10 Best Bike Trainers Tested & Fully Reviewed
Cycling is a sport that combines the freedom of the outdoors with rigorous and effective exercise. Athletes can cover serious mileage, build muscle, and take in scenery all over the world. But, like with any other sport, there’s an off-season. Weather doesn’t always agree with cycling, and it can be dangerous to try and ride in icy or inclement conditions. Serious athletes know that not practicing can have a negative impact on their performance. This is where bike trainers come in.
A good bike trainer allows you to cycle from the comfort of your own home. Many of them simulate the conditions of outdoors while giving you all of the convenience of the indoors. Training regularly keeps your muscles conditioned, your cardiovascular system in check, and helps you stay at your peak physical shape no matter what the weather.
New technological innovations have made bike trainers more efficient than ever. Many are able to work off of the WiFi in your home to connect you to a variety of workouts, and to help you track your progress. We reviewed a wide range of products, and made sure that only the best made our list.
- Kinetic Fluid
- Stable & Durable
- CycleOps Fluid 2
- Easy to Set Up
- Tacx Vortex Smart
- Compatible with Most Bikes
Newer bike trainers are built to last. They’re durable and can stand up to the friction generated by hard riding and prolonged use. They work great for drills and interval rides, and give you an opportunity to get a real workout in. We looked at ones that were easy to install and use, and that give you the most for your money.
Not only can the bike trainer keep you in shape when you can’t cycle outdoors, it can also help you to improve your form and allow you to try different postures. Knowing how to use gears for resistance properly and working on your range of motion can improve your performance exponentially.
We know that purists will always prefer to ride outside, but the best bike trainers can help you to strengthen your skills and can be a great option for athletes who can’t make it outdoors.
10 Best Bike Trainers
Kinetic Fluid Rock 'N Roll
This fluid trainer consists of a durable frame that is stable and is patented in design to provide movement that mirrors being out on the road. The only free-moving fluid trainer, the Rock ’N Rock enables the bike to move left and right without fear of falling off the bike. Not only does this result in a real-road experience, but it also gives the cyclist a great core workout. The unique side to side motion stimulates road cycling in a way other bike trainers can’t. It is smooth and rides well. Its progressive resistance also feels realistic.
The frame fits 22 to 29-inch wheels and comes fully assembled. It has ergonomic rubberized knobs and feet for added stability, a large diameter roller, and large flywheel for an enhanced ride feel. It also comes with a skewer and has rear thru-axle adapter support.
It also uses Bluetooth Smart to pair with devices and is compatible with popular cycling training apps like Swift as well as Kinetic Fit with its built-in inRide sensor technology. This means no additional sensors are needed to get stats like power, heart rate, speed, distance, and cadence.
As mentioned, this is a fluid trainer, and although it has app connectivity, adjustments are made by wheel speed and are not control in the app. It has a resistance range of 3 to 2,000 watts, making it a powerful option. Where other fluid until leak, this trainer has a patented magnetic drive system that consists of two sets of agents on each side of a wall the makes it leak-proof.
The Rock ’N Roll also performs well in the noise department. It is nice and quiet, even without a mat.
Compatible with nearly all bikes
High price tag
CycleOps Fluid 2
This is a fluid trainer that provides progressive resistance. It is among the best when it comes to having the road feel quality cyclists look for in a trainer.
It has a wide frame that has a tubular leg design with hooves that adjust to fit many bikes. It is durable and very stable, allowing for the rider to feel secure when out of the saddle and when increasing speed thanks to its leveling feet. The Fluid 2 is equipped with a large flywheel, with a precision-machined alloy roller that adds support to the tires to prevent it from slipping. This roller also calls for a really smooth ride Its roller allows for 700c, 650b, and 26, 27, and 2-inch wheel sizes. It has a steel quick release skewer that is included with three rear dropout spacing settings. The Fluid 2 has a self-cooling fan to prevent the system from overheating when working up a serious sweat.
This is a smart trainer, compatible with virtual training apps to get insights to the side like power and more. Performance wise, this option is great for sprints, intervals, and longer rides, as much as it is for more casual workouts because of its realistic road feel, progressive resistance and smooth pedaling.
This trainer is fluid based when it comes to its resistance. Resistance foes from 20 watts to over 800, giving it a good range that reacts well.
The Fluid 2 scores very well in the noise department, It has a noise volume of around 64 to 68 decibels at 20mph, which isn’t bad at all.
- A high-performance option that rides smooth and has great road feel
- Offers lots of stability
- Easy to set up, and folds down
- Progressive resistance responds well
- Compatible with virtual training apps
- Slightly pricey when adding accessories
Tacx Vortex Smart
The Vortex Smart is an electric motor option that combines the functionality and packability of traditional trainers with the advanced tracking of smart trainers. This is the ideal option for those looking to upgrade to a smart trainer for a more affordable price without skimping greatly on performance. It folds down flat and is lightweight at 20lbs. It has single-lever clamps, a 30 mm roller, and 8 magnets ad 8 electromagnets with an electric brake. It is compatible with race, tri, and mountain bikes, with up to 29-inch wheels with Taxc trainer tires. It is suitable for axles with 135mm MTB, and adapters are available. It has front wheel support and a quick release feature.
The Vortex Smart has a max power of 940 watts at 40 km/h, which doesn’t make it as powerful when it comes to performance than some of the others. It also doesn’t have a stimulation of descent, and only has a max slip of 7 percent. However, it can function without power and has ANT+ and Bluetooth support for tracking features. It has a light flywheel, yet still responds quickly to changes in resistance. The power readings can be slightly inaccurate but have the feel of a fluid trainer with the benefits of smart tech to track speed, cadence, and power.
The resistance is controlled by training apps like Zwift or TrainerRoad. It is responsive, yet much more stable when on the bike opposed to being out of the saddle. While changing gears is easy thanks to apps, it doesn’t have the amount of road feel as others like the Hammer.
This trainer is quiet at low resistance but does increase in noise volume for more intense workouts.
- Affordable for a smart trainer
- Easy to use
- Compatible with most bikes
- Not as stable as others like the CycleOps Hammer
- Lacking in road feel
With a wide base made of steel with adjustable, and anti-slip rubber feet, this trainer is stable and won’t cause any wobbling on uneven floors. It is extremely easy to assemble, is foldable and compact. This makes it great for storing or fitting in the trunk of a car for traveling. It has a quick release lever so that the consumer just needs to pull to instantly release the bike from the stand to go outdoors.
It fits most road or mountain bikes with 26 to 28 inch for 700c wheel, and it comes with a front wheel rise block or a more realistic ride, as well as a skewer.
It doesn’t have any fancy smart features, so it can’t measure power or tap into any training features. However, it does its job at allowing for an indoor ride thetas smooth and has a decent range of resistance to mimic being on the road.
This option has six levels of resistance, with one being the lowest resistance and 6 the highest. Resistance is adjusted with the remote that is mounted to the handlebar. The cyclist can also use the gears of the bike to enhance the amount of resistance.
This option has a noise reduction flywheel that keeps sound at a minimum. However, the noise level varies depending on the size of the tires. Thicker tires will still result in noise.
- Relatively quiet with noise reduction wheel, so riders can kick up the speed without being too loud
- Easy to assemble with a quick release lever to easily get the bike out
- Stable and durable
- Great price
- No smart features
The Hammer is a beast when it comes to this category. It has a large, 2.2 lb flywheel that is robust but has very smooth pedaling. It does a decent job at having a road feel but lacks a bit here compared to other options. However, it shines when it comes to the decline with real-world inertia, the rider feeling ease of resistance and an increase in speed. It has the ability to handle up to 2,000 watts and stimulates slopes up to 20 percent. It offers great stability when coming out of the saddle. It is a direct-drive trainer, so the rear wheel comes off adding to its realistic road feel and support. It is among the best for intensity training.
It has an SRAM-compatible freehub body and quick release and thru-axle support. This means it works with most bikes, but a skier or thru-axle must be purchased separately.
The Hammer measures speed, and is a smart trainer, using PowerTap tech to seamlessly transmit data. It is ANT+ and Bluetooth-enabled and connects to all the popular virtual training apps.
This is an electromagnetic trainer that is responsive. Resistance is adjusted via a training app. Compared to the company’s Magnus, the Hammer has a wider scope of modifying resistance.
The noise level for the Hammer is 62 decibels at 20 mph, making it a quieter option compared to others. It still does make noise, so using a mat or putting in the garage might be best, so others don’t mind the slight volume. In comparison, it makes less noise than the Mangus.
- Smooth pedaling
- Measure power
- Smart trainer compatible with virtual training apps
- Compatible with a cadence sensor
- Very stable
- Direct drive design
- Very heavy
This one of the bike trainers to get excited about when it comes to performance and connectivity. It has a direct drive design that calls for easy installation without the tires slipping or wearing. It is stable and compatible with road and mountain bike frames, that includes 142 x 12 with thru axles.
It really shines with performance, equipped with an OTS power meter to measure power. And it does so with a 2.4 percent (+, -) accuracy. It has up to 1400 watts of power output at a 40km/h speed and can stimulate slopes up to 14 percent incline. This makes it ideal for pretty much any type of training, especially when it comes to working on cadence and sprinting.
It also has a pedaling analysis feature to determine how much effort is put in the legs. This requires an in-app purchase but provides great insides for those looking to increase their performance abilities.
It’s also one of the best when it comes to interactivity. It is ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth-enabled to be able to work just about every app and training software including TrainerRoad and Zwift. It has a training software that includes videos, base training sessions, tests, maps and more.
The ride feels good with this option, mainly because of its direct-drive that means no slipping since the rear wheel is removed. This eliminates the need to make adjustments with each ride. When it comes to adjusting the resistance, this is controlled by the apps. That’s the beauty of smart trainers– just pedal and let the tech take over and set the wattage.
The Elite Directo Trainer has an electronic brake flywheel that isn’t that bad when it comes to noise level. Expect around 71 dB when at 200 watts and going 800rpm.
- Performs well for a mid-range price
- Connective and compatible with lots of training apps
- Smart controlled for set resistance
- Measures power
- Slightly noisy
- Some assemble required
This mid-range trainer is ideal for those looking to take up indoor spin at home or looking for a high-performance option that works well and won’t break the bank. It has a heavy-duty steel construction that scores well in durability and stability. But it also makes it much heavier than other options. Adding to its stability is its front wheel rise block that is included. Some other trainers require this to be purchased separately. This adds to its more natural riding feel. It is also easy to assembly, which is another attractive trait for beginners.
It works with 26, 27 and 700c bikes with quick release rear wheels. This is a great option for intensity training when not looking for intense resistance.
The Conquerer Indoor Trainer is a magnetic trainer, allowing for adjustments for increased resistance during workouts. It has a single adjustment knob for progressive magnetic resistance. However, don’t expect to really kick up the resistance on this one. Consider this instead for beginners or those recovering from an injury opposed to the SoulCycle lover or expert rider.
Although the company claims that is is a quiet option, it isn’t the best when it comes to noise. Most consumers find it be loud, whereas others don’t mind the volume it produces. The noise level is comparable to a vacuum cleaner, which is tolerable, but there are plenty more options on this list that score better in this category.
- Lots of stability
- Easy to assemble
- Great for beginners
- Smooth ride
- Durable option
- Comes with front tire block
- No smart features
- Doesn’t have high resistance
Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Fluid
This fluid trainer produces smooth and progressive resistance that does a great job of mimicking an outdoor ride when in the saddle. This trainer is built extremely well, being stable while still having that realistic ride feel. This is because of its large (6.25 lb) flywheel that fluid resistant unit and ergonomic rubber knobs. With a max resistance of 3,000 watts, it is much more powerful than the CycleOps Magnus Trainer. This makes it a no-frills option for those not needing or wanting to mess with apps. This just means it can’t measure power like other smart trainers.
This bike trainer is 100 percent leak-proof, with the resistance increasing as the consumer pedals faster. Resistance changed by manually shirting gears on the bike. It is very easy to use, just needing to attach the bike and ride.
Compared to other options, the Kinetic Road 2.0 has a much larger roller which helps to reduce tire wear. It is compatible with bikes from 22-29 inches in wheel diameter, with a range of resistance of 5-3,000 watts.
Despite its large flywheel, it actually is compact and pretty lightweight. It can be folded and to be stored or taken with the cyclist. It is much more portable that then Kickr, and Rock and Roll trainer in comparison.
Noise is no problem here. The Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 is a fluid trainer, which is less loud than magnetic options.
- Performs well; great abs for the buck
- Portable, yet robust enough for stability
- No assembly required, easy to use
- No smart features; won’t track power
This smart bike trainer uses electromagnetic resistance that is super responsive.
The Magnus Trainer is made of a durable frame that is foldable and spring loaded with a bolt-action level. It also has an optional rear thru-axel fit for an even more secure fit. It has a clutch knob and an alloy roller that reduces the wear of the tire. Unlike the Wahoo KCKR, it does not have a direct drive design. However, it still has maximum power with a 1500 watt peak of resistance. Its clutch knob will click when the resistance limit is reached.
And while the company’s Hammer does have direct-drive, the rear-wheel-driver aspect helps to make the Magnus very portable and compact, and much for affordable.
Where the CycleOps Hammer doesn’t have much go a road feel about it, the Magnus does. However, it rides much smoother with narrow tires with high pressures.
This is a smart trainer that, like the Hammer, features PowerTap technology. This allows it to measure speed and cadence and uses ANT+ FR-C and Bluetooth 4.0 to automatically transfer the data. Just keep in mind a cadence sensor and ANT+ device is sold separately.
The consumer has total resistance control from 0 to 1500 watts, making it one of the bests in this category. This is done entirely through apps like Zwift and other cycling apps.
It also has leveling feet that calls for easy adjustments when on uneven surfaces.
Designed to fit most road and mountain bike frames, this option comes with a quick release sewer with three settings for a rear dropout. Although a trainer tire is recommended, the Magnus is quiet, coming it at 69 decibels at 20 mph. It is only slightly louder than the CycleOps Hammer, but not by much.
- A smart trainer that is compatible with many virtual training apps
- Transmits power and speed
- Lightweight, portable and compact
- Fits most road and mountain bikes, with quick release skewer
- Fast responsive resistance
- Some assembly is required
- Many of the same specs of the Hammer without being have direct drive design
This is a great trainer for more seasoned riders, as well as beginners because of its level of stability and durability. It fits both road and mountain wheels of various sizes, making it a versatile option. It consists of an internal magnet that creates resistance and has a steel flywheel that results in a natural pedal feel.
But when it comes to performance, this is an option for beginners because of its low resistance compared to other options like Conquer Indoor Portable Bike Trainer. And options like Kinetic Fluid Trainer Rock 'N Roll and CycleOps Fluid 2 run it over when it comes to this category. However, this is an affordable option to get a consumer’s feet wet with.
This is a magnetic trainer that has seven different settings to help mimic various road conditions like claiming uphill. Adjustments are made using the screw underneath, as well as from the handlebars via a cable that needs to be installed. This makes adjustments easy to use—once it is set up.
The RAD Mag Trainer claims to be quiet but is slightly lacking behind others on this list in this department. Wider tires call for louder rides. Cyclists can expect to hear noise from this option, but nothing louder than what level of noise is heard at the gym from stationary bikes. Keep in mind that it’s best used with road tires, not mountain bike tires and this will help with its noise level.
- Compact, and can be folded down
- Comes assembled
- Requires setting up adjustment cable to the handlebar
- Not the best looking trainer
- Louder than most options on this list
The Criteria We Used For Our Evaluation
Shopping for any type of exercise equipment can be overwhelming. There are so many different models available and it’s hard to know exactly what you need. Bike trainers are no different. There are hundreds of them on the market, and different brands offer a variety of different features. We looked at bike trainers that could be appropriate for beginners, and ones that could be challenging for experts.
To determine the best bike trainers for our audience, we looked at a number of different reviews and specs. Then, we researched each product and make sure that it was up to par. We’ve featured only the best bike trainers in our review list using the following criteria.
At the bare minimum, the trainer needs to be wide and durable enough to be able to support the bike and keep it in place during the ride. What kind of trainer is it (ex: fluid, wind, magnetic, electromagnetic)? What kind of bikes is it made for (road, mountain, tri bikes)? What is the tire thickness it can hold?
Each cyclist has a different set of preferences for their bikes. A lot of it is determined by where they ride and whether or not they do so competitively. The closer the bike trainer is to the bike that they’ll be using outdoors, the more likely they are to develop good cycling habits. Or, some cyclists prefer trainers that have a completely different feel. This adds to the variety and helps them work on muscles that may been neglected by a different posture. We looked at a wide variety of different trainers and tried to provide something that would appeal to everyone.
With improved connectivity, trainers can offer a wider range of different workouts. There are some programs that can even connect with other devices to track your progress. Others may be able to simulate the conditions of legendary trails. This includes a change in resistance, and a more intense interval workout. Having automatic programming can be an advantage when you don’t want to worry about changing the settings every time you want a challenge. We looked at the way that each of these trainers performed under a variety of different circumstances.
The flywheel typically causes lots of noise, with the larger this part the louder the noise. Mats can help reduce noise. However, consumers who live in an apartment may want to make sure they get the quietest option available.
Not only does this have to do with the amount of support it has, but durability here also plays a role in the longevity of the product. Since some trainers are expensive, it should last a long time.
Is the price tag worth it? Does it include thru-axle support? Does it include smart features that allow for virtual training?
Value can be determined by a number of different factors. Ultimately, the bike trainer is worth the money if you are able to use it in the way intended, and if it lasts long enough to maximize that use. It needs to be made out of high-end materials and provide you with all of the workout options you need. Connectivity and preprogrammed features can cause the cost to go up, but many believe these are worth it. What you’re willing to pay is dependent on your needs and preferences.
Important Factors To Consider
Exercise and training are relatively subjective, and each athlete has different preferences. The criteria above can give you a good place to start, but there are plenty of other things to consider before purchasing your bike trainer. If your primary sport is cycling, then a bike trainer will always be secondary to the outdoor experience. In this instance, you want something that’s going to closely mimic the bike that you’re used to riding with outside. If you just want to get in shape, then your criteria may be very different. Read over each review and consider how each product will work best for you.
Types of Trainers
A bike trainer is a device that latches onto the rear axle of a bike, that also consists of resistance roller that rests against that back tire to allow cyclists to ride their bikes indoors.
A bike trainer is a generic word. There are various different types of options available, which are detailed below.
Wind trainer: These are considered the old school types of trainers. It consists of a small fan that is powered by the back wheel to create resistance. The harder the cyclist pedals, the more resistance. These are loud but typically inexpensive and great for beginners.
Magnetic trainer: These trainers have a magnetic flywheel instead of a fan to create resistance. To increase resistance, the cyclist must switch gears on the bike or make adjustments on the trainer. These are less noisy than wind trainers, but some require manual adjustments.
Fluid trainer: These are the most common trainers on the market, and feels the most like being on the road. It essentially is a magnetic trainer but includes a substance like silicon in the trainer to increase resistance as the cyclist pedals harder.
Rollers: This is the oldest style of trainer, which consists of a frame with three cylinders. The bike is placed inside of the frame, balancing on the cylinders. (None of the trainers on this list are rollers.)
Smart Trainer vs Regular Trainer
Technology is incorporated into some trainers to allow for rides to be smarter. This means having a built-in power meter, and connectivity options that allow the cyclist to stream workouts, track rides (speed, power, cadence, etc.) and virtually ride with others as part of their online community using accompanying apps. Data from the ride automatically syncs to a smartphone. Some are also compatible with bike computers to further tap into the power of technology to get a world of stats.
Smart trainers aren’t necessarily better trainers. The bike trainer needs to be able to perform well when it comes to the ride. The smart features are just added bonuses. Consider buying a smart trainer if you are a consumer who is into tech, or a cyclist training for a triathlon or other race and wants to get better insights and track progress.
Keep in mind that ANT+ compatible trainers require a separate dongle to be able to tap into the tech.
Other Things Needed
When cycling indoors, the trainer isn’t the only gear needed (besides the bike of course). It’s a good idea to get a trainer mat that is placed underneath to protect floors and act as a noise barrier. Other items include a front tire block for the riding position, sweat net, and new tires when the existing ones get worn.
Q. Do I have to assemble a bike trainer?
A: This depends on the trainer. Some come assembled, other require simple installation.
Q: Why should I buy a smart bike trainer?
A: Smart features allow the consumer to track their rides, and get insights like power, distance, speed and more.
Q: How do I know if my bike will fit a specific trainer?
A: Consult the trainer’s specs to see it is compatible with the type of bike and tire width.
Q: Which bike trainer is the quietest?
A: The amount of noise made varies among each product. Options like the Kinetic Fluid Rock ’N Roll and the CycleOps Fluid 2 are quiet trainers.
Q: Are bike trainers worth it?
A: This depends on how often the consumer cycles. Those who are avid cyclists in the warm weather can benefit from winter riding indoors. Those who spend lots of money on spin classes might also find a bike trainer a good investment.
Q: Will an indoor bike trainer help me lose weight?
A: It can help in weight loss when combined with a proper diet. Cycling can burn lots of calories, high resistance rides even more than casual rides.
- How to Choose an Indoor Bike Trainer, Cycling Website, Dec 07, 2015 ,
- How to Choose Indoor Bike Trainers, Outdoor Gear Website, ,
- Why Train with a Bike Trainer: 4 Golden Rules of Indoor Riding, Cycling Website, ,
- Beginner’s Guide To Incorporating A Bike Trainer Into Cycling Workouts Read more at http://www.triathlete.com/2010/12/training/beginners-guide-to-incorporating-a-bike-trainer-into-cycling-workouts_7027#GFEDxRoXalucS7Vp.99, Triathlon Website, Apr 07, 2017 ,