If you’re the owner of a spanking new 29er bike and feeling a little frustrated at the apparent lack of 29er bike trainer options for your bike, fret not! We’ve been asked this question a few times recently, so came up with this little guide so you too can enjoy your indoor riding!
There are actually a number of options for those of you with 29er wheels looking for a decent bike trainer:
- You purchase a bike trainer that supports 29er wheel sizes (there are a number of options available, see below)
- OR you go for the option of fitting a training slick to your rear wheel, instead of that knobbly MTB tread (more on that a little bit later, see below)
- OR you replace your 29er wheel with something like a 26er, just for indoor training sessions
- OR you go with a roller trainer or direct drive trainer
Trainers that support 29er wheels
First up, we’ll point you in the direction of the FOUR stationary trainers that we know of that fully support 29er wheels.
Kurt Kinetic Road Machine: one of the very best trainers around, this fluid trainer has all you need, whether you’re a pro or a beginner. It’s not cheap, but it’s seriously one of the best your money can buy, and one of the Best 5 Trainers we highly recommend. Full review here.
Minoura RDA 2429R Rim Drive Trainer: an awesome trainer branded as the world’s only road and MTB trainer (we beg to differ, but it’s still a great trainer). The trainer actually works on the rim of the wheel, NOT the tire, meaning you can save some serious $$$ if you’re an intensive cyclist. Full review here.
CycleOps Powerbeam Pro: we rank this as one of the very best 3 trainers out there, find out why here.
Bell Motivator Mag Indoor Bicycle Trainer: an old classic that typically comes in at under $100 and does the job very nicely thank you, complete with a mighty 5 year warranty. Full review here.
Fitting a training slick to your 29er
As road bikes are also 29 inch in size (but 700cc), change your MTB tires to a road slick or trainer specific tire, and then you should be able to fit most trainers. AND you’ll save your normal tires from wear and tear and be a lot less noisy (those knobbly MTB tires make a ton of noise!). Once you have that trainer/road slick on, your big 29er tires will be like any other 700cc road tire, the fact it’s a 29er won’t make a difference.
Replace your 29er wheel with a 26er
This is another option for those of you with 29ers and struggling to get it to fit your trainer. Simply switch it over to a 26er for indoor training purposes only (obviously not for outdoor use!). Don’t forget that with an indoor trainer you don’t need any brakes, so there’s no need to bother with disc specific wheels, etc.
Buy a roller trainer or direct drive trainer
Rollers can make things very interesting, and some serious cyclists swear by them. But they do take some getting used to, and need a certain level of skill and concentration (otherwise you’ll end up like this).
They’re also quiet(er) and you don’t have to worry about burning through your tires or being locked into a trainer. We highly recommend these rollers to get started with.
Direct drive trainers are fairly new to the scene of indoor trainers, but offer a great alternative. They enable you to remove your entire back wheel and slot your chain right onto the trainer. As most bikes now come with a quick release, this is typically a job that takes a matter of seconds. Some excellent direct drive options to consider here are the CycleOps Silencer and the Lemond Revolution 1.1.
If you’re looking for an indoor trainer, look for one with ride-ability, durability, and repeatability
We previously spoke about the three considerations you need to look at when buying an indoor trainer (notably your goals, your time available, and your budget), but here are another three factors that are also critical: ride-ability, durability, and repeatability.
To cut a long story short, we’ll break it down into quick bite-sized morsels:
- Ride-ability is the replication of that on-road feel, that feel you get when you’re out on your bike. Not all trainers on the market have that, but if it’s really crucial for your indoor sessions, you’ll probably be very satisfied with the Rock n Roller or the Road Machine from Kurt Kinetic.
- Durability is the trainer’s ability to last for more than one intense winter…depending on your use, that might rule out the cheaper end of the market (these three are cheap and cheerful, but we can’t guarantee their durability). For example, if you’re intent on a fluid trainer, make sure you get one known NOT to leak, such as the impressive CycleOps Fluid 2.
- Repeatability is the ability for the trainer to replicate your training sessions, crucial if you want to measure any progress you might be making. This depends on the resistance curve; if your trainer has too many variations in resistance, it becomes difficult to replicate…
The video below gives a great analysis of all those factors. And the guy in the video is the Australian Cycling Coach, so the fella knows what he’s talking about…
OK, before you go and splash that hard-earned cash of yours on the first stationary bike trainer that catches your eye, we’ll have to point out that there are some serious factors that really need to be considered before you open that wallet. We’ve whittled the list down to THREE, but each of them will have some serious impact on the trainer you end up choosing…
Define Your Goals
The first thing you really need to consider is what exactly are you aiming to get from buying a stationary bike stand?
Are you looking to recover from an injury that has left you physically sidelined for a while? Do you intend to use a trainer to lose weight? Or are you simply a semi-serious/professional cyclist looking to stay in form over the winter months when you can’t squeeze those calorie-burning sessions in between snow showers?
Whatever your goals, there’s typically a stationary bike stand ideal for your purposes; check out our introduction to the different types on the market.
How Much Time Will You Be Devoting?
The next thing to consider is just how much time will you be spending on your new bike stand? Just how often will you be squeezing in a training session? If you’re looking to clock some serious mileage, then we’d highly recommend quality over cheap and cheerful any day of the week (take a look at the CycleOps Fluid 2 or the Kurt Kinetic Rock n Roll trainer as two very excellent options; see other high-end models here). If it’s a once a week thing, then you could probably get away with a more budget-friendly trainer (depending, of course, on what exactly that once a week “thing” means…).
What Is Your Budget?
The final deciding factor has to be your budget. There’s really no point in going above and beyond that budget if you’re not totally convinced by a trainer and your reasons for buying it (here are TEN reasons for buying it!)
The first two points above will have a determining factor on your budget, that’s for sure, so let them dictate the actual amount of money you’re willing to spend. Other factors like an unsupportive spouse or a hard-nosed bank manager will also play their part, but we won’t go into those for our own, ahem, reasons…
But yes, their are bike trainers for EVERY budget, you just have to make your decision and go with it, all the way!
And don’t forget our comparison table for a quick overview of prices and features, hopefully it will help!
Here are another three critical factors to look at, especially if you’re serious about your training: ride-ability, durability, and repeatability.
For those of you looking to purchase a stationary bike stand (or indoor bike trainer), we know it can be confusing as to which type of stand you need to splash out on. We touched on it previously in this great introductory video (and here are three factors you have to consider when buying a trainer), but after receiving a number of emails, decided to give a quick guide to the various types available.
If you’re looking for the most authentic ride, one that imitates a real bike ride, then try a Fluid stand trainer. These types of stand generate resistance (resistance is what you’ll need if you really want to feel you’re working out) through a magnetic flywheel which combines with a fluid chamber inside the flywheel. As you pedal harder, the fluid in the chamber gets hotter, which means that the trainer’s resistance becomes more challenging as you continue.
Certainly more pricey (and technologically advanced) than most other types, these are perfect for the serious cyclist with a budget. They ooze quality and in our opinion are worth the extra you pay. The downside may be the cost factor, at least for some. Stories of leakage also abound, particularly with older models, but today’s current crop of fluid trainers should mostly be leak-proof.
One of our favorite fluid bike stands we can highly recommend is the Cycleops 2 Fluid Trainer, which we reviewed here. And, of course, there’s always the magnificent Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, perhaps the very best option out there.
Next up, there are Magnetic bike stand trainers, which generate resistance with a magnetic flywheel, the adjustable magnetic resistance creating drag against the bike wheel. The pros and cons: well, on the plus side, magnetic trainers are fairly inexpensive, can give good resistance, and are generally easy to setup and move around. On the downside, there are limits to the resistance levels and sustained heavy use can cause some problems. You might also find that they create a little more noise than fluid trainers, a point those of you living in apartments may want to consider.
A good example of a magnetic stationary stand is the Magnet Steel Indoor Stand, which we included in our review of the best stationary bike stands for under $80.
Certainly a more expensive option, these types of trainers give a very realistic ride, as you can rock your bike sideways to simulate a real road ride. These almost feel like Rollers (see below), with a natural swaying adding authenticity to your ride, including when you climb hills.
The only real Pivot trainer you should consider at this time (and it is still early days in this corner of the stationary bike stand world) is the Kinetic Rock and Roll Trainer. It’s not cheap, coming in at nearly twice the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, but is perhaps the ultimate indoor ride! Check out Kinetic Rock and Roll Trainer review, it’s well worth a read if you’re looking for the ultimate ride indoors.
Another type of stationary bike trainer you’ll come across is the Roller. However, instead of attaching your bike to the trainer, as in the above models, you ride your bike on the rollers themselves. Not easy at first, you may well need some practicing in balancing! Definitely an option, and not overly expensive for good models.
The option you see on the right is from Nashbar and is highly regarded as a good value option, coming in at around $130. Check out our Top 5 bike rollers post for a guide to the very best rollers out there.
One of the “new kids on the block”, direct drive trainers are a great option for serious cyclists looking to save some costs on replacing tires (those of you that spend a lot of time on your trainer will know that tires get eaten up). These trainers enable you to remove your entire back wheel and slot your chain right onto the trainer. It might mean a bit of extra work, but most bikes now come with a quick release, so is really only a matter of seconds. Some excellent options to consider here are the CycleOps Silencer and the Lemond Revolution 1.1.
Virtual Reality Trainer
If money is no object and you’re a serious cycling junkie, how about a virtual trainer, which practically turns you into a living PlayStation/XBox! They may make a serious dent in your wallet, but there’s no beating them. For an example of what we’re talking about, check out this video of the Tacx iGenius Virtual Trainer, it might just blow you away! You can find this amazing trainer on Amazon, but be prepared to part with upwards of $1000. Alternatively, we’ve recently come across the Bkool Pro Trainer, which is MUCH cheaper and to be honest, all you’ll need in a trainer – don’t miss our review!
To be honest, these are noisy (resistance is applied to the rear wheel using a pedal driven fan) and not worth the trouble! You won’t be able to hear the TV with these when working out, and frankly, if you’re offered one, steer clear!
Some Recommended Manufacturers
There are a number of established manufacturers in the stationary bike trainer world, including Kinetic, Blackburn, Bell, Cycleops, Jet Black, Giant, Overdrive, Schwinn, Outback, Elite, Tacx, Minoura, and Forza.
If you purchase from any of these, you’re moreorless guaranteed quality and good service, at least from our experience and those we know. If you ever experience anything other than good service, let us know!
This is one of the best videos we’ve come across for an overview of the basic types of indoor bike stand available on the market.
Nothing amazing, just a quick overview in less than two minutes. Watch out for the peeks at two of our favorite models, the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine and the Cycleops Mag Trainer.
If you’re on the hunt for an indoor bike trainer (often known as a stationary bike stand or even turbo trainer), my tips and reviews of many of the industry’s leading brands and models should make things a whole lot clearer for you.
I’m a semi-serious cyclist myself, and have purchased and tested a number of bikes AND indoor bike stands over the years (don’t ask my wife how much I’ve spent over the last couple of years!). The indoor trainers really boost my training schedule during those cold, winter months when it’s almost impossible to get out on the road (and hey, even in the summer months when it’s just too hot!).
After purchasing a top of the range model a while back, the CycleOps Fluid 2 trainer (a model I highly recommend), and getting asked by cyclist friends for my recommendations, I decided to set up this website to help them and YOU out. I’ve done all of the research and testing, you just have to decide what suits your training regime and your budget.
I’d highly recommend having a look at this to get started – these are the FIVE best stationary bike trainers you should consider for 2017, ranging from the very cheapest, super-value bike stands to the ultimate riding experience for the more serious cyclists of you. If money is less of an issue and you’re looking for something top-notch, take a look at the 3 best trainers money can buy. In addition, our much researched Comparison table will give you an amazingly quick overview of all the models out there, including ratings, weight and price. It’s pretty much the perfect buying guide, and is constantly being updated, so check it out!
And I also have the perfect companion to a new bike trainer – my guide to the TEN must-have cycling accessories that any keen cyclist will want to have to get the absolute maximum out of their training session, especially if you are setting up your own man cave! It was originally written for Christmas, but all of the accessories are perfect for any time of the year and will help enhance your training session – from the best cycling shoes, to iPhone holders, to massage sticks, I cover some of the best out there!
For beginners, or any of you just confused by the range of options and possibilities, I’d recommend you see our FAQ, a comprehensive set of questions (and their answers) that should hopefully answer any question you might have, including:
- I’m a beginner, what trainer do you recommend?
- Are there any decent trainers under $100?
- I’m a serious/pro cyclist – what trainers should I consider?
- Are there any trainers for 29 inch wheels?
- Can I use my mountain bike on an indoor trainer?
- How can I stay motivated for boring indoor riding sessions?
Wrapping it up, here are some additional must-reads for those of you getting into indoor trainers this season:
- If you’re looking for a complete guide as to what to buy this winter (2016-17), don’t miss our superb mini-guide to all you need this winter to enhance your indoor training sessions!
- Those of you wondering how to knock off those winter pounds, see our tips on using your bike trainer to get rid of that winter belly
- Need a reason to buy a stationary bike stand? Try this: 7 major ways an indoor trainer can truly change your life
- Not necessarily a “read” but do check out our videos on how to really get the most out of your indoor training sessions!
3 major reasons why you need to buy a stationary bike stand
OK, so you’re still not convinced that an indoor bike / turbo trainer will suit your style, your budget, or even your flat/house – but perhaps these 3 killer benefits will persuade you…
1: Having a stationary bike trainer at home means you’re never going to have an excuse for not training during those cold, wet winter months! OK, it can be hard to get motivated, but trust us, there are ways to stay motivated, and yes, stay in great shape throughout the winter. If you’re a serious cyclist, a trainer can seriously make a difference for when the cycling season kicks in once again; and if you’re a beginner or a casual cyclist, stay in shape and improve your overall technique in a fun, sporty way (while you watch TV, use your iPad, or simply read a book!)!
2: They are compact AND portable AND cheap. So forget about not having enough space in your small, cozy apartment, or having enough money. Most of the bike trainers on the market today are compact enough to fit the smallest of houses and apartments (heck, some are even foldable!), and quiet enough to ensure that if you do have a small apartment, your neighbors and loved ones will never know you just put in a sweaty, 60-minute session that stretched beyond midnight. And yes, there are some great value indoor bike trainers for less than $80 – compare that to your annual gym fees!
3: You dictate the training session – and buy that we mean the pace, the effort, the time invested. The thing about an indoor trainer is that you choose exactly when and how to start training, and you no longer have to worry about the weather and how it might, quite literally, put a dampener on your training efforts. If you’re somewhat of a serious cyclist, concentrate on enhancing your skills on your own finely-tuned bike to improve your cycling form; likewise if you’re a beginner/casual cyclist, decide what works for you – you’re the one in the saddle!
Good Luck – and if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch!