headphones to drown out the noise.
A rear wheel skewer is included that can be swapped out with your quick release skewer. But, in general, this is compatible with tire sizes of 26-inches and 27-inches.
Durability and Stability
To keep the front wheel stable during use, this includes a riser block. In addition, the frame is designed from heavy-duty steel and is designed to last for years.
While certainly not the flashiest bike trainer out there, Conquer still provides you with a machine that is highly competent and one that should last you years upon years.
- Very easy to use
- Features a very durable steel construction
- When not being used, it folds down into a compact size
- Can be a noisy device
- It does not hang off the ground very high which can result in wearing tires and fraying carpets
Cycleops Fluid 2
As the pedals spin faster and faster, the resistance is increased. Depending on how fast you pedal, the resistance can range anywhere from 20 watts up to 725 watts. Overall, the precision-balanced flywheel replicates the feel of riding outdoors.
For additional feedback, you can get speed and cadence sensors. But, you can use this trainer in coordination with Zwift.
Despite the claim that the noise level is left to a minimum, reviewers have griped that they can hear a high whistling noise at certain times.
The 2-inch resistance unit makes this suitable for 650b, 700c, 26-inch, 27-inch and 29-inch wheel sizes. Also, it is designed to fit common bike frames and includes a steel quick release skewer.
Durability and Stability
Thanks to the overall workmanship, the alloy roller manages to reduce the overall wear and tear on your bikes. Plus, it is geared to prevent slippage for increased stability.
CycleOps is certainly a high-quality manufacturer and you really can’t go wrong with their bike trainers. Sure, the whistling noise that can occur is not pleasant to the ears but it is not a constant occurrence.
- It is backed by a lifetime warranty
- Integrated self-cooling mechanisms ensure the machine performs for a long period of time
- Comes with a trainer mat, sweat guard and two climbing blocks
- Users have stated that a very unsettling whistling noise can occur
The overall electromagnetic resistance system is very responsive and can handle up to 2000 watts of resistance. In addition to this, it can simulate a climbing grade of 20 percent.
Because it is compatible with both Bluetooth and ANT+ sensors, the choices are endless for wireless connectivity. You can utilize training applications such as TrainerRoad, Zwift and Rouvy. Although, some users have griped that Zwift has performance issues when synced.
When you max out your bike to 20 miles per hour, the noise level is still kept to a minimal amount. In fact, you could probably get away with riding your bicycle in a library (at least, that is what CycleOps claims).
This device is quick-release compatible for frame fork widths of 130mm and 135mm. Meanwhile, it is thru-axle compatible for frame fork widths of 142mm and 148mm.
Durability and Stability
Due to the manner in which this trainer is designed, it connects your bike directly to the resistance unit. Thus, this will eliminate the amount of wear your tires endure. Plus, the integrated front wheel tray adds stability.
Despite claimed issues when syncing to Zwift, which is a highly-popular training application, the Direct Drive Smart Trainer is simply superior to 99 percent of the rest. Every single penny is worth it.
- Implements cooling technology to ensure accuracy
- Is backed by a lifetime warranty
- The wide footprint adds necessary stability
- Various users and reviewers have experienced issues when syncing to Zwift and using the application
To break down how this functions, the internal powerful magnets induce the currents inside of your wheel rim as it passes through. Thus, the wheel will begin to slow down and this is the resistance that is provided to you.
Full wireless capabilities are present here. This includes Bluetooth and ANT+ which means you can sync to any of your favorite devices who are also compatible with one of the technologies.
When you ride with this trainer attached to your wheel, the only portion of the bike trainer that actually contacts the bike is the clamp; which produces essentially no noise at all.
This will work with most road, mountain, and tri tires. But, it is only compatible with alloy wheels. If the tires have steel along the back track, they will not work.
Durability and Stability
Some bike trainers may grind on your outdoor tires but not this model from STAC Zero. Your tires will be safe from wear and tear.
The only aspect that may prevent you from investing in this bike trainer is the issue with carbon wheels. It is only compatible with alloy wheels with no steel on the brake track and that may prove problematic for some.
- It folds flat and can be easily transported
- One of the quietest bike trainers on the market
- You use your gears to control the resistance of the bike
- The integrated magnets will not function on fully-carbon wheels
Because this is designed with a motor brake, as opposed to an electro brake, it is more accurate at simulating the experience of riding. As far as the resistance, it is increased or decreased from the rear wheel.
Being understanding of the correct protocols, including ANT+, the Vortex can indeed sync to your smartphones and tablets. Once again, this then provides you access to various software and training applications.
This bike trainer creates resistance from the roll on the rear wheel. One of the components of the roll, the Elasto Gel, manages to absorb the vibrations and reduce the overall noise. But, when it gets going fast enough, noise will still be present.
As long as you have a wheel that is 26-inches to 29-inches (700c) in diameter, you can utilize this with your bike. If not, you are held accountable if it does not fit properly.
Durability and Stability
The other material that is utilized in the roll, the hardened steel sleeve, is used to prevent the overall wear that the bike trainer endures over time.
For bicycle gurus looking for insane amounts of resistance and incline, may not find the Vortex feasible enough. But, it remains a fantastic model for intermediate users looking for a bike trainer with smartphone-syncing capabilities.
- The front wheel support increases the stability
- Can be used without Bluetooth and the resistance increase when you pedal faster
- Works terrifically when paired with Zwift
- It becomes rather noisy at high speeds of pedaling
- The base is not wide enough to adapt for people who prefer standing up while pedaling
Kinetic Rock and Roll
This trainer works as a fluid resistance trainer and as such, delivers a very realistic experience and when in conjunction with the training app is unparalleled.
It can’t sync to ANT+ sensors but through the power of Bluetooth, it can sync with other devices that are Bluetooth enabled. This allows you to sync to your smartphone and in turn, utilize several training applications and software.
Due to the fluid resistance system, the result is a ride that is not only incredibly smooth but also very quiet. You probably will not even notice the device is stabilizing your bike.
While bikes that feature a rear thru-axle will require an adapter, this will fit virtually all bikes. In specific, the frame will fit wheels between 22-inches and 29-inches.
Durability and Stability
Each component of this trainer is either crafted from aluminum and steel and as a whole, the frame is designed from power coated steel. In addition, all the pivot points are made up of the same material that is used for the suspension in high-performance vehicles.
Unfortunately, as amazing as this is, there are small caveats that hurt the overall grade. This includes a frame that will not collapse for storage and the lack of ANT+ functionality. But, despite this, everything else is as good as gold.
- Includes a free one-month subscription to the Kinetic Fit training application
- Backed by an unconditional lifetime warranty for the frame
- The precision construction ensures high accuracy
- Not ANT+ compatible
- Will not fold up for storage
Due to the design of the 6-kg internal flywheel, this trainer is designed to mimic the exact experience of riding on the road. Plus, you determine the resistance level by the corresponding software program that you are running.
The choices are really endless in terms of software and training applications that you can utilize in conjunction with this trainer. This is compatible with both Bluetooth and ANT+ protocols.
This trainer is designed so quietly that the only piece of equipment you will hear is the bike itself. Thus, not detracting the experience in any way.
Granted the hubs on your bike are between 130-135 x 5mm, you should be able to use this device.
Durability and Stability
Overall, the Drivo is built to last and the frame is very stable when you are riding. In addition, it can be folded down quickly if you want to transport it or store it away.
Truthfully, the most difficult aspect of this trainer is understanding how it works. The included manual is very poor and you may have to rely on online videos. Once you begin to wrap your head around the functionality, you will never look back.
- Features Pedaling Analysis which monitors each pedal stroke you take
- Constructed with quality in mind
- It is compatible with both ANT+ sensors and Bluetooth protocols
- The included manual is rather poor
The electronically managed resistance is solely based on the training program that you have selected. Without it, there is not much resistance at all. Plus, the automatic tension plate maintains the appropriate amount of pressure between the roller and tire.
It is compatible with both Bluetooth and ANT+ protocols and quite frankly, functions best when connected with some sort of training software (such as My E-Training).
The Rampa Bike Trainer falls right in the middle in terms of noise. It will not destroy your eardrums but at the same time, it is not as if it is muted either.
For road and mountain bikes, it will fit tires sized from 24-inches to 29-inches. But, the cod adapter must be utilized with thru-axle bikes.
Durability and Stability
Elite ensured if nothing else, their Rampa Bike Trainer would be constructed with durability and stability in mind. Both the reinforced frame and wide footprint prove that.
Even though other bike trainers support the functionality, this trainer nearly depends solely on additional software. If you do not have a compatible smartphone or tablet that is capable of running such software, this may not be the best choice for you.
- Can be used with the excellent software My E-Training
- It is both Bluetooth and ANT+ enabled
- It is constructed with a reinforced frame
- Takes some time to initially assemble it
- Will not provide much resistance without a cycling application
Minoura Kagura Magnetic
There are two main methods of use. One is the gravity-based mode which shifts your body weight to the rear wheel, which simulates the effect of floating a bit. The other is a traditional system where the frame is locked in place. Plus, you can also use the trainer without power for four levels of resistance.
It is incredibly simple to connect and pair multiple devices as this is both Bluetooth and ANT+ compatible. As such, you have access to all the applications and software you can get your hands on.
Noise is definitely not going to play a role here as not only is the trainer smooth in motion, the Neodymium magnet assists in creating a very soothing sound.
Included with the trainer are a standard skewer and a 15mm thru-axle adapter. As far as compatibility, this will work with all 650b/700c/26-inch/27.5-inch tires.
Durability and Stability
Not too many users who have used this trainer have documented any issues with the overall stability and durability.
For a cheaper trainer, as compared to some of the rest, it is amazing that you can get up to 2000 watts of resistance here. In addition, the smooth operation and overall durable design makeup fantastic workmanship.
- It is collapsible and can be transported
- Even without power, it can function as a stand-alone trainer
- Offers up to 2000 watts of resistance
- If you do want to transport it, it is quite heavy
- Maybe some concern over accuracy issues
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
The Overall Design
Indeed, “the overall design” is very broad and this could be used to describe everything you need to know about bike trainers. But, in this instance, the overall design of a bike trainer is defined by the design of their resistance system and there are four common types that you will find. One is wind resistance bike trainers. It is not a coincidence that you did not see any wind training bikes on this list. While they are the cheapest and people may prefer them, who are on a budget, they are typically much noisier than any other type. Then, you have magnetic bike trainers and these feature a fixed resistance that is offered by a magnetic flywheel. If you prefer to constantly adjust the resistance, these may not be suitable for you.
Next, there are fluid bike trainers. These will be what your high-end riders will be looking at; as they offer progressive resistance and tend to be as quiet as the congregation when the preacher is praying at church. But, the downside is they are typically quite expensive. Finally, you have rollers which are completely unique and require a lot of skill on your part.
If They Feature Wireless Connectivity
Besides the type of resistance system you decide to get, the other aspect of bike trainers that can jack up the price real fast is if they have wireless connectivity. Typically, for smart bike trainers, you will see either Bluetooth, ANT+, or a combination of both. Most people are probably familiar with Bluetooth, a technology that allows you to sync data across two enabled devices wirelessly, but may not be with ANT+. It is quite similar actually, but it is owned by Garmin. This is a wireless protocol that is utilized for monitoring sensor data (such as a heart rate of the tire pressure of a bike).
When we say the options are endless with these two technologies together, we practically mean it. This can allow you to sync with your favorite cyclist applications and software and completely enhance the experience. Instead of merely riding your bike without any rhyme or reason. Besides if the bike features the technology, you will also want to inquire if there are common syncing issues associated with it. If you notice several reviewers and users claim that it is a hassle to sync their devices, that could be a red flag.
How Noisy the Machine Is When In Operation
This can be a huge design factor for some people; even to the extreme that they would steer away from a bike trainer because of the noise no matter the quality of the machine. Again, depending on the type of bike trainer you buy, the noise may be more prominent. For example, a cheap wind machine will most likely be ridiculously noisy while an expensive fluid trainer will produce virtually no noise at all. But, from model to model, the noise can vary as well so it is not always guaranteed that noise will not be an issue.
But, maybe you could care less about noise. Let’s say you live in your own home, store the machine in your work-out room and listen to music while you ride. In this instance, the noise will not play a factor because it will never be loud enough to drown out your headphones (as long as you noise-canceling headphones). But, it is safe to assume not everyone has these luxuries. You may have roommates, family members, or apartment regulations that you need to abide by. They may not care to hear the excessive noise coming from your bike trainer and that is a reality you may have to face.
If Your Bike is Compatible
Unfortunately, not all bikes will be compatible with every bike trainer in the world. Do not overthink or stress about this one too much as manufacturers are always very clear on what specifications you need. But, you need to ensure you have tires that will fit and if they are either thru-axle or skewer. In addition to tire sizes, the manufacturer will inform you if you need a thru-axle or skewer (oftentimes you can get thru-axle adaptors).
The Overall Durability and Stability
Bike trainers are designed to allow you to ride your bike indoors by preventing the bike from moving (at least in terms of distance traveled). Even though they are all designed for this, models with a wider base will possess more stability and may be easier for you to use. But, durability may be even more important and it is not only for the machine itself but also the tires on your bikes. Clearly, you do not want to invest your money in a bike trainer that is only going to last you three months of use. Aim for a frame that is crafted from either aluminum or steel, two very strong alloys.
However, manufacturers also have to be aware of the potential damage that could happen to your bike’s tires. If not designed properly, the trainer could actually start to grind on your tires and rid them of their tread. This is a big no-no and you should prioritize models that account for this and ones that will prevent wear and tear as much as possible.
Q: What Are Some Maintenance Tips for Bike Trainers?
Bike trainers are powerful machines and most are built to last you a long time. Of course, just like every other consumer product you will ever invest in, this also depends on the care that you provide for it. This may lead you to wonder what exactly you can do to extend the shelf life of a bike trainer. Do not worry, these maintenance tips do not require you to possess a Doctor’s degree from Harvard in Engineering.
To start, always ensure that your L-Bolt and threaded rods are lubricated. For both of them, simply take some drip chain lube and lubricate the specified areas. If you have any trouble locating these parts, you can refer to tutorial videos to make sure you are lubricating in the correct spot. Also, monitor the frame bolts on your bike trainer and tighten them when it is necessary. Simply take your tool of choice, standard wrench, socket wrench, etc., and tighten them to see if they do in fact need it. Lastly, and this is really only for precaution, when you are not utilizing the trainer store it away in a safe location where it will not be harmed.
Q: What Are Some Tips to Stay Motivated?
Exercising is probably not going to be on the top of anyone’s list in terms of entertaining tasks to achieve. Hence, you want to attempt to make the experience as tolerable as possible. But, this is not easy with a bike trainer. One of the benefits of biking is viewing the wonderful atmosphere around you and enjoying the feeling of nature. This feeling is stripped away and in its place, you are left with the feeling of pedalling in the same spot for no reason. As such, you may be struggling to get motivated when you think about using an indoor bike trainer.
This is why smart trainers are so beneficial because, in these times, you can utilize training software and cycling applications to enhance the experience. Simply riding along with an application and giving yourself a goal to strive for will make the exercise feel like less of a chore. But, for those who do not have a smart bike trainer, you must find a different way. A strong recommendation is to put on your favorite TV show or movie in the background, or pop on your headphones and listen to music.
Q: Do You Need an Internet Connection for a Smart Bike Trainer?
First and foremost, when you are using Bluetooth you do not need an internet connection. Granted that the devices you want to sync together both have Bluetooth enabled and are in an adequate range of one another, they will sync. However, you are going to need an internet connection to download the applications that you want to use on your smartphone or tablet devices (unless you already have installed the software).
It will depend on the requirements of the applications but, most of the time, once downloaded you will not need access to the internet anymore. Furthermore, if you wish to post any of your accomplishments on a certain application online then you would again need a stable connection to the internet.
Q: Should You Work Out on a Bike Trainer While Injured?
One of the hardest aspects for a fitness guru to accept is when their body will not allow them to exercise any further. Or, if you are simply tired of feeling lazy and helpless and want to get back into the swing of things. In either one of these cases, which is referring to when you are held back by an injury, you may wish to suck up the pain and exercise anyway. Question is, can you do so on a bike trainer? If you broke your arm and know you can hold the handlebar with one arm, you may believe that you could feasibly utilize your bike trainer.
We will not say one way or another and the best answer to this question is to consult your doctor for recommendations. If your doctor gives you the green light, then you do not need an online writer providing you with permission. They will understand your bodies limitations better than anyone, so trust them.
Q: How Often Should You Use a Bike Trainer?
From one person to the next, the answer to this question may vary. So, the best way to answer it is to analyze yourself. Ask yourself this, how often and long do you go on bike rides? These totals will give you a better understanding of what your training regimen should look like with a bike trainer. But it will not be the exact same time and here is why. When you are riding a bicycle outdoors, you are never pedaling in the same fashion the entire time. You will encounter hills and uneven terrain that will result in intense pedaling up the hill, and a relaxed ride down.
However, the workload is going to remain steady indoors as you are not actually going anywhere. As such, take a third of your total bike riding time and cut it out. For example, if you typically go for 60-minute bike rides, use the trainer for 40 minutes.
Q: How to Minimize the Noise of a Trainer?
So many people ask this question and this is why the noise factor is so important. Sure, you could reduce the noise a little by possibly placing material underneath the trainer to absorb vibration. But, especially for wind trainers, you can only help it so much. Just do yourself a favor and pay attention to the noise level before you buy it.
Do not let the freezing weather and snow outdoors prevent you from enjoying one of your favorite activities. It may not be quite the same, but bike trainers do a superb job in their own right mimicking the experience of riding and keep you training all winter so you are ready to hit the road when the snow melts.