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Best Bike Trainers In 2021

In this guide we’ll take a look at the best bike trainers you can buy in 2021 and answer lots of common questions around trainers so you can find the right model. Read on to get started with our favorite models, or use the navigation buttons to jump to a specific section so you can learn more about how to choose.

What are the best bike trainers?

Here are some of our favorite bike trainers across several different categories. Whether you want to train like a pro or you’re just looking for a good way to stay active year round, you’ll find something great.

Best smart trainers

These smart trainers offer the best performance and adjust resistance as you ride through wirelessly connecting to training apps like Zwift. Our favorite smart trainers are direct drive, meaning that the trainer takes the place of your rear wheel, allowing you to gain maximum accuracy and power. If you're serious about indoor cycling, these models are the way to go.

Tacx Flux S Smart trainer

Tacx Flux S Smart Trainer

  • Max power: 1,500 watts
  • Accuracy: error tolerance within 3%
  • Max incline: 10%
  • Notable features: very quiet
  • Price: $749.99
KICKR CORE Smart Trainer

KICKR CORE Smart Trainer

  • Max power: 1,800 watts
  • Accuracy: error tolerance within 2%
  • Max incline: 16%
  • Notable features: built in cadence measurement
  • Price: $899.99
Tacx Flux 2 Smart Trainer

Tacx Flux 2 Smart Trainer

  • Max resistance: 2,000 watts
  • Accuracy: error tolerance within 2.5%
  • Max incline: 16%
  • Notable features: increased stability
  • Price: 749.99
Wahoo KICKR Smart Trainer

Wahoo KICKR Smart Trainer

  • Max resistance: 2,200 watts
  • Accuracy: error tolerance within 1%
  • Max incline: 20%
  • Notable features: KICKR AXIS feet for increased natural movement
  • Price: $1,199.99
Tacx NEO 2T Smart trainer

Tacx NEO 2T Smart Trainer

  • Max resistance: 2,200 watts
  • Accuracy: error tolerance within 1%
  • Max incline: 25%
  • Notable features: new road feel feature simulates cobblestone, gravel, and more
  • Price: $1,399.99
Wahoo KICKR CLIMB Indoor Grade Simulator

Wahoo KICKR CLIMB Indoor Grade Simulator

  • Max incline: 20%
  • Max decline: 10%
  • Compatibility: KICKR trainers
  • Notable features: real time grade changes
  • Price: $599.99

Best smart bikes (bike simulators)

These smart bikes are all-in-one stationary units that provide the ultimate indoor training experience. They can often replicate real world riding situations that other trainers can't, and they have tons of configuration options so you can dial in your workouts to be highly efficient.

Stages Cycling SB20 Smart Bike

Stages Cycling SB20 Smart Bike

  • Max resistance: 2,200 watts
  • Accuracy: error tolerance within 1.5%
  • Notable features: Configurable buttons—additional Sprint Shifters included, tablet holder
  • Price: $2,999.99
Wahoo KICKR Bike Indoor Smart Bike

Wahoo KICKR Bike Indoor Smart Bike

  • Max resistance: 2,200 watts
  • Accuracy: error tolerance within 1.5%
  • Max incline: 20%
  • Notable features: programmable shifting technology
  • Price: $3,499.99

Best classic bike trainers

These simple, affordable bike trainer stands are perfect for riders looking for a great price on a product that gets the job done. These models are lightweight, portable, and easy to use.

Saris Mag Indoor Trainer

Saris Mag Indoor Trainer

  • Magnetic, linear resistance for matching different gear clicks
  • 5 levels of resistance
  • Price: $189.99
Saris Fluid2 Indoor Trainer

Saris Fluid2 Indoor Trainer

  • Fluid, progressive resistance for a wide range, realistic feel, and quiet engagement
  • Price: $299.99
CycleOps JetFluid Pro Trainer Kit

CycleOps JetFluid Pro Trainer Kit

  • Fluid resistance
  • Comes with training mat and riser blocks
  • Price: $499.99

Best bike roller trainers

Roller trainers are portable and affordable and let you keep your bike in one piece and work on your balance as well as your fitness. If you want something something bombproof and simple, these rollers are great buys.

Tacx Antares Roller

Tacx Antares Roller

  • Conical rollers help you stay centered
  • Fits 26", 27.5" & 650b, and 29" & 700c wheels
  • Retractable to 80cm
  • Price: $199.99
Saris Aluminum Roller

Saris Aluminum Roller

  • Durable steel frame construction
  • Wide 16" wheel base fits all bikes
  • Price: $299.99

Ready to learn more about bike trainers?

Now that you've seen some of our favorite models, read on to get more information about how bike trainers work, why athletes love them, different types, top models, and common questions.

 What is a bike trainer?

A bike trainer is a device that allows you to ride your bike indoors. There are many different kinds, which we explain in detail below, but they all let you keep the pedals turning from the comfort of your own home.

What is a smart trainer?

A smart trainer is an electronic bike trainer that wirelessly connects to other devices in order to measure ride data, integrate with apps like Zwift, and automatically adjust resistance in accordance with selected workouts.

Is a bike trainer worth it?

Trainers are great for lots of reasons, and there are models for everyone from casual riders to professional cyclists. Here are 7 reasons why bike trainers are a worthwhile investment:

  1. You can avoid winter slumps and ride year round.
  2. You can train more efficiently with workouts that might be impossible to replicate where you live.
  3. You can avoid congested roads and ride in peace.
  4. You can get a great ride in regardless of rain, wind, smoke, or snow.
  5. You can go digital and turn training into a fun game with apps like Zwift.
  6. You can compete against other riders all over the world right from home.
  7. You can multitask and ride while you watch your favorite shows.

What are the different types of bike trainers?

There are a few different types of trainers that you can choose from. Each one has its pros and cons, so read up and see which type suits you best.

Wahoo KICKR trainer direct drive model

Direct drive bike trainers

Direct drive trainers, or “wheel off” trainers, require you to take the rear wheel off your bike in order to utilize a cassette that’s attached to the trainer. 

Best for: Riders who want a quality trainer with all the best features 

Pros: most accurate for workouts, quieter, often wirelessly connectable (smart trainers) 

Cons: more expensive, less portable

Wahoo KICKR snap trainer, friction model

Friction bike trainer stands

Friction bike trainer stands are “wheel on” devices that simply apply pressure to the rear wheel in order to generate resistance. 

Best for: Riders who want a simple, affordable, “wheel on” trainer stand 

Pros: lightweight, more portable, simple design 

Cons: limited adjustability, no connectivity, can be loud

Saris bike roller trainer

Bike roller trainers

Bike roller trainers are “wheel on” devices that are essentially treadmills for your bike. You don’t have to secure anything, you just hop on and pedal. 

Best for: Riders who want an affordable, portable trainer that works with complete bikes 

Pros: cheapest option, most compatible, hones your balance, portable 

Cons: least stable, least adjustable

Stages Cycling SB20 Smart Bike

Stationary bikes

Stationary bikes are complete units that don’t require you to use your own bike. These models are much more advanced than what you might see at the gym, and they can be used as the ultimate training tool. 

Best for: Riders with a dedicated training space who want a high quality trainer 

Pros: most accurate, no setup time, highly adjustable, smart trainer connectivity 

Cons: more expensive, least portable

Best bike trainer brands

Bike trainer accessories

Here are some of the top bike trainer accessories that you should consider picking up.

Wahoo KICKR Trainer Floormat

Wahoo KICKR Trainer Floor Mat

Seriously, a floor mat is necessary if you want to protect your flooring from all the salty sweat that comes with training indoors.

Tacx BlackTrack

Tacx BlackTrack

This smart mat allows you to steer your front wheel while you train, taking realistic ride quality to a whole other level.

Saris TD1 Trainer Desk

Saris TD1 Trainer Desk

Set up your TV or laptop in front of your trainer so you can use apps like Zwift, monitor your training stats, or watch your favorite series.

Tacx Trainer Tire 700

Tacx Trainer Tire 700

Used for friction trainers, this tire will be more durable and quieter than the road tire on your wheel.

Wahoo TICKR FIT Heart Rate Armband

Wahoo TICKR FIT Heart Rate Armband

If you want to train like the pros, a heart rate monitor will help you get the most out of your workouts.

CycleOps Climbing Riser Block

CycleOps Climbing Riser Block

Riser blocks are an easy way to simulate the body position and resistance of climbing a hill. 

Bike trainer FAQs

Which bike trainer should I buy?

We recommend you find a model that’s a good balance between your cycling goals and your budget. If you want to make the most out of your workouts, you can’t beat having a smart trainer. But if you’re just looking to stay in shape, a regular trainer stand or roller might be all you need.

What should I look for in a smart trainer?

When shopping for a smart trainer, first check if it's compatible with your bike. Check out the max resistance (measured in watts) as well as the accuracy error margin. You'll want to make sure it has the proper connectivity you need to run the apps you want, and note any features dedicated to realistic ride quality.

Do bike trainers fit all bikes?

Bike trainers will fit most road and gravel bikes and certain mountain bikes, but each model has its own specific compatibility specs, so you'll definitely want to take the time to familiarize yourself with the details of the model you're shopping for.

What bike trainers do the pros use?

Lots of pro cyclists use direct drive smart trainers so they can pedal their own bikes (instead of a stationary bike) indoors while being able to train with dynamic workouts that can simulate a wide range of riding situations.

Is a magnetic or fluid trainer better?

Both magnetic and fluid trainers are good options, but we tend to favor fluid bike trainers, as they are typically less noisy and can increase the resistance simply by pedaling harder, whereas you need to adjust tension manually on a magnetic trainer.

What's the best wahoo trainer?

If you're after a smart trainer, we love the Wahoo KICKR CORE, because of its reasonable price point and killer features.

Do you need a smart trainer for Zwift?

While it's certainly easier to use Zwift with a smart trainer, you can still use the app with a classic bike trainer as long as you have a power meter or a bluetooth/ANT + speed and cadence sensor.

Which bike trainer should I buy for Zwift?

Zwift is a really cool app with lots of great features that make indoor cycling a blast. If you want to take full advantage of the app and avoid compatibility issues, buying a smart trainer is the way to go. We love the Wahoo smart trainers listed above, but any smart trainer will be perfect.