Smart trainers/smart bikes budget


Wheel-On: affordable trainers which operate by placing force against your back tire. These are not accurate, with less inertial “road feel” than direct drive trainers. Gradients don’t go higher than 6-8% On the plus side: they cost less than direct drive trainers!

Budget Direct Drive: this is the most competitive category of trainers today. Direct drive trainers work with your back wheel removed and offer increased accuracy and improved feel over the wheel-on offerings. With prices ranging from $650-$900, this is where the most bang for the buck is found.

Premium Direct Drive: the cream of the crop, these trainers are built to be the best and are priced accordingly. They typically offer increased accuracy and higher maximum wattage/gradient (up to 30%) simulation than lower-cost alternatives.

These wheel-on trainers tend to be basic in function and lack the durability, low accuracy, and realistic road feel of higher-priced offerings. These last about 2 years.

  • Tacx Vortex (T2180 ANT+ FE-C compatible and newer models)
  • Tacx Flow Smart (T2240 and newer models)

MID-RANGE ($500-$700)
The best of the wheel-on trainers, but still falling short of the durability, accuracy, and realistic road feel of higher-priced direct-drive offerings. These last about 2-3 years

  • Wahoo Kickr Snap
  • Cycleops M2

MID-HIGH END ($700-$1000)

Direct-drive trainers lack some of the beefier features of their high-end counterparts.

  • Wahoo Kickr Core - best bang for your buck and highly accurate!
  • Tacx Flux S
  • Saris H3
  • Elite Suito, Direto X, Direto XR

HIGH END ($1000+)
The best trainers available on the market. These are quieter, highly accurate, and sturdier than their mid-high counterparts.

  • Tacx Neo (1 OR 2)
  • Wahoo Kickr 


  • Tacx Neo Bike - $3 000 
  • Wahoo Kickr Bike - $4 000 
  • Wattbike Atom - $2 800 
  • Wattbike Atom X - $4 500 
  • Stages SB 20 - $3 000 
  • Technogym Skillbike - $5 000 
  • Zycle Zbike - $1 500 

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