Workout Equipment

The 5 Best Indoor Bike Trainers – [2020 Reviews & Guide]

Whether you’re training for an event, trying to stay in shape during the colder seasons, or want to cycle in the early hours, an indoor bike trainer is a wonderful piece of equipment to have.

Not everyone lives a sunny, warm environment year-round and has the privilege of being able to ride a bike every season.

No matter what your reason is, know that there are a variety of trainers available. If you really want to reap the full benefits, you’re going to need one of the best indoor bike trainers.

We’ve done our research and have them all right here, so keep on scrolling!

Best Bike Trainers

 CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor TrainerTacx Neo Smart Direct Driver TrainerKinetic Road Machine 2.0 Fluid Trainer
editorschoice
Resistance:FrictionDirect DriveFriction
Weight:21 Pounds47 Pounds47 Pounds
Smart Trainer:YesYesYes
Frame:SteelSteelPowder Coated Steel

Quick Answer: The  7 Best Rated Bike Trainers For 2020

  1. CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Trainer
  2. Tacx Neo Smart Direct Driver Trainer
  3. Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Fluid Trainer
  4. Sportneer Steel Bicycle Exercise Magnetic Stand
  5. CycleOps Hammer Direct Drive Smart Trainer
  6. Tacx Antares Roller Bike Trainer
  7. Elite Drivo II Interactive Power Bike Trainer

We’ve reviewed the top rated bike trainers, followed by a comparison table and buying guide to help you decide on trainer that will work best for you.


Bike Trainer Reviews

CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Bike Trainer

CycleOps is known as one of the best bike trainer manufacturers in the world, and their CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Trainer is a perfect example of why.

While they typically produce more expensive products, this is a wonderful budget product that still is one of the best-performing we’ve seen.

The friction trainer works by clamping onto the rear dropouts and places a roller against the rear tire. In this case, the roller is precision-machined and made of alloy to reduce tire wear and slippage.

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There are three settings for rear dropout spacing: 120mm, 130mm, and 135mm. The trainer is nice and quiet, so you don’t have to wake anyone up or deal with the neighbors getting irritated if you live in an apartment.

The 16-gauge steel frame is notably sturdy considering the price point, and has a weight limit of 300 pounds. The adjustable footpads make sure that you’re always secure and stable – even in more intense sessions.

If that weren’t enough, it is compatible with Zwift, Rouvy, and other training apps that you may find fun and motivating.

Finally, the product comes with a generous lifetime warranty from CycleOps, so you can feel reassured in your purchasing decision!

 

CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Trainer at a Glance:

  • Smart Trainer: Yes
  • Weight: 21 Pounds
  • Noise: Quiet
  • Frame: 16-Gauge Steel
  • Resistance Method: Friction

Tacx Neo Smart Direct Driver Bike Trainer

The Tacx Neo Smart Direct Driver Trainer is considered to be one of the best indoor bike trainers out there. While we also loved plenty of features, it didn’t come without faults (we’ll get to those shortly).

The trainer has the ability to give you power readings and to be controlled by programs such as Zwift, which is definitely a nice convenience.

The 22kg trainer isn’t exactly what we’d call “portable”, so if you’re just looking for something to keep at home, this will do the trick just fine.

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Our biggest and probably sole complaint aside from the weight, was the release clips being on the bottom. This means that the Tacx Neo may fall to one side or release both at once and suddenly you have the weight of your bike on you.

In addition, you can also easily get your fingers caught. Aside from that, we loved what it had to offer. First off, it’s extremely quiet – quite possibly the quietest trainer we tried.

Thanks to their “road surface simulation” it replicates cobbles or wooden slats you may find within the Zwift world extremely well. Our other favorite, is the fact that you can use it without it being plugged in.

Once you start pedaling a bit, it turns on using a dynamo. Unfortunately, this does only work with reduced functionality, but it’s still quite beneficial for warming up or cooling down.

We noticed that in comparison with on-bike power meters, the readings were extremely accurate and consistent, which is important if you’re training for an event.

Finally, it’s the only turbo we tried that was self-calibrating, so you don’t have to go through a zero offset like you typically would.

 

Tacx Neo Smart Direct Driver Trainer at a Glance:

  • Smart Trainer: Yes
  • Weight: 47 Pounds
  • Noise: Silent
  • Frame: Steel
  • Resistance Method: Direct Drive

Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Fluid Bike Trainer

The Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Fluid Trainer is another affordable option if you’re looking to stay on a budget.

What stood out to us, particularly, was that it was so inexpensive yet still compatible with Zwift Island and other virtual training programs.

The wheel-on design, stable base, and folding legs make it an excellent choice not only at home, but for taking with you anywhere you need to train.

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The quiet, smooth, 100% leak-proof is a must-have if you are looking for quality at a lower price.

This particular trainer uses fluid resistance, which is created by a blade turning inside a container of fluid. As the fluid resistance increases, so does the wheel speed.

Why use it? Because it works well to replicate outdoor riding. The fluid unite uses surgical-grade silicone meaning it doesn’t heat up nor allow for power fade later on.

Video: How to setup the Kinetic Bike Trainer

The fluid resistance method does allow for incredibly spot-on wattage readings at exact speeds with Kinetic trainers. You can also use Kinetic’s inRide Watt Meter and their Fit app.

The frame is made from tig-welded, powder coated steel with ABS plastic overmolded with rubber for increased ergonomics and grip.

With that, you can probably guess it’s very sturdy and meant to last. However, they’ve thoughtfully included a lifetime warranty making it one of the best cycle trainers at a bargain price.

 

Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Fluid Trainer at a Glance:

  • Smart Trainer: Yes
  • Weight: 28 Pounds
  • Noise: Silent
  • Frame: Powder coated Steel
  • Resistance Method: Friction

 


If you’re on a very tight budget or are just getting into cycling, the Sportneer Bike Trainer Stand is hands-down the best budget bike trainer you’re going to find.

It’s obviously not going to have all the bells-and-whistles that some of the others on our list have, but it’s going to get the job done.

As the frame is made of steel, you can really put some miles on it without worrying about the integrity of the stand.

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The wide base, adjustable rubber feet, and low center of gravity ensure you’ll be stable even at high intensities.

While it’s not a smart trainer (no app-connecting capabilities), it does come with 6 bar-mounted remote-controlled resistance settings so you can train on various incline levels.

Video: Setting up the Sportneer Bike Trainer Stand

As far as noise goes, it’s pretty quiet considering the price point, but it isn’t completely silent. However, you can easily train without waking up others in your home.

Once you’re done with training, the frame folds up nice and easy, making it great for transport. All you have to do is hit the press-down lever clamp to quickly release your bike.

 

Sportneer Bike Trainer Stand at a Glance:

  • Smart Trainer: No
  • Weight: 19 Pounds
  • Noise: Notable Noise
  • Frame: Steel
  • Resistance Method: Friction

Yet again, we’re back with another exquisite product from CycleOps. This time, we give you the Hammer Direct Drive Trainer, which is consistently rated the best smart bike trainer by the top-rated among serious cyclists

The direct drive smart trainer can handle a max power output of an impressive 2,000 watts at 20 mph, and can simulate inclines up to 20%.

It’s not quite what the Drivo II (see below) can do in that sense, but it does have its own benefits.

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To start riding, all you have to do is add a cassette, take off your rear wheel, and connect to your preferred virtual training app.

There, you can choose among group rides, rolling hills, and more. With integrated dual ANT+ FE=C and Bluetooth 4.0 technologies, you’ll always have a fast and consistent connection.

PowerTap technology makes sure you always have the most accurate power readings possible, so you can train at your best. Despite the intensity the unit is capable of handling, it’s surprisingly quiet and vibration-free thanks to the precision-balanced flywheel.

It also facilitates a very real-world experience that actually feels like you’re on the trails. Once you’re done, all you have to do is take off the cassette, fold the legs up, and store it away!

 

CycleOps Hammer Direct Drive Trainer at a Glance:

  • Smart Trainer: Yes
  • Weight: 46 Pounds
  • Noise: Quiet
  • Frame: Steel
  • Resistance Method: Direct Drive

Tacx Antares Roller Bike Trainer

Yes, there is a third type of bike trainer: the roller. To be honest, it’s not as “easy” as the other trainers, in our opinion.

It was also a bit difficult to find one that we felt was actually quality enough to put on our list. However, we did find it in the Tacx Galaxia.

What’s more difficult about rollers is that it requires technique and balance. Unlike the others, you can’t just hop on and pedal away. The upside to that, is that you’ll improve your pedaling technique and core muscles quickly.

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The indoor cycle trainer is nice and easy to set up, and lightweight enough that you can transport it from room-to-room without much fuss.

One of our favorite additions was the suspended chassis, balancing on rockers under the rear drums and front wheels. We also enjoyed the gentle curve of the drums, which work well to keep you centered and well-balanced in comparison to many others we’d tried.

It’s not a smart trainer so you can’t use it with any apps, but it still gets the job done. Without-a-doubt, our least favorite aspect of the Galaxia, was the noise.

Not only does it make noise, but it makes a pretty good amount of it. While it may not disturb your neighbors, it’s definitely going to bother someone in the next room, so be aware of that beforehand.

 

Tacx Antares Roller Bike Trainer at a Glance:

  • Smart Trainer: No
  • Weight: 18 Pounds
  • Noise: Medium
  • Frame: Steel
  • Resistance Method: Roller

Elite Drivo II Interactive Power Bike Trainer

The Elite Drivo II is one of the best bike trainer stands for providing an incredibly good road feel, as well as a supreme response to terrain changes that are found in apps such as the ever-popular “Zwift”.

In addition, you’ll find that it has very high accuracy levels which is essential if you’re serious about cycling. This smart turbo trainer was easily one of our favorites – along with some from Wahoo and Tacx.

One downside for us was that it did need a bit of assembly to get started. While it isn’t complicated and the required tools are included, we love being able to use things as soon as we take them out of the box.

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The machine is big and admittedly a bit difficult to move around. This isn’t one you’re going to want to lug around with you to the race, but solely for home use.

The upside to its weight and size, is that you don’t have to worry about every being unstable on it. Connecting to Zwift (or whatever your preferred app is) is fast and easy. The connection from start to finish was nice and stable, too.

Let’s get back to our favorite feature, though: the realism. The trainer provides an incredibly realistic experience, allowing for the ability to go from a 0 to 24 % gradient in just three seconds.

We were even more impressed, considering this isn’t found on any other bike trainer out there. One more little irk we’d like to mention, was that it wasn’t as quiet as most others on our list.

While it’s not noise by any means, for a unit of this level of quality we definitely expected a quieter ride.

 

Elite Drivo II Interactive Power Bike Trainer at a Glance:

  • Smart Trainer: Yes
  • Weight: 53 Pounds
  • Noise Level: Medium
  • Frame: Steel
  • Resistance Method: Direct Drive

Indoor Bike Trainer Comparison Table

Bike Trainer Resistance MethodWeightSmart TrainerRating
CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor TrainerFriction21 lbsYes4.2 / 5.0
Tacx Neo Smart Direct Driver TrainerDirect Drive47 lbsYes4.4 / 5.0
Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Fluid TrainerFriction28 lbsYes4.5 / 5.0
Sportneer Bike Trainer StandFriction19 lbsNo4.4 / 5.0
CycleOps Hammer Direct Drive TrainerDirect Drive46 lbsYes4.0 / 5.0
Tacx Roller GalaxiaRoller18 lbsNo4.4 / 5.0
Elite Drivo II Power TrainerDirect Drive53 lbsYes4.2 / 5.0

How to Choose the Best Bike Trainer – Buying Guide

CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Trainer

Selecting a indoor bike trainer isn’t the easiest thing to do – especially if you’re new to the game or have only tried one type. If you haven’t yet settled on the one you want, that’s okay! We’ve gone ahead and created this in-depth buying guide to make sure you’re successful in your ventures!

Types of Bike Trainers

As we mentioned before, there are three different types of stationary bike trainers (along with several basic types). Not only that, but there are a bunch of different smart trainers and training programs/worlds that go along with them. While the possibilities are practically endless, we have selected the three that we feel are the best for your goals.

Direct Drive

This type you attach to the rear dropouts. You’ll need to remove your rear wheel for this one, so the trainer can replace it and give a direct connection to the resistance unit on your bicycle.

These are easy to identify as they need a cassette (that silver, cone-shaped thing). They are also usually the priciest, however they do have their upsides. They’re the most accurate and also feature the highest levels of resistance on the market today.

Friction

With this type you have to put your rear wheel against a small roller, using either magnetic or fluid resistance. These are typically more lightweight and portable than direct drives which make them great for taking to races.

However, they’re louder and not as accurate. However, they’re smart bike trainers, so you can use them in all kinds of virtual worlds at half the price as a direct drive.

Rollers

The most basic of the three, and also require the most balance and technique as the bike isn’t kept in place like is typical with others. Instead, you’ll find that your bike is placed carefully on top of three rollers. The resistance varies widely.

You can have it at basically no resistance, up to as much as you’ll get from a direct drive trainer. If you are mainly looking to improve your pedaling technique and balance, then this is the one for you.

Smart Trainers

You’ve seen us talk a lot about these, but what exactly does it mean? You already know that smart bike trainers have the capabilities of connecting wirelessly with training apps and virtual worlds.

These worlds give you the ability to “ride” through mountains, hills, flat landscapes, and even go on group rides. The trainer responds according to the world you’re in, responding and giving you an incredibly accurate real-world feel.

The popularity of Zwift and comparative apps mean that smart trainers are just growing increasingly popular. You’ll have to pay for it but nowadays you can easily find some for under $500.

Tacx Antares Rollers Bike Trainer

Bike Trainer Resistance Types

Wind

This type is where your bike’s rear wheel powers a fan which is actually gives the resistance. If you pedal harder, the resistance increases.

The positive to this, is that they’re the least expensive, and perfect for beginners. They’re usually very portable and great for boosting endurance. However, they’re loud with few adjustability options.

Magnetic

These use a magnetic flywheel to create a fixed resistance. That means that as you pedal harder, the resistance does not increase with it. To boost resistance levels, you have to manually adjust the gears on your bike or settings on your trainer.

There are a couple, however, which instead use spring-loaded magnets to create a progressive resistance. The upside to these are that they’re both quiet and affordable. Resistance can be changed to more accurately simulate easy roads, hills, and more.

Fluid

With this type, you’ll find a fluid inside a unite which increases resistance as you pedal faster. They’re very popular thanks to their accurate road-like feel, power, and accurate ride simulation.

It is probably the best at mimicking a real-world feel and many rides don’t even require adjustments. On top of that, they’re very quiet. However, you will have to pay for it.

Flywheel

These aren’t just trainers, but rather indoor cycles that give power feedback and integrated date management. Without-a-doubt, they’re excellent for serious training.

They have micro-adjustments to suit anyone, as well as interactive features to simulate specific rides and races. While they have their pluses, they’re expensive and quite heavy.

best indoor trainer
CycleOps Hammer Direct Drive Smart Trainer

Compatibility

Of course, once you pick out the type of cycle trainer you want, you’re going to need to make sure it’s actually compatible with your bike.

Axle attachment standards and widths seem to change every year, so make sure the one you’re interested in has various attachment options. Some will have them in the package, and others will require you to purchase them separately.

Noise Levels

Noise may or may not be important to you, depending on your situation. If you live by yourself or are only going to be using them before races, you’re probably not going to care about how much noise your indoor cycle trainer produces that much.

In contrast, if you live with a partner or in an apartment where neighbors can easily hear, you’re probably going to need a very quiet trainer. While most modern trainers are notably noise-free, there are still some with fans and gears creating an unpleasant aural environment.

The loudest ones are typically friction trainers, but this isn’t a rule.

Stability

While crashes on bike trainers aren’t all that common, they do occasionally happen if you’re at a really intense level.

Generally speaking, you’ll find that those with wider bases are going to be more stable and sturdy. Some others will just come with a leveling feature for uneven surfaces, which really opens up the possibilities to environments you can use your trainer on.

Ease of Transportation/Storage

If you’re lucky, you have a place in your home where you can keep your bike trainer out at all times and never have to move out.

However, most of us will need or at least want to take it with us to races or other environments. If that’s the case for you, you’re going to need your unit to be easily transportable. This means that it folds down easily, and releases your bike without too much trouble.

You’ll also want it to be lightweight, so you aren’t lugging around something that’s going to throw your back out before you can even train.

Rollers aren’t typically that heavy but are very large and awkward to carry, so if you need a portable unit, we recommend looking at a different type.

Trainer Accessories

You’ll see that most stationary bike trainers come with some accessories. You’ll require some, while some others are optional. However, we recommend being in possession in all of these, if you can manage it.

Front Tire Block/Ring: These allow you to level your bike for a more natural/comfortable riding situation. With some models, you can even stack them to create a hill-climbing simulation.

Trainer Mats – You’ll place these under your bike to catch any sweat and reduce noise/vibration.

Sweat Net – These keep your bike frame and components safe from your sweat. Sweat can more rapidly corrode your bike frame, so this is pretty important.

Shoes – You have two choices here; either clipless or flat pedal shoes. You can read more about both types of cycling shoes in this article.

Clothing – Comfortable, well fitted cycling shorts and tops will aid in keeping you comfortable and able to train for long periods of time.

FAQs For Indoor Bike Trainers

Q: What are ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart? These are the wireless languages often used to send and receive data from and to your devices.

Q: Do I have to assemble my trainer? Typically, you won’t have to. However, there are a couple of models where some simple assembly is required.

Q: Will my bike be compatible? The manufacturer should indicate the specifics, but most modern-day trainers are compatible with disc brakes. For bikes with thru-axles, you’ll find adapters for the trainer model you want and your bike model. Most also work with wheels anywhere from 26” to 29” so you can most likely use them with any road, mountain, or hybrid bikes.

Q: Can I use Zwift without a smart trainer? You can if you have a couple of sensors. Of course, it won’t be quite the experience it would be with a smart trainer, but you’ll still be a part of the online community.

Tips For Using Your Bike Trainer

#1: Pick the ideal location. Don’t pick a place to train that’s cramped and dimly-lit. You probably don’t want to go with a high-traffic area either. Ideally, pick somewhere where you have ample room and that’s well-ventilated. It’s never a bad idea to keep a fan around.

#2: Keep some entertainment around. You don’t have to, but if it distracts you and makes you train how you need, do it. You can keep Netflix on, the soccer game going, or music in your ears if it gives you a boost of energy or motivation.

#3: After 90 minutes, get off. You should be able to get your required training done in that time. You also don’t want to burn yourself out by going longer than that.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve read just about everything you need to about the best bike trainers, which one will be making its way into your home? Keep in mind that whichever one you select, you’re going to be receiving one of the best available today.

We hope that our guide has helped you out, and that you reach all of your cycling goals! Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you again soon!

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The CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Trainer is our Editor's Choice as the best bike trainer with its features, noise level and quality.

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