Smart Turbo Trainers: A Cycling Saviour
A turbo trainer allows you to complete a focused static training session on your own bike in the comfort and safety of your home; a saviour for cyclists during the Coronavirus pandemic. Simply clip your own bike onto a static device, start pedalling, and let the fun begin.
As with any piece of fitness equipment, there is a mass of choice out there so we’ve decided to condense it down to 2 of our favourites to help you find the best cycling turbo trainer for you.
2019 / 2020 retail sales indicate that the best cycling turbo trainers have been ‘smart’ trainers. The difference between a smart and regular trainer is that the former hooks up to laptops and smart devices via Bluetooth to help you get more from your workout. This allows you to access specific apps (for example Strava and Zwift the best turbo trainer apps), that help to create the most realistic indoor ride possible while displaying real-time performance data.
Since smart turbo trainers are all the rage at the moment we’re going to have a look at 2 of varying prices, one at the top end of the spectrum and one at the lower end.
The More Affordable Option: Tacx Satori Smart Turbo Trainer £259.99
Positives: The tacx satori smart turbo trainer does everything you need to hook up with the latest training software or to just tech up your sessions – and it does it all simply and intuitively. With this trainer, you keep your back wheel on your bike and adjust a metal-skinned roller at the back of the turbo until the tension is such that the wheel will not slip.
Other than coming with an affordable price tag for this level of technology, the tacx Satori Smart is super light and flat-packs down easily, making it easy to store and to take with you on your travels when lockdown guidance eventually eases.
The tacx Satori smart turbo trainer offers a resistance of up to 950 watts which should be ample for most cyclists.
Downsides: One downside to this smart turbo trainer is that the roller will eventually lead to a worn down back tyre, which will need replacing once the tread has worn down: this could be anywhere between six months and six years depending on how hard and frequently you are training. That being said, new tyres don’t break the bank coming in at about £30 – a small hit to take on a turbo sold at such a good price.
Buyers should also be aware of the decent amount of noise the machine makes when you’re training, which during lockdown might lead to some angry neighbours. The whirring whine can be distracting but is easily drowned out by pumping tunes playing in the background for motivation.
Tacx Neo 2T Smart turbo trainer £1,199
The main difference here – other than the significant jump up in price – is that the Neo is a direct drive smart turbo trainer.
Positives: Direct Drive turbos require you to remove the rear wheel of your bike and fit a cassette to the turbo which your bike sits onto directly, so there’s no need to worry about tyre-wear.
They’re incredibly quiet and offer the most ‘road realistic’ feel of any type of indoor cycling training aid, simulating a wide range of surfaces including regular roads, cobblestones, gravel and dirt roads; pretty incredible stuff.
Through its powerful motor you are able to apply a resistance of 2200w and simulate slopes of up to 25% – which is surely more than anybody could ever want – and it can even simulate a descent of -5%.
Downsides: Aside from the high price, the only niggle is that the Flux 2 is heavy and bulky making it difficult to transport and store. But, provided you have some dedicated space to store it, it really is one of the best smart turbo trainers out there.
Getting the most out of your Smart Turbo Trainer
After getting your smart turbo trainer you are going to want to put some sort of plan in place. There’s nothing worse than flogging yourself sporadically for an hour without much in the way of structure or purpose, especially as it will not really improve your cycling. There are plenty of easy turbo workouts that you can follow and will offer excellent sessions aimed at improving certain aspects of your riding. You can find the five best sessions you can do at home, put together by Cycling Weekly here.
For those of you who like a bit of competition your go-to app is Zwift and these are to of the best smart turbo trainers for Zwift. The app is an online, interactive training and racing platform and costs around £12 per month. You can join group rides and races and even get a draft from other riders or just join the rest of the quarantined world and jump on with other riders when you want to. You can even virtually ride some of the world’s most famous cycling courses e.g. the ‘London Loop’ mimics the distance (but not the full course) of the real Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100. It takes you on eleven virtual circuits of the London Loop, then turns around at the Surrey roundabout and heads towards the sprint and finish banner on The Mall.
You can also look the part by kitting yourself out with an epic super fast bike, helmet, shoes, and lycra to match; all purchased from the in-app ‘Drop-Shop’. The more you pedal, the more ‘sweat points’ you have to spend in the shop. Zwift will cost you a monthly subscription, however it comes preset with a host of training programmes that you can follow depending on your goals and available time.
There we have it, a short overview of two of the best smart turbo trainers that will ensure you can keep fit in your home come wind, rain or shine.