Welcome to Vikao, home of the best turbo trainer reviews, cycling tech and training resources. Along with our comprehensive range of best indoor bike trainer reviews, Vikao also features a comprehensive range of Zwift guides & how-tos, turbo training workouts & advice, plus we take a look at the best nutrition and supplements for cycling performance and the potential benefits they may bring. Aiming to be your complete and comprehensive turbo training think tank, Vikao is written by, and for cyclists.
Vikao riders delve deep into the world of turbo training, to bring you up to date reviews on the latest and best turbo trainers on the market. We look to help maximize the time spent on your indoor bike trainer by providing you with details and advice on the best training workouts that give you the biggest bang for your buck.
Thanks to the likes of Zwift, TrainerRoad, Bkool & Sufferfest, there’s been a massive boom in turbo training popularity, providing for a rapidly evolving marketplace of classic turbo trainers and smart bike trainers, along with a huge array of training accessories for fans of indoor bike training to choose from. At Vikao we aim to filter out the good from the bad and bring you only, the best cycling products that need considering.
Natural health supplements & correct nutrition for cyclists, along with the potential performance-boosting and recovery benefits they may bring is another area we offer our readers insight. With articles and reviews on the best supplements & nutrition for cyclists, you’re sure to be in the know when it comes to achieving optimum recovery and performance on and off the bicycle.
Looking to intensify your indoor training workouts? Why not get started by reading some of our turbo trainer reviews or maybe our best smart trainer guide. The Zwift Virtual World Guide is also a recommended read and great place to start.
Read Our Best Bike Trainer Reviews – Here
What Are Turbo Trainers / Bike Trainers?
If you are unable to get outdoors to train on your bicycle, turbo trainers ( bike trainers ) can be an excellent option to keep those legs spinning during the winter months or to carry out specific training sessions year round.
Turbo trainers allow you to mount the rear wheel of your bicycle to the unit so that you can pedal as normal indoors, but still get the resistance that you would get from road cycling.
If you live in a region where bad weather is a factor or where you simply don’t have a good riding area nearby, indoor bike training can prove to be a great replacement for the real thing.
Indoor bike trainers allow you to get a great workout without having to endure awful weather or dangerous road conditions. They are also great for those cyclists who have a limited amount of time in their daily or weekly schedule. You can easily get in a great training session on a cycle trainer when you just don’t have time to go outside.
Types Of Indoor Bike Trainers Explained
There are many different types of turbo trainers, and the kind that you choose will come down to a couple of things, how realisitic you want the ride feel to be and how large your wallet is. When you are out on the road, you will encounter hills and other obstacles that will change the resistance and ride sensations during your training session. This is also what you want to experience when exercising indoors on a cycle trainer and something many of the top end smart trainers now offer.
Below we’ll take a quick look at the best indoor bike trainers for each category, along with offering a brief explanation of the workings of each type of bicycle trainer.
Best Magnetic Bike Trainer
- CycleOps Magneto
Magnetic Turbo Trainers Explained
A magnetic field is what creates the resistance on these indoor cycle trainers. Once your back wheel is resting on the roller, a magnetic unit delivers the resistance once you start pedaling. The benefit of these types of bicycle trainers is that you can use a handlebar-mounted trigger unit to increase or decrease the resistance you are pushing against at any given time. It’s an excellent way to mimic a hilly ride in the comfort of your own home.
Best Fluid Bike Trainer
- Kurt Kinetic Rock & Roll
Fluid Turbo Trainers Explained
In fluid bicycle trainers, it is a propeller that provides the necessary resistance, with said propeller located in a chamber filled with fluid. Fluid bike trainers are instantly recognizable thanks to the cooling fins seen on the fluid chamber. This is the way to go if you’re looking for a steadier resistance than what you get from a magnetic system, as you change the resistance by changing the gears on your bike, which feels more natural.
Best Virtual Reality Bike Trainer For Zwift
- Tacx Neo Smart
Virtual Reality Turbo Trainers For Zwift Explained
Your computer gets involved with these Zwift virtual reality bike trainers, as the resistance is controlled via your PC. There is a fun aspect to using a Zwift compatible trainer in that you can ride real courses and race against fellow riders. Zwift automatically sets the resistance on these units based on the real-world or virtual course you are riding.
Best Wind Bike Trainer
- Kurt Kinetic Cyclone
Wind Turbo Trainers Explained
These wind cycle trainers may be a little harder to find, as the noise created by the fans on these turbo trainers is louder than most people care for. They are similar to the resistance set-up of a fluid bike trainer in that you control it via the gears on your bicycle.
Best Direct Drive Bike Trainer
- Elite Drivo Smart
Direct Drive Turbo Trainers Explained
Direct drive trainers are a fairly new development in the indoor cycling world, and they work by removing the rear wheel of your bicycle and resting the drop-outs on the unit. You do need to add a cassette to these turbo trainers, but because of this, one benefit is that you will not wear out the tread on your tire as you ride. Other benefits of the direct drive system include a much quieter ride, as well as a more stable unit overall.
Best Smart Bike Trainer
- CycleOps Hammer Smart
Smart Turbo Trainers Explained
Smart turbo trainers use Bluetooth and ANT+ technology to connect to your smartphone, computer or iPad, which results in a wide range of available training options. This is perhaps the most advanced indoor bike training system currently available, as you have a growing number of applications, both free and paid, for Android and Apple phones, with each app offering something a little different. Zwift, TrainerRoad, Bkool & Sufferfest are currently the most popular platforms available.
Indoor Bike Trainers & Bicycle Compatibility
When looking at buying a new turbo trainer, a very common question asked is “What turbo trainer is compatible with my bicycle?”
Fortunately, this is not something you really need worry about anymore. Nowadays, almost all road bikes are compatible for use with the vast array of bike trainers currently available on the market.
Even most mountain bikes are compatible if you put a slick rear tire on and attach the supplied rear wheel quick release. Using knobbly Mtb tires can lead to loud, heavy vibrations that will make indoor training a pretty unbearable experience.
With most modern turbo trainers offering great compatibility, the only type of bicycle that isn’t likely to be suitable is a BMX. The rear triangle is simply too narrow and the wheels too small.
Whatever bike you end up using on your cycle trainer, ideally look to use a turbo trainer specific tire if possible. These tires are far more durable than normal tires when used on an indoor bike trainer and also reduce tire slippage quite significantly. Always make sure to check your tires are running the correct pressure too. For a rough guide, look for 90-110 psi on a road bike and 60psi on an MTB.
Cycle Trainer Frames & Mounting Systems
When looking at purchasing a new turbo trainer it is also wise to take into consideration the mounting system and frame.
An indoor cycle trainer is an excellent tool when it comes to warming up at events like races and time trials. If this is important to you, then you need to make sure the unit you buy is a portable one, meaning the it’s frame is foldable. A lot of the new direct drive trainers are not foldable and also most smart trainers require mains power, meaning both of these may not be the best option for you if portability is a top priority.
When it comes to mounting a bicycle on a turbo trainer, you have two options. Firstly, you have the classic mounting system that requires you to replace your quick release with a stronger one provided. The frame then clamps onto the quick release, clamping the rear wheel and bike securely into place. The second option is the use of a direct drive system. When using a direct drive trainer, the rear wheel is removed and the frames rear dropouts are clamped directly onto the unit using a provided quick release.
Direct drive trainers are more expensive but consequently offer a much better user experience, eliminating tire slippage and offering a much more responsive ride when performing sprint intervals. They also utilize much heavier flywheels, as a result, this creates a far more realistic and life like ride feel compared to that of a classic style turbo trainer.
Correct Set Up Of Your Indoor Bicycle Trainer
An ideal situation for set up would be to have a dedicated room set up especially for your turbo trainer workouts. Think of it as having your very own pain cave! Favorite places to build your pain cave include garages, spare bedrooms or utility rooms. Using an indoor bike trainer can create a lot of noise, from not just your bike, but also from your method of motivation, whether that be music or TV you want a place where this hopefully won’t disturb others living in the same household too much. As well as the noise you’ll likely also be producing a significant amount of sweat, with this in mind, a solid hard floor (as opposed to carpet) is your best bet.
A stable level floor will also create the best platform for your bike trainer to be planted upon. This will prevent undue stress on your bike frame and also offer you best stability when performing hard out of the saddle efforts. A solid concrete, tiled or lino style flooring will also be a lot easier to clean your pools of sweat up after a hard workout!
Zwift, Sufferfest, TrainerRoad, Bkool or any form of indoor training is going to result in you putting in a significant effort and as a result, producing a lot of heat and moisture, often in the form of steam! Having a well-ventilated room is key when it comes to turbo training. If the place you plan on using doesn’t have a window or external door, then a decent fan for cooling is a must.
Using a sweat catcher is also a great idea, as is keeping a clean towel on your handlebars during sessions. Regardless of how well ventilated you make your dedicated room, a lot of sweat will be generated while performing indoor training sessions. Sweat is exceptionally corrosive, and you want to do your best to prevent as much of it as possible from falling onto your bike. Headsets, bottom brackets, stems, and handlebars are all very common bike parts that can suffer badly from excessive sweating corrosion. Even if you’re not riding out, make sure you still clean your bike regularly to prevent damage from occurring.
Other things to implement:
Always make sure you have enough fluid on hand to last your workout. As already mentioned, turbo training makes you create a lot of sweat. You need to make sure you are continually replenishing these fluids, ideally with an electrolyte-rich drink. Don’t forget; you’re likely to sweat far more heavily during a turbo trainer session than when riding outside, staying hydrated is essential to maintaining optimum performance. A large glass of water or a recovery drink is always a good idea after a hard, sweaty workout.
Think about investing in a turbo trainer mat. Whatever type of floor you have in your pain cave, ideally you don’t want to be soaking it in sweat on a regular basis. A turbo trainer specific mat will help keep your floor clean and protected from sweat, oil from your chain and any other dirt that might be waiting to fall off your bike. Turbo trainer mats are usually made from a waterproof material allowing easy clean down with the use of a hose. One further benefit a turbo specific matt offers users is noise reduction. A turbo trainer matt can significantly dull and reduce the noise produced on certain types of flooring where a lot of buzz is created.
Visual and audio entertainment while working out on an indoor bike trainer are both excellent ideas. Whether that’s through using the likes of Zwift, TrainerRoad, Sufferfest, Bkool, etc. or watching an old Tour De France video of Pantani destroying the competition in the mountains, visual stimulation plus the sound of your favorite mixtape banging out will help you perform to your best and complete all your sessions.
Another good investment if your turbo trainer didn’t come with one, is a front wheel riser block. Without the use of a riser block, most bike trainer frames will leave the bike unlevel. A riser block will eliminate this negative angle, with some also offering the added benefit of several different heights, in turn allowing riders to simulate a more realistic climbing position indoors.
Whether using a fancy smart trainer with an inbuilt power meter, or just a simple “dumb” style bike trainer, correct tension of the resistance roller against the rear tire is paramount when turbo training. Having the rear wheel clamped in too tight or too loose is going to cause you problems. Most manufacturers will detail in their instructions correct setup, but if you don’t have this to hand then a good rule of thumb is the following: Clamp the rear wheel tight just to the point where if you have one hand holding the flywheel still, you can no longer move rear wheel against it. Obviously the one exception to this rule is if you use a direct drive trainer. With a direct drive trainer, there is no need for correct tensioning as these trainers do away with the use of a rear wheel.
Finally, make sure you always fully warm up. Unlike riding outdoors a lot of turbo training sessions are short and hard. Most people want to spend as little time as possible on their turbo trainer so workouts are often designed to yield the maximum amount of effort from a rider in a short space of time and create a high total stress score that will result in performance gains. Due to this, it’s always recommended that you spend some time stretching and warming up on the bike prior to starting your workout to prevent injury. Warming down and stretching after a tough session is also a highly recommended practice.
Follow the simple setup tips and advice above and say goodbye to long, laborious turbo training sessions and learn to love the time you spend flogging yourself on your turbo trainer!