Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for best bike rollers

If you are serious about biking, even if you live in an area where the climate allows you to ride outside all year long, you will need a way to train indoors. Days when it rains and days when your free time is short are just a few reasons why a bike roller comes in handy. Although you could purchase a stationary bike or get a bike trainer, the most compact, versatile solution is a bike roller.

A bike roller has two rollers (drums) in the back that cradle your rear wheel and one in the front, where your front wheel sits. It is relatively quiet, doesn't require you to disassemble your bike, and offers the most authentic riding experience you can get indoors. Think of it as a treadmill for your bike.

If you're puzzling about how to choose and use the best bike roller, keep reading. If you want to start your indoor training now and seek some high-quality recommendations, consider the bike rollers spotlighted here.

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When learning to ride on a bike roller, keep your workouts short for the first few days. Being able to keep your balance for three to five minutes, with a three- to five-minute break in between, is a major accomplishment.

Key considerations

Bike roller design is fairly simple. Your bike — the one you normally use outdoors — sits on three spinning drums. As you pedal and the tires spin, so do the drums. This allows the bike to remain in one place as you exercise.

Size and adjustability

Most bike rollers are extremely flexible when it comes to accommodating different sizes and types of bikes. However, that does not mean the units are universal. Before purchasing, check a bike roller's specs to make sure the unit and your bike are compatible.

Drum size

The drums are the rollers that your bike tires ride on. The larger the drum, the less resistance it provides. A bike roller with smaller drums is more suitable for a skilled rider.

Smooth ride

If there is any play in the drum, it will vibrate and create an undesirable riding experience. In that situation, the faster you pedal, the more unfavorable the experience becomes. A bike roller that shakes and vibrates wears out faster, too. The best bike rollers offer a smooth riding experience.

Belt durability

In order for the front wheel to spin, the front roller must be connected to the middle roller via a belt. This belt needs to be made of durable materials that hold up to the rigors of repeated workouts.


High-end bike rollers usually feature a steel frame and precision-machined alloy drums. Less-pricey bike rollers often have drums made of aluminum.

Noise output

Noise output goes hand-in-hand with smoothness of the operation. If your bike roller is loud, not only will it disturb family members or housemates, it will also likely deliver a less-than-satisfying ride. Noisy bike rollers don’t last as long, either.


You can ride as hard or as easy as you like on a bike roller. They all work in a similar fashion. What sets one bike roller apart from another is its feature set. Consider the features on the following list to determine what you need.


Since there may be extended periods of time in the warmer months when you won't be using your bike roller, one of the most important elements to consider is how and where you’ll store it. Look for a model that folds down for easy storage.

Nonslip feet

A bike roller must have nonslip feet. A unit that slides around, even slightly, poses serious safety hazards.

Tapered drums

A great deal of focus is required just to keep the bike on the unit. Some high-end models feature tapered drums that are wider on the outside edges and narrower in the center. This design helps to keep the tires in the center of the drum if your attention momentarily drifts.


If you'd like to vary the intensity of your workout to a greater degree than changing gears offers, consider a model with varying amounts of resistance. Note that this feature is usually only found on pricier models.

Smart rollers

At the highest end of the price range, you can find bike rollers with drums that have built-in sensors. These sensors transmit data back to your phone or other device to provide a range of useful information. Additionally, if you have a smart bike roller, you can change the resistance settings without stopping and getting off the bike. Some smart bike rollers take advantage of popular apps that let you compete against other bikers around the world without leaving your home.


The length of the warranty reveals the manufacturer's faith in its product. If one company only offers a one- or two-year warranty while another offers a limited lifetime warranty, this is a useful clue as to which might be a better purchase.

Bike roller prices

Inexpensive: If you want an entry-level bike roller and don’t expect to use it very often, consider one for around $100. The durability and quality may be lacking, but you may not mind. Notably, a bike roller in this price range may vibrate or emit more noise than is ideal.

Mid-range: The average user can find a decent bike roller in the $300 to $600 range. These models are well-built. They are quieter than inexpensive models and offer a smoother ride. The only downside is that the bike rollers in this price range don’t usually have the bells and whistles that serious athletes desire.

Expensive: At the higher end, between roughly $600 and $1,200, you will find bike rollers with magnetic or fan-based resistance. These bike rollers often have Bluetooth connectivity and can track the details of your workouts, giving you specific data and the ability to chart your progress.


Even if you've been riding a bike for years, learning to ride on a bike roller can be challenging. The difference between riding on the road and riding on a bike roller is similar to the difference between walking down the sidewalk and walking a tightrope. To help you get the most out of your bike roller, here are a few tips.

  • Place your bike roller in a doorway or against a wall. This gives you a way to steady yourself when needed. A doorway is best because you have support on either side.
  • If you are against a wall, consider putting something soft on the floor opposite the wall. It’ll be there in case you fall.
  • Consider wearing sneakers, not cleats. This makes it easier to remove your feet from the pedals as you learn to find and maintain your balance.
  • Start riding in a comfortable gear. Pick a gear that’s not too hard and not too easy so you can pedal smoothly.
  • Mount the bike carefully. Straddle the top tube, apply the brakes, and place one foot on a pedal. If you are against a wall, not in a doorway, this would be the pedal on the opposite side of the wall. While leaning against the wall or door frame for support, place your other foot on the other pedal. Release the brake and pedal with smooth strokes.
  • Don’t look at the front wheel. Look ahead at least 10 feet. It’s easier to maintain your balance when looking ahead.
  • Keep your weight off the front wheel. Relax your hands, elbows, and shoulders.
  • Enhance your balance through speed. The faster your wheels spin, the easier it is to maintain your balance.
  • When the bike weaves (and it will weave), do not overcompensate. Instead, correct your course by using small movements.
  • Know how to end a pedaling session. When finished, stop pedaling, apply the brakes, and use the wall or door frame for support as the bike slows down.
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If you’re an experienced rider, using a bike roller may initially feel a little disconcerting because there are no physical cues, such as feeling the wind in your face, to let you know how fast you’re moving.


Q. Are bike rollers bad for my bike tires?
Any time you ride, your tires take some wear. What makes a bike roller so appealing is that the bike tires ride on top of the rollers in much the same way that they ride on top of the road. Therefore, the wear is roughly the same or even less (due to the rollers being a smoother surface than the road) than when riding outside.

Q. Is it hard to learn to use a bike roller?
Learning to use a bike roller can be difficult. It presents balance and coordination challenges that even veteran cyclists may struggle with. If you are an experienced rider, expect to spend at least three sessions learning how to balance without a stabilizing hand on a wall or door frame.

Just like that first time riding a bike, when it clicks, you'll have it. So don't give up! It might seem daunting or even impossible at first, but if you can ride a bike, you can ride a bike on a bike roller.

Q. Do I need to wear a helmet?
Yes. You wear a helmet because there is a risk of falling. It can be difficult to learn how to use a bike roller, so your chances of falling may dramatically increase. Additionally, when riding inside, there are other hazards, such as countertops and table corners. Always wear a helmet, no matter where you are riding.

Q. Can I get a good workout on a bike roller?
Yes. Because a bike roller simulates actual road riding, it provides an excellent cardio workout. Once you're comfortable switching gears, you can modify the intensity of your workout as you please.

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