When it comes to bike riding, many avid bikers love to take to the streets, rain or shine. However, when the weather is more severe than usual, how can you engage in your favorite activity? When snow, ice, or heavy rains delay your daily commute, how can you stay in shape without risking exposure?
Fortunately, there is a simple solution in the form of a cycling turbo trainer. This device lets you mount your bike to a flywheel stand so that you can pump your legs indoors to your heart’s content. Think of it like a treadmill for your tires.
Today, we’ll be talking about the best ways to utilize a bike trainer in your home, as well as show you five of the best options available for you. Never be deterred from riding again!
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When talking about the size of your trainer, you will have to look at how large it is itself, as well as the size of the bike it can hold. If you do have limited space, then you won’t want to get a model that is too big or bulky. Fortunately, most trainers are rather slim (relatively speaking), so you shouldn’t have much of a problem.
Where things can get tricky, however, is if you have to move the unit a lot. Most trainers are built with high-quality metals which make them somewhat cumbersome and hard to transport. However, there are some models which fold in half, making storage much easier.
As for the size of your bike, you will have to pay attention to the width of the back wheel. Most trainers are designed for bicycles between 24-29 inches, so if your bike falls outside of that range, you will have to find a unit that will fit.
If you want to get the most out of your exercise, you have to increase the difficulty as you go. Otherwise, what’s the point? With that in mind, there are several ways that trainers can help you step up your game so you can mimic the feel of the open road.
One variation is called progressive resistance. That means that when you pedal faster, it gets harder, meaning that you adjust the levels based on your speed. Another variation is to get a model that has different settings which you adjust with a knob or control switch. In this way, you can set the level that you like and go at different speeds without affecting it.
The final method for increasing difficulty is to get risers for your front wheel. In this case, the flywheel won’t get tougher, but since you will be biking at an incline, it will be harder regardless.
Ultimately, the best type of resistance adjustment is the one that you prefer. We recommend getting a unit with a control knob, but you may feel differently.
Although a bicycle trainer is a relatively simple device, that doesn’t mean that it can’t come with some extra bonuses to keep you motivated. Here are some things that you might want to have included with your purchase.
Floor Mat: if you have to bike indoors, you don’t want to have your tires or the trainer feet scuffing up your floors. Laying a mat down will not only prevent this from happening, but it will provide extra stability.
Tracking App: if you like high-tech gadgets, then get a trainer that has a sensor built in so you can track your progress as you go. Most trainers don’t have this feature, so you may have to settle for a model that is without.
Risers: many trainers do not come with risers, which means that you will have to purchase them separately. A riser is designed not only to help you increase the difficulty of your ride but to help stabilize your front wheel, so it doesn’t turn or lean as you pedal.
Our first stop is the Kinetic Road Machine Smart Trainer. As we mentioned above, some trainers have some high-tech features that make them stand out among the rest.
This is one of those devices. It’s easy to see why this would be an ideal choice for any hardcore biker who wants to maximize his or her workout when forced to ride at home.
One of the biggest issues with bike trainers is that the resistance of the flywheel is not consistent. Some models are sticky, meaning that you will experience jerking motions as you ride. With the Kinetic Road Machine, however, it uses fluid resistance so that even when you are increasing the levels, you have the smoothest ride possible.
Where this trainer goes into high-tech mode is with its built-in sensor. This way, you can not only set the resistance level of the machine, but you can also track your progress using the free Kinetic app. You can measure everything from distance, speed, power, heart rate, and calories burned. Also, you can track your results over time to see how you improve.
While this trainer is not ideal for smaller bicycles, if you have a mountain or road bike with a wheel measuring between twenty-four and twenty-nine inches, it will fit without any issues. Best of all, mounting the bike to this trainer is quick and easy so that you can get setup in no time.
While we’ve already seen how the app can help you monitor your vitals and your progress, this handy device can also give you custom workout options as you go. You can adjust the resistance level as well as do interval training, threshold workouts, or recovery spins. No matter what kind of regimen you follow, you can make it happen with this trainer and app.
When comparing this unit to others, you have to admit that the technology side of things makes it miles ahead of the competition. However, even without the app guiding you, you can still rely on a smooth ride and a sturdy, stable machine to keep you going no matter what. We would highly recommend this trainer for any tech junkies that love to bike.
As far as brand names go, you can’t compare anything to the name CycleOps.
Humorous pun aside, this company is well known for making high-quality biking equipment and accessories, and the CycleOps Mag+ Cycling Trainer With Adjuster is a testament to the level of commitment that the brand has to making the best products.
First and foremost, what sets the Mag+ apart from the crowd is the fact that it is built with the best materials. If you want to keep your trainer in a semi-permanent location, then this is the one to get, as it will last for years without ever breaking down or causing problems. Best of all, the flywheel is designed to provide the smoothest resistance possible, whether you use it every day or every so often.
Finally, this is one of the quietest trainers you can find, with operating noise levels of about seventy decibels. That’s just a bit louder than human speech, to give you an idea.
Although this trainer would be better if it had a universal fit, it should be able to hold your mountain or road bike, assuming that you are using a standard size model. This trainer can accommodate twenty-six, twenty-seven, and twenty-nine-inch wheels, which covers most of the adult bikes that are used today. Be sure to measure your bike before buying this trainer, though, so you aren’t disappointed if you buy it but you can’t use it.
The best way to know if a company stands behind its product is to see whether a warranty is offered and how long it will last. In this case, CycleOps believes in the Mag+ trainer so much that it has a lifetime warranty on parts and materials. That means that you can buy this unit with peace of mind as you never have to worry about paying for repairs (some exclusions do apply, of course).
Finally, the other thing that sets the Mag+ apart from the pack is that it comes with additional extras to help you get started. First of all, you get a mat to keep yourself stable as you ride and to prevent scuff marks from damaging your floor. Second, you get two risers which you can use for stability or to increase your difficulty level by putting you at an incline. Both of these accessories are more than helpful, and it’s rare that they are included with a trainer like this.
If you want a bicycle trainer that is built tough and will last a lifetime, then this is your best option. While you don’t have quite the level of control that you do with other models, the Mag+ is designed to be reliable and sturdy, no matter how hard you ride.
The best thing about the Comp Fluid Bicycle Trainer is that it has progressive resistance. While we prefer setting our own resistance level, many bikers prefer to have their trainers operate this way instead. The way it works is that as you pedal faster, it gets harder and harder, meaning that you can control the difficulty based on your speed, rather than turning a dial.
For those who are in training, this is an essential feature that can help you push yourself further than normal. Best of all, as the resistance increases, you don’t notice any change in the smoothness of the ride.
Looking at this trainer, you will see that it is wider than most. That means that you can ride as hard as you want without fear of tipping over. The base is made of high-quality steel components, and best of all it folds in half for easy storage. Finally, it’s relatively lightweight for its size so that you can move it from room to room with ease.
As with all trainers, you have to make sure that it can accommodate your bike before you buy it. With that in mind, the Comp Fluid Bicycle Trainer can hold wheels measuring between twenty-four and twenty-eight inches. That covers most of the adult bicycles that you can find, and it will carry mountain or road bikes with equal ease.
Finally, the best thing about this trainer is that it is so easy to put up and take down your bicycle. It has quick-release pins which means that you can set it in within seconds and take it out just as fast. With other units, it can take a while to get your bike in place, but with this model, you can be ready to go much faster.
Overall, this trainer is ideal for anyone who wants to push themselves harder and longer. While you don’t get the same level of control as with other bikes, the fact that it has progressive resistance means that you can go as hard or as soft as you want.
One of the best features of this model is the inclusion of a control knob for resistance. What makes it even more exciting is that you can attach it to your front handlebar, meaning that you can customize your workout without having to stop or shift gears. There are seven levels of resistance, which is more than enough to get you sweating.
The structure of this trainer is also remarkable as it’s made from sturdy metal alloys and comes in either black or silver color. Mounting your bike is also ridiculously easy as it comes with quick-release handles to lock it in quickly. Overall, this frame is as strong as any other and will make your ride much smoother.
The other thing that we like about this trainer is that it comes with a riser. While it won’t give you an incline by itself, you can use it for stabilizing the front wheel. Also, if you have anything like a crate or a concrete block, you can place the riser on top to get an incline for your workout.
Finally, this trainer can hold most standard size bikes. The wheel size does have to be within twenty-six or twenty-eight inches, but it will carry mountain and road bikes with equal ease. Overall, you shouldn’t have any problems getting your bike mounted unless it is significantly smaller than those measurements.
Overall, the features that come with this trainer make it one of the better options out there. All of the materials are sturdy and well-built, and the fact that you can adjust the resistance from your handlebars makes all the difference.
This trainer is made from high-quality steel alloy parts, meaning that it can hold up to 330 pounds with no problems. Most trainers can support about 250 pounds, so this is much sturdier than the competition. Along with a heavy-duty frame, you can choose between black or red coloring, and the whole thing folds in half for easy storage. Best of all, you can even adjust the height of your back wheel to meet your fitness needs.
Like the Pro Trainer above, this unit comes with a control knob. You can attach it to your front handlebars, making it super convenient and easy to use. Best of all, you get eight levels of resistance, meaning that you can push yourself even further.
The other thing that we like about this unit is the flywheel. It’s designed to be as efficient as possible, which means that it is super quiet and won’t overheat, even if you go hard for hours at a time. A built-in fan keeps the components cool, and everything is built tough so that it won’t break down.
Overall, if you want one of the best trainers possible, then this is the one to get. You won’t find many others with the same level of craftsmanship and control as this one has.
After comparing all of these bicycle trainers against each other, we have to say that our top pick is probably the Kinetic Road Machine because of all of the high-tech features that it has. However, if you’re not into that kind of stuff (or you have an Android phone), then the Turbo Trainer from Health Line Products is another excellent option.
What we like most about that is the adjustable knob that you can attach to your front handlebars, as well as the fact that it folds for easy storage and comes with a riser to help you stay stable. Overall, however, each of these trainers is designed to help you succeed, so you will find that all of them can help you stay active when the weather turns sour.
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A passionate blogger! Editor at Chooserly, and a regular author at HuffingtonPost, LifeHacker & Forbes!