Sometimes you want to ride your bike outside and get the fresh air to keep yourself energized. But what if the weather is bad, stormy, bitter cold, extremely hot or you have certain situations that forbid you to go outside and take a long bike ride? To give you the natural feel of an outdoor bike ride, there are some excellent indoor bike trainers that not only mimic the exact features of outdoor bikes but also help you train for competitive training or cycling race.
Also known as a stationary bike stand, an indoor bike trainer can also improve your skill and stamina and allow you to sweat and breathe for hours in your room. This guide will help you understand different types of indoor bike trainers and how to choose the right one for your needs. We have compiled our own experience and listened to pro cyclists before listing out all the details.
Types of Indoor Bike Trainers
Spin bikes are a great way to get a workout, but they can be expensive. Thus, a bike trainer is a great alternative to using your own bike indoors and getting an intense workout. Find out which types of bike trainers are best for you, and what price ranges you can expect.
Friction trainers – These use either fluid resistance or magnetic resistance and place a small roll against the rear wheel. These trainers are lighter than direct-drive ones and can be carried around more easily, but they are less precise and noisy. And the cost is the tradeoff here because a smart friction trainer can be purchased for half the price of a direct-drive model.
Direct drive trainers – These attach at the rear dropouts and replace your wheel. They also provide a direct connection with the resistance unit. They have a cassette, so you can easily identify them. Usually, such indoor trainer bikes are expensive but they also have the best accuracy and resistance.
Rollers – These are the simplest style. They need the most technique because the bike isn’t held in place but instead settled on top of three rollers. The resistance can be as low as zero to as high as that of a direct-drive trainer. These are great for improving your pedaling technique.
Tips for Making a Purchase Decision for Indoor Bike Trainers
You have reached this point and are now ready to purchase a trainer. Before you buy a trainer, here are some things to remember.
How you will use It
Your selection of a bike trainer depends on how much you will use it. A smart trainer is the best option if you are going to train on it for six months every year. It will reduce boredom and keep your enthusiasm high. Do you only plan to use it occasionally? Here, a standard trainer may be a better option and will save you money. Also, check if the bike trainer you are considering can accommodate different types of bikes, such as folding electric bikes, hybrid bikes, rocky mountain bikes, etc. This way, not only you but your friends and family can also use the bike trainer.
When choosing the right bike trainer for you, price is an important factor. You should not only calculate the cost of a bike stand for indoor riding but also consider whether additional parts will be required to ride your bike, such as adapters. Depending on the model you choose, this can add $50-100 to your total cost.
With axle widths and standards changing nearly every year, make sure you check if the trainer you are interested in has different attachment options, like thru-axle adaptors and free hub options for different trainers. Some trainers include them but mostly, you will need to buy them separately if your trainer doesn’t.
Type of Bike You will Use
A direct drive trainer is best for mountain or cyclocross bikes. Tire-drive trainers and knobby tires don’t go well together. If you plan to use your mountain bike with a bike trainer, then consider adding the cost of a slick tire to it. Pay attention to the compatibility section of the product reviews. Also, some trainers won’t work with certain hub spacing and axle configurations. So, before you buy, make sure you check with your local bike shop to verify the hub spacing and axle configuration of your bike.
You may not have to worry about noise if you live alone in a single-family home. However, if you live with other people or in an apartment on the second floor, you will need a quieter bike stand for indoor riding to maintain peace. Direct-drive trainers tend to be the quietest, Flywheel trainers, somewhere in between, and roller trainers make a loud noise.
Well, there is a rule: the quieter the bike trainer is, the better. But there are obviously some exceptions to this rule. However, if you want the best setup possible, you will likely have to spend a bit more.
Ease of Use
You should also consider the ease of use for your bike trainer once it is set up. Flywheel and direct-drive trainers are easy to use for beginners, as they are stable and secure. Roller trainers are not meant to hold you up, so you have to rely on your movements to keep balanced. If you are a beginner and choose a roller trainer, you should expect to fall a few times before getting the ball rolling, as it’s a new thing to you.
You should also consider whether your indoor bike trainer is smart. A smart bike trainer can connect to apps that allow you to program your bike for a particular terrain or program. To simulate road conditions, the trainer adjusts resistance accordingly. The app allows you to connect with other riders.
Although smart trainers can be more costly than traditional trainers, if you are someone who is easily bored or thrives in competition, it may be worth the investment. Also, a smart bike trainer may need a subscription, which is can cost you around $150 or more per month.
Some Last Words
It will take you some time to get along with your indoor bike trainer, even if you are an experienced biker. But the more your ride it, the more you become comfortable with the setup. You can ride the bike all year long and even in and out if you take the time to find the right trainer for you and learn how to use it effectively. So, keep these tips in mind and choose the right bike for you to get the right indoor bike trainer as per your body type and goals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Is an indoor bike trainer worth it?
Although some people prefer using exercise bikes for an indoor workout, but indoor bike trainers make it possible to use your bike for a workout without paying a hefty amount. You don’t have to be a professional to get high-quality aerobic exercise as you can choose to improve your cardiovascular health or burn calories with an indoor bike trainer.
Q2. What type of indoor bike trainer is best?
There is no direct answer to which indoor bike trainer is best for you. You might be a person who loves riding the best mountain bikes or maybe road bikes. So your demands are different from indoor bike trainers. Hence, you need to check ease of use, compatibility, and connectivity, among other things, to decide which indoor bike trainer will fulfill your demands. You can also refer to the information above to choose the best pick.
Q3. Do indoor bike trainers fit all bikes?
Many indoor bike trainers can be used in a variety of bike styles and sizes. However, it is important to check from your side as well. You can visit a local store or even refer to websites mentioning the sizes and styles in detail. And, if you are considering buying an indoor bike trainer through online websites, make sure to ask the seller directly if the trainer is suitable for specific electric bikes, fat tire bikes, or rocky mountain bikes. Also, determine the size of your wheels and whether they have quick-release or thru-axles skewer.