Posts tagged $300+
If you’re looking for the very best bike trainer for 2017, we’ve done pretty much all of the homework for you with this great little list for would-be buyers…
We know it’s not always easy sifting through all that info online, and hey, even through all those reviews on our own website, what with all the models we’ve tried and tested over the years. But we’ve done our absolute best to create the ultimate Top 5 list of bike trainers out there, a list that will surely take your indoor training efforts to the next level.
And yes, there is something for everyone on this list, so whatever your budget and cycling level there’s something for you to enjoy. The range of indoor trainers we’ve included in this list ranges from a very budget friendly $70 trainer to a pricey but extremely classy trainer that will set you back over a grand (and comes highly recommended for the serious/pro cyclists of you out there).
Yep, these really are the best bike trainer options out there in 2017, in our very humble opinion. And yes, with one of these trainers in your training arsenal, you can seriously start expecting some decent results…
Budget-friendly and AMAZING value for any beginner: the Ohuhu Magnet Steel trainer!
This bike trainer only recently came onto our radar, but we have to say, this HAS to be on your radar if you’re looking for a trainer with tremendous value (we’re talking a typical online price of around $80).
Seriously, if your budget is on the conservative side, or you’re just getting started with indoor trainers, this is an excellent choice. Some might say it’s a direct copy of this bestseller from Magnet, but we feel there’s just that wee bit more in this one to warrant its selection as one of the very best budget trainers of 2017!
There’s a LOT to love with this trainer, including a heavy-duty frame that also folds up (and ensures it can be easily stored away), adjustable internal resistance settings that are controlled via the handlebar (thanks to some awesome inbuilt magnets), skid-resistance feet, and perhaps most importantly, it’s a very quiet trainer, even when the wolves are at your feet!
If you’re looking for additional budget options, check out the best THREE bike trainers for less than $80!
A revamped classic for the smart tech generation: the Kurt Kinetic Rock n Roller!
The Kurt Kinetic’s Rock n Roller has long been on our featured list of trainers. With a revamped version recently released to take on the ever developing world of smart technology compatible trainers, this could be your ultimate ride through the off-season.
The major factor in choosing this smart version of the Rock n Roller is its Inride Sensor. If you love your details and performance data, this sensor will give you pretty much all the data tracking and workout details you’ll ever need. And we can’t emphasize how important some of that data (speed and heart rate to cadence) can be for the serious cyclist; while your competitors are piling on the pounds/losing fitness over the off-season, you’ll be primed and ready for the spring!
Accompanying the Inride Sensor is the inRide app, which does an amazing job of collecting and transforming that data into workout suggestions, modifying its built-in workout programs according to the data the sensor provides.
Together with the fact that this smart trainer from Kinetic handles like a dream (that rocking motion is a big big plus) and can cater to almost any wheel size, its price tag of around $550 is excellent value for money, especially when some of today’s smart trainers are breaching a grand.
One of the BEST trainers your money can buy: the CycleOps PowerBeam Pro!
This trainer is seriously going to make some improvements to your fitness levels over the winter. And if you’re after something ANT+ friendly, with real-time analysis of your riding sessions, this is the beast for you.
I’ll be honest, this trainer is going to put a hefty dent in your wallet, as you’ll be lucky to find it under $1000. However, the big bonus with this trainer is that it uses ANT+, ensuring you get crucial performance data on ANT+ cycling computers that provide you with real-time analysis as you ride. So yes, if you’re looking to tweak and improve your riding, this is an amazing tool to have on your side.
Enjoy an integrated PowerTap power meter for some awesome metrics, including power in watts, power zones, peak power, caloric expenditure in kilojoules, cadence, heart rate, and much more. The Mini ANT+ USB stick (included with the trainer) also lets you control the resistance from your computer (this means you can also use CycleOps’ Virtual Training app for auto-syncing sessions with virtual training routes)!
Other crucial selling points: it’s extremely quiet (CycleOps states it generates a reasonable 69-70 decibels when riding at 20mph), and you can attach most road and mountain bike frames, with support for 650b, 700c, 26 inch, 27 inch, and 29 inch wheel sizes, with tires up to 2.25 inches wide.
Note this trainer also comes in a Bluetooth Smart version, but apparently connectivity issues persist with it, so we’d recommend sticking with this ANT+ version.
Another smart-tech option: the awesome value Tacx Vortex Smart Ergo Trainer!
Smart trainers have recently become the trend to watch out for in the bike trainer wold in 2017, but with many of the recently released models topping a grand, smart trainers are out of reach for many. And then came along the Tacx Vortex Smart Ergo trainer.
What can we say, except “buy it if you’re after a great smart trainer”!
Seriously, this Tacx trainer packs a seriously smart punch – for less than $500. With a quick and stable connection ensuring your trainer is responsive to the smart app that comes with the trainer, you’ll soon be enjoying the likes of Zwift and other similar software (including the included Tacx software).
With excellent resistance (thanks to 16 inbuilt magnets) that you can crank up to a whopping max of 950 watts, excellently accurate workout calculations, and awesome electro-brake technology coming into its own and registering delicate changes in speed, this is one indoor riding experience you won’t need any motivational pep-talks for!
One of our personal faves: the awesome CycleOps Fluid 2 Trainer!
(EDITOR’S CHOICE) This bike trainer from CycleOps has long been in our personal arsenal of off-season training tools. It has been around for some time, but after recently being revamped and redesigned, it still remains an excellent option for 2017.
Simply one of the best value trainers on this list (coming in at around $300), we’ve probably had more training sessions on this beast than any other trainer out there. Still quiet, still classy, and yes, still an indoor riding experience to savor.
With excellent resistance, a new larger flywheel delivering twice the inertia (read about the resistance technology from CycleOps here), Powerband technology ensuring a wide resistance range to work with, a self-cooling mechanism that keeps the unit performing better and for longer, plus a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty, this is an excellent choice for the beginner, keen cyclist, and even the hardened pro.
Quick glance comparison
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.
NOTE: The ratings are review ratings currently listed on Amazon
|Kurt Kinetic Rock and Roll Trainer||The ultimate realistic indoor riding experience, expensive but quality|
Read our REVIEW
|Ohuhu Magnet Steel Trainer||Adjustable internal resistance levels, quiet, skid-resistant feet, wide frame, excellent value.|
Read our REVIEW
|CycleOps PowerBeam Pro||Perfect for pros with ANT+ compatibility for real-time analysis, quiet, lifetime warranty from CycleOps!|
Read our REVIEW
|Cycleops Fluid 2||Infinite resistance, self-cooling, one of the best!|
Read our REVIEW
|Tacx Vortex Smart ErgoTrainer||Smart technology, intuitive, electro-brake technology, best value smart trainer!|
Read our REVIEW
What types of bike trainer are out there in 2017 – and what type should I buy?
So yes, we know it can get a little confusing when trying to work out which type of indoor trainer best suits your needs, but we’ve wrapped up the main types you need to take into consideration for 2017 below…
Without a doubt, smart trainers are the future of indoor training. With their ability to connect to a variety of applications and sensors, smart trainers are for the keen to pro rider who needs that extra data available – or for those who just want to ride with their buddies on multi-rider platforms like Zwift. We’ve already uncovered a couple of great smart trainers, but the Tacx Vortex we mentioned above is one of the best value smart trainers we’ve come across. But watch this space because we’re sure there are some interesting developments ahead, and not just in 2017…
Fluid trainers are about as real as you’re going to get to an authentic on-road sensation. They typically generate resistance through a magnetic flywheel which combines with a fluid chamber inside the flywheel. So as you hit those pedals harder, the fluid in the chamber gets hotter, which means that the trainer’s resistance becomes more challenging as you continue.
Expect to pay a few more $$$ than most of the other types listed here, since these types of trainers (our own favorite is the CycleOps Fluid 2 trainer listed above) certainly provide quality, with most of the models out there today also proving they are leak-proof (a well-known problem in earlier fluid type trainers). If you want to go for a pivoting, and truly awesome fluid trainer, take a look at the Kurt Kinetic Rock n Roller (see above), now updated with a smart-friendly version!
Magnetic trainers generate resistance via a magnetic flywheel, the adjustable magnetic resistance creating drag against your bike’s wheel. They are typically on the cheaper side, and generally easy to setup and move about. However, the resistance is limited and for the serious cyclist this can soon cause an issue as you’ll reach your max resistance fairly swiftly. They also tend to be noisier than fluid trainers, a point those of you living in apartments may want to consider.
A good budget-friendly example of a magnetic stationary stand is the Ohuhu Steel trainer, which we included above.
Rollers are a whole different ball game; instead of attaching your bike to the trainer, as in the above models, you attempt to ride the bike on the rollers themselves, trying not to fall flat on your face! Certainly takes some practice, but rollers are a great way to work on your balance and positioning.
They typically are seen as a good value option, often coming in at much cheaper than the prime fluid or direct drive models. Some people swear by them, others can’t stand them – it’s entirely up to you! Don’t miss this review of the Top 5 bike rollers for a guide to the very best rollers out there.
Direct Drive trainers
Direct drive trainers are fairly new to the scene of indoor training, but are a great option for the serious cyclist. You can also save some serious $$$ on tires, since these trainers work on the concept of removing your bike’s rear wheel completely, and slotting it into a direct drive on the trainer. Quick and easy to setup, especially with today’s modern bikes that now all come with a quick-release skewer.
Virtual Reality trainers
If your budget is limitless and you really want the ultimate indoor ride, try a virtual trainer, which basically transforms your ride into a living PlayStation/XBox experience! Expect to pay some serious $$$ – for example, watch this video of the Tacx iGenius Virtual Trainer, it might just knock your socks off! You can buy it on Amazon, just be aware that it will cost you upwards of $1000.
We should probably point out that the concept of “virtual” trainers will probably disappear, what with the ever-growing range of smart trainers and direct drive trainers (see above), and their ability to connect with a range of appliances and software.
In all honesty, don’t even bother with wind trainers. They’re generally noisy, and in our opinion, are outdone by fluid and decent magnetic trainers.
I’d actually gone through a couple of cheaper smart trainers before this and was beginning to question what all the “smart” hype was about. But before I was ready to give up and dismiss the entire smart trainer craze as a passing fad, I decided to test out the Tacx Vortex and give the world of smart trainers a serious chance – and I was blown away!
This beast from Tacx has finally managed to help me get the most out of Zwift, and has seen my fitness considerably improve in the past month thanks to an awesome range of convenient customization options for your training program. It’s safe to say that this is one smart trainer I won’t be giving up on any time soon!Click here for reviews and the latest discounts
Smart technology that doesn’t disappoint
My major gripe with previous smart trainers was the major connectivity issues.
My cycling buddies have been raving about Zwift for months, and my primary goal in purchasing a smart trainer was to jump on the Zwift bandwagon. However, with earlier products, the ANT+ connection either kept cutting out (frequently at the most exciting bits of a race) or was unbearably slow.
There were NO SUCH ISSUES with the Tacx Vortex ErgoTrainer. The connection was lightning-fast and the trainer was so responsive to the app, I was able to really immerse myself in the illusion of being on tour-like roads and racing along at breakneck speed alongside my best friends – even when a blizzard was raining down outside my window!
Which brings me to my next point – Tacx has clearly built this trainer with Zwift and other similar software in mind.
This isn’t your bog-standard indoor trainer with a computer tacked on, but a product which was clearly built to take full advantage of “smart” training technology. With a total of 16 magnets (8 of which are electro-magnets – unusually high for an indoor trainer in this price range), resistance changes in response to the built-in software are extremely smooth, making downhill cycling a particular pleasure.
Moreover, with a maximum resistance of 950 watts, you needn’t worry about your Zwift training partners leaving you behind. You’ll be able to have a workout just as punishing as the best of them, so you’ll have no difficulties keeping up fitness-wise. Furthermore, speed and resistance calculations are extremely accurate, contributing to the tremendous realism of the Vortex indoor training experience.
Finally, Tacx’s market-leading electro-brake technology really comes into its own when paired with a smart cycling app, registering changes in speed with impressive precision. It’s the kind of attention to detail Tacx has become renowned for in the cycling world, applied to the challenging platform of smart cycling technology.
Even outside of Zwift, the Tacx Vortex Smart Ergotrainer has plenty to offer. The inbuilt Tacx software is brilliant for training on your own as it contains some very comprehensive workout programs, backed up by reliable studies, designed to cater to just about every fitness goal imaginable. I actually shaved a full 20 seconds off my 500-yard sprint timing after slogging away at the Sprint workout for three weeks!
Physical qualities that complement the tech side
Of course, the most advanced software in the world would not compensate for a shoddily built trainer.
Realistic resistance shifts aren’t much use if you’re constantly worrying about toppling over! Fortunately, despite the affordable price tag (we’re talking around $500), Tacx has brought their trademark blend of style and sturdiness to this Tacx Ergotrainer.
A 2 kg flywheel, solid steel support legs and anti-slip rubber grips ensure that your ride is stable and comfortable no matter how fast you’re cycling. Even during sustained sprints, the Vortex remained firmly rooted to the ground.
In terms of style, the Vortex delivers in spades. I’m not a big fan of the stark, minimalist look – indoor training is supposed to be fun, and the Tacx Vortex Ergotrainer manages to deliver a youthful, modern look without veering into amateur territory. It helps that the entire product is made out of premium materials, ensuring the little dashes of color liven up rather than clash with the professional look of the trainer. Scratch professional – I would say this is one smart, sleek beast!
So, how much bang for your buck do you really get with this Tacx smart trainer?
Smart trainers can cost well over a thousand dollars, and I know that that kind of price scares off many a rider. Personally, I’d rather invest it in my bike for when the cycling season starts.
For that reason, at around $500, the Tacx Vortex Smart Ergotrainer was well within my comfort zone in terms of price, and coupled with its category-leading performance represents fantastic value for money. There’s little wonder it makes our list of the 5 BEST trainers for 2017!
Sure, I would have loved for Tacx to include a USB ANT+ stick, and perhaps it would have been convenient if the Tax workout apps came pre-loaded with more films so I didn’t need to download them from the Tacx website. But given the great all-round package Tacx has delivered here, all this really is nit-picking. To anyone who’s yet to be converted to the smart trainer trend from the standard indoor trainers, or for a cyclist searching for an affordable first smart trainer, I would unequivocally recommend the Tacx Vortex.
Ever since I first tested the CycleOps Silencer Direct Drive indoor trainer, my other stationary bike stands been gathering dust, lying in the cupboard, unloved and unused. This trainer has been touted as the very best all-round performer in the CycleOps pantheon – an impressive achievement, considering the array of top-end products this esteemed company has put out in the past few years (we’ve been big fans of the Fluid 2 for a looong time).
And yes, I would have to agree with that contention – smooth, sleek and silent, the CycleOps Silencer is as close to the complete package as an indoor trainer can possibly get.>>>Check out the latest reviews and discounts for the CycleOps Silencer
So, what’s so special about the CycleOps Silencer?
First up, that sleek, sexy design…
Although style might be less important with an indoor trainer than it is with your bicycle (after all, most people will never lay eyes on your indoor trainer), it’s worth noting just how good the Cycleops Silencer looks. Clad in sleek, matte black alloy, and boasting clean lines in a very modern-looking chassis, this must be one of the classiest cycle trainers on the market.
The Silencer Direct Drive’s good looks, however, do not come at the expense of ruggedness or build quality. Weighing in at 12 pounds, with three reinforced rubber feet arranged in a wide stance, this cycle trainer is built for a stable ride.
The most striking thing about this Cycleops design, however, is probably the wheel-off design, which is still a relatively novel innovation in the indoor trainer market. Essentially, the bike’s cassette can be directly attached to the flywheel once the rear wheel is removed. This generates massive cost savings since training tires don’t come cheap and most indoor trainers are extremely tough on tires (especially MTB tires).
It also does wonders for the cycling experience (but more on that in a bit). Notably, it’s possible to purchase the CycleOps The Silencer Direct Drive with a 10-speed Shimano/SRAM compatible cassette (this review relates to that model – you can read about the cassette-less version here), which is definitely the cheaper and more convenient option (especially since most other wheels-off trainers don’t come with cassettes) and the one I fell for.
The only caveat is that if you intend to use a Campag cassette, you should opt for the package without the CycleOps cassette for reasons of cost and practicality, since the default cassette will not fit Campag gear anyway. It’s also worth noting that your bike frame must have a rear fork of width between 130 mm to 135 mm to fit in this indoor trainer, which is hardly a problem for most racing bikes.
The riding experience…
The combination of the wheels-off design and the weighted flywheel makes for an extremely enjoyable ride that accurately simulates road cycling.
I’ve always found wheels-on trainers to be a little jerky (particularly with oddly-shaped tires), which takes away from the illusion of coasting on tarmac. With the CycleOps Silencer, resistance changes were incredibly smooth thanks to the high-end 5-position magnetic driver design, and were easy to employ via the handlebar-mounted resistance lever.
This latter feature deserves mention since it mitigates the complaint that cassette-mounted trainers lack resistance due to the lack of tire rub. At the highest magnetic resistance level, it was a real challenge to pedal at 50 rpm for more than half a minute, which in my books is more than enough resistance for a satisfying workout. I still missed cycling outdoors, of course, but the road cycling simulation was realistic enough to give me confidence that the Silencer will preserve my road cycling skills in the off-season, so I can come back raring and ready to go next year.
The other major selling point of this CycleOps trainer is the “silencer” feature, which eliminates wind noise by using a magnetic driver design. I wouldn’t say the CycleOps Silencer Direct Drive is completely noiseless, but it’s definitely quiet enough that you’ll have to strain to hear it. Even with thin walls and light sleepers in the house, I was able to get in my early-morning workouts within a single complaint from my family or neighbors.
Some impressive tech specs…
- The noise level at 20 mph is a very quiet 59-64 decibels
- Dimensions L*W*H: 24″x18.5″x19.5″ (612x465x493 mm)
- Has a wide, stable base for boosted stability
- Weighs 39 lbs (17.6 kg)
- Direct drive design features a fixed rear wheel mode
- Fits frames with rear fork widths of 130mm and 135mm
- Fits road bikes and mountain bikes with wheel diameters of 700c and 29 inches
- Adjustable magnetic resistance, via an easy to use 5-level handlebar adjuster allows for true road-like feel
- 220 lb (100kg) maximum load — excluding bicycle.
- SHIMANO and SRAM 8/9/10/11 speed compatible.
Things to consider…
In my opinion, the only downside to the Silencer is the lack of portability. The machine doesn’t fold down and it’s pretty heavy, so lugging it anywhere, even between rooms, is a bit of a chore. However, indoor trainers don’t generally offer much in the way of portability because there’s simply no demand for it – after all, there’s no point carrying a heavy cycle trainer outdoors if you can simply cycle outdoors – and so this comment probably comes as no surprise.
If you’re not too skilled with a wrench, setting up the Silencer can also be a little challenging. This is partly due to its weight, which makes it difficult to thread the bolts in, and partly due to the issues I had attaching the resistance knobs to my base bar (though they fit just fine on my mountain handlebars). But still, 10 minutes and most of you will have this up and ready to go…
In summary: why you NEED the CycleOps Silencer Direct Drive trainer
As you’ll probably have noticed, neither of the drawbacks mentioned above relate to the key indicators of a good indoor trainer – speed, silence and durability. In all the departments that matter most, the CycleOps The Silencer Direct Drive trainer is a top performer, earning it my unequivocal recommendation.
It’s truly perfect for the cyclist with a small apartment – and who really wants to pump out some high intensity cycling work! It’s just so quiet compared to anything else that I’ve worked hard on, and seriously, is one of the very best indoor training solutions you can get!
If you need a quick look at the Silencer user manual, just to get an idea of how easy it is to get up and running, click here.
Another direct drive trainer to consider in the similar price range: the awesome Lemond Revolution 1.1.
The Lemond Revolution 1.1 is seriously all about the cycling experience. One of the pioneers of the “wheel-off” direct drive design, this celebrated indoor cycle trainer delivers the most realistic road cycling simulation in its price category (we’re talking a reasonable $600-ish – and yes, it out-rivals the road-like experience of the Kinetic RocknRoller).
If you’re willing to overlook the noise (and this is easier now that the noise output levels have been dampened compared to the very first Revolution, the 1.0), the affordable price tag and brilliant design make this a very solid purchase for serious cyclists looking to maintain fitness in the off-season.
What’s to like about the Lemond Revolution 1.1?
The Lemond Revolution is practically ready to use right out of the box since there’s very little assembly required.
You will, however, need to purchase a cassette if you haven’t already, and if you are thinking of using a Campag cassette I would definitely recommend purchasing a crossover version as Lemond has built the Revolution primarily for cycles using Shimano gears. This is part and parcel of the direct drive trainer experience – but no worries, the benefits of this design far outweigh such a minor inconvenience.
Traditional indoor trainers can be far more expensive than you originally start out thinking, mainly because they wear out your rear tires so quickly. I’ve used some truly hard-wearing tires for indoor training in my time, and even the most robust of these eventually succumbed to frays and tears after sustained indoor use. The Lemond Revolution 1.1 avoids these problems. To use it, I simply had to remove my rear wheel and mount the bike directly to the Lemond via my Shimano cassette.
But durability and cutting tire costs isn’t the only advantage of this design – resistance changes are also incredibly smooth, since taking the rear wheel out of the equation significantly improves the efficiency of energy transfer between the drivetrain and the trainer.
As I mentioned above, the primary draw of the Lemond Revolution has to be its road-like ride.
The design has barely changed since the product’s first inception, yet it remains capable of beating all-comers in its price range. The combination of a big flywheel and a highly efficient fan makes for a slick ride, particularly at cruising speeds, and the simulation of wind drag is extremely realistic, ensuring you won’t be off your game when the new cycling season begins.
In terms of real-world results, no indoor trainer (not even the top-end fluid trainers like the Cascade Pro or Fluid 2 from CycleOps) will deliver as effectively and quickly as a turbo-driven product. And with up to 700-watt load capacity, interval training sessions will be punishing enough to satisfy even the most masochistic of cyclists – I’ve certainly been driven to breaking point more than once on this machine.
The video below will give you a bit more of a taste of what the ride is really like…
The Lemond Revolution is also rightly famed for its solid construction, weighing in at just under 15 kg. This makes it a little too hefty to heave around the house, but that’s more than compensated for by the extreme stability of this product.
Even when you’re pedaling out of the saddle and sprinting like your life depends on it, you’ll find the bike stays level, firmly anchored and stable, addressing any safety concerns you might have. I felt confident enough about the Revolution to let my eight-year old have a go, and this is a kid who’s managed to send a massive oak wardrobe tumbling to the ground. Besides the heavy-duty frame, credit must also go to the adjustable feet (which can be handy on carpets or other flooring materials prone to creating uneven surfaces) coated with anti-skid material.
To get the most from your Revolution 1.1, I would definitely recommend installing a Power Pilot. Although it’s an expensive investment, it’s worthwhile for the superb data-tracking capabilities. By examining my cadence and speed statistics, I was able to correct my sprint technique in the off-season and come bursting right off the start line in my first spring outdoor session. Lack of ANT+ support is a bit of a bummer, but Lemond has promised that this will come in time (and appears to be just about here, in the form of the Watt Box), and the USB compatibility ensures that all that data can still be put to good use.
What we didn’t like…
As with any other turbo trainer, noise levels are significantly higher than with a fluid trainer. However, Lemond has taken note of noise complaints, and the 1.1 definitely improves on its predecessor in this regard. It’s only a problem at very high speeds, and with earphones in I could barely hear the flywheel whirring away. At cruising speeds, the noise wasn’t much of a bother.
Why you’re going to have to purchase the Lemond Revolution 1.1
In summary the Lemond Revolution delivers where it really matters – the riding experience. I used to hate the off-season because I missed cycling outdoors. Of course, no cycle trainer will be able to recreate the crisp smell of fresh air or the sensation of warm sunshine, but in terms of replicating the feeling of cycling on tarmac, the Lemond Revolution is hard to beat.
If you’re after a direct drive trainer, this is definitely one of the top 3 you’ll have to consider – it certainly gives the likes of the awesome CycleOps Silencer a run for its money!
We’re big fans of the higher end indoor trainers, such as the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine or the CycleOps SuperMagneto Pro, but if you really want to improve your training and take it to the next level, you’ll want to get your hands on one of the three bike trainers listed below.
None of them are going to come cheap, but if your budget is big, then you can be rest assured that the technology and features that come bundled with each of the trainers (we’re talking venturing into the world of virtual training!) are also going to be BIG (and worth every dime).
Let’s have a quick review of the three very best bike trainers your dollars can buy…
Your addiction to indoor virtual training starts here: the CycleOps PowerBeam Pro (ANT+)
The CycleOps PowerBeam Pro will keep you in great shape over the winter months, of that there’s no question!
You’ll be up and running in no time with this baby, as it comes pre-assembled – all you need to do is unfold the legs of the unit, adjust the leg adjuster (only if your floor is a little on the wonky side), and attach the one-sided skewer clamp dial adjustment, with the included steel quick release skewer slotted through your bike’s rear axle.
The big bonus with this trainer is that it uses ANT+, meaning it displays performance data on ANT+ cycling computers for real-time analysis as you ride. Perfect for learning just where you can tweak and enhance your cycling performance. Note that there is a Bluetooth Smart version of this trainer, but we’ve heard that compatibility with 3rd party devices is a little problematic, so, for now at least, would recommend going with this ANT+ version.
An integrated PowerTap power meter gives you some awesome metrics, including power in watts, power zones, peak power, caloric expenditure in kilojoules, cadence, heart rate, and much more. In addition, the Mini ANT+ USB stick (included with the trainer) lets you control the resistance from your computer (this means you can also use CycleOps’ Virtual Training app for auto-syncing sessions with virtual training routes)! We’re heading down the road of virtual training ourselves this winter, so this excites us a lot!
And if you were worried about this baby making too much noise – because let’s face it, some trainers do have an annoying hum – CycleOps states that this trainer maintains a reasonable 69-70 decibels when you’re riding at 20mph, meaning your partner or neighbors won’t be driven insane by an intrusive hummmmm.
You should be able to attach most road and mountain bike frames, and it supports 650b, 700c, 26 inch, 27 inch, and even 29 inch wheel sizes, with tires up to 2.25 inches wide. Just be aware that it doesn’t support the 120mm rear dropouts found on track bikes.
The CycleOps PowerBeam Pro will set you back around $1000 (although we’ve seen this on Amazon for as little as $700!), but is up there with the very best of them (it obviously makes our 2017 bestseller list), and can be seen as a true investment in your winter training (if you need to convince the wife or partner…). And to top it off, don’t forget that lifetime warranty from CycleOps!
Here’s a quick taster from YouTube…
The virtually awesome BKool Pro Turbo Trainer!
We took a good look at the BKool Pro trainer a while ago, and were just as impressed then as we are today!
The fun you’re likely to have with this trainer and its awesome FREE simulator make this an excellent option to consider. The ability to connect up with your tablet or laptop and enjoy a whole ton of videos and sessions, solo or with your friends, is pretty darned hard to beat (there are over 50,000 riders worldwide on the BKool system)! Best of all, the simulator is free to download from the Bkool website and is suitable for both Windows and Mac computers, as well as iPad and Android tablets.
This Pro trainer from BKool is actually an improvement on their Classic model, which means you get a quieter more stable trainer, but also a in-built cadence system that eliminates the need for an external device. And the electromagnetic braking system is a definite winner in our eyes, as it ensures the Bkool software controls your resistance, which can be especially useful when climbing hills.
Setting up is a doddle; you replace the rear skewer in your wheel (as per any decent trainer these days), and then pop it on the trainer (which also comes with a front wheel support). You’ll then need to register on the Bkool website, download the simulator, plug in the trainer and connect with your supplied ANT and USB.
The Bkool software and trainer wirelessly communicate with each other via your included USB; this ensures your ride data (your cadence and power) is tracked and used to gauge just how much the resistance levels need to be adjusted according to the route you selected. Clever stuff!
It’s also a powerful beast, with the ability to power up 1200W of energy on a progressive curve. That power, and the awesome resistance control, makes it feel like you really are out on the road. There are also over 500 video routes in the BKool system, with more apparently added daily – by the way, the recently added free video editor software lets users create their own route!
You’re not going to get much change from $700, but for value, this has to be one of the best options out there, especially if you’re looking to get your hands on a virtual training system. There is a basic subscription plan available once you sign up (for free), or you can pay for a Premium plan, which gives you some impressive options.
Here’s a quick taster from YouTube…
The Elite Real Axiom Trainer
The Elite Real Axiom trainer has been around for a few years now, but has been gaining a seriously good reputation with some seriously good upgrades over the years!
Another trainer that specializes in smart communications with your computer, the Elite Real Axiom enables you to get a glimpse into some serious real-world conditions on a variety of courses, mainly thanks to its computer controlled resistance (which adjusts per course and rider input). Race against a real human cyclist on your LAN, or alternatively try racing against a virtual competitor if you can’t find anybody online.
You can choose from 14 preset courses while there’s also a 4-week training program – you can also create your own custom courses! You also get to view personal ride stats, including speed, distance, ride time, cadence, heart rate and power output, and you can store them for your own training history, making those indoor sessions a lot more fun, which is what we think it should really be about.
The trainer comes with 2 DVDs; one of the Limoges climb from the 2004 Tour de France and the 2004 Verona World Championship course, both of which are synched with the resistance you create on the trainer to make it feel as if you’re really cycling the route. In addition, it comes with the My RealVideo app, which lets you record your own routes, and upload them to share and compete with other riders!
One thing we have to note about the Elite Real Axiom is that it is Italian made, and although support is good, there might be the odd language barrier problem to face, if you ever have any issues with your trainer. What is also a little disappointing is the lack of online guides and forums.
However, if you can get past that, this trainer is probably the best value of all the virtual trainers we’ve come across – typically selling at around $650 – and should probably be your preferred choice for kick-starting your virtual cycling career!
Here’s a quick taster of what to expect from the Elite Real Axiom trainer on YouTube…
If you’re looking to enhance your winter training, any one of the three trainers above will take your training to the next level.
If it’s a question of price, I would have to go with the Elite Real Axiom, but if money isn’t an issue and you’re looking for something top-notch, go for the CycleOps PowerBeam Pro.
Oh boy, are you going to start enjoying those training sessions!
The Kinetic Rock n Roll Smart Trainer – complete with a unique InRide Sensor – is an absolute triumph, updating the timeless Kinetic Rock n Roll design for the smartphone age, while preserving the smooth, fluid trainer-powered cycling experience that has made Kinetic a stalwart in a competitive industry.
I was a little dubious myself, fearful that something that had worked so well before could be upgraded – but yes, this beast is a definite upgrade! I traded my old Rock n Roll trainer in for this smart trainer (it’s also known as version 2.0) a few months back and have never regretted it – my workouts are more realistic, fun and effective than ever before, with the additional smart technology making a world of difference.
Of course, the smart tech factor hasn’t had an impact on the price, which still hovers on the edge of pretty expensive (you can pick it up for around $550), but this trainer has to be on your shortlist if you’re looking for something that extra bit special… and especially if your cycling is on an upward curve.
Smart technology to bring you rocking (and rolling – geddit?) into the 21st century!
Let’s start with the new stuff. The Inride Sensor is the centerpiece of the Kinetic Rock n Roll Smart Trainer’s “smart” offerings, promising precise data tracking and workout planning for the detail-oriented cyclist.
As a semi-serious cyclist with nearly two decades of experience, I simply can’t over-emphasize the importance of conscientious data-collection. The off-season, during which your competitors are piling on the pounds and losing fitness by the day, is the perfect time to get a head-start for spring races. However, careful planning is sooo important if you are to make the most of this vital period. I saw that the Inride Sensor collected mountains of data on everything from speed and heart rate to cadence, ensuring I was able to keep track of my progress as well as design training programs that pushed me hard while still allowing adequate recovery time.
If the Inride Sensor is adept at data compilation, Kinetic’s inRide app is absolutely outstanding when it comes to making good use of that data. It goes beyond mere number-crunching, but actually makes helpful and informed workout suggestions, modifying its built-in workout programs according to the data the sensor provides.
If those aren’t to your liking, the workout creation program offers a handy customization option, which even tech neophytes like me will find easy to navigate thanks to the intuitive user-interface. As the name suggests, the inRide app is even useful mid-ride, providing real-time interval graphing to monitor your performance right down to the last second, ensuring that you don’t inadvertently slack off and miss out on gains.
Finally, the new “smart” options are so easy to use, they pretty much do all the work for you. Other than connect the Kinetic Rock n Roll Smart Trainer to your mobile device (which literally just involves switching on both devices’ Bluetooth connections) the machine did all the work for me. Even updates (for paid users only) are automatic, ensuring that you can invest all your time and energy in working out instead of fiddling around on your touch screen or fussing about with knobs and dials.
Some top notch tech specs
This baby fails to disappoint – here’s a few reasons why:
- Supports wheel sizes from 700×23 up to 29 inch mountain bike tires
- Weighs 33 pounds (due to its quality build, see below)
- Lifetime warranty from Kinetic
- inRide sensor is pre-installed for wireless power-based workouts and fitness tests (there’s a free iOS app, Android is still in beta)
- App features built-in workouts; measures power, speed, cadence, distance and more
OK, but how does it handle?
If you’ve never used a Kinetic Rock n Roll indoor trainer before (such as the original classic Road Machine), you’re in for a real treat.
Kinetic has always justified this product’s premium price tag by reference to the Rock n Roll training experience, and it’s gratifying to see that the Rock n Roll Smart Trainer does not disappoint at all when you take it for a ride.
The sway of the trainer feels even more realistic than before, particularly when you’re pedaling against high resistance – when you stand up and pump those quads, the machine’s subtle and precise responses make it easy to pretend you’re out in the open on your favorite cycling route.
This not only makes for a more engaging training session, but also ensures your technique doesn’t take a turn for the worse in the winter months. Many cyclists who use substandard indoor trainers in the off-season come back as fit as ever, but find that their cycling technique, particularly on steep slopes, has regressed. Not so with Kinetic Rock n Roll users!
One quality-packed trainer…
Cyclists used to cheaper trainers are often shocked by the weight of Kinetic products, because this company does not skimp on building materials.
Every inch of these machines is crafted with welded steel or reinforced aluminium, for a robust construction that is built to last. Moreover, the pivot points (frequently the first component to give way in a vigorous workout) are made with car-grade elastomer for enhanced durability.
Another upside to the Kinetic Rock n Roll Smart Trainer’s uncompromising focus on heavy-duty building materials is increased stability. Whenever I tell laymen I’ve bought a Rock n Roll trainer, they inevitably ask whether a trainer that prides itself on its ability to rock and sway as you pedal is safe to use.
The answer, as all Kinetic fans know, is yes – so long as your trainer is built to take a beating. This smart trainer certainly is. The new ABS plastic contact points, with a thick rubber coating, provide an even firmer floor grip for superb anti-skid performance, contributing to the great overall balance of this trainer.
In summary: why you’ll want one of these Kinetic smart trainers!
As you probably can tell, I’m a huge fan of Kinetic’s long-awaited smart offerings. The Rock n Roll series has now been updated for the smartphone era, and what a gorgeous, high-tech product it is! It’s not cheap, but what smart tech enabled trainer is these days (but hey, the similarly priced Smart ErgoTrainer from Tacx is also an option to consider – see our review).
All in all, this is a quality trainer guaranteed to ramp up your training sessions. Highly recommended.
With 2016 well and truly here, we thought we’d take a quick look at the very best stationary bike stands you should be splashing your hard-earned cash on in 2016!
UPDATE: We’ve created a new list of the BEST bike trainers for 2017 right HERE!
We know there are plenty of you indoor trainer wannabes out there, hunting the perfect trainer stand to get your training and fitness in shape for the spring. And we also know you probably have a budget limiting your options – so we have collected a bit of everything in this little list, from the best of the cheap, budget trainers (we’re talking around $50-60), to the best your $$$ can buy (be prepared to invest…). These really are the best trainer options out there, in our very humble opinion.
Seriously, with one of these in your training program, you can start expecting some decent results…
A bestselling fave: the CycleOps Fluid 2 Trainer
Ever since we first purchased the revamped model in 2014, we’ve been very impressed. The CycleOps Fluid 2 is definitely one to consider if you’re looking for something in between the ultra-budget trainers and the cream of the crop (see the Magnet trainer and CycleOps PowerBeam Pro below for details).
Of course, there’s the brand name of CycleOps behind it, which is typically recognized throughout the industry as one of the quality names that serious cyclists should be aware of. Which means, not surprisingly, that this baby is almost always on the list of bestselling bike trainers at stores like Amazon.
Throughout 2015 we put in quite a few sessions on this trainer (see our review here), so can heartily recommend it. It comes in at around $300, but is actually cheaper than most of the other options on this list! This trainer offers superb value, and is, in our opinion, a must-buy if you’re looking for a very decent trainer – regardless of your skill level. Yes, even the pros of you out there will love this one.
The BEST your money can buy: the CycleOps PowerBeam Pro
Seriously, if you have the cash to spend, this one will take your training to the very highest levels! The CycleOps PowerBeam Pro isn’t cheap – it’s priced around $1000 – but this beast will keep you in superb shape throughout 2016, and many more years to come!
It might be a bit pricey, but it comes pre-assembled, so you can get training within minutes of receiving it! Just unfold the legs, adjust the legs to make sure it’s stable, and slot the included steel quick release skewer through your bike’s rear axle.
The major advantage with the PowerBeam Pro is its use of ANT+, which displays your workout performance data on ANT+ cycling computers so you can see just exactly where you’re going wrong (or right!) in real-time. In our opinion, this makes it a perfect trainer for beginners wishing to really ramp up their training AND pros wishing to tweak their performance to the absolute limits.
This trainer is class – and you can read all about it in our Top 3 trainer list, which gives the lowdown on the best of the best.
Still one of the best for 2016: the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine
If anybody can give the boys from CycleOps a run for their money, it’s the guys over at Kurt Kinetic!
The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is still one of the best stationary bike stands you can buy, and after a bit of a redesign in 2014, it looks set to stand the test of time still further (we still probably prefer the CycleOps Fluid 2 though!).
The Road Machine is renowned for its non-leak fluid chamber, as well as a huge flywheel which ensures one of the most stable training sessions you’ll ever experience. An added bonus is its ability to take on 29 inch wheels, still not a common thing among many trainers. This is definitely one of the best trainers on the market – read our full review here.
If you’re feeling particularly extravagant and in need of even more bang for your buck, try their brand new smart version of the Road Machine, the Smart inRide sensor. It will put a few $$ on the price tag, but enable wireless power-based workouts and fitness tests using the Kinetic inRide app!
Budget friendly champion for 2016: the cheap and cheerful Magnet Trainer
One of the most popular trainers we’ve seen on sites like Amazon has to be this one – the Magnet trainer!
We’re still not sure how they only charge $50-60 for this baby, but literally thousands of buyers have bought this AND left happy reviews, so it definitely seems to be the indoor trainer to consider if you’re on a bit of a budget.
In our opinion, this has to be “perfect” for beginners, especially for those of unsure what trainers are all about. It can definitely be your stepping stone to a pricier, more feature-packed trainer…or it might be enough to keep you happy over the coming months, that’s entirely up to you of course. One thing we should probably mention and is something we certainly believe in – you often get what you pay for, and with this trainer, you won’t be getting a luxury trainer model that will stand some intense workouts. The Magnet trainer is solid, excellent value, and a good starter model, but remember you’re paying bottom dollar for this one, so don’t expect too much (especially good instructions – the instructions for setting it up are notoriously bad, but if you read this you should be well prepared!).
Perhaps the ultimate road-like ride: the Kurt Kinetic Rock and Roller
If you’re a bit of a keen cyclist and want to feel the ultimate road-like experience, this one is for you – the Kurt Kinetic Rock and Roller.
This model from the guys at Kurt Kinetic is another one that has been around for awhile, and also refurbished in 2014 to give it that modern look and feel. It, like the Road Machine mentioned above, also has a smart version that uses the new Kinetic inRide app for perhaps the ultimate ride!
It’s not cheap – coming in at around $500 (and an extra $50-60 if you go for the smart version) – but is certainly one to enjoy if you’re looking for the ultimate training experience. The clincher for many purchasing this trainer is, of course, the unique side to side rocking action which makes it feel like you really are pedaling away out on the road, especially for the climbers of you. And when you mix in the legendary huge Kurt Kinetic flywheel and fluid unit, the stability and resistance you need for an intense session is there to enhance your ride beyond anything else you’ve probably experienced.
Read our full review of the Rock and Roller here.
Don’t miss our ever-growing Buying Guide for a quick summary of many of the leading bike trainer stands on the market today!