Best indoor bike trainers for smart cycling | Gymrail

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Best indoor bike trainers for smart cycling

What if you could make indoor cycling training even more realistic?

As much fun as it would be, riding outdoors is not always possible. Bad weather, traffic or tight schedules might come in the way, or you might be rehabilitating from an injury and need to take it a bit easier for a while.

So indoor training it is! But no need to worry, because luckily we have indoor bike trainers. Most professional cyclists are already very familiar with these trainers, as they help them get the most out of indoor training. Bike trainers have made indoor training sessions much more bearable than they used to be, and with the emergence of smart bike trainers, they are now more popular than ever.

What is a smart bike trainer?

A smart bike trainer is an interactive trainer that allows you to connect with indoor cycling training apps – such as Zwift, Rouvy, or The Sufferfest – via ANT+ frequencies or Bluetooth. Training apps allow you to control your resistance and simulate for example hill climbing, terrain style, and in some cases wind resistance.These apps can also keep track of your heart rate and power output, while keeping you in the required training zones throughout the session. Indoor cycling apps also allow you to participate in virtual races, group rides, and take on famous climbs.Traditional resistance trainers don’t have these features, so if you’re using one, you have to tell yourself to pedal harder or easier during a training session. Traditional trainers also don’t tell you the wattage you’re putting out, and as we know, watts are the golden standard of measurement in cycling.So in short, smart trainers make indoor cycling training more engaging, realistic, and most importantly – more fun.

Direct drive or wheel-on trainers?

There are two main types of smart trainers: direct drives and wheel-ons. The biggest difference is how you attach your bike to each trainer.

Direct drive trainers

Direct drive trainers require you to detach the rear wheel and attach your bike directly to the trainer’s cassette. Direct drives are heavier and more expensive, but they provide better resistance, accuracy, and a better road feel than wheel-on trainers, among other advantages. They are also quieter than wheel-ons, which is a big plus if you share your living space with someone else.

Wheel-on trainers

With wheel-ons, you keep your rear wheel attached when connecting it to the trainer. Wheel-ons are typically cheaper and lighter than direct drives, but they can cause wear and tear on the back tire, and they are quite a bit noisier. Their accuracy measurement is also weaker and they don’t provide as much resistance as direct drives.

Getting the most out of indoor cycling training

What indoor cycling trainers are missing, even the smart ones, is movement. Sure, there might be some side-to-side swinging or fore-aft movement here and there, but mostly, the bike stays fixed and the saddle stationary. While this might be good enough for a basic workout, it’s not sufficient enough to simulate outdoor riding and natural movement for professional cyclists.

So, if you want to get the absolute most out of your indoor cycling sessions, you should pair your bike trainer with a bike rocker system, such as the Gymrail Momentum X1.

Momentum X1 – train like you want to race

A bike rocker system is a platform that adds movement to a fixed bike and a bike trainer. And when it comes to movement, the Momentum X1 is truly in a league of its own.

It’s the first model in the market to offer game-changing 4D movement that allows you to swing effortlessly in all dimensions – not only from side-to-side and front-aft, but also from left to right as if you’re on the open road.

This all-inclusive movement range is important to create true natural movement that, when combined with a bike trainer, makes indoor training so effective. Natural movement is also easier on the precious bike frame, unlike riding on a fixed bike using only a bike trainer.

Momentum X1 is compatible with nearly all bike trainers out there, smart or traditional, and can be used with the best training applications, such as Zwift, TrainerRoad, Bkool, Rouvy, FulGaz, Kinomap, RGT (Road Grand Tours), Tacx Training App (Garmin), Xert, and The Sufferfest.

Find out more about Momentum X1 here.

Now, let’s go through some of the best bike trainers for serious cyclists to combine with Momentum X1.

Best smart bike trainers for Momentum X1

Elite bike trainers

Elite Direto XR

Type: Direct drive
Maximum power: 2300 watts
Slope simulation: 24%
Accurate measurement: ±1.5%
Plug & play: Includes a pre-installed 11-speed Shimano® 11-28 or equivalent cassette
Connectivity: ANT+, FE-C, Bluetooth
Compatibility: Most training apps
Total setup time: less than five minutes

Elite Suito

Type: Direct drive
Maximum power: 1900 watts
Slope simulation: 15%
Accurate measurement: ±2.5%
Plug & play: Includes a pre-installed Shimano® 105 (or equivalent) 11-speed cassette
Connectivity: ANT+, FE-C, Bluetooth
Compatibility: Most training apps
Total setup time: less than five minutes

Wahoo bike trainers

Wahoo KICKR

Type: Direct drive
Maximum power: 2200 watts
Slope simulation: 20%
Accurate measurement: ±1%
Plug & play: Includes a pre-installed 11-speed cassette
Connectivity: ANT+, FE-C, Bluetooth
Compatibility: Most training apps

Wahoo KICKR Core

Type: Direct drive
Maximum power: 1800 watts
Slope simulation: 16%
Accurate measurement: ±2%
Connectivity: ANT+, FE-C, Bluetooth
Compatibility: Most training apps
Cassette not included

Wahoo KICKR SNAP

Type: Wheel-on
Maximum power: 1500 watts
Slope simulation: 12%
Accurate measurement: ±3%
Connectivity: ANT+, FE-C, Bluetooth
Compatibility: Most training apps

Garmin Tacx bike trainers

Tacx Neo 2T

Type: Direct drive
Maximum power: 2200 watts
Slope simulation: 25%
Accurate measurement: ±1%
Connectivity: ANT+, FE-C, Bluetooth
Compatibility: Most training apps
Cassette not included

Tacx Flux S

Type: Direct drive
Maximum power: 1500 watts
Slope simulation: 10%
Accurate measurement: ±3%
Connectivity: ANT+, FE-C, Bluetooth
Compatibility: Most training apps
Cassette not included

Tacx Flow Smart

Type: Wheel-on
Maximum power: 800 watts
Slope simulation: 6%
Accurate measurement: ±5%
Connectivity: ANT+, Bluetooth
Compatibility: Most training apps

Saris bike trainers

Saris H3

Type: Direct drive
Maximum power: 2000 watts
Slope simulation: 20%
Accurate measurement: ±2%
Connectivity: ANT+, FE-C, Bluetooth
Compatibility: Most training apps
Cassette not included

Saris M2

Type: Wheel-on
Maximum power: 1500 watts
Slope simulation: 15%
Accurate measurement: ±5%
Connectivity: ANT+, FE-C, Bluetooth
Compatibility: Most training apps

What to consider when buying in a smart bike trainer

  • Price. A steep price tag doesn’t necessarily guarantee quality, but trainers at the lower end of the price scale tend to compromise on things you might find essential, such as incline, accuracy measurements, and noise levels.
  • Flywheel. In theory, the heavier the flywheel, the better the ride feel.
    Weight and packability. Wheel-ons are typically lighter than direct drives and easier to move around and store away if necessary.
  • Power and incline. Choose the maximum wattage and slope simulation depending on how hard you want to train.
  • Noise. Direct drives are usually the quietest bike trainers, though the noise levels tend to increase as the power output goes up.
  • Compatibility. Make sure your bike fits the trainer’s parameters. If it doesn’t, and you still like the trainer, check if the manufacturer has any adapters available to make them compatible.

Why you should train indoors instead of just riding outside

Indoor training allows you to get in specific, high quality training sessions anytime. A bike trainer combined with Momentum X1 rocker system provides an upright position, strengthening your upper body and core muscles while keeping your pedaling strong and stable throughout the training session.

Riding outdoors has many variables that should be taken into consideration. Snow, darkness and bad road conditions might make you more prone to injuries if you’re not careful. Indoor training takes out these variables and allows you to go as hard as you can, and because you’re training with a bike trainer and Momentum X1, you’ll get just as effective a workout as you would outside.

Get your Momentum X1 here.

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