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12 Best Budget Bike Trainer (Reviewed Nov, 2020)

Bike trainers are a great means to get the fitness for cycling and does not deprive you of training due to bad weather. Usually, they are easy to set up and can be placed as per user convenience. The great thing is using bike trainers does not need much expertise. You can set up our outdoor bikes on bike trainers and pedal away. We can use apps to access training programs too, which will add versatility to your workouts.

Selecting which indoor bike trainer is the best fit for you can be tricky. This is more strenuous if you are looking for the best budget bike trainer. They usually have varied features & options. From amongst thousands of offerings, how do you know which budget bike trainer can help meet your fitness goals? We believe we can help you here.

You will surely want one of the finest budget bike trainers to offer the very best combination of features and parameters, but at a price that meets your budget. In this article, we have reviewed our “Overall best choice” as “Garmin TacX Neo 2T”, amongst a selection of some of the top budget bike trainers.

Garmin TacX Neo 2T

Capable of pedal stroke analysis; powerful motor delivers more resistance w/ improved ride feel; supports all bikes | Overall Best Choice

A flagship trainer from the manufacturers Garmin and Tacx – the trainer has been engineered so that it is amongst the most reliable, realistic, quiet, and accurate trainers that are found today. The magnets being used here are of the highest quality, which helps to make this trainer very stiff so that any noise and vibration is minimized. With the motor delivering additional power to generate more resistance settings, users will also be able to improve their cycling performance and work on power distribution thanks to very accurate data measurement capabilities. This resistance can be generated to allow a power output of 2200W, while the maximum gradient being simulated is 25%. The leg positions of the user while in use are measured by capacitive sensors on both pedal sides. Any changes in incline, speed is instantly replicated by the trainer to provide a great indoor training experience. Mass inertia of the user is controlled by the dynamic inertia flywheel here. It makes up for inclination angle, speed, and weight that can allow the simulation to imitate driving downhill. While software like Zwift can simulate riding on surfaces like gravel and cobblestone – even without adapters, the Garmin TacX Neo 2T can be used with a wider variety of bikes thanks to the rear axle. The wide range of parameters and capabilities of this great trainer will do justice to the price users will pay for it.
Garmin TacX Neo 2T

  • Comes assembled; no calibration needed
  • Ride feeling is more realistic
  • 25% of incline can be simulated
  • Descents can be simulated
  • Connects to multiple devices simultaneously
  • Reliable and accurate measurements of power, cadence, and speed
  • Can be used on almost all bikes


A quick view of our list containing some of the finest economical bike trainers:

TrainerPrice RangeOur Ratings
Garmin Tacx Neo 2T bike trainer$1000+95
Tacx Neo Smart$1000+92
Wahoo KICKR Core $500 - $100090
Feedback Sports Omnium portable trainerBelow $50088
CycleOps H3 $500 - $100086
Saris CycleOps Fluid2Below $50085
Elite Arion RollersBelow $30083
Sportneer fluid bike trainerBelow $30082
Alpcour trainer standBelow $30080
Tacx Antares rollerBelow $20078
VIVOHOME trainer standBelow $20077
Yaheetech Bike TrainerBelow $20074

12 best budget bike trainers you can buy today

TrainerPreviewTypeWeight (lbs.)Size
(L x B x H)
ResistanceProduct score
Garmin Neo 2TGarmin TacX Neo 2T Smart TrainerDirect Drive5227” x 29.5” x 21.7”Magnetic95
Tacx Neo smartTacx Neo Smart Direct Driver Trainer (without Cassette)Direct Drive47.322.6” x 29.5” x 21.7”Magnetic92
WAHOO KICKR Core smartWahoo KICKR Core Smart Bike TrainerDirect Drive4020” x 23” x 19”Electromagnetic90
Feedback Sports Omnium portableFeedback Sports Omnium Portable Trainer with Tote BagRoller1427.75” x 8” x 7.25”Magnetic88
CycleOps H3Saris CycleOps H3 Direct Drive Smart Bike Trainer, Zwift CompatibleDirect Drive4731" x 18.5 ”x 19.5”Electromagnetic86
Saris CycleOps Fluid2Saris CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Bike Trainer, Black, One Size, SAR9904TFluid2128” x 21.5” x 15.7’’Fluid Impelled85
Elite Arion folding rollersElite Arion Folding RollersRoller15.423.9” x 12.2” x 31.8’’Magnetic83
Sportneer fluid bikeFluid Bike Trainer Stand, Sportneer Indoor Bicycle Exercise Training StandFluid24.225.6” x 21.6” x 7.7”Fluid Impelled82
Alpcour Bike trainer standAlpcour Bike Trainer Stand – Portable Stainless Steel Indoor Trainer w/ Magnetic Flywheel, Noise Reduction, 6 Resistance Settings, Quick-Release & Bag – Stationary Exercise for Road & Mountain BikesMagnetic2221.5” x 19” x 16.5’’Magnetic80
Tacx Antares rollersTacx Antares Indoor Retractable Bicycle RollersRoller175.31” x 18.5” x 53.5”Rollers / Internal Progressive78
VIVOHOME bike trainerVIVOHOME Heavy Duty Steel Indoor Bike Trainer Stand Bicycle Riding Exercise Machine with Magnetic Flywheel and 6 Variable Speed LevelMagnetic18.0719.6” x 21.4″ x 15.7″Magnetic77
Yaheetech Fluid bike trainerYaheetech Fluid Bike Trainer Stand Indoor Bicycle Exercise Stand Mountain & Road Bike Portable Foldable Cycling Training Stand w/Fluid Flywheel,Quick-Release,Riser Block & Noise ReductionFluid22.221.5” x 24.5” x 16’’Fluid Impelled74

1. Garmin Tacx Neo 2T: Capable of pedal stroke analysis; powerful motor delivers more resistance w/ improved ride feel; supports all bikes | Overall best choice

Garmin TacX Neo 2T

  • Type: Direct drive trainer
  • Material: Cast & machined Aluminum
  • Wheel Compatibility: All sizes
  • Bike type: All bikes
  • Size: 27” x 29.5” x 21.7”
  • Weight: 52 lbs
  • Resistance mechanism: Magnetic
  • Resistance setting: 2200W with +-1% accuracy
  • Quick Release Compatibility: Yes

Features & Considerations
  • Quiet operation: This trainer is extremely firm thanks to the magnets here, that have been redesigned. Any vibrations at minimum cadence or displacement of air internally have been minimized.
  • Effectively simulated riding scenarios: To better simulate the ride feel during acceleration or climbing uphill, the trainer has been designed with the latest motor. If we apply external power, the trainer can generate more resistance in addition to riding or sprinting at low speeds. Increased vibrations can simulate riding on gravel or cobblestone surfaces.
  • Pedal Analysis: The trainer houses a sensor that can measure where both your legs have been placed. Using Ant+ connectivity, a third party software can be used for pedal analysis
  • Flywheel: The flywheel here is dynamically balanced. Therefore, mass inertia can be controlled to mimic speed, incline angle, and weight for a more realistic ride.
  • Accurate power measurement: This smart trainer is very precise when it comes to measuring power. As it is accurate by 1%, you can easily rely on this data. Additionally, this is amongst the few smart trainers that do not need to be calibrated.
  • Axle compatibility: No matter the type of bike you want to use this trainer with, the Neo 2T trainer is compatible with all types. However, if you want to use a 10×135 or a 12×135 mm Quick-release skewer – an adaptor will be required.
  • Connectivity: Via Ant+ FE-C & smart Bluetooth technology, this trainer can be used with quite a few popular training apps, like Zwift & TrainerRoad. By using the Tacx software from the manufacturer, connection to multiple devices at the same time is possible.
  • Resistance: Gradients up to 25% can be simulated by the third-party apps for training. With more intensive workouts, the resistance can go up to 2200 watts.

Some Weaknesses
  • Unfortunately, the trainer does not have a handle to help move it.

For the Garmin TacX Neo 2T, you must select a cassette for the trainer that matches the cassette on the bike being used. When we were testing this trainer, 11 s cassette from Shimano was preferred. When you are mounting this cassette, make sure that you are using two spacers. We encountered this issue on a road bike and installed more spacers so that the smaller gears were tight. We had to make adjustments to the derailleur on the rear wheel for smooth shifting.

However, when we replaced the road bike with a triathlon bike – the changes were very noticeable. By using Bluetooth to pair up with training apps like Zwift, Rouvy, and the desktop software from Tacx – this plug and play trainer offers a great road feel. We found the operation to be considerably smooth and found the resistance on the trainer to respond instantaneously to changes in the slope of the virtual course. Thanks to easy Bluetooth connectivity, and cadence that has been integrated on this trainer – we were able to use my AppleTV for a heart rate monitor. Even though we could connect to multiple apps at once – when switching between them, we experienced some lag. After one of our team members used the trainer daily for 1 month, there were noticeable changes in strength, fitness level, and performance. Out of the saddle, we found the trainer to wobble a bit which we got used to after a while. This was a mere sacrifice for significant improvement for climbs and sprints. Thanks to its quiet operation, you can use the Neo 2T without disturbing your family or neighbors.

Garmin TacX Neo 2T

Garmin TacX Neo 2T

2. Tacx Neo Smart: Re-engineered motor design; can operate quietly, even without power; simulates uphill downhill travel perfectly w/ training apps

Tacx Neo Smart

  • Type: Direct drive trainer
  • Material: Cast & Aluminum
  • Wheel Compatibility: 20″, 24″, 26″, 27.5″, 28″, 29″
  • Bike type: Road, MTB
  • Size: 22.6” x 29.5” x 21.7”
  • Weight: 47.3 lbs
  • Resistance mechanism: Magnetic
  • Resistance setting: 2200W with <1% accuracy
  • Quick Release Compatibility: Yes

Features & Considerations
  • Design: Except for the cassette, you will not need any surplus gear to use this trainer. This means you will not need to maintain this trainer extensively. The folding design of the frame makes storage and portability easier. It is compatible with both Shimano/SRAM & Campagnolo cassettes
  • Performance: With a significant footprint, this trainer has a steady platform fitted to its bottom. This also allows the trainer to operate with minimum noise emission.
  • Uphill & Downhill drive: The trainer simulates the feel of a decent perfectly. Just like how they would in real life, the wheels maintain their spinning motion. When going uphill( of course virtually), you will need to stand up on the pedals so that you can pedal against the extreme resistance that builds up.
  • Connectivity: The trainer will use these connectivity means to pair up with your phone, your tablet, or desktop/laptop.
  • Apps: The manufacturer offers free software called Tacx Neo. With third-party apps like Zwift, you will indulge in spirited training sessions that offer excellent graphics.
  • Road feel: With the apps, the trainer can match up the resistance with the virtual terrain too – even vibrating replicate rough roads, mud, and cobblestones. This is facilitated by the motor.
  • Innovative motor design: The electromotor here has 32 magnets that have been strategically positioned. 30 coils are in the middle so that the magnets are moving around them.
  • Resistance: With a maximum of 2500 watts of power generated, the trainer can offer higher resistance at lower speeds. This is perfect to simulate steep uphill climbs realistically.
  • Virtual flywheel: This feature adjusts the braking force dynamically for more natural resistance simulation. Through calculations, the trainer can predict bike movements and thus mimic how a flywheel would act.

Some Weaknesses
  • If the user is not mechanically inclined, the cassette installation may be tricky.

Our team of dedicated professional testers put the Tacx Neo Smart trainer to use every day for a month; after all this use – we have been left as an admirer. We really appreciated how far the manufacturer has come in terms of design. Issues like power and brake blow-up were very common on other smart and wheel-based trainers from Tacx. If you are looking to upgrade from your previous trainer, we suggest you go for the Tacx Neo Smart.

What really stands out is this trainer’s design. Without any rear wheel, we connected the bike directly to the trainer’s cassette. Consequently, we did not face any slippage issues. We also did not need to pay any heed to check whether the wheel and the brake are still in contact. It did not need to be calibrated before use, while tire pressure does not play any part at all anymore. This compact trainer can use both Ant+ & Bluetooth. Even though we faced some issues when using Zwift with Bluetooth, Ant+ provided an exact opposite experience. We suggest that you get the paid subscription for Zwift so that signal drop issues can be avoided. While testing we always had music playing in the background, and at no point did the noise from the trainer affected our riding experience. The trainer excellently replicated a freewheeling feel for downward descents. Tacx trainers are well-known for the realistic road feel, and this is again proved by Neo. It was also able to simulate real feel on even a 20 % gradient, which is extremely steep. Since the trainer did not come with a cassette, we installed a surplus one from our stock. However, the cassette remover from campy was purchased. For a 10s cassette, we had to install a spacer. This was avoided during the test with an 11s cassette. With no need for calibration, we were able to test the trainer immediately after adding the cassette.

Tacx Neo Smart

Tacx Neo Smart

3. Wahoo KICKR Core: The best design for a smart trainer; flywheel engineered for great road feel; supports multiple Bluetooth connections

Wahoo KICKR Core Smart Bike Trainer

  • Type: Direct drive trainer
  • Material: Aluminum, Steel, Plastic
  • Wheel Compatibility: 24″,650c,26″, 700c,650b, 29″
  • Bike type: Road, MTB
  • Size: 20″ x 23″ x 19″
  • Weight: 40 lbs
  • Resistance mechanism: Electromagnetic
  • Resistance setting: 2200W with +-3% accuracy
  • Quick Release Compatibility: Yes

Features & Considerations
  • Flywheel: Equipped with technology for the optimized flywheel, the trainer can offer the right amount of inertia and power to replicate the feel of an outdoor ride indoors. When used with virtual riding applications like Zwift & TrainerRoad, the realistic feeling is really appreciable.
  • Noiseless: To ensure that your ride is silent and smooth, the drivetrain here is using a belt motor system.
  • Tuned resistance: Whenever you are connecting the trainer to any device, the software interface will set the resistance. This has a maximum limit of 1800W. As the resistance is being adjusted as per the virtual road gradient in the app, the gradient can work up to a maximum of 16%.
  • Axle compatibility: The KICKR is compatible with thru-axles “12×142” & “12×148”. This is for compatibility with 135 & 130 mm quick-release axles.
  • Cassette: Even though no cassette is delivered with the product, the trainer can be fitted with 8/9/10s cassettes.
  • Data measurement: The KICKR Core can get you the metrics for your indoor training, such as cadence, speed, distance, and power. The power measurement is enhanced, and accurate to +/- 2%. This trainer can use power meters from third party manufacturers.
  • Protocol Connectivity: You can connect the trainer to GPS devices & smartphones via Bluetooth and Ant+ independently or simultaneously. Ant+ FE-C connection is possible with devices that have enabled FE-C. The trainer can connect to 3 devices at once via Bluetooth.
  • Design: Embodying a steel structure, the KICKR exhibits great stability when you are pedaling hard. Even after extensive heavy-duty use, the trainer will last you a long time.
  • Simulator: The simulator here is perfect for indoor use, as it can perfectly make adjustments in par to physical grade. This change can be 20% and -10%.

Some Weaknesses
  • Since the trainer has a wide base, it may be difficult to store.

With excellent user experience for other products from the same manufacturer- we decided to go with our guts when ordering the Wahoo KICKR Core . We were looking to get the best out of this Smart Bike Trainer and easy integration with other products from Wahoo so that we could train quietly in our testing facility. basement. Thanks to the pretty clear instructions, setting up the trainer for use did not take up much time.
We had to resort to a second cassette that had matching spacer sleeves for easy mounting and dismounting of the bike. For calibration, we used the Wahoo app on a cell phone. Thanks to this versatility, we could add the speedometer so that all our output could be monitored on the trainer. This data includes power, speed, pulse, cadence, etc. With pre-installed programs on the speedometer to simulate resistance like interval training, climb, sprint, etc. – the trainer was able to provide a range of workout options for members of our testing team. However, if you are looking to connect your laptop running on Windows 10 you will face compatibility issues, just like us. For laptop use, you should get the ANT+ dongle, which connects seamlessly. Another great feature that has caught our eye is how noiselessly the trainer can operate. Overall, a great option which can integrate with other products for a perfect training ambiance.

Wahoo KICKR Core Smart Bike Trainer

Wahoo KICKR Core Smart Bike Trainer

4. Feedback Sports Omnium: Most mobile bike trainer; compatible with training apps; magnetic IPR

Feedback Sports Omnium Portable Trainer

  • Type: Roller Trainer
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Wheel Compatibility: 16”-29”
  • Bike type: Road, MTB, Cx
  • Size: 27.75” x 8” x 7.25”
  • Weight: 14 lbs
  • Resistance mechanism: Magnetic Brake
  • Resistance setting: Progressive
  • Quick Release Compatibility: Yes

Features & Considerations
  • LIVE RIDE Technology: Thanks to the adaptability of the fork-mount, users can rest their rear wheels here. This adds dynamics to the ride offered by this stationary trainer. The bike’s rear-wheel will float on the drums, which will help to keep users at ease on the saddle.
  • IMR: To make the riding sessions smooth and quiet, aluminum rollers are being used. They are double-walled at 108 mm and have been precision machined. Using ‘Internal Progressive Resistance” – the trainer generates progressive resistance via Eddy Current.
  • Adjustability of resistance: The roller drums have powerful magnets inside them. The distance between the wall of the drums & the magnets increases as user pedal speed increases. This builds up the resistance here. As users adjust the gears on their bikes while using the roller, similar to what they would have done during outdoor riding.
  • Virtual Power: Training apps like Zwift and TrainerRoad will use the pedal speed of the riser to estimate the power generated, which is otherwise known as Virtual Power. The apps do this by using the trainer’s power curve.
  • Foldable Portability: The foldable design of the trainer is perfect for storage, in addition to its lightweight. The trainer comes with a tote bag that can be used for storage and transport
  • Compatibility: The trainer uses a mounting tripod for the front wheel, which essentially stabilizes the design. Users can find adaptors that are compatible with a wide range of axles, like on-road bikes, BMX bikes, mountain bikes, and cross bikes.

Some Weaknesses
  • This roller will cause the rim of your bike to wear out.
  • If you are using this roller with a mountain bike, you will find that this setup makes a lot of noise.

What has really set the portable trainer Feedback Sports Omnium apart is the ease with which we were able to carry it literally anywhere. We wanted to really put its portability to test, and decided to pack it in our luggage during overseas travel. This “intelligent” design has provided the roller with its own carrying case. As it is not too heavy, we liked how we were done with assembly and setup in just 2 minutes. ,

To get on and off the bike, we would suggest you keep your center of gravity in the bike’s center of the bike. After use, changes were noticeable in the body core in terms of strength. This is another aspect where you should be taking things if you are a novice rider who needs to adjust to the roller. The roller was able to offer sufficient resistance for high interval training at 275watts. A few of us carried out sprints at 600 watts as well. However, anything below 60 RPM was not accommodated by the Omnium trainer. During the workouts, we observed that the rear wheel was moving 5inches side to side. Instead of disturbing the ride quality, this movement was able to add to the whole experience offered by this roller. As we tested the trainer over a period of one month, we did not need to switch bikes due to regular use. We changed the gear positions to adjust the power, as varying roller rotational speed changed the load too. Thanks to no-break workouts and lack of any cooling means (e.g. natural air ) – we were left sweating most of the time, A couple of our team members weighed more than 225 lbs, and were unable to use the roller. Irrespective of the weight limit, the Omnium Trainer from Feedback Sports is perfect if you want to keep a workout option even during travels.

Feedback Sports Omnium Portable Trainer

Feedback Sports Omnium Portable Trainer

5. CycleOps H3: Quietest trainer; measures data without any sensors; heavy flywheel for best ride feel

CycleOps H3

  • Type: Direct drive trainer
  • Material: Cast & Machined Aluminum
  • Wheel Compatibility: 26” & 700C
  • Bike type: Road, MTB
  • Size: 31”x18.5”x19.5”
  • Weight: 47 lbs
  • Resistance mechanism: Electromagnetic
  • Resistance setting: 2000 with +-2% accuracy
  • Quick Release Compatibility: Yes

Features & Considerations
  • Five times quieter operation: The H3 features a unique drive system that has been equipped with a new belt design so that the H3 quieter than any other product from the manufacturer.
  • Accurate data without sensors: The capabilities to power measurements, cadence, and speed have all been built into the trainer. A chain is running from the trainer to the cassette, and this the only means of an interface that exists on this trainer Therefore the risk of deviations in power data measurement is minimum and can offer accurate readings by +-2%.
  • Electromagnetic Resistance system: The electromagnetic system for resistance can be adjusted automatically in a few different methods. In the ERG mode, the trainer will always stay at a specific power level, irrespective of pedal speed. This power level can be set to a maximum of 2000 watts. In the simulation mode, the trainer can simulate gradients between 0 and 20 percent – which is decent enough to offer various training options. Users can also use the Headless mode, which will build up resistance with pedal speed; however, here apps cannot be used.
  • Seamless connectivity: The trainer takes advantage of the Ant+ and Bluetooth connectivity option on the trainer for data transmission. Additionally, resistance can be controlled on this trainer using Bluetooth and Ant+ too. The latter makes it possible for the trainer to set targets for wattage and simulating climbs on training apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, etc.
  • Ride feel: Thanks to the heavy 20 lbs flywheel that is used here, the H3 is one of the best in terms of offering great training sessions with a road-like feel. Users can purchase a “Motion platform” that will allow the bike to move forward, backward, and side to side. While riding with training apps, gradients adjustments are made instantaneously so that the ride feels realistic.
  • Reliable & durable design: H3 is using “cast & machined” aluminum for its frame so that it is heavy enough to stay on its feet. The low profile design is coupled with adjustable legs which can be “locked” while open or closed. To allow it to sit better on uneven floors, smaller wheels at the bottom can be adjusted too. With a handle integrated into its design, a plate placed under the front wheel will provide additional support.
  • Great compatibility: The H3, however, does not come with a cassette, and one needs to be mounted on the trainer so that it can be used. The trainer’s freehub will work with SRAM, Campagnolo, and Shimano cassettes with speeds 8 through 11. It works well with both thru & quick-release axles.

Some Weaknesses
  • The H3 may not be able to offer the sensations of road surfaces like a few other trainers.

If you use bike trainers regularly, a glance at the features CycleOps H3 and some research can help to identify the potential of this trainer. After opening up the delivered product at our testing facility, we found a classic trainer that has an aura of elegance. Exceptionally lightweight aluminum casting has been used to embody the mainframe. The base of the trainer was considerable, which gave us the courage to use a vintage bike with the trainer. While many others could not, the Bianchi was compatible with CycleOps H3.
The manufacturer provided 3 pairs of axle spacers, and we used this versatile feature to try out disc brake modern bikes. We were able to thread these aluminum spacers on and off easily, as they did not weigh much and were precisely machined. The cassette freehub featured relief channels that were machined too. We mounted a 10s SRAM cassette here and used an O-ring ( made from rubbed) for a snuggly fit – and smooth, quiet operation. Bluetooth connection was almost instant, and data was being put up from the very beginning. The manufacturer addressed the power spike issue of this trainer too, by allowing a “wall wart” external power supply. We had experiences of whole trainers being damaged due to voltage spike, so this feature was appreciated. Deceleration was particularly more “life-like”, as we kept pedaling smoothly while slowing down. A great trainer that will motivate working out indoors, no matter the weather outside.

CycleOps H3

CycleOps H3

6. Saris CyckeOps Fluid2: PowerTuned for great road feel; flywheel is precision-balanced for quiet riding; patented fan for self-cooling | Overall budget choice

Saris CycleOps Fluid2

  • Type: Fluid Bike Trainer
  • Material: Composite, Aluminum, Plastic
  • Wheel Compatibility: 650b, 700c, 26″, 27″ and 29″
  • Bike type: Road Bike, Mountain Bike
  • Size: 28” x 21.5” x 15.7’’
  • Weight: 21 lbs
  • Resistance mechanism: Fluid
  • Resistance setting: Progressive
  • Quick Release Compatibility: Yes

Features & Considerations
  • Design uses Powerband tech: This technological plan allows the Fluid2 to offer more resistance. As users accelerate more on the pedals – wattage seems to increase too. This is thanks to the trainer’s resistance curve which seems to grow ” limitlessly”.
  • Enlarged flywheel: This trainer is using a fluid flywheel here. This accounts for more inertia that the trainer will use to provide a road-like feel. As the pedal speed of the user increases, the hydraulic fluid inside the flywheel becomes more viscous, due to increased temperature. Therefore, users will need to pedal even harder to overcome the fluid’s increasing resistance.
  • Durable: As the resistance increases, power increases too. This may lead to overheating issues in your trainer. However, on Fluid 2, there is a mechanism that will allow it to cool on its own. This increases the trainer’s service life, and users will not need to face unwanted interruptions. 16-gauge round 2” footpads, that have been made from steel – are used on the legs so that the unit has a firm and stable base.
  • Roller design: The wide roller ( on which the tire of your bike will rotate) provides more surface area for contact with the bike tire. This minimizes the risk of slipping and helps to bring down noise too – as a larger roller radius will rotate less in comparison to a smaller roller radius The unit exudes skill and expertise, with a polished and robust design.
  • Tightening mechanism: The Fluid 2 will lock the user bike tire on the resistance roller using a knob. As the knob is rotated, it clicks to rotate without any force where force seems ideal. This will make sure that the roller and bike tire has the best pressure between them that will facilitate a great workout and boost user performance.
  • App compatibility: The CycleOps Fluid2 has dual-band technology integrated into it. This allows the trainer to be compatible with any training app – and can be used for both virtual & non-virtual training via Bluetooth & Ant+. The speed sensor that comes with the unit is compatible with Rouvy & other apps for indoor cycling.
  • Wheel size: The resistance unit can accommodate a range of wheel sizes, 26” – 27”, 29”, 700C, & 650b. This versatility allows users to use the trainer with many mountain & road bike frames, with steel skewers for quick-release configuration. Additionally, the dropout spacing in the rear wheel has settings for 120 mm, 135 mm, & 130 mm.

Some Weaknesses
  • The maximum resistance on the roller seemed limited.
  • The tire is more likely to be damaged, as the flywheels continuously come in contact with the bike.

Even though the Saris Cycleops Fluid2 meets the higher budget range, we found that it was build very well and had a solid structure. Therefore, to us paying a little more for a better quality of service is totally justified.

Our team was able to set up the bike to use very easily in under ten minutes. One member of our team decided to bring their “Specialised Pitch” MTB and had to skewer from CycleOps for seamlessly mounting the bike to the Fluid2. Even though the wheels of the MTB were knobbly, this was not affecting its performance. We could hear a whirring sound though, which vanished completely as smoother tires were fitted to the trainer. We decided to install a cadence sensor, a wahoo speed sensor, and a heart monitor. The only thing left was to get a subscription from Zwift. With all its great features, we thought that the maximum resistance level on this trainer could use some changes. A couple of novice individuals in our team found the tension in the 15th was just perfect for them; however, as they peddled on the 18th maximum gears of their bike – the tension became much easier to handle. We used a riser to elevate the front wheel, in addition to the rubber mat in which the trainer was placed. We were using the compatible training apps on a desktop computer, thus had to acquire s long extension cord for USB and a dongle that supports Ant+. Overall, we recommend you to rely on the trainer to get workouts that are not usually possible on outdoor bikes.

Saris CycleOps Fluid2

Saris CycleOps Fluid2

7. Elite Arion: Great foldable roller for storage and portability; rollers are parabolic for added balance; frame is strong and can be accessed easily

Elite Arion Folding Rollers

  • Type: Roller Magnetic Bike Trainer
  • Material: Fiberglass-reinforced polyamide
  • Wheel Compatibility: Universal
  • Bike type: Road Bike, Mountain Bike
  • Size: 23.9” x 12.2” x 31.8’’
  • Weight: 15.4 lbs
  • Resistance mechanism: Magnetic
  • Resistance setting: Continuous
  • Quick Release Compatibility: Not Available

Features & Considerations
  • Light and simple design: The frame of this roller is using polyamide that has been reinforced with glass fiber so that it is lightweight and strong. The rollers can move at higher speeds but still operate silently. Additionally, the frame has a “step” design so that users can get on and off the roller easily. For portability, it can fold up to a very compact size with one simple movement.
  • Parabolic rollers: 85 mm parabolic rollers are used centrally on the frame of this roller, while the ones on the side are 100 mm. Their peculiar shape helps to keep users centrally on the roller so that they have more balance. The wheels are directed centrally in a continuous pattern here, which makes it easier to control the bike and smoothness of pedal stroke. Thanks to the plastic with anti-static properties that is used for the roller surfaces, both tire wear & noise during use is minimized.
  • Protocol Connectivity: Users can find a “Misuro B+” sensor here, that is compatible with the app that is offered by the manufacturer here, known as My E-Training. By using this app, all aspects of training with this roller can be controlled. Users will also have access to data like power, speed, time, distance, cadence, and heart rate ( which is a bonus). The app will have a free subscription of one month. Additionally, other indoor cycling platforms can be used with this roller too by using Bluetooth and Ant. This list includes TrainerRoad, Kinomap, etc.
  • Magnetic resistance: This roller has been equipped with a 3-speed magnetic resistance unit, which has high tech magnets for creating the electromagnetic resistance. With more RPM, the resistance offered by this trainer builds up. This has helped the roller to earn a reputation for being the top choice for warming up before a race. The roller helps MTB & cyclocross riders achieve their optimal riding efficiency before actual races.
  • Compatibility: This roller can be used with the wheels of mountain and road bikes. A great feature is the front roller here can be adjusted to 10 possible positions so that compatibility with the frame of the bike is perfect.

Some Weaknesses
  • The roller may not be compatible with all bikes with sub 700C wheels, where the wheelbase may be longer.

After testing out the Elite Arion Folding Roller, what we can confidently say is that it can be a great option for getting fit while staying indoors. What we noticed after setting it up was for mounting and dismounting easier – the roller has a platform that lifts it. Folding the frame was easy too and allowed convenient storage. We found this roller to be more enjoyable than fixed or static rollers that are available in the market. This was particularly because the wheels will roll much more while in the rollers, which required us to maintain our cadence posture for the workout session. That made us work up a sweat. Over testing it for a week, we noticed positive changes in our balance and posture during use.

Out of the box, we found that the roller was assembled and we adjusted the front roller slightly to fit our bike. The instructions for this were very clear so we did not face any issues. For beginners, we would suggest that you set it up between the frames of a door to avoid veering off the roller edges. To avoid this further, another recommendation would be inflating the tires to the max. During test runs, we found this to be extremely helpful for fast and smooth pedaling. We put our hands on the handlebars so that were close together so that our steering movements were as minimized as possible. We placed the roller on a carpet for noise insulation.

Since the manufacturer recommends this roller for everyone, we resorted to testing it out again with novice riders. Even though this team had some difficulty at the beginning, where they could only manage short bursts that lasted a minute maximum – after a month of use, the sessions increased to 30 minutes on average. So for best results, we suggest that you keep at it! It certainly improves the pedaling technique so that staying on becomes easier.

Elite Arion Folding Rollers

Elite Arion Folding Rollers

8. Sportneer Fluid Trainer: Foldable frame with lock ring & tension knob; wheel design prolongs bike tire life by reducing noise & friction

Sportneer Fluid Bike Trainer

  • Type: Magnetic Bike Trainer
  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Wheel Compatibility: 26”- 29”& 700c Wheels
  • Bike type: Mountain Bike
  • Size: 21.3” x 7.9” x 25.2”
  • Weight: 24.2 lbs
  • Resistance mechanism: Fluid impelled
  • Resistance setting: 6 level
  • Quick Release Compatibility: Yes

Features & Considerations
  • Compatibility: This versatile trainer stand is compatible with any wheel size in the range between 26″ and 29″. Additionally, 700C wheels can be used here as well. It is also delivered with a skewer that has been designed specially to be compatible with bikes that are using quick-release axles for their rear wheel.
  • Noise-reducing design: This trainer stand configuration is using a wheel that is specialized to reduce any whirring sound from the resistance unit. Additionally, the wheel ensures that the trainer can offer effective workouts while friction between the resistance unit and the wheel is minimum. This helps to keep the tires usable for a long time.
  • Heavy-duty frame: The frame of this trainer stand uses stainless steel so that it can be used for heavy-duty riding. The stand also offers a lock ring that will lock the bike to the stand, using a tension knob. This is available for either hand of the stand and is really great for stability during the most intensive workouts.
  • Stability: The wide-set frame design makes for a stable base here. Additionally, the trainer comes with a riser block for the front wheel that offers additional support. The absence of unwanted shaking makes this a good alternative. It can also be folded into a compact space for storage.
  • Progressive resistance: Thanks to the fluid impelled flywheel, the Sportneer trainer stand offers resistance that essentially depends on the pedaling speed. Faster pedaling will build up the temperature of the liquid inside the flywheel, making it more viscous. This increases the resistance of the fluid as more power will be needed to move through the liquid.
  • Smooth rides: The trainer stand offers a great road ride feel, thanks to the design of the fluid resistance wheel. The fact that it can do so even without training apps is really great. In comparison to many other trainers, jerky movements are reduced fairly by this trainer stand.

Some Weaknesses
  • The purpose of the trainer is to give you a realistic feel of the road. However, since the trainer cannot offer strong resistance, you may not experience a convincing simulation of outdoor riding.
  • The fluid container may leak, causing the liquid inside the system to easily seep through tiny cracks or holes.

To test out the Sportneer Fluid Bike Trainer, we have used a cyclocross bicycle that is sporting an aluminum frame. Additionally, the road tires that were used are 700-28c Vittoria Rubino Pro. Essentially, this bike and tire serve well on trails filled with crushed limestones, and we were looking to check if this fluid bike trainer can be an alternate option for use in the offseason. However, since much of the offseason use is indoors, the trainer had to be quiet in its operation. As we know, fluid bike trainers are the quietest.

At first, impression, what we really liked about the trainer was that it was delivered with everything needed to use this trainer. Even though we were able to put the set up together without any difficulty, the instructions provided with the manual was confusing. We needed some time to get the resistance unit attached to the trainer but could do it eventually. What we really appreciate about this trainer is how solidly it has been built. In addition to this, it hardly makes any noise. If you hear a hum, it could be the resistance wheel and tire coming in touch with each other. Please note that the quiet operation still prevailed for high pressure in the tires. We were able to get on and off this bike with relative ease, and found that the frame of the trainer could be folded for storage, even under stairs! Dismounting the bike is as easy as mounting and the stand folds up neatly for under-stairs storage. This could just be the fluid trainer that you are looking for to stay in shape during the offseason, bad weather, and even a pandemic.

Sportneer Fluid Bike Trainer

Sportneer Fluid Bike Trainer

9. Alpcour Bike Trainer Stand: Fluid flywheel offers progressive resistance and smooth spin performance; dual lock & ring design for secured riding

Alpcour Trainer Stand APC-BTSFBK

  • Type: Magnetic Bike Trainer
  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Wheel Compatibility: Most 26-28 In & 700c Wheels
  • Bike type: Road Bike, Mountain Bike
  • Size: 21.5” x 19” x 16.5’’
  • Weight: 22.2 lbs
  • Resistance mechanism: Magnetic
  • Resistance setting: 6 level
  • Quick Release Compatibility: Yes

Features & Considerations
  • Allround compatibility: This magnetic trainer stand is compatible with any road or mountain bike. Users can enjoy using a stationary bike indoors for training no matter the season. Users can fit 700C and most wheels in the 26″ to 28″ size range.
  • Quiet resistance unit: The flywheel uses a high-quality mechanism to replicate the road like feel, by creating drag opposing the tire’s motion. Additionally, noise reduction technology has built-in here that essentially eliminates even whirring sounds during use. The minimized roller friction of the resistance unit also minimizes damage to the wheel.
  • Magnetic resistance: The trainer uses an advanced mechanism to create magnetic resistance here. Resistance can be varied across 6 levels here to simulate all kinds of inclines and road terrains. The controller for this resistance can be mounted on the handlebars using an extended cable, that makes adjustments convenient and easy.
  • Balanced design: The trainer is using a stainless steel stand that provides unwavering stability here. Thanks to the wide and low profile base, the trainer will exhibit perfect balance no matter the pedal intensity. The base has also been fitted with rubber-coated pads that have anti-ship properties. All these features combine to simulate outdoor riding intensities and road feel.
  • Smooth riding: The Alpcour magnetic trainer is using a resistance unit that takes away all unwanted pressure from the bike’s tires. The mechanism of the magnetic resistance offers magnetic friction that is super smooth, but just adequate. Minimized friction still ensures seamless spinning of the bike’s wheel. Meanwhile, the wheel will serve the user for a longer time.
  • Foldable and compact: The lever that will secure your wheel to the stance has a quick-release mechanism. This allows swift attachment and detachment from the rear wheel of the bike being used. After this, the stand can be folded into a more compact size for easy storage and portability. It can easily fit inside a carry bag that is provided with the trainer. It is sturdy enough to support the weight.

Some Weaknesses
  • The setup for the resistance wheel has been welded to the frame here. As a result, it cannot be shifted to the opposite side – that might be favored for some users.

Even though we agree that the Alpcour Bike Trainer Stand has a well thought out design, we did not particularly appreciate how confusing the installation instructions that came with the bike were. We suggest that you take the help of a professional to save yourself from trouble.

We used wheels that were 27” here, and during use, we could not identify any differences from riding on flat roads. The noise was similar to outdoor riding as well. However, when we tried out a 29” mountain bike – there was considerable noise during use. Another advantage of using a road bike with this trainer was we were able to get a workout that has a fairly stable resistance. The pressure between the roller of the trainer and the bike rim establishes the initial resistance. To change it, we had to mount off, lower, and readjust this pressure again and again. This is irrespective of the progressive resistance that adjusts with pedal speed.

Alpcour Trainer Stand APC-BTSFBK

Alpcour Trainer Stand APC-BTSFBK

10. Tacx Antares: Best indoor cycling rollers; drum-shaped rollers add stability; design collapsible for portability

Tacx Antares Roller T1000

  • Type: Roller Bike Trainer
  • Material: Plastic
  • Wheel Compatibility: 26” to 29”
  • Bike type: All Bikes
  • Size: 5.31” x 18.5” x 53.5”
  • Weight: 17 lbs
  • Resistance mechanism: Rollers
  • Resistance setting: Internal progressive
  • Quick Release Compatibility: Not applicable

Features & Considerations
  • Conical rollers: The conical shape of the rollers will help to keep the rider in a central position. This helps to reduce wobble and drifting to one side or the other. The rollers are fitted with bearings of the highest quality, while metal & plastic is used by the runners. These increase the service life of the roller.
  • Adjustable design: The roller that will support the front wheel can have its extension distance adjusted. Each runner is fitted with a small button made from metal. They can be used to ensure that the user’s bike has the distances for the base of the wheels adjusted so that there is no creaking noise.
  • Folding frame: The roller can be collapsed so that it has a length of only 80 cm. The ease of folding the frame is great for portability and storage. The design also appeals aesthetically, thanks to the light-blue rollers and the dark chassis made from steel. This helps to give the roller a streamlined look.
  • Speed and suppleness: When users are riding on this trainer, they can work on the suppleness of their muscles, to the pace of the track. This keeps movements on the trainer very natural. Users can ride similar to track or road bikes – using their hips to pedal. The trainer will also allow users to pedal at a high frequency, and not cause any cramps.
  • Stability: The chassis is sitting under the rollers, and it can be said that it is “suspended”. Entry-level users will find this particularly helpful, and they can keep their balance better owing to the boosted stability of the frame.
  • Wheel support: The manufacturer has the option of support for the front wheel of the bike. This will secure the bike’s front end, and allow the user to put in the required distance while training.

Some Weaknesses
  • It is ideal to avoid mountain bikes on this trainer as the combination will create a lot of noise during operation.

After putting in more than 600 miles collectively, thanks to the group of dedicated professionals for testing the Tacx Antares roller stationary stand, we can conclusively say that we love this trainer. With enhanced balance and smooth spinning – we found the workouts to be very interesting. As we changed the gears during riding, it was certainly the added variety we were looking for. During assembly, we found out (the hard way) that the length of the frame should be adjusted so that the front wheel’s axis is ahead of the axis of the front roller by 2cm. Otherwise, you find that the bike is skidding off the front roller.

However, as we shifted around in the center of the roller – this caused the rollers to laterally jump, creating some noise in due course. We added this issue by stabilizing the roller. If you are a new user, you may need some time to get used to the feel of the rollers. As you will go fast, the roller will become stabilized. We suggest that you start with walls, and later balance on concrete blocks (if possible), set apart by a distance. This will surely challenge you more, as it will become harder to maintain balance and will need your full undivided attention. Even though the roller left us sweating profusely so that we did not crash, we can certainly say now that it was certainly worth it. As we have been using our whole body to balance the bike, in some ways – it can be more effective than a bike trainer

Tacx Antares Roller T1000

Tacx Antares Roller T1000

11. VIVOHOME Trainer Stand: Adjustable and convenient incline setting; wide base with a low profile can support all types of bikes

VIVOHOME VH65 Trainer Stand

  • Type: Magnetic Bike Trainer
  • Material: Steel pipe coated plastic
  • Wheel Compatibility: 34” to 38″
  • Bike type: Road Bike, Mountain Bike
  • Size: 19.6” x 21.4″ x 15.7″
  • Weight: 18.07 lbs
  • Resistance mechanism: Magnetic
  • Resistance setting: 6 levels
  • Quick Release Compatibility: Yes

Features & Considerations
  • Safe construction: The VIVOHOME trainer uses plastic that has been coated with a steel pipe of the highest quality. Thanks to this, the trainer is lightweight for portability and use. This high-quality material is resistant to rusting. Additionally, the stand uses stainless steel that provides enough support for a maximum user weight of 264.6 lbs.
  • Stable design: The trainer has a low profile design, that is using a widened base that is very sturdy. The legs have also been fitted with rubber feet that use anti-slip technology so that the trainer is stable on all types of ground surfaces. A riser block can also be placed under the front wheel so that users can train comfortably, with more stability.
  • Compatibility: Thanks to how low the trainer stands, it can fit both mountain and road bike tires with a diameter in the range 34” – 38”. The shaft of the trainer that accommodates the rear wheel of the trainer bike rises easily too. The trainer also comes with quick-release levers that can be used to lock the tires in place before being used for training.
  • 6 adjustable settings: The resistance settings on this trainer can be adjusted through 6 levels. As the user shifts through the gears, the workout intensities are adjusted accordingly. As the resistance level goes up, users will need to put in more power for training. Through an extended cable, the remote to change this incline setting can be placed on the handlebars. Without the need to get off the bike, this is very convenient.
  • Quiet operation: Thanks to the magnetic flywheel that the trainer is using, users can train and not disturb anyone. Users will also find that the wheels are rotating smoothly during use.

Some Weaknesses
  • The user manual that comes with the trainer may not have clear instructions for assembly.

The VIVOHOME Trainer Stand can be a great budget option for trainer that comes with a stand, under $200.We used a road bike when testing the trainer out. Typically, these bikes sport thinner tires; however, this did not get in the way of us getting a good workout.

The trainer did have an instruction manual, but we faced some issues as we followed the instructions on it when setting the trainer up. When we fitted the rear wheel on the frame, we moved the resistance unit vertically up. After this, the black-knobbed long screw on the resistance unit was tightened. This was crucial because we found the resistance to be higher if the resistance unit and the rear wheel of our road bike were in better proximity to each other. However, if you are looking to use the trainer as a part of your medical therapy – low resistance would be ideal. After setting it up, it put up our bike at a considerable height for mounting with ease. This might not be the case if you are on the shorter height scale; in that case, we suggest you use a step stool. The sturdy frame was able to support a range of user weights, and as the trainer is using stainless steel – we were confident that it could live up to the 264.6 lbs of maximum weight the manufacturer says the trainer can support. For storage, we were able to tuck the legs of the stand inwards so that it could fit under beds easily. Resistance was considerable to train effectively and to get a low impact exercise too. We liked how we could use the remote that we mounted on our bike handlebar to adjust the resistance – while being seated. In conclusion, this is a great indoor exercise option and can be used by seniors as well.

VIVOHOME VH65 Trainer Stand

VIVOHOME VH65 Trainer Stand

12. Yaheetech Bike Trainer: Noise-reducing design; Fluid flywheel provides quiet rides with road feel

Yaheetech Fluid Bike Trainer Stand

  • Type: Fluid Bike Trainer
  • Material: Steel, aluminum, PE plastic
  • Wheel Compatibility: 26” to 28” and 700C
  • Bike type: Road Bike
  • Size: 21.5” x 24.5” x 16’’
  • Weight: 22.2 lbs
  • Resistance mechanism: Fluid-impelled
  • Resistance setting: 1 level
  • Quick Release Compatibility: Yes

Features & Considerations
  • M-shaped Design: The stand for this trainer is using “high carbon steel” that adds to its strength so that 265 lbs of weight can be supported by it. Its “M” shaped design further reinforces stability, keeping the user safe while using the trainer. Additionally, the height can be adjusted so that users can choose one of the 5 possible riding positions that will suit them more. The trainer can also be folded flat for convenient storage.
  • Stability: The feet of this trainer has been fitted with caps that use anti-slip technology that will prevent the trainer from being displaced or from causing damage to the floor. These caps have “teeth” that essentially work like gear, and have varying thickness. Users can choose the correct thickness by rotating the cap so that the trainer stays level.
  • Quiet training stand: The noise level of a trainer is largely dependent on the tires being used by the user. Tires have threads on them for grip; however, these treads are more widely spaced on mountain bike tires. When used with this trainer, the tire is more susceptible to damage and will make a lot of noise. So it would be better to use road bikes while placing the setup on a carpet to further dampen the noise.
  • Compatibility: The trainer comes with a “quick-release” skewer that is used to lock and release the rear wheel from the stand. This setup can be used on 26″ to 28″ & 700C wheels. However, manufacturers recommend using a quick-release skewer from their company instead of one user may have had previously on their bikes. They urge that this will increase the skewer’s service lifetime.
  • Progressive resistance: Thanks to the fluid flywheel this trainer is using, the trainer can generate progressive resistance. This means that as users are pedaling faster, the temperature of the fluid inside the flywheel increases. As a result, the fluid will become thicker so that moving it becomes tougher. Users can manually change this resistance too, by making adjustments to the screw of the knob.
  • Riser block: The trainer was delivered with a riser block for the front wheel. This essentially offers more support for this wheel, while making sure that the front & rear wheels are at the same height level.

Some Weaknesses
  • The trainer reduces the lifespan of quick-release skewers from other manufacturers, even though the manufacturers claim that their mounting system can support a wide range of quick release skewer models.

Yaheetech Bike Trainer Stand is a great way to train indoors, and anyone who is a riding enthusiast will find this trainer to be very useful. After delivery, our team attached the flywheel and assembly for resistance fluid only, as most of the trainer is pre-assembled. This was done quickly and with relative ease. We noticed that there was some flexing of the stand when we were locking in our rest bike on the trainer. However, this did not present any issue during use. We appreciated how we could switch bikes easily to try out bikes with different sizes, weights, and height profiles.

When we were using street tires, the noise during the operation was not too much. However, this was not the case for mountain bike tires. Please note that mountain bikes have widely spaced threads on them, and this is the reason why mountain bike tires are noisier. Trainer tires made the lease noise, so it would be ideal to use them from the very first day. Another way that we found to effectively reduce noise, even when road bikes, is to place the trainer on a carpet. We liked how we could use the gears of the bike we are riding to make changes to the resistance level. This might not be sufficient to get a high-impact workout necessarily but can replicate the road feel of riding outdoors. The maximum user weight that was tested was close to 250 lbs, which reconfirmed that the trainer is ideal for heavy-duty use – since the stand is using high carbon steel and the fluid resistor aluminum. So this fluid trainer can help you train similarly to that of an indoor stationary bike – which is really great!

YAHEETECH YT-00095195 Fluid Trainer

YAHEETECH YT-00095195 Fluid Trainer

Buying Guide: Best budget bike trainers

Typically, indoor trainers are of three types – standard, smart, and rollers. These types have further subsets. For standard trainers, some offerings vary in terms of the resistance. So we have fluid-based, magnet-based, and fan-based indoor bike trainers. Smart trainers are broken down into wheel-on & direct drive trainers.

  1. Fluid-based: They are high-end indoor bike trainers. A fluid-based roller is typically used by them to provide resistance. This fluid offers more resistance becoming thicker as its temperature increases. Fluid trainers offer a road feel that is more realistic.
  2. Magnet-based: These trainers use the concept of electromagnetic inductance to offer resistance. Usually, they are less expensive than fluid trainers but make more noise.
  3. Fan-based: These trainers use fans as a means to create resistance. Amongst the three, they are more budget-friendly. However, they are the loudest and not versatile at all.
  4. Rollers – They are another great option for indoor bike trainers. Rollers typically use drums made of metal, on top of which users have to balance their bikes. The bike is kept upright by centrifugal forces here. Even though it sounds hard, the fact that users have to balance rollers is an intriguing factor. Rollers help improve efficiency & pedaling form by making sure riders are in a straight line. Light efforts, riding for recovery – no matter the purpose, rollers need the utmost attention. Some rollers offer fork mounting so that the setup is stable.

Smart trainers –

  1. Wheel-on: This type of smart trainer will work similarly to traditional trainers. The rear wheel will need to be mounted on the trainer, where its barrel will be pressing on the wheel to offer resistance.
  2. Direct drive: These indoor bike trainers completely remove the rear wheel. The axle of the wheel is then attached directly to the trainer. Typically they are the best, amongst both standard and smart trainers. They can offer features and parameters that justify the high purchase price of many.

1. Price

The most detrimental factor when deciding the best budget bike trainer is surely to be the price. We can find indoor bike trainers to meet the $50 to $2500 budget. The overall purpose may remain the same; however, we find that the expensive models offer more options and features.

Fan based trainers are likely to be the most budget-friendly and can be an option for new cyclists. However, they are so loud that even trainer mats will not help. Magnetic trainers can meet low budgets too. Fluid bike trainers are the most expensive options amongst these.

Smart bike trainers will usually cost more, as additional purchases would need to be made. Subscription for training app, laptop or desktop setup, additional skewers, power meters – these are some of the things that will drive up how much smart bike trainers cost you.

Obviously, you should be looking for a bike trainer that meets your budget. Your workout quality will depend on your effort, not the trainer’s price. However, cheaper purchases may frustrate
and discourage you from indoor cycling. There is a reason why higher-end models are packed with features and parameters – the ultimate goal is to help you workout most effectively.

2. Resistance and power accuracy

This is essentially the maximum power output from indoor bike trainers. For new riders, entry-level trainers are a good option as the advanced models usually come with a power meter that allows for monitoring the power output. For more intensive workouts and training for races, this could be an ideal investment.

Indoor bike trainers that have a function for a power meter are equipped with the ability to adjust the resistance. As this intelligent function for varying resistance is used with training software such as Zwift, it is possible to simulate more effective real-life resistance. Therefore, training with an indoor bike trainer will be more powerful and effective.

3. Road feel

An important factor that affects the quality of rides offered by indoor bike trainers is the moment of inertia. This is essentially the trainer’s ability to, under “real road” conditions – simulate inertia. Larger moments of inertia can effectively simulate stronger inertia. This means, in other words, the feeling of riding an actual bike is stronger.

Manufacturers have added flywheels that are heavier and have a larger diameter to indoor bike trainers today so that the inertia moment is greater. They also resort to making wheels that are heavier and have tubes externally to get the same increased inertia moment. This specifically helps to simulate a road-like feel more closely.

4. Noise Level

While the best budget bike trainers are going to provide the best value for money, you would not want to be left with a trainer that creates a racket – no matter the price you are paying for it. The cheap fan trainers are very noisy, while fluid trainers make minimum noise but strain the budget. Magnetic trainers are in the middle range in terms of price, but not all models are noisy or noiseless. Modern trainers have resistance unit, fluid or magnetic – that have been designed with specially engineered flywheels to reduce the noise from them. This noise is also dependent on the type of bike that is being used. Mountain bikes usually have tires that have wider treads on their surface, and this is more likely to be noisy. However, if your trainer has a dedicated place in your home and you do not need to worry about the noise – you are more likely to have more models to choose from.

5. Durability

If you are looking to put in long distances or workout intensively, it would be a good idea to not skimp on price. The best trainers that are more likely to be durable use materials that can withstand heavy-duty use, make the trainer resistant to rusting, etc.

When it comes to trainers, spending a little bit more now to get a quality trainer can save from spending more in the long run. The best budget bike trainers can serve a long time without any maintenance. Fluid trainers are more likely to have the fluid seal damaged, which affects durability. Even though it is not always the case – the probability that it will fail always lingers.

6. Bike Compatibility

It is a good idea to make sure that your bike and the trainer you want to use are compatible. Almost 90 percent of road and tri bikes are compatible with most indoor bike trainers. However, if the rear end frame or drop out area on your rear wheel has some unique design – the trainer and bike may not work well together. Bike manufacturers sometimes state that bike frames that are using carbon may not be suitable for use with trainers. Even though this is not always the case, it should be considered if user weight is above average or if the bike is a higher-end model. Compatibility with power meters can be an issue too; so it is a good idea to check if your trainer and power meter function together. They most likely will, on modern trainers and power meters.

Road bike tires are more suited to indoor bike trainers. Even though mountain bike tires have more grip and offer more resistance – this is not ideal for use with indoor bike trainers. However, a roundabout to this could be sleeker mountain bike tires, but only in the rear wheel. They should also be in the wheel range 26 x 1.75. Please note that this might not always be this case.

7. Integrated technology

The modern trainers are usually “smart”. This means that the trainers can have integrated means of measuring data like cadence, power, etc. In other cases, trainers can integrate with training apps that offer streamed workouts on their paid subscription plans. While this obviously drives up the price, for the right user these technologies can work wonders.

If you have a budget of $500 or more, it would be a good idea to go for a smart trainer – no matter it is a  wheel-on or direct drive. Interactive courses and riding with other users virtually can be something that users may look forward to, on smart trainers. Smart trainers will need to be synced to training apps before they can be used

8. Skewers

Quick-release skewers are usually useful when dealing with standard trainers using fluid, magnetic, or fan resistance. This is because quick-release skewers are designed to be compatible with such trainers. Usually, they are included with indoor bike trainers during purchase. In case you might need to make a purchase, there are a few things that should be looked into: i. The skewers should have the perfect length so that each skewer can be used to clamp bike wheels on both sides. ii. The lever length of the skewers should be long enough for easy handling. iii. They should be made of materials that complement its usage, like titanium or titanium alloy.

Some indoor trainers may require using skewers from the manufacturer, which is sometimes provided with the trainer. If not so, one needs to be purchased. These skewers should replace the quick release skewers on your bike when using the trainer. The reason behind this is the provided skewer will fit the trainer better and will have s longer service lifespan.

9. Portability

Rollers are not very portable as they might require to be fully deconstructed before it can come down to a size that is easy to transport. On the other hand, standard trainers usually have all the mechanisms fitted into a single case and can be moved easily. Foldable legs are common on both standard and smart trainers. We can even find models that are fitted with a handle.

10. Ease of Installation & Mounting/Removal of Bike

The best budget bike trainers will not need any additional tools or means during the installation of the trainer stand. Removing and mounting bikes from indoor bike trainers should be a hassle-free issue. If it gets stuck, the wheels of your bike may be damaged, which will eventually drive up the cost.

11. Additional Features

  • Front Wheel Riser Block

This riser block for the front wheels improves stability and protects the floor from damage. They can also adjust the height of the front wheel so that simulations of climbing hills are attainable during training. Front wheels can be found in various sizes and shapes. They help to keep the handlebars horizontal while the trainer is being used while steadying the front wheel. Padded bases will protect the floor better, and it would be a good idea to check compatibility.

  • Trainer Mat

Trainer mats are usually offered with features that improve stability, dampen any sound from the indoor bike trainer, and protect the floor under the trainer. Trainer mats also absorb sweat and stop rubber Mark’s to form on the ground.

F. A. Q.s

Q.1: Can a trainer damage your bike?

Ans.: Trainers usually employ one of two main methods for keeping your bike from moving or falling over. Most trainers hold onto your rear fork and lift your rear wheel off the ground and push it onto a roller. The other style has you ride on the rollers themselves which keeps you from moving forward or backward. Rollers move both tires of the bike and allow sideways movement. However, a roller style trainer lets both of your wheels rotate, and that allows you to move side to side. Some trainers have gears built into them and will completely replace your rear wheel. It still attaches to your rear fork, but you wrap your chain around the trainer’s gears.

  • Rollers wear out your tires quite a bit faster than riding outside on a road. They deform the tire more and will burn through any tread that it has. With no tread, your tires can’t grab onto the road while you are riding. So you can buy special tires meant for training indoors.
  • Trainers can grab onto your rear wheel to hold your whole bike upright by using skewers. Some adapters on the trainer don’t perfectly fit your skewer and will tend to scratch them. Since the trainer is keeping your bike upright and a rider’s tendency is to lean the bike side to side, it is technically possible to bend a skewer. To avoid such cases, check if your trainer comes with its own skewer. Use this skewer for the best compatibility.
  • Except for rollers, the front wheel is usually left static for other types of indoor bike trainers. To reduce the tension running along the spokes, it is wise to place a rising block underneath this front wheel.
  • It is not ideal if your sweat is pouring onto the bike beneath you, which is a must when using an indoor trainer. As it is corrosive, sweat eventually damages the components of your bike, its paint job, and the frame.
  • Bicycle frames today are designed to withstand rocking during use, as the rear fork is held by the trainers. You may notice some flexing, which is acceptable.

No matter what you do, using a trainer will bring down the duration of the service lifespan of your bike. While there is not much you can do – tuning your riding style so that it is not aggressive may be an option.

Q.2: Which is better, fluid, or magnetic bike trainers?

Ans.: So, if we have to settle the debate between fluid vs magnetic bike trainers – to select the best machine, we have to look at what we are looking to get from each trainer. Magnetic bike trainers will be friendlier to the budget and allow for training longer. On the other hand, if you are looking for a more realistic ride feeling and the quality of the workout you are getting is a priority – fluid bike trainers will serve you better. Even though we are not settling the debate for you – we have presented a summary of how fluid bike trainers and magnetic bike trainers are similar or different from each other in the comparison table below. This will help you to understand and make the best selection for yourself.

FeaturesFluid bike trainerMagnetic bike trainer
Working mechanismThe silicone fluid in the rear flywheel changes viscosity with changes in pedal power. Faster pedaling creates more resistanceThe flywheel has magnets revolving around which, which engage/disengage to create resistance. You can use a selector switch or a cable mounted on the handlebars to modify the resistance
Resistance levelProgressively challengingConstant for each setting
Ease of useEasyEasy
Noise factorLittle or no noiseNoisy
StorageSimple; may be foldedSimple; may be folded
ReliabilityLeakage fail may occurDoes not fail easily
Budget friendlyNoYes

Q.3: Is it necessary to use a dedicated tire for indoor trainers?

Ans.: Regular cycling tire will work fine on an indoor bike roller but anything with tread can start to get noisy and add extra wear. If you are riding more than four to five hours a week, a trainer specific tire or an old road tire would work best to reduce noise, give more reliable data and stop your bike from slipping under heavy load. While roller trainers need us to place bike wheels directly on them, direct-drive trainers eliminate that need by taking the rear wheel completely off. We have mentioned a few advantages offered by tires dedicated to indoor training:

  • Last at least two to four times longer than using your road bike tire.
  • Reduce trainer session noise, great for apartments, or when riding in the middle of the house
  • Increase the reliability of your smart trainer data
  • Avoid slipping, especially when out of the saddle or sprinting


Bike trainers can be worth the money users spend on them, as they would have access to the same workout they would otherwise get on outdoor bikes. There are factors like adjusting to the feel and angle of the saddle that are really appreciated, and users will surely not miss things like getting used to different bikes on different seasons. As users adjust to their indoor bike trainers, they will look to train more intensively, which is also possible due to the versatility that indoor bike trainers offer. To select the best budget trainer, it is ideal that users know what features will work best for them, and therefore they can make an informed choice. From our article, as users go through the different types of indoor bike trainers with their price ranges, we hope that by the time they are reading this – they can select the best budget bike trainer.

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Last update on 2020-11-25 at 11:50 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Dion Lewis
My name is Dion Lewis.

I’ve been cycling from my childhood. When I was in high school, I started racing in our local competitions.

At my college life, I took a part time job in a bicycle shop and I learned how to repair and maintain bicycles professionally.

Though I love racing, mountain biking is another thing I do frequently. My friends, neighbors, and colleagues treat me as an avid rider and take my suggestions while they plan for a new bike or a bike gear.

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