Looking for a quality indoor trainer that can simulate the outdoors? BikeExchange has a wide range of Smart Trainers (Aka: Digital Trainers) available to suit your needs and your budget. More information on smart trainers is listed below.
Simply put, smart trainers, also known as digital or virtual reality trainers, allow for the most realistic cycling experience available when training indoors. Connecting to popular virtual reality riding platforms, such as Zwift and Trainer Road has seen the appeal and popularity of smart trainers explode in recent years. Additionally, many smart trainers provide in-depth and real-time performance detail, such as your power output.
There are a number of considerations when looking for a smart trainer. This brief guide should get you started.
The main appeal of a smart trainer is its ability to simulate real world conditions, providing changeable resistance depending on the virtual terrain you’re covering. Smart trainers will require either a Bluetooth, ANT+ connection, or both. So check that your trainer and software of choice is compatible with your computer, phone, tablet or cycling computer.
Direct-Drive smart trainers require the rear wheel to be removed so that the bike’s rear dropouts can be attached to the trainer. These trainers require a cassette to be fitted so the bike’s chain can connect to the trainer and provide resistance. Some smart trainers will require you to purchase a compatible freehub if you are using a Campagnolo drivetrain.
There may still be some compatibility concerns to consider when purchasing however, many new direct drive trainers are compatible with a wide range of axle types. Reading the product description of your desired trainer will often answer any compatibility queries you have.
Rear-wheel attachment smart trainers connect via the rear axle, with the rear tyre making contact with a resistance drum. These kinds of trainers are best suited to smoother tyres, this is due to the constant contact between the rear tyre and the resistance drum. There will be wear experienced on the rear tyre, however, some tyre manufacturers do make a trainer specific tyre that will wear better on the smooth surface. Compatibility wise, it’s wise to check if your rear wheel size and axle type is suitable if you’re looking at training with a mountain bike for instance.
As smart trainers increase in popularity, more affordable options are being added to the market meaning there are options to suit many budgets. It’s important to consider whether you’re after a permanent training set-up, or portable set-up that’s easy to pack away when not in use.
Direct drive smart trainers are a great permanent solution, are typically quieter to run and offer a more life-like experience. They are typically more expensive than rear wheel mounted smart trainers. Whilst being louder and less lifelike when in use, rear wheel mounted smart trainers are less expensive and easily stored, making them a great portable option.