Indoor training is a convenient and efficient way to stay fit, especially when the weather is unforgiving. But indoor bike trainers are often expensive and beginner-to-intermediate cyclists will find the high prices hard to justify.
This is why we’ve compiled a list of the most accessible products on the market, so you can find the best budget indoor bike trainer for you. Our list includes:
- BalanceFrom Bike Trainer – Best Overall Value For Money
- Saris Fluid 2 – Quietest Bike Trainer
- Veltuno Indoor Bike Trainer – Best Compact Bike Trainer
- Health-Line Bike Trainer Stand – Most Durable Bike Trainer
How To Choose A Budget Bike Trainer
A bike trainer enables you to ride your bike while it’s stationary. This device has a frame clamp, a roller that pushes up against the rear wheel, and a mechanism for providing resistance when cycling.
It opens a new set of possibilities for novice cyclists. It allows you the flexibility to train at home during bad weather (or during Covid times!). Some trainers also allow you to experience different terrains with varying resistance levels.
On a budget? There are a few things to look out for in an indoor bike trainer. Never fear, getting value for money is what we aim for in this review!
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This is the maximum power output the trainer can accommodate. It’s measured in watts and a cyclist’s power output varies depending on various factors like fitness, skill level, and training age.
Bike trainers have progressive resistance levels. Seasoned cyclists who have the strength and endurance may find a low resistance level not challenging enough. If you fall into this category, you’d want to aim for closer to 1,000 watts.
For beginner to intermediate cyclists, though, this amount of resistance isn’t necessary and will cost you more. Opt for between 250 and 600 watts, depending on your training age and what you want to achieve.
The best bike trainers are those that offer varying resistance levels, allowing you to become a better cyclist over time!
No one wants a noisy bike trainer and the type you choose can make a big difference. The three common varieties of bike trainers include:
- Wind resistance
- Fluid trainers
Wind resistance trainers are often the cheapest but they’re also the noisiest. This makes them unsuitable for people living in apartments with thin walls. Unless you have very accommodating neighbors :).
Fluid trainers and magnetic bike trainers are quieter but the improved aerodynamics come at a cost.
Manufacturers provide decibel readings to measure the amount of noise a bike trainer generates. This way, you can understand what sound level you’re getting when shopping for a bike trainer. Your best options will be around 70 decibels maximum or less.
They might be more expensive, but you could score a quiet budget-friendly model, like the Saris Fluid 2 for example. It’s one of the cheaper options on our list, with a decibel range of 64 to 68.
Unfortunately, durability is a challenge on a budget. If you’re going to use your bike trainer regularly for intense workouts, you should opt for a better quality build trainer.
As with most workout equipment, spending more upfront may result in spending less in the long run. However, you might be able to find some durable features in budget options if you’re strapped for cash.
- Frame material: Light and strong materials are best, aluminum being one middle-range option here.
- Replacement parts: The bike trainer should be easy to fit with accessible replacement parts in case something happens.
- Weight limit: If you’re on the larger side, make sure the trainer offers an appropriate weight limit, with some to spare.
If you can find a bike trainer with heat-resistant features (we couldn’t in this roundup!), this is even better for durability. This means the trainer parts shouldn’t face corrosion due to the temperature buildup that happens during your training. This is hard to find on-budget options but worth keeping in mind.
The Health-Line Bike Trainer Stand is a good example of a durable product on a budget. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feature heat resistance but it can hold up to 370 pounds.
This shouldn’t be a problem for most beginner to intermediate cyclists. Most triathlon and road bicycles are compatible with most trainers on the market today.
Fancy bike models, that have novel and unconventional frames, might be an issue. If you own one of these, double-check this factor when shopping.
Looking for a way to store your bike inside an apartment after you’ve finished using a trainer? Check out our Bike Storage Solutions For Apartments!
Related article – Best Portable Bike Trainer: Complete Buying Guide
Once used by pro cyclists, manufacturers often incorporate this tested technology into their products. This then slowly trickles down to the budget options after a few years.
Some consumers appreciate the latest and greatest tech, with options including heart rate monitors or integrated online workouts. But again, a smart trainer like this comes at a cost! You can check out our review of the Wattbike Atom.
If these features aren’t important for you, opt for a simple machine instead.
Reviews Of The Best Budget Bike Trainers
Finding a great-performing budget bike trainer isn’t easy. Such products are rare, but the four mentioned below fit the bill. Read on and discover the best budget bike trainers.
This steel alloy bike trainer costs under $100 while still offering value. Take its maximum load capacity of 330 pounds for example; or the wide base and low stance configuration that provides impressive stability.
The model is easy to install, unlike my first trainer which was quite frustrating! That won’t be the case here. The quick-release clamp easily attaches to your rear wheel and maintains a tight grip when cycling.
The BalanceFrom uses a magnetic resistance mechanism, offering a moderately low noise level. Eight resistance settings are also included on the bike trainer.
Any mountain or road bike with a 26 to 28-inch or 700c wheel is compatible with this trainer.
The only drawback is that the noise level increases if you’re using particularly rough tires.
The Saris Fluid 2 is one of the quietest bike trainers in this price range, hitting 64 to 68 decibels when cycling at 20 miles per hour.
It offers a smooth and responsive road-like feeling that optimizes your training. It does this by using its precision-balanced flywheel that has a patented fan design. This makes it possible to effortlessly change gears, the same way you would if you were on the road.
Bike compatibility is well thought out. The 2-inch unit roller accommodates wheel sizes including: 650b and 700c; 26, 27 and 29 inches. A quick-release skewer has three settings to manage different rear dropout spacings depending on your tires.
It also features a self-cooling mechanism to keep your trainer from getting too hot. This ensures it runs well for longer. Another durability factor is the alloy roller that prevents tire slippage and reduces tire wear.
The installation process is very easy, thanks to the foldable frame and spring-loaded lever on the trainer.
There isn’t much wrong with the device, aside from the fact that frequent use might wear down your rear wheel. The company offers a trainer tire for this reason.
The Saris Fluid 2 is not as high-end as smart trainers or turbo trainers. However, given the price point, most cyclists will appreciate the stellar build quality and reliability they get from this device.
The Veltuno is a compact device with eight responsive resistance levels. They graduate in degrees of difficulty, from a flat-road feeling to sand and then finally, slopes.
A magnetic resistance mechanism, paired with a noise reduction wheel, keeps things on the quiet side. This makes the trainer suitable for those living in small apartments and condos, as to not bother anyone around you.
It comes equipped with anti-slip pads and a front wheel riser block to prevent the bike from shifting during use. This ensures the safety and prevents any potential damage!
Portability is simple here, thanks to the easy-to-fold frame which is made from carbon steel. This material is one of the lightest, yet strongest options for such devices.
One flaw in the Veltuno is the work required to shift resistance levels. There might be a lag or janky response from time to time.
This Health-Line model is a bike trainer with a maximum load capacity of 370 pounds. It features a wide and low base, ensuring your safety and stability when training.
Standard-sized wheels, like the 700c, can easily attach to this device. You can do this with or without using the quick release mechanism.
Thanks to the fluid resistance, the noise level is comparable with premium bicycle trainers. This makes it ideal for small apartment spaces.
To top it off, Health-Line offers great customer service and after-sale repairs. You can get replacement parts, too, in case that’s necessary along the way.
The major downside to this product is how difficult it’s to assemble. The instruction manuals aren’t very clear and you may have to search elsewhere for answers.
Check out this video here which might help with your installation!
A budget indoor bike trainer is a great idea for maintaining your health when the road conditions are dismal (or pandemics!). You want a quiet, durable model that won’t break the bank.
Our favorite is the BalanceFrom Bike Trainer. It’s the cheapest product but offers great performance and value for money. It’s not the quietest device on the list but makes up for it with its durable build quality, resistance levels, and affordable price.
Unsurprisingly, it takes the title of the best budget bike trainer!
Whichever budget indoor bike trainer you choose, make sure it offers the resistance levels that you require. And remember: the quality of your training is more dependent on the effort you put in than the amount of money spent on gear :).
Thanks for reading and please drop a comment below if you have any questions!