In the movie Who’s Harry Crumb, John Candy is riding a bicycle on a trainer in the office. Everything seems to be going well until the trainer fails, sending the bicycle shooting out from underneath Candy into a display of very expensive items. It’s a funny moment, but one that won’t seem humorous if it happens in your home. That’s why finding the best bike trainer out of the plethora of options that are available today can not only help you get into shape, but also protect you and your home from the unexpected.
|CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Trainer|| 4.4 || $$$$ |
|Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer Portable|| 4.3 || $ |
|Gavin Indoor Bike Trainer|| 4.2 || $$ |
|RAD Cycle Products Indoor Portable Magnetic Bike Trainer|| 4.0 || $ |
|Health Line Products Magnetic Resistance Trainer|| 4.7 || $$ |
|Bike Lane Pro Trainer|| 4.2 || $$ |
|Blackburn Tech Mag 6 Trainer|| 4.2 || $$$$ |
|Kinetic by Kurt Road Machine Bicycle Trainer|| 4.8 || $$$$$ |
|Travel Trac Comp Fluid Bicycle Trainer|| 4.5 || $$ |
|Ohuhu Magnet Steel Bicycle Indoor Trainer|| 4.0 || $ |
What Is a Bike Trainer and Why Do I Need One?
Bike trainers turn virtually any bicycle into an indoor exercise bike. The bicycle connects to the trainer through the back wheel hub, which allows it to spin freely in the air. This doesn’t change the riding experience, however, so to the rider it feels like you’re getting a pretty good workout just by hopping onto your bike. You could even watch some TV while riding if you wanted with the best bike trainer.
To determine which one is the best for your needs, it is important to determine what basic type of bike trainer is going to work for you.
- Wind Trainers. This type of bike trainer is the “traditional” style of trainer that has been used for more than a generation. When you pedal, it powers a fan so that you receive resistance.
- Magnetic Trainers. This type of bike trainer operates like traditional trainers, but uses a magnetic flywheel to provide the resistance you need. Some are called “electronic” trainers, but still use the magnetic trainer design with a software app or electronic feature.
- Fluid Trainers. Technically these are also magnetic bike trainers, but there are also fluid chambers included to add more resistance at specific intervals.
- On this type of bike trainer, the bicycle sits freely inside of a frame which has drums that turn for you as you pedal. Resistance can be added to the experience in a wide variety of ways.
If you want an authentic riding experience, then fluid trainers are going to be the investment you want to make. If cost is your main priority, then wind trainers are going to be the style you look at first. Many cyclists swear by rollers because it can improve your form, but if you’re not used to that type of bike trainer, it can also be potentially dangerous due to slip-offs.
Each type of bike trainer offers some specific advantages and disadvantages which must be considered. Take a look at these key points and you’ll be able to find the trainer that works best with your bike and your riding style today.
How to Find the Best Bike Trainer for Me
The modern bike trainer may come with a variety of added features to improve the indoor riding experience. Some trainers are small enough that they are a portable riding option. You’ll also find these features are available on some makes and models so you can find the best bike trainer to meet your needs.
- Articulating Attachments. Some trainers have been designed to pivot somewhat as you ride. This helps you to experience the “leans” that you naturally have on a trail or the street. From an indoor perspective, articulating attachments improve your core strength while offering an authentic riding experience.
- Online Connectivity. Bike trainers can also provide you with electronically-controlled resistance so your workout or riding session can be specifically tailored to a series of goals. Some can be controlled through an app on your smartphone. Others have this feature built directly into the trainer itself.
- Power Meters. Several of the best bike trainers today offer the option to add power tracking to your ride. You can also find power meters offered as an add-on accessory if you already own a bike trainer and want to start tracking this information.
Some bike trainers will hold your rear wheel in place. Others offer a direct-to-frame attachment so that the trainer itself replaces the bike’s rear wheel for your ride. A direct-to-frame attachment does offer a crisp ride and removes the threat of tire friction from the indoor riding experience, but they don’t always work with the axle standards or drivetrains of all bikes.
So here’s the bottom line:
- Wind trainers and most magnetic trainers are good for warming up before taking a ride down the street, out on a trail, or as you’re preparing for a race.
- Rollers are the best bike trainers if you’re trying to work out an issue with your pedaling cadence.
- Structured workouts with a bike trainer usually require fluid trainers or some sort of smart trainer.
And if you feel like all of these options are going to be boring and you’re not a fan of watching TV while riding your bike indoors, consider purchasing a smart trainer with multiple interface options. This will allow you to ride along with training videos, compete with other riders, or meet independent daily training goals with ease.
The entry-level bike trainers typically cost between $50-$100. These are no-frills trainers that will provide you with the ability to ride indoors and not much more.
If you want a bike trainer with some ride-along features, expected to pay between $100-$200. At this price point, you’ll be able to include at least one strong feature advantage with your purchase.
Premium bike trainers are priced at $250 and above. These are fully-featured trainers, including smart trainers, that can give you an authentic riding experience.
Here’s Our Reviews:
This indoor trainer makes it easy to bring your riding experience from the outdoors. It’s a rugged trainer, made from 16-gauge steel with a 2-inch circumference, and offers adjustable footpads so you can ride on virtually any surface safely. It’s also built with 100% recyclable materials that are not supposed to rust, so scratches from normal wear and tear are no longer an issue either. The ride is stable, the setup is simple, and the overall experience was quite enjoyable. We highly recommend this model.
We like this bike trainer because of how portable it is. It may have an entry-level price, but the heavy duty construction is still there. It sets up quickly and folds down fast so you can store it in just minutes after a ride. The mounting cups keep slippage to a minimum and the magnetic resistance is progressive and surprisingly effective. A front wheel riser block also comes with the purchase and this model works with all 700c bikes. You really can’t go wrong. It’s the best bike trainer, pound for pound, that we’ve found.
This is another one of those portable bike trainers that is really versatile. It’s sturdy, offers a single adjustment, progressive magnetic resistance, and is compatible with most bikes – though 29ers are out on this one. Hope onto your bicycle and you’ll have a steady indoor ride that will give you a nice training workout. Some users may be bothered by the noise produced by the bike and the trainer in an enclosed environment, but otherwise we have nothing but positive words to say about this model.
When the bike trainer was presented to us as being “ultra quiet,” the truth is that we were pretty skeptical. Most trainers make some level of noise. It’s just part of the process. Yet the internal magnet of this robust, but lightweight trainer does cut the noise down from other models by at least 50% in our view. We also preferred the stability of this entry-level bike trainer over what many more expensive models were able to provide. Give it an opportunity and we think you’ll enjoy what this trainer can provide your home today.
Although many of the best bike trainers will work with multiple types of bikes, we’ve always found that mountain bikes tend to struggle with an indoor trainer. This is especially true for bikes that have a wheel circumference of 27.5 inches. If you’ve had similar struggles, then this is the bike trainer to use. Virtually any quick-release bike will function well in this stable trainer. With 8 levels of magnetic resistance, you can meet specific goals in a timely fashion for a budget-friendly price.
The best bike trainer will help you move your training indoors while still being able to become more familiar with your bicycle. Choose your preferred model today and you will notice the benefits from its use almost immediately.