10 Best Bike Trainers: Which Is Right for You?

bike trainer

When foul weather forces you indoors, you’ll want the best bike trainer to get the job done. Whether you’re looking for the latest smart trainer that closely mimics your favorite outdoor routes or a basic trainer that’s easy on the wallet, here are our picks for this year’s best indoor bike trainers.

What Are the Best Bike Trainers Available in 2019?

cycleops trainer Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Integrated sensors
  • PowerTap technology
  • Compatible with Zwift
Price: $499.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
kinetic road machine 2.0 Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Fits most bikes
  • Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ technology
  • Realistic road feel
Price: $369.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
indoor bike trainer Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Accurate results
  • Works with most popular apps
  • LED connectivity lights
Price: $799.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
indoor bike trainer Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Compact
  • Easy to transport
  • Weighted flywheel
Price: $349.20 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
indoor bike trainer Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Stable
  • Lightweight
Price: $90.18 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
kinetic bike trainer Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Whole body workout
  • Engages the core
  • Road-like feel
Price: $749.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
tacx neo Amazon Customer Reviews
  • No calibration required
  • Includes pedal stroke analysis
  • 25 percent gradient
Price: $1,379.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
indoor bike trainer Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Affordable
  • Extra-wide frame
  • Adjustable magnetic resistance
Price: $92.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
bike trainer Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Hydraulic fluid for road-like feel
  • Stable frame
  • Adjustable foot pads
Price: $299.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
indoor bike trainer Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Compact
  • Portable
  • Wide base
Price: $129.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Best Value: CycleOps M2 Smart Trainer

    Pros:
    • Fits most standard road and mountain bikes
    • Integrated speed, cadence and power sensors
    • Simulates up to a 15 percent climbing gradient
    Cons:
    • Average noise level
    • Doesn't fit 650C wheels
    • Separate Zwift subscription required

    When it comes to bike trainers, you can spend under $100 or over $1,000. If you’re looking for a solid smart bike trainer that lets you stay connected to your favorite apps and provides a realistic road-like feel, yet won’t set you back too much, consider this CycleOps smart trainer.

    The CycleOps M2 Smart Trainer is compatible with several tires, including 26, 27 and some 29 inches. It’s also designed for 650b and 700c wheels. An included quick release skewer, along with multiple rear dropout settings, ensures this indoor bike trainer fits most standard road and mountain bike frames. While it’s a popular trainer for road bike enthusiasts, many mountain bike riders find that this trainer is a good fit for their bikes as well.

    Whether your bike is designed for the road or trails, you’ll find yourself getting a meaningful workout once setup is complete. If the thought of dealing with external sensors to get information about your speed, power and cadence makes you hesitate, you’ll appreciate knowing that this trainer comes with integrated sensors. PowerTap technology provides accurate power readings within five percent. There’s also integrated ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth technology for fast and easy data transmission.

    Noise level is a concern many cyclists share when it comes to indoor workouts. This trainer is fairly quiet, reaching a decibel level of 69 at 20 miles per hour. Another common concern is that riding on a bike trainer feels nothing like your favorite riding routes. With climbing grade simulation up to 15 percent and progressive fluid resistance, your rides will feel a bit more realistic with this indoor bike trainer.

    Another way to beat indoor training boredom is to participate in a virtual workout. The CycleOps M2 Smart Trainer is compatible with Zwift, TrainderRoad, Rouvy and other popular virtual training apps. Bluetooth firmware updates keep the trainer updated as needed.

  2. 2. Best Affordable Smart Trainer: Kinetic Road Machine Smart 2

    Pros:
    • 6.25-pound flywheel
    • Precision-calibrated fluid resistance unit
    • Ideal for app-based training
    Cons:
    • A bit heavy for transporting
    • Some find bike setup a bit tricky
    • A few complain of occasional connectivity issues

    For some cyclists, the best bike trainers are those that are connected for app-based training. The Kinetic Road Machine Smart 2 is an intuitive trainer with the latest technology to help you stay connected and engaged during workouts. Not only is this Kinetic bike trainer compatible with apps such as Zwift and Kinetic Fit, it also has Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ technology.

    A precision-calibrated fluid resistance unit, combined with a 6.25-pound flywheel, provides a realistic road feel, which can make indoor workouts more effective and less tedious. The resistance level adjusts depending on your wheel speed. This trainer fits 22 to 29-inch wheels and is compatible with nearly any type of bike.

  3. 3. Best for Serious Training: Elite Direto 2

    Pros:
    • ANT+ and Bluetooth technology
    • Compatible with most road, mountain and city bikes
    • Slope simulation up to 14 percent
    Cons:
    • A few complain of lagging with cadence changes
    • Limited setup instructions
    • Not the quietest trainer

    Whether you’re gearing up for a race or you just want to stay on top of your training goals, consider the Elite Direto 2. This smart trainer is targeted towards dedicated cyclists looking for precise results.

    For example, power output is measured within two percent via an integrated power meter. You’ll also get slope simulation up to 14 percent, so you’ll feel ready and able to conquer challenging hills out on the road. Maximum power output is a beastly 2,200 watts. Pedaling analysis is available for an additional fee.

    ANT+ and Bluetooth technology lets you quickly and easily keep track of essentials such as cadence, speed and power. You can track your training via compatible bike computers and smart devices.

    If you prefer virtual workouts, you’ll appreciate that this trainer works with Zwift, SufferFest, TrainerRoad and other popular cycling apps. LED lights make it easy to keep track of connectivity as you ride. A 12-month subscription to the accompanying app is included.

    While it’s a favorite among road cyclists, the Elite Direto 2 works with other types of bikes. You can install just about any road bike, along with most mountain and city bikes, even those with a carbon frame.

  4. 4. Best Compact Trainer: JetBlack Z1 Pro

    Pros:
    • 900 watts
    • Fits most road and mountain bikes
    • Progressive fluid resistance
    Cons:
    • Some wish the resistance was higher
    • Can take fluid a few minutes to warm up
    • Wheel riser not included

    Whether you’re sharing a tight workout space or you just want a trainer that isn’t too bulky or cumbersome to transport and store, consider the JetBlack Z1 Pro. This fluid trainer features a low profile design, and can quickly and easily be folded down into a compact shape.

    Don’t be fooled by its small size, though, because the trainer fits most road and mountain bikes, including 700C wheels and those up to 29 inches. Most smaller 24-inch wheels are also compatible. The base remains solid and stable, even during the toughest sprints. Slip-resistant feet hold the base firmly in place.

  5. 5. Best for Beginners: RAD Cycle Products Magnetic Bicycle Trainer

    Pros:
    • Fits most standard road and mountain bikes
    • Wide legs for added stability
    • Comes with a quick release skewer
    Cons:
    • Riser block not included
    • Designed for bikes with a quick release rear axle
    • Doesn't have a very high level of resistance

    If you’re looking for an easily portable bike trainer that can be folded up and stored away when not in use, this one is a good bet. It also stands out for its durability, which includes a sturdy frame, robust material, and extra-wide legs. The legs are also separated for even better stability.

    As soon as you begin to pedal, an internal magnet starts to generate resistance. You can hook up just about any road or mountain bike with 26-inch, 27-inch, or 700c wheels. To increase or decrease resistance, simply shift the gears on your bike up or down.

  6. 6. Best Full-Body Workout: Kinetic Rock and Roll Control

    Pros:
    • Compatible with most popular cycling apps
    • Fits most wheels 22 to 29 inches
    • Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ connectivity
    Cons:
    • Some complain of connectivity issues
    • App support could be better
    • A bit pricey

    Most bike trainers remain firmly planted on the ground during a workout, which can add to the sometimes tedious nature of cycling indoors. The original Rock and Roll addressed the issue by allow for more natural movement. Not only have cyclists found that this results in a more stimulating workout, it also engages more of the body than a traditional stationary trianer.

    The Kinetic Rock and Roll Control maintains the basic design and feel of the original trainer. However, the addition of this new interactive style adds an extra element of excitement to indoor rides. The Rock and Roll Control features Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity, and can be controlled via an app. The trainer is compatible with a number of popular cycling apps, from Zwift to Kinetic Fit to Rouvy, TrainerRoad, Sufferfest and more.

    A 12-pound flywheel provides plenty of resistance. The bike trainer comes with a skewer and will work with most bike frames and wheels from 22 to 29 inches. There’s a maximum slope of 10 percent, while the resistance tops out at 1800 watts at 30 miles per hour. Controlled resistance provides a more realistic, road-like feel.

  7. 7. Best Virtual Cycling Trainer: Tacx NEO 2 Smart Indoor Trainer

    Pros:
    • Comes with a virtual flywheel
    • Can be purchased with a three-month membership
    • Highly accurate
    Cons:
    • Doesn't come with an ANT+ antenna
    • Cassette version costs more
    • Not the most realistic road feel

    When you’re stuck training indoors, especially for an extended period of time, having access to the virtual cycling world can make all the difference. The Tacx NEO 2 is designed for dedicated cyclists searching for a realistic workout, with the added advantage of access to a wide range of software and apps.

    You’ll have to pay a bit more for access to Tacx Premium and Premium HD, but the benefits can be well worth the added cost. With these programs you can access high quality training films, GPS workouts and structured training plans, as well as the ability to challenge live opponents.

    You can also use the software to create workouts, anaylze essential training data, follow friends and more. If you use Strava, you can upload your favorite rides as well as export and share data. The Tacx Neo 2 is compatible with just about every popular app, from Zwift to SufferFest to Rouvy, TrainerRoad and more.

    As far as serious training sessions are concerned, the trainer boasts up to a 25 percent gradient simulation, which is currently unmatched by any other trainer on the market. If you’re looking to get into serious shape for the hills, this trainer is a worthwhile investment. There’s also a maximum 2,200 watt resistance.

    Other highlights include pedal stroke analysis and the ability to display power distribution between the right and left legs. This Tacx Neo trainer is outfitted with a virtual flywheel.

  8. 8. Best Budget Pick: Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer

    Pros:
    • Highly portable
    • Includes rear wheel skewer
    • Comes with a front wheel riser
    Cons:
    • Need to dismount bike or manually shift gears to adjust resistance
    • May not work with bikes that have more than 10 gears on rear cassette
    • Some wish the resistance level was higher

    The Conquer indoor bike trainer is easy to set up and works just as well in your garage as it does in a dedicated exercise room. You can also fold it easily for effortless portability thanks to its wide frame. Don’t be fooled by the lower price tag, as this trainer features a reliable heavy duty construction. Unlike most trainers on the market, a front wheel riser block is included.

    Cyclists appreciate the included quick release and sturdy mounting clips, which holds the bike securely in place while reducing slippage. The trainer is also quiet, making it easy to use in a smaller living space without waking others up. This bike trainer is compatible with 26-inch, 27-inch, and 700c bikes. A similar option is the Travel Trac Comp Fluid Bicycle Trainer.

    This bike trainer is beginner to intermediate cyclists looking for a heavy duty and budget-friendly bike trainer. It’s also easy to fold and carry, making it a popular choice for those who can’t have a permanent setup or who want to bring their trainer along when traveling.

  9. 9. Best Road Bike Trainer: CycleOps Fluid 2

    Pros:
    • Relatively quiet
    • Power-tuned technology
    • Durable steel frame
    Cons:
    • Doesn't come with a front wheel riser
    • Setup instructions could be better
    • A bit loud

    This popular fluid bike trainer is a solid mid-range option that caters to cyclists of all levels. One unique feature of this CycleOps trainer is that it uses hydraulic fluid instead of magnetic or mechanical resistance, which creates a more realistic road-like feel.

    On the road, resistance naturally increases along with your pedal speed. Hydraulic fluid mimics this process and offers a more realistic road feel. You’ll also enjoy a consistent ride and progressive resistance with a minimal amount of noise regardless of how intense your workout gets.

    A precision-based flywheel lets you choose your ride intensity by shifting gears just as you would during an outdoor ride. The durable steel frame stands up well over time and keeps the bike from wobbling or tipping. Adjustable foot pads promote a safe and stable ride on a variety of surfaces.

    If you want the smart version of this trainer, check out the CycleOps Fluid 2 Trainer with Sensor.

     

     

  10. 10. Best Entry-Level Trainer: Travel Trac Comp

    Pros:
    • Fits most road and mountain bikes
    • Progressive fluid resistance
    • Comes with a quick release skewer
    Cons:
    • Can be a bit choppy until fluid warms up
    • Average noise level
    • Front wheel base isn't included

    If you’re looking for a solid entry-level bike trainer, consider the Travel Trac Comp. Fluid resistance keeps workouts challenging and engaging. The harder you pedal, the more resistance you’ll encounter. The trainer fits most standard road and mountain bikes. A quick release skewer is included.

    Whether you’re loading on a lightweight road bike or a heftier mountain bike, the wide, stable base will hold your bike securely in place as you ride. When you’re done with your workout, you can easily fold up the stand and store it out of sight.

You don't have to be a serious cyclist to invest in an indoor bike trainer. This piece of equipment simply holds the bike in place while you generate resistance and power to meet your specific workout goals.

While there are different variations of trainers, all are designed to accommodate a typical road bike. Many can also fit hybrids and mountain bikes. If you're buying a bike trainer for the first time or you already own one and are considering upgrading, knowing the different types of bike trainers and how they function can help narrow down the options.

Resistance trainers are popular for their simplicity, affordability, and durability. Resistance levels increase the harder or faster you pedal. With this type of trainer, your own pedaling powers a fan for resistance.

A magnetic trainer offers fixed resistance using magnetic force. Unlike a wind trainer, you can't change the resistance level by pedaling harder or faster. This type of trainer is ideal for longer, steadier rides. A fluid trainer offers progressive resistance, and the levels will increase the harder and faster you pedal.

Roller bike trainers can be deceptive, as they look quite simple. Despite its basic design, this type of roller is challenging as it requires you to stay balanced and upright on your bike. Unlike a typical bike trainer, there is no stand to hold your bike in place.

Regardless of which type of bike trainer you choose, you'll want one that's sturdy and durable enough to withstand the demands of your indoor training sessions.

Smart bike trainers are an increasingly popular option among cyclists who don't mind spending a bit more for a more technology-filled training session. Whether you want continuous feedback during a ride or are just intrigued by the technology, this type of trainer typically keeps track of your speed, cadence, power, and more.

Many of these trainers are either ANT+ compatible, meaning they need a separate dongle to work properly, or Bluetooth-ready. Once your smart trainer is properly set up you can start on a virtual ride to inject a bit more variety and excitement into a typical indoor training ride.

There are many tips to consider when shopping for the best bike trainer. For many cyclists, the method of attachment is a primary concern. Some trainers let you directly attach the rear axle and cassette, which replaces the rear wheel of the bike. This option can help save your bike's tire while providing a smoother connection.

However, not every axle or drivetrain is compatible with this type of trainer. Bike trainers with a traditional wheel drive operate by pressing against the rear tire. While this option is typically less expensive than direct mount trainers it can also produce more noise and wear out tires relatively quickly.

If you're going to spend money on a new indoor bike trainer stand, you'll probably also want to invest in some common bike trainer accessories. A front tire block allows you to keep your bike at a steady height to mimic a natural riding position. Some cyclists stack the blocks to mimic a hill climb.

A trainer tire is another solid investment, as trainers can put a lot of stress on a rear tire. It's important to find the right tire size for your bike. A sweat net can keep sweat from corroding crucial bike components, including the frame. A trainer mat can dampen noise and make cleanup easier after a workout. You can also consider a power meter to track your workouts.

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