2017 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Indoor Trainers


$650, Backcountry.com

The draw: Insane power

The $550–$650 trainer category is a crowded set this year, but the Rampa from Italian cycling company Elite differentiates itself by providing more resistance than some of the less expensive options—up to 1,250 watts worth versus others that tend to top out at less than 1,000 watts. This enables you to throw down in a hard sprint on Zwift. Of course, 1,250 watts is a fairly substantial amount, and a figure only the most elite riders might need to exceed. Like other trainers, it provides support over ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart.

$1,200, Backcountry.com

*Best in Class*

The draw: Universal app compatibility

The Wahoo KICKR was the first trainer to be a truly app-friendly platform. As such, the marketplace has rewarded it with more than 20 trainer apps that can control and integrate with it, from Zwift to Fulgaz, and Xert to PerfPro. In the newly released 2016 edition, Wahoo decreased the noise profile significantly, along with increasing the power accuracy, so your neighbors aren’t banging down your door due to a loud whirring sound. All of which makes it one of the most popular trainers around.

$600, Backcountry.com

The draw: Best incline

CycleOps debuted the Magnus last fall, with the main new feature of full compatibility with Zwift and numerous other apps like Trainer Road and Kinomap. However, what sets this trainer apart from others in the same price range is the higher simulated incline levels—up to 15 percent, versus most others at this price point which are in the 8–12 percent range.

$550, Backcountry.com

The draw: Real road feel

The weight of the flywheel is often one of the biggest drivers of how realistic a trainer feels. In the case of the Vortex Smart, it has a flywheel weight of nearly double some of the others, giving it a bit of an edge there. On the downside, it has more limited incline simulation at 7 percent. Tacx does, however, calculate your cycling cadence—one of the only trainer companies to do so—and broadcasts it over ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart. This means that you can skip buying another sensor for your bike, saving a bit of money.

– Indoor trainer reviews by Ray Maker