Wheel-on trainers are the entry-level smart trainer and what most Zwifters use when starting their indoor cycling journey. Both their affordability and simplicity make them a firm favorite for newbies on the Zwift App.
It’s no secret that direct drive trainers are the future. Direct drive trainers require you to remove your back wheel and the turbo-trainer basically becomes your back wheel. They’re more accurate and deliver a more realistic feel when riding on Zwift. However, they’re much more expensive.
If you don’t want to drop close to four figures on a top-of-the-range turbo, wheel-on smart trainers are your pick.
In this article, we’re going to bring you our top tips for turbo-training as well as a review of the two best wheel-on smart trainers for Zwift, the Saris M2 and the Wahoo Kickr Snap. Once you read this, we’ll have you ready to start your indoor cycling journey in no time.
Turbo Training Top Tips
So, you’ve decided to take your first steps into the Zwift world, but what comes first? Firstly, you’ll need a few new bits of equipment, here’s a list to get you started:
- Zwift Cycling Subscription
- Smart Trainer
- Laptop/ Screen with compatibility (Bluetooth or ANT+)
- Zwift Companion App (optional)
To start using a wheel on a bike trainer, you simply line up the axle, tighten and you're ready to go. Both trainers in this review have LED lights to confirm that your machine is transmitting via ANT+ or Bluetooth. Once you have connected to the Zwift app, it’s best to perform a spin-down to ensure both consistency and accuracy.
We advise that you use a separate tire for riding indoors. The wheel on trainers provides resistance by pressing a roller against your rear tire so tire wear is much faster than outdoor riding!
If you have a disc brake bike, you may need to purchase a separate thru-axle adapter.
Wahoo Kickr Snap
Wahoo are one of the biggest names in indoor cycling and the Kickr Snap wheel-on trainer is the budget-friendly way to join the family. It’s Wahoo’s only wheel on the bike trainer, but don’t let that dissuade you.
It has everything you would expect from a Wahoo product. It has been designed with careful attention to detail and made with the highest quality. Ready to go straight from the box, there is no assembly required and you’ll be riding on Zwift in no time.
With an accuracy of +/- 3% and a maximum power output of 1500w, the Kickr Snap punches well above its weight when it comes to the tech. It comes with a front-wheel block for stability which is an added bonus too.
The Kickr Snap has a reputation for a realistic, road-like-feel when riding in the Zwift App. The wheel-on smart trainers are noisier than the more expensive direct drive options, but the Kickr Snap is one of the quieter wheel-on options, making it the perfect choice for those early morning sessions.
The Wahoo Kickr Snap weighs in at 37lbs/16.7kg. While it’s not the lightest trainer on the market, it’s weight means that stability is never an issue when pushing the power out of the saddle. The frame easily folds down too, making storage easy.
The Wahoo Kickr Snap is designed for the casual indoor rider or a cyclist on a budget. It is easy to set up, easy to use and has a stylish design to boot.
- Accurate, reliable
- Can only simulate gradients up to 12%
The Saris M2 may have a classic indoor training frame, but it’s a great all-around option that comes packed with tech. While there is some assembly required out of the box, it is relatively straightforward and only has to be done once. After assembly, the Saris M2 is easy to connect to Zwift and reliably mimics virtual terrain and drafting.
With an accuracy of +/- 5% and a range of up to 1500w, the Saris M2’s underlying spec is impressive. This range, coupled with the sturdy frame, allows almost every rider to sprint to their maximum capability, unless your name happens to be Sir Chris Hoy.
The Saris M2 comes into its own on the hills. It has the capability to simulate gradients of up to 15%, allowing you to tackle almost all climbs in the game at their true gradients.
The M2 is the best Saris wheel-on trainer. It is the most accurate of their wheel-on options and is user-friendly. The total unit weight of 22lbs/10kg and the foldable body make set-up and storage simple. A lifetime warranty on the frame and a two-year limited warranty on the electronics bring added peace of mind.
- Simulated gradient capability of 15%
- Less accurate than competitors
Both the Saris M2 and the Wahoo Snap are great entry-level smart trainer options. They have similar tech specs, and both trainers will allow you to enter the Zwift world with ease. Both the Saris and Wahoo trainers are functional, and neither is much hassle to set up each time you want to workout.
If we had to pick a winner, we’d say the Wahoo Kickr Snap is the best wheel on trainer for Zwift, thanks to its slightly better accuracy than its Saris counterpart.
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.