If the weather's driven you indoors to preserve your fitness check out our recommendations for the best indoor cycling accessories. We've slogged away in the road.cc pain cave for hundreds of hours to find the best clothing, fans, bike protectors, laptop holders and even rocker plates. Here are the best accessories and pieces of clothing for indoor training.
The indoor cycling boom of the last few years — generated by Covid-19 lockdowns and the rise of connected smart trainers — has seen more of us training indoors, and taking both indoor training and online riding and racing far more seriously. While all you really need for indoor training is a bike, a turbo trainer and control device (a laptop, phone, tablet or even some bike computers), purpose-specific clothing and indoor training accessories all help make the experience less of a chore.
As well as our top 10 recommendations for indoor cycling clothing and accessories, above, in this guide we explore a plethora of other options that'll all help make indoor training, riding and racing more enjoyable.
> Read more: the best smart trainers
Indoor training jerseys
The Shimano Climber's Jersey is breathable but not particularly lightweight, despite the name, and with its 'sports posture' cut it supplies a looser fit for riders who sit more upright – which also happens to make it great for indoor training.
Tester Simon writes: "I headed over to the virtual Box Hill on Zwift's London Loop and found the Shimano jersey unexpectedly excellent.
"If you're covering up while indoor training – whether to spare your family the sight of your pale, dripping torso or because you do indoor group sessions – many prefer a looser top. I found the lack of clinginess of the Shimano jersey really comfortable even when the sweat started popping, and it allowed air to circulate better than a baselayer does.
"It absorbed the sweat well, rather than letting it drip onto the floor, and the fabric kept its shape perfectly, not wetting out and not sticking to skin. I sat around after the session to find out how quickly it would dry and was equally impressed. It never felt waterlogged, and seemed to wick the sweat pretty well without me getting chilly."
Read our review of the Shimano Climber's Jersey
Find a Shimano stockist
Madison’s Turbo jersey is available in black, acid fade with ‘going nowhere fast’ slogan (pictured) and acid bolts. Madison says there’s no external printing so the jersey can be washed at 60°C to kill off all bacteria. There’s also an anti-bacterial coating in the fabric.
It’s made from an open mesh fast-wicking fabric like the Castelli and Le Col below, but unlike those two its rear pockets have been stripped away, meaning it won’t double up as an outdoor hot-weather jersey.
There’s the usual full-length front zip for easy removal or extra ventilation.
A full-length front zipper makes it easy to get on an off, and lets the fan blast cool air in when it's needed.
Available in Acid Fade, Acid Bolts, Black and in S-XXL (no women-specific options).
> Read our review of the Madison Turbo jersey
Castelli says its Insider jersey is a “highly technical garment that has been developed explicitly to keep you cool on your indoor training regime”.
It’s made from an ultra-lightweight 3D mesh polyester fabric for maximum moisture wicking and quick drying. Castelli says its fabric lifts excess moisture from the skin to keep the wearer cool and comfortable even on the toughest surges.
It has a short waist, low collar and full-length zipper that help overall ventilation and easy removal. Castelli says the fabric itself is balanced between transparency and opacity so that it can also be worn outside in hot weather. However, there’s no mention of UV protection so be sure to wear sunblock.
There are two pockets that are useful for storing indoor training accessories such as earphones, headbands or gels.
It comes in ‘light black’ and sizes XS-XXXL (no women-specific version).
> Find a Castelli dealer
Like the Castelli, the Le Col jersey delivers maximum airflow via a 3D mesh fabric that wicks sweat away from your body.
It also has a full zip and low collar to increase ventilation and three rear pockets so that, like the Castelli, it can also be ridden outdoors in hot weather. The same UV protection caveat applies.
There’s also a sleeveless version (£100) which, like the standard jersey, comes in both men’s and women’s fits.
Available in black/blue or Collective Edition (pictured) and in men's and women's sizes.
Rapha’s approach to the indoor training jersey is based on the fact that: “Theories abound as to what’s best to wear while training indoors.” So the British brand has gone for something that’s half baselayer, half old T-shirt. It’s a tank top with arm holes cut to make it comfortable in an on-bike position.
The lightweight polyester fabric features a gradient knit structure to wick moisture away from the skin and help it evaporate rapidly.
There are stretchy side panels that make Rapha’s indoor garment tighter fitting than a regular T-shirt but looser than a baselayer, striking what it claims is a perfect balance between airflow and sweat absorption. It is cut short at the front to avoid bunching and longer at the back to keep you covered in group sessions.
Comes in dark navy/white, olive/black or white/carbon grey and in XS-XXL.
Alternatively, try these non-indoor-specific baselayers
The fabric used by Decathlon’s in-house brand is an open-weave mesh which is highly breathable and comfortable against the skin. For less than £15 you can’t go wrong.
> Read our review of the Van Rysel RC 500 Sleeveless Mesh Baselayer
The Manchester-based company manufactures its products here in the UK, outsourcing to Italy for the 'multi-filament yarns' that make up the four-way stretch fabric used in this baselayer's construction.
> Read our review of the Lusso Race Base Mesh Vest
> Read more: 19 of the best cycling baselayers
Indoor warm-up tops
As far as we know, Le Col is the only brand so far to make an indoor-specific warm-up top. It features a brushed-back Lycra that, says Le Col, offers protection from cold air without sacrificing the breathability and fit of traditional summer jerseys. It’s suitable for outdoor riding too, with three rear pockets. Comes in men's and women's sizes.
Indoor training shorts
As with the jerseys, you might decide that your regular bib shorts will do for indoor training. If you’re planning on spending a lot of time training indoors, though, there are specifically designed shorts that focus on improved moisture management. Le Col x Wahoo’s shorts, for example, are claimed to offer increased temperature regulation and a pad that provides extra protection for the different dynamics of static training. Rapha goes bibless while Madison goes for stripped-back lightness, a redesigned chamois and hot washability.
The Nopinz SubZero Suit is a very good indoor training suit that features inserts for gel packs. Tester Dave writes: "I've found it to be comfortable in use. The packs are a bit of welcome relief mid race, too, although it's hard to quantify any actual gains. The general idea is that you lob the gel packs in the freezer, then keep them in the insulated box while you warm up, and slip them in the two pouches on the back of the suit before you race.
"And does it work? Well, the first time I tried the SubZero Suit, in a team time trial on Zwift, I set a new FTP, pushing it up all the way from 316W to, erm, 317W. So I hereby declare that your £189.99 buys you a 0.32% performance boost, because science.
"Okay, it ain't that simple. Some days you're the hammer, some you're the nail; maybe I was on a good day. On the other hand, I hadn't really troubled that FTP in the couple of months leading up to trying out the Nopinz suit, so a new FTP was a bit of a surprise.
"Leaving that aside, it's hard to quantify what the actual effect of the suit is on your performances. I can tell you that my best recent performances have been wearing the suit. But I can also tell you that those performances were in races I was prioritising. So maybe it's just because I'm trying a bit harder. But I was sceptical when I first received it to review, and now I find myself wearing it when I'm putting the effort in."
Read our review of the Nopinz SubZero Men’s Suit
While they're not billed as indoor training shorts, Nopinz Pro-1 Bib Shorts turn out to be perfect for the pain cave thanks to their light Speedscalez™ fabric (which has claimed aero advantages for outdoor riding) mesh upper section and very comfortable Teosport Armadillo endurance chamois.
Tester Nick writes: "Testing these shorts indoors on the turbo, they deal with the sweaty conditions very well. The shorts section rises to about belly-button height, allowing for plenty of ventilation, and the lightweight mesh straps are comfortable and wick sweat away well."
Read our review of the Nopinz Pro-1 Bib Shorts
Rather than simply offering a weight advantage over standard designs, the Van Rysel Racer Ultralight bib shorts are designed for comfort in hot weather – or indoor turbo sessions. Their heavily perforated panels work very well in the heat, but the shorts also regulate temperature well when the mercury's lingering around 13-14 degrees.
Read our review of the Decathlon Van Rysel Shorts Racer Ultralight
Find a Decathlon branch
The Nopinz Subzero Shorts are designed to offer the same cooling benefits as the Subzero Men's Suit above. They're cheaper than the suit, and they're a great option if you tend to overheat on your trainer and you're not worried about being half-dressed for your workout.
Read our review of the Nopinz Subzero Men’s Shorts
Like the companion Turbo jersey, the bib shorts are stripped of all unnecessary features, are fast wicking and have anti-bacterial properties. With no external printing they’re also washable at 60°C to kill off bacteria, and an anti-bacterial Lycra is used.
Madison says a custom designed Italian pad has been made specifically for these indoor shorts by TMF.
Open mesh straps with soft binding are designed for breathability and comfort and there are silicone leg grippers to help them stay in place.
Black, sizes S-XXL.
> Read our review of the Madison Turbo bibshorts
This latest version of Lusso's indoor shorts features extensive use of lightweight mesh fabric for cooling, plus softing bindings and minimal seams for comfort. The mesh isn't quite transparent, but it's see-through enough that Lusso have gone with modesty-preserving lightweight Lycra over the pad, front and inner thighs.
The pad has an antibacterial carbon weave and is perforated for more ventilation.
Read our review of the Lusso Turbo Bibshorts V2
Rapha says the Core waist shorts, which also come in the Cargo version with leg pockets (pictured, £95) are for summertime riding, indoor training, and commuting – so they’re not strictly indoor-specific, but Rapha says the lack of shoulder straps will help you beat the heat. As with a lot of indoor training kit, this could be down to personal preference.
They’re made using the same materials and technology as Rapha’s Core Bib Shorts – a dense-knit fabric, flatlock stitching and laser-cut leg grippers.
Available in men's and women's sizes.
Castelli says the Insider Bib Shorts, which are paired with the Insider jersey in the picture, are perfect for keeping you cool throughout the rigours of indoor training with unrivalled breathability, moisture management and superior comfort.
The Pro Dry Soft fabric derives from Castelli’s Inferno shorts, which are intended for midsummer mountain climbs thanks to their quick-drying properties.
With the Kiss Air2 chamois Castelli has focused on moisture management: it’s not as thick as the Progetto X2 but supplies enough padding for indoor training.
The legs have raw-cut edges, stitching is flatlocked and the bib section is made of mesh.
Like the Insider jersey, these bib shorts can also be worn outside.
Available in black, sizes S-3XL.
> Find a Castelli dealer
Like Rapha, dhb goes for bibless waist shorts, saving the fuss of removing the straps before the session is over. A compressive waistband and silicone grippers are designed to hold the shorts in place in the absence of bib straps.
The side and rear panels are extra lightweight and breathable for temperature regulation, while the chamois was developed specifically for indoor training and features enhanced moisture management and a more pronounced central panel for relief while on indoor trainers.
Available in men's and women's sizes.
Le Col says it has designed these bib shorts to meet the demands of indoor training, ensuring that breathability is optimised through micro perforations along the thigh, enhancing airflow and improving the cooling effect.
The bib straps are made from fast-wicking mesh and a Dolomiti Pro Gel chamois, optimised for indoor training, is used. Seams are flatlock stitched and there are silicone leg grippers.
Available in men’s and women’s sizes, black (pictured) or Collective Edition.
Editor-at-large John Stevenson swears by this simple wicking skull cap to handle sweat during turbo sessions. There's an absorbent liner around the bottom edge that grabs sweat and the DriSmart shell evaporates it right off. You'll have to mail order it from the US which makes it kinda pricy, though.
Made predominantly with a lightweight spacer mesh, Rapha's cap draws moisture and heat away from the head, working well in conjunction with a fan. The front panel features the same lightweight fabric as Rapha’s technical T-shirts, overlaid above the spacer mesh to improve airflow and sweat dispersion. It comes in one size, held in place by a continuous elastic band. The peak can be popped up, while bound seams allow it to be worn with maximum ‘luft’.
We haven’t seen any indoor-specific socks so far, but summer socks will do the job just fine. Look for lightweight socks with a mesh ankle. Here's our guide to the best summer cycling socks.
Once you’re all kitted out with the clothing, you’ll need to have a think about the rest of your indoor-training paraphernalia. As with the clothes, some of it can be improvised using what you already have, but there are certain things that are essential, such as a powerful fan.
If your core temperature rises and you start to overheat, your body will protect your organs by limiting the amount of work you can do – which means your power output declines. According to Hunter Allen in this TrainingPeaks article: “Overheating can easily cause a reduction in indoor power by 20 to 30 watts alone, so it’s critical that you have a large fan blowing on you during your workout and if you can do it in a cool room, that will make a difference as well.”
Ways of keeping corrosive sweat off your bike and the floor ought to be a priority too. Options here range from generic microfibre towel to bespoke sweat catcher with integrated smartphone window.
Wheel-on turbos clamp the rear wheel off the floor onto a cylinder, which means you need to also raise the front wheel to level up your bike – or you’ll find yourself riding very aggressive geometry.
The Vacmaster Cardio54 is a great fan to use with your indoor trainer. It pushes a lot of air and is more effective at keeping you cool than most other options. This is essentially Vacmaster's Air Mover – a fan designed for drying out building work, or your carpets after a flood – with two alterations. It's black and grey instead of building-site yellow and it comes with a remote that you can mount on your bars (via silicone strap) to control the three speed settings of the fan.
The '54' refers to the maximum air speed of 54km/h and on full gas it's overkill for anything except a full race effort. It's a great option if you're after some serious airflow in your pain cave. The Cardio54 moves a LOT of air, and when you've got the position dialled in it does an excellent job of cooling you down.
At £99.99 it's half the price of the KICKR Headwind fan and just as effective; okay, you can't make it blow faster when you speed up, but that's daft, so you won't miss it.
Read our review of the Vacmaster Cardio54 Fitness Fan
The only cycling-specific fan at the moment (as far as we know) and very expensive. The Wahoo Kickr Headwind is sensor controlled so that as your speed or heart rate increases, so does fan speed. There are also four manual speed settings so you can set your own airflow. Simulates speeds of over 30mph – it’s cooler than cool.
> Read our review of the Wahoo Kicker Headwind Smart Fan
> Find a Wahoo dealer
Browse Amazon for a non-cycling-specific high-velocity fan to suit your budget. Spend enough and you can go for properly huge pedestal fans with 75cm (29in) blades, or fans with built-in misters that'll blow fine water droplets at you. Get one with a remote, because getting off your bike to change fan speed is annoying.
The sweat catcher from Tacx has a smartphone window and is made from an absorbent man-made fabric. It also attaches to the bar and seatpost. Like the B'Twin, it fits all bikes.
> Find a Tacx dealer
Like Tacx's, Decathlon’s sweat catcher is strung between the handlebar and seatpost, creating a sort of sweat-catching hammock. It is made of absorbent polyamide so fortunately doesn’t need emptying afterwards. It includes a storage bag/bottle holder that can be attached to the handlebar.
At only £3.99 it's probably worth buying a few of these.
Decathlon has gone for a manmade quick-drying microfibre rather than cotton. It doesn’t have any bike-specific features – it’s just a basic rectangle to place over the bar and stem – measuring 420 x 550mm.
Available in three colours.
The Bespoke Rocker Plate R1 Black Edition is a high quality indoor training rocker for a good price. If you want to feel a bit more natural on the turbo and take a little bit of the stress off your bike, it's an excellent investment.
Tester Dave writes: "You want a rocker plate to feel solid but also offer enough movement to make indoor riding feel more natural and comfortable, and that's exactly what the R1 does. Out of the saddle there's plenty of side-to-side movement but the progressive nature of the resistance from the springs means it never feels out of control, and you can add more air if it feels too floppy, or take some out if it's a bit rigid.
"The movement makes the time on the turbo more comfortable: you don't end up sitting in a fixed position and even small movements in the bike's position help to shift the weight on the saddle about to stop you getting sore or numb. The fact that that the bike can move under you also reduces stress on the frame; that's a good thing generally, but especially if your bike manufacturer doesn't warranty your frame if it's on a static trainer."
Read our review of the Bespoke Rocker Plate R1 Black Edition
Tablet & laptop holders
KOM Cycling's Media Display desk puts a laptop or tablet and your phone in an easily-reached position just in front of your bike. As well as the ingenious groove for your phone/tablet, there are two cupholders so you can have lots of water to hand, or have a bottle in one and fill the other with snacks.
Find a KOM Cycling dealer
Tacx’s handlebar bracket allows you to attach a tablet to your handlebar at a safe distance from sweatfall. Suitable for handlebars with a diameter from 26mm to 35 mm and adjustable to different tablet sizes ranging from: length 182-267mm, width 112-190mm, max thickness 13mm.
> Find a Tacx dealer
You can put your front wheel right through Tacx’s clever tablet stand, allowing you to position your tablet at exactly the right height and distance from the handlebar. The tablet holder itself accommodates the same tablet sizes as the Tacx Tablet Holder.
> Find a Tacx dealer
Very stable and sturdy steel frame that provides support for notebooks, tablets and smartphones with an adjustable anti-slip, scratch-free soft rubber plate.
> Find an Elite dealer
Front wheel risers
With four different wheel heights, Kurt Kinetic's riser will get your bike level for most common wheel sizes.
Tacx’s front-wheel support raises the front wheel and also doubles up as an ingenious handle to carry a Tacx wheel-on trainer.
Designed to prevent damage to your floor from sweat or your turbo’s feet, Decathlon’s training mat is made from a dual material. The lower section is constructed from anti-slip foam for stability, while the upper section is a dense foam. It’s not absorbent so can be wiped dry and clean after training.
Do I need indoor-specific clothing?
Clothing manufacturers have started to produce indoor-specific jerseys and shorts made from fast-wicking mesh fabric that allows sweat to evaporate quickly and the body to cool itself. One of the first was Madison, with its Turbo jersey and shorts.
“Our CEO Dominic Langan was quick to spot the huge shift of cyclists taking to the virtual roads in winter, and found himself without ever quite having the right kit for the job,” says Madison head of own-brand Russell Whittaker.
> Read more: How to get started on Zwift
“[In the past for indoor training] Most people opted for a bibshort and either a baselayer or short-sleeve jersey. A baselayer is OK, but often a little too snug fitting, and a standard jersey wets out and doesn’t breathe enough. Other people simply go topless, but garment technology now means you can draw sweat away from the body faster by wearing a single layer.
“For the jersey, we took the basic pattern of a short sleeve jersey and used fabric for super-light summer base layers, stripping off pockets and prints. The result is a flyweight jersey that allows a little air to move around to help with the wicking process.
“We played around with the idea of mesh bib shorts, but as these may be worn in gyms for spin classes, decided against using a full mesh fabric! Instead, we swapped the traditional nylon used in bib shorts for polyester to help wick sweat away from the body as quickly as possible.
“The other major development for the shorts is the custom chamois pad developed with TMF in Italy. The body moves differently on a static trainer, so it made sense that the pad positioning would need refining. On top of that, an anti-bacterial layer and perforations in the pad help draw sweat away from the body.
“To finish, we applied anti-bacterial treatments to all the fabrics as well as removing all prints. That allows the garments to be washed at 60 degrees to help kill the bacteria created with the excessive sweat.
“Of course you don’t need specific indoor cycling kit, but it’s certainly a nice thing to have.”
Here’s our selection of suitable sweat-specific gear to get you rolling.
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