The world of outdoor cycling has been evolving at a lightning-fast pace, and yet one of the fastest-growing segments is stationary riding. The world of indoor trainers and accessories has been flooding the market. While for many indoor training is an essential tool to help maintain fitness during the winter months, there is also a whole market of programs and tools aimed at those looking to improve their fitness year round.
The stationary bike market has had a few different options to keep you pedaling indoors, with magnetic and friction trainers as the most affordable options for years. The last few years have seen a boom in smart trainers, also known as interactive trainers, that allow computers, apps and even games to interact with your trainer to increase resistance for a more immersive experience.
9 BEST TRAINERS OF 2020
The technology side of these brands is evolving faster than the hardware, and it makes for an exciting time. Every year the experience improves, and in many cases the software gets small updates monthly, offering new options and features to experience. As the segment grows, so does the community. And at any hour of the day, you can now find a virtual ride partner. Sure, we all love the wind in our hair, but many are seeing the benefits of a focused and uninterrupted workout done indoors. Here is just a handful of what the market has to offer.
TACX BLUE MATIC
Offering up to 700 watts of resistance within its 10 resistance positions, the Blue Matic is a great choice for the rider looking for a solid trainer without the cost of a smart trainer. The trainer uses quick-mount levers, so attaching your bike is fast and easy.
When it comes to simplicity, the Mag+ from Saris makes riding indoors easy. It utilizes a magnetic resistance system and a quickly installed handlebar resistance lever. A machined alloy roller offers great tire traction, as well as minimizing trainer wear.
ELITE TUNO POWER FLUID PACK TRAINER
This is a classic, smooth and quiet fluid trainer delivering consistent and high resistance. Elastogel material used in the roller is an exclusive polyurethane compound developed and tested by Elite that improves tire traction while
TACX FLOW SMART
For those who want to try a smart trainer without as much financial commitment, the Flow Smart is a good option. The Flow Smart uses a magnetic resistance system that offers resistance up to a 7-percent grade or 800 watts, and has built-in ANT+ and Bluetooth to communicate with computers and software.
ELITE SUITO TRAINER
Elite’s latest smart trainer is pre-assembled and ready to use—just plug it in. A Shimano 105 11-speed cassette is included but can be swapped with other Shimano- and SRAM-compatible cassettes. The Suito keeps itself planted and quiet during hard efforts, thanks to its steel construction and sturdy legs. One more perk that makes the Suito stand out is the one-month Zwift membership that’s included with purchase.
The H3 claims to be five times quieter than its predecessor, thanks to the direct-drive system. This smart trainer has an integrated power meter, as well as speed and cadence sensors. It offers 2000 watts of resistance or 20-percent grade simulation.
Price: $ 1000
Thanks to its unique design, the R1 direct-drive smart trainer allows your bike to move naturally with realistic movement that makes indoor workouts more enjoyable and interactive. The R1 interactive trainer delivers efficient, app-controlled electronic resistance up to 2000 watts or 20-percent grades.
WAHOO KICKR TRAINER
For those who want the ultimate Kickr trainer but want to utilize their favorite bike, the Kickr gives them the most resistance and control. Compatible with most modern bikes, the controllable trainer offers a connected experience with up to 2200 watts of resistance.
TACX NEO 2T
The Tacx Neo 2T is the refined and improved pinnacle trainer in their line. It features the same 2200 watts of resistance and simulates up to a 25-percent incline as their Neo bike. When your bike is mounted, it also offers a level of bike rock to simulate a more natural feel. An integrated power meter with pedal analysis offers data to help improve pedaling efficiency.
Wahoo also offers a few unique accessories that can elevate the stationary experience. The $600 Kickr Climb turns your static bike into a moving simulator by raising and lowering the front to simulate climbing and descending. Match that with the Kickr Headwind, a connected fan that can automatically adjust output depending on effort or virtual speed. At $250 the Headwind can be used with any trainer, not just Wahoo, thanks to its ANT+ and
THE GREAT INDOORS
At the recent Eurobike show, much of the banter heard in the aisles centered on the latest—and most expensive—indoor bikes on display at the Wahoo and Stages booths. In addition to embracing all the latest training apps, what separates these two from the pack are a full complement of comfort and performance features to provide a first-class indoor experience.
Whether or not anyone needs to spend that much money on a stationary bike is up to them, but the level of fit, finish and connectivity on both is impressive
While spin bikes have been available at local fitness gyms for years, this last year has seen an explosion of in-home versions targeting cyclists more than gym rats. These standalone stationary bikes offer the ergonomics of a road bike with more stability and weight. They also tend to use components that have a longer lifespan than a traditional bike, making them a nearly maintenance-free option. Many also have built-in power meters for training that is easily translated back onto your road bike.
TOP 3 INDOOR BIKES
Stages has been in the commercial spin bike world for over 10 years, but for the first time they have made one specifically for the at-home cyclist. Key differences include a freewheel and controllable electronic braking with a standard road handlebar and saddle (swappable to your own favorite.) There are programmable shift buttons, as well as extra buttons for steering (Zwift’s latest interactive functionality), two high-speed USB charging ports and finally a dual-sided Stages LR power meter (their indoor SC3 bike has a single-sided power meter).
WAHOO KICKR BIKE
In addition to their full line of connected stationary products, Wahoo has now added a complete bike that simulates riding with its controlled flywheel and programmable shifters. For fit, there are five points of adjustability allowing riders of all sizes to find the perfect fit. The bike has built-in ANT+ and Bluetooth capabilities, as well as a power meter to keep training accurate
TACX NEO BIKE
The Neo bike features an integrated power meter with virtual shifts, downhill simulation and resistance up to 2200 watts or 25-percent inclines. The wide stance and 110-pound unit is stable but still easy to move, thanks to integrated wheels. It has ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity, as well as two USB ports for charging tablets and phones while riding.
THE DIGITAL SIDE
TOP 4 APPS TO RIDE WITH
The truth is, we have come a long way from staring at the garage wall and putting it in the hardest resistance. To match the new indoor options are the software companies that have built interactive games and training plans. There are also classes that offer a virtual but live and interactive option for those who don’t have their own specific training schedule. Almost all of these options also offer a freeride option that allows you to do your own thing while giving you visual motivation.
When it comes to smart trainers, Zwift is one of the most popular software companies for interactive indoor cycling. Their game-like worlds and large user base mean you never ride or race alone. With a $15 monthly subscription, you can ride any time in their worlds. There are group events and races almost every 20 minutes, so there is no excuse to skip a ride.
Sufferfest takes you into the world of UCI racing, thanks to their onboard video from some of the world’s biggest races. Wahoo has recently purchased the company, so it’s sure to get even better. They offer a load of other options to help set up training plans, as well as work on mental strength. They even offer yoga workouts specifically designed for cyclists.
From structured workouts to periodized fitness to target a specific event, every aspect of TrainerRoad was created for cyclists that want to get fit. The software is targeted around numbers and data without any distractions. Following their suggested workouts, that lead-up to your event will offer you the most potential for your big day.
Rouvy is an interactive program that allows you to ride routes with others, and you can use their training platform to schedule specific workouts and execute them as well. Their community allows riders to grow indoors, as well as outdoors, thanks to their fun challenges. Track all your riding no matter where it happens with Rouvy.