LAST UPDATED: October 16, 2019
Best Bike Trainers: Stay in Shape Without Going Outdoors
Turn your bicycle into a piece of indoor exercise equipment with these bike trainers
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON October 16, 2019
Foul weather can force you to stay indoors instead of enjoying a nice ride outside. You can maintain your fitness routine by using a bike trainer, which lets you cycle indoors by keeping your bike stationary as you pedal. It helps you get more effective workouts that are less tedious. Our buying guide provides an in-depth review of some of the best bike trainers on the market.
This trainer accommodates 22- to 29-inch wheels and features a 6.25-pound flywheel. It's compatible with the Kinetic inRide Watt Meter for power training and comes with a lifetime warranty.
It simulates true road resistance. It is sturdy, stable, durable, compact, and self-adjusting. It holds the bike securely, provides plenty of resistance, and gives a good response as you accelerate.
It is loud, and it can be hard to hear a TV in the same room unless you wear earbuds. It is also a bit on the light end for lower speeds.
It's easy to set up, is well-built, and is super sturdy. The various levels of magnetic and adjustable resistance are great. Overall, the trainer is simple to use at an affordable price.
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Benefits of Bike Trainers
- Ride every season. If you want to ride your bike all year long but don't like being outside in the rain or when it's cold, a bike trainer is the perfect alternative.
- Safety. If you live in a busy neighborhood or in an area in which there's a lot of traffic, training outdoors can be hazardous. Instead, invest in a bike trainer so you can keep yourself out of danger.
- Efficiency. If you don't have time to transport your bike to an area in which you can safely ride, simply hook up your bike to a trainer instead.
- Get healthy. It's a great way to get exercise inside while having the natural feel of riding on the road or trail outside. Plus, you'll burn some calories, which is good for your health.
Types of Bike Trainers
Direct Drive Trainer
These trainers work without a rear tire. They tend to be more accurate, more powerful, and more realistic than other types of trainers. They also don't require a lot of calibration. Another advantage to this type of trainer is that they are much quieter than the alternative. In addition, they usually include built-in power meters.
These trainers are usually less expensive, particularly those intended for entry-level riders. The techniques necessary for using them are less complicated than direct drive trainers. While they are less advanced, they are great for warming up and you can get a decent workout from them. They are also easy to store because they don't weigh very much.
A smart trainer allows you to control the resistance by using a cycling app such as Zwift, TrainerRoad, and The Sufferfest. They are designed to make indoor cycling more entertaining. Users ride a virtual course, and as you climb hills the resistance increases, which requires harder pedaling. Apps such as Rouvy and FulGaz feature real-life POV video, while Zwift immerses riders in digital worlds.
Kurt Manufacturing is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It started developing its own bike trainer frames in 1999. Its Kinetic by Kurt indoor bike trainer was patented for its leak-proof fluid-resistant design. One of Kurt’s top products is the Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Fluid Trainer.
Saris, based in Madison, Wisconsin, manufactures bike racks, bike trainers, and a variety of other items for cyclists. One of its popular products is the Saris CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Bike Trainer.
Rad Cycle Products
Rad Cycle Products is based in Gaylord, Michigan. The company has been producing cycling sports-related trainers and accessories for several years, including bike racks, repair stands, hoists, and air pumps. One of its popular trainers is the RAD Cycle Products Max Racer.
Bike Trainer Pricing
- $60 to $150: You can get a decent quality bike trainer in this price range. They are usually easy to assemble, lightweight, foldable for storage. Less expensive trainers also tend to be geared towards entry-level riders.
- $150 to $350: If you are a more advanced cyclist, you are probably going to pay a little more for a trainer. The units at this price point have more features, stable frames, provide a smooth ride, and are relatively quiet.
This is the most important feature you need to consider. It's vital that the trainer is compatible with the bike you use, otherwise, you will need to return it. Check the specs to make sure that your road or mountain bike will fit on the bike properly. Also, ensure that the trainer can handle variables such as the weight capacity of you and your bike.
Some trainers are louder than others, and you have to determine how much noise you're willing to put up with before you invest in one of them. The level of the noise is based on several factors, including the type of trainer and the type of surface it's operated on. You also have to consider whether the trainer will be too loud for your family or neighbors.
Some brands of trainers are quite easy to pack up and put away, while others are bulkier. Think about where you want to store the trainer and whether it folds up nice and slim after you complete a training session. If you don't have a lot of space, look for trainers that are more compact.
- Accessories: The majority of stationary bike trainers include some accessories. Check to see which ones you will use with your training routine. Trainers with a lot of accessories may cost a little more, and you need to decide whether the extras are worth the extra cost.
- Type of Resistance: When you use a trainer with a fan or a fluid trainer, resistance increases the harder you pedal. Those with a magnetic flywheel have a fixed resistance, and you must manually adjust the bike's gears to increase the resistance. Flywheel trainers are indoor cycles that are intended for serious cyclists and include power feedback and other advanced features.
Best Bike Trainer Reviews & Recommendations 2019
This trainer comes fully assembled and accommodates 22- to 29-inch wheels. It's one of the most reliable fluid trainers available and features a 6.25-pound flywheel, which provides an excellent ride. It's designed to replicate the feeling of outdoor riding and is compatible with the Kinetic inRide Watt Meter for power training. It comes with a lifetime warranty.
The trainer has a realistic road feel and simulates true road resistance. It is very sturdy, stable, and durable and is ready to use out of the box. It's also compact, well-made, and self-adjusting. It holds the bike securely, provides plenty of resistance, and gives a good response as you accelerate. Also, pedaling is smooth.
The biggest complaint about this trainer is that it is loud (which isn't uncommon with trainers). You may not be able to hear a TV in the same room very well unless you have ear buds. Also, while it comes close to providing real riding resistance, it may be a bit on the lighter end at lower speeds. It's also not compatible with the Pro Flywheel accessory.
The trainer's internal magnet creates resistance the second you start pedaling. It is very light and portable and folds down like an ironing board for storage. It features extra-wide legs for stability and includes a riser block, adjustable foot pads, five magnetic resistance levels, and a quick-release skewer. It's designed for 27-inch road bike wheels and 26-inch mountain bike wheels.
The device is easy to set up and comes with all the tools required for assembly. This trainer is well-built and super sturdy, and the various levels of magnetic and adjustable resistance are great. It's easy to tighten up and lock the twist knobs, it folds up fairly slim when you're not using it, and its resistance switch works well.
Overall, if you are looking for a trainer that is simple and inexpensive, then this one's for you. However, one drawback is that the trainer may be too loud for some people. Also, the resistance at speeds above the lowest setting may feel a little choppy. The directions are also a little challenging to follow.
This trainer works with 650b, 700c, 26-inch, 27-inch and 29-inch wheel sizes and fits common road and mountain bike frames. The alloy roller is designed to reduce tire wear and slippage, and it's compatible with Swift, Rouvy, and other training apps. It's made with non-rusting materials and a 2-inch-round, 16-gauge steel frame. It can hold a combined weight of 300 pounds.
The adjustable foot pads provide a stable ride on nearly all surfaces. It's designed with Fluid2 powertuned technology to create a quiet and consistent ride. It's easy to set up (no tools are required) and it provides a smooth and road-like feel. It feels natural when pedaling because of the design. The instructions are easy to follow, and it's easy to stow out of sight.
One problem is that on some products the bolt action tube does not fit. It might not slide in place and instead may get stuck in the housing. Also, while the trainer has enough resistance for some riders, a strong rider may find it has some limitations.
- Install trainer tires on your bike before mounting it. The treads are smoother and the rubber is grippier than standard bike tires. They are also brightly colored to remind you not to ride them outside.
- If you don't want to wear down your rear wheel, use a dedicated spare wheel for the bike trainer. Ensure that the spare wheel is steady and strong enough for your safety.
- It's almost impossible to avoid sweating when riding indoors. Sweat corrodes the exposed metal parts and may lead to broken handlebars. Wear gloves when riding, and clean off the sweat from the bike with a wet cloth after you're done. Also, consider installing an air conditioner in the training room.
Q: Can a bike trainer damage your bike?
A: Yes, it can if you use your stock rear skewer and make side-to-side movements when the bike is stationary. Your rear skewer is the part that holds the bike to the trainer and handles all the force. Replace your stock skewer with a steel skewer, which is more resistant to bending or breaking. Also, make up and down movements when cycling as opposed to side-to-side movements, which can put too much strain on the wheel.
Q: Do I get a better bike workout outdoors or indoors?
A: When you are cycling outdoors, it may feel like you are getting more from the workout since you engage your body and mind. But you actually get a better workout indoors if you avoid distractions. A 60-minute dedicated indoor workout is akin to a 90-minute outdoor workout since you make more stops when outdoors.
Q: How long should I cycle on a bike trainer?
A: You should do a maximum of 90 minutes on the trainer to avoid putting too much stress on the structure. Most bike trainers are designed to offer a temporary substitute when the weather is not conducive to an outdoor ride. It may not withstand daily use. Consider buying a stationary bike for that purpose.
Our top pick for the best bike trainer is the Sportneer Bike Trainer. It gives you a realistic feel and can sit firmly even on a rough surface.
If you are looking for a more affordable option, consider the Bike Lane Bicycle Trainer.