A bike trainer is an effective practicing tool that gives you a sense of actual cycling when outdoor conditions don’t allow it. There are multiple types of bike trainers and each of them includes different resistance, technology, bike compatibility for you to select.
Personally, I have high hopes for the TACX Neo 2T Smart to be the finest in this review list of the best bike trainers. Its magnetic resistance offers enough torque to prevent slippage, and the internal has been redesigned to respond better to speed changes.
Best direct drive bike trainer
Material: ? | Resistance: Magnetic | Technology: Wireless | Weight: 47lb 5oz
Described as a major advance from the original version, the flagship TACX Neo 2T Smart model offers pleasant silence and a powerful platform. Straight out of the box, this trainer has a highly compatible axle that performs well with a wider variety of bikes.
Having extra magnets in its motor helps the 2T gain more torque, which excludes the slippage you tend to get while going up a tough climb. Its set of redesigned internals produces much more responsive to changes in speed and incline as well.
It’s good to know that this smart bike trainer is compatible with computers, tablets, GPS units, and smartphones through Bluetooth connection. The analysis feature of its pedal stroke has now been upgraded to work smoothly with a 3rd party software.
Best for High Technology
Material: Steel | Resistance: Electromagnetic | Technology: Wireless | Weight: 38lb
Stuck indoors because snowy weather is annoying, but the Wahoo Fitness KICKR can provide you with a real sense of effective workouts on the bike. Its wheel-on design is really easy to use that works to simulate feelings on the road.
In terms of wheel compatibility, this Wahoo trainer can be paired up with 650cc and 700cc road wheels, as well as mountain wheels of 24 – 29”. Although the entire tool looks huge, it’s foldable for you to store it away and avoid taking up too much space.
Requiring an external source connected to activate and being controlled by another device can be considered both of its advantage and downside. It proves that this trainer works with high, wireless technology but not suitable for pre-race warm-ups.
3. CycleOps H3
Best Value for the Money
Material: Composite, Aluminum, Plastic | Resistance: Electromagnetic | Technology: Wireless | Weight: 59lb
What I like most about the CycleOps H3 is that its internal components are able to measure cadence, speed, and power without the need for external sensors. At the speed of 20 mph, I’m surprised that the Cycle Ops H3 only produces 59 decibels of noise.
Its flywheel has been balanced with a high level of precision to deal with 2000W of power and a climbing grade of 20%. The strong electromagnetic resistance of this valuable trainer helps you to control the precise measurement for every workout. (1)
The trainer comes with a direct drive design to enable a wide range of compatibility with bikes and minimizes the risk of wheel slippage. However, it seems to be stuck in a particular mode that produces a heavy resistance for cyclists to go down the hill.
4. ELITE Suito
Best for Easy Installation
Material: Steel | Resistance: Electronic | Technology: Wireless | Weight: ?
The ELITE Suito consists of basic components and that’s why it’s recommended for easy assembly, even for fresh users. Not only so, but this bike trainer has also impressed cyclists with its sturdy and thick parts to support indoor rides for a long time.
For neat storage, the entire product is foldable and saves you a lot of space in the house. Also, this ELITE model exceeds the expectation of indoor riding sessions by delivering a quiet, low-noise operation no matter how hard you’re working out.
I’m delighted that the steel indoor trainer supports diverse operating systems like macOS, Android, iOS, and Windows to connect to your devices via Bluetooth and ANT+. You’ll be able to keep a close track of how much you’ve progressed indoors.
Best for Mountain Climbing
Material: ? | Resistance: ? | Technology: Wireless | Weight: 22lb
In order to help cyclists strengthen their muscles and improve pedaling technique right in their houses, the Wahoo Fitness KICKR CLIMB is made to mimic real road feelings. This means you should feel free to shift the bike gears while sitting in one position.
When you choose its Unlock Mode, this bicycle trainer will react to grade changes from an external source; while the Lock Mode only responds to its provided remote. The fork can be raised and lowered easily to match precise ascents and descents.
It also supports different types of standard hubs such as quick-release and thru-axle designs. Moreover, this bike trainer includes a high-technology remote attached right to the handlebars for you to simply modify its grade by pressing a single button.
Best wheel-on indoor bike trainer
Best for Beginner
Material: Composite, Aluminum, Plastic | Resistance: Magnetic | Technology: Wireless | Weight: ?
With no disassembly needed, you can connect the rear wheel of your bike straight to the Saris CycleOps and start pedaling in the house. Its magnetic resistance is known to enable a smooth ride that’s frictionless, and there are 5 adjustable levels available.
You shouldn’t be afraid of uneven surfaces while using the Saris trainer thanks to its eccentric leveling feet with a simple adjustment. Riding at 20 mph will only produce around 72 to 76 decibels, which is small enough not to create loud, disturbing noise.
I considered this wheel-on trainer app-friendly because it’s highly compatible with popular ones such as Zwift and other training apps for indoor cycling. But based on my observation, I don’t think that its plastic rear roller will be able to last a long time.
Best for Free Movement
Material: Steel, Aluminum, Plastic | Resistance: Electromagnetic | Technology: Wireless | Weight: 53lb
It’s fascinating to know that almost every bike (the ones with thru-axles, 16-inch wheels, etc) is mountable on the Kinetic by Kurt Rock And Roll Control bike trainer stand. Having free side-to-side movement on the tool would enhance your feelings.
You’re certain to achieve an effective core-muscle workout due to its max resistance of around 1800W at 30 mph. This Kinetic wheel-on trainer includes a massive 12-lb flywheel to deliver a great rate of inertia for your ride, more than any item in the category.
After connecting to a bunch of reliable indoor training apps like Zwift, Kinomap, TrainerRoad, Fulgaz, and Rouvy, you’ll have full interactive two-way management of this trainer. It also controls the tool automatically with beneficial virtual riding courses.
Best for Weight Capacity
Material: Carbon steel | Resistance: Electromagnetic | Technology: x | Weight: 21lb
The FDW doesn’t include many spare parts so it won’t take up too much space in your house for cycling training. Its premium carbon steel material is strong enough to carry at least 300 lbs of weight, including the entire bike and the cyclist.
In order to train yourself better indoors, there are 5 resistance settings available for you to work with, from cycling on flat ground, sandy surface to climbing a slope right on this trainer. After folding the tool neatly, it’s easy to both store and carry it in a car.
Besides that, this trainer offers height adjustment with a lockable knob of its contact point to function smoothly with various types of bicycles. During your first installation, I know that you will love its screw rod that can be quickly loaded and unloaded.
9. Bike Lane
Best With Skewer
Material: Alloy steel | Resistance: Magnetic | Technology: x | Weight: 16.15lb
It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Bike Lane is really robust and sturdy with extra-wide legs to ensure a maximum level of stability. The alloy steel frame is of high quality and can maintain its durable performance to support cyclists to stay in shape.
This bike trainer produces great resistance through its quiet internal magnet as soon as you begin to pedal your bike. If you want to increase the resistance level of this trainer to try practicing climbing up a hill, simply shift the gears right on your bicycle.
I think it doesn’t take much time and effort to install this entire trainer model because it can be set up quickly even for new users. In terms of tires, I would recommend you to assemble this Bike Lane trainer with the 26 – 28” or 700cc type to function well.
Best for Lock System
Material: Steel | Resistance: Magnetic | Technology: x | Weight: 15.4lb
If you’re already having a road or mountain bike, you can instantly take advantage of this Unisky. The trainer is capable of bearing up to 264 pounds of weight with a resistance wheel included in its package that produces little noise in use.
Apart from its wide, steady frame, this unisky trainer offers a front wheel riser block to prevent it from wobbling and gain more balance on most surfaces. Not to mention that these details are supported by its adjustable anti-slip rubber feet on the bottom.
The secure locking mechanism of this wheel-on trainer is the main highlight. There are 2 knobs on the left and right side of the trainer to construct its system of dual locking. A bigger knob is placed outside a smaller one to reinforce this mechanism.
11. ELITE Qubo
Best for Fluid Technology
Material: x | Resistance: Fluid | Technology: x | Weight: 26.3lb
The ELITE Qubo is a progressive model that comprises an internal compass to mimic the road’s behavior and creates both security and stability. When you train on this trainer at high speeds or maximum effort level, it’d be safer.
It would adapt easily to bicycles with wheel diameter from 20 to 29”. Moreover, the 45mm elastogel roller of this bike trainer results in 50% less produced noise and up to 20% of anti-wearing for your trainer tires. Its flywheel is internally engineered to ensure safety.
This fluid technology is amazing as it enables precise resistance, therefore, I’m not surprised that both amateur and professional cyclists are fond of it. The ELITE Qubo trainer doesn’t produce as much noise as other turbo products, which is valuable.
Best Portable for Travel
Material: Aluminum | Resistance: Wind | Technology: x | Weight: 14lb
With the support of the Feedback Sports Omnium’s progressive resistance curve, this best indoor bike trainer will simulate real outdoor cycling (including rolling and wind resistance). Its 14-lb weight is optimal for a complete system.
There’s no difficult assembly required and both the unit and roller bearings are free from regular maintenance thanks to their great durability. The roller trainer delivers a whole set of fork adapters from a 9mm quick-release one to 3 different sizes of thru-axle.
You can definitely carry this lightweight bike trainer out to the road for practicing as well, other than just inside the house. To serve the need for flexible portability, the tool package has been included with a free, big travel bag to store the whole trainer inside.
Best for Storage
Material: Aluminum | Resistance: Magnetic | Technology: x | Weight: 19lb
The Saris Aluminum Roller doesn’t consist of any moving parts so its magnetic resistance won’t create too much noise during use. Its belt is adjustable both on the right and left sides for dismounting. This roller works with 37.5 – 44.5” wheelbases.
Thanks to the provided rubber foot pads underneath this bike trainer, it can ensure a smooth and secure riding session, regardless of indoor or outdoor. The reason why it’s famous for convenient storage is that it is flatly foldable or used in stand-on-end mode.
As far as I’m concerned, its 16” width and 19lb weight are optimal specifications for a useful roller bike trainer. However, I’m not really satisfied with how the joints of this trainer are poorly made and don’t open properly, which is a significant disadvantage.
Best With Rustproof
Material: Alloy | Resistance: x | Technology: x | Weight: 15lb
Last but not least, you needn’t focus only on USA products to achieve high quality. The Minoura Folding Rollers is originally manufactured in Japan and it is certainly not to let you down. It includes a safety step for you to easily step on and off.
The alloy frame construction of this bike trainer is both lightweight and rustproof so cyclists can make use of it for a long time. You’re able to adjust its wheelbase from 950mm up to 1090mm. Plus, it will generate a suitable amount of natural resistance.
Furthermore, you should fold this roller down into 3 parts for convenience in storage and carriage around. Nonetheless, it requires your close attention to stay upright on this trainer. It doesn’t feel like riding on a stationary bike as you have to balance it yourself.
Things to Look for When Buying A Bike Trainer
There are a lot of things that need your thoughtful consideration before buying a bike trainer to practice cycling at home. This buying guide will help you understand which technical specs you should pay attention to for a cycling trainer.
Bike trainer types
Direct-drive bike trainer
With a direct-drive type, you’ll need to remove the rear wheel and install the rest of your bike directly to the resistance unit. This trainer requires a cassette to work. Direct-drive bike trainers are known to be expensive but enabling real road feels like the ELITE Suito.
Wheel-on bike trainer
A wheel-on bike trainer such as the Bike Lane Trainer requires less effort because you needn’t disassemble any of the bike’s components. The overall trainer frame also cuts off redundant accessories to save much indoor space for easy storage. This type of trainer is simple for new users.
Smart (interactive) trainer
This type of bike trainer needs to have integrated sensors, or else they would be an additional purchase outside the package. They offer a Bluetooth connection to keep track of your training on apps, as well as displaying virtual courses to enhance your sessions.
If a bike trainer has been Zwift certified, this means it’s friendly with indoor training apps and a valuable interactive trainer. But requiring control from another device to function can be a drawback like the Wahoo Fitness KICKR in some cases.
On the contrary, a traditional bike trainer doesn’t provide any wireless connection to another device. Just install your bike and plainly make use of what it’s got to offer, as no electricity or other external power sources are needed during your use of this type.
Resistance types in bike trainers
A bike trainer that consists of fluid resistance like the ELITE Qubo uses viscous fluid stored inside a closed shell to help you pedal. This progressive resistance type for bike trainers has the highest price but in return, you’ll achieve power and a road-like sense right in the house.
For the popular, average priced magnetic bike trainer resistance, it includes a metal disk that spins in a magnetic field to create a pedaling resistance. As you can see, most reviewed trainers, including the Saris CycleOps, have this resistance due to their diverse compatibility with bikes. (2)
In order to generate resistance, a wind bike trainer such as the Feedback Trainer spins a bladed disk or fan through the air. Each of its fans has to be balanced with high accuracy from the start to operate smoothly. An extra flywheel simulates the bike and the cyclist’s momentum.
Road and mountain wheels from 16 up to 29” or 700cc in size is the basic standard for wheel compatibility of trainers. Most of them would be compatible with bikes that include internal-geared, quick-release, or thru-axle hubs. Check this carefully on the description.
Though bike trainers don’t take up much space in the house, a majority of them are designed to be foldable without the need to disassemble their components. The FDW Trainer is a wheel-on trainer that’s beneficial for storage and carriage in a car.
Because a bike trainer is applied for indoor use, it should produce as little noise as possible to avoid disturbing others. The CycleOps H3 is an ultra-quiet model that produces only 59db at 20 mph. You should know that high resistance results in lower noises.
A direct-drive bike trainer usually costs around $1,000 and up, not to mention the extra price you have to pay for its accessories. Whereas a wheel-on trainer only requires spending in a range of $100 – $1,000, so you should know the limit of your budget.
Despite being a flagship model, the TACX Neo Smart still impresses a lot of users with a flexible axle and Bluetooth connection. While the Feedback Trainer is lightweight of 14lbs and easily portable with a travel bag. The Saris CycleOps functions in admirable silence and 5 magnetic resistance levels.
Through my comprehensive bike trainer reviews in this article, I hope that you will be able to find a high-quality and suitable trainer to practice cycling in the house. Consider your budget and all relevant features before getting a training tool for bikes.