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- Best overall: Wahoo Fitness KICKR Smart Trainer
- Best for resistance training: Alpcour Fluid Bike Trainer Stand
- Best smart: Saris H3 Direct-Drive Smart Indoor Bike Trainer, Wahoo Fitness KICKR Core Bike Trainer
- Best affordable: Sportneer Magnetic Bike Trainer Stand
- Best wheel-on design: Garmin Tacx Flow Smart Trainer
If you own a bike and are looking to train more consistently without leaving your house, you may be interested in an indoor bike trainer.
Indoor bike trainers hold your existing bike in place, allowing it to operate as a stationary bike.
However, unlike stationary bikes, indoor bike trainers are typically compact and lightweight, making them easy to maneuver and suitable for small spaces.
Using fluid, wind, magnets, or a flywheel, bike trainers provide variable resistance to mimic the feel of riding outside.
There are many kinds of bike trainers on the market, all of which vary in price, design, and special features.
For example, direct-drive trainers require the removal of your bike’s back wheel, while heel-on trainers allow you to keep your bike as is.
Additionally, some products feature Bluetooth connectivity for connecting to third-party training apps like Zwift.
The indoor bike trainers in this article were selected based on the following criteria:
- Value. We looked for indoor bike trainers that provide good value for the price.
- Reviews. All of the products on this list have mostly favorable customer reviews.
- Features. We included bike trainers with a wide range of features.
Here are the 6 best indoor bike trainers of 2021.
- Weight: 47 pounds (18.1 kg)
- Resistance type: weighted flywheel
The Wahoo Fitness KICKR Smart Trainer is the best overall option, as it’s equipped with a 16-pound (7.3-kg) flywheel and offers 5 degrees of lateral movement to mimic the experience of riding outside.
When connected to a device, the trainer automatically adjusts the incline up to 20% and tracks your speed, distance, power, and cadence.
What’s more, the device offers automatic calibration to ensure that your power is always accurate.
While it’s the most expensive indoor bike trainer on the list, the Wahoo Fitness KICKR Smart Trainer provides excellent value when you consider all of its features.
Best for resistance training
- Weight: 20 pounds (9 kg)
- Resistance type: fluid flywheel
The Alpcour trainer stands out from others on this list, as it uses a fluid flywheel mechanism that causes the friction to increase as you pedal faster.
The stand is made of sturdy stainless steel for holding your bike firmly in place, and it includes a front-wheel riser block for proper leveling.
It’s also compatible with most mountain and road bikes and folds up easily, making it ideal for cyclists on the go.
Just keep in mind that it isn’t a “smart” device, so it doesn’t pair with third-party riding apps.
Additionally, while it’s advertised as being virtually silent, some reviewers note that the trainer can be a bit noisy when used with mountain bikes or other treaded tires.
- Weight: 46 pounds (21.3 kg)
- Resistance type: weighted flywheel
Designed to be even quieter than previous models, the Saris H3 Direct-Drive Indoor Bike Trainer uses electromagnetic resistance via its 19.8-pound (9-kg) flywheel to simulate up to a 20% climbing grade.
The trainer also features Ant+ and Bluetooth capabilities for connecting to third-party apps, including Zwift, and measures your speed, cadence, and power without the need for external sensors.
At 46 pounds (21.3 kg), the Saris H3 is one of the heavier options, though its weight contributes to the stand’s stability.
While it isn’t foldable, reviewers appreciate that the trainer is easy to set up and comes with three pairs of axle spacers to fit nearly any rear frame.
- Weight: 40 pounds (18.1 kg)
- Resistance source: weighted flywheel
If the Wahoo Fitness KICKR Smart Trainer is out of your price range, you’ll want to consider the KICKR Core.
Weighing 40 pounds (18.1 kg), the Wahoo Fitness KICKR is a midsize smart trainer that allows for 3 simultaneous Bluetooth connections.
While it doesn’t offer automatic power calibration, it does adjust the resistance level for you when it’s connected to your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or bike computer.
The trainer also simulates up to a 16% incline, provides 1,800 watts of power with +/-2% accuracy, and measures your speed, power, and distance without the need for an external sensor.
The flywheel weighs 12 pounds (5.4 kg), which is lighter than the KICKR Smart but still weighty enough to provide solid resistance.
- Weight: 19.5 pounds (8.9 kg)
- Resistance source: magnetic
Simple and affordable, the Sportneer Bike Trainer Stand includes six resistance settings, a wide base for stability, and a rear quick release lever, making it easy to swap out bikes.
The trainer also features magnetic resistance, a front-wheel riser block, and a noise-reduction resistance wheel for a quiet ride. Plus, it fits most bikes.
Just keep in mind that the max load capacity is 300 pounds (136 kg), so you’ll need to factor in your body weight in addition to your bike.
Best wheel-on design
- Weight: 23 pounds (10.4 kg)
- Resistance source: weighted flywheel
The Garmin Tacx Flow Smart Trainer is ideal for cyclists looking for a high tech trainer.
As it’s Bluetooth-enabled, you can connect the trainer to your favorite training app, such as Tacx, Zwift, or Strava, to explore virtual routes around the globe.
The trainer also simulates up to a 7% climbing grade, increases resistance as you pedal, and includes built-in sensors to accurately measure your cadence, power, and speed.
Smart features aside, this trainer is simple to use, as it features a quick-release lever and wheel-on design, so you can easily take your ride from indoor to outdoor.
With many types of indoor bike trainers available, it can be hard to know which one is best for your training needs.
Here are a few key factors to consider before making your purchase:
- Design. Most products fall into one of two categories. Wheel-on trainers attach to the axle of your rear wheel, whereas direct-drive trainers require the removal of your back wheel. There are pros and cons to both, although direct-drive trainers tend to cost more, as they’re often quieter, smoother, and provide more accurate power.
- Features. When deciding which features you need, be sure to consider your specific goals. For example, if you’re training for a route with changing elevation, you’ll want a trainer that simulates a higher climbing gradient. Meanwhile, if you prefer to be connected to an app, look for a trainer with Bluetooth capabilities.
- Budget. Indoor bike trainers come in a wide range of price points, so you’ll want to consider how much you’re willing to spend.
- Noise. Some indoor bike trainers make a whirring noise, while others are designed to provide a quieter ride. Especially if you live with others or like to watch TV while you exercise, you’ll want to pay close attention to reviews on noise.
Indoor bike trainers are popular among cyclists who want the option of taking their ride indoors. They’re also helpful for squeezing in extra training time before a race or simply staying in shape all year round.
There’s a wide range of indoor bike trainers available, each offering a unique set of features, such as Bluetooth connectivity, automatic calibration, and built-in sensors.
By considering your training needs and using the list above, we’re confident that you’ll find an indoor bike trainer that’s right for you.