Your ultimate source for bodybuilding, nutrition, supplements, and full workout plans based on scientific evidence and written by experts.

The 5 Best Indoor Bike Trainers to Kick the Off Season Biking Blues

The 5 Best Indoor Bike Trainers to Kick the Off Season Biking Blues

If you’re an avid road biker, then you know that nothing is more of a buzzkill than stopping road biking for the season and losing all the progress you made. Then, in the spring time, it feels like your back to road biking 101. If you want to bridge the gap between training seasons, then consider doing road biking-specific workouts in the off season with an indoor bike trainer.

In this article, we will discuss what an indoor bike trainer is, how it works, and look at the research behind how a bike trainer can help you make biking gains and improve your skills in the off season. Also, we will compare exercises on bicycle trainer stands with on-road cycling so that you can determine if a bike trainer stand is necessary.

Above all, we want to make sure that you have several awesome stationary bike stands to choose from! Keep reading for Fitnessator’s top picks in the best indoor bike trainers on the market today. If you want to compare all the products side-by-side, then jump down to “The Rundown” section for quick product specs. Finally, be sure to try our ultimate road biking workout. These exercises will kick you back into gear for the upcoming biking season. Use our workout alongside your indoor bike trainer routine. However, before we get pedaling, let’s warm up with the research behind indoor bike trainers.

What is an indoor bike trainer? 

Indoor Bike Trainer For FitnessIf you’re new to road cycling (or do it for recreation), then you may not be familiar with indoor bike trainers. Indoor bike trainers are the means for professional cyclists to keep training no matter what time of year and no matter what the weather.

In the most basic sense, a bicycle trainer is a stand that allows your regular road bike to be used while stationary. How? Well, bicycle trainer stands hook up to the bike’s rear wheel and virtually suspend it in the air, allowing you to pedal and make the rear wheel spin. To add resistance, indoor bike trainers are often equipped with a wheel mount for the rear wheel. Also, resistance is adjusted using a heated fluid mechanism that creates a drag, allowing you to feel a burn in your legs and work harder. 

How can I benefit from an indoor bike trainer?

If you’re wondering whether it would be worth it to implement a bike trainer into your routine, then let’s take a look at the benefits of using a stationary bike stand. Also, in order to provide you an objective overview of the bike indoor trainer, we’ve included the downsides of using one in the next section.

Benefit #1: Constant movement during a workout

When it comes to a bicycle trainer stand, if you want to move the wheel, then you have to pedal the whole time. Unlike when using a road bike on the road, there is no coasting. So, this can help you get a better workout because you have to do all the work to keep the wheel going.

Benefit #2: Climate-controlled training for busy riders

If it’s too hot or too cold to be outside on the road, you can keep training in the comfort of your home, garage, or gym. This can help you keep up the training momentum. With an indoor bike trainer, you can’t use the weather as an excuse not to ride!

Also, for those who don’t have time to always get out and ride, the indoor bike trainer stand allows you to hop on the bike, train, and then get off and get on with your day.

Benefit #3: Interval training without environmental factors

Even though it is best to train on the road, some cyclists strive to do interval training on their road bikes. For interval training, the cyclist works to perform a certain number of rotations per minute to obtain different results. For example, if the cyclist is trying to have a high number of rotations per minute, then chances are they are trying to obtain a high speed and/or cardio workout. If they are striving for a low number of rotations per minute, then more than likely they are trying to get a leg strengthening workout.

Since roads and the outside environment can add another challenge on a biker to meet their goals, having an indoor bike trainer can help the cyclist work on certain exercises without being affected by slopes, road material, and climate conditions.

Benefit #4: Practice your posture and pedal technique

Similarly to optimizing interval training, an indoor bike trainer stand can help you practice your posture and pedaling technique without environmental factors getting in the way. As you may imagine, this may be particularly beneficial for newer riders.

What are the downsides of an indoor bike trainer?

Man Using An Indoor Bike TrainerAs you may imagine, if you’re training for road biking competitions (or to get more distance per ride), then the best type of training is on the road itself. However, since year-round road biking is not possible for some, bicycle exercise stands were created. To help you better formulate your training and determe if an indoor bike stand is necessary for you, keep reading for the disadvantages of an indoor bike trainer.

Disadvantage #1: Missing out on the benefits of outdoor activity

People often get into biking for recreational exercise and getting more time outdoors. In fact, outdoor cycling is the second highest outdoor activity in which people engage (1)!

That being said, indoor cycling can make you miss out on a fun, outdoor activity that you can do by yourself or with others. Whether or not you do better with group activity or individual activity is up to you, however, according to one study. Also, since outdoor biking can relieve mental and emotional stress, an indoor bike trainer may not be the best exercise to do when you’ve got the blues.

Disadvantage #2: Lack of mental and visual stimulation

As you may imagine, using an indoor bike trainer in your garage is anything but visually and mentally stimulating. However, as technology becomes further implemented into exercise, there are several virtual cycling applications you can try to stimulate your senses and keep you engaged.

Disadvantage #3: Minimal handling skills and road management

Since your bike indoor trainer cannot mimic the feel of the actual road, it is no surprise that your balance, bike handling, and terrain management skills may atrophy in the off season. However, if you try our ultimate biking workout near the end of the article, we strive to help exercise some of these skills so that you can be just as good (or better) than you were at the end of last season.

Disadvantage #4: Inability to practice several riding positions

Since terrain, wind, and slope all have an effect on the proper riding position, it is important that a cyclist constantly works on and improves their ability to deal with changing conditions. Unfortunately, with a bicycle exercise stand, you cannot react to different positions and situations that call for a change in posture.

Choosing the Best Trainer for You

Now that you know the pros and cons of indoor bike trainers, here is a list of the best indoor bike trainers to consider:

Fitnessator’s Top Pick

Fluid Bike Trainer – The Best Selling Indoor Bike Trainer

Fluid Bike Trainer Indoor BikeWhy We Love It:

It is no surprise that this indoor bike trainer is a best-seller! We love this bike because it has a wide range of resistance settings so that you can get both a cardio and high-resistance strength training regimen.

The Research:

If you are concerned that you won’t get an intense workout, then rest assured that even an indoor bike trainer like the Fluid by CycleOps can give you a sweat-dripping workout. According to one 2018 study, researchers found that the amount of sweat during exercise was determined by workload, rather than outside temperature. So, even when you are using an indoor bike trainer in a cool room, you can still sweat out as long as you are working really hard.

Details:
  • Fluid resistance mechanisms
  • CycleOps Website Price: $299.99
Things to Consider:

As you will see with some of the other bikes, the maximum weight capacity is only about 300 lbs, which includes both the rider and the bike. Make sure you weigh your bike and calculate if you fit within the weight requirements! 

Customer Reviews:

According to customers, this indoor trainer can provide as much resistance as you need. From beginners to avid professional cyclists, many claim this trainer challenges them every time.

Some customers complain that the resistance fluctuates in and out during the ride.

Who Should Purchase this Product:

If you are professional cyclist, then this is the best trainer to consider for the off season. Other professionals are challenged by this trainer during every session.

Fitnessator’s Runner Up

Jet Fluid ProTrainer – The Best Compact Indoor Bike Trainer

Jet Fluid ProTrainer Indoor BikeWhy We Love It:

We love that this indoor bike trainer can be folded flat and stowed away when not in use. This can help you make the transition from indoor biking to road biking easy, especially for those temperamental spring days. 

Details:
  • Fluid resistance mechanisms
  • CycleOps Website Price: $399
Things to Consider:

This product may be unavailable on some sites, so shop around and investigate where you can purchase this awesome indoor bike trainer! 

Customer Reviews:

Per customers, they love how quiet this machine can be. In particular, one mom loves that she can put her kids down for a nap and get in a quick workout without disturbing them.

On the other hand, some cyclists claim that this particular model does not offer as much resistance as other comparable products. 

Who Should Purchase this Product:

Aside from the convenience of being able to stow this trainer away, if you are more interested in the cardiovascular benefits of an indoor trainer, then this is the stand for you. As you can see in the customer reviews, this is a quiet machine, however, it does not have a high resistance ability.

Fitnessator’s Honorable Mention

URSTAR Magnet Bike Trainer – The Best Cheap Indoor Bike Trainer

URSTAR Magnet Bike Trainer
Why We Love It:

Based on the other trainers in this list, indoor bike trainers can be pricey! Luckily, the URSTAR Magnet Bike Trainer is less than $100!

Details:
  • Fluid and remote-controlled resistance mechanisms
  • Best Reviews Website Price: $75.99
Things to Consider:

When we did a price search for this model from several websites, the prices ranged from $75 to over $140! Make sure you don’t spend over $100 on this bike, because there are several sites where you can get it for less. 

Customer Reviews:

Aside from the great price of this trainer, customers love that it is easy to set up and is extremely quiet during use.

However, customer claim that this indoor trainer lacks the high resistance compared to the other models on the list.

Who Should Purchase this Product:

Besides the fact that this is the cheapest indoor bike, it also has the highest weight load capacity. So, if you and your bike equate to over 300 lbs, rest assured because this indoor trainer can withstand up to 330 lbs.

The Best Indoor Bike Trainer for Cardio Training 

Minoura RDA-2429

Minoura RDA-2429 Indoor BikeWhy We Love It:

If you’re trying to test your heart (and burn tons of calories), choose the Minoura trainer because the baseline setting is great for getting your heartrate up!

Details:
  • Remote-controlled resistance mechanisms
  • Minoura Website Price: $329.99
Things to Consider:

Unfortunately, this model has a relatively low max load weight capacity of 260 lbs, so take that into consideration!

Customer Reviews:

People love that this trainer can accommodate both road bikes and mountain bikes, which is great for versatility. 

Per customer reviews, cyclists notice little to no difference in resistance, so it is often not used. 

Who Should Purchase this Product:

For those who are most interested in cardio training on a bike, then this is definitely a model that should be considered. Since the resistance levels offer minimal change, plan for getting a heart-pumping workout on the baseline setting.

The Best Indoor Bike Trainer Set 

Fluid Bike Trainer Kit


Fluid Bike Trainer Kit Indoor BikeWhy We Love It:

To make the indoor bike trainer more versatile, the Fluid Bike Trainer Kit is the way to go. With this one set you can get various slope settings and a floor mat for stability. 

Details:
  • Fluid resistance mechanisms
  • CycleOps Website Price: $449.99
Things to Consider:

Please note that this Fluid Bike Trainer Set is simply an upgrade from the Fitnessator’s Top Pick, so besides the added items, the pros and cons of the top pick are applicable to this product.

Customer Reviews:

People love how easy it is to set this package up. With just a few adjustments, you can get your bike mounted and start pedaling. Also, the risers are easy to swap in and out.

According to some professional cyclers, they claim that this set may make you think you are improving your skills at different slopes, however, the training does not really mimic the feel of being out on the road.

Who Should Purchase this Product:

If you really want to implement indoor cycling all year around as a supplement to your cycling routine, the Fluid Bike Trainer Kit is essential! 

The Rundown on Indoor Bike Trainers 

After reviewing the Fitnessator’s top picks in indoor bike trainers, here’s a breakdown to help you compare the products discussed:

Product

Less than $250

Compatible with which type of bike?

Max weight capacity on the trainer

Fluid Bike Trainer (Top Pick) Road bikes 300 lbs
Jet Fluid ProTrainer (Runner Up) Road bikes 300 lbs
URSTAR Magnet Bike Trainer (Honorable Mention) X Road bikes and mountain bikes 330 lbs
Minoura RDA-2429 X Road bikes and mountain bikes 260 lbs
Fluid Bike Trainer Kit Road bikes 300 lbs

 

Sample Workout for Road Bikers: The Best Exercises for Off-Season

Since an indoor bike trainer stand does not give you the same workout as you would get on the road, we’ve designed this sample workout routine to improve your road biking skills. Not only will this workout test your cardiovascular endurance, but it will also train several major muscle groups and necessary skills that you will need on a road bike.

As you will see, this workout requires certain exercise equipment, so you might have to modify these workouts to fit the equipment you have available. If you work out at a neighborhood gym, then you may have all of the proper equipment available. However, those who work out at home may need to revise these exercises. For even more awesome biking exercises (especially for balance), see the workout we designed for our mountain bike article. Also, there are lots of exercises in the road bike article to consider.

For each exercise, we designate the specific target areas so that you can get creative if equipment is not available. Above all, be sure to discuss your personalized exercise recommendations with your doctor and physical trainer.

Exercise

Notes

Target Area(s)

Sets/Time

Repetitions

Burpees
If you have never done burpees before, then don’t do these on a full stomach! Activate the core for these. Cardio, legs, glutes 5 20
Balance board stance and squats
If you have a balance board, then you can work on your balance. Use this exercise to help mimic the instability you may encounter on the road. First, just try balancing. Then, pretend you’re holding handlebars. Finally, try squats! Balance, core, legs 1 min balancing

 

3 sets of squats

3 balance repetitions

 

20 squats per set

Lunges with a balance board
Using adjustable dumbbells, activate the core and glutes to perform these lunges. Keep the front foot on the balance board (rubber side up). Repeat on each side. Legs, glutes, core 3 20
Russian twists
You can do this on a weight bench or floor mat. Using a weight plate, activate the core and twist as far as possible on both sides. Core 4 20
Renegade rows
Grab a set of dumbbells and get in a pushup position. In a pushup position, use the dumbbells to row and engage the back muscles. To add to this exercise, add a pushup between each row. Check out these other awesome chest exercises and bicep workouts. Arms, back, core 3 20
Kettle ball swings
Activate your core and work on making your movements explosive! Glutes, arms, legs 3 25
Balance board rocking
Using your balance board, place one foot at the front of the board and on at the back. Gently rock forward and back while balancing. Also, try it rocking side to side. Balance 1 min balancing and rocking 3 balance repetitions

 

 

Box jumps
Suck in the core, and only choose a box height that you are comfortable with. Cardio, glutes, arms, legs 3 15
Pushup with dowel on a stability ball
Place a dowel on top of a stability ball. With hands shoulder-width apart on the dowel, go into an incline plank position to prepare for a pushup on the dowel that is balanced on the stability ball. As you may imagine, this is a stability and pushup exercise all in one! Balance, forearms, hands, core, chest 3 10

 

Before You Purchase

Now that you have received lots of information about the best indoor bicycle trainers and how they can benefit you in the off-season, we hope you feel more comfortable to make a decision to buy one. Refer back to our full product reviews to help you choose. Also, if you need the quick side-by-side comparisons, then jump back up to “The Rundown” section.

Remember that these indoor bike trainers can help you keep up your stamina from one season to the next, however, these bicycle trainers do have their pitfalls. So, that’s why we gave you the ultimate indoor road bike workout to help you practice the skills you need on the road.

What do you do in the off season to help you train? Or, do you live in an area where there is no off season? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.