Gear up to crush the competition or simply maintain your fitness during the winter using the best indoor bike trainer. Hop on the latest smart trainer to enjoy virtual rides and races on popular apps such as Zwift and Rouvy, a turbo trainer to push your limits or a basic and budget-friendly stationary bike stand.
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1. Saris M2 Smart TrainerPros:
- Fits most standard road and mountain bikes
- Integrated speed, cadence and power sensors
- Simulates up to a 15 percent climbing gradient
- Average noise level
- Doesn't fit 650C wheels
- Separate Zwift subscription required
Integrated speed, cadence and power data means you don’t need to spend extra on external sensors to keep tabs on your training.
The M2 Smart Trainer by Saris 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. 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. The trainer can also handle a maximum of 1500 watts at 20 miles per hour.
Another way to beat indoor training boredom is to participate in a virtual workout. The M2 Smart Trainer is compatible with Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy and other popular virtual training apps. Bluetooth firmware updates keep the trainer updated as needed.
2. BalanceFrom Stationary Bike StandPros:
- Compatible with road and mountain bikes with 26 to 28-inch wheels or bikes with 700c wheels
- Noise reduction technology with road tires
- Resistance controller is mounted on the handlebars for convenient shifting
- Loud with mountain bike tires
- Resistance may feel limited for experienced cyclists
- Won't work with 29-inch tires
You can easily install and release your rear wheel on the BalanceFrom Stationary Bike Stand, which creates a more user-friendly experience. Quick-release clamps secure your rear wheel into place and hold the bike steady as you ride.
Whether you’re cruising or gearing up to crush those interval training sessions, you’ll have a choice between eight magnetic resistance levels. The resistance controller is mounted on the handlebars for convenient shifting. You can set up this bike stand on virtually any surface, as its rubber feet keep the stand in place and prevent it from scratching your floors.
The stationary bike stand works best for road and mountain bikes with 26 to 28-inch wheels or bikes with 700c wheels. The noise reduction technology is designed for road bike tires. You can also purchase a trainer tire to minimize noise during training sessions. This bike trainer stand has a maximum load capacity of 330 pounds.
3. Alpcour Fluid Bike Trainer StandPros:
- Near-silent operation
- Rubber-coated pads make the trainer suitable for virtually any surface
- Fluid resistance keeps you in control of workouts
- Assembly instructions aren't the best
- Not WiFi-enabled
- Front riser isn't the highest quality
Some stationary bike stands can be loud enough to wake your neighbors, but this indoor cycling trainer features a nearly silent design that caters to apartment dwellers and those with unconventional workout schedules.
The resistance wheel is specifically designed to reduce trainer noise, including that constant whirring in the background that only gets louder as your effort increases. This fluid trainer also provides a smooth ride for road and mountain bikes with 26- to 29-inch and 700c wheels. A dual-lock tension knob adds an extra element of security.
You’re in control of the resistance at any given time, as it increases the faster you pedal. Rubber-coated pads make the trainer suitable for virtually any surface, including hardwood, mats, carpets and more. Between its sturdy metal frame and wide base, the bike trainer also stays put during hill climbs, sprints and everything in-between.
A front wheel riser block is included. The stand conveniently folds up when it’s not in use.
4. Wahoo KICKR SNAP Smart Power TrainerPrice: $499.99Pros:
- Third-party power meter compatibility
- Compatible with Zwift, Rouvy and other apps
- Maximum 1500-watt output and 12 percent incline
- Requires an external power source for operation
- Needs spindown for power calibration
- Higher-level KICKR trainers are more accurate
As far as Wahoo KICKR bike trainers go, SNAP is the most affordable option. Don’t be fooled by its entry-level status, though, as the SNAP is a worthy option for beginner and advanced cyclists alike. In fact, there are plenty of similarities between the KICKR SNAP, CORE, and KICKR trainers.
For example, all three models have ANT+, Bluetooth and ANT+ FE-C connectivity. You can support up to three simultaneous Bluetooth connections on all three trainers.
Additionally, they all work with iOS, Android and PC systems, and feature electromagnetic resistance and wireless firmware updates. Each trainer is compatible with third-party power meters. Whether you prefer Zwift, Rouvy, TrainerRoad or another virtual riding app, you can ride along with your favorites with all KICKR trainers.
Just as these trainers are similar in many ways, there are several key differences. Perhaps the most obvious is the fact that you’ll remove your bike’s rear wheel to ride on the KICKR CORE and KICKR, which often translates to a more finely tuned indoor riding experience.
In contrast, KICKR SNAP is a wheel-on trainer that sets up quickly and easily. All three trainers support 650C, 700C, and 26, 27.5 and 29-inch wheels. However, the KICKR CORE and KICKR are also compatible with 24-inch wheels.
Each trainer also works with 130 and 135mm quick release, and 12x142mm axles. The higher-level trainers are also compatible with 12x148mm axles.
With a maximum power wattage of 1500 and a maximum incline of 12 percent, the KICKR SNAP takes care of most non-competitive training demands. SNAP is equipped with a 10.5-pound flywheel and requires a spindown for power calibration.
Upgrade to the KICKR CORE if you’re looking for a more performance-oriented trainer. KICKR CORE has a maximum 1800-watt power output, 16 percent maximum incline and a slightly larger 12-pound flywheel. This trainer also requires a spindown for power calibration.
Wahoo’s premium KICKR bike trainer caters to competitive cyclists with a maximum power output of 2200 watts, a hefty 16-pound flywheel and a 20 percent maximum incline. Automatic power calibration adds an element of convenience.
5. Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE Smart TrainerPrice: $899.99Pros:
- Refined flywheel delivers a realistic road feel
- Belt motor drivetrain minimizes noise during workouts
- Trainer measures distance, speed, power and cadence
- Cassette isn't included
- May wobble a bit when riding out of the saddle
- Doesn't come with a front block
The KICKR CORE Smart Trainer is a smart bike trainer that’s accurate and quiet, making it particularly useful for frequent workouts. If you’re looking to get some serious indoor training sessions in, features such as controlled resistance and a 16 percent maximum grade simulation for hill climbs will come in handy. You can pair the trainer with the KICKR Headwind and Climb to elevate your workouts to the next level.
The trainer also measures distance, speed, power and cadence on its own, so you don’t need a separate device. A 12-pound flywheel delivers realistic progressive resistance as you pedal. Workouts are more realistic thanks to +/- 2% power accuracy.
The belt motor drivetrain minimizes noise during workouts, which is good news for those in apartments or dorms. This bike trainer is compatible with various rear wheel sizes, from 24-inch road tires to 29-inch mountain bike tires.
If you’re interested in a smart trainer that’s fully connected, the KICKR CORE delivers. The trainer features ANT+, ANT+FE-C and Bluetooth connectivity. There’s also third-party app compatibility and support for third-party power meters. You can enhance your training using various apps and software, including Trainer Road and Zwift.
6. Saris H3 Direct Drive Smart TrainerPros:
- Produces a maximum of 59 decibels at 20 miles per hour
- Works with Shimano 8-11 speed cassettes
- Compatible with Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy and other popular cycling apps
- Trainer is a bit heavy for moving
- May periodically lose connections
- Not compatible with the Wahoo Fitness app
Not all indoor cycling trainers are quiet, but the H3 Direct Drive Smart Trainer produces a maximum of 59 decibels at 20 miles per hour, which means you can suffer through even the most grueling training sessions without waking up others in your household. If you’ve used a previous generation H Series trainer, the H3 will be noticeably quieter. An improved drive system increases efficiency while minimizing trainer noise.
There’s more to like about the H3 than just its quiet operation, as it’s a fully equipped smart trainer that will make any indoor session much more manageable. For starters, you’ll find Bluetooth, ANT+ and FE-C connectivity, which means that the trainer will work with virtually any cycling device, including your favorite GPS bike computer. LED lights let you know when your device is connected.
If you’re looking for a bit of stimulation for your indoor training sessions, the H3 comes with a one-month subscription to the Rouvy training app. It’s also compatible with popular apps such as Zwift and TrainerRoad. If you prefer to train without apps, a headless mode provides a progressive resistance curve to stimulate tough outdoor sessions.
With features such as a 2,000-watt maximum power output at 20 miles per hour and a 20 percent climbing grade simulation, you may emerge from your winter training block feeling fitter and stronger than ever before. A power accuracy measurement of +/- 2 percent provides a realistic training experience, even if you’re a pro. Whether you’re training for your next race or you’re simply looking to stay fit, the trainer measures your speed, cadence and power without any external sensors. A 20-pound precision-balanced flywheel provides maximum resistance for your most hardcore workouts.
This direct drive smart trainer works with Shimano 8-11 speed cassettes and eliminates the risk of wear and tear on the rear tire by connecting your bike directly to the trainer. It also has an integrated front wheel block to hold your bike steady. Folding legs make it easier to move and transport the trainer, yet give it a wide and supportive footprint during use. The maximum combined rider and bike weight for this trainer is 300 pounds.
The CycleOps Hammer Direct Drive Smart Trainer is a slightly less expensive alternative. This smart trainer features Bluetooth Low Energy and ANT+ connectivity, so you can use it with your favorite virtual training apps.
7. TACX Neo 2T Smart TrainerPrice: $1,399.99Pros:
- Stimulates climbs up to 25 percent
- Maximum 2,200 power watts
- Works with Zwift, TrainerRoad and other apps
- Quite heavy
- Cassette isn't included
- Loses downhill drive capability when used unplugged
The TACX Neo 2T Smart Trainer is equally quiet and powerful and has a redesigned motor with stronger magnets for more torque compared with the popular Neo 2 trainer. This design change also reduces vibrations and overall noise during workouts. The trainer is compatible with many axles and fits a wide range of bikes, including road and mountain bikes. Adapters are included for several axles for a better fit.
If you’re looking to generate some serious power, the trainer has a maximum 2,200 watts of power. Watts are measured within 1 percent accuracy for more rewarding results. You can also get a head start on the competition by practicing your hill climbs, as this Tacx smart trainer stimulates climbs up to 25 percent.
In terms of connectivity, the Neo 2T is ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible. You can also pair it with your smartphone or GPS-enabled device, including bike computers. This trainer works with your favorite workout apps such as TrainerRoad, Zwift, Sufferfest and more.
8. FDW Bike Trainer StandPros:
- Supports up to 300 pounds of bike and rider weight
- Weighs just under 20 pounds for easy portability
- Folds up for traveling or storage
- Doesn't come with a quick-release skewer
- Plastic components aren't very durable
- Some mountain bike users have trouble getting their bikes to fit
Your performance doesn’t have to take a hit even if you’re shopping on a budget, as this affordable stationary bike stand with five resistance levels demonstrates. Whether you’re warming up or tackling interval training sessions, you can adjust the resistance accordingly to get the most out of your indoor training sessions.
This sturdy stationary bike stand is also made with carbon steel and can support up to 300 pounds. When you’re done working out, simply fold up the bike trainer for storage. At just under 20 pounds, the trainer is also light enough to carry with you. It’s also easily collapsible and won’t take up much space. To keep the noise level down as much as possible, this trainer works best with road bike tires.
9. Wahoo Fitness KICKR Power TrainerPrice: $1,199.99Pros:
- Power ratings within +/- 1 percent accuracy
- Compatible with Zwift, The SufferFest and other popular apps
- AXIS Feet provide a realistic riding experience
- Limited one-year warranty
- Trainer is on the heavier side
- Self-calibration isn't backwards compatible
It might sound odd, but one of the most notable features of this Wahoo KICKR bike trainer is its feet. The KICKR’s traditional fixed feet have been swapped out for the AXIS Feet to bring you a more realistic riding experience, complete with five degrees of lateral movement.
Not only do these feet sway during the most intense intervals, they also come with three stiffness levels to fine-tune your ride. Whether you’re gearing up for an upcoming race or you’re just looking to get in some consistent training, the KICKR will help you get stronger with power ratings within +/- 1 percent accuracy.
If you’re into numbers, you can generate up to 2,200 watts and tackle climbs with up to a 20 percent incline. In other words, this smart trainer is well suited for even your most demanding workouts.
ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity allow you to connect to your favorite GPS and FE-C devices, smartphones and apps, making it easier to battle indoor workout boredom. The KICKR smart bike trainer is compatible with Zwift, The SufferFest, Strava Summit and other popular apps.
Whether you’re an apartment dweller or you’d rather not disturb others, you’ll appreciate this Wahoo trainer’s virtually silent operation. A pre-installed 11-speed cassette and various axle configurations make setting up your pain cave quick and easy.
10. Kinetic Rock and Roll ControlPros:
- Compatible with most popular cycling apps
- Fits most wheels 22 to 29 inches
- Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ connectivity
- 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.
11. RAD Cycle Products Max RacerPros:
- Works with road and mountain bikes
- Extra-wide legs and sturdy frame
- Supports up to 265 pounds
- No smart connectivity
- Some wish there was more resistance
- Not compatible with 29-inch tires
If you’d rather skip the smart cycling experience and don’t need interactive rides to help you stay motivated, this RAD Cycle Max Racer trainer is a solid choice. It’s also a practical investment if you’re just dipping your toes into the world of indoor cycling.
This affordable bike trainer covers all the basics. For starters, it’s outfitted with seven resistance levels to simulate your favorite outdoor riding experiences. Another perk is its extra-wide legs, which keep you feeling steady and secure as you ramp up the intensity.
The frame itself is also sturdy and can support up to 265 pounds. Whether you’re using a road or mountain bike, the trainer accommodates 26- to 28-inch and 700c tires. A riser block is included.
How Do Bike Trainers Work?
You don't have to be a serious cyclist to invest in a stationary bike stand, also known as a bike trainer or a cycle trainer. As its name suggests, a stationary bike stand simply holds the bike in place while you generate resistance and power to meet your specific workout goals.
Once your bike is properly in place you can start your workout. Some trainers automatically increase resistance the harder you pedal, while others require you to twist a knob or use included controls to adjust the resistance levels according to your current fitness.
Which Bike Trainer Should I Buy?
While there are different variations of stationary bike stands, all are designed to accommodate a typical road bike. Many also fit hybrids and mountain bikes.
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.
A direct drive trainer is a sound choice if you're looking for that ultimate road-like riding experience paired with quiet operation. You'll need to remove the rear wheel of your bike and connect it with the trainer. Some direct-drive trainers come with their own standard cassette, although you'll need to purchase one separately if it's not included.
Regardless of which type of which stationary bike stand you choose, you'll want one that's sturdy and durable enough to withstand the demands of your indoor training sessions.
Which Bike Trainers Work with Zwift?
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 indoor cycling trainer typically keeps track of your speed, cadence, power, and more.
An increasing number of the best indoor bike trainers on the market today work with Zwift as well as Rouvy, TrainerRoad, Sufferfest and other popular apps. Some of our top picks include the Saris M2, Kinetic Road Machine Smart 2, TACX Neo 2T and the Kinetic Rock and Roll Control.
Are Smart Bike Trainers worth It?
Many of the best bike trainers are ANT+ compatible, meaning they need a separate dongle to work properly. Some trainers are Bluetooth-ready, but the best indoor bike trainers for connectivity are ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible. Either way, 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.
How Do I Set My Bike up on the Trainer?
Some of the best indoor cycling 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 could use some extra guidance, check out this great How To Set Up A Turbo Trainer video from Global Cycling Network on YouTube.
Are Trainers Bad for Your Bike?
Unless your bike isn't installed properly (you'll most likely notice right away if this is the case), a stationary bike stand won't harm your bike. However, it's important to keep in mind that trainers can cause your rear tire to wear out faster.
A trainer tire is another solid investment, as even the best indoor bike trainers can put a lot of stress on a rear tire. It's important to find the right tire size for your bike. In addition to saving you the stress of having to replace your rear tire after a season on the trainer (or even halfway through depending on how much you ride). Trainer tires can also help dampen trainer-related noise.
Frequent sweat-inducing sessions can also potentially harm your bike if it's not properly protected. Aside from cleaning the bike after each workout on your indoor cycling trainer, you may want to invest in a sweat net. Most sweat nets take up a minimal amount of space and won't intrude much on your handlebar space. Several nets also come with waterproof phone pouches for your smartphone.
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