This guide to the best bike trainer gives you the top three smart trainers, the top three budget friendly bike trainers, and the top three mid-range indoor trainers. It covers the coolest features, power accuracy, and of course, pricing. In the end you will be able to easily identify which bike trainer is best for you.
This list of the best bike trainers includes both rear wheel on trainers, and direct drive trainers. If you aren’t familiar, direct drive trainers require you to remove your wheel and hook your chain/drivetrain directly to the trainer. On the other hand, a rear wheel on trainer allows you to keep that wheel on, and it uses friction between the tire and flywheel to generate power.
Direct drive trainers will always be more accurate, but will also come with a higher price tag. You don’t have to have an expensive direct drive trainer to use Zwift or other apps. You will need to change your tire with a rear wheel on trainer. If you don’t, the heat from the friction will eat away at your rubber and you will burn through tires extremely quickly. They make tires specifically for trainers. (Check Trainer Tire Prices on Amazon)
Best Smart Trainers
This list of the three best smart trainers only includes trainers capable of synching with Rouvy, Zwift or other apps straight out of the box. All of these trainers have power accuracy to within a one percent margin of error. They are also capable of handling 2,000 watts or more and can simulate grade up to 20 percent.
- TACX NEO 2T – (Check Current Price on Amazon) – Tacx is a Garmin owned company, so you know a lot of research and development went into this indoor smart trainer. The coolest feature this trainer offers is a vibration when riding over cobblestone or gravel on Zwift, or other smart trainer compatible apps.
- Wahoo KICKR Smart Trainer – Wahoo’s KICKR is the only smart trainer on this list that includes a cassette. If you are using a 10 speed setup, you are in luck. Everyone else will still need to put a cassette on their trainer. The KICKR’s famous feature is it’s AXIS feet. They allow for up to five degrees of lateral movement. In addition to that, the KICKR is compatible with the entire Wahoo Ecosystem. (Read: Wahoo Ecosystem Review)
- Kinetic R1 Direct Drive – Coming in with a price tag of just $699, the Kinetic R1 indoor smart trainer is an incredible value. That is half the price of the number one ranked indoor smart trainer. You do give up the cool vibration feature, and have to settle for a bit more noise. If the noise doesn’t bother you then the accuracy of the power meter on this trainer makes it totally worth it. You will have no problem syncing with Zwift and getting those KOMs.
Best Budget Bike Trainer
All of the trainers on the best budget bike trainer list come with a price tag under $500. There are some models that come with speed sensors and some that do not. If you plan on syncing with Zwift or other compatible apps you will need that speed sensor. If you plan to get a workout without syncing to any other devices then you only need the speed sensor if you care how fast you are pedaling.
- Wahoo KICKR SNAP – Staying a budget friendly bike trainer by a penny, the KICKR SNAP is $499.99. A common theme on this list of budget friendly trainers is the bike mounting style. The SNAP is a rear wheel on trainer. It is still a smart trainer and the resistance can be controlled by compatible apps like Rouvy and Zwift.
- Saris M2 – The Saris M2 has a price tag of $499 right now. This is a rear wheel on trainer that puts out just 69db at 20mph. The power numbers are accurate to within a five percent margin of error, and you can still connect to apps like Rouvy and Zwift.
- Saris Fluid2 – This is the second Saris trainer making the best budget bike trainer list. Saris sets the standard for high quality, but budget friendly trainers. The price of a Fluid2 is $379 for the speed sensor bundle. Like it’s big brother the M2, the Fluid2 is an incredibly quiet rear wheel on trainer.
Best Mid-Range Bike Trainer
To qualify for the best mid-range bike trainer list these trainers must be smart compatible and be priced between $500-1,000. All of the trainers on this list will have power accuracy with a three percent margin of error or better. They will also be able to simulate grade to 15% which is a substantial increase over the budget friendly trainers.
- Wahoo KICKR Core! – Wahoo’s market share has been exploding and its because they make high quality products at a reasonable price point. This mid-range bike trainer is the best value on the market right now. It lacks the AXIS feet that come on the KICKR Smart Trainer, but the price tag is only $899!
- Elite Suito-T Smart! – (Read Specs on Manufacturer’s Website) This is another direct drive trainer in the hear of the $500-1,000 price range. Normally $799, if you time your purchase right it is easy to find this trainer for $100 off. The Elite Suito-T Smart won’t be as quiet as the Core, but accuracy of data is just as good.
- Tacx Flux S! – (Check Current Price on Amazon) – For $749 the Flux S is one of the best value smart trainers available today. The flywheel is heavy which makes the trainer able to simulate grade more realistically and accurately than the rest of the competition. This trainer isn’t just for beginners and intermediate cyclists. Capable of handling up to 1,500 watts the Flux S is a great trainer for experts, too.
Regardless of which best bike trainer you choose, your experience can be enhanced with accessories I love the Wahoo KICKR Desk. (Read: Wahoo KICKR Desk Review) There are a lot of accessory options out there. Zwift, Rouvy, KICKR Climb, and KICKR Headwind just to name a few.