The leaves are turning brown, and this signals the coming racing off-season and turning inside for your regular training rides. There are many ways to enjoy indoor training and in this article we will look at the indoor turbo or wind trainer and how to train on stationary bikes like Peloton.
Best Indoor Bike Training Apps for Triathletes
Before we launch into the hardware let’s look at some Apps you may like to try.
During the pandemic indoor exercise Apps boomed and many new brands came to the market and the choice was overwhelming.
Since then, there has been a lot of consolidation and mergers and we are left with a great crop of paid for and free Apps. Here are my top picks.
I think everyone has heard of Zwift and they offer solo and group sessions for cycling and running. They are a mature company so you know you will get a stable ride and even ride with your buddies virtually. It’s $14.99 per month and you can try it for free for 7 days. They recently launched their own indoor trainer hardware based on the JetBlack Volt indoor trainer.
Wahoo have been vacuuming up several brands recently and not include the Sufferfest and Road Grand Tours (RGT). So, with one subscription you can ride on real video routes, virtual routes (like Zwift) and fun workouts from The Sufferfest.
Plus, you can also do guided strength training, yoga, mind training and get ideas for swimming and running sessions. There is also another great feature called Magic Roads where you can ride your future race course virtually on the Wahoo RGT platform. Wahoo X is $14.99 per month, and they offer a 14-day free trial.
Fulgaz was purchased by IRONMAN recently and as you can imagine their thrust is to add as many IRONMAN routes as possible so you can ride them before your big day. The platform features real video of the routes so you can experience the ups and downs plus the see the road signs, junctions, scenery etc of your IRONMAN triathlon bike route. The App is $12 per month, and they offer a 14-day free trial.
This one is FREE so well worth a look. It is like Zwift as you cycle around virtual routes. It features routes in Australia and the middle east. The App features events, races, and workouts so if you are on a budget then this could be the App for you.
This is another FREE App if you are training at home. It has more of a spin class feel and is linked to Spotify with short, sharp high intensity sessions that last 45 minutes.
Indoor Cycling Trainers for Triathletes
Now you know about the software we move on to the hardware. Here are our top picks for indoor trainers which will suit every budget.
You can purchase a non-smart indoor bike trainer i.e., one that does not have built-in connectivity like Bluetooth of ANT+ and still get riding on the Apps by adding some addional low-cost hardware.
For example, you can purchase a BalanceFrom bike trainer stand steel bicycle exercise magnetic stand with front wheel riser block for less than $60 and add a cadence/speed sensor and ANT+ dongle and you can use the Apps listed above. For less than $90 you can get on Zwift, Wahoo X,c Fulgaz and more!
Pros: It’s a low-cost way to get cycling indoors and use training Apps to give structure to your training over the winter.
Cons: This set up will not adjust your cadence as you go up and down hills and you will need to make the ride harder or easier using your bike gears. The bike stand style trainers can be a little unstable if you are a larger rider.
Kinetic by Kurt Road Machine Smart Bike Trainer – Best Budget Smart Indoor Bike Trainer – Price not available at Amazon.com
The Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 is the trainer that I use the most. It’s a sturdy design and holds the bike securely. The trainer hooks into the rear wheel axle to hold the bike in place and the tire rolls against the 6.25 flywheel in the back. You can adjust the trainer’s flywheel forward or backwar with a small knob (green and grey shown below) so it fits virtually any bike and tire size.
One of my ‘must have’ features when chosing this trainer it it’s Bluetooth capability. This allows you to easily connect to the Kinetic app on your phone, or another riding app such as Zwift. The Bluetooth automatically activates when you start riding, but there is a small battery that may need to be replaced every couple years that powers the Bluetooth.
Pros: Smooth, sturdy ride with Bluetooth capability at an unbeatable price. Good speed and resistance reporting.
Cons: Does not have all of the bells and whistles as the higher or mid-range models, but still very dependable.
This is my other indoor trainer, and I chose it so I could put various athlete bikes on it easily to test their bike fit and do FTP testing. Being small and compact I can pack it up and put it in my car to take to athlete homes or training venues. The Elite indoor trainers offer great accuracy on the power side and have great build quality. The Elite designers in Italy pride themselves on high quality, accurate and stylish trainers.
Pros: Excellent value for money, accuracy and build quality. You can quickly and easily put any bike on the trainer without removing the back wheel. It is compact and takes up little room and quiet when operating. It connects easily to all the Apps above and looks great!
Cons: Being a wheel on trainer it has a slight lag when changing resistances. It has many steps when first assembling the unit.
Wahoo KICKR CORE Smart Cycling/Bike Trainer – Best High-End Indoor Bike Trainer – $500.00 at Amazon.com
KICKR CORE smart bike trainers deliver a realistic, accurate, and quiet indoor cycling experience. Designed and built with durability and stability in mind to withstand your hardest rides – even if your legs don’t! This is a wheel off bike trainer so will need you to take your wheel off every time you use it. You will also need to make sure you buy a cassette to match the one on your bike.
Pros: The Wahoo X has reliable power recording and an excellent, fast-reacting ERG mode. It’s also quiet, stable has more than enough resistance (1,800W).
Cons: It has no carry handle or side-to-side movement. It requires some (very simple) building when it arrives. When you get the trainer, it will not come with a cassette so you will need to purchase this separately.
Garmin Tacx Neo 2t Smart Direct Drive Trainer Black – Smoothest Bike Trainer – $999.99 at Amazon.com
The Neo 2t has a more comfortable ride than previous generations and smart reacts instantly to speed or incline changes and allows for movement to the left and right while cycling, following the natural course of your body. NEO 2T Smart features a new motor design that delivers more power at low speeds, resulting in a highly improved ride feel during a climb or acceleration.
It has a “Road Feel” mode and this feature works with Tacx software or the Zwift app to make the trainer vibrate and simulate the feeling of riding on different road surfaces, such as cobblestone and gravel. It is a wheel off trainer so you will need to remove your back wheel to use it. The NEO 2T Smart trainer does not come with a cassette, but it does come with a Shimano/SRAM cassette body. We recommend a new cassette and preferably a new chain to reduce noise levels, ensure good shifting, and improve your cycling experience.
Pros: The Tacx Neo 2t is very sensitive and has smooth transitions when changing resistance and is very stable and quiet in operation. No calibration is required when you receive it. It also offers pedal stroke analysis and can be used without a power source.
The replication of road surface is surprisingly realistic and makes your ride more enjoyable. It folds down for quick and easy storage. It can be used with road, gravel, and mountain bikes simply by swamping included adapters.
Cons: Road disc calipers rub on trainer casing without extra spacers. If you choose a ‘cobbled’ ride it will not be quiet so maybe not a good choice if you live in an apartment!
Triathlete Indoor Cycling Essentials
To get the most from your indoor bike training experience always remember “WTF” – Water, Towel and Fan!
Also, you will need a wheel riser to ensure your bike is in the optimum position. You may also want an elevated stand to hold your phone or tablet, a sweat catcher, and a rocker plate for more realistic riding experience. Here are some suggestions.
When training inside you will not have the wind cooling effect so it’s a good idea to get a floor or ceiling fan because you will get hot and sweat a lot!
HealSmart 20 Inch 3-Speed High Velocity Heavy Duty Metal Industrial Floor Fan
A wheel riser will get your bike level and give you a more comfortable and realistic ride. This wheel riser has three levels so you can choose the one best for you.
The KOM rocker plate is the perfect accessory to extend your indoor ride time whether you are dropping watts on Zwift, Trainer Road, or Wahoo SUF. With horizontal movement it decreases static pressure to your joints, creating a more comfortable immersive indoor cycling experience, that will keep you training all winter long. It will also give your core a great workout so when you get back outside on the roads in the spring you will be ready!
Having a stand is a good idea if you are using a phone or tablet to run your cycling App. This one even has a drinks holder!
This is a must if you want to stop your sweat from going on your bike and the floor. This one also has a phone holder which is handy to hold you phone so you can use companion Apps to control your cycling App.
Best Stationary Bikes for Triathletes
This sturdy indoor static bike is a bit of a find as it’s compatible with Kinomap and Zwift cycling Apps. The bike measures and checks your workout data such as speed, distance, RPM, calories burned and more using Bluetooth to connect to the Merach App. Under free ride mode, you can customize and adjust your training sessions based on your plan. You can personalize your fitness program and track your workout progress with live metrics.
Pros: The bike has a sturdy physical construction and has a handy tablet holder. It has Bluetooth connectivity so works with Zwift and Kinomap. You can track your progress with their free App plus also use their training sessions.
Cons: The saddle can be a bit uncomfortable, but you can buy a higher spec one and replace it. The Bluetooth connection can be a bit tricky but once connected it works well.
Echelon Smart Connect Indoor Cycling Bike EX3 – Best Mid-Range Stationary Bike – $430.01 at Amazon.com
The EX-3 version of the Echelon bike features dual-sided pedals with toe cage & SPD-compatible clips, two bottle holders, manual & motorized resistance and tablet holder so is better from triathletes than the lower model EX15 model.
Just like Peloton, it has lots of live and on-demand classes available via the Echelon Fit app, but you’ll need your own tablet, smartphone or smart TV to stream these.
Echelon App $39.99 per month
Pros: Quality feel and finish, 32 levels of smooth magnetic resistance, smart/connected features, excellent workout quality.
Cons: Requires a Bluetooth connection and device to operate, only works with the EchelonFit app. It does not come with a screen so you will need to use a tablet.
Original Peloton Bike – Best High-End Stationary Bikes – No products found. at Amazon.com or on Peleton.com
I think the Peloton Bike needs no introduction but why buy one for triathlon training? The key here is motivation, community, and competition. Peloton offers thousands of classes not limited to cycling but also includes strength training, yoga and meditation which are live or on-demand. You will pay one monthly fee for your entire household, so everyone can get access to the entire library of classes that range from 5 to 90 minutes. With workouts that fit your mood, goals, music style, experience level, and schedule. The bike has a large 22″ HD touchscreen.
Subscription is $44 per month for a whole household.
Pros: The bike and App is great at motivating you to train and get higher on the leader board and let’s face it triathletes love competition! During the winter when there are no races this may be good motivation. The large HD touchscreen is very easy to use and looks great. You can train with power zones after doing the standard 20-minute FTP test.
Cons: You can use the bike with Zwift, but you will need to invest in some power pedals which are pricey. The classes are quite short so if you are training for a long-distance triathlon you may need to consider an alternative solution.
The Tacx Neo bike combine the combines the convenience of a dedicated indoor bike with the technology of an interactive smart trainer. It features USB ports, tablet holder, integrated computer, pedal activated fans and phone tray. Some riders experience with the inner-leg clearance so it’s worth meascuring this before you purchase.
The bike can be connected to Zwift, TrainerRoad etc but when it isn’t the computer displays power, cadence, heart rate, speed, gradient, and a visual gear indicator. When the bike connects to a device, the computer shifts to show just the gear indicator, and heart rate.
Pros: The ride is incredibly smooth and quiet with great resistance selection. It’s very accurate and well built. The electronic gearing is smooth, and the bike is very stable.
Cons: The fans are weak and a bit fragile. The gear selection buttons can be fiddly and not assignable. You may experience some thigh rub on the seat post and the handle bar reach is a bit limited.
Bike Rollers for Triathletes
To round off the options for indoor cycling training we can’t leave out the bike roller. It can strike fear into the heart of novice cyclists but once mastered will give you a great core workout and ride similar to riding outdoors.
The key to learning to use a roller is to start off in a corridor so you can reach out if you need support. You will need to concentrate on this so make sure you are not tired! This is probably better for shorter training sessions where you want to use your own bike.
Pros: You can use your own bike and gives you a truer to life cycling experience. You will work all the muscles used for cycling including your core and brain!
Cons: It can take a while to master and probably not great for longer rides where you may lose concentration.
We have looked at the latest indoor cycling training options – turbo trainers and stationary
bikes. Both product types have their pros and cons, and it depends on what your goals are,
target race and your budget. I hope you have a good idea of what alternatives there are and can decide on what’s right for you. For long distance indoor training it may be more
advantageous to train on your own bike set up so a turbo trainer set up may be better for
If you have any questions about triathlon training, get in touch.