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How to Choose an Indoor Bike Trainer: Bike Resistance Trainer
Below is a table summarizing the best bike trainers in this bestsellers of 2017 list, so you can see at-a-glance what ticks all your boxes before reading more about each trainer…if you’re still not sure what type of trainer you really need, check out our quick guide for assistance.1) Minoura B60D Tiredrive Trainer | 2) Magnet Steel Bike Bicycle Indoor Exercise Trainer Stand | 3) Bike Lane Pro Trainer Bicycle Indoor Trainer | 4) CycleOps PowerBeam Pro Bluetooth Smart Trainer | 5) New Magnetic Indoor Bicycle Bike Trainer Exercise Stand | 6) Conquer Indoor Bicycle Cycling Parabolic Roller Trainer | 7) Akonza Indoor Cycling Bicycle Magnetic Trainer | 8) Useful UH-BT167 Magnet Steel Bike Bicycle Indoor Exercise Trainer Stand | 9) Akonza Bicycle Cycling Magnetic Trainer W/ 7 | 10) Indoor Bike Trainer Exercise Stand, Orange | 11) RAD Cycle Products Indoor Portable Magnetic Work Out Bicycle Trainer | 12) JetBlack M5 Mag Trainer | 13) Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer Bicycle Magnetic Stand | 14) Blackburn Tech Mag Race Trainer | 15) Conquer Indoor Bicycle Cycling Roller Trainer | 16) CycleOps Mag Plus Cycling Trainer | 17) CycleOps Fluid Trainer | 18) CycleOps Mag Trainer w/o Adjuster | 19) Elite Qubo Fluid Trainer with Riser Block | 20) Travel Trac Comp Fluid Bicycle Trainer | 21) RAD Cycle Products Magnetic Work Out Bicycle Trainer | 22) Popsport Fluid Bike Trainer Stand 330LBS Indoor Bicycle Trainer | 23) CycleOps JetFluid Pro Trainer | 24) 7/8 Levels Magnetic Resistance Indoor Bike Trainer Bicycle | 25) Kinetic Road Machine Smart Trainer | 26) Graber Mag Indoor Bicycle Trainer | 27) Gotobuy Premium Steel Bike Bicycle Indoor Exercise Trainer Stand | 28) Giantex Magnetic Indoor Bicycle Bike Trainer Exercise Stand | 29) Minoura RDA-2429 R / remote | 30) 8 Levels Magnetic Bicycle Exercise Trainer Stand | 31) AccelaVelo Mag-X Indoor Magnetic Bike Trainer | 32) RAD Cycle Products Magnetic Work Out Bicycle Trainer | 33) Schwinn Magnetic Bike Trainer | 34) CycleOps PowerSync ANT+ Trainer | 35) Tacx Neo Smart Direct Driver Trainer |
There are more indoor cycling options than ever before—which bike trainer is right for you?
In 25 years of riding, I still haven’t found a cyclist who prefers riding indoors (aside from spin class devotees). But the truth is that for many of us, a ride outside isn’t always an option, particularly in winter. If you’re training for an early season event or just trying to keep a regular riding schedule, an indoor bike trainer can be a valuable tool. But what to get?
There are several basic kinds of trainers, but the options for them have proliferated wildly the past few years, including new “smart” trainers that talk to training programs or allow you to ride or race in a virtual environment.
Here’s how to decide which bike trainer is best for you.
Basic Types of Indoor Bike Trainers
Wind Bike Trainers
This is one of the original trainer styles. Pedaling powers a fan that provides resistance. Resistance increases as the rear wheel spins more quickly—either because you’re pedaling faster or using a bigger gear.
- Pros: Wind trainers are among the cheapest trainers around; they're very simple and durable.
- Cons: Wind is the noisiest style; its resistance level is not adjustable; it's often limited to basic features; and it doesn’t simulate real road feel very well.
Magnetic Bike Trainers
In place of a fan, a magnetic or “mag” trainer uses a magnetic flywheel to provide resistance.
- Note: You may see some newer trainers marketed as electronic; most are actually variations on traditional magnetic trainers, with an electromagnetic resistance unit that can be controlled via remote or vary automatically based on a software app (dedicated or third-party).
- Pros: Affordable options abound; resistance can be adjustable; they're much quieter than wind trainers; newer electromagnetic versions are some of the most fully featured models available; and they have a wide variety of options.
- Cons: Their resistance range is limited, and they aren't as durable.
Fluid Bike Trainers
Fluid trainers are a type of magnetic trainer, as they’re based on a magnetic flywheel—but a fluid trainer adds chambers of viscous fluid to further tune the resistance options. This is the most common type of stationary trainer available today.
- Pros: They have the best “road feel” of any style of trainer; fluid offers a wide range of resistance adjustment (electronically controlled on the nicer models); they're very quiet; and they have a wide variety of features and options (like power and connectivity).
- Cons: Fluid trainers improve on durability every year, but they’re susceptible to overheating and cooking the fluid.
Rollers are the oldest of the indoor trainer styles; here, the bike sits freely on three precision drums inside a frame, which turn as you pedal. Resistance can be provided by the rollers themselves (smaller-diameter drums provide more resistance) or via magnetic, fluid or wind add-on elements.
- Pros: Elite cyclists swear by them for some workouts, and they’re great for improving your form.
- Cons: Resistance range isn’t great, and they take some practice to get used to so you don’t slide off.
These fully featured machines are similar to what you’d see in a high-end spin class studio. They can use fluid or magnetically controlled resistance, and many of them have integrated electronic dashboards and wireless connectivity to interface with apps and training programs.
- Pros: They're the most stable setup for indoor riding; they're the quietest option (particularly in terms of vibration); and they reduce wear and tear on your bike.
- Cons: They're expensive, large, and heavy enough to require a dedicated space; they may not fit very large or small riders well; and they need a second set of pedals.
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