Our Guide to Turbo Trainers

By mikevaughan 20. 3. 2020

Tacx Satori smart trainer

We normally expect Spring to be a time when we’re cycling outdoors, enjoying the sunshine and the change in the season. This year is so very different though. During this challenging time, it’s important to keep exercising, for our well being and our fitness. and turbo trainers allow us to continue exercising in our own home. Smart Trainers allow us to connect to friends virtually too. So, lets take you through the basics.

The benefits of indoor turbo training

  • There’s nobody else to worry about – no pedestrians about to cross the road, no cars. Just you and your bike so you can focus on your output.
  • There’s no variable weather. While you may be able to open a window (and we recommend some ventilation as you’ll get hot whilst riding), you won’t be rained on. You won’t have a sudden change in temperature as the clouds roll in or be drenched in muddy water as a car rolls past.
  • There’s no mud to clean down at the end of the ride
  • Turbo trainers are reasonably easy to store.

What do you need to think about?

Think about where you’ll be setting up, and whether that’s OK with everyone else in the house. Ideally, you should keep it set up all the time so that you’re more likely to hop on, but if that’s the case, you’ll all need to live with it where it’s positioned. Our customers tend to set up in the garage, or in a space in the study, if it’s downstairs. Think about how the sound will travel and the impact that has on your household or your neighbours – this is one of the main reasons we suggest not taking it upstairs!

You’ll need to protect the floor too as you work up a sweat, so consider a floor mat.

Turbo Trainer or Smart Trainer?

We stock a range of turbo trainers from the budget friendly Tacx Twist to the feature packed Tacx Neo (available on special order). Generally, The more you spend, the more features you’ll get, and the quieter your machine will be.

Turbo Trainers

If you’ve never cycled indoors, turbo trainers are a good starting point, in terms of budget. You can remove your rear wheel and mount your bike to a turbo. Turbo trainers start at just £119.99 and come with a range of simple features so that you can to continue to train indoors. Whilst you won’t be able to connect to external apps though you will have enough basic features to get you moving.

Direct Turbo Trainers

Direct Turbo Trainers allow you to remove the back wheel completely. You hook your bike chain onto the turbo’s cassette with a skewer. These are quieter machines.

Smart Trainers

Smart Trainers give you more flexibility in setting the resistance so you can set as challenging a workout as you want. If you’d like to be social, and record your performance, we’d recommend a Smart Trainer, and the majority of our customers agree. As we’re facing social distancing, we’d recommend considering a Smart Trainer to help you stay connected.

Tacx Smart Trainers will automatically control resistance depending on the input and the selected workout or virtual course. And you get your cadence, speed and power measured and displayed.

Smart Turbo trainers use Bluetooth and ANT+ to wirelessly interact with cycling apps such as Zwift, TrainerRoad and Tacx software.  You can interval training or select a virtual hill taking in hills. Zwift will let you socially ride with other cyclists on your virtual route, giving up a social element to the ride, as well as feeling the effects of where you are in the group.

Smart Trainers can add additional wear to your rear wheel, so we recommend taking off your road wheel and buying a turbo-trainer specific wheel instead. This can then be fitted onto your bike while it’s on the turbo trainer and will be much more hard wearing.


If you’re willing to practise, and you’re looking for a more natural feel, without being connecting to others, rollers might be for you. Rollers are a set of free–spinning cylinders that your bike sits on. As you pedal, the cylinders rotate, giving you the sensation of being on the open road. They take a little getting used to so you might want to position the trainer near a wall or something else you can use to steady yourself. We find that with a little practise, you acclimatise quite quickly to riding this way. The benefits are a more natural feeling ride, and increased core strength as your body works at balancing during the ride.


Zwift is the most popular app. This pairs your bike with the trainer, and connects you to other riders in the virtual world if you’d like to. You can go on a solo ride, social rides, or follow a tailored programme. You can select to join races too, all in a choice of five worlds.

TrainerRoad offers a plethero of training packages that you can flex. It’s primarily aimed at those training for races and triathlons, and offers a range of analytics so you can understand your performance.

If you’re going solo, or have a turbo trainer rather than a smart trainer, hop onto YouTube. You’ll find lots of workouts to follow.

What else you might need

Cycling is thirsty work so have a drinks bottle within easy reach. There is a specific Tacx bottle but you can use your standard water bottle in your cage if you wish.

We’ve already talked about mats protecting your floor. Not only will it protect it from sweat, but they can help stabilise the bike.

Have a towel to hand to mop up every now and again.

Software accessories are important if you’ve got a smart trainer. You’ll want your screen in front of you, whether it’s mounted on the handlebars, or mounted on a table in front of you. Depending on the noise generated from the trainer, you may like to slip on some headphones to hear what’s goinin on in the virtual world.


Now you know the basics, you can talk to us about the best trainer for you and your budget. Once you’ve got it home, set aside a dedicated time when you’ll hop on and train, and select a programme you can follow, or invite a group of friends to join you in Zwift.