Turbo trainers offer a convenient way to get a solid workout in without ever leaving the house. If it’s a cold, freezing winter morning, another lockdown, or a post-race cool down, a turbo trainer has become a must-have in every cyclist’s garage. We can help you choose one of the best turbo trainers with our buying guide for indoor cycling.
What is a turbo trainer?
Turbo trainers provide access to a world of cycling from the comfort of your own home. A turbo trainer is a stationary device to which your bike is attached through the quick release skewer or straight to a cassette. Most turbos function by giving a level of resistance to control your training, replicating sprints, climbs, or Sunday strolls on the roads or trails.
In recent years, technology has helped to revolutionise the turbo training game, helping you to stay on top of your training by recording all of your key metrics such as watts, speed, and cadence.
- Good Fitness Boost: No more battling with nature – turbo training helps you to maintain your basic fitness even when the weather is bad or you are unable to ride.
- Fun Interactive Training: With modern interactive software like Zwift and Sufferfest you can challenge yourself to places you would never go like on the hills of Innsbruck or the streets of London.
- Whatever Suits You: When you’re short on time, turbo trainers allow you to get your miles in fast and easily, whether it’s a quick 30-minute spin or a long three-hour ride.
- Hassle-Free: Ride your bike without the hassle of having to clean and lube like you would be doing after a spin in the outdoors.
- Focused Workouts: Structured plans allow you to prepare in a controlled setting for your outdoor rides; smash your goals at a time and place that suits you, minimising excuses.
Which one is best for me?
To determine which turbo trainer is best for you, consider what you intend to use it for and where you intend to install it. We always advise obtaining the best turbo trainer you can afford to get the most out of your turbo training sessions. The various sorts of trainers have grown in recent years – technological advancements assisting in providing more of a thrill while training.
Here are some other things to think about before making a purchase:
- Plenty of space for a comfortable ride,
- Electricity power if your turbo needs it,
- A Wi-Fi connection if you’re going to use a smart trainer,
- A towel to wipe away the sweat (there’ll be sweat!),
- A fan to cool you down,
- A tablet/laptop/phone to connect to online training software.
Smart Turbo Trainers
A smart turbo trainer is the most immersive and fun way to experience an indoor ride, seamlessly connecting to online platforms like Zwift and reacting instantly to your virtual world. A smart turbo trainer connects to a computer, phone or tablet via Bluetooth or ANT+. This will then change the resistance of the motor unit depending upon what you are riding on course; if you come to an incline, it will get more difficult to pedal, and vice versa.
Magnetic Turbo Trainers
The magnetic turbo trainer creates resistance from a magnetic field as your wheel spins against it. It can vary in the level of resistance to the bike via a lever that can be mounted to the handlebars.
- Easy to fold and store away
- Affordable compared to other types of trainers
- Compatible with virtual training (Add-ons required)
Fluid Resistance Trainers
Resistance is more gradual by the use of a propeller in a chamber that is filled with oil. The harder you pedal the harder the resistance; even changing gears can influence the user experience.
- Quieter than most other types of trainers
- Offers a more realistic experience
- Compatible with virtual training (Add-ons required)
Direct Drive Turbo Trainers
With direct drive turbo trainers, your bike is directly mounted to the trainer. A slightly more expensive option to buy, these trainers provide a more realistic experience and can help provide accurate riding data.
- Removes wear of the rear tyre
- Produces a more realistic rolling resistance
- Fully compatible with virtual software
Roller Turbo Trainers
Roller trainers use cylindrical drums connected by a belt-drive, which are spun by your bike wheels. This is the most difficult to use as balance is key to ensuring you get a good solid workout.
- Effortless setup
- Most affordable option
- Improves bike handling skills
How can I upgrade my turbo trainer experience?
Once you’ve gotten your turbo trainer set up, you might want to add a few accessories to reach the right setup.
- Sweat Cover: A must for a turbo training session. Without a nice breeze, you will find yourself sweating a lot more whilst doing your workout from the garage. Buying a sweat cover will ensure you corrosive sweat keeps away from your frame and bar tape.
- Speed & Cadence Sensor: Data is the key to improvement and your gateway to online training. Most Speed and Cadence Sensors are compatible with ANT+ receivers and mount discretely on your chainstay, cranks, and spokes.
- Riser Block: A riser block is a simple stand for your front wheel to lift it off the ground and keep the bike level during your turbo training. A simple accessory that will make the difference.
- Trainer Tyre: On magnetic and fluid trainers, the back wheel will come into contact with the resistance, resulting in tyre degradation. Manufacturers have created a trainer tyre that is excellent for your turbo training sessions.