Opting for the turbo over riding in the rain and snow over winter no longer has to feel like a lonesome chore thanks to wireless-connected turbo trainers (aka home trainers or indoor trainers) and 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: Tacx Neo 2T Smart trainer
Best budget smart trainer: Zwift Hub smart trainer
Best high-end turbo trainer: Wahoo Kickr Smart Trainer v6
Quietest budget wheel-off smart trainer: Tacx Flux S 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
Best for reliability on a budget: Wahoo Kickr Core Smart Trainer
Most convenient smart turbo trainer: Elite Suito Turbo Trainer
Best turbo trainer for high power accuracy: Saris H3 Direct Drive Smart Trainer
Another great budget smart trainer: Pinnacle HC Turbo Home Trainer
By simulating riding outside from the comfort of your own home, a turbo trainer allows you keep fit when the weather is unpleasant and/or less safe for heading outdoors, or when time is limited and riding in the dark is therefore the unfavourable alternative.
In the last few years – and even more so over the 2020 lockdown when many had no choice but to train indoors – the popularity of 'smart' trainers has boomed. These allow for an ANT+ or Bluetooth wireless connection to a computer, phone, tablet or Apple TV box, which are able to control the level of pedalling resistance, 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 (we've recommended some in this guide) but if you want to use it 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 a joy instead of the 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 our selection of the best exercise bikes and 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 trainer picks...
First Published Oct 21, 2022