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Smart Turbo trainer experience

Best Smart Trainers

Smart turbo trainers are a great way to gamify fitness sessions to break the monotony of your regime. These powerful electronically controlled bike trainers (also known as Smart trainers) use wireless communication including ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart to sync to your PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

We’ve handpicked the best smart turbo trainers to appeal to all budgets. We have premium, mid-range and entry-level models, chosen for their spec and performance against comparable models. The higher end models are all direct drive units with the bike connected directly to a cassette on the turbo. These tend to be quieter and are much more stable on those big out of the saddle efforts. The more affordable options here feature a conventional rear wheel drive.

Smart turbo trainers automatically change the resistance you face based on the route you are riding, giving a realistic feel. The best turbo’s can also simulate inclines up to 25% and descents up to 5% for a more realistic riding experience.

Many off these Smart turbo trainers are compatible with their own manufacturer’s virtual training applications as well as third-party options like the extremely popular Zwift (set in virtual worlds) or BKOOL’s 500,000 route directory. These applications come with a range of features including multi-player group rides and races, interval training, events and downloadable maps to keep your training interesting.


Tacx Neo

Tacx Neo Smart Trainer
tacx

£1,124.99



Quick look

Type  Smart Direct Drive


Connectivity Ant+ / Bluetooth Smart


Max Power Output 2,200W


Compatible Software Tacx App, Zwift, TrainerRoad & others


Max Incline 25%


Review

In our opinion the best Smart turbo trainer is the Tacx Neo Smart – for many reasons. The Neo is a very sophisticated trainer that can deal with very high-power levels even at low speeds. This enables realistic climbing simulations with very accurate power readings.

The Tacx Neo sets itself apart from the competition with its road surface simulation feature that lets you feel the vibration of road surfaces through your legs, just like when you are cycling outdoors. This makes virtual cycling on Zwift much more realistic, you will really feel the difference on those cobbled sections.

Other good features include a max power output of 2,200w (even the pro’s can’t overclock this), a max incline simulation of 25% and even a simulated descent that lets you freewheel for a realistic riding experience.



The Tacx NEO is in a league of its own and truly nothing comes close to it - smartbiketrainers.com


CycleOps Hammer

Cyclops Hammer Smart Trainer
cycleops

£889.99



Quick look

Type  Smart Direct Drive


Connectivity Ant+ / Bluetooth Smart


Max Power Output 2,000W


Compatible Software CycleOps Virtual Training, Zwift, TrainerRoad & others


Max Incline 20%


Review

The CycleOps Hammer Smart trainer is the heavyweight of turbos and offers an extremely smooth, realistic road feel. Like the Tacx Neo this is a direct drive turbo but the Cyclops Hammer has a larger physical flywheel, which at 9kg is more of the largest on the market. It is this flywheel that makes the Hammer so smooth to ride and offers a realistic road feel, especially when riding to your power readings.

The Cyclops Hammer can handle up to 2,000 watts of power which is more than enough for mere mortals. The electromagnetic resistance system offers responsive resistance changes for a fully immersive training experience. Using PowerTap technology the power readings are very accurate on the Hammer.

A real heavyweight, the Cyclops Hammer is easy to set up and very stable to ride, if a little cumbersome to move around. Ideal for a dedicated cycle training room, the Hammer will surely brighten up your pain cave.



Very user-friendly with a super ride feel – Cycling Weekly


Elite Direto

Elite Direto Smart Trainer
elite

£749.99



Quick look

Type  Smart Direct Drive


Connectivity Ant+ / Bluetooth Smart


Max Power Output 1,400W


Compatible Software My E-training, Zwift, TrainerRoad & others


Max Incline 14%


Review

The Elite Direto offers incredible bang for your buck and offers a realistic simulation on a stable platform for sprinting and climbing. Like the Tacx Neo and CycleOps Hammer the Direto features a large flywheel with electromagnetic resistance for a smooth and relatively quiet ride.

The integrated power meter offers accurate power readings through the Optical Torque Sensor and the Direto can handle up to 1,400 watts of power. The Elite Direto is lighter and more portable than the Hammer which is good if you don’t have a dedicated space for your indoor training.

As well as being compatible with Zwift and other virtual cycling apps, the Direto comes with a 12-month free subscription to the Elite My E-Training app.



Zwift-compatible direct-drive smart trainer that really impresses at a good price – road.cc


BKOOL Smart Pro 2

BKOOL Smart Pro 2 Turbo Trainer
bkool

£373.99



Quick look

Type Smart Rear Wheel Drive


Connectivity Ant+ / Bluetooth Smart


Max Power Output 1,200W


Compatible Software BKOOL, Zwift, TrainerRoad & others


Max Incline 20%


Review

The Bkool Smart Pro 2 turbo trainer is a rear wheel drive Smart turbo that comes with its own virtual training software. Recently the Bkool cycling simulator software has been updated for a more refined experience. You have over 500,000 routes to choose from, realistic video playback, a new 3D mode and you can even listen to Spotify whilst riding.

Resistance is controlled by the Bkool simulator based on the route you are riding to recreate realistic gradients. In terms of the core features, the Bkool Smart Pro 2 can reach up to 1,200W and simulate slopes of up to 20%. The Bkool Smart Pro 2 simulates inertia and is compatible with all wheel sizes from 20” right up to 700c and 29”.

New extendable legs offer a more stable ride than many rear wheel drive turbos, while also reducing noise. Considering the level of features you get and the quality of the design, the BKOOL Smart Pro 2 is a great alternative to Smart direct drive trainers.



Excellent smart turbo for sensible money, with full-featured simulation package to keep you interested – road.cc


Elite Qubo Digital Smart B Plus Trainer

Elite Qubo Digital Smart B Plus Trainer
elite

£269.99



Quick look

Type Smart Rear Wheel Drive


Connectivity Ant+ / Bluetooth Smart


Max Power Output 1,600W (60km/h)


Compatible Software Elite My E-Training, Zwift, TrainerRoad & others


Max Incline 6%


Review

The Elite Qubo Digital Smart B Plus is one of the cheapest smart trainers on the market with resistance control for simulating climbs and pre-programmed intervals. At this price point you don’t get the same range of features as the mid-range and high-end option.

Elite’s Qubo can simulate inclines up to 6% and a 1,600w max power at 60km/h (920w power at 40km/h and 335w max power at 20km/h). Included with the turbo is a 6-month subscription to the Elite My E-Training app with 100’s of downloadable courses or challenge others in a race. You can also create your own route using Google Maps.

The Elite Qubo Digital Smart B turbo trainer is ANT+ FE-C enabled so you can connect with a range of displays such as smartphones, cycle computers and tablets. This turbo trainer is also compatible with Zwift, Kinomap Trainer, BKOOL and others.

If you’re just starting out and want a great value VR trainer with a good range of features this is the best turbo trainer for you.



Affordable power measurement combined with a good ride feel – Bike Radar