Designing a home gym and looking for the best turbo trainer? This piece of gym equipment is a great way of factoring in your resistance training at home. It gives you the same benefits of riding a bike outdoors, indoors! Self-isolation friendly and great for rainy days.
If you're tight on floor space in your home gym or are buying one of these to pop in behind your sofa and use while catching up on your favourite series, rest assured that turbo trainers are a compact alternative to exercise bikes, and, are a lot cheaper than a gym membership in the long run. Amazing.
Now, since a lot of us are having to stay home at the moment and gyms are shut, several top gym equipment buys are out of stock. This, unfortunately, includes turbo trainers. Don't sweat: if you're looking for a quick fix and something that's cheap yet cheerful to help you get your sweat on while in self isolation, we've popped a widget below with a load of cheap turbo trainer options. If you're actually looking for the best turbo trainer, keep scrolling.
Here's our pick of the best turbo trainers so you can create a home gym; find the best home gym equipment picks in our buyer's guide. Head over to our home gym hub page where you'll find design ideas and equipment recommendations aplenty.
What is the best turbo trainer?
The best turbo trainer you can buy is the Wahoo KICKR Smart Turbo Trainer: it's smart, sturdy and offers the ultimate training experience.
After a cheap model to see you through lockdown and no more? These are the most affordable turbo trainers on the web right now. Enjoy!
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The best turbo trainers
The Tacx Flux Direct Drive Smart Trainer (opens in new tab) more than earns its place with a wealth of training and tracking options. It’s compatible with a huge range of smart cycle software, meaning you can take advantage of VR training, video courses, and a whole load of workouts to keep things interesting year-round. For such a versatile trainer, it’s pleasantly surprising to clock the mid-range price. There are some very slight negatives noted by reviewers, such as a small lag when changing resistance, that might throw you slightly off a particularly intense ride, but other than that, it looks to be unbeatable in its price band.
Touted by Wiggle as 'the ultimate training experience', it’s little wonder the Wahoo KICKR (opens in new tab) has nabbed our top spot for best turbo trainer. Realistic and responsive, the trainer reacts to the course set out on the buddy Wahoo Fitness app, replicating inclines, intervals and sprints instantaneously for the most realistic cycling experience this side of the velodrome. Reviewers reported no wheel slip, a solid build, an easy setup, and superb realism.
This affordable turbo trainer uses fluid resistance for a unique experience that, according to the manufacturer, is best suited to road racers. That’s because the weight of the user, and the power they put into the workout, influences the resistance that comes out, so it’s a good way of training up for your next race, letting you feel a realistic imitation of what you’ll be getting up to out on the road. The extra-large flywheel is immersed in oil, which sounds weird, but it’s all in the name of resistance: namely, offering high resistance even at lower speeds for a really good workout. In our opinion, it's the best turbo trainer for those who are competitive riders.
This direct drive turbo trainer eliminates the annoyance of potentially bumpy tyre-to-roller contact by foregoing to rear wheel and attaching straight to the frame. This, plus the heavy base, is designed for a smooth ride, and that’s precisely what you get, an uninterrupted resistance training experience that lets you switch seamlessly between intense intervals and casual cool-downs. Finally, there were two particular high notes that reviewers picked up on: the quietness, and the ease of setup. If you want to introduce resistance training into your routine with as little fuss or fanfare as possible, this looks to be a good way to do it.
This Kinetic trainer boasts the world’s only free-moving fluid trainer, combining that innovative tech with app-based training for what is, by all accounts, a pretty high-tech at-home workout for cyclists. Of course, with the wealth of apps such as the brand’s own Kinetic Fit, Zwift and TrainerRoad on offer, it’s a great one for tracking your progress, but the realistic feel of the fluid resistance in this trainer is recommended for a core workout, so if cycling is your method of choice for getting or keeping fit, you’ll get a great deal of use out of it even if apps aren’t your thing. If you're looking for something realistic, this is the best turbo trainer for you.
With its out-of-the-box readiness and clever quick release mounting system setting it apart from the competition, this magnetic resistance turbo trainer is one of the best for a quick setup – because sometimes, you just want to get down to business. With its wide base and anti-slip feet it’s designed to stay put, even if you’re pushing hard to get up that imaginary incline or relegated to the room with the treacherously slippy hardwood floor. JetBlack also promise a particularly smooth and quiet ride, claiming that the M5 Pro Mag can take the amount of resultant tyre wear from normal composite rollers and slash it by a not-inconsiderably 25 to 30 per cent, not to mention reducing noise by 55 per cent. Not too shabby – and your tyres won’t be either, making this a good bet if you work out frequently and are worried about wear and tear.
What to consider when buying a turbo trainer?
Magnetic and fluid resistance trainers
These offer an admirably realistic experience for the rider who’s used to being out on the road.
Smart resistance trainers
If you pick one up that’s also labelled as smart, you don’t have to rely on thinking about where you want to push yourself. Using buddy and universal apps, smart turbo trainers connect wirelessly to your device and allow you to everything from downloading virtual reality courses to uploading your data as you progress.
Wheel size and direct drive trainers
For most the picks in our buying guide, we’ve listed the wheel sizes suitable for use, with one exception: direct drive trainers. These require you to remove the back wheel and attach to the bike frame instead, which reduces wear on the tyres and can make for a smoother ride, but is a little more fiddly.
All round functionality
What we advise doing is thinking about the practical implications of each trainer: the wheel sizes suitable, the strenuousness of the setup, and the quietness of the ride, and seeing which one is suited to your particular needs.