Best indoor bike trainers – the ultimate shootout

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If there is a silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s the fact that we have all had the opportunity to really work on our physical fitness. With cycling being one of the most popular choices for physical exercise, it’s no surprise many wanted to take it up. But how to do it?

You’re stuck inside, you want to cycle, there’s only one solution. A bike trainer is the perfect way to get back in shape and really reap the benefits of cycling. Ready to feel the burn and build stamina without having to breathe the outdoor air? These indoor bike trainers are just what you need.

Stages Cycling Smart Bike Trainer

Best Bike Trainer

This smart bike trainer offers you the best technology out there for home fitness and training. What you would normally find in a high-end gym can now be accessed from the comfort of your home with absolute ease. Simulated riding has never felt this good.

Stages Cycling Smart Bike Trainer review photo
Stages Cycling Smart Bike Trainer

The controls can be tailored to your needs, allowing you to perfectly emulate breaking, shifting, and steering as though you were riding outside. That real bike feel is what makes it the best bike trainer, combined with the fact that it is comfortable to use as well as incredibly simple.

It can be used with third-party training apps to really customise your experience, and also so that you get the most out of each session. World-class tech used by Tour de France riders is also incorporated for the serious sportsman. It’s certainly packed with oo-la-la.

Pros

  • Feels just like a real bike without the need to head out into the world
  • Uses the same tech as premium gyms, giving you access to some seriously effective programmes
  • Compatible with a range of third party apps to keep things interesting when training
  • Fully adjustable so that you always have the most comfortable ride

Cons

  • It’s incredibly heavy, so make sure you have someone to help you move it into your home and get set up

Tacx Flux 2 Direct Drive Smart Trainer

Best Budget Bike Trainer

This budget smart trainer is easy to hook your bike up to so that you can hop on and get those legs pumping. Thanks to the Smart Direct Drive, every time you decide to go for a cycle you will be met with unmatched realism – right down to the inclines.

Tacx Flux 2 Direct Drive Smart Trainer review photo
Tacx Flux 2 Direct Drive Smart Trainer

Leading on from this, the Tacx Flux 2 offers an exceptional 16% incline. This allows you to adjust accordingly so that you can build up and start tackling those difficult hills. The way it syncs to your smart device with real-time stats lets you keep track of your fitness.

Being able to measure your performance means that you are able to improve and reach the skill level you desire. Kick up the gear and work those thighs, the process really is easy as pie once you hop on and get working. It’s small, but mighty, and certainly the best budget bike trainer.

Pros

  • Brings indoor cycling to life, helping you to feel immersed in the workout
  • Syncs with your smart device to give you real-time stats so you know how well you’re doing
  • Lets you link up third party software so you can access the training programmes you know and love
  • Simulates 16% inclines to give your body a full workout
  • Once you’ve got things set up, it’s easy as anything to hop on and get cycling

Cons

  • The assembly instructions can be a little vague and hard to follow

Wahoo KICKR Bike Smart Trainer

Best Full-System Indoor Bike Trainer

Wahoo is certainly a way to describe this indoor bike trainer, and it really does pack a punch. Offering an incredible 20% incline when cycling, even the best cyclists are sure to feel challenged as they slowly step up their game. The stakes have never been higher.

Wahoo KICKR Bike Smart Trainer

You get the joys of virtual training with this bike, bringing innovative simulations to the table that will leave you feeling more determined than ever. Replicating the sensations of riding outdoors, you won’t be missing that cool spring breeze for long. Who needs the outside world right now?

It offers structured workouts as well as giving you the option to set goals and work towards them. Third party compatibility brings versatility to the table and the fact that it requires no calibration and can fit just about any bike really is the icing on the cake here.

Pros

  • Optimised TrueFit so that your outdoor bike slides in with ease
  • Replicates gradients up to a whopping 20% for the dedicated cyclist
  • Virtual training and shifting to give you that real bike feel and experience
  • Structured workouts and third party compatibility for tailored regimes that suit you

Cons

  • The price is pretty high, but you’re paying for great quality

Saris H3 Direct Drive Smart Trainer

Best Turbo-Style Indoor Bike Trainer Stand

This powerful beast of a trainer is here to deliver one thing only – results. The best bike trainer stand is here and it’s ready to conquer your calves and tone those thighs. With an exceptional 20% incline available, you’ll be working your way to the top in no time at all.

Saris H3 Direct Drive Smart Trainer

It’s quick, ready to match your actions and help simulate the real world from the comfort of your home. The inner workings are carefully calibrated for the best possible accuracy, giving you clear results that help you improve and get you back in the saddle.

The controls are easy to use, helping you to tailor your experience alongside help from your favourite third-party software. It even has some great extras that add to the quality of life, such as LED indicator lights as 11 speeds, headless mode, and protection against tyre wear.

Pros

  • Top-notch design that boasts quality as well as durability for those long workout sessions
  • Quick response times that match your reflexes for the ultimate cycle
  • Nifty extras like LED indicator lights and multiple speeds for added realism
  • Great third party compatibility so that training is always on your terms
  • 20% incline for the cyclists that want to push themselves that little bit further

Cons

  • It can be a bit bulky, especially when moving it
  • Some users have experienced glitches with Zwift

Indoor bike trainer FAQs
Are trainers bad for your bike?

No, trainers are not bad for your bike. There was a myth circulating that they could damage the carbon frame of your bike, but this has been proven false. You should watch out for wheel strain if you exercise with the trainer frequently.

Is a bike trainer a good workout?

Yes, a bike trainer is a good workout. It’s great cardio, helps build stamina, and strengthens your muscles. It can be just as effective as riding your bike outside, but using a trainer keeps you safe if you live in a busy area with a lot of high-traffic roads.

Do bike trainers fit all bikes?

Yes and no, bike trainers generally fit all bikes but you will need to check the specifics first. After all, there are exceptions to the rule so you will want to make sure that the trainer you are buying is the perfect fit for your bike.

How long should you ride your bike trainer?

You should ride your bike trainer anywhere from 30 minutes to over two hours. The important thing is to build up your stamina slowly and not to overdo it. There is nothing wrong with taking your time. As long as you are getting a good workout, that’s all that matters.


Indoor bike trainers – conclusion

A bike trainer could be the best lockdown decision you make, and they are an investment worth making for your physical health as well as personal enjoyment. That’s why we have taken the time to vigorously research models so that you are left with the best choices on the market.

Our favourite and the clear winner here is the smart bike trainer from Stages. It’s innovative, versatile, and offers a serious workout that will leave you feeling great afterwards. It is followed closely by the Tacx Flux 2, a fantastic budget model that still packs a real punch.