The 8 Best Bike Trainers of 2022

Wahoo’s Fitness Kickr Smart Trainer offers a powerful, quiet, and realistic ride

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 Best Bike Trainers of 2022

Amazon

If you already own an outdoor bike and want to train more consistently, even during bad weather, you may want to invest in a bike trainer. A bike trainer is a piece of equipment that allows you to ride your road or mountain bike indoors while it remains stationary.

Reviewed & Approved

Wahoo’s Fitness Kickr Smart Trainer offers a smooth and virtually silent ride, with a realistic road feel and very accurate power measurement. For a more budget-friendly option, we like the Alpcour Fluid Bike Trainer, a tire-drive model that’s very sturdy, quiet, and easy to use.

“Trainers are smaller and lighter than a stationary bike, which makes them easier to store and move around your house,” Dalia Aliphas, a competitive cyclist and fitness trainer for Studio SWEAT OnDemand, says.  

Most products are either tire-drive trainers, which attach to your rear tire, or direct-drive trainers, which require the removal of your back wheel. Some trainers are basic, no-frills models, while others can make you feel like you’re riding on the road, providing realistic resistance and simulating climbs and descents. In addition, some offer Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity for accessing third-party indoor cycling apps such as Zwift. Depending on the features and performance, there’s a wide variety of prices, with most trainers falling in the range of $150 to $1,400.

We chose the best bike trainers by researching dozens of products from the most trusted manufacturers. Additionally, we spoke with cycling instructors and experts for recommendations and tips on what to look for when selecting a bike trainer. To help craft our list, we evaluated each bike trainer for performance, accuracy, design, ease of setup and use, portability, price, and more.

Based on our research, here are the best bike trainers on the market.

Best Overall: Wahoo Fitness Kickr Smart Trainer

4.9
Wahoo Fitness Kickr Smart Trainer

Amazon

Pros
  • Realistic road feel

  • Very quiet

  • Easy out-of-box use

Cons
  • Heavier than other options

  • Low resistance when unplugged

Wahoo’s Fitness Kickr earns our best overall pick, thanks to its accuracy, ease of use, and quietness.

It’s compatible with numerous training apps, like Zwift and TrainerRoad, and has Bluetooth, ANT+, FEC, and Wi-Fi connectivity for quick and reliable data transfer. Setting up the Kickr is quick and straightforward, and the automatic calibration and firmware updates keep the trainer accurate.

With a quiet yet very powerful belt motor drivetrain, the Kickr offers a smooth and virtually silent ride, with a realistic road feel. The axis feet let the unit and rider have a 5-degree side-to-side movement, mimicking the outdoor cycling experience.

The Kickr is constructed with heavy-duty, durable steel, so it stays in place, even during all-out sprints, and can stand up to years of heavy use. At 47 pounds, it’s heavy compared to the competition, but the legs fold up, so the trainer is easy to store or carry with the well-placed handle.  

One downside is the Kickr’s lack of resistance when not connected to power. Although you can spin on it without being plugged in, the resistance only goes up to about 120 watts. However, with full power, it has a max of 2,200 watts of resistance and is accurate within plus or minus 1 percentage point. If you’re a serious rider who wants a smart trainer with superb performance and accuracy, the Kickr is definitely worth considering. Just note that you'll need to purchase a cassette separately (which will enable you to switch gears while riding).

Price at time of publication: $1,117

Type: Direct drive | Product Weight: 47 pounds | Product Weight Capacity: Not listed | Dimensions: 20 x 28 x 17 inches | Resistance type: Electromagnetic | Compatible platforms: SYSTM, Zwift, TrainerRoad

Best Budget: Alpcour Fluid Bike Trainer Stand

Alpcour Fluid Bike Trainer Stand

Amazon

Pros
  • Sturdy design

  • Very portable

Cons
  • No app connectivity

For cyclists on a budget, Alpcour’s Fluid Bike Trainer Stand offers a lot of the convenience and quality features of higher-end trainers, without the huge price tag. Designed to accommodate mountain and road bikes, it attaches to your back tire to create friction via a fluid flywheel mechanism. The friction progressively increases the faster you pedal, replicating a real cycling experience.

Constructed with durable, heavy-duty stainless steel, the stand is very stable and has anti-slip rubber pads on the bottom to prevent movement. The driver also has a wide base and low stance, providing a low center of gravity that’s especially helpful for beginners. The Alpcour’s built-in noise reduction helps to eliminate whirring and humming, making this trainer a nice option if you’re worried about disturbing your household or neighbors.

To mount or dismount your bike, it’s simple and fast to just click the quick-release lever. Even better, the trainer folds down quickly and can be stored and transported in the included bag, making it easier to take on vacation or for race-day warm-ups. With such a budget-friendly price, this trainer doesn’t offer any app connectivity, but we still think it’s a great value.

Price at time of publication: $250

Type: Tire drive | Product Weight: Not listed | Product Weight Capacity: 220 pounds | Dimensions: 19 x 19 x 18 inches | Resistance type: Fluid | Compatible platforms: None

Best Smart Control: Garmin Tacx NEO 2T Smart Trainer

Garmin Tacx NEO 2T Smart Trainer

Amazon

Pros
  • Realistic road-feel

  • Extremely quiet

  • Broad compatibility

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Heavier than other options

If you’re a serious cyclist looking for a top-of-the-line trainer, Garmin’s Tacx NEO 2T Smart Trainer provides a smooth, vibration-free ride as well as a realistic road feel. Its powerful motor generates up to 2,200 watts for very high resistance, yet its design reduces noise from air displacement and vibration, making it one of the quietest trainers on the market.

Unlike other trainers, the Neo 2T requires zero calibration, as its sensors can accurately measure your power and cadence within 1 percent. Plus, it generates its own electricity, meaning you can use it if there’s no power outlet nearby. And we like that it comes with a library of training software and structured rides.

When you’re riding on virtual platforms, it vibrates to accurately simulate various surfaces, including gravel, cobblestone, and paved roads. All that performance and quality require some serious weight, and the Neo 2T is one of the heavier trainers on the market (and on our list).  However, if you have dedicated space to set it up, that shouldn’t be an issue. Additionally, it comes with a premium price, but if you’re looking to take your training to the next level, we think it’s well worth the investment.

Price at time of publication: $1,400

Type: Direct drive | Product Weight: 47 pounds | Product Weight Capacity: Not listed | Dimensions: 22.6 x 29.5 x 21.7 inches | Resistance type: Electromagnetic | Compatible platforms: TrainerRoad, Sufferfest, Zwift, Tacx, Rouvy

Best Direct Drive: Saris H3 Direct Drive

Saris H3 Direct Drive

Amazon

Pros
  • Easy to store and carry

  • Powerful and accurate

Cons
  • Heavier than other options

  • Requires periodic calibration

The Saris H3 Direct Drive packs in a lot of features and performance at a lower price than many of its direct-drive smart trainer competitors. Quiet and easy to use, it’s compatible with a wide range of bikes and can be seamlessly integrated with indoor cycling apps, such as Zwift and Rouvy,

The H3 is designed to handle up to 2,000 watts and simulate a 20 percent climbing grade, which means it’s powerful enough for cranking through the hardest sprints and steepest hills. It also provides power feedback within plus or minus 2 percent accuracy, as well as smooth, reliable changes in resistance. It's worth noting, however, that the H3 requires periodic calibration to remain accurate.

Additionally, the H3’s simple yet versatile design is a huge selling point. The trainer is compact and set low, and has foldable legs that expand its base for better balance and stability. The H3’s flywheel and components are fully encased and protected, making it a safe choice for riders with small children or pets. 

At almost 50 pounds, the trainer is heavy, but an integrated carrying handle makes it easy to carry for storage or race day warm-ups. If you’re looking for a direct-drive smart trainer that’s durable and performs well but is priced well under the competition, we think it’s an excellent value.

Price at time of publication: $1,100

Type: Direct drive | Product Weight: 47 pounds | Product Weight Capacity: 300 pounds | Dimensions: ‎22 x 22 x 12 inches | Resistance type: Electromagnetic | Compatible platforms: Zwift, Rouvy

Best Tire Drive: Kinetic Road Machine Control

Kinetic Road Machine Control

Amazon

Pros
  • Realistic road feel

  • Easy setup

  • Compatible with numerous apps and software

Cons
  • Not as accurate as a direct-drive trainer

Kinetic’s Road Machine Control has the convenience and affordability of a tire-drive trainer, while still providing the stellar performance of a smart trainer. Compatible with virtually all bikes, it’s quick and easy to set up and start using. It can take up to 1,800 watts, and a 10 percent climbing grade is just steep enough for a solid workout.

The trainer’s electronic interactive resistance allows training apps—including Zwift, TrainerRoad, Sufferfest, and more—to automatically control the level of difficulty, while simulating climbs and descents changes on virtual courses.

One drawback is that power measurements are only accurate to about plus or minus 3 percent, which is decent for this type of trainer, but not as spot-on as the premium direct-drive trainers. However, the Road Machine Control allows for a consistent, smooth ride, even at max speed, and the wide base with rubberized feet keeps everything stable and balanced. If you’d like a smart trainer but don’t want to splurge on a pricey direct-drive one, we think this one’s a solid choice.

Price at time of publication: $569

Type: Tire drive I Product Weight: 36 pounds I Product Weight Capacity: Not listed I Dimensions: ‎26 x 26 x 12 inches I Resistance type: Electronic I Compatible platforms: Kinetic Fit, Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy, Kinomap, Sufferfest, FulGaz

Best for Beginners: Sportneer Bike Trainer Stand

Sportneer Bike Trainer Stand

Amazon

Pros
  • Budget-friendly

  • Quiet, especially for the price

  • Portable and compact

Cons
  • Not the best option for long rides

If you’re new to cycling or using an indoor bike trainer, you may not be ready to invest a lot in a high-end model. The Sportneer Bike Trainer Stand is a budget-friendly, compact option that’s surprisingly quiet and comes with some features you’d expect only in a higher-priced trainer. It’s designed to fit any road or mountain bike with a 29-inch or 700c wheel, and with a rear wheel axle between 4.92 to 6.57 inches.

Assembling the trainer is very straightforward, as is attaching and disengaging your bike, which just requires using the press-down lever to lock or unlock it. A handlebar-mounted remote lets you switch between six resistance settings to simulate all cycling conditions. The wide stand and its adjustable feet with rubber pads help to minimize shaking and increase stability.

To reduce noise, the trainer has a specialized sound-reduction wheel that reduces friction. However, that can also wear your tire down over time. If your indoor cycling habit takes off and you start doing very long indoor rides, you will want to opt for a higher-end direct-drive trainer for less wear and tear on your bike.

Price at time of publication: $120

Type: Tire drive | Product Weight: 19.3 pounds | Product Weight Capacity: 300 pounds | Dimensions: 22 x 22 x 15.5 inches | Resistance type: Magnetic | Compatible platforms: None

Easiest Setup: Saris Fluid2

Saris Fluid2

Amazon

Pros
  • Straightforward setup

  • Lightweight

  • Budget-friendly

Cons
  • No smart control

  • Not as accurate as direct-drive trainers

If you want a hassle-free setup, the Saris Fluid2 is a straightforward trainer that’s super easy to assemble and start using. It’s a wheel-on trainer, so you don’t have to remove your tire or disassemble your bike. Plus, it’s very lightweight and foldable, so it’s easy to move around, store, and transport.

Although it’s very quiet and offers a fairly realistic road feel for a tire-drive trainer, like other products in that class, the Saris Fluid2 still can’t match the road feel and power measurement accuracy of a direct-drive trainer. And the basic model doesn’t offer connectivity, so you’ll have to pay a little bit more if you want a smart-equipped version that can pair with indoor cycling apps such as Zwift.

The Saris Fluid2 trainer also features a patented fan design to keep the unit cool and performing better for longer. If you're looking for a budget-friendly, easy-to-use, natural-feeling tire-drive trainer, it’s definitely worth considering.

Price at time of publication: $330

Type: Tire drive | Product Weight: 7.3 pounds | Product Weight Capacity: 300 pounds | Dimensions:  20 x 22 x 7 inches | Resistance type: Fluid | Compatible platforms: Zwift, Rouvy (with upgrade)

Most Quiet: Magene T100 Turbo Trainer

Magene T100 Turbo Trainer

Amazon

Pros
  • Very quiet

  • Lightweight

  • Runs on batteries

Cons
  • May not be powerful enough for some

  • No carrying handle

Another option that’s perfect for a novice indoor cyclist, Magene’s T100 TurboTrainer is a direct-drive bike trainer that offers a realistic riding experience without a lot of noise.

It's easy to install and runs on AAA batteries, so you don’t have to worry about being tethered to an outlet.

Plus, you can connect the trainer to your smartphone and computer via Bluetooth connectivity and ANT+. The T100’s foldable design is ideal for space-saving and storing, however, it lacks a carrying handle for easy portability. Also, note that you'll have to purchase a separate cassette.

It produces about 60 decibels of noise, so it’s much quieter than wheel-on trainers and could be used without getting complaints from neighbors. The T100 is rated at a maximum power of 700 watts, which may not be sufficient for very serious riders. However, if you’re a recreational cyclist looking for a quiet trainer with a lot of functionality, it’s a solid pick.

Price at time of publication: $349

Type: Direct drive | Product Weight: 35 pounds | Product Weight Capacity: Not listed | Dimensions: 23.6 x 19.3 x 17.7 inches | Resistance type: Magnetic | Compatible platforms: Zwift

How We Selected the Best Bike Trainers

To choose the best bike trainers, we first asked Dalia Aliphas, a competitive cyclist and fitness trainer for Studio SWEAT OnDemand, and Mike McArdle, Ph.D., a certified Spinning instructor, and avid cyclist, for their recommendations and expert advice on what to look for when selecting one.

We then researched dozens of bike trainers from the most trusted, well-known manufacturers. We evaluated each for performance, accuracy, design, ease of setup and use, portability, price, and more.

What to Look For in a Bike Trainer

Design

There are three types of bike trainers, all with different pros and cons. Rollers are inexpensive, but require a lot of balance and are not the best option for beginners. Tire-drive trainers attach to the axle of your rear wheel, so they’re easy to use and set up, very portable, and fairly inexpensive. Direct-drive trainers replace your back tire and tend to be more accurate, smoother, and quieter, although they also tend to cost more than other options.

Setup 

When shopping, find out what’s involved in the initial setup of the trainer and if you’ll need any special tools or perhaps some expert assistance. Additionally, for a smart trainer, keep in mind that you’ll need to connect it with apps and devices when you first start using it.

You should also consider what you need to do each time you want to use the trainer. Generally, the more complicated the trainer, the more involved the setup will be. Roller trainers are typically the easiest since you basically just put your bike on the rollers. Tire-drive trainers are also fairly straightforward since you simply lock your rear tire in. On the other hand, a direct-drive trainer will require removing the back tire and attaching the bike to the trainer’s cassette, so it involves some knowledge of bike mechanics.

Portability

A trainer’s portability is an important factor, especially if you don’t have a dedicated space for it. Additionally, you should think about whether you’ll want to take the trainer with you on vacation or bring it for an on-site warmup on a race day.

If storage and portability are priorities, some features to look for are a collapsible frame, stability arms that fold into the unit, and a carrying handle.

Noise

Some indoor bike trainers make whirring or vibrating noises, while others are designed to be extremely quiet. If you live with others or work out in a space that shares walls with neighbors, you’ll want to carefully consider the type of trainer and pay attention to reviews about noise.

Tire-drive trainers that use fans to provide wind resistance are typically the loudest. Fluid and magnetic tire-drive trainers can also be fairly loud, but some higher-end ones incorporate sound dampers for noise control.

Rollers are generally quieter than tire-drive trainers, but the movement of the tires on the rollers still generates a bit of noise.

Direct-drive trainers are the quietest type since the bike’s drivetrain is attached directly to the trainer and there’s no sound from the wheels against the rollers. Typically, they also have enclosed consoles to inhibit sound.

Connectivity 

Some trainers, especially direct-drive ones, offer seamless integration with cycling apps such as Zwift, Sufferfest, and Strava.

“Smart trainers connect via Bluetooth to other devices such as your computer or sports watch, and can give you training information such as accurate power readings, time, distance, speed, incline percentages, and more,” Aliphas says.

Cycling apps can even let you ride real courses around the world, simulating the route, hills, and, in some cases, even the road’s surface.

“An established rider would probably prefer a smart trainer,” McArdle says. “It's a more technical trainer that establishes watt output and grade simulation.”

Ride Feel

Generally, the more expensive the bike trainer, the more realistic the road simulation will feel. A heavier flywheel can also contribute to a better feel.

Roller bike trainers provide little resistance as you ride, but having to stay balanced on the bike creates a realistic feel. Tire-drive models offer some more resistance and can simulate sprints and inclines. Direct-drive smart trainers provide the most realistic road feel by wirelessly controlling the cycling power and resistance.

Some trainers, such as the Garmin Tacx NEO 2T Smart Trainer, can even mimic the road surface and make you feel like you’re riding on cobblestones, gravel, concrete, and more.

Power Accuracy

Direct-drive trainers also usually have the most accurate power measurement, often close to plus or minus 1 percent. Tire-drive trainers tend to be less accurate, with a power accuracy of plus or minus 3 to plus or minus 6 percent. If you’re a serious rider, you may prefer a more accurate model, while beginners may not care as much.  

Stability

 In general, the wider a trainer’s base, the more stable it will be. Many have feet that can be adjustable if the surface is uneven. Look for trainers that are made of durable, heavy-duty materials and have rubber coating on the bottom for additional stability.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best bike trainer for beginners?

    “You don’t need a high level of experience or physical fitness to use a trainer,” Aliphas says. Beginners should be able to use most models, although she recommends they avoid roller trainers, which can be difficult to balance on.

    Those who are new to indoor cycling may want to start with a sturdy, budget-friendly option that’s easy to set up and use, such as Alpcour’s Fluid Bike Trainer Stand and Sportneer’s Bike Trainer Stand.

  • Is a trainer bad for your bike?

    Bike trainers shouldn’t damage your bike, but certain types, such as direct-drive and wheel-on trainers, can put pressure on the frame. If you're concerned about wear and tear, you may want to use a different, older bike on the trainer and save your road bike for outdoor use. 

    Other possible issues are wheel strain and sweat corrosion, but they can be avoided by using a training tire and sweat guard. A bike trainer can also cause problems if it’s not used properly, so be sure to adhere to user instructions and make sure everything is installed correctly.

  • Is it worth it to get a bike trainer?

    Bike trainers, especially the high-end models, can be expensive, so it’s important to think about whether it’s a worthwhile investment for you.

    Many cyclists find that a trainer helps them to use their outdoor bike more consistently and maintain their training in the off-season.

    “A bike trainer is a real timesaver because you can train at home anytime, in any weather condition,” Aliphas says. “And it’s safer than road cycling because you don’t have the risk of accidents.”

    Trainers also allow you to do precise, structured workouts in the specific time you have allotted for them. “Some outdoor rides may last longer than expected, but a trainer allows you to have complete control over your workout,” McArdle says.

    Compared to a stationary bikes they’re also lighter and more portable, so they’re easier to store when not in use. On the other hand, stationary bikes tend to be more comfortable and quieter than trainers, and they don’t require any setup each time you want to use them. “Beginner cyclists, and those living with back pain, usually prefer stationary bikes over bike trainers,” Aliphas says.

  • What are the different types of bicycle trainers?

    There are three main types of bike trainers: roller, tire-drive, and direct-drive.

    Roller trainers are the simplest type and are basically a set with rollers attached to an external frame that works like a treadmill for your bike. Although they’re relatively inexpensive and easy to store and transport, roller trainers require a lot of balance and concentration, so they’re not very beginner-friendly.

    Tire-drive or wheel-on trainers require you to mount your bike to the trainer so that the back tire connects to the roller rub, which provides resistance. Most tire-drive models are lightweight and can be folded for easy transport and storage.

    Direct-drive trainers require the bike’s rear wheel to be removed, so the bike can be connected to a rear-wheel cassette that is attached directly to the trainer. Many direct-drive trainers are smart and can connect with devices and apps. They offer a more stable, realistic ride, compared to wheel-on and roller trainers.

  • How much does a bicycle trainer cost?

    Indoor bike trainers are available in a wide range of price points, anywhere from $85 for a basic tire-drive trainer to $1,400 for a direct-drive option with smart control. Beginner cyclists or those new to bike trainers may want to start off with a budget-friendlier basic model and decide to invest in a pricier model at a later time. But more experienced cyclists will likely benefit from investing in a direct-drive option with a more realistic road-like feel. 

    The cheapest bike trainer on our list is often available for less than $200, while our best overall option, Wahoo’s Fitness Kickr Smart Trainer was $1,117 when we published this list.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

A certified personal trainer, running coach, gym buff, and fitness writer, Christine Luff, ACE-CPT, spends countless hours researching and testing the latest exercise gear and gadgets. She only recommends products that she can genuinely stand behind and believes would be a good investment for her readers.