No matter what your training or indoor riding needs are, we have a recommendation for you.
A good trainer or set of rollers isn’t just for the when the weather forces us indoors—indoor riding can be great for the time-crunched cyclist, urban riders with limited route options, or anyone recovering from an injury. Even the most weather-hardened winter riders sometimes like to control the environment they’re riding in.
A trainer, which lifts the back wheel and fixes it in place, works by applying resistance to the wheel to create a ride-like feel. The least expensive options use a magnetic or fluid resistance, with higher-end models offering digital route simulations, phone connectivity, and power-specific workouts. Trainers are a great option for small spaces, new riders, or anyone who likes to zone out while riding indoors, because they’re really hard to fall off of.
Rollers, on the other hand, tend to require a little more concentration. Rollers consist of a set of cylinders attached to an external frame, and work like a treadmill for your bike—you simply get on and start riding. Because you’re free to move back and forth, and depend on your own balance to remain upright, it’s easier to have a mishap if you’re not paying attention. But rollers generally offer the most realistic-feeling ride.
Deciding on the best trainer for your needs can be a task more daunting than the actual hours you spend riding one. Here are some of our staff favorites, chosen for ease of use, features, and cost. And don’t forget, if you get really into it you might even end up earning a pro contract!
Wahoo Kickr Power Trainer
Recommended by: Selene Yeager, the Fit Chick Why she loves it: The accurate power meter and rock-solid base make it perfect for Zwift
For the cyclist who wants the ultimate in smart trainers with all of the bells and whistles, Wahoo’s Kickr Power Trainer is an excellent choice. Its weighted base is designed to feel rock solid even during the hardest of intervals, and it’s able to measure and handle up to 2,000 watts of power within 2 percent accuracy. The wheel-off design comes with an 11-speed Shimano/SRAM cassette and can be changed to accommodate most other types of bikes, both road and mountain. The Kickr is compatible with Zwift and other training software and it’s Bluetooth Smart, Ant+ and Ant+ FE-C ready. Additionally, it’s one of the quietest trainers available.