Indoor Trainer Guide
The indoor training season is upon us, and Zwift rides wait for no one! Here's a short guide to help you navigate our selection of indoor trainers and find the right one to match your riding needs.
Smart Bike Trainers
The newest, loftiest category of indoor trainers are Smart Bike Trainers. Such trainers are a solid investment for the indoor season; they are essentially a new bike that allows your summer ride to kick up their wheels while you switch over to a machine designed and dedicated to providing the ultimate indoor riding experience. They feature an enclosed resistance unit generating less noise, electronic gearing providing perfect shifting and a larger flywheel resulting in smoother resistance whether accelerating, coasting or changing virtual gradients. Fully adjustable to every rider’s proportions, these smart bike trainers allow you to dial in the exact same fit as your road (or aero!) bike, or even experiment with your fit without needing to swap parts.
Stages Bike SB20
The Stages Bike is a top choice for serious cyclists seeking to elevate their indoor training. It offers a built-in phone/tablet stand, front-end USB ports for charging peripherals, and features a Stages dual-sided crankarm powermeter for extremely accurate power output measurement, not to mention a massive 22.7kg flywheel for smooth resistance modulation. The trainer’s step-thru design omits a top-tube, leaving empty space between your knees while riding and offering better sizing and accessibility options for riders of all sizes. Stages also offers a remote shifter set for alternative bar positions, allowing time trialists and triathletes to use their aerobars clamped to the bike’s 31.8mm handlebar.
Direct-Drive Smart Trainers
While complete smart bike trainers replace your primary bike, direct drive trainers remain the best option to use your current bike indoors. These trainers have premium features, build quality and an indoor riding experience to match. Most notably they feature an “ERG” mode, whereby the trainer or a third-party application controls the resistance no matter what speed or cadence you ride at. This allows the trainer to do the thinking and lets you focus on pedalling at own speed, whether that’s getting through an interval or noodling along with friends in a virtual group ride. Some home setups can interfere with the trainer's connectivity however. There's nothing worse than a dropped connection, and with the trainer often the furthest point from a Bluetooth-connected laptop or smart TV, if necessary you can also enable a stronger ANT+ connection using a USB ANT+ antenna.
Kickr Power v5
On the market since 2014, this is Wahoo’s fifth iteration of the Kickr Power trainer with more functionality than ever before. Using a larger 7.3kg flywheel, at its upper limit the Kickr Power can simulate a maximum grade of 20% and a max resistance of 2200W, with a stated power accuracy of +/- 1%. In addition to supporting ANT+ and multiple simultaneous Bluetooth connections (e.g. a Smart TV AND a phone or tablet!), it can now be wired directly to the internet using the Kickr Direct Connect dongle. The trainer's setup is easily adjustable for different wheel sizes and axle spacings. Once installed, the solid steel construction keeps your bike firmly in place with Kickr AXIS feet underneath for added side-to-side compliance and vibration dampening. Perhaps best of all, it does not require a manual spindown calibration to maintain accuracy- Wahoo’s algorithm automatically calibrates the trainer while you ride, an update on previous models of the Kickr Power.
Tacx Neo 2T
Houston, we have liftoff! Introducing a spaceship of an indoor trainer, the Tacx Neo 2T is a powerful, capable machine packed full of features. Unique to this model: a power cord is not required! It can function as a smart trainer unplugged, in near-to virtual silence. It boasts the largest simulated flywheel at 125kg, handling a 25% max incline, 2200W max resistance with +/- 1% power accuracy, not to mention it measures a rider’s left/right power distribution as well. The Neo 2T also has Downhill Drive, simulating downhill inertia which allows the rider to maintain their virtual speed while descending (with the trainer plugged in). Finally, this trainer can simulate the vibration of different road surfaces such as cobblestones and gravel, and if that’s all not enough, a multi-colour LED lights up the ground underneath the trainer while riding.
Wahoo Kickr Core
As the Kickr Power’s slightly smaller sibling, this smart trainer was introduced in 2018 and pares back the extras to offer everything essential to a high-quality indoor ride experience. The obvious difference is the leg design- intended to match the height of a 700C road wheel hub, it offers wide, stable support yet still allows you to fold in the legs when put away. The upper resistance limits are marginally lower than the Kickr Power: the maximum simulated grade is 16%, maximum resistance is 1800W, power accuracy is +/- 2%, and the flywheel is slightly smaller at 5.44kg. You’ll also need to install a cassette of your own out-of-the-box. All to say, this is still an extremely powerful, smooth and quiet direct-drive smart trainer at a lower price than the flagship models, with most of the same functionality and premium ride-feel.
Tacx Flux 2
The Tacx Flux 2 is a mid-range direct drive trainer with a few less bells and whistle compared to the Neo 2T, but still extremely capable and quiet. Unlike the Neo 2T, a power cord is required to use the trainer. A cassette isn’t included in the box; it comes with QR and TA end-cap adapters, and freehub bodies are available for Campagnolo and SRAM XD/XDR cassette designs. It also features the familiar spindown calibration of most other trainers. The Flux 2 has a simulated 32kg flywheel, 16% max incline, 2000W max resistance and +/- 2.5% accuracy, and measures cadence in addition to speed and power. Put another way, it’s enough to tackle pretty much all of Zwift on 100% trainer difficulty and feel good while doing it, insofar as such a thing could be considered to feel good!
Tacx Flux S Smart
The Tacx Flux S is a budget-friendly direct drive trainer, getting you in the game for less than either the Wahoo Kickr Core and Tacx Flux 2 trainers. It features an updated design which supports longer derailleur cages and includes both QR and thru-axle end cap adapters out of the box (cassette not included). It has a simulated 25kg flywheel, 10% max grade, 1500W max resistance, and slightly lower +/- 3% power accuracy compared to the other direct drive trainers. While not quite as powerful as the Wahoo Kickr Core or Tacx Neo 2T, this is a solid option to reap the benefits of a direct drive trainer and save a few bucks while you're at it.
The JetBlack Volt trainer is a sleeper value pick. It comes from a lesser-known brand punching high above its weight in this category. It both looks and feels very much like a Wahoo Kickr Core, and costs less. Featuring a 4.7kg flywheel, 16% max grade, 1800W max resistance and +/-2.5% accuracy, these numbers put you exactly where you want to be for high quality indoor riding and racing. Unlike the Core however, the Volt includes an 11sp cassette out of the box, saving you the cost and hassle of installing your own. This trainer also has a unique feature unlike any other trainer: it allows you to pair your heart rate monitor to the trainer, and then the trainer can broadcast your HR to another device along with the rest of your power, speed and cadence data. This is specifically useful for use with Apple TV or other smart TVs that have a limited number of Bluetooth channels available to use. A good trainer choice for a great indoor riding experience.
The classic indoor trainer design. Requiring minimal changes to your current bike to get rolling, these trainers open the door to the world of indoor riding with the lowest tech and cost. Be forewarned, indoor trainer tires are recommended to avoid degradation, and a bike's thru-axle requires specific adapters in order to be mounted properly.
Wahoo Kickr Snap
Harkening back to the glory days of the original CompuTrainer indoor trainer, the Kickr Snap is a modern example of a powerful wheel-on smart trainer with tried-and-tested design. Its sturdy frame and wide base offer a stable ride experience, with a secure quick-release clamp keeping your bike in place while going further than most wheel-on trainers by offering ERG and simulation modes for riding to power in Zwift and other platforms. It has a 4.8kg flywheel, 12% max grade, 1500W max resistance and +/-3% power accuracy- there’s no approximating virtual power data by speed and cadence with this machine! It’s natively compatible with rear QR axles and includes a solid steel QR skewer in the box; if you have a thru-axle rear wheel, you’ll require a TA adapter axle that extends past either side of your bike's frame to properly mount the rear dropout of your bike (and not simply clamp your bike’s frame instead).
Giant Cyclotron Fluid ST
The Giant Cyclotron Fluid ST trainer is an excellent non-“smart” trainer. Its lightweight steel frame fits wheel sizes 24” to 29”, including 700C, though it isn’t compatible with Boost hub spacing. It features Giant’s Real Road Simulation technology to provide passive, progressive resistance up to 1400W using its 3.4kg flywheel and fluid resistance technology. Speaking of which, the flywheel and roller feature cooling fins to help keep your rear tire cool and reduce tread wear.To note, without the built-in “smart” broadcast of power, speed or cadence data, you would need speed and cadence sensors to participate in Zwift or other virtual riding platforms.
Giant Cyclotron Mag
Giant’s Cyclotron Mag is a basic resistance trainer offering the essentials to get you spinning through the winter. Its sturdy steel frame has non-skid rubber feet and fits wheel sizes 24” to 29” (including 700C). The magnetic resistance unit has 7 resistance levels and uses a thumb shifter mounted to your bike’s handlebar, with a 1.5kg flywheel providing decent inertia and ride feel. This is the trainer to keep you moving until spring- mount up your bike and get your sweat on!
JetBlack Z2 Fluid
The JetBlack Z2 Fluid trainer is a smooth and quiet wheel-on resistance trainer. The fluid resistance curve increases exponentially up to 900W, meaning the faster you spin the harder it gets! It has a solid steel construction with a wide base and 1.5kg flywheel, coming pre-assembled out of the box and compatible with wheels sized 24” up to 29” (including 700C). The SQR quick release system remembers your axle position, for a perfect and reliable mount every time.
Roller trainers may seem intimidating, but they're actually one of the best ways to simulate riding a bicycle while indoors since you must keep your balance by pedalling! They offer a great ride experience by keeping you (and your core muscles!) engaged.
Tacx Galaxia Rollers
Your classic rollers, with something new. The Galaxia rollers have a nifty feature involving a swing system that allows the rear rollers to move slightly with the motion of the bike and absorb any accelerations or shifts in weight to keep the bike from riding off the rollers. This offers extra comfort and stability for the rider, allowing them extra freedom of motion for both hard and relaxed efforts. The rollers themselves are tapered, keeping you riding in the center, and the entire apparatus can be retracted to 80cm.
Tacx Antares Rollers
For when you want to keep the good times rolling! These adjustable composite rollers are an elegant option to spin indoors with minimal footprint and setup. They can be used with any bike with a front to rear axle distance of 980mm to 1100mm. Never fear riding off the rollers, they feature a conical roller shape which keeps you riding in the middle of the roller while still activating your core for balance. Quiet, light, retractable, easy to setup and store; a minimalist’s dream.
Not the droids you're looking for?
We hope you’ve found this trainer guide helpful! If not, let us know what you might be looking for and we'll be happy to help. As always, feel free to stop by one of our stores to see the trainers in person or reach out to our staff on the website's LiveChat with any questions.
Happy indoor training!