8 Best Bike Trainers | May 2017

8 Best Bike Trainers | May 2017
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Best High-End
★★★
Best Inexpensive
★★★★
We spent 31 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Serious cyclists who want to stay in shape even when the weather is not cooperating will love one of these indoor bike trainers. They deliver variable resistance to work as hard as you do and can stand up to a daily punishing regimen. It's almost like using a stationary exercise bike but better, as you'll get more comfortable on your own road or mountain bike. Skip to the best bike trainer on Amazon.
8
The Tacx Vortex Smart Ergotrainer is hard to rate. It has a lot of great features, like the ability to control its resistance with a smart device and train with apps, but the setup instructions are confusing and it isn't stable enough for standing in the saddle.
  • large 2kg flywheel
  • makes indoor training fun
  • very pricey for bike trainer
Brand Tacx
Model T2180
Weight 24.7 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
7
Train longer with the Cascade Health & Fitness Fluidpro. It has a heavy flywheel to create a realistic feeling of inertia that is akin to riding in the streets, and the progressive resistance is very smooth without large jumps as you progress through the levels.
  • front riser offers 3 heights
  • double seals prevent leakage
  • can be difficult to install bikes
Brand Cascade Health & Fitnes
Model 37300
Weight 38.5 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0
6
The Rad Cycle Work Out comes in three colors and uses an internal magnet to adjust resistance as soon as you start pedaling. At 17lbs, it is lighter than most other options, but don't let that fool you, it still feels well-built.
  • has a wide stable stance
  • folds up like an ironing board
  • very loud with knobbly tire treads
Brand Rad Cycle Work Out
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
5
The CycleOps Fluid 2 lets you keep your legs and your cardio system primed and conditioned during the off season. The harder you work, the more resistance it gives, just like riding on the street or trails. It's built with 100% recyclable materials.
  • manufactured in the usa
  • adjustable footpads
  • includes a training mat
Brand CycleOps
Model pending
Weight 23.5 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
4
The Conquer Magnetic is solidly built and has an extra-wide frame that gives a good feeling of stability even if you stand in the saddle for intense training periods. Its sturdy mounting cups ensure there is no slippage as you ride.
  • includes a front wheel riser block
  • easy to adjust resistance levels
  • exceptional value for the price
Brand Conquer
Model pending
Weight 16.2 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0
3
The CycleOps SuperMagneto Pro offers four uniquely different riding experiences, including road, mountain, and interval. It creates a very smooth acceleration and a lifelike feeling of inertia that outdoor cyclists will appreciate.
  • individually balanced flywheels
  • an easy warmup setting
  • quick bike installation and removal
Brand CycleOps
Model CycleOps
Weight 22.9 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0
2
Conveniently, the Health Line Turbo Trainer folds up when not in use to allow for compact storage without having to disassemble anything. It accommodates pretty much any type of quick-release bicycle with a 26" to 28" or 700C wheel size.
  • low-noise magnetic roller
  • eight levels of resistance
  • feels stable at high speeds
Brand Health Line Products
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.6 / 5.0
1
The Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 provides a true outdoor simulation with automatic resistance that adjusts as you increase and decrease your speed. It does this by using a perfectly calibrated fluid-resistance unit combined with a patented magnetic coupler.
  • overmolded adjustment knobs
  • backed by a lifetime warranty
  • arrives completely assembled
Brand Kinetic by Kurt
Model T-002I
Weight 29.3 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

Training In All Conditions

Hitting the road on your bike isn't always an option. Often, the weather refuses to cooperate, pouring down rain, blowing impossible winds, covering the roads with snow and ice, etc. If it was your only means of transportation, you'd probably brave the elements nine times out of ten to get yourself to work, or school, or to see the person you love. Other times, when you're just looking to get a ride in, to get your heart rate up perhaps in preparation for a long bike journey or race, you'd be out of luck.

Fortunately, the bike trainer exists for you to get all the benefits of a long, difficult ride with none of the environmental risks like weather, bad roads, and worse drivers. The trainers themselves fall into one of two major categories, after which there are subcategories based on their mechanisms of resistance. The two major categories are trainer stands, and full-sized trainers. The former is much smaller, built to work in conjunction with the bicycle you already have, while the latter is much larger, as it could likewise be considered a stationary bike complete with pedals, gears, a seat–the whole works.

The full-sized trainers work just like your bicycle does up to a point. Instead of having wheels that roll along the ground to meet resistance, these machines use either large fans or heavy flywheels, both of which you turn as you pedal. The fan increases resistance progressively the harder you work, as the blades push back against the air in direct proportion to the power you provide. The heavy flywheel provides resistance simply from its weight, the movement of which gets harder or easier depending on the gear you select.

The trainer stands on our list support your bike with indelible power of the triangle, locking the back wheel's axle into a kind of metal hammock to keep it balanced. They provide resistance in one of three ways. Some use little fans that work in the same progressive manner as described above. Others use a magnetic system that has a fixed resistance similar to the flywheel, to which you can make minor adjustments by changing gears, or major adjustments by manipulating the trainer itself.

A slightly newer form of resistance exists solely in these smaller trainers on our list, and it's fast becoming the most popular system among riders. This system uses fluid to create resistance, much the same way that a high-end rowing machine actually uses a chamber of water to give you the experience of rowing under weigh. Instead of feeling like you're riding in water, however, the progressive resistance of the fluid systems gets the most respect from riders looking for something to give them the feel of the road.

Balancing Your Options

Making a decision from among the highly rated bike trainers on our list is going to start with that major division we talked about above, and that will, in part, come down to the amount of space you have to dedicate to your training. If you have a glut of space, the full-sized trainers provide the incredible benefit of being able to simply hop on and train whenever the mood strikes you. You won't have to go through the process of hooking up your bike and then having to unhook it when you want to take it out.

If your space is more limited, you might not have the luxury of keeping a full-sized trainer anywhere, which is far from the end of the world. In fact, using the same bike you take on the road for your indoor training has its perks. For example, training on a full-sized machine is likely to give you a slightly different sitting position than you're used to, a different feel for the handlebars, and different sensitivity in the gears. Using the same bike to train that you take out on the road or into races will ensure that you have nothing but the feel of your machine in your bones, which could mean the difference between placing first or fourteenth.

Once you've decided which major category suits you and your space the best, you'll have to pick a resistance method. As we went over above, fan and fluid resistance will provide you with a progressive feeling of resistance that more closely resembles the road itself.

Fluid is by far, according to riders everywhere, the closest approximation to the feel of the road, but its popularity has created a number of players whose fluid systems aren't as nice as the top tier. If there's a difference of more than $100 between fluid systems, you can bet that the feel of the resistance is one of the major sacrifices in the cheaper model.

Training For Danger

It doesn't seem to matter that we've had bicycles on the road for more than a century; drivers don't seem to want to see us. The US Department of Transportation reports that about 2% of all traffic collisions in the country involve bicyclists, resulting in over 800 fatalities in 2015. Even if the weather's nice, if you live in town or city without a lot of dedicated bike lanes, it might be a good idea to do more of your training indoors.

The trainer has long been a solution to the problem of dangerous roads and inclement weather. Bike racers have used homemade trainers of one kind or another since the 1880s. These were often vertically situated devices that looked more like stationary unicycles with handles than anything we'd recognize as a bike today. By the 1890s, however, full-sized frames built with stationary moorings that more directly mimicked the racing position gained popularity among riders.

Other riders and inventors of the time put together sets of wooden rollers that rotated beneath the tires of the same bike they used on the road. These were the precursors to the smaller trainers on our list, and they were much more difficult to operate, since the rider had to balance the bike as he went along.



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Last updated on May 21 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.


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