How To Choose An Indoor Bike Trainer? That Fulfills Pedaling Goals
Lockdown, clavicle fracture, bad weather? Don’t let them stop you from pedaling. Switch to indoor cycling! But how to choose an indoor bike trainer? Discover now!
Cycling outdoors? There’s no denying that this activity brings you many gratifying experiences. It lets you take in the scenery, enjoy some wonderful fresh air and awaken your senses.
But, it may not always be possible to go out in the street, especially in inclement weather, during the lockdown period, or even when you unfortunately have broken collarbones. Don’t allow them to put a damper on your passion. Riding indoors will be an ideal stop-gap.
If you wonder about choosing an indoor bike trainer to suit your needs, I’m here to put you on the right track. Whether you’re a beginner who wants to maintain cycling fitness or a professional cyclist looking for a fully interactive experience, the suggestions below won’t disappoint you.
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How To Choose An Indoor Bike Trainer?
Types of Indoor Bicycle Trainers
- Great for improving pedaling technique.
- Offering a fairly realistic ride feel.
- Providing little connectivity options.
- Causing some wear on your tire.
- Difficult to be quickly proficient.
Price range: $180 to $1,345
A roller is the most basic option for an indoor bike stand that you can consider.
It comes with three parallel parabolic free-spinning cylinders. They are arranged on a rigid rectangular frame that you lay on the floor. Your bicycle will be off the ground as the tires are directly placed on these cylinders.
No need to mount your bike to any part of the roller. All you have to do is just place your steed on the roller drums and simply balance it atop them. Then you can see that the ground moves beneath your wheels. An amazing simulation, right?
The roller completely relies on centrifugal force to keep the riders upright. It means that the momentum from pedaling is important. So it always requires a smooth pedaling motion.
As a beginner? Be careful! Riding smoothly on rollers can be a challenge. Always keep your front wheel steady and never steer off as drums begin turning; otherwise, it can make you lose control and wobble from side to side.
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Tyre Drive Trainers
- Easily attached to almost any bike
- Being cheap, light, and easy to use
- Providing app connectivity for high-end models
- Not quite smooth or steady
- Offering no app connectivity for low-cost models
- Causing tires to wear out
Price range: $100 to $300
It is called a tire drive trainer because resistance from an adjustable roller directly contacts your back tire. Yet, that will also cause tires to wear out over time easily.
How to use it? Just mount the aft wheel of your cycle to the rear dropouts of the trainer, hop on it and go. If your bicycle stand connects to a third-party app, it offers specific training programs and the ability to alter the resistance automatically.
This bicycle stand usually comes with multiple resistance units such as fluid, wind, or magnetic.
It comes out on top because it’s pretty quiet. Its mechanism of action is based on a bladed drive shaft and a fluid-filled chamber.
When pedaling, the stationary flat blades spin and produce resistance as the fluid passes by. The rule of thumb here is that the faster the rider pedals, the more the resistance automatically runs up.
It appears with a simplistic design. What about the resistance? It is created when a fan spins and moves through the air, which explains its loud noise.
Magnetic trainers offer multiple resistance levels. And there are several ways to adjust them depending on how expensive the stand is.
You can simply use a lever while you’re on your steed. Also, an app or third-party software is another option to control it. But some require riders to dismount and manually adjust it on the rear of the cycle stand.
The bike stand uses opposing magnets spinning around and past another series of magnets in a settled position. Thanks to that, resistance is generated.
Although it provides a quiet and frictionless ride, it creates moderate resistance. So if you’re looking forward to pushing hard on a stand, this is not a great option.
- Providing accurate power measurement
- Removing the need for a dedicated tire
- Offering the realistic road-like experience
- Connecting wireless apps
- Quite heavy and expensive
- Owning a complex attachment setup
Price range: $350 – $1,400
When using this smart bike stand, the first thing you must do is fully remove the tail wheel from your steed. Then you mount the velocipede frame directly to a cassette and axle attached to the trainer. It means that this bike stand will completely take your rear wheel’s place.
If you pedal, the cassette and hub of the trainer spin. That forces its magnets or belt to convey the movement to the resistance unit. And then the resistance is generated. It has heavier flywheels, so it simulates the life-like road feel.
This smart stand is always packed with superb immersive technology. Not over yet! It also keeps your journey soaring thanks to joining third-party apps and the smart on-bike sensors using ANT+ FE-C, ANT+, or Bluetooth. Hence, it lets you comprehensively imitate outdoor riding conditions.
Bike Simulator Trainers
- Being extremely stable.
- Proving an authentic ride feel.
- Allowing to connect wirelessly to apps.
- Preventing your cycle parts from wearing and tearing
- Being big, heavy, expensive.
Price range: $1,400 to $3,500
Try a bike simulator trainer if you get fed up with the regular indoor steeds. This premium standalone bike has a beautiful design that will amuse you the first time seeing. It is also equipped with bells and whistles.
There is no need to set up your regular cycle on the stand as others require. All you need to do is just hop on it and start pedaling. While using it, you can adjust the seat and handlebar positions as you want.
Thanks to its robust, comfortable, and stable platform, you will get the most realistic-feeling ride ever.
Tips To Choose An Indoor Bicycle Trainer
Your Cycle Type
First and foremost, determine what specific type of steeds you currently have. That will help you avoid making the mistake of buying a stand that doesn’t fit in it, and then your training progress will contend with momentary disruptions.
A cyclocross, mountain bicycle, or other bikes with knobby tires? Nothing can defeat a direct drive trainer.
Don’t forget to store your bicycle in tip-top condition, and it will bring you the best values when mounting to stands. Hanging it is a smart way you can try. But be sure to learn some secrets to safely hanging the bike and not harming its components first.
Be lucid, or you will play ducks and drakes with your money. Calculating the actual cost of a bike stand is really important. But also never forget to consider whether you’ll need to pay extra cost for add-on parts.
You have a tight budget, but you’re looking for a new stand offering adequate resistance and an authentic road feel? Try a tire drive trainer. Otherwise, go for a bike simulator or a direct-drive trainer.
Each bike stand varies in price from budget to high-end leaving you spoilt with choices. Here are some specific options about the best indoor trainers you can take a look at:
- Budget: Tacx Antares Basic Trainer
- Midrange: Kreitler Challenger Rollers
- High-End: Inside Ride E-Motion Rollers
Tire drive trainers
- Budget: Blackburn Tech Mag 5 Trainer
- High-End: Saris’s Fluid Trainer
- Budget: Elite Zumo
- Midrange: Wahoo Kickr Core
- High-End: Tacx Neo 2T Smart
Bike simulator trainers
- Budget: Stages SC1
- Midrange: Wattbike Atom
- High-End: Wahoo Kickr Bike
Bikes are equipped with a variety of axles, freehub, and cassettes. Thus, their standards must be at play to buy a cycle stand. Pick a trainer that fits with the adaptors of your bike, or your plan will go down the drain!
135mm quick-release skewer and 142x12mm thru-axle – These are two popular standards of most modern cycle axles. All types of bicycle stands listed above can match both up. Yet, some will require an additional purchase to ensure that they work well together.
Mountain bikes are a case in point. Most of them use 148x12mm thru-axle. It means that it’s slightly wider than normal. So, be mindful of checking it thoroughly with your local bicycle shop or trainer manufacturer.
Contemplate whether your new direct drive trainer comes with a set of sprockets or not. It is better safe than sorry. Some consist of an 11-speed cassette. If that spec is well suited with your bike, you have no issues with cassette compatibility.
But pair an 11-speed drivetrain with a 10-speed cassette, for example? Not only does it not work well, but it may also lead to damage to your related parts.
What happens if the freehub of your direct drive trainer isn’t compatible with a cassette that fits with the groupset on your bicycle? Of course, it is out of order. Hence, this is an essential factor you shouldn’t ignore when you want to bring a stand home.
It’s known that the agreed-upon standard of a freehub in the stand fits with 9, 10, and 11-speed Shimano/SRAM cassettes. You’re using a set of sprockets of that spec? Congratulations! You pass!
Campagnolo, Shimano 12-speed, or SRAM 12-speed groupsets? It’s a pity! They perhaps will not offer good freehub compatibility. It’s time to need a different freehub with the supplementary purchase.
The amount of noise produced when pedaling a trainer will be an issue, especially when sharing your space with others.
All stands will make some sound. But you can lean on a given speed or cadence of their decibel level to make a decision. Take note of this secret: the higher the decibel number, the louder the sound.
And one thing you can contemplate is that the more advanced the stand, the quieter it is. Yes, I think it is a general rule. So, pick the most modern one if your budget allows.
The final verdict is that direct-drive trainers rank first, followed by Mag and fluid trainers. Rollers and wind trainers are the loudest. Some near-silent suggestions? Tacx Neo 2 Smart Trainer, Wahoo Fitness Kickr Power Trainer, Wahoo Fitness Kickr Core should tick the box.
Ease Of Use
If you want your indoor journey to operate smoothly, you should meditate on how easy the cycle stand is. A direct-drive trainer, tire drive trainer, and bike simulator trainer will be good candidates. They’re secure, stable, and fairly easy to use.
What about a roller? As mentioned above, it doesn’t hold you up at all. It requires your own movement to stay balanced. Is it dropped from this competition? Not really! But it’s time to prepare yourself for falling over more than once before the dream comes true. Try your best!
If you want to get the perfect experience when pedaling, you should consider whether your stand comes with smart capabilities or not.
Direct-drive trainers, bike simulator trainers, and high-end models of tire drive trainers generally have wireless connectivity to training apps, such as Zwift or The Sufferfest. These platforms let you set your bicycle to a specific program or terrain. Thanks to that, you will go the right way.
The weight of the actual stand is the first thing you should keep in mind. Just plan on setting your bicycle trainer up in a permanent spot? Skip it. But if mobility is a key element, don’t forget it.
It’s ideal for picking a bicycle stand that is not too heavy for you to easily set up next to your car or pack away after each use. I recommend a tire drive trainer.
Another thing you should remember is the maximum weight load that the stand can tolerate for both cycle and riders at the same time. Some stands offer that exact measurement. But others do not. Hence, never leave when you have not double-checked with suppliers yet.
Frequently Asked Questions
How To Choose An App For My Bike Trainer? What Are The Benefits?
Typically, smart steeds like direct-drive or bike simulator trainers will come with third-party apps. Connecting a stand to these innovative platforms can turn the monotonous activity of cycling indoors into a far more interactive and engaging experience.
It costs about $10 to $15 per month. So what are the functions of a cycling app? It offers specific training programs and gives you real-time workout control feedback about speed, cadence, power output, heart-rate data, etc.
Many apps also improve your motivation for indoor cycling by providing ride simulations and virtual landscapes. You can even remote-control the resistance.
What do you think about riding virtually together on a classic route with your friend who is located in another place? So real and amazing, right?
But there are many apps at various costs depending on their business model. So which one should be your pick? I recommend Zwift, BKool, Rouvy, TrainerRoad, and Sufferfest. They are popular subscription-based platforms that promise to bring you a really immersive experience.
Zwift is the best. It has been so popular that many professional cyclists worldwide use it for their workouts, even when the weather is perfect for cycling outside.
Do Indoor Bike Trainers Fit All Bikes?
Typically, most indoor bicycle stands pointed out above are well suited to a wide range of bikes. But there are always exceptions. If you have a tire drive or direct drive trainer, it’s best to double-check your cycle type and specs to ensure perfect indoor training.
The reason is that they force you to mount a rear wheel on. But they come with various axles, freehub, and cassettes. That is why some cycles are not adaptable with an indoor bike stand. And you must buy another spec separately to make them fit.
What Is The Best Bike Trainer For Beginners?
The tire drive trainer will be the best bike trainer for beginners. In particular, I highly recommend Wahoo Kickr Snap. It is not too expensive but very stable. Whether you pick up speed, it works smoothly without any shaking.
It also integrates with third-party training options such as Wahoo SYSTM, Zwift, and Trainer Road. Thanks to that, the resistance is automatically adapted. So you can get a realistic ride experience.
The only thing that can be a little disconcerting is you must mount your steed with the included quick-release skewer. In case your bicycle has a thru-axle rear wheel, an appropriate adapter is a must. However, when you get the hang of it, you can complete it in a blink of an eye.
How Do You Measure For A Bike Trainer?
It goes without saying that cycling indoors has a huge host of benefits. But you’ll get bored if nothing keeps you motivated to bring out your best. I think you need to track your ride more than just riding.
So how to measure for a bike trainer? Connecting it with a wireless cycling computer will certainly do the trick. It displays the bike’s speed in km/h or m/s right on the big screen.
An odometer is also worth considering. Just attach it to your bicycle handles; it will make the stats when you start pedaling. And following the speed and distance you traveled is never out of reach.
Using a Bluetooth speed sensor is another way to try. But it’s quite more complicated than those methods mentioned above. A Bluetooth sensor and an app that is well-matched with its partner are required. Don’t skip one of them since they work hand in hand.
All you have to do is set it up correctly and get cycling distance readings from your phone.
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Picking a bicycle trainer can be difficult. You must consider many elements before deciding which one aligns best. A right stand doesn’t mean it’s the most expensive. It must satisfy your budget, bicycle type, fitness goals, comfort, tech gadgets, etc.
In fact, there are several reasons driving you to own a stand. No matter what they are, just pay close attention to the detailed information on how to choose an indoor bike trainer above, and everything will be easier than ever. Happy pedaling!