It is true that riding a bicycle indoors on a bike trainer or roller is not every cyclist’s favorite cup of tea, but it is not so bad when you have the best-in-class bike trainer paired up with virtual training platforms like Zwift, TrainerRoad, Strava, Sufferfest, and the ones I am missing. Today, in the era of advanced technology, indoor cycling has become much more entertaining, challenging, motivating and way more realistic than ever before.
While it is perfect to do most of your biking outdoors, the combination of both indoor and outdoor training would certainly be a more efficient way to improve and maintain your all-round fitness. In fact, more and more professional cyclists bring their cycle training days indoors even when the weather is nice enough for riding outside. For them, an indoor trainer is not just a tool to be recommended, but rather a very effective machine that helps them to keep their legs physically fit.
The list presented here is a brief review of three of the best-in-class bike trainers for Zwift that are currently available on today’s indoor trainer market!. All three trainers reviewed below have something different and unique to offer to the riders, and each of them has some particular features and functions that distinguish it from the other.
Hence, before deciding on one model or another, it is always good idea to know what your training goals are, and how you are planning to use the trainer. There is no point in spending a fortune on buying a bike trainer that has more capability than you may need.
Here are the main factors which should guide your decision when buying the best bike trainer: 1) Your cycling capabilities and desires: humble, serious, advanced; 2) Your experience level as a cyclist: novice, more experienced, advanced, expert, the power you develop; 3) Your desired features: progressive, adjustable, linear or controlled resistance, ride (note ride, not road) feel, noise, portability and available space in the room; 4) Your budget.
The above tips will help you to pick the right cycle trainer for your particular situation and/or planned use.
CycleOps Jet Fluid Pro Indoor Bike Trainer
CycleOps/Saris is a US company, which is a worldwide leader-known for manufacturing some of the best bike trainers, rollers and bike accessories in the industry. The new CycleOps Jet Fluid Pro is part of their “Pro” line of bicycle trainers, it is an updated version of the classic and most recognizable Fluid2 model.
The uniqueness which distinguishes Jet Fluid Pro over other oil/fluid-based resistance bike trainers in the market is that CycleOps uses innovative wheel speed ‘Power Tuned’ technology and cadence to offer progressive power curve that provides resistance as you increase the speed.
The advantage of this technology is that it allows the rear wheel of the bike to accelerate and decelerate on an infinite resistance power curve, just like happens on the road. This technology ensures an ideal balance between resistance and inertia/momentum, resulting in a better feeling of riding your bike inside. To make your indoor cycling experience even more dynamic, realistic and engaging, the Jet Fluid Pro bike trainer can be paired with the virtual training software like Zwift.
Another highly important thing about Jet Fluid Pro is the unique airflow design of the unit. In particular, the housing of the resistance mechanism, flywheel, and all the internal components are fully encased within tough plastic shroud for safety and performance purposes. The plastic shroud provides two key advantages of Jet Fluid Pro: Firstly, it directs the flow of cold air created by the fan/flywheel during the rotation onto the resistance mechanism thereby, helps to prevent heat build-up in the resistance unit.
I should also point out that the improved unit design not only allows the better cooling effect of moving components within the housing but lengthens the life of the resistance unit. That provides smooth, steady ride and consistent resistance power curve no matter duration, speed or quality of intensity of the cycling session. Secondly, it suppresses the noise generated by the rotation of the impellers inside the resistance fluid during pedaling.
Here I should also note that Jet Fluid Pro is currently rated as the second quietest cycle trainer in the CycleOps non-smart (Classic) trainers line-up after the PowerBeam Pro trainer. At higher speeds, the noise generated by the mechanism itself is around 70-71 decibels, which is within the “normally acceptable” for a fluid-type bike trainer’s standards.
If you live in an apartment and want to train without disturbing others sleeping or studying in the adjacent room, I strongly recommend the use of a special “smooth-tread trainer-tire” such as the continental ultra sport home trainer tire instead of the regular road bike tire. The main advantage of using a trainer tire over the regular one is reduced noise, reduced slippage, durability, grip-ability, and long lifespan.
Jet Fluid Pro features a completely new hand-built steel Pro frame design, that offers you a wider stance compared to the classic line-up. It allows you to do sprinting workouts or high-intensity interval training. The Pro frame is both more user-friendly, and more durable than previous and an initial long-standing classic frame design.
Another highly distinctive feature that is truly unique to the all-new line of Pro series trainers (Jet Fluid Pro, Super Magneto and Power Beam) is the safe and convenient one-sided bike attachment and detachment clamping mechanism of the trainer frame. Now attaching and releasing the bicycle to and from the trainer is convenient and quick. This is a handy feature that is to your benefit because it just saves you time.
Jet Fluid Pro is designed to fit common road and mountain bike frames with quick-release axle widths of 130 and 135 mm frame spacing standards. It even comes with its QR axle skewer to attach your bike to the trainer.
Another great feature of Jet Fluid Pro is its improved system for adjusting the roller pressure to the cycle wheel. Once set, the level of pressure against the rear tire remains constant because you apply or release the pressure simply by flipping the lever mechanism up or down. The point being that the level of roller pressure against the rear wheel is always the same each time it is applied, thus your workouts are consistent. Further this system ensures that the rear wheel does not slip on the roller when accelerating. However, I cannot lay claim how good it is under high torque efforts.
Here I would like to briefly highlight some of Jet Fluid Pro strengths and weaknesses.
The Strengths I Like…
- It comes completely assembled by the manufacturer ready for use.
- Its folding design offers very easy storage when not in use.
- The trainer is adjustable and the 2″ resistance unit roller is made to fit standard sizes of wheels from 26″ / 650b to 29″ / 700c, depending on the tire tread size.
- It offers an incredible 900 watts of progressive resistance, which means that even a pro-level cyclist could not overpower it.
- It offers single-leg leveling adjustment, which allows easy adjustment to uneven terrain.
- It is fully compatible with the most popular simulation platforms like Zwift, TrainerRoad or Sufferfest.
The Weaknesses I Don’t Like…
- It is slightly more expensive than other fluid resistance trainers, mainly because of the higher quality materials used in its manufacture, but its high-quality resistance unit and lifetime warranty will ensure you with years of trouble-free indoor cycling experience.
- The warranty, however, applies to the original purchaser of Jet Fluid Pro and covers only damages and defects resulting from stresses through normal use.
- It is limited to a maximum axle width of 135 mm so you cannot use it with most modern road bikes and mountain bikes.
Kinetic Rock N Roll Indoor Bicycle Trainer
Kurt Manufacturing is another well-known market leader in the world of indoor bike trainers industry, and their Rock n Roll bike trainer is the second reliable, top-quality contender in my list of the best-in-class bike trainers for Zwift.
There are currently a variety of different models and types of indoor bicycle trainers that are available on today’s market, but very few offer the frame design like Rock n Roll, which allows side-to-side tilting movement of the bike in response to the pedaling action of the rider.
The purpose of Kinetic`s design is to provide you with a more realistic and natural indoor experience when you train on it. Further, the freedom of movement provided by this model will allow you to ride your bike on it for a longer period of time compared to the traditional trainers. That means less fatigue, better simulation of sprinting or hill climbing, and almost the same feeling as you get when you pedaling on the real road.
Kinetic claims that the new design will train cyclists’ core muscles in a way that the “locked” stationary bicycle trainers would not. “By forcing the rider to maintain form on the bike, the Rock and Roll force riders to stabilize themselves by using their core muscles.” the company writes on their website. “A stable core will help eliminate unnecessary upper-body movement, so energy is used efficiently, and is key to riding a bike well.”
Kinetic Rock n Roll also features a fluid-type resistance mechanism, which is engineered to provide you gradual and consistent resistance power curve up to 1400-watt range. Its resistance mechanism automatically increases and/or decreases the level of resistance in response to your changes in pedal cadence, so no manual adjustment is needed. The greater the force that you apply to the pedals, the greater the resistance force will be experienced on you with each stroke – thereby making your workout progressively more challenging.
The resistance force can be accomplished in the same manner as when you ride your bike on the real road by shifting the bike gears. Its heavy 6.25 lbs. (2.8 kg) flywheel adds a lot more realistic road/momentum feel during cycling and thus makes your indoor cycling closer to the outdoor one. Further, when you stop pedaling, the wheel coast-down time from 20 mph is extremely realistic 15 seconds.
The Kinetic Rock n Roll trainer uses fluid, such as silicone which has such heat-resistance as to withstand the high temperature generated in the unit from the rotation of the impeller in the resistance fluid during pedaling. To efficiently cool the housing, the outside of it is provided with a large number of cooling ribs that together with the fan/flywheel dissipates the heat built up inside it. The advantage of the liquid silicone is that it does not lose its viscosity when heated, and, thus, the trainer can provide you with a consistent power curve throughout the entire cycling session.
The frame design also offers outstanding performance, it is so stable due to its wide stance that it never wavered even under heavy efforts and all the stress that you put on it, so you can train with confidence. This is an extremely important advantage, especially when you are doing intense sprints and/or pedaling out of the saddle. The other advantage of the Kinetic bike trainer frame is that it accommodates a wide range of bike types and all the accepted wheel sizes available on the market.
As far as the noise level is concerned, at 25 mph and full force applied on the pedals, it generates around 80 decibels, which is within the acceptable level for a fluid type trainer. Most conventional trainers are close to about 80 dB range. In general, the amount of noise generated by the friction of the tire against the trainer roller, and from the rolling of the fluid inside the resistance chamber against the impellers are usually a function of how fast you ride your bike. So when you ride the bike at high intensity, and if you are holding certain cadences (RPMs) for a while the trainer will generate more noise.
Some of the solutions here may be applied with the purpose to reduce the level of noise generated during the training session.
The trainer features that the resistance unit has a large-diameter roller, which not only increases the area of contact between the roller and the tire, but also reduces tire wear, and of course minimizes any tire slippage on the roller. The very last thing that you would want to happen when you are riding your bike on Zwift is tire slippage.
Here I would like to briefly highlight some of Kinetic Rock n Roll trainer strengths and weaknesses.
The Strengths I Like…
- Excellent customer service.
- It enables you to tilt your bike freely from side to side in response to your pedaling as opposed to its predecessor Kurt Kinetic Road Machine.
- It is adapted to be “locked”, so to make the movement not active like any standard indoor trainers.
- It impresses with its very stable and durable construction due to its wide stance, so even when you are performing high cadence training or massive power outputs you will feel stable and secure.
- It is compatible with bikes of a different rear wheel and tire diameters.
- It uses O-ring seal sealing that significantly reduces the possibility of leaks.
- It comes with an unconditional lifetime warranty that covers manufacturing defects and damages resulting from the normal wear and tears in both the resistance unit and the frame.
The Weaknesses I Don’t Like…
- It is quite weighty because of the large volume and heavyweight of the flywheel (6+ lbs) that, however, should be seen as an advantage, because that makes it way more stable when you are using it. Its heavyweight can become a problem only if you are planning to take it out to big races and the like for warm-up and/or cool-down purposes.
- It is not cheap, but many serious cyclists will find that the Kinetic Rock n Roll trainer is worth the cost because it provides you with a very high value for the performance and features.
- Its wide stance takes up a bit more space in a small room when it is set up, and that could become a problem.
- I think that its downsides are relatively minor and a bit easier to swallow when weighed against its advantages – and the fact that you are buying a high-quality bike trainer that is manufactured by one of the industry’s reputable and leading makers.
CycleOps Super Magneto Pro Indoor Bike Trainer
The CycleOps have been producing top-quality, long-lasting indoor bike trainers for many years and Super Magneto Pro is another solid addition to their Pro series line of bike trainers that deserve to be listed as the best-in-class bicycle trainers for Zwift.
Super Magneto Pro features best-in-class and very well-known CycleOps’ power tuned technology that makes it possible for you to simulate the act of riding your bike indoors less soul-crushing than it actually is. It differs greatly from the above two options in this list in that, instead of using fluid to provide resistance against the pedaling force applied by the rider, its resistance unit uses high-powered magnets.
The unique advantage of the CycleOps model, compared to the traditional magnetic-based trainers, is that the resistance unit itself is engineered to provide a gradually-increasing amount of resistance, instead of a linear one. That makes Super Magneto Pro the only magnetic trainer on the market that provides a progressive resistance power curve (the power curve being how much resistance the trainer offers in response to wheel speed). The progressive resistance is provided by a tiny motor that changes the distance between the set of magnets and the flywheel.
What makes the Super Magneto Pro better than other comparable magnetic-type resistance trainers is not only the outstanding performance that it offers but also its four distinct levels of resistance power curves that you can choose from. By manually turning the adjuster cover and selecting one of the four different resistance curves (‘easy’, ‘road’, ‘interval’, and ‘mountain’) Super Magneto Pro allows you to choose and set the desired level of resistance according to your training needs.
Select the “easy/spin” curve as the level of difficulty if you do want a recovery workout, or raise it up to the “interval” or “mountain” curve if you do want a more intense workout and some serious pain in your legs.
The “mountain” mode can be described as riding your bike into a constant headwind or riding up hills, while the “easy” mode can be compared to cycling on a long, flat country road.
At low speed of rotation of the flywheel the resistance is relatively low when you start picking up the speed, the rotation of the flywheel increases, that moves the magnets away from the flywheel’s center which in turn make your training session a tough challenge.
One particularly remarkable feature and advantage of the Super Magneto frame design is that the new improved locking mechanism allows very fast and easy mounting and dismounting of the bike to and from the trainer. The quick-release mechanism itself is positioned on only one side of the stand and this saves you time and effort compared to the dual-sided knob twist release mechanism on the previous models.
Another unique plus of the CycleOps model is that the frame is very well made, and it can be folded in half for easier carrying and storage after the sessions. The total weight of CycleOps Super Magneto Pro is just 8.5 kg. The foldable legs significantly increase the footprint of the trainer, thereby enhancing its stability and preventing movement during even the most frenetic sprints. It can support a wide range of wheel sizes, from 650C road to 29″ mountain.
Although the Super Magneto Pro is not a ‘smart trainer’, it can be paired with Zwift, as long as you have a power meter, speed and/or cadence sensors on your bike. That will help you make your indoor riding experience much more fun and way less boring when you have to do it inside.
While Super Magneto Pro is certainly not exactly silent, the noise generated by it running at 20 m per hour is around 69-70 decibels, so that it can be said that it is actually not too noisy compared to other mag or even fluid bike trainers.
Overall, this is an awesome mid-range budget bike trainer option, and unless you are willing to pay a little bit extra in exchange for Jet Fluid Pro or Rock n Roll, you cannot go wrong with this excellent choice and quality.
Here I would like to briefly highlight some of the Super Magneto Pro trainer strengths and weaknesses.
The Strengths I Like…
- It uses an advanced magnetic type of resistance system offering four distinct modes of progressive resistance.
- It comes pre-assembled straight out of the box.
- It is not only very well-designed and durable, but it also has a great ride feel.
- It accommodates different size wheels with large sized bicycle tires (including 29”).
- It folds up compactly to approximately 8 inches high, so it takes up little space when not in actual use in the home.
- Lifetime warranty on the frame and moving parts.
- It is manufactured by a reputable company that has earned the trust of many serious riders and customers all over the globe.
- It holds the bike firmly and securely locked in its place.
The Weaknesses I Don’t Like…
- It is relatively expensive, because of the complexity of the magnetic resistance unit design and technology, but for a more serious cyclist who decides to bring its real outdoor riding experience into an indoor environment, Super Magneto Pro is the right choice.
- It does not provide a handlebar-mounted remote control device that allows you to adjust the level of resistance provided by the resistance unit during the training session. While that may not be a problem for most riders, getting off the bike to switch the resistance settings in that manner while performing your workouts may be inconvenient for some.
Regardless of the weather or season, you may need to switch between outdoor and indoor training. That is why indoor bicycle trainers have a very important place in your workout regime. But ultimately it is your own choice to decide whether you simply want to sit around during the off-season or you will want to take advantage of the benefits that an indoor bike trainer would provide you.
There are a variety of reasons why indoor cycling should not be only winter or harsh-weather activity, here is just a few:
First, investing in a quality indoor bike trainer that best meets your individual needs and/or wants can improve both your physical fitness in general and your pedaling technique.
Today’s busy lifestyles often allow only limited amounts of time to be set aside for the perfect outdoor cycling. For many riders, an indoor bike trainer is an invaluable tool, and there is no doubt that it is truly the best possible solution that helps them practice their regular riding when the work schedule does not allow it!.
For many riders who live in busy and congested locations without safe biking lanes or trails, riding outside isn’t always an option. For them, indoor training at home using a bicycle trainer may be the only option, and possible alternative to avoid the inconveniences and the dangers inherent in both traffic and related air pollution.
Cycling on busy streets, which are less than cycle-friendly, could be both irritating and harmful, and of course, requires know-how and good reflexes. Therefore, in such circumstances, it is safer just to ride your bike indoors during the week from Monday through Friday, when the time for outdoor activities is limited, and then over the weekend, when there is less traffic you can ride your bike outside.
Sometimes, no matter how willing you are to ride outdoors during the colder (or hotter) months of the year, there are times when the weather outdoors may not be so conducive to riding a bicycle in the real world, so the use of the bike trainer is inevitable.
Besides the mentioned reasons, the unfortunate truth is that not everyone has access to the gym option, due to location or expensive membership fees, that is exactly why investing in the best bike trainer would be a really wise decision, and overtime much cheaper alternative to the costly gym membership.
At this point, you are probably wondering and asking yourself the logical question… Which one out of those three great indoor bicycle trainers would be best?
Well, that question seems to be easy but is not that easy to answer because it depends on many factors such as, for example, your cycling level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced), your style of training, your individual needs and desires, training goals, and more significantly the amount of money that you are willing to spend on it.
If you are interested in buying any of these best-in-class bicycle trainers for Zwift reviewed here, and want to learn some more before deciding on which one of the three you want, then I would recommend you to click on each of the links below. By clicking on them, you will be redirected to a relevant page of each model, where you can read a little bit more about CycleOps Jet Fluid Pro, Kinetic Rock n Roll or even the CycleOps Super Magneto Pro trainer.