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11 Best Smart Trainer for Zwift (Reviewed Nov, 2020)

If you’re someone who’s shunning outdoor biking in favor of cycling within the virtual world using Zwift, then you’ve come to the right place. Cycling based on real-world intervals may not be enough for you. So, this is exactly why manufacturers have brought in smart turbo trainers to serve you throughout the year, in the comfort of your home. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it can be years before normal proceedings resume, until then, cycling indoors seems like an effective way of retaining top fitness levels. A productive application like Zwift will undoubtedly make your indoor cycling experience enjoyable and worthwhile. Zwift can help in translating your real-world cycling efforts virtually. Also, the power that you generate in watts should propel you along a virtual landscape. Similar to the real world, the speed of your cycling can easily be adjusted, based on the road gradient, your height, and weight.

We have tested out a range of some of the finest Zwift compatible smart trainers available out there, for months by collaborating with a few of the finest cyclists out there. This led us to choose the Wahoo Kickr Core as the Editor’s Overall Best Choice of trainer. It performed outstandingly with the Zwift application. We were very impressed with the performance this trainer had to offer. Furthermore, we tested 10 other smart trainers as well, their performances were quite admirable, to say the least. Along the course of this write-up, we shall be providing you with an in-depth analysis of these smart trainers that use the Zwift application for having an efficient indoor cycling workout. So, stick around, this article will be worth your time.

Zwift-application-wahoo-kickr-core-1

Figure: Using the Zwift Application in smart Wahoo Kickr Core trainer

Wahoo Kickr Core

Comes w/ a universal application, features intuitive user experience, packaging comes w/ accessories, provides 1800 W electromagnetic resistance, surprisingly smooth transitions in resistances, serve real-world road-bike feel | Editor’s Overall Best Choice

Tester Profile:

Gender: Female
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 161 lbs

We’ve specifically bought this trainer last winter, to stay in shape. The assembly process is quite straightforward, the instructions within the Wahoo application is simple and easy to understand. Also, the process of assembling the sprocket (doesn’t come with the packaging) set has been described well. We installed Wahoo’s application and paired it with Bluetooth. Necessary software updates are also carried out by connecting the application with Bluetooth. Once we were done executing the spin-down test, its performance parameters were clearly displayed on our smart device. We aimed to use the Zwift training application for having an efficient training session. Therefore, we proceeded with installing Zwift on our Windows 10 laptop. However, you need to keep in mind that, if you’re a Windows user, more specifically use Windows 10, then an ANT+ dongle is required for successfully pairing the Zwift training application with Bluetooth. This is the only obstacle that we faced while using the Kickr Core trainer, during 1 year of usage. We are hugely satisfied with the performance of the Wahoo Kickr Core smart trainer after integrating the Zwift application.

  • Trainer Type: Direct Drive
  • Ideal For: Cycle Training
  • Trainer Weight: 40 lbs
  • Flywheel Weight: 12 lbs
  • Data Type: Power Speed
  • Dimension(Legs Closed): 9” x 23” x 21”
  • Dimension(Legs Opened): 20” x 23” x 19”
  • Axle Compatibility: 5.12”/ 5.31” quick-release, 12 mm x 142 mm & 12 mm x 148 mm thru-axle
  • Broadcast Communication Protocol: ANT+, Bluetooth Smart Trainer Control
  • Wireless Resistance Protocol: ANT+ FE-C & Bluetooth Smart Power
  • Device Compatibility: iOS, Android, Windows & Mac
  • Resistance Type: Electromagnetic
  • Maximum Power: 1800W
  • Wheel Size: 26”, 27”/650B & 29”/700C
  • Maximum Slope Simulation: 18%
  • External Power Supply Required: Yes
  • Adjustable Resistance: Yes
  • Cassette Included: No
  • Cadence: Built-In
  • Folding legs: Yes
  • Accuracy: +/- 2%

A quick view of our list of the top smart trainers offering Zwift compatibility:

TrainerWeight (lbs.)Our Ratings
Wahoo Smart Trainer4095
Garmin Neo 2T47.493
Garmin Tacx Flux 25291
Saris H3 Smart Trainer4786
Saris Fluid² Smart Trainer2184
Hulkwheels X7 Trainer48.583
Elite Suito31.9682
Saris Hammer (1st Gen.)4680
Kinetic Smart 24278
Saris M22677
Saris New Mag17.575

11 best zwift compatible smart trainers you can buy today

Trainer NamePreviewTypeWeightDimension ( L X W X H)ResistanceExternal PowerFolding/ Folding legsScore
WahooWahoo KICKR Core Smart Bike TrainerDirect Drive40 lbs9” x 23” x 21” (legs closed)
20” x 23” x 19”
(legs opened)
ElectromagneticRequiredYes95
Garmin Neo 2TGarmin TacX Neo 2T Smart TrainerDirect Drive47.4 lbs22.6" x 29.5" x 21.7”ElectromagneticRequiredYes93
Garmin Flux 2Tacx T2980.60 Flux 2 Smart Trainer, BlackDirect Drive52 lbs26.4" x 25.3" x 18.1"ElectromagneticRequiredNo91
Saris H3Saris CycleOps H3 Direct Drive Smart Bike Trainer, Complete Training BundleDirect Drive47 lbs31” x 18.5” x 19.5”(legs open)
8.5” x 18.5” x 19.5”
(legs closed)
ElectromagneticRequiredYes86
Saris Fluid²Saris CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Bike Trainer, Black, One Size, SAR9904TFluid Resistance21 lbs28" x 21.5" x 15.7"Fluid ProgressiveRequiredYes84
Hulkwheels X7HULKWHEELS Direct Drive Smart Bike Trainer, Indoor Bicycle Exercise Stand Mountain & Road Bike Portable Foldable Cycling Training/ Magnetic Flywheel Stand, Quick-Release,with PowerFun Zwift PerfProDirect Drive48.50 lbs16.14” x 9.84” x 33.46” (expanded)
16.14” x 9.84” x 18.90” (folded)
ElectromagneticRequiredYes83
Elite SuitoELITE Suito Interactive Trainer One Color, One SizeDirect Drive31.96 lbs29.92" x 22.04" x 19.48”
(legs open)
22.04” x 5.90” x 19.48”
(legs closed)
Electronically managed Magnetic ResistanceRequiredYes82
Saris Hammer (1st Gen.)CycleOps Best Zwift Trainer - Shimano Cassette Installed Hammer Direct Drive Trainer - Like Tacx Neo and Wahoo KickrDirect Drive46 lbs31” x 19.5” x 18.5”
(legs open)
19.5” x 18.5” x 3”
(legs closed)
ElectromagneticRequiredYes80
Kinetic Smart 2Kinetic by Kurt Rock and Roll Smart 2Fluid Resistance42 lbs30" x 30" x 11"Fluid ProgressiveRequiredYes78
Saris M2Saris CycleOps M2 Smart Indoor Bike Trainer, Compatible with Zwift AppMagnetic Resistance26 lbs21.5 x 19.9 x 7.3ElectromagneticRequiredNo77
Saris New MagSaris CycleOps Magnetic and Magnetic Plus Indoor Bike Trainer, Magnetic Resistance, Compatible with Zwift AppMagnetic Resistance17.5 lbs28 x 21.5 x 15.7ElectromagneticRequiredYes75

1. Wahoo: A Direct Drive Smart Trainer, comes w/a universal application, features intuitive user experience, packaging comes w/ accessories, provides 1800 W electromagnetic resistance, surprisingly smooth transitions in resistances, serve real-world road-bike feel | Editor’s Overall Best Choice

Wahoo Kickr Core

  • Trainer Type: Direct Drive
  • Ideal For: Cycle Training
  • Trainer Weight: 40 lbs
  • Flywheel Weight: 12 lbs
  • Data Type: Power Speed
  • Dimension(Legs Closed): 9” x 23” x 21”
  • Dimension(Legs Opened): 20” x 23” x 19”
  • Axle Compatibility: 5.12”/ 5.31” quick-release, 12 mm x 142 mm & 12 mm x 148 mm thru-axle
  • Broadcast Communication Protocol: ANT+, Bluetooth Smart Trainer Control
  • Wireless Resistance Protocol: ANT+ FE-C & Bluetooth Smart Power
  • Device Compatibility: iOS, Android, Windows & Mac
  • Resistance Type: Electromagnetic
  • Maximum Power: 1800W
  • Wheel Size: 26”, 27”/650B & 29”/700C
  • Maximum Slope Simulation: 18%
  • External Power Supply Required: Yes
  • Adjustable Resistance: Yes
  • Cassette Included: No
  • Cadence: Built-In
  • Folding legs: Yes
  • Accuracy: +/- 2%

Features & Considerations
  • Optimized Flywheel Technology: It has a built-in 12lbs flywheel. It has been designed specifically to serve you with precise inertia. This way, the trainer can mimic outdoor cycling feel that too at the comfort of your home.
  • Noiseless Performance: The Kickr Core features a belt-motor drivetrain. This will serve you with a smooth and noiseless riding experience.
  • Controlled Resistance: This trainer automatically makes adjustments to resistance through your desired application whenever it is connected to any of your smart devices.
  • Realistic Riding Experience: Integrated flywheel offers state-of-the-art and proven technology. So, it imitates inertia & power levels to that of an outdoor cycling session. Moreover, you’ll be able to witness a real-life riding feel during your virtual training using platforms such as Trainer Road, Zwift, or the Sufferfest.
  • 16% Maximum-grade Simulation: Climbs can be simulated with an incline level of a maximum of 16% by the resistance of the Kickr Core.
  • Power Accuracies of +/- 2%: It is capable of serving you with intensified power accuracies with precise measurements +/- 2%. Moreover, as much as 1800w of resistances can be generated.
  • Seamless Application Setup: The Wahoo fitness application is instinctual and straightforward. It’ll provide you with a guided set of instructions as to how you’d be able to set up the Kickr Core. You’ll also have the option of pairing up third-party applications & sensors so that you can fine-tune your cycling sessions.
  • Thru-axle Compatibility: 12×142 & 12×148 thru-axles are compatible with the Kickr Core trainer. Furthermore, it features a 5.12”/ 5.31” quick-release.
  • Disk-brake Clearance: Kickr Core has been designed to be able to accommodate bikes having disk-brakes & also have clearance for flat-mounts.
  • Bluetooth, ANT+ & ANT+ FE-C connectivity: Thanks to its Bluetooth & ANT+ compatibility. It is perfectly capable of connecting to your GPS & other smart devices either concurrently or individually. Moreover, if you use an ANT+ FE-C connection, then it’d enable you to control the Kickr Core from any device or application that is FE-C enabled.
  • Simultaneous Multiple Bluetooth Connections: You will be able to connect up to 3 smart devices to the Kickr at a time. This will ensure that your workouts are trouble-free.
  • LED Indicating Lights: This LED-based indicator light will visually confirm you regarding the fact that this trainer is properly powered, connected & ready to transmit using either Bluetooth &/ ANT+.
  • Pro-grade Durability: When it comes to durability, you should not be worried at all. Because the Kickr consists of robust steel-made construction. It’ll ensure that this trainer doesn’t get displaced during your workout sessions as you proceed with cranking out the watts. It is built to withstand years of heavy usage.
  • Measures Cadence, Speed, Power & Distance: The mentioned workouts stats will be displayed as you workout using the Kicker Core. You won’t be required to connect to any additional sensor for this process.
  • Compatible w/ Kickr Headwind: This headwind will bring state-of-the-art and enhanced control to your cycling experience. As you pair this headwind with the trainer, the speed of the fan will proportionally increase with an increase in either your heart-rate or speed.
  • Elemnt-bike Computer Compatibility: You will easily be able to carry out customized and planned workouts, simply by connecting this smart trainer with the Elemnt bike computer.
  • Compatible w/ Kickr Climb: It features a Kickr Climb indoor simulator that will provide you with the option to make ascents to 20% & descents to -10% while carrying out physical grade changes. All you need to do is, pair this with the Kickr Core and you should be able to have efficient workout sessions.
  • Compatible w/ Third-party App: You will be able to use well-known applications such as: (i) TrainerRoad (ii) Zwift (iii) The Sufferfest.
  • Supports Third-party Power-meter: As for power measurements, you’ll be able to use a third-party power-meter with the Kickr Core.

Some Weaknesses
  • You’ll be required to calibrate this trainer.

Tester Profile:

Gender: Male
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 187 lbs

We’ve been using the Wahoo Kickr Core for more than 3 years now. Some of the noteworthy features of this direct drive trainer are:

  1. Elemnt Bolt – This is the GPS speedometer.
  2. Tickr – It measures your heart-rate.
  3. Wahoo Speed – This keeps a measure of your speed.
  4. Wahoo Cadence – This is the Cadence Sensor.

In our 3 years of usage, we haven’t had any issues with this trainer, in fact, we’ve been enjoying the ease of operation of this trainer. It was an easy decision for us to buy the Kickr Core considering its performance, we’ve been using it to stay fit during the pandemic. Our requirements were seamless integration into Wahoo’s environment and a trainer that would serve us with noiseless performance. As for the assembly process, all necessary steps were precisely explained within the Wahoo application and it was quite easy to understand. We used the Wahoo application for connecting our trainer and proceeded with the setup. This required us to calibrate the trainer by cranking up to a certain speed, next, we let the trainer run out. After a duration of about 10 minutes, everything seemed to have been set up, then we proceeded with connecting this trainer to the Element bolt, which is the speedometer. All the necessary workout stats were clearly displayed on the speedometer, such as: (1) Cadence (2) Power (3) Pulse (4) Speed. This was very convenient for our workout sessions. Furthermore, training programs such as: (1) Sprint (2) Interval (3) Climb have been pre-installed within the speedometer. These programs help us in bringing variations during workouts. We’ve also used the Zwift application and this has helped us in connecting to all our iOS devices. An approximate 2000+ kilometers have been traveled as we used the Zwift application. Tenants living next doors did not notice any noise even during our rigorous workout sessions. The Kickr Core did not give off any noise whatsoever. We prefer using smaller gears, this way, noise levels are further diminished. Overall, the Wahoo Kickr Core direct drive trainer will offer you very good performances.

  • Wahoo kickr core
  • Wahoo kickr core
  • Wahoo kickr core
  • Wahoo kickr core
  • Wahoo kickr core
  • Wahoo kickr core

Figure: Wahoo Kickr Core

Wahoo Kickr Core

Wahoo Kickr Core

2. Garmin Neo 2T: A powerful smart direct drive trainer, serves quite performances, redesigned motor for optimized biking experience, offers noiseless yet powerful performances, provides real-life road cycling feel

Garmin TacX Neo 2T

  • Trainer Type: Direct Drive
  • Ideal For: Cycle Training
  • Trainer Weight: 47.4 lbs
  • Flywheel: Virtual
  • Q-factor: 5.79”
  • Maximum Torque: 88 Nm
  • Maximum Braking Force: 260 N
  • Mass Inertia: Up to 276 lbs
  • Output: Power, Speed & Cadence
  • Dimension: 22.6″ x 29.5″ x 21.7”
  • Axle Compatibility: Rear fork width – 5.12”, MTB – 5.31”, 5.59” & 5.83”
  • Adapter: Available for 5.31” x 0.39” (135 mm x 10 mm)
  • Wireless Connectivity: ANT+FE-C connectivity, Bluetooth Wireless Technology
  • Device Compatibility: iOS, Android & Windows
  • Resistance Type: Electromagnetic
  • Maximum Power: 2200W
  • Maximum Incline: 25%
  • Power Indicator: Multicolor LED
  • Connection Indicator for ANT+ & Bluetooth: 2 LEDs
  • External Power Supply Required: Yes (110 to 240 Volts)
  • Cassette Included: No
  • Folding legs: Yes
  • Accuracy: <1%

Features & Considerations
  • Completely Stillness: The Neo 2T features magnets that are redesigned to serve you with improved stillness. Possible noise generated due to the displacement of air is significantly reduced. Also, vibrations transferring into the floor with lower cadence is reduced as well. So, you’ll be getting yourself a smart trainer that provides quiet performances.
  • Powerful Sprints & Climbs: This smart direct drive mechanism based trainer consists of a newer design of motors. So, this will serve you with enhanced power at lower speeds. Hence, you’ll achieve a much-improved riding feeling as you accelerate or climb.
  • Improved Pedaling Stroke Analysis: It is designed with adaptive right & left detecting sensors. So, this will precisely measure the exact positioning of your legs. The 2T will consider your pedaling strokes and analyze them to another level. Addition of Cycling dynamics with ANT+. So, you’ll be able to carry out an effective analysis of your pedaling strokes using third-party software.
  • Realistic Riding Experience: The smart trainer will simulate an outdoor cycling riding session. You will feel as though you’re riding outdoors. This trainer reacts to instant changes in incline and speeds. Thus, your rides will be able to make varying degrees of movements either to the right or the left, as you’re riding. Hence, it will ensure that you’re maintaining a natural course of body motion.
  • Dynamic Inertia: This trainer will also serve you with dynamic inertia. It will control your mass inertia while compensating for the angle of inclination, weight & speed. Hence, your cycling sessions will be very much realistic.
  • Tacx Software/ Zwift Application: By using either the software or application, you should be getting a realistic road cycling feel and its features. The trainer can also mimic and cause necessary vibrations for giving you the feel of venturing across different terrain of road surfaces. Example: (i) Gravel (ii) Cobblestone. Upon connecting to an additional external power supply, it can precisely simulate a downhill ride.
  • Powerfully Built: Neo 2T has been manufactured to ensure that you can have intense training sessions. There are a total of 32 built-in neodymium magnets. It will aid you in exerting high levels of power and braking force.
  • Maximum Power: This trainer is capable of resisting sprints with power ratings of up to 2200 watts & perfectly be able to simulate climbs of an incline of 25%.
  • Energy Generation: Energy will be generated from your movements as you cycle. Hence, you won’t be requiring any additional power sources or plugs.
  • Durable: Irrespective of how intense your workout sessions are, this trainer will undoubtedly be able to serve you with superior durability and last for a long time.
  • Redesigned Rear-end Axle: Its rear-end axle has been redesigned by the manufacturers. Therefore, different models of bikes will be compatible with the TacX Neo 2T.
  • Reliable & Accurate: Your workout stats such as: (i) power (ii) speed (iii) cadence will be displayed precisely & have consistency by the well-engineered Neo 2T. Therefore, you can easily keep track of accurate measurements and have an idea of the progress you’re making.
  • No Calibration Required: You won’t have to go through the burden of calibrating this smart trainer either. Furthermore, your workout data will be measured having a maximum deviation of just 1%.
  • Fully Connected: The TacX Neo 2T is connected with wireless features such as: (i) Bluetooth Smart Technology (ii) ANT+ FE-C. Therefore, you’ll be able to use this exercise bike with some of the popular applications. You can consider using the TacXs’ own application or the Zwift to venture into virtual world bike riding sessions.
  • Standalone mode: You also have the option of using this trainer in a stand-alone mode. It’ll provide you with the option of simulating a flat terrain. Also, the faster you’ll ride, the greater will be the level of resistance.
  • Multiple Device Connectivity: You’ll be able to connect to multiple devices at the same time. Hence, this brings variations among your workouts.

Some Weaknesses
  • No Significant Weaknesses.

Tester Profile:

Gender: Male
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 210 lbs

This smart trainer kit works exceptionally well. We’ve been using this smart direct drive kit while being at home, during COVID, its performances have been very quiet. Compared to its previous models, the ERG is markedly faster as well. We connected to our previous iPad via Bluetooth and the pairing and performances were smooth. Moreover, we ordered a Shimano cassette as well. The packaging arrived in due time. We were highly satisfied with the real-life road riding feel. It felt like we were literally driving over planks as we used the Zwift application. There is a built-in cadence and by using Bluetooth connectivity, I can easily keep track of my heart-rate. We are slowly perfecting the climbs and sprints while using this trainer after months of usage. Also, we’ve noticed massive increases in our strength and performance. Exercising using this trainer regularly has also helped us to have a toned physique. Overall, if you want the true experience of a smart direct drive trainer then paying a premium should be a no-brainer.

  • Garmin taxc neo 2t
  • Garmin taxc neo 2t
  • Garmin taxc neo 2t
  • Garmin taxc neo 2t
  • Garmin taxc neo 2t
  • Garmin taxc neo 2t

Figure: Garmin TacX Neo 2T

Garmin TacX Neo 2T

Garmin TacX Neo 2T

3. Garmin Flux 2: Offers reliable & accurate rides, allows explosive sprints & simulates inclines for climbing, serves w/ realistic rides, features smooth & silent performances, has enhanced compatibility

Garmin Tacx Flux 2

  • Trainer Type: Direct Drive
  • Ideal For: Cycle Training
  • Trainer Weight: 52 lbs
  • Flywheel Weight: 16.8 lbs
  • Maximum Torque: 41 Nm
  • Maximum Braking Force: 260 N
  • Mass Inertia: 68.8 lbs
  • Output: Power, Speed & Cadence
  • Dimension: 26.4″ x 25.3″ x 18.1″
  • Axle Compatibility: Rear fork width – 5.12”, MTB – 5.31”, 5.59” & 5.83”
  • Adapter: Available for 5.31” x 0.39” (135 mm x 10 mm)
  • Wireless Connectivity: ANT+ FE-C connectivity, Bluetooth Wireless Technology
  • Device Compatibility: iOS, Android & Windows
  • Resistance Type: Electromagnetic
  • Maximum Power: 2000W
  • Maximum Incline: 16%
  • Connection Indicator for ANT+ & Bluetooth: 2 LEDs
  • External Power Supply Required: Yes (110 to 240 Volts)
  • Cassette Included: No
  • Folding legs: No
  • Accuracy: <2.5%

Features & Considerations
  • Designed for Reliability & Precision: Thanks to the redesigned model of T2980.60 Flux 2, now you’ll be able to track your performance levels, more accurately. Measurements that you’ll get upon usage of this smart trainer would be quite reliable.
  • Workouts Stats Tracking: Your workouts related stats such as: (i) cadence (ii) power (iii) speed will be measured with accuracies of 2.5%.
  • Ideal for Sprints: Even as you carry-out explosive sprint sessions, the well-balanced and build design smart trainer will make sure that you achieve optimal stability. It is capable of handling sprints with powers as much as 2000 watts.
  • Simulates Higher Climbs: The Flux 2 will help you to get the most out of your intense workout routines. It simulated realistic terrain inclines of a maximum of 16%.
  • Serves Realistic Rides: The flywheel on this trainer weighing at 16.8 lbs means it’s capable of ensuring a realistic riding feel & providing good responsiveness as well.
  • Noiseless & Smooth Performance: This direct drive smart trainer has been specifically designed to minimize vibrations and significantly cut down on noise levels. Garmin TacX offers one of the most noise-less flywheel-equipped smart bike trainers out there.
  • Enhanced Compatibility: It comes with supplementary axle adapters. This will markedly improve the compatibility of the axle. This is compatible with axle sizes 142 mm x 12 mm & 148 mm x 12 mm, straight out of the packaging.
  • Immensely Compatible: TacX Flux 2 communicates using ANT+FE-C connectivity, Bluetooth Wireless Technology. Therefore, you’ll be able to use it with numerous renowned training applications, for example: Zwift & TrainerRoad.
  • Serves Stand-alone Mode: You have the option of using this trainer in a stand-alone mode. Provided that the trainer isn’t connected, by default, it will simulate a flat terrain. Hence, the faster you start riding, the higher will be the level of resistance.
  • Multiple Device Compatibility: Garmin TacX Flux 2 trainer allows you to connect to multiple devices simultaneously. This way, you will be able to get the best out of the TacX software. Moreover, you’ll be able to track your performances as well.
  • Consists of TacX Training Software: The built-in TacX software features greater than 100, top-quality videos. These will make sure that you have a real-life riding experience as you virtually venture through the alps on a cobblestone road.
  • Offers Training Plan: You can make the most of a structured training plan, ones that are designed to ramp up your fitness levels. Enabling you to reach your targets. You’d also have the option of going head-to-head with your opponents, seamlessly uploading your GPS data.

Some Weaknesses
  • No Significant Weaknesses.

Tester Profile:

Gender: Male
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 179 lbs

We got ourselves the Garmin TacX Flux 2 last January. It was delivered right in time and we’re satisfied with how this product has turned out to be. For the past 9 months, this smart trainer has helped me immensely for being in shape and having efficient training sessions at home. My training sessions were effective specifically because I’ve been using power meters during my training sessions. One major advantage of using a bike trainer and cycling indoors is, I didn’t need to put in big variations in effort. As opposed to when we used to venture outdoor road conditions, such as hills, then it affected the amount of power we were required to put in. Overall, we were very satisfied with the quality and performance of this smart trainer.

  • Garmin taxc flux 2
  • Garmin taxc flux 2
  • Garmin taxc flux 2
  • Garmin taxc flux 2
  • Garmin taxc flux 2
  • Garmin taxc flux 2

Figure: Garmin TacX Flux 2

Garmin Tacx Flux 2

Garmin TacX Flux 2

4. Saris H3: Offers reliability & durability, serves quieter performances, features consistent electromagnetic resistance, compatible w/ wide range of bikes, eliminates potential wheel slips

Saris CycleOps H3

  • Trainer Type: Direct Drive
  • Ideal For: Cycle Training
  • Trainer Weight: 47 lbs
  • Flywheel Weight: 20 lbs
  • Output: Power, Speed & Cadence
  • Dimension(open): 31” x 18.5” x 19.5”
  • Dimension(closed): 8.5” x 18.5” x 19.5”
  • Axle Compatibility: 5.59” or 5.83” thru-axle, 5.12”/ 5.31” quick-release
  • Wireless Connectivity: Dual ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth FTMS
  • Device Compatibility: iOS, Android & Windows
  • Resistance Type: Electromagnetic
  • Maximum Power: 2000W
  • Maximum Incline: 20%
  • Noise Levels: 58 decibels at 20 mph
  • Connection Indicator for ANT+ & Bluetooth: LEDs
  • External Power Supply Required: Yes
  • Cassette Included: No
  • Folding legs: Yes
  • Accuracy: +/-2%

Features & Considerations
  • Packaging & Setup: The simple packaging that the H3 comes in consists of a power cord, a bag containing end-caps & the instruction manuals. You’ll have to buy the quick release skewer separately. You should consider using a skewer that is specifically designed to be used for the H3. However, you’ll need to buy the cassette separately. You can use Shimano & SRAM having speeds of 8 to 11.
  • Saris Utility Application: Once you’re done with assembling this trainer, then you can use the Saris application. It is compatible with both Android and iOS smart devices. Make sure to upgrade to the newest firmware.
  • Calibration: You can proceed with the calibration using the Zwift or Rouvy applications. As you’re using these applications, you can simply run the calibration for setting accurate power measurements or the brake-strength. If you want to get ideal results, then try riding using the trainer for approximately 10 minutes. This should help you to easily carry out the calibration. You should calibrate the CycleOps H3, more specifically the direct drive trainer once after a week or so when you move around or switch bikes.
  • Application Compatibility: The H3 makes use of advanced wireless communication standards. It is compatible with dual ANT+ FE-C, FTMS & Smart Bluetooth. You can use the TrainerRoad or the popular Zwift application. We’ve used both of them and they worked really well. You can also use applications such as Rouvy or the Sufferfest, as these applications also support wireless communication protocols.
  • Workout Stats: The H3 is perfectly capable of broadcasting cadence, your power, or speed. You can also use it with Apple TV, this will allow you to make two Bluetooth connections simultaneously.
  • Noise Levels: This trainer will offer you comparatively quiet performances. According to the scale, Saris’s H3 measures at 59 decibels at speeds of 20 mph. We’ve tested out this trainer within a soundproof area and the measurement that we precisely got was 58.92 decibels.
  • Riding Feel: The H3 is equipped with a flywheel that weighs 20 lbs. You’ll have really comfortable riding sessions. The flywheel coasts for a significant amount of time.
  • Power Accuracy: As we tested out this trainer, it happened to maintain accuracies that were claimed by the manufacturer during the vast majority of the time. Sprints happened to be within the admissible range.
  • ERG Mode: We use the ERG & spin modes regularly while using this trainer. The ERG mode happens to be quite responsive. Moreover, this trainer responded very well with smaller chainrings & for lower speeds of a flywheel.
  • Accuracy: According to Saris, the H3 should have accuracies between +/-2%. We found that the H3 indeed came within this range.
  • Cadence: The reported value of cadence for the H3 was within 1 to 3 rpm. However, there were dropouts as we varied the cadence. Moreover, the H3 can broadcast cadence over wireless mediums such as ANT+ FE-C & Bluetooth FTMS. An estimate is made by taking the help of a combination between the flywheel speed & power.

Some Weaknesses
  • You won’t be provided with cassettes within the packaging.

Tester Profile:

Gender: Male
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 210 lbs

The reason we bought the CycleOps H3 was that I wanted to shed some pounds. I must say it did not disappoint. We bought a sprocket for the rear-end wheel. This helped us to easily switch to the road-bike, in one piece again. Moreover, we used the Zwift application with this smart trainer on my Windows 10 compatible laptop. Also, using my iPhone compatible application, I connected this trainer to my television, all these devices being in our WiFi network. We controlled the software using the iPhone that I strapped into my bike. Once the free trial limit was over, we subscribed to these applications. Later on, we decided to switch to the RGT cycling application as it happens to be completely free. This application worked really well. It connected seamlessly to my iPhone, iPad & laptop as well. When running this application on our laptop we used an HDMI cable. The RGT may not contain all the scenery similar to the Zwift. However, it still does the necessary job quite well. But we’ve seen people winning virtual races without putting in a sweat, they simply breezed past us. This is something we do not think is possible in real life.

Saris CycleOps H3

Saris CycleOps H3

5. Saris Fluid²: Good turbo fluid resistance trainer, features impressive build quality & durability, offers top performance, has a sturdy frame design, ideal for power sprints, features lower noise levels

Saris CycleOps Fluid²

  • Trainer Type: Fluid Resistance
  • Ideal For: Cycle Training
  • Trainer Weight: 21 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
  • Flywheel: Big, Precision balanced
  • Output: Power, Speed & Cadence
  • Dimension(open): 28″ x 21.5″ x 15.7″
  • Axle Compatibility: 142 mm x 12 mm & 148 mm x 12 mm thru-axle; 4.72”, 5.12”/ 5.31” quick-release
  • Wireless Connectivity: ANT+ FE-C & Bluetooth FTMS
  • Device Compatibility: iOS, Android & Windows
  • Resistance Type: Fluid Progressive
  • Cooling Mechanism: Self-cooling w/ patented fan
  • Wheel Size: 26”, 27”/650B & 29”/700C
  • Cassette Included: No
  • Folding legs: Yes

Features & Considerations
  • Compatible w/ Virtual Applications: You will be able to have very realistic rides along the virtual terrains using applications such as Zwift or TrainerRoad. These applications incorporate GPS & Google Maps. Added to this, it syncs videos of real-life terrains & does route mapping. To simplify, the harder you end up pedaling, the faster would you progress along your designated route. You’ll also have the option of participating in online races and joining cycling communities.
  • Good Quality footpads & Bigger Roller: The Fluid² features premium quality footpads, this will help make your workout sessions convenient. Moreover, compared to its previous models, this one features a redesigned fluid resistance system and big sized roller as well.
  • Effortless Transportation & Storage: You’ll be able to fold this trainer, flat. Making it easier for you to carry it around. Also, it won’t be occupying too much space in your house.
  • Compatible w/ Range of Tire Sizes: It shouldn’t be an issue if you plan on using this trainer with bikes having different sizes of tires. Because it is capable of accommodating a range of tire sizes.
  • Serves Smooth Resistance: Thanks to the substantial size of the flywheel, it’ll make sure that your bike’s rear-end wheel remains more stable. Furthermore, it ensures progressive resistance. The level of resistance increases proportionately as you proceed with enhancing your workout intensity.
  • Quiet Performance: Its performances won’t be entirely silent. However, the amount of noise that the Fluid² does produce should not be bothering you too much.
  • Sturdy & Stable Build: Irrespective of your body shape, age, or skillfulness, you won’t have to worry about falling abruptly while using this trainer. Moreover, you can also use it on an uneven surface without any worries. This trainer slanted angle of the feet enables you to turn if you plan on setting it on an unstable surface. It ensures good stability.
  • Durable Build Design: Simply by looking at the trainer you’ll know that this trainer is quite durable. Many models of trainers consist of flashy colors. However, that isn’t the case for the CycleOps Fluid². This trainer has a bronze design that offers durability. Furthermore, rather than having solid lines, it consists of curves. It also consists of a self-cooling system. The alloy-roller on this trainer has been precision-machined. So, these features offer sturdiness.
  • Easy Setup: If you’re someone who travels a lot and needs to set up the trainer more often, then this trainer is exactly what you need. Thanks to its foldable body and compact design, this makes setting it up a whole lot easier.

Some Weaknesses
  • The substantial size of the fluid resistance unit makes this trainer quite heavy.

Tester Profile:

Gender: Male
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 171 lbs

We wanted to get ourselves a smart trainer that offered a fluid resistance mechanism. After researching for a few months, we finally settled for the CycleOps Fluid². It’s been more than 6 months since we’ve been using this smart trainer and we’re satisfied with its performance. Setting up this was quite easy. We used applications such as the TrainerRoad & Zwift and it must be said that we’ve got a realistic and effective cycling experience while being indoor. This has been beneficial since we haven’t been able to go for outdoor sessions regularly due to COVID.
Some of the accessories that we bought while setting up this trainer are as follows:

1. Block for the front-end wheel.
2. We set up a cooler on one side of the room.
3. A mat for safeguarding the floor & preventing it from being drenched in sweat.
4. Cadence & Speed Sensors – For more effective workout sessions.
5. An application such as Zwift for serving us with a realistic virtual cycling experience.
6. As we used our personal desktop, we also bought a USB extension cord along with an ANT+ dongle.

Once we’ve set everything, then we tried out the Zwift application. It helped us to get a very realistic outdoor cycling experience that too in the comfort of our home. We were thoroughly impressed with Zwift so, once the 1-week free trial was over, then we decided to subscribe to it.

  • Saris cycleops fluid2
  • Saris cycleops fluid2

Figure: Saris CycleOps Fluid²

Saris CycleOps Fluid²

Saris CycleOps Fluid²

6. Hulkwheels X7: Offers stability on various surfaces, operates silently, ensures durability, connects swiftly to Zwift, compatible w/ range of bikes

Hulkwheels Thinkrider X7

  • Trainer Type: Direct Drive
  • Ideal For: Cycle Training
  • Trainer Weight: 48.50 lbs
  • Flywheel Weight: 12.57 lbs
  • Output: Power, Speed
  • Dimension(expanded): 16.14” x 9.84” x 33.46”
  • Dimension(folded): 16.14” x 9.84” x 18.90”
  • Axle Compatibility: 5.12”/ 5.31” quick-release; QR – 12 x 142, and 12 x 148 barrel shaft
  • Wireless Connectivity: ANT+, ANT+ FE-C & Bluetooth
  • Device Compatibility: iOS, Android & Windows
  • Transmission Mode: Rubber-made V-ribbed Belt
  • Resistance Type: Electromagnetic
  • Maximum Power: 2500W
  • Maximum Incline: 20%
  • Connection Indicator for ANT+ & Bluetooth: LEDs
  • External Power Supply Required: Yes (100 V to 240 V ~ 1.5 A & 50 to 60 Hz)
  • Cassette Included: No
  • Folding legs: Yes
  • Accuracy: +/-2%

Features & Considerations
  • Distinctive Y-shaped Design: The specially Y-shaped design of this bike’s frame will provide you a true and enjoyable cycling experience. Moreover, it helps in significantly reducing damage to the carbon-fiber made frame.
  • Real-time Temperature Control: All thanks to the addition of an efficient temperature controlling chip & more upgraded algorithms, you will have accurate readings of temperature with accuracies of +/-2%.
  • Offers Stability: It is capable of serving you with a low stance. So, your balance will be formidable. Upon using the electromagnetic torque power-meter will significantly enhance the performance. Furthermore, a distance of approximately 36” between the two feet of this Y-shaped trainer will ensure that the trainer doesn’t get displaced during your workouts.
  • Smooth Performance: During your rides, this trainer oscillates slightly by about 5 mm or so on either side. This helps in getting rid of fatigue. As a result, your workouts are quite noiseless.
  • Automatic Tensioning Mechanism: This technology prevents the belt from slipping during the winter season. Hence, your rides are guaranteed to be uninterrupted, secure, and enjoyable.
  • Plastic & Hard-wearing Frame: This trainer’s durability is down to the fact that it is made from a combination of plastic & hard-wearing metal. So, this trainer will undoubtedly last for a long time.
  • Protective Enclosure: A totally enclosed design of this trainer ensures good levels of safety for you, other family members & for your pets as well, even during high-speed inertia with revolutions at frequencies of even 3000 RPM.
  • Seamless Connectivity to Zwift: The X7 is compatible with wireless connectivity features such as: Bluetooth 4.0, ANT+ & FE-C. Moreover, this trainer is compatible with platforms such as Windows, iOS & Android.
  • Offers Good Compatibility: You should be able to fit the X7 with any of your mountain or road bikes having wheels sizes of 20” to 29”/ 700c.
  • Axle Compatibility: It is compatible with axle adapters having lengths of 5.12”/ 5.31”. It also features a quick-release skewer. This trainer is ideal for you to have an efficient indoor cycling session.

Some Weaknesses
  • You can face a bit of an obstacle when pairing and updating firmware on Android-based devices.

Tester Profile:

Gender: Female
Height: 5’5”
Weight: 141 lbs

We bought the Thinkrider X7, a direct drive smart last April, during COVID, to be specific. We did not have any issues while setting up this trainer, the process was quite straightforward. Moreover, it integrated with the Zwift application effortlessly. It also served us with surprisingly quiet performances. As we got out of the bike’s seat, this trainer oscillated somewhat. This also surprisingly gave us a somewhat pleasant feel. If you pair an iOS compatible device with this trainer, then updating to the newest firmware should not be an issue. However, the same cannot be said for other platforms. If you’re someone who doesn’t tweak the smartphone applications too much, then this should be a good choice of direct drive based smart trainer for you.

Hulkwheels-thinkrider-x7

Figure: Hulkwheels Thinkrider X7

Hulkwheels Thinkrider X7

Hulkwheels Thinkrider X7

7. Elite Suito: Features a steel-made base construction, offers electronically controlled resistance, provides smart Bluetooth & ANT+ wireless connectivity feature, compatible w/ platforms such as Windows, iOS, macOS & Android

Elite Suito

  • Trainer Type: Direct Drive
  • Ideal For: Cycle Training
  • Trainer Weight: 31.96 lbs
  • Flywheel Weight: 7.71 lbs
  • Output: Power, Speed, Cadence, FTMS
  • Dimension(open): 29.92″ x 22.04″ x 19.48”
  • Dimension(folded): 22.04” x 5.90” x 19.48”
  • Axle Compatibility: 5.12”/ 5.31” quick-release; QR – 12 x 142, and 12 x 148
  • Wireless Connectivity: ANT+, ANT+ FE-C & Bluetooth
  • Device Compatibility: iOS, Android, macOS & Windows
  • Resistance Type: Electronically managed Magnetic Resistance
  • Maximum Power: 1900 W at 40 km/h to 2900 w 60 km/h
  • Maximum Incline: 15%
  • Noise Levels: 63 decibels
  • Connection Indicator for Power, ANT+ & Bluetooth: 3 LEDs
  • External Power Supply Required: Yes
  • Cassette Included: Yes
  • Folding legs: Yes
  • Accuracy: +/-2.5%

Features & Considerations
  • Free Trial for Zwift & My E-training: Elite and Zwift has an understanding that if you buy the Suito, then you’d be getting a free one months subscription for using the Zwift application. Furthermore, you’d also be getting a 12-month long free subscription to the My E-Training application. You’ll be able to use these applications on your desktop as well as your smartphones.
  • Wireless Features & Compatibility: Suito provides Bluetooth & ANT+ FE-C compatibility. Meaning, you’ll be able to connect this trainer to numerous interactive applications or your smart devices such as your tablets or smartphones. It is also compatible with Android, Windows, macOS, or iOS platforms.
  • Supported Applications: The Suito supports applications such as: (i) Elite’s My E-Training application (ii) Zwift (iii) The Sufferfest (iv) TrainerRoad (v) Bikevo (vi) Rouvy (vii) Kinomap.
  • Noiseless Performance: Elite vouches that the Suito is one of the quietest smart trainers you’ll find out there. This largely due to its balanced flywheel. It can avoid even the smallest levels of vibrations. Furthermore, its compact design helps in avoiding resonance. The only significant noise that you’ll be hearing is that of the chain as you switch gears.
  • Sensorless Cadence: This trainer work very efficiently to provide you very efficient training sessions, replicating a road riding experience. The measurement of cadence is done using sensorless technology. Rather the cadence is measured by the Suito from variations in speed.
  • Plug & Play Configuration: You won’t have to go through the rigorous step of extensively setting up this trainer. It offers you an easy plug & play feature. The Suito comes fully assembled within the packaging. So, you can simply begin working out, without requiring to attach the sprocket cassette, neither do you need to attach the legs of this trainer. Simply proceed with unfolding the supporting legs and position this trainer to your designated workout location. Lastly, connect it to a power source. For carrying out all these steps, you’ll be needing five minutes tops.
  • Cassette: This trainer also consists of an 11-speed Shimano cassette. It is also compatible with 9/10/11 speeds of sprocket cassettes of Shimano.
  • Easy Storage: Once you’re done with your sessions, all you need to do is simply fold the legs on this trainer and store it to your preferred location for easy storage.
  • Compact Design: Measuring at 29.92″ x 22.04″ x 19.48” when unfolded, this smart trainer features a compact design. It also has two side-ways steel-made sections. Furthermore, it consists of a sleek & thin design, this is quite a unique design.
  • Space Saver: Since it has a compact design, so; you’ll be able to store it even in your smaller studio apartments or personal gym, with ease.
  • Stable Design: Suito has been designed to feature a sturdy design. It has been constructed using robust steel. This trainer has specifically been designed to withstand and maintain stability even as you workout rigorously. So, upon purchasing this trainer, you’ll be getting the perfect blend of stability & durability. Furthermore, the well-structured belt, wider design of the base & adjustable height of the feet will ensure good overall stability during your sessions.
  • Ease of Transportation: There is a built-in handle that will allow you to move this trainer quite easily while maintaining proper balance. This handle is positioned in the center of the trainer for effective distribution of weight.
  • Compatibility: The Suito is undoubtedly one of the most versatile trainers you’ll find out there. It is capable of accommodating the majority of the models of bikes.
  • Axle Compatibility: It is compatible with axle sizes of 5.12”/ 5.31” quick-release & QR – 12 x 142, and 12 x 148.
  • Offers Good Performances: This trainer has been designed to automatically adjust to your resistance levels. Moreover, it simulates slopes of up to 15%. Overall, it will serve you quite well even during your intense sessions.
  • Magnet-based Resistance Mechanism: You’ll be able to manage the magnetic-based resistance electronically. Moreover, the Suito will serve you with power accuracies of +/-2.5%.
  • Power Meter Link: Efficient usage of the power meter link can be done. When you use the PML, the Suito will cause the resistance to align with the power levels that are measured using the ergometer. You can also disable the PML simply by using the My E-Training Application.

Some Weaknesses
  • You may notice certain levels of variations in power when you remain seated & when you stand up.

Tester Profile:

Gender: Male
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 161 lbs

We already have a magnetic-based trainer and have been using it for more than 3 years now. After having researched for months for some of the best smart trainers out there, we decided to buy the Elite Suito. It took me about 3 months to fully master the art of using this smart drive trainer. So far the experience of using this trainer has been totally different from the magnetic-based trainer. The fact that it has the capability of imitating hill climbs has been hugely helpful for us. My E-Training application came with a year’s free subscription. Videos with the application might have been better. So, I decided to sign up for the Zwift application instead and the realistic outdoor riding experience we obtained while using this application has been a breath of fresh air. In fact, this trainer seemed to be working quite well with Zwift. Once we reached a 9° incline, we felt it instantly. One of the best things about this trainer is, we were able to use it, straight out of the box. It also provided reasonable stability during our riding sessions. So far we never felt like we’d fall over, even during intense workout sessions. The packaging included a cassette and a holder for the front-end wheel. Our workouts sessions were effective thanks to the hill simulation and the realistic riding experience while using the Zwift application. We’ve been totally satisfied with the performance of this smart trainer.

  • Elite suito
  • Elite suito
  • Elite suito
  • Elite suito

Figure: Elite Suito

Elite Suito

Elite Suito

8. Saris Hammer (1st Gen.): Comes w/ installed Shimano cassette, versatile direct drive trainer, ideal for tough intervals & recovery rides, consists of a big precision-balanced flywheel, provides a realistic & smooth road-riding experience, features electromagnetic resistance, serves noiseless performances

Saris CycleOps Hammer (1st Gen.)

  • Trainer Type: Direct Drive
  • Ideal For: Cycle Training
  • Trainer Weight: 46 lbs
  • Flywheel Weight: 20 lbs
  • Output: Power, Speed & Cadence
  • Dimension (open): 31” x 19.5” x 18.5”
  • Dimension (folded): 19.5” x 18.5” x 3”
  • Axle Compatibility: Dropout spacing – 5.59” & 5.83”
  • Wireless Connectivity: ANT+FE-C connectivity, Bluetooth Wireless Technology
  • Device Compatibility: iOS, Android & Windows
  • Resistance Type: Electromagnetic
  • Maximum Power: 2000W at 20 mph
  • Maximum Incline: 20%
  • Noise Levels: 64 decibels
  • Connection Indicator for ANT+ & Bluetooth: LEDs
  • External Power Supply Required: Yes
  • Cassette Included: No
  • Folding legs: Yes
  • Accuracy: +/-2.0%

Features & Considerations
  • Compatible w/ Zwift & Other Applications: You’ll be able to use applications such as the Zwift or TrainerRoad to have an effective real-life cycling experience indoors.
  • Versatility & Easy Usage: For you to begin your riding sessions, all you need to do is first of, attach the cassette. Secondly, pop-off the rear-end wheel of your bike. Lastly, connect to your desired application to have an effective virtual training session.
  • Simulate Outdoor Rides: Using the Hammer, you’ll be able to simulate easy-riding sessions. Moreover, you will be able to have a rolling hill virtual training session where you’ll be able to maintain a maximum incline angle of 20%.
  • Axle Compatibility: The Hammer is compatible with any bike having a thru-axle size of 5.59” & 5.83”.
  • Noise Levels: The noise level of this smart trainer measures at 64 dB for a speed of 20 mph.
  • Serves Accurate Power Readings: Thanks to the efficient PowerTap mechanism, the Hammer will provide you with very accurate power-related readings.
  • Wireless Compatibility: The Hammer has built-in Bluetooth 4.0 & twin ANT+ FE-C wireless connectivity features.
  • Foldable Legs: Since the legs on this trainer can be folded, so; you should have enhanced stability. Moreover, this will let you store this trainer quite easily in your preferred location.
  • Precision-balanced Flywheel: As it features a precision-balanced flywheel, hence; your cycling sessions will undoubtedly be very quiet. Moreover, there won’t be any unnecessary vibrations even during your intense riding sessions. More importantly, you’ll be having a true road-cycling experience while using the hammer.
  • Sturdy Design: It is capable of handling a maximum power of 2000 watts with a maximum speed of 20 mph. Whereas, the maximum incline angle of climbing is 20%.
  • Direct Drive Mechanism: This trainer features an effective direct drive based system. You’ll be able to connect your bike directly to this resistance unit. Hence, eliminate any wear & tear on your bike in the process.
  • Internally Cooling Mechanism: The Hammer is capable of serving you with the most accurate data during your riding process, even as you carry out grueling cycling sessions.
  • PowerTap Mechanism: This technology makes sure that the trainer is PowerTuned properly. Therefore, you’ll be getting very precise power readings.
  • Quick Responding Electromagnetic Resistance: The Electromagnetic resistance makes sure that you have a very responsive resistance mechanism once you buy this trainer.

Some Weaknesses
  • No Significant Weaknesses.

Tester Profile:

Gender: Male
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 187 lbs

We’ve been planning on transitioning from a fluid resistance based trainer to a direct drive based smart trainer. Also, we used this fluid resistance based trainer for more than 6 years. The research was carried out for approximately 6 to 8 weeks. After thinking about it long and hard we settled for the Saris CycleOps Hammer(1st Gen.). The fact that the price of this trainer dropped significantly while we bought it made the deal even sweeter. From the very beginning, we started using the Zwift application and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. We’d recommend you to buy a crank sensor as well. This is significantly more effective compared to the calculated crank RPM. Setting up this trainer was quite easy, it took us approximately 15 minutes tops. We simply just got ourselves locked in and started pedaling. It wasn’t required for us to change gear to power up. Furthermore, this is much quieter than our wheel-on bike trainer. We were able to use the bike without needing to use a power meter. This trainer keeps cadence as well. Once we took the trainer out of the box, it was already installed with the latest version of the firmware. Overall, the Hammer, as the name suggests, is built like a tank. It’ll offer you good stability. However, make sure to be careful when you move this trainer, post-workout sessions. Because at 46 lbs, this is quite heavy. Lastly, we did not face any unwanted power drops either. It offered us good value for money.

  • Saris cycleops hammer
  • Saris cycleops hammer

Figure: Saris CycleOps Hammer

Saris CycleOps Hammer (1st Gen.)

Saris CycleOps Hammer (1st Gen.)

9. Kinetic Smart 2: Patented frame, simulates a realistic road-biking feel, fluid-based resistance mechanism, ensures quiet operation, compatible w/ applications such as Zwift & TrainerRoad provides a 1-month free subscription of KinticFit training application

Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart 2

  • Trainer Type: Fluid & Smart Resistance
  • Ideal For: Cycle Training
  • Trainer Weight: 42 lbs
  • Flywheel Weight: 6.25 lbs
  • Flywheel: Big, Precision balanced
  • Output: Power, Speed & Cadence
  • Dimension: 30″ x 30″ x 11″
  • Wireless Connectivity: ANT+, ANT+ FE-C & Bluetooth FTMS
  • Device Compatibility: iOS, Android & Windows
  • Resistance Type: Fluid Progressive
  • Maximum Power: 1400W at 35 mph
  • Wheel Size: 26”/650B to 29”/700C
  • Folding legs: No

Features & Considerations
  • Trainer Tire: Make sure that you switch to a trainer tire before you start using this wheel-on bike trainer. Otherwise, usage of regular tires may end up causing wear & tear.
  • Transmits Power: As this is a fluid resistance trainer, it’s capable of transmitting power data into various applications. However, these applications won’t be able to communicate with the trainer in return.
  • Mounting Procedure: Kinetic tire driven trainers should be quite easy for you to begin training on. All you need to do is, simply mount the unit for the resistance. Then, proceed with replacing your bike’s fast-release skewer with that of the Kinetic-skewer. Lastly, proceed with mounting your bike.
  • Thru-axle Compatibility: Provided that your bike is compatible with a 12 mm thru-axle, then it should be best that you use the Kinetic Traxle adapter.
  • Makes Subtle Movements: The Smart 2 tends to move slightly, sideways during your riding session. However, this will be quite convenient during your sessions.
  • Application Compatibility: You can avail a detailed set of programs for workout sessions along with having customized resistance targets while you use the KineticFit Application. Moreover, you can use the Zwift application to have virtual rides, join communities, or set tailor-made workouts.
  • Patented Fluid Resistance: As you either increase or decrease the speed of your wheels, the fluid-based resistance will increase proportionately as well. Furthermore, you’ll be required to shift gears or bring changes to your speed to bring variation to the resistance.
  • Wire Range of Bike Compatibility: You should be able to accommodate a majority of the bike with the fluid resistance trainer. This also includes bikes that consist of either thru-axles or internally geared-hubs. Moreover, bikes that have wheels as little as 16” can be accommodated on this fluid-based trainer as well.
  • Dual-band Communication Mechanism: This trainer is integrated with the newest wireless communications protocols, such as ANT+, ANT+ FE-C & Bluetooth FTMS. Hence, these should be compatible with your smartphones or laptops. You will also be able to use Garmin’s devices with the Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart 2 trainer.

Some Weaknesses
  • This fluid resistance trainer is quite heavy, it weighs 42 lbs.

Tester Profile:

Gender: Male
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 209 lbs

After researching for months, we finally chose the Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart 2 fluid resistance trainer. Having used this trainer for over a year now, the things that we liked most about this trainer is that it comes with integrated inRide Smart 3 sensors. We used the Zwift application for having an effective virtual cycling session. Additionally, stats such as power, speed & cadence were shown directly on the Zwift application as well. During our rides, we noticed that there were slight movements. We found this to be rather natural compared to fixed bike trainers. However, we needed some time for getting a hang of this, so that we could stay properly positioned within our bike. Overall, this trainer is pretty well constructed.

As this is a wheel-on fluid magnetic-based trainer, so, here are some of the things that you should keep in mind. Else, you may end up feeling uncomfortable during your rides.

  • Make sure to have tires specifically allocated for your training sessions. If your bike isn’t a road bike, then get off-road tires for it.
  • You should remember to loosen the bolts on your bike’s wheel once you’re done riding.
  • Don’t forget to check for the pressure on your bike’s tires.
  • You should always clean your bike’s tires before you start riding.
  • Lastly, you can use the kinetic mobile-based application to carry out proper calibration. It won’t be taking you more than 30 seconds to calibrate it.
  • Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart 2
  • Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart 2
  • Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart 2
  • Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart 2

Figure: Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart 2

Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart 2

Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart 2

10. Saris M2: Zwift certified trainer, offers accurate power readings of +/- 5%, serves controlled electromagnetic resistance, capable of replicating a wide range of workouts, connects to twin ANT+ FE-C & Bluetooth

Saris CycleOps M2

  • Trainer Type: Magnetic trainer
  • Ideal For: Cycle Training
  • Trainer Weight: 26 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
  • Output: Power, Speed & Cadence
  • Dimension: 21.5 x 19.9 x 7.3
  • Axle Compatibility: Thru-axle – 142 mm x 12 mm & 148 x 12 mm; Dropout Spacing – 5.59” & 5.83”
  • Wireless Connectivity: ANT+FE-C connectivity, Bluetooth 4.0 Wireless Technology
  • Device Compatibility: iOS, Android & Windows
  • Resistance Type: Electromagnetic
  • Maximum Power: 1500W at 20 mph
  • Wheel Size: 26”, 27” & 29”
  • Maximum Incline: 15%
  • Noise Levels: 69 decibels at 20 mph
  • External Power Supply Required: Yes
  • Cassette Included: No
  • Folding legs: No
  • Accuracy: +/-5.0%

Features & Considerations
  • Transmits Accurate Data: The M2 is capable of transmitting stats such as speed & power without requiring you to use additional external sensors. Moreover, you’ll be getting power readings with accuracies of +/- 5.0%, this will enable you to boost your confidence.
  • Robust Design & Good Performance: Thanks to this trainer’s sturdy design, it is perfectly capable of handling power up to 1500 W at a speed of 20 mph. Furthermore, you’ll be getting a maximum incline of 15%.
  • Provides Electromagnetic Resistance: This trainer features an electromagnetic based resistance mechanism, making sure that your workouts are precise and very quiet. It generated noise levels of 69 decibels at a speed of 20 mph.
  • Compatibility: You’ll be able to use this trainer with either your mountain or road bike’s frames. It includes a quick-releasing steel-made skewer & rear dropout spacing having three different settings; 4.72”, 5.12”, 5.31”.
  • Axle-adapter: You will have another optional thru-axle adapter of size 12 mmm having spacing for sizes 5.59” & 5.83”
  • Resistance Unit: The resistance unit on this trainer works on wheel sizes of 26”, 650b,700c & 27” with your tires being up to 2”.
  • Alloy-made Roller: Alloy-roller on the M2 is designed precisely using precisely-machined alloy. You can use the clutch-knob to perfect the roller-to-tire tension. This way any potential wearing outdoor slippage of the tire is minimized.
  • Usage of Trainer Tire Recommended: It is highly recommended that you use a trainer tire, instead of your regular cycling tires on your bike, while using it on the trainer.
  • Leveling Feet: The supporting feet on this trainer offers an unconventional leveling option. This will help you to make quick and seamless adjustments even on irregular surfaces.
  • Wireless Connectivity: M2 features integrated twin-band ANT+, Bluetooth & FE-C. This makes it easier for you to connect to other cycling applications of your preference.
  • LEDs for Connectivity: When wireless connectivity is established, the built-in LEDs light up and communicate with other devices.
  • Compatible Applications: This trainer is compatible with several cycling applications and & smart devices, such as: TrainerRoad, Rouvy & Zwift.
  • Virtual Training Sessions: The M2 is a Zwift compatible & certified trainer. You’ll be able to use the Zwift online platform for effectively tracking, competing & training within a virtual environment.
  • Headless Mode: It features a headless mode, meaning, even when it isn’t paired up with any other applications, it’ll still let you go for sessions consisting of progressive resistance.
  • OTA firmware updates: You’ll be able to carry out over air firmware related updates using the Saris applications.

Some Weaknesses
  • No Significant Weaknesses.

Tester Profile:

Gender: Female
Height: 5’5”
Weight: 141 lbs

We had a preference for getting ourselves a Magnetic trainer. Considering all aspects, we chose the CycleOps M2. This trainer helped us to get the most miles out of our bike. Moreover, we were able to have efficient virtual training sessions. If you possess similar requirements, then you should definitely go for the CycleOps M2. It consists of a metallic drum, this is known as the resistance unit. This unit will remain clamped against the rear-end tire of your bike. Little assembly was needed as we took this trainer out of the box. We were able to assemble the trainer without any hassle. A guide for assembling the trainer has also been provided. Moreover, you’ll find tutorials as to how you can set up this trainer on the manufacturers’ website. The stand as well as the other components of this trainer is quite robust and has a rugged. So, you should be able to carry out intense training sessions as well. The only major adjustment that we did was, replacing the rear-end tire skewer with the one that came with the trainer. The M2 is compatible with a majority of the mountain & road compatible bike frames. It is capable of fitting a wheel of 700c. Although, we weren’t able to fit a wheel that had 650c. Therefore, make sure that your bike’s wheel is compatible with this trainer before buying the trainer itself. You’ll clearly notice a widely visible yellow-colored knob that you can turn for tightening the resistance unit positioned against the rear-end tire. This unit clicks into position perfectly once it’s sufficiently tight. Once we tightened the unit and it was against the rear-end tire of our bike, then we proceeded with our training. This trainer also provided us electromagnetic resistance. We were very happy with how it performed as we connected it with the virtual training application, Zwift. As we used this application, it helped us in choosing various routes. Moreover, we participated in races while communicating with other riders. Zwift provided us continuous feedback related to our performances. Furthermore, we got a summary related to the statistics once we finished the session. We had a thorough virtual-riding experience while using the Zwift application. You should keep in mind that this application requires a subscription. Some of the sensors that this trainer consists of, were used to detect our workout stats such as speed & cadence. We did not use any additional sensors with this trainer. We connected the M2 using wireless connectivity features such as Bluetooth & ANT+ FE-C to our smartphones & tablets. Overall, this trainer has served us with very good durability. Also, mounting & dismounting a bike from the trainer did not take more than a minute. Lastly, our workout sessions were quite effective, to say the least.

Saris CycleOps M2

Saris CycleOps M2

11. Saris New Mag: Magnetic-based resistance mechanism unit, offers noiseless & frictionless sessions, linear resistance ensures boosted intensity of workout sessions, adjustable between 5 Levels of resistance, compatible w/ Zwift indoor training application

Saris CycleOps New Mag

  • Trainer Type: Magnetic trainer
  • Ideal For: Cycle Training
  • Trainer Weight: 17.5 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
  • Output: Power, Speed & Cadence
  • Dimension: 28 x 21.5 x 15.7
  • Axle Compatibility: Thru-axle – 142 mm x 12 mm & 148 x 12 mm; Dropout Spacing – 5.59” & 5.83”
  • Wireless Connectivity: ANT+FE-C connectivity, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Device Compatibility: iOS, Android & Windows
  • Resistance Type: Electromagnetic
  • Maximum Power: 1500W at 20 mph
  • Wheel Size: 26”, 27” & 29”
  • Maximum Incline: 15%
  • Noise Levels: 72 to 76 decibels at 20 mph
  • External Power Supply Required: Yes
  • Cassette Included: No
  • Folding legs: No

Features & Considerations
  • Offers Magnetic Resistance: Thanks to the magnetic resistance unit on this trainer. It’ll ensure that you achieve a noiseless & frictionless cycling session.
  • Linear Resistance: A linear-resistance will help in boosting the intensity of your workouts with each of your pedaling strokes & gear-clicks.
  • Leveling Feet: The unconventional design of leveling feet will allow you to make super easy adjustments even on irregular surfaces.
  • Adjustable Tire Fit: For easy storage, you will be able to fold the frame of this trainer. This helps in saving a lot of space.
  • Resistance Roller Unit: This resistance unit roller can accommodate wheel sizes of 26”, 27” & 29”. You’ll be able to fit tire widths of 2”.
  • Compatibility: The Mag is capable of supporting your mountain or road bike securely.
  • Trainer Tire: It is highly recommended that you use a trainer tire instead of your regular road tires as you use the bikes with the Mag trainer.
  • Compatible Applications: Some of the applications that this trainer is compatible with include; TrainerRoad, Rouvy & Zwift.
  • Maximum Weight: It is perfectly capable of supporting a maximum weight capacity of 300 lbs.
  • Thru-axle Adapter: You have the option of using a thru-axle adapter of 142×12 mm and 148×12 mm, as you fit your bike to this trainer.
  • Noise Levels: This trainer generates noise levels of 72-76 decibels at a speed of 20 mph.

Some Weaknesses
  • No Significant Weaknesses.

Tester Profile:

Gender: Female
Height: 5’5”
Weight: 141 lbs

We’ve had riding sessions of more than 300 miles while using this trainer. Initially, we used a mountain bike on this trainer, later on, we switched bikes to a road bike. The performance this trainer offered us is equally great for both categories of bikes. The Design & build quality of this trainer is spot on. Its performances are very quiet as well. To ensure that there isn’t any unwanted wobbling of this trainer, we have carpeted the surface on which we set up the trainer. We can watch Netflix while cycling, the noise isn’t too much to interrupt our binge-watch sessions. We’ve been using a smoother 27.5” trainer tire on our bike while setting it up on the trainer. You may find the instruction within the manual to be less clear. However, in case of any queries, contacting Saris will help solve your issues.

Saris CycleOps New Mag

Saris CycleOps New Mag


Buying Guide: Zwift compatible Smart Trainers

The features that you should be looking for while buying a smart trainer for setting up a Zwift application are as follows:

Smart-trainer-indoor-setup

Figure: You can use the following setup when positioning your smart trainer indoors.
Source: Cyclist.co.uk

1. Flywheel

A precision-balanced flywheel should help you to attain a road cycling feeling, precisely due to the amount of kinetic energy they are capable of storing & also due to the resultant inertia they are capable of providing. Therefore, this will make you feel as though you’re coasting on a real road. There are some riders, who think and feel that the heavier the flywheel, the better would your cycling experience be. However, that necessarily isn’t the case. Design, construction, and materials all play a significant role in ensuring that you have a good cycling experience. There are some brands of trainers that also use virtual flywheel as well. Such as the Garmin TacX Neo 2T trainer consisting of magnets. Although, you’ll be required to pay more for the trainers that have a virtual flywheel. The major advantage of using a trainer with a virtual flywheel is, these are capable of changing the inertia, based on the virtual terrain that you choose. Therefore, you’ll feel that climbing feels a lot different to that of training on a flat surface.

Smart-trainer-flywheel

Figure: Flywheel

2. Weight & Packability

You will find that smart trainers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They also have different weights. Out of all categories of smart trainers, wheel-on trainers are more likely to be the lightest, you’ll also be able to transport these trainers with relative ease as well. On the other hand, direct trainers are comparatively bulkier. Although, their sizes & shapes may vary quite a bit. You’ll be able to fold some models of these trainers with relative ease. Nonetheless, they will be quite heavy, either way.

3. Power & Gradient:

Different models of trainers feature varying maximum power capacity. This corresponds to the total amount of resistance they are capable of generating. This value may range between 1500 watts to more than 3500 watts. Although, a model of a trainer that offers 2000 watts should be sufficient for you, provided that you’re not a professional sprinter. The gradient can be defined as the maximum incline level that one of the trainers can simulate. This value is represented in percentages. You should keep in mind, a lower value of gradient wouldn’t necessarily hamper training sessions.

4. Noise:

Previously trainers used to be very noisy. However, nowadays there have been a lot of improvements in the noise levels, in the last few years or so. But you’ll still find that on-wheel trainers are comparatively louder than that direct-drive trainers. Out of all categories of trainers, direct-drive are the ones that are the quietest. Some models tend to be so quiet that the only sound you’ll be hearing is the sound of your bike’s drivetrain. If you plan on carrying out your session without disturbing anyone else inside the household, then you should get a direct drive trainer.

Noise-Comparisons

Figure: Noise Comparisons

Provided that your smart trainer tends to make a significant amount of noise, then the video below will be quite useful to solve that problem.

5. Other accessories

You’ll be required to plug a smart trainer into an electricity supply for the trainer to function properly. Therefore, you should get yourself a good quality extension-lead. It also depends on where you plan on setting up your trainer. This is because supplied plugs do not necessarily have long wires. You can use Bluetooth for connecting all your accessories/hardware. However, there are ANT+ accessories then you might use that for connecting. Although, in such a case, you’ll need to buy an ANT+ dongle as well, either for your smart device or laptop. Moreover, you should get a riser-block for your bike’s front-end wheel as well. Although, this will depend on the model of bike you’re using. Getting yourself a trainer mat is essential as well. It would be advisable that you get a rubberized one. Because this will help in soaking in the sweat and dampen the vibrations from your rides. Furthermore, the noise levels will be kept at bay. A sweat net can come in very handy as well. This will help in protecting your bike’s top-tube, stem & steer-tube Also, this will protect from corrosion & sweat. Do not forget to get a fan, one that is approximately 20” tall. Lastly, if you use either a tablet or a laptop, then get a stand that will help in positioning it right in front of you.

6. Internet

You must have a stable internet connection. It can be 4G, but keep in mind that during the 1-hour session, approximately 300 MB of data was used. You can also use an ethernet cable into the room where you set up the trainer. Although for this to work, you’ll need either another router or a booster for WiFi. Make sure that the internet connection doesn’t drop. Because this can be quite bothersome.

7. Zwift compatible device

You’ll be needing a smart device, such as a tablet, smartphone, or laptop. However, a smartphone screen might be smaller for you to read the data. Therefore, it is better than you use either a laptop, desktop, or tablet instead. Lastly, you’ll need to have access to the Zwift application on these devices.

8. ANT+and/or Bluetooth

Provided that your smart trainer, speed or power sensors are only compatible with ANT+ sensors, then you’ll need to buy an ANT+ dongle as well. It would be more convenient for you to use Bluetooth instead. Because you won’t have to buy an additional ANT+ dongle in this case.

9. Fan/Cooling system

You should get a bigger sized fan as well. This will help in keeping your aerated once you start sweating during your exercise sessions.

F.A.Qs

Q.1: What is a smart trainer?

Ans.: A conventional smart trainer generally consists of a stand that will be able to support your bike at the rear-end wheel. Whereas, there will also be a resistance unit. A smart trainer’s resistance unit has integrated electronics that are capable of transmitting your speed into an ANT+ device. You will also find a few smart trainers that consist of power meters. Most importantly, smart trainers will ensure that you have a more realistic indoor cycling experience. These applications feature options of simulating varying gradients so that your cycling experiences feel totally like real-life outdoor experiences. As you simulate climbing, the difficulty may increase. Lastly, you should be able to use the Zwift application with conventional trainers that consist of ANT+ sensors. However, a majority of trainers prefer going for a smart trainer instead.

Q.2: What is Zwift?

Ans.: This is a turbo trainer application that will help you to connect your smart trainer to either your smartphone, tablet, or personal computer. It enables you to ride with your fellow cyclists within a virtual environment. This will undoubtedly be a cure for your boredom as you train indoors. Other than simply competing with rival Zwift racers, you’ll also be able to seek special training sessions or workouts that have been personally designed by expert coaches. The manufacturer of Zwift also says it for the record that this application can actually serve you with a better cycling experience than that of cycling outdoors. You’ll have the option of cycling in some of the biggest and popular cities such as; London or New York.
The following video would provide you an idea of how you’ll be able to use the Zwift application.

Q.3: What pieces of equipment are required for the Zwift application?

Ans.: First and foremost, you’ll be needing a smart trainer. Provided that you require an immersive gameplay experience, then it is suggested that you use Zwift regularly. You can either use a direct drive based smart trainer, for example; Wahoo Kickr Core or the Garmin TacX Neo 2T. As for a trainer based on fluid resistance, Saris CycleOps Fluid² should be a good choice. Many smart trainers feature a direct drive design with an integrated power meter or resistance that can be varied. These trainers can also measure your power output. The variable resistance will make you feel as though you’re actually riding outdoors. As you ride uphill on this application, the resistance level will increase on the trainer. Whereas, it’ll decrease as you go downhill. Using a previous model of smart trainer that has Bluetooth or ANT+ sensors should be enough for using it with the speed/power sensors. The data that these speed/power sensors produce will in turn be transferred to either your smart device or personal computer. Moreover, it’ll be transferred to the application as well. Lastly, you’ll be needing an ANT+ dongle, This is a small USB stick. This will allow you to connect to your computer or smart device to communicate with your ANT+ sensors or power meter.

Q.4: Do you need a smart trainer for Zwift?

Ans.: Nearly all types of trainers can be supported by Zwift. You can even use the classic trainer as well. One of the positive sides is any trainer is capable of working with a Zwift application as long as you are capable of mounting your bike that consists of speed sensors. Although, standalone bikes might not be compatible. However, you should select a Zwift supported trainer. This is because these are capable of estimating your power numbers with accuracy.

Q.5: Do smart trainers damage your bike?

Ans.: If you use resistance trainers then you mustn’t tighten the connections on the rear-end hub. Make sure to test time connection by spinning the wheel once you’ve tightened your trainer into the hub. Your bike’s wheel is supposed to spin freely. However, if you see that the wheel isn’t spinning freely, then you should know that it has been over-tightened the trainer into the hub and this has resulted in compression into the bearings of the hub. Therefore, this may cause a significant amount of damage to your bike. Another possible damage maybe there is wear and tear on your bike’s rear-end tires while you use a resistance trainer. Lastly, if you tend to sweat a lot, then chances are, it may end up dripping right into your bike’s components and end up causing corrosion.

Conclusion

Your indoor cycling sessions can be significantly enhanced if you use a smart trainer. Moreover, necessary information related to power and cadence can also be transmitted into your smart device or computers. Depending on the changes in resistance, the cadence and power levels will vary. Your sessions will be more enjoyable thanks to virtual cycling applications such as the Zwift. This will make it more likely for you to use a smart trainer. We sincerely hope that going through this article will help you in narrowing down the choices and make it easier for you to pick out your desired bike trainer. The idea of using a smart trainer is, it’ll work on your lower body while you remain indoors during the winter seasons. The choice you make solely depends on whether you want an economical trainer or one that is expensive.

Related Bike Trainers


Useful Resources:

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Last update on 2020-11-30 at 02:21 / 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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