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Best Smart Turbo Trainers for Indoor Cycling Review & Ratings

by Johnny Nguyen
on August 30, 2021

A turbo trainer is the fitness answer to the work from home revolution. Here at Zwift, we’re often asked the same question: What turbo trainer should I buy for indoor cycling?

The answer isn’t simple and there are many factors to consider when buying your new smart trainer. Here, we’re going to try and bring everything together and provide the ultimate bike turbo trainer review.

All of the smart trainers on our list come with Bluetooth and ANT+, allowing easy connection to our Zwift App.


Wahoo Kickr Smart Power Trainer

If you want the best turbo trainer for Zwift that money can buy put the Wahoo Kickr Smart Trainer on your shortlist. In their 2021 bike turbo trainer review, BikeRadar dubbed the Kickr  “the gold standard of smart trainers”. It’s everything you want, and more, to get started on your indoor cycling journey.

The Kickr is one of the most storable trainers, making it perfect for those tight on space. It’s quiet, but the 16-pound (7.25kg) flywheel was specially engineered to recreate the feel of the open roads. The Kickr also has adjustable feet, which allow for five degrees of lateral movement, furthering the realistic feel that you get when training on Zwift.  

The Kickr is accurate to +/- 1% and offers the stability to withstand sprints up to 2200w. It’s no wonder that Wahoo’s top-of-the-range smart trainer is the choice for most pro-riders...

Pros:

  • Self-calibrates, accurate, slick design.

Cons:

  • Need to buy a separate freehub if running 12-speed.

Cost: $1199.99


Wahoo Kickr Core 

It’s the younger sibling of the Wahoo family and although the lower price-point, it doesn’t skimp on features. Its headline stats are plenty enough for most of us mere mortals and it almost leaves us asking: What are the differences between the Kickr and the Kickr Core?

The Kickr Core is on the budget-friendly side of the premium smart trainer market. It inherits many of its big brother’s features, including Wahoo’s new drive belt that makes the turbo virtually silent. A win for those early morning training sessions. 

Overall, the Kickr Core offers a very good package at a reasonable price. However, it does forgo a couple of its bigger brother’s practical features.

Pros:

  • Virtually silent, price

Cons:

  • Doesn’t come with a cassette

Cost: $899.99


Elite Suito

The Elite Suito is one of the fastest ways to get riding indoors. It comes with an 11-speed Shimano 105 cassette pre-installed, and there are adaptors for 142mm thru-axles plus a front wheel riser block included in the box, all of which is especially noteworthy at this price point. 

It can simulate gradients of up to 15% and has a maximum power of 1,900 watts, so super strong riders may find this unit a little under-specced, but for most people this will be more than they’ll ever need.

The Elite Suito also has easy-folding legs, although they’re not quick release, which makes it a great option for those who are tight on space.

Pros:

  • Price point

Cons:

  • Less accurate than some competitors

Cost: $849.99


Elite Direto XR

The Elite Direto XR does everything well. It is pleasingly quiet, with excellent ride quality and accurate power numbers to boot. This smart trainer isn’t packed with extra features, but it does everything you want it to and at a good standard.  

The Elite Direto XR makes indoor cycling easy. The foldable legs, handle, and relatively lightweight make for a simple set-up before every session. It comes with a riser block for the front wheel as well, which is an added bonus.

Pros:

  • Does everything you want well.

Cons:

  • No quick-release mechanism on legs.

Cost: $999.99


Tacx Neo 2T

According to Cyclist Magazine, the Tacx Neo 2T is ‘’pretty much everything anyone could ask for in a smart turbo trainer.’’, and who are we to argue with them? 

The Tacx Neo 2T is the only trainer that allows you to feel the vibration of the virtual roads of Zwift. You’ll experience the sensation of riding everything from gravel roads and cobblestones to smooth tarmac. 

It has a descent simulation, so once you hit the top of Alp du Zwift you’ll feel the acceleration as you soar down the backside of the mountain. So not only is it one of the best turbo trainers for hill training, it’s the most fun for descending!

The Tacx Neo 2T’s design is one of the best on the market. Emulating a spaceship, matching the smart trainers out of this world performance. Both modern and timeless, it’s one of the most attractive trainers available. It even has multi-color LED lights that illuminate the floor while riding.

The Tacx Neo 2T is so good that you’ll forget that you’re riding inside a game. If budget isn’t a factor, it’s hard to look past the Neo 2T.

Pros:

  • Most realistic smart trainer on the market.

Cons:

  • Cassette is not included.

Cost: $1399.99


 

Summary:

Best turbo trainer for Zwift:

Tacx Neo 2T. Nothing can compete with it. It’s accurate, it’s realistic, and the design is incredible. The Tacx Neo 2T is the creme de la creme for indoor cycling and tops all the bike turbo trainer reviews.

Best value for money:

Wahoo Kickr Core. It may be the younger sibling of the Wahoo smart trainer range, but it really does pack a punch. It provides most of the features of the more expensive Kickr but at a much more attractive price point.

 

 

What is Zwift?

Zwift is an app for cyclists, runners, and triathletes that makes indoor training fun. Zwift blends the fun of video games with the intensity of serious training. It helps you to get fitter and faster, with the support of an engaging online community.

 

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