What are Turbo Trainers and Smart Turbo Trainers?

If you are new to triathlon or cycling you may not be familiar with turbo trainers and their different types. A turbo trainer is basically a stationary cycle trainer where you attach your rear wheel to the device, which then replicates the resistance giving the feel of riding outdoors in the comfort of being indoors.

A turbo trainer will give you the opportunity to train throughout the winter months when the days are shorter and weather conditions can be horrid. Using a turbo trainer is great for the time pressured triathlete, focusing on short effective sessions rather than riding for hours outdoors. A structured turbo session can be as beneficial as speedwork or hills rep are to a runner because of the focus it offers to your training.

Smart turbo trainers have the ability to hook up to computers and smart phones helping you get more from your workout. Using online training platforms, like Zwift for example, it will allow you to ride and train with others in a virtual environment. A smart turbo can come in many forms but some have a direct drive design (built in rear cog to attach your chain to), with a built in power meter and variable resistance, allowing fully immersive training.

What are the different types of smart turbo trainers?

Magnetic trainers are the most basic of all the Turbo trainers which use magnetic resistance to imitate the feel of the being outdoors on the road. These are generally the cheapest due to their simplicity but there are smart versions to consider. Usually supplied with a resistance changer, their smart capabilities aren’t as varied as other and can’t be programmed to mimic a certain gradient or power resistance.

Fluid trainers are a step up from the magnetic trainers, can be much quieter and have a progressive resistance build up, meaning the faster you go the harder it is to ride. These are where the majority of affordable smart trainers are.

Direct drive trainers require the removal of your rear wheel and attaching the bike directly to the drive train hence the name. You may be familiar with some of the larger brands of direct drive trainers like Wahoo and Tacx. These are usually motorised and need mains power to work, but they can be programmed to offer a variety of smart capabilities. By forgoing the need for the rear wheel they also mean you don’t have to buy new tyres as regularly as you would with any of the other trainers.


A variety of popular of Turbo Trainers can be purchased on amazon

Popular brands include Wahoo, Tacx and Elite

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