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The Best Bike Trainers for Triathletes and Cyclists: Winter 2022-2023

We've tested a wide range of the newest and best bike trainers from entry-level to deluxe and rate them on a nine point system that includes everything from value to calibration to build quality and measured loudness.

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This was one of the most game-changing years in the smart trainer market yet. From Zwift branching into hardware by introducing the Zwift Hub trainer to Wahoo making some subtle yet powerful upgrades to its classic KICKR, trainer tech has leveled up recently.

With the winter months settling in for most of us, it’s time to bring the excitement of outdoor riding indoors – but that doesn’t mean you need to suffer too much mentally or physically (beyond whatever is prescribed in your workout, that is). With the connectivity and features of the below trainers, you might just find it hard to stay away from the pain cave this off-season.

And as if great trainers weren’t enough, the market for trainer accessories and other ways of riding inside (like smart bikes) have also been hitting a high water mark, so even if you’re starting to get sick of riding indoors, there are now new ways to keep the relationship with your trainer interesting.

RELATED: Triathlete’s Guide to Indoor Training

Our list of best bike trainers below reflects a range of newer trainers at different pricepoints, and while we don’t cover every single trainer available, these are the models from brands who are continuously updating their offerings with new features and functions. In rating the indoor riding options below, we’ve used a scale from one to five, with one being the lowest score in that category and five being the highest, based off the following criteria:

  • Overall Value –  More than just basic price, this is a bang-for-your-buck rating that compares the amount of (useful) features that most people will want, along with quality and specs versus the trainer’s cost.
  • Ease of Initial Setup – Though today’s trainers are substantially easier to put together than they were 10 years ago, this rating tells if you need to set aside an afternoon or two minutes for assembly.
  • Ease of Setup and Breakdown – Different than initial setup, this rating indicates how transportable the trainer is—think taking the trainer to the pool or track to do a brick workout.
  • Ease of Calibration – A trainer’s power values are only accurate if you calibrate the unit early in the session and often. While some are self-calibrating, others require a spindown process or the use of a nonnative app.
  • Storability – This rating reveals how small the trainer breaks down for storage—if you’re not setting up a permanent indoor cycling space.
  • Portability: – This rating combines storability/size and ease of setup/breakdown in cases where you might want to travel with the trainer for an event.
  • Build Quality – Not all trainers are put together the same: This rating looks at the robustness of construction—including welds, tube construction, fragility of small parts, and more.
  • Stability – This rating looks at the stability of the trainer’s platform. Does it rock when you stand? Does it adjust easily and safely for never surfaces? How much confidence does this trainer give?
  • Quietness – Measured at handlebar height using a decibel meter at 250 watts of power and 90rpm cadence—a low score here indicates a loud trainer.
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Note: While the gear below was loaned out by the brands represented, all choices were selected independently by the tester without any promotional consideration or brand input. 

RELATED: The Smart Trainer Explainer

Best Bike Trainers for Triathletes

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Zwift Hub

$500, zwift.com

The zwift hub, one of the best bike trainers for triathletes and cyclists
Overall value ★★★★★
Ease of initial setup ★★★★★
Ease of setup and breakdown ★★★★
Ease of calibration ★★★★★
Storability ★★★
Portability ★★★
Build Quality ★★★
Stability ★★★★
Quietness ★★★★★ (52db at 250 watts)

The Zwift Hub disrupted the smart trainer market in mid-2022 by offering a quality wheel-off smart trainer for nearly half the price of the next competitor. The trainer is easy to set up – moving from unboxing to the first ride in about 30 minutes or less. It is the quietest trainer in our Fall 2022 Trainer Roundup and is ideal for the budget-conscious triathlete who doesn’t want to fuss with too much technology.

RELATED: Extended Review: Zwift Hub Trainer

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Elite Justo

$1,200 | elite-it.com

The elite justo, one of the best bike trainers for triathletes and cyclists
Overall value ★★★★
Ease of initial setup ★★★
Ease of setup and breakdown ★★★
Ease of calibration ★★★★★
Storability ★★★
Portability ★★★
Build Quality ★★★★
Stability ★★★★
Quietness ★★★★ (70db at 250 watts)

Though the Justo not yet available for sale in the U.S, Elite aiming to have their latest release available by January 2023. The Justo’s technology is great: integrated power meter that offers +/- 1% power accuracy, automatic calibration, pedaling analysis (in the Elite app), and “standalone” modes for when the trainer is not connected to power. The Justo does not come with a cassette (but can accommodate nearly any size cassette);  it’s a pain to purchase one and install it yourself (which requires some extra tools). The Justo had a bit of trouble syncing with other Bluetooth sources, which may not be the Justo’s fault and could be the smart devices’ issues, but still made setup slightly frustrating. Finally, Elite also packs their trainers in styrofoam, which we’d like to see companies migrate away from eventually.

RELATED: An In-Depth Review of the New Elite Justo Smart Trainer

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Wahoo Kickr V6

$1,300 | wahoofitness.com

The wahoo kickr v6, one of the best bike trainers for triathletes and cyclists
Overall value ★★★★
Ease of initial setup ★★★★
Ease of setup and breakdown ★★★★★
Ease of calibration ★★★★★
Storability ★★★
Portability ★★★
Build Quality ★★★★★
Stability ★★★★
Quietness ★★★★ (65db at 250 watts)

The Wahoo Kickr keeps getting better – and quieter. The latest version, the V6, has a few subtle yet significant upgrades. Wahoo introduced its “Axis” feet to this model, which are cushy discs at the end of each leg of the trainer. The feet have lots of give and play, simulating outdoor road contact. The Kickr now offers WiFi connectivity through the Wahoo Fitness app, which, depending on your WiFi, can provide more reliable connection to your smart devices and for data transfers. The only ding for the Kickr is how it’s packed in lots of styrofoam when there are plenty of earth-friendly alternatives out there.

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Tacx Boost

$300 | garmin.com

The Tacx boost bike trainer, one of the best bike trainers for triathletes
Overall value ★★★
Ease of initial setup ★★★
Ease of setup and breakdown ★★★★★
Ease of calibration N/A
Storability ★★★★
Portability ★★★
Build Quality ★★★
Stability ★★★★
Quietness ★★★★ (60db at 250 watts)

An upgrade from the classic “dumb” trainer thanks to the ability to alter resistance mid-ride and add in a Garmin speed sensor to connect to Garmin bike computers, the Garmin Connect app, and more. This is an ideal choice for a triathlete who wants the experience of a dynamic smart trainer (i.e., able to change resistance via trainer) without the price or fuss. But aerobars need not apply: one must have circular handlebars to fit the controller.

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Wahoo Kickr Core

$700 | wahoofitness.com

The Wahoo Kickr Core, one of the best bike trainers for triathletes and cyclists

 

Overall value ★★★★
Ease of initial setup ★★★
Ease of setup and breakdown ★★★★
Ease of calibration ★★★★★
Storability ★★★
Portability ★★
Build Quality ★★★★★
Stability ★★★★★
Quietness ★★★★ (67db at 250 watts)

The Kickr core is a cheaper smart trainer that offers the same stability and connectivity as its older sibling, but with slightly less configurability – perfect for the triathlete ready to invest in a no-frills smart trainer. Easy connectability and realistic ride feel makes this a great basic smart trainer for indoor training.

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Elite Direto XR

$700 | elite-it.com

The elite direto xr, one of the best bike trainers for triathletes and cyclists
Overall value ★★★★
Ease of initial setup ★★★★
Ease of setup and breakdown ★★★★
Ease of calibration ★★★★
Storability ★★
Portability
Build Quality ★★★★★
Stability ★★★★★
Quietness ★★★★ (69db at 250 watts)

Are you a triathlete who is a data freak and wants exact numbers on everything from power to pedaling efficiency? This world-class smart trainer offers extremely accurate data, connectivity, and a very stable base.

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Jetblack Volt

$800 | jetblackcycling.com

The jetblack volt, one of the best bike trainers for triathletes and cyclists
Overall value ★★★★
Ease of initial setup ★★★★★
Ease of setup and breakdown ★★★★
Ease of calibration ★★★★★
Storability ★★
Portability ★★
Build Quality ★★★★★
Stability ★★★★★
Quietness ★★★★ (66db at 250 watts)

This quiet smart trainer comes ready to roll with less than five minutes of setup time, its own training app, and a killer price. It’s a great option for someone willing to drop a little extra cash than they would for a Kickr Core, with the reward of a bit less noise, easier setup, and a no-extra cost training ecosystem.

RELATED: A Close Look At The New Jetblack Volt Smart Trainer