How to Choose an Indoor Trainer - Part 2

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In the last post, we introduced most of different types of trainers found on the market today. In this post, we will be looking at different types of Smart Trainers. In a smart trainer the resistance unit has built-in electronics that transmit your speed (and so much more) to an ANT+ or Bluetooth capable device. From there, the information is transmitted to your device, where you can tap into various training apps, or to Zwift, a turbo trainer game that enables you to ride with other cyclists in a virtual environment.


Budget Smart Trainer (sub-$500) Budget: these tend to be basic in functions, and lack automated controls, but some do still have some electronics.  Most apps support these in a basic manner.

A great low budget Smart Trainer (apprx. $400) that gets excellent reviews is the Tacx Satori Smart (Click on the link to get all the specs). This is one of the trainers currently featured in our store.


·      It self-generates ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart signals so doesn’t need a main hook-up

·      effortlessly syncs power, speed and cadence data to iOS, Android and Windows PCs.

·      The free training software is intuitive and it’s compatible with Zwift or other online simulators.

·      it comes with a front wheel-levelling block.

·      Ride feel is smooth and balanced

·      there’s a mechanical remote lever to add resistance.


·      Like most budget trainers, the metal-sheathed roller can slip under sprint loads until you get the tension right

·      It’s noisy at high speeds

·      No Slope variance


Mid-Range Budget Trainer ($500-$1000): Mid-Range $400-$1,000: These are where we see electronic resistance control, as well as the majority of features and full app integration.

The CycleOps Magnus (approx. $800) has proven to be a solid trainer at this price point (click on link to get all the specs). This trainer can be special ordered with 2 day delivery to our store.


·       Light and quiet: Noise level at 20 mph is a quiet 69-70 decibels

·       The trainer is equipped with dual ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth 4.0 technologies, allowing any cyclist to connect to their favourite virtual training software program, such as CycleOps Virtual Training, Zwift or Trainer Road.

·       comes with CycleOps patented clutch knob that gives you the perfect roller to tire tension during each ride = consistent virtual power.

·       It also simulates up to a 15% incline

·       It doesn’t have direct-drive, which allows you to remove your back tyre completely and fix your bike directly to the trainer.

·       the CycleOps Magnus requires you to connect to power to operate as a smart trainer. If you don’t connect it to power, it will operate as a regular fluid trainer.


High-End Trainers ($1000 +): High-End $1,000+: These are the high-end trainers, and primarily distinguish themselves from the mid-range by increasing durability and reducing noise.

The CycleOps Hammer Direct Drive Smart Trainer (approx. $1620) is really one of the very best on the market. If you are looking for the ultimate indoor cycling experience, this is the trainer for you.


·       direct drive system (allows you to remove your back tyre completely and fix your bike directly to the trainer.)

·       incomparable bike compatibility and device connectivity (by far the best on the market)

·       ability to replicate real world inertia

·       the Hammer isn’t silent, but it’s also not loud

·       fast responding electromagnetic resistance

·       the sensation of rolling on smooth asphalt

·       simulate grades up to 20%

·       lightweight (46lbs) and foldable for easy storage

·       front wheel block

·       connects to Zwift, TrainerRoad and all your favourite apps,


·       You must provide and install a cassette. the Hammer supports Shimano 8/9/10/11 speed cassettes.

·       you’ll need to make sure you have the right tools to install a cassette

·       required to be plugged in, unlike the Tacx Neo ($1800) that can be used wirelessly. (See below for a short description)

That was a brief look at the different types of Smart Trainers on the market right now. That said, there are tons more out there. According to my research, these 3-4 stand-out in their price range. Others worth mentioning are the Tacx Vortex Smart and Tacx Bushido. (Mid range $$). Learn more about these Tacx Interactive Trainers here.  In the next post, we'll be looking at some of the best cycling apps and the virtual cycling experience. **(All the trainers mentioned in this article can be special ordered and delivered to our store in 2 business days) 


Another Excellent High-End Trainer that needs mentioning is the TACX NEO SMART. 

  • Real direct drive trainer with a powerful motor placed directly onto the cassette, eliminating additional gearing
  • Low revolutions, reducing noise to a minimum
  • Foldable and compact frame design
  • Can be used completely wireless or hooked to a power outlet
  • Bluetooth and ANT+ FE-C capable
  • Measure speed, cadence and power
  • Maximum resistance 2200 Watts
  • Realistic climbing up to 25% and downhill to -5%
  • Simulate real road pattern such as cobblestone, ice and concrete plates

Julie Brunelle

Co-owner of new startup, Heritage Bikes and Rentals, offering Trek Bike Sales, Bontrager accessories, Bike Rentals, Guided and Self-Guided Tours of Perth ON and Lanark county.