Best Virtual Bike Trainer: The Ultimate Guide

best virtual bike trainerVirtual bike training is a way for the many people who love to cycle that normally does not have an option on a day to day to cycle. Some find that there are factors that are always getting in the way. Some of those factors can be anything from a very busy schedule to a foot of fresh snow on the ground. No matter what force or factor creates the cycling battle, this ultimate guide to the best virtual bike trainer has a way to erase that creation leaving a cyclist to smile and bike on.


Who can use a Virtual Bike Trainer?

Everyone can use a virtual bike trainer, however, the following cycle types can best utilize a virtual bike trainer.

  • Early season cyclists
  • Pre-event riders
  • Regular scheduled riders
  • Spin class devotees

Pros

  • Cycle regardless the outside conditions
  • Mimics actual biking conditions
  • Bike your favorite trails for inside
  • Tour the bike trails of the world without leaving home
  • Tracks your training
  • Teaches effective pedaling.
  • Easily adapts to your schedule
  • No road distractions or hazards
  • No interrupts such as traffic or traffic lights

Cons

  • Costly stands
  • Expensive equipment
  • Can be noisy
  • Space needed
  • Tedious initial set-up

Types of Bike Trainers

There are numerous options available when it comes to bike trainers. To simplify these have been broken down into the following three levels. Indoor bike trainers are available in many types, styles, options and prices. One can learn more on indoor bike trainers here.

Level A – Basic

Many will consider this the old school method as no smart devices or computer is needed. Great option for those teaching a class or doing spinning as well. Can be used by many at the same time as it does not connect to a bike trainer in any way.

  • Just instructions and a video
  • Typically, DVD or VHS format
  • No integration, control, or sensor data

Equipment needed:

  • DVD or VHS
  • DVD/VHS player
  • TV or video screen
  • Other

Kinetic Cyclone Wind Trainer reviewBike Trainer to Consider

  • A wind trainer or simple magnetic model
  • One with folding legs for easy portability

Top Pick

  • We recommend this BikeWagon DVD. You will need to provide your own music, but personally, for the low price I find that an okay option.

Level B – Sensors

Various in nature dependent on the app, sensor and connectability options.

  • Consumes sensor data
  • Able to adjust display metrics
  • Able to adjust video

Equipment Needed

  • App
  • Sensor cable
  • Display of some variety
  • Internet or Wi-Fi
  • Other

elite arion indoor roller reviewBike Trainer to Consider

  • rollers—there’s no better tool to smooth out a clunky cadence

Top Pick

  • Our top pick for a sensor based Virtual Bike Trainer is Zwift.

Level C – Control

When you are pedaling, the equipment handles the rest allowing you full control over your trainer. Generally, only those trainers that are higher end offer these options. Each app will list compatibilities as they are often specific.

  • Virtually always consumes sensor data
  • Able to control the resistance electronically
  • Wired or wireless activity

Equipment needed

  • App
  • Sensor cable
  • Display of some variety
  • Internet or Wi-Fi
  • Other

CycleOps Jet Fluid Pro reviewBike Trainer to Consider

  • a fluid trainer that tracks power output, or a smart trainer that pairs to your computer head unit

Top Pick

  • For control, our top virtual trainer pick is FulGaz.

Multi-Level – Level A, B, or C

If you get bored easily when stuck indoors, there are many offerings that can help.

Bike Trainer to Consider

  • a smart trainer that can run an interfacing program

Top Pick

  • We recommend Tacx as the top multi-level option.

Variants of the Best Virtual Bike Trainer

There are options available for one to select in virtual trainers. All vary in cost, equipment needed, designs, styles, and compatibility. Many may find it easier to select the variant they prefer first and build upon. While others may have the perfect bike trainer already and chose to select the variant from a list of those that are compatible.

  • iOS App
  • Android app
  • Computer-based (Mac, Linux, or PC)
  • DVD’s
  • VHS’s

Virtual Program Types

As with all other areas within bike trainers, there are many options one can select from when it comes to the types of programs you can use in Virtual Bike Trainers. These options may include a virtual bike trainer app, virtual bike trainer software, virtual bike trainer video, a cycle simulator game, or a computrainer. No matter which type of virtual bike trainer operating system you select there is a variety of modes being offered. These modes may include one or many of the following options, with each option we have added our top pick and a link.

Purchasing Options

When it comes to one’s purchase option the cost is a large contributing factor. The following are the purchase options that are currently the most popular options.

  • One-time Purchases
  • Pay Per Plan Programs
  • Pay Per Use
  • Pay Per Option
  • Free Trial

Selection Considerations

Consideration to keep in mind when selecting a Bike Trainer or a Virtual Bike Trainer is comparably the same.

  • Compatibility
  • Storage
  • Noise
  • Stability

Accessories

The accessories that a person will need varies on the previously mentioned variations. You might need all the accessories listed or none at all. Be sure to double check compatibilities prior to making purchases for this reason.

  • Complete Bundles
  • Power Meter
  • Power Control
  • Smart device, TV, or Monitor
  • Computer
  • Software
  • Indoor Trainer
  • Adapter
  • Ergometer
  • Torque Analyst System
  • Sensor Cable
  • Cadence Magnet
  • Handle Bar Clip
  • Heart Rate Belt
  • Cranks
  • USB Download Cable
  • Axle attachment inserts
  • Front Wheel Block
  • Trainer Tire
  • Floor Mat
  • Roller
  • Computrainer

Other Considerations

Other considerations when creating the perfect virtual bike trainer area would include temperatures, the location being utilized, space, and any of the following possible needs.

Temperature

To maintain the proper or most desired body temperature one needs to consider ventilation and air flow. In some cases, the air flow will need a helping hand by adding a fan or turning up the air conditioning. In other cases, one will try to decrease the air flow to allow sweating.

Sweating

When cycling indoors one is going to sweat, unless the time on the virtual bike trainer is being used to kill time rather than train or exercise. Using a bike mat with aid in clean-up as well as protecting the floor beneath the bike trainer. Be sure to keep a sweat net or towel in arms reach to help eliminate the need to stop and start. Be sure to wipe down your bike trainer as sweat is corrosive in nature and can damage equipment over time.

Location/Space

The location within your home that you select as your bike trainer local with affect many of the various considerations mentioned here and more. For example, if you are in a basement the temperature will naturally be cooler than if you are using a space in the average garage. The room being used can help or hinder the clean-up process and even the need to be sure to use a mat.

Riser Block

A riser block can be store bought, created by using a phone book, or any other method that would raise the front wheel of the bike a few inches. Safety being key one should really consider the use of the riser block. This risen front tire method is a productive way to simulate hill training while on the bike trainer or virtual bike trainer.

Entertainment

Entertainment is the key to staying after a training or exercise routine as it is also a great motivator. Virtual bike trainers help with this area in many ways but can always use a helping hand in entertaining one in their preferred methods. For example, adding your favorite music to the room is a great way to personalize. Regardless of your style, find the perfect motivation by adding an entertainment source to make the best of the time needed to create an overall train.


Overall Thoughts

Overall anyone that likes to cycle can utilize the best virtual bike trainer. With so many options available there is sure to be at least one variant that a person can both enjoy and afford. There is no “REAL” replacement to cycling outdoors but the virtual bike trainer options can give one the best options for when outdoors just simply is not an available mode.

Overall Pros

The primary benefits to a virtual bike trainer are mental endurance, improved fitness, improved bike fitness, safety, and practicality.

Overall Cons

The primary hindrances to a virtual bike trainer are space needed, cost, tediousness to set up, options to sort through, and noise factor.

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