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The Best Indoor Bike Trainers of 2020 | Bicycling Magazine

- Hey, guys, Bobby here at Test Editor at Bicycling.

We have a lot of new trainers here

so I'm gonna take some home, put some miles into them

and see how they work.

(upbeat music)

(bike clicks into place)

We're up and running on the Elite Nero Interactive Rollers

and they do take a little bit more setup

than a standard trainer.

You have to unfold them, wrestle with two bands

you've got to set the front roller to the wheel base

of your bike, which takes a little guess work

but there's graduated markings that help guide you.

Let's see how they do.

The first thing you'll see is the frame

isn't solid on the floor.

It actually glides back and forth

which feels a little unnerving at first

because if you're used to riding on rollers

you know that if the bike's moving forward

that usually doesn't mean good things for you

but in this case, along with the freedom to move

side to side that's inherent with rollers

you also get that natural feeling of rocking back and forth

that happens when you're riding every day.

And then another benefit to this back and forth motion

is that it's really easy to stand up on the rollers.

Along with being rollers that give you

more realistic ride feel, they are in fact smart rollers.

We're riding on Zwift right now in Central Park

and I've just hit a little bit of a hill

and I can feel the resistance change pretty quickly.

Now the downside of course, since you're not locked in place

is that you do have to pay attention.

If you don't like feeling restricted and locked in

like you do on a conventional trainer

this presents a really good alternative.

(upbeat music)

This is the Kickr Core, which is the mid-grade option

between the Kickr and the Kickr Snap.

The only functional difference, the wattage tops out

at 1800 watts and it only simulates grades up to 16%

instead of 20%.

It's also smaller than the Kickr.

It is a little bit easier to store.

It's a little bit easier to carry around

pairs quickly and easily with Zwift

it's controllable by Wahoo's app.

It's stable, it's quiet, and really

that's one of the reasons that makes this trainer

one of our favorites because it simply works.

(upbeat music)

This is the Tacx Neo 2T.

It is one of the most expensive trainers you can buy

but it does come packed with a lot of features

that aren't commonly found in cheaper trainers.

One of the really unique features is the fact

that you don't have to be plugged in to the wall

in order to ride.

The machine generates its resistance electromagnetically

inside the silver disc by the cassette

and so as I'm riding, it's creating the resistance

and powering the machine.

Now, the momentum doesn't work quite as well

as when it's plugged in.

When you stop peddling, it comes to a stop really fast.

What this does mean is this is one of the very few number

of smart trainers that you could actually put in your car

and take to a race with you and ride in the parking lot.

Now we're plugged in.

The resistance doesn't feel any different

but one big change, you have momentum now.

A wild thing about this trainer is on the app

you can adjust the road feel from concrete plates

cattle grid

(trainer whirs)

hard cobblestones

you can simulate riding on ice, which if you peddle too hard

(bike whirs)

the resistance slips on you.

Why you'd want to mess with this, I don't know.

Now we're loaded up on Zwift.

Just hit a short climb here in Central Park

and resistance changes really smoothly.

The trainer is still incredibly quiet.

And the noise does change a little bit as you go harder.

It's not that big of a deal.

This trainer is really expensive

but it's also really great.

It's got a lot of bells and whistles.

If you want to put this in your car

and take it away in the parking lot

if you don't want to be plugged in to the wall all the time

this is a really great choice.

This is the Kinetic Road Machine Smart 2 trainer.

It's fluid friction trainer.

No bells, no whistles.

Let's see how it holds up to its more expensive

direct drive counterparts.

Sometimes simple does it.

And simple is what we have here.

This trainer is a friction trainer.

It's a technology that's been around for as long

as trainers have been around.

It's loud, but it's cheap, it's sturdy, and it works.

I'm riding pretty easy right now and it's already loud

and it's also gonna wear through your tires.

You're also not gonna do a workout indoors

without waking up your entire house.

(trainer whirs)

But again, this works.

It's no controllable resistance

but the resistance is very smooth.

It's not choppy.

You can do full gas sprints on this.

You don't need to be plugged in to the wall.

It fits in the trunk of your car.

Folds away easily in a closet when you're not using it.

For $370, this is probably the best trainer

you're gonna find.

Simple trainers are nice.

This is the Elite Suito.

It's the newest direct drive smart trainer from Elite.

Just released over the summer.

The setup is a breeze on this.

They also brag about it being very quiet.

It's definitely quiet.

The dominant noise is my bike.

Resistance changes are really smooth.

(trainer clicks)

This doesn't have any of the side-to-side motion

that other trainers like the Tacx and the Kinetic have.

The feel of the trainer doesn't change.

You still get the steady resistance.

So for the ease of use, simplicity

this trainer has quickly become one of my favorites.

We've previously said that the Kickr Core

is one of the best value direct drive smart trainers

out there, but at $100 less, the Suito presents

a very good case for being a better value.

And this is a $28 trainer from Aldi.

Move along, dogs.

When we found this trainer at the grocery story

we immediately bought it and put it through the test

and frankly, at $28, we expected to break it right away.

Even if it did break on the first try, at $28

you can buy 52 of these, use them one time each

before you got the same price as a $1400 trainer.

But we're gonna get back on here

and we're gonna ride some more and see what happens.

The first thing we notice is the resistance is not smooth.

You can hear the noise changing in the roller

with every downstroke.

It's pretty choppy, but we're sitting here at 250 watts

which is more than enough for a casual spin

on a cold, rainy day.

(trainer whirs)

Now we're gonna try riding a little faster.

Take a decibel reading.

(trainer whirs louder)

Now we're at 25 miles an hour.

We're reading 90 decibels

which is significantly louder

(trainer whirs)

and probably more than enough to disturb

at least your whole house, if not the neighbors.

It survived another ride.

I'm not gonna say that makes it good

but it's a $28 trainer that's actually pretty okay

if you just want to keep your legs moving

throughout the winter.

Those are five of our favorite trainers.

Some are action-packed with all the bells and whistles

like the Tacx.

Some are so cheap, you can use it once, throw it away

and go buy another one.

Tell us what you're riding this winter.

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(upbeat music)