The 8 Best Bike Trainers

Updated April 17, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

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We spent 43 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 better than using a stationary exercise bike, as you get to ride your own machine. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best bike trainer on Amazon.

8. Cascade Health And Fitness Fluidpro

Train longer with the Cascade Health And 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 move through the levels.
  • front riser offers three 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

7. Rad Cycle Portable Indoor WorkOut

The Rad Cycle Portable Indoor WorkOut uses an internal magnet to adjust its resistance as soon as you start pedaling. At 17 lbs., it is lighter than most other options, but don't let that fool you, as it still feels well-built.
  • has a wide and stable stance
  • folds up like an ironing board
  • very loud with knobbly tire treads
Brand RAD Cycle Products
Model 1112 RAD Trainer
Weight 15.9 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. Conquer Indoor Magnetic

The Conquer Indoor Magnetic is solidly built with an extra-wide frame that provides a good feeling of stability even if you stand in the saddle for intense sessions. Its sturdy mounting cups ensure there is no slippage as you ride.
  • includes a front wheel riser block
  • easy to adjust intensity levels
  • doesn't offer enough resistance
Brand Conquer
Model pending
Weight 16.2 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. CycleOps Pro SuperMagneto

The CycleOps Pro SuperMagneto offers four different riding experiences, including road, mountain, and interval options. It creates a very smooth acceleration and a lifelike feeling of inertia that outdoor cyclists will appreciate.
  • individually balanced flywheels
  • easy warmup setting
  • not as challenging as some others
Brand CycleOps
Model CycleOps
Weight 25 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Fluid

The Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Fluid 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 unit combined with a patented magnetic coupler.
  • overmolded adjustment knobs
  • backed by a lifetime warranty
  • a little on the noisy side
Brand Kinetic by Kurt
Model T-2200-Parent
Weight 29.3 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

3. Elite Drivo Interactive

Designed for cyclists who want to keep their bodies in the best possible shape through the long, cold months of winter, the Elite Drivo Interactive attaches to your cycle in place of your back wheel. Its included app and software make tracking your rides a breeze.
  • takes up very little space
  • simulates up to a 22 percent slope
  • communicates via bluetooth
Brand Elite
Model 0165001U
Weight 57.3 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Sportneer Magnetic Training Stand

The Sportneer Magnetic Training Stand features five adjustable anti-slip rubber feet to keep it in place as your workout gets more intense. Its wide base lends an additional degree of stability, as well, so you can feel free to pedal your heart out.
  • runs very quietly
  • six selectable resistance settings
  • releases your cycle instantly
Brand Sportneer
Model pending
Weight 19.3 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. CycleOps Fluid 2

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 provides, just like riding on the street or trails. It's built with 100 percent recyclable materials.
  • manufactured in the usa
  • adjustable foot pads
  • mat available to reduce vibrations
Brand CycleOps
Model pending
Weight 23.5 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

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 percent 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 April 17, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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