Thanks to the huge growth of indoor cycling in recent years, today’s trainers and related accessories generally do an excellent job of supporting the needs of all cyclists, including those on mountain and gravel rigs. Still, there are a few important things for mountain bikers to understand before purchasing a trainer.
If you’re looking to use your mountain bike on Zwift, here are a few tips to get you rolling.
Direct-drive trainers are recommended over wheel-on trainers due to their increased reliability and accuracy. Additionally, wheel-on trainers are noisy with knobby tires!
The two best trainers on the market for mountain bike frames are the Tacx Neo 2T and the Wahoo KICKR. Both offer superior compatibility with mountain bike gearing and thru-axles in addition to industry-leading power accuracy, ride feel, and reliability.
The Neo 2T ships without a cassette, while the Wahoo KICKR ships with an 11-speed cassette. Both the Neo 2T and KICKR ship with a standard Shimano/SRAM-compatible splined freehub driver body installed.
Running a 12-speed rear cassette? You will need to install a cassette on your trainer once it arrives.
If you want to install an XD-compatible cassette, you will also need to swap out your trainer’s freehub body. Both the Neo 2T and KICKR have XD/XDR driver bodies available:
Alternatively, you can purchase and install a 12-speed cassette that mounts to the standard splined driver, which ships on both trainers. Here are two options:
Both of our recommended trainers include everything you need to mount your thru-axle equipped MTB. The Neo 2T and KICKR 18 both ship with adapters for 12x142 and 12x148 thru-axles in addition to 130/135mm quick release.
Most direct-drive trainers today are compatible with thru-axle setups, although you may need to purchase an adapter. For example, the Tacx Neo 2 and Flux S trainers use a Tacx Direct Drive Quick Release adapter for thru-axle frames, while older versions of the Wahoo KICKR use the 12x142 thru-axle adapter.
A handlebar-mounted smartphone comes in handy on Zwift because it gives you easy access to Zwift Companion as well as other apps you may want to use while you ride. And easy access to Zwift Companion means you can take our FutureWorks: Steering feature for a ride!
The iOmounts Convert is for indoor use only and available in the Zwift store. This affordable magnetic mount attaches to your existing Garmin mount and requires only a thin metal disc to be attached to your phone.
Looking for a beefier solution that can also work outdoors? Look no further than the proven QuadLock.
Ready to ride? Don’t forget to grab the other indoor riding accessories: a powerful fan, a clean towel, and plenty of water. Ride On!
Learn about off-road training plans
See all the new off-road bikes in Zwift