Cycling indoors can be made much less horrifying by choosing the best fan for the job.
The best fans for indoor cycling are the ones who cheer the loudest, right? Sorry, aside from Lionel Sanders, the great Canadian indoor training apostle, I don’t think too many people are interested in rooting for you as you sweat your way through an hour on the trainer. Either way, a cheering section is decidedly less helpful than an actual fan, blowing cool air over your overheating body while you binge on Seinfield in the garage. Before we take a look at the best fans for indoor cycling—the home appliance kind—let’s get educated.
Know The Flow
For the vast majority of fans you’ll find online or at department stores (is that still a thing?), you’ll find the “CFM” measurement listed somewhere. CFM stands for “Cubic Feet per Minute” and measures the volume of airflow a fan “pushes” over time. So not only does this indicate the speed of the air coming out of the fan, but it also tells you how much air is being moved. For triathletes cycling indoors, the speed is slightly more important than the volume—as we’re not moving around at all, a focused airflow works well. Also bear in mind that a fan with more CFM might do more than simply cool your face or torso, it might move enough air to get your legs, your back, any papers you have lying around, or whatever. Lots of volume and no speed? This is great for slightly cooling a big room or circulating air, but it might not be the best fan for indoor cycling as it probably won’t make enough of an impact on your core temperature.
To Blade Or Not To Blade
While there aren’t a ton of bladeless fans out there, the best fan for your home situation may be one with safety in mind. Many triathletes will train inside because they’ve got little ones at home that need to be monitored while they crank out a gnarly threshold workout. For those with kids, bear in mind that you might enter “the grey zone” at some point during the workout—making it tougher to ensure your charges don’t play with the fan (if it’s low) or knock it over (if it’s on a pedestal). The safest option by far is to get a bladeless fan, but be sure it pumps out enough air to properly cool you. Also, bladeless fans tend to be quieter than bladed fans, but not always.
Cut The Cord
If you’re someone who trains indoors a lot, you know that it can take forever to set up your workout space properly and little interruptions during your ride can really take the wind out of your sails. Keep the wind in your sails, at whatever speed you want, by getting a fan with a remote. Better yet, the best fans for cycling indoors keep things simple with WiFi connectivity, so you can use your always nearby smartphone to keep in control—a remote doesn’t do much good if it’s lost behind a workbench.
Unfortunately, not all fans come with a decibel rating, but unless you’re comfortable wearing headphones while you train or (God forbid!) listening to nothing at all, expect some noise ranging from 35dB to 100dB+ depending on the setting, the model, and where you place it. Figuring out a fan is loud or not isn’t a simple science, as there are tons of factors that go into how much sound they’ll create, but there are a few fans that are made for those who seek silence. Bladeless fans are often low in decibel output, and expect a large box-style shop fan to be louder than something made for the home.
What’s Your Type?
While there are a million shapes and sizes, we’ve listed a few common types below to help you find your best fan for cycling indoors:
This style is a good choice for triathletes looking to ride inside as its profile matches the profile of a cyclist. Sometimes tower fans aren’t as powerful, but they do have excellent coverage and often good noise levels.
This is a popular option for triathletes as it can be aimed in any direction, is often very powerful, and offers some very quiet models. Floor fans are also a good choice if you have a temporary set up, as they take up way less space than other fans. “Drum” fans are quickly becoming more popular and affordable, and are a good option for a place without kids and a lot of extra space.
Think: A floor fan jammed onto a spike. These are an excellent option if you want the fan at face height but don’t have a spot to place a floor fan up high. While pedestal fans work well, they can be slightly limiting if you want your airflow to hit your core and the stand is too high and unadjustable. Be sure to take into account how you’ll be using this one and where you want air.
Ok, this one is obvious, but still effective. Installation (if you don’t already have one) is super tough, and while they move a lot of air, oftentimes the sheer speed of a standard ceiling fan isn’t enough for indoor cycling. And while it may cool your back, don’t expect your core temperature to get as low as you would with a tower, pedestal, or floor fan. Use a ceiling fan in combination with one of the previously mentioned models for best results.
Now that you’re knowledgeable enough to open your own fan store, let’s take a look at a few notable models.
Best Indoor Cycling Fan for Clean Air
Dyson Pure Hot+Cool
Ok, the price tag is a little shocking, but this fan has it all: excellent aesthetics, decent cooling, air purification, and even heating. While the first three features may seem obvious, heating actually isn’t the worst thing to have at the start of a chilly garage-bound workout. Dyson’s purification filter is unmatched and this fan is WiFi compatible, so you can change settings via your smartphone and even monitor your training area’s air quality. Don’t expect a ton of power from this fan (~600CFM), but that’s not the point.
Best Indoor Cycling Fan for Peace and Quiet
Rowenta VU5670 Turbo Silence Extreme
With a claimed 35dB output, this pedestal fan is super quiet, but still puts out nearly 2,500CFM at the highest setting (35dB is at low). Though it’s as old-school looking as it gets, the Rowenta is a great choice for triathletes because the adjustable pedestal allows you to customize where the air goes and it includes a remote. Just be sure you have space, as this is not a tiny fan.
Best Indoor Cycling Fan On The Go
Ryobi 18V ONE+ Hybrid 18In. Air Cannon
$160 without battery, Amazon.com
Ok, there’s a big part of me that chose this one for the name, so sue me. Regardless of how awesome having an air cannon is, this battery-powered floor fan is shop-quality, so expect it to put out a ton of air (1,200-2,400CFM), be super durable, but not necessarily silent. The big win on this fan is its portability—in case your garage doesn’t have power, running a long extension is too much of a hassle, or you might want to do trainer brick intervals at the pool or track. Bear in mind that the batteries aren’t cheap, ranging from about $50-150, but you can also use them with many Ryobi power tools that also probably have cool names.
Best Indoor Cycling Fan for Virtual Training Environments
Wahoo Kickr Headwind
In terms of tech factor, the Headwind definitely wins: By connecting to a virtual training environment like Zwift, a speed sensor, or even your heart-rate monitor, the Headwind will adjust the fan’s speed accordingly, up to 30mph. Specifically shaped to a cyclists body, this Bluetooth- and ANT+-enabled smartfan can be controlled by the factors mentioned above or manually via a smartphone. While Wahoo doesn’t provide CFM measurements for this fan (they would likely be low as the fan only moves a very specific amount of air the size of the athlete’s body), obviously 30mph is a good midrange for what you’d feel outside. With that said, you may find yourself setting it on high more than anything else, making the high price tag feel a bit tough to swallow.
Best Indoor Cycling Fan for Power on A Budget
Lasko 20″ High Velocity Fan with Remote Control
This fan puts out a staggering amount of air (3,100-3,400CFM) and comes in at under $100, even with a remote. Though it’s sold as a floor fan, this monster can also be mounted on a wall and has a wide range of rotation. Bear in mind, this fan is LOUD—even at a lower setting—so crank up the headphones while you’re in this tornado of air. Also, be sure to keep an eye on the little ones, as the blades could be a real hazard.