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Updated April 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best bike trainers

When the weather turns cold or rainy, hitting the streets for a bike ride isn’t always the best idea. That’s when a bike trainer comes in handy. A trainer stabilizes your bike, so you can ride it inside when you can’t head outdoors. They’re compact and portable, too, which means you can easily fit a trainer in your home — or take it with you when you travel.

But while a trainer may seem like a simple device, choosing the right one can be tricky. How do you decide on the best bike trainer for you? Just ask us! At BestReviews, we don’t accept products or perks from manufacturers, so you can trust that our recommendations are honest and unbiased. We conduct field and expert research and interview real-life customers to give you the information you need to make educated shopping decisions.

If you’re ready to buy a biker trainer, take a look at the product list above for our top five picks. For more on selecting a bike trainer, including the different types, what features to look for, and how much you should pay, read on.

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The tread of the tires can affect a bike’s fit. Check the specifications for any bike trainer that you’re considering.

Do you need a bike trainer?

  • With a bike trainer, you’ll be able to keep up your bike riding all year, no matter how cold, snowy, or rainy it is.

  • If you exercise during rush hour or other busy times of day, you don’t have to worry about braving traffic or stoplights with a bike trainer.

  • A bike trainer makes it easy to exercise whenever you have a free moment at home, so you don’t have to run to the gym or go for a bike ride after dark.

  • Bike trainers allow for interval training, or alternating low- and high-intensity periods of exercise, for maximum fat burning.

Types of bike trainers

Magnetic bike trainers

Magnetic trainers use a magnetic flywheel to adjust resistance.

Some higher-tech trainers use electromagnetic resistance, which you can adjust via an app or remote.

On the downside, they aren’t as durable as other types of bike trainers.

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Expert Tip
Set up your trainer in a cooler area in the house or basement and wear clothing that wicks away sweat. Any temperature above 70 degrees will quickly elevate your core temperature.
BestReviews Fitness Expert

Fluid bike trainers

Fluid trainers are similar to magnetic trainers, but they contain a fluid chamber for added resistance. As a result, they have a variety of resistance options.

They can be expensive, though, and aren’t especially durable.

Rollers

With rollers, you ride your bike on the rollers instead of locking the back wheel into a trainer. This gives a realistic road feel.

Rollers are ideal for improving your balance and form, and they typically come with a budget-friendly price tag.

However, they don’t offer any resistance, and it can be tricky to learn how to use them.

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Expert Tip
Set up a fan in front of your bike. This will provide a more accurate simulation of riding outside and the cool air on your skin helps prevent overheating.
BestReviews Fitness Expert

What to look for when buying a bike trainer

Stability

Choosing a stable bike trainer is the best way to avoid any accidents or injuries. In general, the wider the trainer’s base, the more stable it will be. Some trainers also offer a leveling feature, which makes them more stable on an uneven floor or surface.

Storage

Bike trainers are compact, so they’re usually easy to store. If storage space is an issue, look for a trainer that has folding legs or folds in half.

Type

For the best results, match a bike trainer’s type to your fitness needs and goals.

  • If you want the most realistic riding experience, fluid trainers or rollers are the best options.

  • Rollers are particularly good if your goal is to improve your balance and form.

  • Beginners do better with wind or magnetic trainers because the bike is balanced for you.

  • For those on a budget, wind trainers, magnetic trainers, and rollers are the most inexpensive types.

Noise

Every bike trainer will make some noise because of the vibrations, but some models are louder than others.

Wind trainers tend to be very noisy, while magnetic and fluid trainers are quieter, making them ideal for apartment dwellers or people with roommates.

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Expert Tip
During your ride, don't stay in the same gear for the entire workout. Shift gears periodically to change your pedaling cadence.
BestReviews Fitness Expert

Bike attachment

With wind, magnetic, and fluid trainers, your bike attaches to the trainer, which holds it in place. Most trainers feature a stationary attachment that doesn’t offer side-to-side motion.

However, some trainers use an articulating attachment, so the bike can pivot on the trainer’s base. This type of attachment allows you to lean the bike side to side as you would on a real road.

Some trainers attach directly to the bike’s frame at the rear dropouts, so the trainer replaces the bike’s back wheel. This type of attachment doesn’t use friction from the tires for resistance, which protects your tires from wear and tear.

Keep in mind that direct-attachment trainers may not be compatible with axle standards or drivetrains.

Interactivity

Some high-end bike trainers are equipped with Bluetooth and wireless connectivity, so you can connect via training apps to your smartphone, tablet, or fitness tracker.

These trainers keep track of your fitness data, such as miles logged and speed. You’ll pay more for a smart trainer, however.

Expert Tip
Periodically stand up on the pedals. Doing this replicates climbing hills and also gives your glutes a break from the pressure of sitting on the saddle for a prolonged period. This will also allow you to recruit different lower body muscle groups.
BestReviews Fitness Expert

How much should you pay for a biker trainer?

Bike trainers are available at a variety of price points depending on the type and the features they offer. But in general, you can expect to pay between $30 and $600.

Inexpensive

For magnetic trainers, you’ll usually pay between $30 and $100.

Mid-range

For roller trainers, expect to pay between $90 and $200.

Expensive

For fluid trainers, you’ll usually pay between $150 and $350.

Tips and tricks for using a bike trainer

  • Set up your bike trainer in a cool area of your home, such as the basement or garage, so you don’t overheat while you’re riding.

  • Try to eat within three to four hours of using your bike trainer to ensure you have enough energy for maximum performance.

  • You can work up a serious sweat on a bike trainer. Make sure you have plenty of water and towels on hand.

  • Don’t jump on your bike trainer and immediately ride at max effort. Start off with five minutes of moderate riding to warm up your body for the more intense intervals.

  • Vary your bike trainer workout. A simple drill is four minutes of maximum intensity, followed by two minutes of moderate intensity, in repetition.

  • It’s a good idea to include a five-minute cool down at the end of your bike trainer workout to slow your heart rate.

  • It’s easy to go overboard with bike training. Give your body a day off to ensure it has time to recover.

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Set up an entertainment device near your bike trainer to make your training more enjoyable. Stream movies or shows while you ride on a TV, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

FAQ

Q. Do I have to assemble a bike trainer?

A. Some bike trainers come fully assembled, so you can use them right out of the box. Other models require assembly, but it’s usually a simple process. Most bike trainers take less than five minutes to put together.

Q. What’s the difference between trainers and rollers?

A. Both allow you to ride your bike in a stationary position indoors. Rollers have nothing to hold the bike upright, so you have to balance on the bike like you do when riding outdoors. That’s why rollers provide such a realistic riding experience. Trainers, on the other hand, are stands that hold your bike upright, so you don’t have to balance yourself.

Q. How do I know if my bike will fit a specific trainer?

A. Measuring your bike’s wheels is the best way to tell if it will fit a specific trainer. Most trainers will fit 26” wheels. Many will also accommodate up to 29” wheels, but you should check the product specifications to be certain. If you have 20” or 24” wheels, you may need to purchase a wheel adapter to ensure that they fit securely.

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