When training for a triathlon, the specific training style and training equipment used can make the difference between being ready for a race and not finishing a race. The cycling portion of a triathlon is the largest portion of the entire race and a smart bike can be just the tool to ensure you make the best time during it.
A smart bike trainer is the evolution of a regular bike trainer. Just like your typical bike trainer, the smart trainer version connects to the back wheel of a bicycle and allows you to pedal and train indoors. Unlike with the older version, with the smart bike trainer you have the option of setting and controlling the resistance with apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, The Sufferfest. Rouvy, and FulGaz. A smart trainer connects to these apps via Bluetooth and ANT+, a cycling standard wireless frequency. With this connection, the training can be visually interactive and the speeds and distances pedaled can be tracked. The combination of a smart bike trainer and one of the apps create an intense indoor workout or riding session that can be used for regular exercising and training for a triathlon. There are two types of smart bike trainers. The ones that require the back wheel of the bike to stay on and the others that do not use the back wheel at all.
A smart trainer is quite easy to use. The only prerequisites to using the product are a cycling app, a computer or computer like device, and WIFI. After mounting your bike on the smart trainer, simply open the app of your choosing for a virtual biking road or course. You can use a smartphone, tablet, or computer for this app, so you will need a WIFI connection. Connect the bike trainer to your device via Bluetooth or ANT+ dongle and start pedaling. You can use a smart bike trainer without the app, however, with the app the resistance is controlled, and you can variate the speeds and force with which you pedal as needed like when going up a hill, facing headwinds, or drafts. Some types of trainers have built in levels of resistance, but it is not changing like with the use of an app. With the app you could also select a particular course and set a level of resistance or wattage, so that you can train on that level and get better times each try. Once you conquer that resistance you can increase it and train on a higher level.
Without going outdoors, you can still get the type of training or workout you need. This is the main benefit because you will not have to skip a training session if it’s raining or too windy outside. You can gain the endurance needed by being able to repeat the same course and tracking your numbers. There is no need to pace yourself on a smart bike. You can give it your all each time and get the strength needed to shorten down your times and increase your speeds each ride. Being that you are already home, there is no stress about something happening like you getting too tired or the bike breaking and preventing you from making it back home. Some apps allow you to ride with friends or race with friends, an additional benefit. A smart bike trainer measures power as it comes with a built-in power meter, so although it might be a virtual course you are riding, the power output numbers are very real.
Most smart trainers work with all types of bikes from mountain bikes to road bikes. The apps that set and control the resistance are compatible with most smart trainers, some are even compatible with indoor bikes. That means that choosing one truly depends on which features of the smart trainer are more important to each buyer. Things to look for and compare when choosing a smart trainer are size since they come in different sizes. Some will better fit your space than others. Portability is another factor to keep in mind, although most smart trainers are easy to move if that is needed. Weight can be a factor that matters to some more than others in their smart trainer. You will also want to select between a back wheel on or back wheel off smart trainer version. This piece of equipment also comes in different colors and some include the ANT+ USB dongle while others do not. There are some trainers that come with built in levels of resistance so if you might be looking more for a work out tool than a training tool, this factor might make a difference in choosing the best smart bike trainer for you.
Even if your aim is not to join a triathlon, a smart trainer is a great and convenient exercising tool. Regardless of what the weather is like outside, from sunny to snowy, you can enjoy a bike ride with all the inclines and declines that mark a good workout. You can track your process and expand on it since the smart trainer and all technology of compatible cycling apps allow you to do that. It can be a great way to start a challenging exercise routine right in the comfort of your home.
While there are several products in the market, here are some of the best ones that are currently on sale.
The Elito Direto smart trainer is compatible with road and mountain bike frames. It comes with a twelve-month subscription to the My E-Training software and app, so right out the box, you can start using this trainer. Of course, it can be used with all third party apps like Zwift since it has that compatibility feature. This trainer will challenge you with simulated slopes up to 14%. It develops 1400-Watt power output at 40 km/h. This is a stable trainer, portable, easy to calibrate, easy to use, and easy to store. It is an electrically powered, back wheel off trainer. The Elite Direto uses an optical torque sensor power meter and has a pedaling analysis option that gives you tips on how to maximize your work out. The Elite Direto feels like you are on the road when used with the My E-Training software or third party apps like Zwift.
The Bkool GO smart bike trainer is a back wheel on option that is light weight and very easy to use. This trainer includes an ANT+ dongle since it is not Bluetooth compatible, so that you do not have to purchase it separately. The Bkool trainer simulates slopes of up to 8% and has 800-Watt of resistance. This trainer stimulates inertia so your climbs and descends feel all the more real. This smart trainer easily folds and also separates into two pieces, making storing it an easy task. This trainer is electrically powered and includes a front wheel rise block to make it very stable. With this trainer you will feel like you are riding a bike outside with the help of any third party app as it is compatible with all of them. The Bkool trainer works with both road and mountain bikes. It records power, speed, and cadence data. It is almost noise free and includes a three-month membership to Bkool simulator so you can start training right away.
The CycleOps Hammer smart bike trainer is a back wheel off trainer. This option runs on lithium four batteries, not included with the equipment. This trainer offers a lifetime warranty. It connects with all third party apps like Zwift so that riding it will feel like a bike ride outside. The CycleOps provides 2000-Watt electro-magnetic resistance and record power, speed, and cadence data. In order to read cadence an ANT+ cadence widget is required, not included with the trainer. It feels natural and smooth as you pedal and runs with minimal noise. This trainer simulates slopes up to 20%. It is very easy to use, and it is Bluetooth and ANT+ Compatible. The Cycle Ops smart trainer has an expertly positioned handle on the top for moving it easily when needed. It is also compatible with all road and mountain bikes and features LED lighting to mark Bluetooth or ANT+ connectivity.
The Tacx Satori smart bike trainer is Bluetooth and ANT+ compatible. It is a nice, light blue color for those that find this type of feature appealing. This bike trainer is super lightweight and folds for easy storage. It is compatible The Tacx with all third party apps like Zwift and can also be used with The Tacx simulator to measure speed and power. This trainer has built in ten levels of magnetic resistance that are controlled manually, so you can work with these levels outside of those offered by the apps. This is a battery powered, lightweight trainer. The Tacx trainer is a back wheel on trainer and it does come with a front wheel riser block for stability while pedaling. It measures speed, cadence and power outputs and this data can be uploaded to several devices like a smartphone and a smart watch simultaneously.
The Wahoo KICKR smart bike trainer is electrically powered and very easy to use. This back wheel on option will be a smooth ride that will make you feel as if you are outside and it is compatible with all road and mountain bikes, fitting even the largest wheels. The Wahoo measures power directly at the hub so the readings will be as accurate as can be. It features 2000-Watt electromagnetic resistance with a max incline of 20%. The Wahoo measures speed, distance, power, and cadence with great accuracy. This electrically powered trainer offers a one year warranty. It is sturdy and secure, so it does not require a front wheel block. It offers compatibility with all third party apps like Zwift and it is also Bluetooth and ANT+ compatible. This smart bike trainer can be a good option for new and experienced users.
There is a smart bike trainer to fit everyone’s need. The undisputed winner in this round up is the Wahoo KICKR Indoor Smart Bike Trainer. It offers a one-year warranty and it has the most features of all the other smart trainer listed and reviewed in this article, as well as it has the least cons. Although the Wahoo KICKR might be considered heavy, it has the most watt power and resistance. It is compatible with all bike types, all cycling apps, all devices, and it can be connected through both Bluetooth or ANT+ technology. This bike trainer is sturdy, meant to last and to give the outdoor bike ride feel indoors, while it can train you for a triathlon if that is the reason you are getting it. This trainer is easy to assemble and might be a bit of a challenge to store but ideally, you will be using it regularly as you train to build strength and endurance. You can race your friends in a virtual setting and get used to the feeling of winning since this bike trainer makes winners.
Hey there, my name is James and I am the creator and editor of this site. I have been doing Triathlons for a while now and am competing in 70.3 Ironman's as well come this year. I created this site to help those new to the sport and to share my journey with other athletes.