That’s where an indoor bike trainer comes in handy. It allows you to train even when foul conditions or other responsibilities keep you off the saddle. There are a few considerations to make when choosing one. This guide will help determine what kind of bike trainer you need and how to select the right model.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- The difference between a bike trainer and a spin bike
- The different types of bike trainers
- The pros and cons of various bike trainers
- How to get the right fit
- How fitness apps work with bike trainers
Bike Trainers vs. Spin Bikes
There are two main options for at-home indoor cycling—a bike trainer or a spin bike—and more choices within each category. The first step is to decide between these two categories (though this guide focuses specifically on bike trainers).
A bike trainer is a piece of equipment that allows you to ride your bicycle in place (either by working with your bike’s rear wheel or replacing it entirely). Since you’re riding the same bicycle with the same posture and movements, an indoor bike trainer is more similar to real-world bicycle riding than a spin bike, and it transfers fitness better. In addition, bike trainers are smaller than a spin bike, so it will take up less space when stored.
A spin bike is similar to the spin machines you’d find at a gym, though it’s designed to more closely mimic the experience of riding a real bicycle. Depending on the manufacturer, some spin bikes have a proprietary fitness program and a screen to show virtual roads and workout stats. Other spin bikes work with a subscription-based app and link to a TV screen to show your progress. Compared to your bicycle, a spin bike’s fit may not be as customizable.