Stationary bikes are a brilliant at-home cycling option. However, these tend to be overly expensive and take up a lot of space. Plus, with a stationary bike, you’ll have to find some room to store your outdoor bike, as well.
Enter the bike trainer – a compact device that allows you to ride your outdoor bike indoors. So, you get the comfort of your actual bike, at home, when the weather conditions outside aren’t ideal for a ride, or when you only have a few minutes to spare.
In this article, you’ll find a list of the top five best bike trainer options on the market, as well as a buyer’s guide to help you make an informed choice.
Best Bike Trainer Reviews
Feedback Sports Omnium
The Feedback Sports Omnium is the only bike trainer on this list that requires removing the bike’s wheel. Although this will likely turn away many cyclists who prefer avoiding the wheel removal process, this trainer model is much easier to set up than a direct-drive trainer, which requires removing the back wheel. This is because the front wheel removal process is much more straightforward and doesn’t involve tweaking the chain and other more complex bike parts.
Stability is the Omnium’s bread and butter. It boasts a fairly robust fork mount and has a fantastic tripod-style grip. Even with fierce sprint efforts, this bike trainer holds up just fine.
Another problematic factor with roller trainers such as this Feedback model is the drums. Some cheaper alternatives have annoyingly loud drums, which will bother you, the people inside your home, and your neighbors. The Omnium, thankfully, offers virtually silent drums.
The drums are also responsible for providing resistance to your ride using magnets. Even at the highest resistance setting, the magnets remain relatively quiet. The progressive resistance feature does a great job of simulating outdoor cycling. Plus, given the fact that it’s your front wheel that’s removed, you can use your bike’s gears to add to the resistance, as well.
This bike trainer is compatible with various bike models, ranging from 28”-29” mountain bikes to 600c-700c road and cyclocross bikes.
- Incredibly stable
- Back wheel not removed
- Compatible with various road, mountain, and cyclocross bikes
Saris CycleOps Fluid 2
The first impression you’ll get from the Sars CycleOps Fluid 2 is that it boasts quality-looking components. Don’t worry, your eyes aren’t fooling you.
But the most significant benefit of the Fluid 2 is that it uses progressive fluid resistance instead of magnet- or wind-based technology. Fluid systems are much quieter than wind or magnetic trainers.
But this doesn’t come at the cost of the trainer’s effectiveness, though. Fluid-based systems give you a realistic experience that’s unmatched by other trainer types. Instead of using a resistance knob, all you need to do to bring more resistance is pedal harder – much like when riding your bike outdoors.
The ease of bike setup is its other brilliant selling point. If your aim is coming home from work, taking out the bike trainer, setting up your bike on it, and doing your workout, the Saris CycleOps Fluid 2 is the model for you. Granted, you will have to set it up before the first use, but after that, it folds for easy storage.
This trainer’s feet feature a beveled angle, which makes the unit incredibly stable. Chances of falling, even when you give the unit your maximum push, are very slim.
In terms of compatibility, the Fluid 2 accommodates 26”, 27”, 29”, 650b, and 700c sizes. It is also compatible with various training apps.
- Liquid resistance – more realistic
- Accommodates various wheel types
- Very stable
- Easy to set up
Alpcour Fluid Bike Trainer
The Alpcour Fluid Bike Trainer features fluid resistance, with six different incline levels. This gives the rider a realistic simulation of an outdoor riding experience. The fluid-based flywheel boasts a lot of resistance wiggle room, making it an excellent option for more proficient cyclists.
The model comes with noise reduction built-in – something you should never underestimate when it comes to bike trainers.
Thanks to the dual-lock stability system, the stand is easy to set up and incredibly stable.
Most bike trainers will offer 29” wheel compatibility. Unfortunately, the Alpcour Fluid Bike Trainer doesn’t, which is a real shame for 29” riders – they’re missing out on an incredible trainer tool. Nonetheless, this model is compatible with most wheel sizes between 26” and 28”. Additionally, it works with 700c wheels like a charm.
- Diverse resistance options
- Noise reduction
- Easy to set-up
- Doesn’t support 29” wheels
FDW Indoor Magnetic
The most significant upshot to using fluid-based bike trainers is the progressive resistance option. This isn’t standard for magnet-based bike trainers. However, some magnet systems do share this resistance feature. The FDW Indoor Magnetic boasts progressive resistance.
Additionally, this system has five built-in settings, helping you find the perfect level for your needs or skill.
Unfortunately, the biggest oversight with this FDW model would be its compatibility options. While the 26”, 27”, and 700c riders will be happy to hear that their bikes are compatible with this trainer, 29” and 640b enthusiasts will be disappointed.
Thanks to the high-quality steel build, the FDW Indoor Magnetic is very stable, keeping you safely in place even at the highest points of your exercise.
Now, in terms of ease of use, the steel factor might cause you to worry. Well, no need, as this trainer weighs about 20lbs, which makes it fairly portable.
Although this bike trainer isn’t too loud for a magnetic model, it’s still noisier than the liquid resistance alternatives.
The entire setup process has also been made very simple – just place your bike’s back wheel properly, securely tighten the knob, and you’re good to go.
- Magnetic progressive resistance
- Easy to set up
- Lightweight steel build
- Five built-in resistance settings
- Not compatible with 29” wheels
Unisky Bike Trainer
Stability is the most prominent aspect of this Unisky model. It’s made with a dual-support structure and has a wide frame, as well as a wide front-wheel riser block. This keeps the bike from wobbling. The Unisky Bike Trainer is almost unshakable, so you don’t have to worry about falling off it.
This model is easy to set up. Right out of the box, the installation is straightforward – you’ll be able to start a training session the moment you put the Unisky Bike Trainer together. After you’re done exercising, fold it and store it away wherever you prefer.
This model is compatible with most road and mountain bikes – everything with a 26”-28” or a 700c wheel will fit it like a glove.
Now, in terms of resistance, it isn’t the best model on the market. Still, the resistance is noise-canceling, so disturbances will be kept to a minimum.
- Compatible with various wheels
- Very firm and stable
- Easy to set up
- Easy to store away
- Not the best resistance
Best Bike Trainer Buyer’s Guide
Even though the five bike trainers listed above are brilliant in many respects, you need to know what to pay attention to before making a purchase. Here are some of the most important features that can make or break a bike trainer device:
Compatibility is definitely the most important aspect to take into account when browsing for the best bike trainer. After all, you’re looking for a tool that will give you the benefit of riding your bike at home. Buying a trainer that doesn’t fit your bike is out of the question.
Most bike trainers are compatible with most models. Typically, you’ll find compatibility guides on all products. Pay special attention if your bike’s wheels are 29”. Some trainers out there don’t support this wheel size.
In most cases, you’ll see something along the lines of “compatible with mountain and road bikes” on the trainer packaging. This means that it’s most likely a fit for your mountain/road bike. Still, make sure that the retailer you’re buying from accepts returns, just to be safe. Either that or ride your bike to the retailer and ask to try the trainer on the spot.
The principle behind bike trainers is simple – these devices help you tweak your bike at home so that it stays in place while you pedal during an exercise session. However, the ride experience is somewhat different.
When riding your bike outside, you rely on your front wheel and your body leaning for stability. In fact, every turn begins with you leaning left or right – the wheel turn happens as your “roll” shifts.
There is none of this with your bike trainer. The only effective movement here is the pedaling motion. Lean left or right, and you won’t turn.
Therefore, stability plays an important role when choosing your bike trainer. Although most models are stable enough, and despite the fact that trainer crashes are exceptionally rare, the risk is present.
Always go with broad bases when looking for the best bike trainer for you.
Ease of Use
Although bike trainers bring a ton of convenience to the table, they tend to require setting up before you can use them. Setup complexity, however, depends on the bike trainer type. There are three main bike trainer types to pay attention to:
- Direct-drive trainers
- Wheel-on trainers
- Roller trainers
The direct-drive option tends to be the most expensive. However, this trainer type requires you to completely remove your bike’s rear wheel and connect it to the trainer carefully. Some direct-drive trainers come with a front wheel-fix option, which means additional time spent on the setup. If you plan on making frequent switches between outdoor and indoor rides, be prepared to spend some time setting your training session up.
Wheel-on trainers are much simpler to set up. They don’t require removing your wheel. This trainer type attaches to your bike’s axle and creates resistance using a roller that’s put against the tire. Wheel-on trainers are the best option for those looking to move back and forth between outdoor and indoor rides. Most of the products from our list are wheel-on.
Finally, there are roller trainers, which typically don’t require any tampering with the bike. They consist of cylindrical drums attached to a metal frame. All you need to do is put this trainer type next to some sort of support (something you can grab onto with your hand while riding to avoid falling down). Then, you take your bike and ride it – it works like a treadmill, to an extent. This option doesn’t provide any resistance options and isn’t stable, which is why we didn’t include these trainers on our list.
The Feedback Sports Omnium model featured here is a combination of the direct-drive and roller trainer options. It effectively simulates outdoor riding, but it does require you to remove your bike’s front wheel and attach it to the front part of the trainer.
Given the fact that you won’t meet any inclines at your home, especially while riding a stationary bike, you may want to consider the resistance options from a bike trainer.
Wheel-on bike trainers tend to boast solid resistance options, while the feel of an actual rear wheel still remains intact. The liquid resistance is the most realistic and the least noisy option.
With wheel-on trainers, you can also switch your bike into higher gear, which gives you more diverse options.
In truth, there’s a customer for each item on the above list. However, the Saris CycleOps Fluid 2 is definitely the best option out there. Its progressive fluid resistance is perfect for amateurs and professionals alike, while it remains quiet even at top resistance settings. It accommodates a wide variety of wheel sizes, offers fantastic stability, and is very simple to set up.
Although it’s on the pricier side, the Saris CycleOps Fluid 2 is one of the best bike trainer options currently available.