How To Buy an Indoor Bike Trainer – Buyer’s Guide



Riding outside is not always an option. During winter, short days, when training for an event, or when you intend to keep a regular riding schedule, a spin bike comes in handy. You can also use the trainer for pre-bike event warm up sessions. It is possible to train effectively on a spin bike with the help of measuring devices, for instance heart rate monitors.

Below we look into How To Buy an Indoor Bike Trainer

1. Indoor cycle trainer type

There are 2 types of spin cycles: roller and mechanical trainers.

Let’s differentiate the two,

Roller trainers


These consist of a set of rollers where you ride your bike on top of. You maintain your balance, which requires quite some resistance. It takes some time to learn how to balance your bike on the roller trainer.

Mechanical Trainers 


This type involves the use of some kind of mechanism to resist the wheel’s motion. The rear wheel is also held in a vertical position, making it easier to balance. Mechanical trainers have different resistance mechanisms: magnetic, fluid, and wind.

Check top 7 best indoor bicycle trainer reviews on the market available right now!

[su_tabs][su_tab title=”Magnetic”]This type uses a flywheel at the back of the wheel. The unit creates a magnetic pull, which creates resistance on the bicycle’s rear wheel.
[/su_tab] [su_tab title=”Fluid”]These trainers can be said to be a hybrid between a magnetic trainer and another trainer that creates friction via using liquid resistance chambers. [/su_tab]
[su_tab title=”Wind”]This type creates resistance by blowing air onto the wheel via the cyclist power, a circular fan. [/su_tab][/su_tabs]

2. Frame

Your trainer needs a sturdy frame that will not flex or bend as you ride. A large footprint and heavy frame increases stability.

3. Compatibility

The trainer should offer different attachment options, for instance different free hub options, thru-axle adapters and direct-attachment trainers. This is because axle attachment standards and widths keep changing.

4. Storage

The trainers should be easy to store. Some have folding legs, and some rollers fold in half. Some trainers have adjustable feet to ensure that the trainer is level even on an uneven floor.

5. Noise levels

All indoor bike trainers make noise. Some resistance mechanisms like wind trainers are quite loud when compared to magnet and fluid trainers. Some trainer tires use a hard rubber compound to decrease the noise. Putting a mat under the turbo also reduces the noise.

6. Accessories

Depending on the type of spin bike, you may need a few extras. Some common accessories include:

  • Axle attachment inserts:

Some trainers that attach via the rear wheel accommodate different axle standards. A trainer should be compatible with different inserts.

  • Front wheel block:

A dedicated leveling block is very stable. It levels the bike off.

  • Sensors:

You can add virtual speed, power and cadence sensors for more effective training.

  • Smoothness and Sturdiness:

Some trainers are smoother than others. The cyclist’s pedal stroke also decreases the instability and choppiness on a trainer.

  • Floor mat:

This is meant to protect your floor from scratches and even sweat. It also absorbs some vibration.

  • Trainer tire:

Friction is vital for indoor training, as it is the source of resistance. This wears out tread and flex casings to a point of failure. You may consider a trainer-specific tire. This type has a thicker casing and tread. The other option is to install a heavy-duty training clincher on a spare rear wheel.

  • Water bottle holder:

This may not seem like a crucial thing in a discussion on how to buy an indoor bike trainer. It however is vital especially if you are doing high intensity workouts. You need to hydrate as you will lose a lot of water via sweating. A water bottle holder will make it easy to reach out for your water without having to go on a break.

7. Functionality

How easy is it to get your bike on and off the trainer?

8. Add-ons

Some companies, for instance, Kinetic and CycleOps offer power meter, video and computer add-ons, to help you expand the available data. They also create a more entertaining workout experience.

9. Resistance adjustments

The cheapest trainers do not offer resistance adjustment. You use the gears on your bike to make adjustments. This is usually enough, but you could get a turbo with adjustable resistance. Basic turbos are harder to adjust, due to the lever on the resistance unit. A turbo with a handlebar mounted remote lever makes it very easy to make changes, even when you are working out.

There are more expensive turbos, with complex electronic control units. These mount to the handle bar and are used to deliver information and power measurement. Some may even plug into the computer as well.

10. Price

One of the hardest recommendations to make when advising people on how to buy an indoor cycle trainer is the price. You cannot define a particular price for a trainer. There are some factors that may determine pricing, for instance, how frequently you will use the unit and where you will be using it. If you are using it in a flat, you may be concerned about disrupting your neighbors. You will need to go for the quieter, more expensive types.

11. Portability

Consider the trainer’s weight. Is it possible to take it to an event or a race to use it for a warm up?

12. Resistance roller size

The size of the resistance roller determines how fast your tire wears out. Smaller rollers wear your tires out, while larger ones have less wear.

13. Adjustable seat and handlebars

A spin bike with seat and handlebar adjustments is able to accommodate different arm lengths. This is important especially if there will be different people using the trainer.

14. Flywheel size

This factor only applies if you choose to go for a trainer with a magnetic resistance mechanism. Larger flywheels result in smoother rides and a more real road-like feeling.


Despite knowing how to buy an indoor bike trainer, some recommendations may come in handy,

  • If you just need a basic model for pre-race warm ups, a wind trainer or simple magnetic model with folding legs will do.
  • If you want to work on your pedal stroke, go for a fluid trainer.
  • If you need to do structured workouts, go for a fluid trainer which allows you to track power output or a smart trainer that will pair with a computer head unit.
  • If you easily get bored, go for a trainer that can interface with training programs, for instance, Zwift or TrainerRoad.

All in All

You now know how to buy an indoor cycle trainer. There are very many factors to consider, ranging the more technical ones like the type of trainer, resistance mechanism type, frame construction, and accessories to the simpler ones like storage, noise and water bottle holder.

Despite it all, your personal preference and budget will also be crucial determining factors.

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