As winter kicks in, my inclination to become a ‘fairweather cyclist’ grows. Losing my summer gains is hard to swallow, so I figured it was time to invest in a portable bike trainer!
Indoor cycling is a way to keep logging the miles, so it’s crucial to find the best portable bike trainer for you….want help finding it?
I’ve done the research, so you don’t have to!
Short on time but big on training? The Alpcour Fluid Bike Trainer Stand is your go-to. Why has it raced to the top? It’s quiet, so no more noise complaints. It’s sturdy – who needs wobbles? Its design is sleek yet functional. And yes, it’s genuinely portable – easy to set up, break down, and pack away.
Let’s get spinning and discover how it can transform your training wherever you are! 🚴♂️🌍🏋️♂️
In A Rush? Here are the Best Portable Bike Trainers
Detailed Reviews of the Portable Bike Trainers
The first thing that catches me about the Alpcour fluid bike trainer stand is that it looks the part! It’s elegant and attaches to your bike tire within minutes, giving you a fluid flywheel mechanism.
The stand is constructed using stainless steel, so it’s stable. You can train hard without worrying about wobbling. Alpcour has even coated the bottom of this trainer with rubber to ensure an anti-slip workout.
Like most bike trainers, this includes a riser block for your front wheel, keeping everything in place.
One thing I especially like about this trainer is that it comes with a carry bag, so when you want to take it, you have a safe place to pack it up.
Similar to the Sportneer, friction provides resistance. The resistance will fluctuate depending on your pedaling speed. This is an excellent system for riders who want to change the pace as they ride, and it does a great job of simulating real-life experiences.
Your training session will be almost silent as this trainer produces very little noise. This is thanks to the Alpcours noise reduction resistance wheel, which eliminates the incessant ‘whirring’ and ‘humming.’ Happy days!
Saris is a US-based company, and these are some of the best rollers on the market. Saris is confident in that statement, too – they give you a lifetime warranty!
That warranty ensures that the company will take care of any repairs the rollers need, provided you haven’t totally abused them (fair is fair).
Alright, what is unique about these rollers?
You can choose from five resistance levels to vary your training. Alternatively, you can purchase the model without the adjustable resistance, which still includes a solid set of rollers. There are plenty of choices either way!
Next, the Saris rollers have six floor-contact points to keep things stable, so you can go full gas without worrying about moving them.
You’re reading this because you want portability. These rollers fold easily and nicely enough to store them under your bed or in a tight corner.
Finally, Saris’ customer support is exceptional. Queries are responded to quickly, and issues are fixed, which is pretty rare these days! So, the Saris have much to offer if you’re after a set of quiet rollers with some resistance.
The Sportneer is a little different in that it is smoother than many magnetic bike trainers – not many fluid trainers can say that! So you can be sure of a smooth ride.
In addition to offering a smooth ride, the Sportneer is also remarkably quiet. This is mainly because it is a fluid trainer, as it doesn’t have magnets inside that cause jerky movements.
Durability shouldn’t be much of an issue, either. The Sportneer bike trainer is made of stainless steel, so you can train hard without worrying about damaging your trainer (or bike).
Portability, right? When not in use, the frame can be folded into a small structure, ideal for storing in compact spaces. It also doesn’t take long to set up – I’m talking minutes – so it’s possible to use this daily.
This trainer has progressive resistance, which means that it depends on how fast you’re moving. Similar to what you experience on the road, the higher speeds you reach, the greater resistance you feel.
By all accounts, this trainer exceeds expectations and does a fantastic job of delivering a real-road feel.
Moving on to direct-drive trainers, the ThinkRider A1 is an affordable option that will quickly get you onto Zwift.
The ThinkRider A1 is designed to be a quiet machine, and it is! However, if you live in an apartment with people below you, I’d still recommend a cycling floor mat to suppress the noise a little more. I recommend this with any of these portable bike trainers!
I really like that this bike trainer is wireless. It’s battery-powered, which means it can be used anywhere. The battery has a 300-day standby time and 300 hours of usage before it needs to be changed. These are standard CR2032 batteries, so they are widely available.
Regarding performance, the ThinkRider A1 gives you everything you need for a good workout. With a maximum sprint resistance of 1200 watts, you can push yourself to the limit- more than most of us are likely to need!
This bike trainer is compatible with Zwift and can work with programs like TrainerRoad. However, ThinkRider A1 can also be used with Powerfun, and it’s free! It offers plenty of training courses and routes. What I’m saying is that ThinkRider gives you options to get the most out of your training time.
The Magene T100 is a direct-drive turbo trainer.
Magene claims that you can have the trainer working within a few minutes, and in practice, it’s not far off – maybe more like ten if you want everything to be perfect, which I do 😁.
It’s compatible with Shimano and SRAM cassettes, 8 – 11 speed. That’s a reasonable range for a turbo trainer. Often, it’s 11-speed or nothing.
It produces around 60 dB of noise, so it is a quiet trainer. It shouldn’t upset the neighbors.
The Magene T100 is rated at a maximum of 700 watts, which might be limiting for some. However, it will most likely do the job if you’re just getting into indoor cycling or are a hobby cyclist.
The T100 is a semi-smart trainer. This means that when you’re in Zwift or any other training program, the resistance does not automatically change to replicate what’s on the screen. This does affect the experience somewhat, but I’ve found that sometimes it’s nice not to constantly change resistance, so this can work for those who agree.
It weighs 15kg and folds easily, making it space-saving and easy to transport.
AAA batteries power Magene T100. This switch from power cables keeps things neat, and I like it. Sure, it means you have to swap out the batteries, but with a run time of 320 hours, it won’t happen all that often.
What Are The Different Types Of Cycling Trainers?
When winter starts kicking in, it’s easy to think all your summer fitness will disappear. You might have a bit of a freakout, or that may have just been me.
Anyway, that doesn’t have to be the case; an indoor trainer can keep you race-fit, and to be honest, I’ve had a few winters where I’ve gone into the season fitter!
Every trainer is different and gives you a different road-like feel. There are different resistance levels, noise output, prices, connection methods, and compatibility – yeah, it’s a lot to wrap your head around when you first start looking!
There are a few types of trainers to think about:
These are relatively simple to operate. The more you pedal, the more the fan moves and the more resistance you feel.
The downside to these bike trainers is that the fan can be very noisy, so a wind trainer isn’t likely for you if noise is a consideration. The upside is that these bike trainers are inexpensive, durable, and good for improving fitness.
Taking the price tag up a notch is a bike trainer that uses fluid to produce resistance.
However, it does increase your road feel, so it is arguably a better buy. You must also consider that it may have a shorter life span because it isn’t as durable.
Check out our Best Fluid Bike Trainers list if you’re keen on these.
A magnetic trainer works through a flywheel trainer. The resistance is fixed, though it can be manually adjusted (it’s not hard to do either…). It does give you a good workout. In terms of noise, these bike trainers are relatively quiet!
Rollers are the professional’s choice. They give you an excellent road-feel experience. Though they can take some getting used to, rollers can be a great way to stay fit and improve your on-the-bike posture.
What To Consider When Buying A Portable Bike Trainer
Now that you know the types of bike trainers, you may want to know how to narrow your choice down. Here are a few things for you to consider before you pick up a portable bike trainer:
For some people, noise is not a concern, but for some, it’s something to consider. If you want to train at 3 a.m., you don’t want to wake the neighbors (well, I’m going to assume that’s the case!), so you need something quiet.
Check out the decibel level; this is an excellent way to measure the noise output. To minimize the sound, you can put a rubber floor mat underneath the trainer, which helps absorb some of the noise (it also catches those inevitable sweat drops).
The whole point of looking for a portable trainer is that you can take it with you when you want to.
Weight should be a consideration for this. Find a lightweight trainer, and you’ll have no trouble taking it to events for a warm-up.
You need to check that the maximum load weight is adequate, too.
Performance & Flexibility
Depending on the type of training you do or want to do, you’ll need to ensure that the bike trainer will be up to the job.
Ensure that it has all of the different settings you want it to.
Ideally, you want a portable bike trainer that you look forward to using. It should be easy to use, perform well, and improve your training.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Portable Bike Trainer Cheap?
This is a very subjective question, and the answer will depend on what you expect to get from a portable bike trainer and how much you’re willing to spend!
You can buy an inexpensive indoor trainer for less than $200, which could serve you well. However, it’s unlikely to have connectivity features, so you’ll have to increase your budget if you want that.
If you want to go all out with your portable bike trainer, you could spend around $1,200.
This will give you plenty of connectivity options; resistance-wise, it ought to be automatic and seamless.
I’ll be honest. As with most things in life, you get out of it what you put into it.
A portable trainer is a brilliant way to increase your performance. Though bells and whistles are nice, they aren’t always needed. It’s all about applying what you learn from your trainer to your outdoor rides.
Are Portable Bike Trainers Suitable for High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?
Yes, portable bike trainers are suitable for HIIT workouts. Look for trainers with robust build quality and reliable resistance mechanisms that can handle rapid changes in intensity. If set up correctly, the trainers on this list should remain stable during high-speed sessions.
How Do I Choose Between a Fluid and Magnetic Portable Bike Trainer?
Your choice between fluid and magnetic portable bike trainers depends on your noise level and resistance type preference.
Fluid trainers offer progressive resistance and a realistic road feel but can be pricier and heavier. On the other hand, magnetic trainers are quieter and more affordable but may provide a less natural cycling feel.
There are plenty of choices for portable bike trainers, and a lot will depend on your budget and needs.
My favorite is the Alpcour Fluid Bike Trainer Stand.
It’s quiet. Sturdy. Great design. Truly portable. Has everything!
Have you set your winter training goals yet?