Not being able to safely get out for a bike ride can easily ruin your day. Cold or rainy weather, unexpected time drains throughout the day, or any other little thing can totally derail your biking plans. Thankfully, you can always squeeze in a ride with a bike trainer.
We all know the benefits of having a regular training schedule. Sticking to a plan maximizes training efficiency, guarantees recovery time, and gives a reliable outlet to relieve stress from everyday life. All of this is in addition to the benefits of daily exercise. But whenever things don’t quite go as planned, there are great options for squeezing in a workout anyways.
A trainer is a simple, cost-effective way to take complete control of your biking no matter what the weather looks like or what time of day you are able to get in the saddle. They are easy to set up, store, and even take with you if you’re away from home.
But we know that getting the best equipment for each of us is our top priority. Keep reading to get a quick overview of all the features of bike trainers and a few recommendations to make sure you get the best trainer for your needs.
What Is a Bike Trainer?
When you think of indoor cycling, you might think of a stationary bike. While a stationary bike is a great option, they miss out on the feel of a real bike and can be harder on the pocket. They also take up more space and cannot be moved as easily.
A bike trainer is a simple setup that lets you turn the bike you already have into a reliable indoor bike. There are three different kinds of trainers: direct drive, friction, and roller. Let’s look at a quick overview of all three, but we will focus on friction trainers because they are the lowest cost and easiest to use.
A direct drive trainer replaces the rear wheel entirely and provides resistance directly to the bike’s drive system. These are the most expensive trainers, but they are also quieter and more accurate than the other types. Most smart bike trainers are direct drive.
Roller trainers are simply a set of three rollers that the bike sits on. They can provide very little resistance, or as much as most direct drive trainers. However, they are difficult to use because the bike rests on top of the trainer and is not supported.
A friction trainer works by creating friction on the rear wheel. The main parts are a frame that provides support for the bike and rider, a clamp to secure the bike to the frame, and a drive to create resistance to replicate riding on a road. These are low cost and easy to use, making them the best option for most riders.
There are a few accessories that can make using a bike trainer more enjoyable and efficient. We will get to some of those at the end!
Best Bicycle Trainers: Top Considerations
There are many things to consider when shopping for a bike trainer. When looking for the best trainer for you, it’s good to start by considering price, noise, and size.
Price of Bike Trainers
Bike trainers can range from just under $100 to $500 or even more. Thankfully, there are quality trainers at every price point, though each one will have its advantages and disadvantages. A good place to start your search is with the Deuter Bike Trainer. This magnetic drive friction trainer keeps cost low and prioritizes portability and storability with its folding style.
However, for a trainer with all the bells and whistles, you might consider the Saris CycleOps H3 Direct Drive Smart Trainer. This nearly silent trainer gives almost completely accurate power accuracy and offers connectivity with most common trainer apps.
Noise Levels of Indoor Bicycle Trainers
Since trainers are mostly used inside, keeping the noise level down is crucial to being able to enjoy your training session and keep neighbors happy. A loud trainer can not only distract from your ride, it can cause you to not want to use your trainer at all!
One trainer to consider for a low noise level is this trainer from SONGMICS. Look for trainers that offer reliable magnetic friction resistance and guarantee low noise levels to keep you and your neighbors happy. If you are riding in an apartment or on a floor with people below you and want an ultra silent ride, you may want to invest in a bike trainer mat to help dampen the vibration and noise.
Bike Trainer Sizes
The final thing to consider when buying a trainer is the size. Larger trainers offer maximum stability and often give more options for resistance, but small trainers can still give a good workout while being easy to store and transport.
Consider the minimalist design of the Tacx Flow Smart Trainer. This trainer offers a small footprint to maximize your floor space while still retaining adjustable resistance levels and compatibility with many smart trainer apps.
The Kinetic Road Machine Control is an excellent option for a small trainer with big stability. The solid construction will keep your bike secured without sacrificing too many square feet.
Make sure that the trainer you purchase is compatible with your bike. Most trainers are compatible with most bikes, but be sure to double check, especially if you are considering a direct drive trainer.
Durability, resistance level, and technology features are all important considerations as well. Make sure your trainer is made of a sturdy material and offers the resistance levels you need.
Finally, make sure you get the accessories you need to make your training effective and enjoyable! First, using a trainer can be tough on your tires, so make sure to use trainer tire, which are designed to work with trainers and will prevent your expensive cycling tires from wearing out.
And, since you’re stuck indoors, you might try a mini fan to simulate the feeling of riding outside. Nothing quite compares with getting out and cycling, but with this setup, you can get close!
Bike Trainer Review Resources
Bike Trainer for Mountain Bike
- Need to convert your mountain bike? There’s several top rated bike trainers built for mountain bikes to choose from.
Best Bike Trainer Front Wheel Stand
- Part of your bicycle trainer set up should include a front wheel stand to keep the bike secure and safe. Bike trainer front wheel stands are a fast and simple solution.