Updated: December 2017

Bike Trainer Reviews:

How do you go about training for a road bicycle race when you live in a cold weather climate like Minnesota? It's very hard to get outside during the winter when temperatures are cold and it's snowing. Even in a place like Portland, Oregon training during the winter is difficult with constant rain and wet conditions. I have several friends that do competitive road racing with their bikes and their training schedules get altered a bit from November to April each year. A bike trainer is the simplest of solutions. Just put your bike up on the cycle trainer and off you go. Simulating the real experience you find on the road is not the same, but these cycle trainers have become quite advanced at replicating things like wind resistance - the one thing most riders agree is hard to get on a trainer. You could always buy a recumbent or exercise bike for those off-seasons workouts, but road racers will argue 'it's just not the same'. We will run you through a buying guide with brands, prices, and features so you can make an informed purchase. See all the details below.
bike trainer

Choosing a Bike Trainer - The first thing to cover are the resistance types available with bike trainers. There are 6 types - mag, wind, magneto, fluid, electronic, and centrifugal force. The key is to get the resistance to increase the faster you ride - much like it would on the road. Wind resistance trainers tend to be loud and the resistance levels at the upper end of things are definitely limiting. A mag (magnetic) trainer will be quieter than the wind resistance models, but they too lack in the ability to increase resistance as you pedal faster. An adjustable magnetic trainer lets you set the resistance - often using your shift levers or via a remote control unit that comes with the product. A magento trainer is better at creating resistance when you are cycling at a faster rate. There are magnets that get dispersed to the outer edges of the unit when the speed increases, therefore increasing resistance. Based on popularity, the fluid trainer is the one to get. If you want the closest feeling of actually riding on the road, experts and riders agree that the fluid units are the way to go. They run quiet and as you increase the pedaling speed, resistance is increased as well. Owners say the fluid cycle trainers are smooth and offer lots of resistance levels. Centrifugal force trainers use BB's instead of fluid, but the concept is very similar. The faster your back wheel goes, the BB's are forced to the edge of the unit which increases resistance. Lastly, you have the electronic cycle trainers that use an electromagnetic brake system. They also let you connect to your computer and enjoy a sort of virtual reality biking experience. Ride against your friends and compete on different road races. They are the most expensive - many are $1000 or more (Tacx is a top brand). Speaking of brands, the big names in the industry are CycleOps, Kurt Kinetic, Blackburn, Elite, Forza, Minoura, Bell and RAD Cycle Products. Prices - You will find a few priced below $100, but the majority are between $100 and $200. The fluid trainers are going to be closer to $300 and the electronic trainers as mentioned above will cost the most. Cycle Trainer Reviews - Ok, you've got the basics on which types exist, the brands, and the pricing. Now, which one is best for you. We suggest reading reviews to match your skill level or training schedule with the bike trainer that fits your needs. Unfortunately Consumer Reports has never done a review on these indoor bicycle trainers, but you can still find in depth reviews from experts and owners alike. We like websites like Biketrainerreviews.com, Trisports.com, Cycling-Review.com, and Bikeforums.net for invaluable feedback and comments. Amazon.com is another great source when wanting to hear from consumers who have actually bought and tried the product. Read up on the pros and cons for each model and make. Many reviews give honest opinions about the various features on each indoor cycle trainer. You can browse the best selling bike trainers here.

Best Bike Trainer:

RECOMMENDED - There are 2 names that come up the most in the reviews and those are Kinetic by Kurt and CycleOps. They both have some of the top selling machines on the market. We looked at the Kinetic by Kurt Road Machine Indoor Bicycle Trainer and the CycleOps Fluid 2 Indoor Bicycle Trainer. Priced at roughly $300, they are very comparable in the fluid cycle trainer category. Kinetic fluid trainers have the heaviest flywheels available giving you the most lifelike riding experience with smooth operation whether you are accelerating or coasting down. The leak proof performance is guaranteed 100%. Not all brands can deliver on this promise, but Kinetic does. They don't use O rings or seals to keep the fluid chamber leak-proof, they use a patented magnetic drive system with neodymium magnets. Other features include 80 cooling fins to dissipate heat, a trapezoidal leg design for increased stability, and a low operating temperature. Smooth and quiet resistance is what you will get. Owner comments include "when the wet weather hits I use the Kinetic indoor trainer" and "best fluid trainer on the market". One reviewer notes that getting the bike on the trainer can be a bit difficult as compared to the CycleOps and another mentions that there are no leg adjusters for using on uneven flooring. Beyond that, the comments we found online are near perfect for the Kinetic. Turning our attention to the CycleOps Fluid 2 which is sure to keep your legs in excellent shape even during the off-season when getting outside is not an option. Reviews say that the CycleOps is a bit complicated to setup, but once done it's an awesome piece of equipment. One owner says "it's super sturdy and easy to mount your bike on". The power band technology offers a huge range of resistance and the larger flywheel helps create the inertia of a "road like feel". Check out all the CycleOps bicycle trainers here

Indoor Cycle Trainer:

RECOMMENDED - The Blackburn Tech Mag 6 Trainer sells for about $170 and gets incredible feedback from owners and road racing experts. This high performance bike trainer has been in the making for years from Blackburn. The tubular steel frame is both height adjustable and very stable. The bar mounted remote allows you to choose from 6 different resistance levels. Whether you live in a snowy climate or just want it to warmup with at a race, the Blackburn Tech Mag 6 Trainer is a great fit. Noise levels are not that loud and assembly takes about 15 minutes. Some owners say purchasing training tires is the way to - that way you save your racing tires for the actual race.