We spent over 44 hours researching and testing 18 different kinds of bike trainers and found that ease of use, performance, and cost were most important. The Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 scored high marks in all areas and is our top pick. This top rated bike trainer does a great job in all the ways you need a bike trainer to excel. It has a simple appearance and works through the use of fluid resistance which means the blade swishes through the fluid as it moves which creates resistance for the user. This mimics outdoor riding really well and is a great additional training method for those entering cycling events.
Bike Trainer Reviews
Whether you’d like a change from the stationary bike you’ve grown accustomed to or need to train for a cycling event, a bike trainer can be a great way to get that workout in at all times of day without actually having to leave the house in the first place. However, picking out the right trainer can be a bit tricky, especially if you’ve never used one before. In this review, you’ll find three of the best bike trainers on the market that have proven their worth through their ability to mimic real biking, their durability and the inclusion of advanced features. Working out might require a bit of effort, but shopping for a new bike trainer doesn’t have to.
For some time now, the Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 has been the top rated bike trainer on Amazon among others whose ratings come from an equally large sample size. This is due not to a successful marketing scheme, nor is it the outcome of some fancy new technology which takes eighty gigantic words to describe (though it does use some pretty great technology). Rather, the Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 is as successful as it is simply because it does a great job in all of the ways you would expect a bike trainer to. It doesn’t come in an overly sleek package or have any fancy features. In fact, just by simply looking at it, it can be easy to let the eye wander onto the next one down the shelf simply due to its standard appearance. Of course, when it comes to bike trainers, appearance doesn’t mean a whole lot.
The Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 works through the use of a technology known as fluid resistance, which simply means the inner blade is swishing through fluid as it moves, creating resistance on the bike. The fluid resistance is actually quite useful, being that it mimics outdoor biking quite well. Although you’ll still be biking in place, you’ll almost feel as if you’re able to gain momentum through pedaling faster and, upon letting your feet go, said momentum will actually decline at roughly the same rate is it would if the bike were actually driving on the ground. At the same time, the amount of effort required to keep building momentum gets higher as the current momentum rises, ensuring things stay challenging. This is particularly useful if you’re actually training for a cycling event, rather than simply trying to get some exercise through any means necessary.
Outside of its use of fluid resistance, which is certainly a huge plus, another useful tool is its included smartphone app. If you’ve been using stationary bikes (like what you might expect to find at a gym) for some time now, you may miss having a display right in front of you while you work out, giving you some indication as to just how hard it is you’re working out in the first place. Luckily, this problem is solved through the Kinetic Road Machine 2.0’s included app, which gives you an idea have how fast you’re driving while measuring a few other metrics as well, closely mimicking a stationary bike’s display on the screen of your smartphone. All of these features easily make the Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 one of the very best bike trainers on the market.
As I’m sure you can guess by its name, the CycleOps Fluid 2 is similar to the above model in that it works with fluid resistance to bring you an experience which more closely resembles that of driving on a real road, making it more suitable if you’re actually training for a marathon or another cycling event, though it will certainly work just as great as any other bike trainer in terms of giving you a good workout. Also like the last model we covered, said fluid resistance is the CycleOps Fluid 2’s best feature. With that said, what’s the difference between the two exactly?
The CycleOps Fluid 2, while perhaps not equipped with any smartphone-related features, is well known for being an extremely durable bike trainer. Don’t take my word for it, though. If you click the product’s name above and head on over to its Amazon page, you’ll see that other customers are saying the same. The bike trainer in question also comes with a lifetime warranty, ensuring that the CycleOps Fluid 2 actually lives up to its name regarding its durability. While it can be easy to pass over a warranty without thinking much into it (after all, product warranties aren’t the most exciting thing in the world), when you stop to think about the fact that this warranty lasts indefinitely, things are a bit different.
Regardless of whether or not you actually need to cash out on this warranty in the first place (you probably won’t), it’s nice to see that the manufacturer is confident enough in their product to back up their claims with money. Couple its warranty and great durability with its easy-to-adjust frame and you’ve found yourself one of the most practical bike trainers on the market. If you want all of the basics covered and care less for fancy features, the CycleOps Fluid 2 is easily your best choice.
The two bike trainers we’ve covered thus far are some of the best (probably the best) bike trainers on the market. There’s no doubt about that. However, if you paid a visit to either one’s Amazon page, you’ve likely noticed that they’re not exactly economically friendly. Although they’re great for the price, not all of us have the will or the resources to spend over three hundred dollars on a bike trainer. If this sounds like you, the FDW might be better suited toward you. Although it may still look somewhat pricey, if you have experience with high-end bike trainers, you’ll know this isn’t so much the case.
Despite this, it still comes as one of the very best on the market. Now, you won’t get the luxury of having any “smart” features, nor will you be treated to a lifetime guarantee of anything. However, you will get the very best bike trainer out there in terms of the cost-to-quality ratio. In fact, if your idea of the best product is the one with the very most value, you can consider the FDW as being the best on the market.
This high level of value is most seen in its smooth operation. Despite many bike trainers (even those of a higher price) making a whole lot of noise while in operation, the FDW offers an extremely smooth ride which is void of clicking, rumbling and bumpiness. When all you really care about is getting a great workout session, the FDW is an excellent choice through its ability to give you just what you’re looking for while skipping out on the many advanced features which drive up the price of many other bike trainers.
– Jonathan Maxwell
Summary of Our Top Picks If you’re simply looking for a bike trainer that does its job, you can truly get away with picking any of the above models. Really, they all preform well above average and will give you what you’re looking for. However, depending on your secondary priorities, one may be more suited toward you than the other. For example, if you’d like to have some sort of indication as to how fast you’re going, as well as the other common metrics found on stationary bikes, the first model we covered is an excellent choice due to its included smartphone app.
On the other hand, if you’re a fan of consumer protection and/or products which are easy to use, the second model will likely give you just what you’re looking for through manufacturer’s basic-yet-practical approach to making a bike trainer, not to mention its warranty which lasts for life. On the other hand, maybe you don’t care about all of that stuff. Maybe you just want a great workout session. If so, you may find yourself saving a fairly substantial amount of money by opting for the latter of the three models. Despite its low price, it certainly gets the job done.
Don’t see what you like up above? Not a problem! Those are but three of the many bike trainers on the market, albeit some of the very best. If you’d like to shop on your own, this is a great idea and can prove quite fruitful. However, I might suggest that you keep some of the below considerations in mind to ensure you get the bike trainer which is most suited toward you.
Why do you need a bike trainer anyways?
To work out, of course! But what else? If you’re actually using a bike trainer to get better at biking, you really want something which does an excellent job of mimicking natural biking conditions such as the constant build and release of momentum. There is no better way of achieving such an effect than by using a bike trainer which relies on fluid resistance. Fluid resistance will almost have you feeling as if you’re actually on the road, minus having obstacles and unfavorable weather conditions to deal with.
On the other hand, if you’re merely trying to squeeze in some good cardio, said fluid resistance will do nothing for you. That’s right – absolutely nothing. Now, it won’t hinder you in any way, though don’t feel as if you should make a point of limiting yourself to bike trainers exhibiting such a feature. While professional cyclists might praise these trainers, this is largely irrelevant if you’re not a professional cyclist.
Is your bike trainer meant to replace a stationary bike?
If, for whatever reason, you’re shopping around for a bike trainer as a means of replacing a stationary bike, it’s probably a good idea to get one which comes with smartphone capabilities, as this will help you better track and achieve your fitness goals. However, you should be prepared to pay a steeper price for such a feature.
Can your bike fit?
If you’re out shopping on your own, I, unfortunately, can’t answer this question. Before finalizing your purchase on any bike trainer, be sure to check with its specs or the manufacturer to be sure that you’ll actually be able to use it in the first place. It’s always worth the few minutes it takes to ensure you’re coming out with a useable product.
Types of Bike Trainers
There are two categories under which every single bike training can fall. Do you know which type is best for you? Take a look below and find out.
Fluid Bike Trainers – We’ve recently looked at some trainers which belong to this category. These focus on the building of momentum. The more momentum you currently have built up, the more the trainer’s tension will amp up. The build and release of momentum also very closely resembles that of bikes on a real road, which is a huge plus. These are a must-have if you’re training solely for the purpose of getting better at biking on the road.
Magnetic Trainers – These are your best bet if you’re trying to get some good cardio in, as opposed to trying to get better at cycling. This is because they will allow you to choose your own tension, giving you the ability to pick the right setting for a good cardio workout that won’t be inhibited by leg strength.
Remember, the most important thing to consider when buying a new bike trainer is your own set of goals. Whether you’re into cycling or general fitness will play a large role in what you end up getting. By keeping all of the above tips in mind, you’ll have a healthier you in no time.