Fitting a bike with thru axles to a trainer is sometimes a little more difficult than using a bike with open-ended dropouts but it can be done as long as you have the right equipment. All the details of what's required with different trainers are in a table down below, but here's a quick roundup first.
Many road bikes still use open-ended dropouts and quick release (QR) skewers (below). The most common rear spacing (between the inside faces of the dropouts) for road bikes is 130mm. If your mountain bike uses QRs, chances are that the rear spacing is 135mm.
If you have a modern road or gravel bike with a rear thru axle (below) – where the dropout is closed and one side is threaded – it's likely to be 142x12. Other sizes do exist, especially on bikes a few years old, but 142x12 is the most common.
With mountain bikes, 135x12 used to be the most common size but 142x12 soon superseded it. The Boost standard is 148x12. There are other sizes out there but most mountain bikes use one of these.
You can divide trainers into two types: wheel-on and direct drive.
A wheel-on trainer (like the Tacx Booster, above) is most common. As the name suggests, this is where your wheel stays on your bike, you clamp the rear axle to the trainer's frame, and your rear tyre runs on a roller.
With a direct drive turbo trainer (like the Wahoo Kickr, above), you whip off your rear wheel and clamp the bike to the trainer via its rear dropouts. The chain runs on a cassette that's fixed to the trainer.
Here's the big table of compatibility. We'll unpack it a bit further down the page.
The table refers to compatibility between 142x12 and 148x12 thru axle bikes and current trainer models from major brands. If you have an older version of any of these trainers, requirements could be different.
|Make||Model||Style||Thru axle kit included?|
|Elite||Direto XR||Direct drive||Yes 142x12, no 148x12|
|Elite||Drivo II||Direct drive||Yes 142x12, no 148x12|
|Elite||Direto X||Direct drive||Yes 142x12, no 148x12|
|Elite||Suito||Direct drive||Yes 142x12, no 148x12|
|Elite||Tuo||Wheel-on||Yes 142x12, no 148x12|
|Elite||Zumo||Direct drive||Yes 142x12, no 148x12|
|Elite||Turno||Direct drive||Yes 142x12, no 148x12|
|Elite||Volano Smart B+||Direct drive||Yes 142x12, no 148x12|
|Elite||Qubo Power Mag Smart B+||Wheel-on||No|
|Kinetic||Rock and Roll Control||Wheel-on||No|
|Minoura||Kagura LSD9200||Direct drive||Yes|
|Minoura||Mag Ride 60D||Wheel-on||No|
|Minoura||Mag Ride 60R||Wheel-on||No|
|Minoura||Mag Ride Q||Wheel-on||No|
|Tacx||Neo 2T||Direct drive||Yes|
|Tacx||Flux 2||Direct drive||Yes|
|Tacx||Flux S||Direct drive||Yes|
|Wahoo||Kickr Core||Direct drive||Yes|
Things are simple if your bike uses a 5mm QR skewer to hold the rear wheel in place. For a wheel-on trainer, you swap the standard QR for a trainer-compatible QR (where necessary; that's one from Tacx below), you lock the bike in place and away you go.
It can be a little more difficult if your bike has a rear thru axle. You'll need an adaptor in order to fit a thru axle bike to a wheel-on trainer. You usually have to buy the adaptor separately.
Most direct drive trainers now come with whatever's necessary to use it with a thru axle bike.
Adaptors for use with wheel-on trainers are longer-than-normal axles that you use in place of your bike's standard thru axle. They extend out far enough on each side that the trainer can firmly lock your bike in place.
Beware, though, that if the adaptor screws to your bike the two thread pitches need to match – hence Kinetic's Traxle adaptors coming in three different versions. If you don't know which type of thru axle your bike uses, ask the manufacturer or the shop where you bought it.
Could you use Brand A's trainer with Brand B's adaptors? Potentially, although Brand A might say that its own adaptors provide the most stability. Kinetic says that its Traxles are "specifically engineered to work on Kinetic trainers [but] the system also works with most other trainer brands."
If in doubt, you're safest sticking with one brand. We give links to the relevant adaptors when mentioned down below (just click on the name).
Elite's Interactive Trainer range comprises:
All of these except the Tuo are direct drive, and are supplied with 142x12 thru axle adaptors. If your bike is 148x12, you need a different adaptor that's not supplied with the trainer.
The Tuo (above) is a wheel-on design that comes with an adaptor that allows you to use 10mm or 12mm diameter thru axles up to 148mm.
This range comprises:
Volano Smart B+
Qubo Power Mag Smart B+
The Turno and Volano Smart B+ are direct drive and include adaptors for 142x12.
The Qubo Power Mag Smart B+ is a wheel-on trainer. You'll need to buy an Elite adaptor (£24.99) if you want to fit a bike that uses a thru axle system (the adaptor is compatible with bikes with 10mm and 12mm diameter thru axles up to 148mm).
Elite's Classic Trainers are:
Qubo Fluid (below)
These are both wheel-on designs. An adaptor is required to use these trainers with thru axle bikes.
This range is made up of:
Neo 2T (below)
The Neo 2T, Flux 2 and Flux S direct drive trainers are directly compatible with 142x12 and 148x12 thru axle bikes (you can use your own axle). If you have a 135x10 or 135x12 bike, you need Tacx's T2835 direct drive quick release with adaptor set.
Earlier versions of the Flux 2 and Flux S (prior to the fourth quarter of 2019) require the T2835 adaptor for use with 142x12 and 148x12 systems.
The Vortex, Flow and Satori wheel-on trainers require adaptors for use with thru axle bikes. Tacx offers a range that replace your standard axle skewer.
Tacx currently offers just one wheel-on Basic Trainer, the Boost, below
Wahoo's Kickr (below) and Kickr Core are direct drive trainers. They both include adaptors for use with 142x12 and 148x12 bikes.
The Kickr Snap wheel-on trainer requires an adaptor for use with a 142x12 bike. The thru axle kit (£44.99) comes with three axles with different threads. It is not compatible with a 148x12 system.
Saris currently offers one direct drive smart trainer: the H3 (below). It is thru axle compatible for rear hub widths of 142mm and 148mm; you don't need to buy any extra parts.
The other Saris trainers are:
The R1 is Kinetic's only direct drive turbo and it is compatible with bikes that use 142x12 and 148x12 thru axle systems. You use your bike's stock thru axle; no Traxle (see below) is necessary.
The Kinetic Rock and Roll Control and Road Machine (above) are wheel-on designs. Bikes with rear thru axles require a Kinetic Traxle thru-axle adaptor (£23.99) for use with these. Various versions are available.
The Kagura LSD9200 is Minoura's only direct drive trainer (Minoura's UK distributor is not currently bringing Kaguras into this country). It is compatible with 142x12 and 148x12 systems and all the required parts are included.
Minoura offers loads of other wheel-on trainers such as the LR961, LR541 and Mag Ride 60D. All of these will require an adaptor for use with a thru axle bike.