Opting for the turbo over riding in the rain and snow over winter no longer has to feel like a lonesome chore, thanks to the latest smart trainers and indoor training apps which allow you to ride and race with friends from all over the world. We've put in the hours of riding on various indoor trainers to ensure that we find you the best turbo trainers for this year and far beyond...
Best turbo trainer overall: Wahoo Kickr Smart Trainer v6
Best smart trainer for versatility: Zwift Hub One
Best budget direct drive smart trainer: Wahoo Kickr Core Smart Trainer
Best money-no-object turbo trainer: Tacx Neo 2T Smart trainer
The cheapest road.cc-recommended direct drive trainer: Pinnacle HC Turbo Home Trainer
Quietest budget wheel-off smart trainer: Tacx Flux S Smart Trainer
A deluxe smart trainer with added movement: Wahoo Kickr Move Smart Trainer
Most affordable high-end smart trainer: Elite Direto XR smart trainer
Best wheel-on budget turbo trainer: Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+ trainer
Best basic turbo trainer on a budget: Saris Fluid2 Trainer Smart Equipped
Most convenient smart turbo trainer: Elite Suito Turbo Trainer
Best turbo trainer for high power accuracy: Saris H3 Direct Drive Smart Trainer
By simulating riding outside from the comfort of your own home, a turbo trainer allows you keep fit when the weather is unpleasant, or at times when it could be less safe, such as at night or during rush hours on the road. There's also the time element; a lot of cyclists now incorporate indoor riding into their training year-round, because it's very time-efficient and little effort gets wasted. There are no traffic lights or dodgy drivers to contend with indoors.
In the last few years – and even more so during the 2020 lockdown when many had no choice but to train indoors – the popularity of 'smart' trainers has boomed. These allow for an ANT+, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection to a computer, phone, tablet or Apple TV box. From here the level of pedalling resistance can be controlled, expressed as your power in watts via a built-in power meter.
If your budget is tight then you can stick with a 'dumb' trainer (there's one still recommended in this guide), but if you want to use a classic turbo with one of the best cycling training apps, then you will have to use your gears to alter the resistance. If the app is telling you to target a certain power or cadence zone you'll also have to improvise, unless you have a power meter and cadence sensor on your bike already.
Paired with useful software such as Zwift, TrainerRoad, Wahoo SYSTM or others, smart trainers can be a great tool for winter training as they allow you to train to a specific power output target. The best turbo trainers can also simulate hills or put you in a virtual race or group-training session, all of which helps to make indoor training more enjoyable. Couple this technology with some of the best indoor cycling accessories like a whopping great fan, indoor-specific clothing and a sweat catcher to protect your bike, and you're bound to find indoor training (almost) a joy instead of the soul-destroying task it once was.
If you want a set-up that multiple people can use and adjust easily, then you might be better off looking at exercise bikes or smart bikes; but if you're shopping for just you or are lucky enough to have space for multiple trainers in your 'pain cave' to keep the whole family fit, read on to see our top smart trainer and classic turbo trainer picks...