How to Choose a Bike Trainer

How does a cyclist keep up with their training when it’s raining, snowing, or just too cold outside? On relatively inexpensive option is to buy an indoor training stand that you can mount your bike to in your own house. The device creates resistance on the rear wheel as you pedal, giving you a great workout.

Trainers come in a wide variety of types, function and styles that can be customized to the individual's need and desired riding style. With accessories, they can be used to match different terrain, and a computer can help you track mileage, speed and time, making a trainer a lightweight alternative to a stationary bike for casual riders or competitive professionals. Match the right trainer to you and your bike, and start riding year round regardless of the season or weather.

Fluid Trainers

A fluid bike trainer uses a hydraulic-based system that builds resistance to match your speed. The faster you pedal, the more friction is generated by the tire which causes the fluid within the mechanism to thicken, increasing the resistance. In other words, the faster you pedal, the harder the workout.

Fluid trainers are quiet and provide a reliable real-world feel that matches pedaling power to resistance to simulate pedaling uphill and other challenges. This style is also excellent for competitors looking to do interval training or other styles that require quickly changing speeds and resistance without making adjustments to the trainer mechanism.

The CycleOps Fluid2 trainer is an excellent mid-range hydraulic trainer that provides stability and a broad range of watts (20 to 725) to adapt resistance.

Magnetic Trainers

Less expensive than a fluid trainer, the magnetic bike trainer is an excellent way for the casual rider to stay in shape during colder months. By utilizing a flywheel with rotating magnets that is manually adjusted, these trainers create magnetic resistance to keep the user at a steady pace. These trainers are considered to be more entry level, as they have a maximum range of resistance, are louder than hydraulic trainers and require manual adjustment, which limits your ability to do interval or sprint training.

Despite these "limitations," magnetic trainers are an ideal option for those just starting to ride, or someone looking for a standard cardio option for their home gym. The CycleOps SuperMagneto Pro trainer is an excellent option because it provides a variety of training modes, easy adjustments and a realistic resistance technology that allows riders to simulate real-world biking.


For any cyclist, the accessories are nearly as important as the trainer selected. From computers to riser blocks, selecting the right accessories can improve any training experience. Those riding off trail may want to invest in CycleOps Climbing Riser Blocks to adjust their training difficulty even further, with four to 12 different height and angle options.

Those looking to track their riding more effectively should consider one of many trainer computers. Different from bike GPSs, computers measure speed, distance, time and even heart rate to provide more accurate workout details. The CatEye Velo 7 model offers basic information to help someone looking to ride for fitness track their data and work toward personal bests.

A Wahoo Fitness bike computer provides more detailed information, pairs with iPhones and a custom app that allows cyclists to measure performance in other ways, including measuring cadence and wattage produced to help avid enthusiasts take their biking game to the next level.

For indoor biking, there are many options, but the trick is to select the trainer and accessories that work best for you and your needs. A professional cyclist will need the best possible technology to ramp up his or her workout and push their performance. A weekend trail rider on the other hand is going to need a trainer that hits a wider variety of tires and will give them a steady experience to get in shape for the next riding season. The best option is the one you'll use the most, so figure out your need, and get riding.