Training indoors isn't just for winter anymore! That’s changed in a major way in the last several years as Smart Trainers, Smart Bikes and indoor training programs have hit the market. Online programs like FulGaz and Zwift allow riders to ride virtual courses alone or in groups, giving wattage, speed, incline, and a very realistic riding experience. Riding indoors is becoming fun, convenient, and even safer than outdoor riding. We carry the full line of trainers from two leading brands – Tacx and Cycleops. Stop by our shop to see them in person, try them out, and see which one is right for you. Check out our video series on indoor training.
Smart trainers are growing in popularity very quickly as prices are coming down and choices are abundant. The online programs add dimensions of social riding, competition, realistic courses, and details of the ride that allow you to scrutinize performance or just map your improvement over time. There are two types of Smart trainers:
The basic smart trainers communicate 1-way with a phone or tablet and give you real time power, speed, incline (virtual), distance and other measurements on a phone or tablet app. Resistance is controlled manually from a cable remote.
Interactive models are controlled by the app on your computer, Apple TV or phone/tablet (2-way). They can realistically simulate different gradients, coasting downhill, or even riding over gravel or bumpy roads. Some apps are available for phones & ipads, keeping the setup simple. They are compatible with laptops, big screen TVs and the sky is the limit for how “virtual” you want your ride to be.
We carry the leading models on the market, these are the most popular models:
Tacx Neo 2T – the most advanced tech and the most immersive experience – $1999
Tacx Flux II – popular bundle of features for the money, including direct drive – $1199
Tacx Flux S - Best budget direct drive, but doesn't come the hardware package for thru-axles (see Flux 2) - $999
Tacx Flow – least expensive full Smart Trainer, traditional drum roller – $499
Stages Bike - The Spin bike & power meter company now has a full-bike indoor trainer entry into the market - $4999
Tacx Neo Bike - The Dutch company's entry into the full bike experience, a Neo 2T on steroids and the most immersive experience - $4999
These are only our most popular, more models are available including rollers...
Tacx, Stages, and a few other companies are introducing self-contained Smart Bikes in 2020 and they're pretty exciting. After years of having a bike mounted to a trainer and using it almost daily, they decided to just make a full unit that had all the same features and more, with full adjustability for all sizes of riders. Early demos on these are promising, and we've started taking deliveries as of May 2020.
Direct drive where the rear wheel is taken off and the frame clamps directly to the trainer – which will have a separate gear cluster (cassette) already installed (see Neo above). These tend to be more quiet, have a more reaslistic feel when accelerating and coasting, and sit lower to the ground since the bike doesn’t need to be suspended with both wheels on.
These are more traditional, have limited or no connectivity for online platforms, and mostly hold the bike by the rear axle. The premium ones in this category have adjustable resistance, whether it’s on the trainer itself or by remote. The remotes allow you to adjust resistance without getting off the bike. Lower end models will use low-tech resistance strategies like an air fan or magnetic plates while higher end models will use a fluid stirring inside a sealed reservoir to create resistance. Other features like noise level reduction, weight, stability, stowability and ease of use round out the feature lists in this category. Traditional stationary trainers – non-smart – vary in price from $200-$600.
Rollers are what riders trained on indoors and for racing warmups before stationary trainers. They consist of a set of rolling drums driven by the rider’s pedal motion. The simplicity and purity of rollers are attractive, as is the skill level required to ride them. They are very sensitive to rider movement and although one can have bragging rights for knowing how to ride rollers (without hands even!), they are the hardest to learn and most dangerous indoor option. Learn how to ride rollers here. Rollers vary in price from $300-500
Setup FAQs - we can help with these:
After sales service - Don't underestimate the value of having an expert handy and quick service when you need it. We've had issues with other brands in the past with up to six week waits for a warranty to be processed, expensive shipping fees, and long waits for parts, enough that we no longer carry those brands. Tacx and Cyclops excel in quick service with aftermarket needs. Missing out on your training when you need it most really sucks, so buy from a local retailer and buy a brand that has exceptional warranty and after-sales service.