The Best Bike Trainers to Bring Your Cycling Workout Indoors

Don’t let frigid temps and snow stop you from breaking a sweat. Turn to these bike trainers for a burst of cardio in the comfort of your own home.
By Megan Falk
November 10, 2020
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

All the aspects of outdoor cycling that make the activity so pleasant in the summer — the breeze that runs through your shirt and cools your sweat, the volume said breeze adds to your hair, the immersed-in-nature-feeling you get while riding trails — are exactly what make it so damn awful in the winter. The harsh, subzero wind turns your fingertips blue, your locks get pelted with gusts of damp snow or raindrops, and the views of the lifeless, gray landscape are more depressing than invigorating. 

While you can't snap your fingers and create those ideal riding conditions during the off-season, you can still get a heart-pumping cycling workout without those unbearable winter side effects, thanks to nifty gadgets called bike trainers. These compact training tools clamp onto a standard bicycle's rear wheel axle and has a roller (aka a flywheel) that presses against the tire to add resistance, while a separate block keeps the front wheel in place. It essentially turns your real bike into a stationary bike so you can easily train in the comfort of your living room. (And if you have a near-romantic relationship with your bike, another perk is that you don't have to part ways in the winter.)

To mimic the real-life feel of riding on a road with changing inclines, most bike trainers' flywheels contain magnets or a fluid to add resistance, making it more challenging to pedal and creating a tougher workout. The resistance in a magnetic bike trainer is typically changed by turning a dial on a handlebar attachment or on the flywheel itself, while the resistance in a fluid bike trainer will automatically increase the faster you pedal — key differences to keep in mind while perusing your bike trainer options. In either case, you likely won't be able to suddenly jump up and down with your choice of resistance like you would during a spin class. (And if you're going all out, make sure to stock up on these cycling accessories.)

So, if you want to keep your stamina up this winter without spending a huge chunk of change on a separate stationary bike, add one of these top-rated bike trainers to your shopping cart. 

Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Smart Bike Trainer

Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Smart Bike Trainer
Credit: Amazon

Resistance Mechanism: Fluid
Compatible Wheel Size: 22 to 29 inches

The lime green paint job on this bike trainer isn't its only stand-out characteristic. This smart bike trainer uses Bluetooth or ANT+ to connect with Garmin devices and apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, and the company's own Kinetic Fit — to which you'll get a free one-month subscription with your purchase — so you can track your speed, cadence, distance, and power output in real time. Just think of it as a Peloton without all the fancy buttons. 

Plus, the bike trainer is compatible with virtually all bikes (including those with wheels as small as 22 inches), and switching up your workout's difficulty level is pretty intuitive. Since the bike trainer uses fluid resistance to amp up — or lower — the workout intensity, all you'll need to do is speed up or slow down to change the resistance. And according to one reviewer, the Kinetic bike trainer makes for a killer workout: "It feels like a solid built machine [that offers] enough resistance for me to break a sweat on."

BalanceFrom Bike Trainer

BalanceFrom Bike Trainer
Credit: Amazon

Resistance Mechanism: Magnetic
Compatible Wheel Size: 26 to 28 inches

This bike trainer takes the cake as the best-selling bike trainer on Amazon, and for good reason: It offers all the must-have features for just $80. With the help of a magnetic resistance roller, the bike trainer has eight different difficulty levels that can be selected on the controller attachment that mounts on your handlebars. What reviewers can't get enough of, though, is how quickly the product takes to put together — even if you're a cycling newbie. "I am not a bike person — I don't know how they're put together," wrote one reviewer. "BUT the setup was fairly simple and I had the whole thing up and running in about 10 minutes." (Related: The Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Indoor Cycling)

The one downside: While the trainer can fit road and mountain bikes with 26- to 28-inch wheels, the brand recommends using smooth road bike tires, as rough mountain bike tires (which have "knobs" that jut out and rub against the flywheel) can make for a loud workout.

Sportneer Magnetic Bike Trainer

Sportneer Magnetic Bike Trainer
Credit: Amazon

Resistance Mechanism: Magnetic
Compatible Wheel Size: 26 to 28 inches

If there's anything to interpret just by looking at this red hot bike trainer and its 2,400 five-star reviews, it's that you're going to get a fire workout on it. The Sportneer trainer uses a magnetic resistance mechanism with six different settings, which you choose using a handlebar-mounted dial. It's so quiet, one reviewer says it doesn't wake up their sleeping family members when they ride at 5 a.m. Plus, the bike trainer can be assembled and ready to ride in just minutes.

Saris CycleOps Fluid² Smart Bike Trainer

Saris CycleOps Fluid² Smart Bike Trainer
Credit: Amazon

Resistance Mechanism: Fluid
Compatible Wheel Size: 26, 27, and 29 inches

Much like the Kinetic bike trainer, this CycleOps bike trainer uses a fluid resistance mechanism to heighten the intensity as you build speed, connects with indoor cycling apps such as Zwift and Rouvy (BTW, you'll get a one-month subscription to the latter with your purchase) so you can track your stats, and is designed to fit most road and mountain bikes. The big selling point of this smart bike trainer, though, is that it's super quiet: When you're cruising at 20 mph, the noise level is just 64 to 68 decibels, which is about as loud as a standard office, according to Yale University. A high-intensity workout that doesn't wake up your entire family? Yes, please.

Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer

Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer
Credit: Walmart

Resistance Mechanism: Magnetic
Compatible Wheel Size: 26 and 27 inches

After dropping a few hundo on your road bike, the last thing you want to do is drop even more on a bike trainer. Enter: the Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer. This magnetic trainer is compatible with 26 and 27-inch wheels, folds up for easy storage, is super easy to assemble, and costs just $75. 

The process to adjust the resistance, though, is its one drawback. When you want to up the intensity, you'll have to shift the gears of your bike, and if that still isn't difficult enough, you'll have to stop your workout, hop off your bike, and adjust the resistance knob on the trainer itself. So if you're planning on constantly switching the resistance throughout the workout to mimic hills, this might not be the best bike trainer for you.

Sportneer Fluid Bike Trainer

Sportneer Fluid Bike Trainer
Credit: Amazon

Resistance Mechanism: Fluid
Compatible Wheel Size: 26 to 29 inches

If you're drawn to the noiselessness of the Sportneer Magnetic Bike Trainer but have your hopes set on a fluid version, you're in luck: The brand offers a bike trainer with fluid resistance that's even quieter. Expect the piece of equipment, which fits wheels between 26 and 29 inches, to amp up your workout intensity as you pedal faster and mimic the resistance you'd feel while biking on the road — without sounding like a jet taking off. "This thing is so quiet I can hear a fly fart at 50 paces while riding at 17 mph," wrote one reviewer. "And smooth? Oh yes. No herky jerky magnets here. I'd buy it again." 'Nuff said.