Best Bike

Best Bike Trainer

We’ve conducted thorough research and analysis to determine which bike trainer is the best choice for most people looking to bring their cycling inside. The verdict is in and the Bike Lane Pro Trainer is the one. This model is made from high-quality materials for a solid frame, can be easily stored, and is among the quieter bike trainers available. It’s a fantastic piece of equipment for hardcore cyclists and casual bikers alike.

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Top Pick: Bike Lane Pro Trainer

The Bike Lane Pro Trainer is a much-loved, low-priced option with fantastic performance. While many complain of bike trainers being noisy, this model’s internal magnet allows for quiet indoor cycling. The magnet also creates resistance that can be increased or decreased simply by shifting gears on your bike. The frame is made from strong but lightweight metal so it’s easy to move around and folds down for easy storage. It’s reliable, durable, and perfect for most people who want to do indoor cycling.

Our runner-up is the Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer. This model is very similar to the top pick: it folds down for storage, it’s quiet, and it’s sturdy. However, some users find the resistance too low. For its generally great performance and low price, we recommend it as a second choice.

While the magnetic trainers can have great performance, the higher price of a fluid trainer is worth it for serious cyclists who plan to do a lot of indoor biking. For a top-of-the-line fluid trainer, we recommend the Kinetic Road Machine 2.0. With leak-proof fluid resistance, the Road Machine 2.0 is quiet, very smooth, and replicates the feel of an outdoor ride better than any other trainer on the market. This trainer also comes fully assembled so you can use it straight out of the box.

For those looking for a bargain, check out the Soozier Magnetic Resistance Indoor Bike Trainer. This model performs quite well for a unit with such a low price. The Soozier Trainer has a sturdy frame that ensures a safe and steady ride and folds down for storage. It uses a magnetic mechanism to create resistance and the precision-machined roller is designed to reduce wear on your bike’s tires. This model isn’t quite as quiet or smooth as our top pick, but if you’re on a budget it’s a great option.

Table of Contents

Why you should trust us

Though we don’t have access to test bike trainers first-hand in a lab, we have put in a dozens of hours of research into these pieces of equipment and what goes into a quality product so you don’t have to. Sifting through thousands of reviews on Amazon and other retailer websites as well as cycling message boards, we started to get an idea of what cyclists are looking for and which models provide the best (and worst) performance. We also looked extensively at input from experts on cycling specific websites for authoritative opinions. Youtube was another valuable resource as it helped demonstrate the noise level and stability of various trainers. All of these resources combined gave us a clear picture of which bike trainer models provide a great indoor cycling experience and which fall short.

How we picked

There were a few key aspects we looked at when selecting the best bike trainers on the market. The first was the materials used to construct the unit. Quality is a concern when buying any piece of exercise equipment and bike trainers are no exception. Even cheap models are mostly made from metal but some trainers with plastic components can be prone to breakage.

Ease of use was also a consideration. Some units’ feedback revealed difficulties in initial assembly or in getting the bike correctly connected. For our picks we chose models that are easy to put together or that come fully assembled.

Of course performance was a top priority when determining the best bike trainers. If it performs poorly, the quality materials, ease of use, and price don’t matter very much. Noise is among the chief complaints from bike trainer users so our picks are those models generally considered to be quieter. The smoothness of the ride can also be an issue so trainers that were frequently reviewed as creating a rough or bumpy ride are excluded from our list. Finally, we looked at the amount of resistance that can be created by the product. Those products that had sub-par resistance ranked lower for us as this is important for many riders’ experience.

We also looked at which models offered the highest rating and best reviews on Amazon for the most affordable price. Generally, products with more total reviews and a high rating on Amazon were considered. Models with less than fifty reviews were excluded regardless of rating unless very positive feedback was given from reputable outside sources. Price was a consideration when looking at trainers with similar reviews and ratings but quality was never overlooked in favor of a lower cost.

Why buy a bike trainer

Bike trainers are great for anyone who enjoys bicycling and would like to be able to bring their ride indoors. Some buy a bike trainer so they can cycle even on days (or during seasons) when the weather conditions aren’t ideal. Others purchase simply because they prefer exercising inside. Regardless of the reason, a bike trainer is a great product if you’re interested in using your bicycle for stationary cycling.

Types of bike trainers

The most popular style of bike trainers are known as ‘turbos.’ These are usually A-frame in shape and connect to the quick release skewer of the bike’s rear wheel, lifting it and sitting the wheel against a resistance unit. There are three main kinds of turbo bike trainers, each with a different type of resistance mechanism: wind, magnetic, and fluid.

Wind is the least preferable of the three resistance mechanisms. This type of bike trainer is by far the noisiest and creates a sound that some describe as ‘screaming.’ The resistance unit also creates a limited amount of resistance compared to the other types of trainer.

Magnetic is more popular, using a magnet to create resistance. The resistance is still somewhat limited in magnetic trainers, but the amount created is satisfactory for the average user. This type’s mechanism is also quieter than that of the wind trainer and at a similar price. The main source of sound is the tire running against the mechanism and it can be minimized by switching to a smooth tire.

The best among turbo trainers are fluid which use fluid chambers to create greater resistance than in the other two types. Fluid bike trainers are the quietest and offer the best performance but have a higher price tag attached. Like the magnetic trainer, switching to a smooth tire can reduce the noise further.

Another option is the roller bike trainer. These trainers are simply a rectangular frame with two rollers to support the rear wheel and one to support the front wheel. While turbos hold the bike securely in place, roller trainers simply have the bike placed on top and the rider cycles normally, balancing the bike and steering straight to keep the bicycle on the device. Using this type of trainer has a bit of a learning curve and requires more focus, but it more accurately simulates outdoor cycling than the turbo trainers that completely restrict side-to-side movement.

Which type is best for you?

For most people, a turbo bike trainer will be the best choice. It’s easier to use because the bike is held in place and doesn’t require any balance or steering from the rider.

Wind turbo trainers are one option that we simply don’t recommend. While they’re good for sprint training, the high noise level makes it an inconvenient for most people and can quickly become unpleasant to use. Wind trainers are comparable to magnetic trainer but the latter is much quieter and offers slightly better resistance. For most users, a magnetic trainer is the right choice, but Livestrong.com states that magnetic trainers may not offer enough resistance for advanced riders.

Fluid bike trainers are more expensive than the wind or magnetic varieties, but if you plan on using it extensively, it’s a good idea to invest in one. Because they’re the quietest of the three varieties of turbos, fluid trainers are a particularly good option if you live with other people or in an apartment building as excess noise can be cause for complaint. These also offer the most resistance, so if you’re an experienced cyclist or want a challenge, the fluid resistance unit is more likely to give you the experience you’re looking for.

Roller bike trainers offer unique benefits compared to turbo trainers. This type is great for riders doing serious training or those looking for more of a challenge. Because the rider is responsible for balance and steering, roller trainers offer not only a physical workout but also help riders practice focus and form.

Top Pick: Bike Lane Pro Trainer

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Top Pick: Bike Lane Pro Trainer

Of the dozens of bike trainers we researched, the Bike Lane Pro Trainer came out on top. In every area we examined, this model proved to be a piece of equipment that is great for any cyclist. Through our investigation into its quality and performance, we quickly came to see why.

The Bike Lane Pro bicycle trainer is a magnetic trainer. While some magnetic resistance trainers can fall short when it comes to creating challenging resistance, this particular model’s high quality mechanism produces plenty of resistance to please beginner and experienced bikers alike and it can be easily adjusted by shifting your bike’s gears.

Many people looking to purchase a bike trainer want a model that is as quiet as possible and this is one area where the Bike Lane Pro delivers over other magnetic models in its price category. The Bike Lane Pro is wonderfully quiet as far as bike trainers go and with smooth tires on your bike the noise is absolutely minimal.

This bike trainer is primarily made from high quality metal which makes it an incredibly sturdy, durable device. The maker is so sure of its quality that it comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Despite being made of quality metal, it’s not overly heavy; at 22.5 pounds, it’s heavy enough to remain in place when in use but light enough to be easily moved when necessary. The frame is a good size for stability with a height of 15.25′ and width of 21.5′ and a length of 18.75′ when open. The unit can be conveniently folded down for storage when not in use which is great for people with limited space.

Another great thing about the Bike Lane Pro Trainer is how easy it is to put together. Many reviewers were pleased with how quick and simple the assembly was, which is certainly not the case for all trainers. Simpler assembly means the trainer can be used sooner and saves the user frustration, so it’s a definite plus in our books.

The trainer also comes packaged with a couple of additional items: a quick-release for bikes that don’t already have one equipped and a front riser block to ensure the front and back wheels sit evenly. Having these two products included with the Bike Lane Pro is very convenient as everything you might need is bundled in one box.

Finally, the price is fantastic. For the incredible quality and performance as well as the included riser block and quick-release, this bike trainer is unquestionably among the best we looked at, but the added bonus of affordability made it our top pick.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

When looking at the least satisfied users’ reviews, one concern is the plastic pieces. Though there are only small portions that are plastic, they have proven problematic for a few people and broken. Thankfully, this is a very rare complaint; the overwhelming majority of feedback is that the trainer is high quality and very durable.

To attach your bike to the frame, the Bike Lane Pro Trainer requires a quick-release axle. Some bikes already have one, but for those without it the assembly will require a bit more work. Thankfully, they’re simple to attach and one is included with the trainer.

Because the unit itself is a set size and not adjustable, the Bike Lane Pro can accommodate only certain sizes of tires: 700c and 26 to 27 inches. This shouldn’t be an issue for most users as these are the most common sizes for bicycle tires but if yours aren’t one of these sizes, it might be worth buying a cheap tire for use with the trainer since it has such a low price.

Runner-up: Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer

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Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer

Just behind our top pick, the Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer has proved to be a highly praised trainer that performs almost as well as the Bike Lane Pro Trainer. This model performs at a very similar level to our top pick and is a great option for a high-functioning trainer at a slightly lower price.

Just like the Bike Lane Pro, the Conquer trainer is made from quality metal giving it a heavy-duty feel and great durability and stability. There’s an added perk with this trainer though, as it comes pre-assembled which is very convenient and makes set-up very quick.

Just like our top pick, the Conquer bike trainer fits specific bike wheel size in size 26′, 27′, and 700c. These are the most common bike wheel sizes available so it should be just right for most purchasers. Your bike should also have a quick-release equipped in order to attach it to the stand, but if it doesn’t there is one included with the trainer. A front riser block is also included so the front and back wheels sit at the same level.

The Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer is a magnetic trainer just like our top pick but makes a bit more noise than the Bike Lane Pro and produces a lower level of resistance which may not be sufficient for advanced cyclists. For the average user this is still a great model which is why we’ve listed it just behind our top pick, but for those who need more of a challenge it may not do the job.

Step-up: Kinetic Road Machine 2.0

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Kinetic Road Machine 2.0

The Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 is a top-of-the-line product that is very highly praised. Experienced cyclists love it too. The Road Machine may not be the practical choice for beginners, but it’s definitely worth the investment for advanced riders or those who plan to use their trainer extensively.

The Road Machine 2.0 is made by Kinetic, one of the most trusted names in bike trainers, so there’s no surprise that it out-performs just about every other trainer on the market. They also offer a lifetime warranty with their products so when you spend a little more to get a Kinetic trainer you’ll be sure to enjoy it for many years to come.

Unlike our previous two picks, this bike trainer uses a fluid resistance mechanism. With this type of unit, the Road Machine 2.0 is very quiet. It also offers the highest amount of resistance when compared to other mechanisms. Even for advanced users, this model can provide a challenge when the resistance is turned up. Many riders have also noted that the resistance creates a very smooth, natural feeling ride that closely replicates the feeling of cycling outdoors.

The frame of the Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 is among the most durable available and is incredibly sturdy. Made from tig welded, powdercoated steel with very few non-metal pieces, this trainer is built to last. It also comes fully assembled so all you have to do is connect your bike. This unit comes with a skewer for attachment but does not include a front riser block, so you may want to purchase one separately.

From every angle, the Road Machine 2.0 is a fantastic piece of equipment. The materials, low noise level, and smooth ride give this model an edge over any other model on our list. The cost prevents it from being our top pick but if you’re going to be using your trainer a lot, consider spending the extra money and enjoy a superior indoor cycling experience.

Budget Pick: Soozier Magnetic Resistance Indoor Bike Trainer

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Soozier Magnetic Resistance Magnetic Bike Trainer

Bike trainers are available in a very wide range of prices and the Soozier Magnetic Resistance Indoor Bike Trainer is a great option for riders with a budget. The Soozier trainer offers a great riding experience at a very affordable price.

Like our top and runner-up picks, the Soozier bike trainer uses magnetic resistance. This model is fairly quiet, comparable to some of the more expensive magnetic trainers. It does make some amount of noise but most reviewers find it an acceptable level that is not disruptive and is inaudible when using headphones. The mechanism also produces a good amount of resistance for most users and creates a smooth feel for the rider.

The frame of the Soozier Magnetic Resistance Indoor Bike Trainer is made of steel and many users have expressed their pleasant surprise at the quality for the low price. It’s a very sturdy trainer and feels stable even when cycling at a quick pace. Like other units, this one conveniently folds down for storage and, at just under 20 pounds, is easy to move around when necessary. One nice aspect about this model is that it’s designed to connect to bikes with either quick-release or bolt-on rear wheels so just about any bike can fit into it as long as it has 26′, 27′ or 700c wheels.

A slight drawback to this model is the assembly. A common complaint in the reviews is that the instructions are a bit lacking. However, even reviewers who struggled with the instructions still successfully put the trainer together and went on to enjoy using it. This is the main complaint when looking through user feedback but it’s not frequent enough to be a deal breaker.

Best smart trainer: Kinetic Road Machine Smart

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Kinetic Road Machine Smart

If you’re the kind of cycling or fitness enthusiast who likes to be able to track your workouts, consider a bike trainer that can be connected to an app on your phone. Of the smart trainers we looked at, the Kinetic Road Machine Smart came out on top. This model is essentially the same in terms of structure and performance as the Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 that we selected as our step-up pick but with the added feature of Bluetooth connectivity for use with the Kinetic Fit app. Not only does the app display and record details of your ride like distance, speed, calories burned, heart rate, and more, it can also be used to select a variety of professionally designed workouts. This high-end trainer combined with Kinetic’s comprehensive fitness app is perfect for cyclists who want a guided workout or like to track their progress and is quite affordable compared to other smart trainers.

Best Zwift-compatible trainer: Travel Trac Fluid Trainer

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Travel Trac Fluid Trainer

Zwift is a computer program that connects to your trainer and immerses you in a virtual world were you can enjoy your ride with others around the world. In order to use Zwift, though, you’ll need a bike trainer that is ‘zPower’ compatible. We recommend the Travel Trac Fluid Trainer. This trainer is made from high-quality metal for excellent durability and has a wide base to provide extra stability. Like the Kinetic trainers we’ve mentioned, it uses fluid resistance which provides the best resistance and is the quietest type of mechanism. Of the supported trainers listed on Zwift’s website, the Travel Trac trainer is the most affordable while still boasting superb performance. Since you’ll have to buy Zwift and an ANT+ sensor separately, a lower price on the trainer will help reduce your overall cost.

Great for a challenge: Nashbar Reduced Radius Roller Trainer

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Nashbar Reduced Radius Roller Trainer

So far, every item we’ve recommended has been a turbo trainer and that’s simply because it’s the more popular option and is easier to use for most riders since the bike is securely fastened to the frame. However, roller trainers are still ideal for cyclists who want a greater challenge and the most natural feel when biking indoors. Among roller trainers, the Nashbar Reduced Radius Roller Trainer stood out as the clear choice. This model is primarily made of durable aluminum with three rollers to rest your bike on and sealed cartridge bearings for the smoothest riding experience. It also comes fully assembled and can be used straight out of the box. If you’re looking for a bike trainer that allows you to fully engage your mind and body for a more challenging ride than the average turbo trainer offers, go for the Nashbar Reduced Radius Roller Trainer.

Competition

Though we’ve covered a number of impressive bike trainers already, there are many more on the market that might be considered when looking for a model that suits your needs. One that is worth consideration is the RAD Cycle Magnetic Bicycle Trainer. This product appears on a few top ten lists for bike trainers making it evident that it’s a great product for many users. The RAD Cycle trainer is very similar to our top pick but some riders find the magnetic mechanism to be a bit noisy and this model may not offer enough resistance for more advanced cyclists. However, if you’re okay with a bit of noise and only need moderate resistance, this trainer may be suitable for you.

Another model that is highly praised by both average users and advanced cyclists is the CycleOps Fluid 2 Trainer. Since it uses fluid resistance, this trainer is a bit more expensive than some of our other suggestions; however, the performance is worth the price for serious cyclists. BikeRadar describes this model as ‘silky smooth and capable of punishing you,’ so you’re sure to get a tough workout. It’s an impressive piece of equipment and is very similar to our step-up pick. The only reason we selected the Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 as our step-up pick.

The Bell Motivator Mag Indoor Bicycle Trainer is another model. For the most part, this trainer is quite good quality: it has a solid build, it’s made from durable materials, and offers reliable stability. However, the noise from the magnetic resistance unit is a common complaint. In one demonstration video, the sound is measured to be 75 decibels which is comparable to a garbage disposal. The Bell Motivator is both more expensive and more noisy than our top pick.

Wrapping it up

Choosing the right bike trainer for you will depend on your individual needs, but for most riders the Bike Lane Pro Trainer will do the job well. For cyclists willing to pay a higher price for a top-of-the-line unit, the Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 offers impressive performance and a very smooth ride. If you’re on a budget or just looking to experiment with cycling indoors, we recommend the Soozier Magnetic Resistance Indoor Bike Trainer as a quality trainer at an affordable price.

Sources

1. Meg Campbell, Fluid vs. Magnetic Bike Trainers, Livestrong, August 19, 2013.
2. Joe Lindsey, How to Choose an Indoor Bike Trainer, Bicycling, December 7, 2015.
3. Trainer Tips from the Pros, Kurt Kinetic, April 21, 2014.
4. Coach Mueller, Why Train with Rollers?, Sport Crafters, July 21, 2013.

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