The 7 Best Mountain Bike Trainers in 2020
Has the weather ever got in your way of riding? We bet it has. While riders who venture out into the rain and bad weather are considered badass, sometimes it’s a bit risky. In some places, there is either too much snow, freezing winters or heavy showers accompanied by hail and thunderstorms.
Looking for a way to keep cycling indoors? Then you need to look for the best mountain bike trainer. An MTB trainer allows you to mount your bike atop it and ride just as you would outdoors. Their sophisticated mechanism comes with frames that offer reliable support and stability.
To meet your daily share of resistance, trainers will come equipped with either a roller or flywheel for hard pedaling. Advanced models even let you set goals and get training lessons to become a better rider.
In this article, we will talk about the best mountain bike trainers, types available, their core features, how to use them, and much more. Out of all the reviews we covered, Saris CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Trainer seems to tramp the rest. It strikes the right balance between value and affordability.
Best Mountain Bike Trainers
Fit Wheel Size
Saris CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Bike Trainer
26 - 29 inch
Kinetic Road Machine Smart 2 Trainer
22 - 29 inch
CycleOps Magneto Cycling Trainer
27 - 29 inch
Gavin Indoor Bike Trainer Exercise Stand
26 - 27 inch
Yaheetech Bike Bicycle Indoor Exercise Bike
26 - 28 inch
Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer Magnetic Stand
26 - 27 inch
Graber Mag Indoor Bicycle Trainer
26 - 27 inch
Assuming you already have one of the folding mountain bikes, Let's now take a look at a few reliable and affordable mountain bike trainers worth taking for a spin:
1. Saris CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Bike Trainer
So many people want to buy indoor mountain bike trainers, but prices keep getting in the way. If you are one of these people, then there is a solution for you; CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Trainer. This is an all-bike kit that aims at improving your indoor workouts.
It boasts of durably built steel frames with arms that retract/fold to take up a small space. Such design saves a lot for those who like to travel with their fitness equipment. The rear dropout(space where the tire is supposed to fit) has three settings; 135mm, 130mm, and 120mm. That means 26 inch, 27 inch, and 29-inch bikes can fit impeccably.
Speaking of operability, CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Trainer is straightforward to use. Just remove the axle from your bike, slide in the trainer's, and start pedaling. The process is simple. Do not throw away the guide. It will help you to know what goes where.
The two biggest things we love about Fluid2 trainer are quiet performance and compatibility with other apps. Under a steady pedaling (a speed of 20mph), it gives out roughly 64-68 decibels of noise. That's a tolerable level. Some go higher than that. As for compatibility, this gear works with SWIFT, Rouvy, and other online apps that let you compete with other people.
CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Trainer is one of those MTB trainers that get all your needs covered without spending a fortune. It's a durable and stable kit that works with virtually all the typical rides, even the mountain bikes under $500. And here is the most assuring thing; many reviewers found it sufficient for their needs.
2. Kinetic Road Machine Smart 2 Trainer
Training hard is good. But do you know what is better? Training smarter. You could spin the bike till the wheels fall off and yet not get the best outcome. To train effectively, you need to get yourself Kinetic Road Machine Smart 2 Trainer.
This is a top-quality smart indoor tire-drive training kit. It boasts of extensive connectivity. Some of the platforms it smoothly works with include Rouvy, ZWIFT, FulGaz, TrainerRoad, The Sufferfest, KinoMap, and other Android/IOS apps. You can also link it to Mac, Windows, and Garmin cycling computers.
It transmits your riding data via Bluetooth and ANT+. Curious to know what it records? Power, speed, cadence, heart rate, and many others. Kinetic Road Machine Smart 2 Trainer is a fluid model. This means it relies on turning fluid to generate resistance. However, you should never worry about floor spills because it is well-built.
The packs a very stable and robust steel parts that generate a max of 1400 watts of resistance. That means you can obtain max speed of 35mph. The experience it delivers is no different from riding outdoors because you can shift gears to get varying speeds.
Kinetic Road Machine Smart 2 Trainer comes with plenty of patented designs. This assures riders that they can get the best results without spending an arm and a leg. Compatibility-wise, this bad boy shakes hands with so many riding apps and supports so many mountain bikes.
It's great for both beginners and accomplished riders who love seeing daily or even hourly goals accomplished. Like other portable trainers, it folds up into a small package for easy storage and transit.
3. CycleOps Magneto Cycling Trainer
CycleOps Magneto Cycling Trainer has a very clean and basic structure that offers magnetic resistance. Despite its minimalistic outlook, this gear sports quality aluminum parts. So be sure of getting many years of service out of it. If anything goes wrong, you have a warranty as a fallback plan.
The kit provides progressive resistance that gets high or low, depending on your pedaling intensity. The change happens smoothly and exponentially, just like when you are riding against the wind outside. So yes, it offers the same feel as riding outside.
CycleOps Magneto Cycling Trainer comes with frames that clamp onto the bike for a stable ride. There is a Quick Cam lever that lets you decide how hard the rear wheel presses on the roller. There a certain level buzzing you'll get while riding, but it's not too much noise. After all, no workout is super silent.
CycleOps Magneto Cycling Trainer provides you with an affordable way to train indoors without making too much noise. Its minimalistic design also makes for a lightweight and easy-to-store kit. The only catch is that it doesn't work with 29-inch bikes.
4. Gavin Indoor Bike Trainer Exercise Stand
Like CycleOps Magneto Cycling Trainer, Gavin Indoor Bike Trainer is another option to consider if you want an extremely heavy-duty gear. The frames are extra wide with wingnuts on the outer side for accommodating wider axles.
The gear works with a roller to generate progressive magnetic resistance for fitness training. Now, there is going to be a small amount of noise to tolerate. It could be higher or lower, depending on the tire's treads.
You also need to know that Gavin Indoor Bike Trainer works with 26",27", and 700c bikes. This means any of the cheap mountain bikes under $200 of 2020 will be a perfect fit. It comes with an extra skewer in case the one on your ride is incompatible. There is a single adjustment knob that regulates how hard the tire presses on the roller. This unit folds into a tiny package for easy storage.
Gavin Indoor Bike Trainer is the ultimate indoor mountain bike trainer that outshines many in terms of durability. Sure, it will be fairly noisy, but at its price point, this gadget is a steal. There is an overwhelming number of positive reviews that back it up.
5. Yaheetech Bike Bicycle Indoor Exercise Bike
The best part about MTB trainers can adjust your resistance to your desires. This allows you to pedal as hard or soft, depending on your energy levels. One of the highly adjustable indoor trainers worth looking at is Yaheetech Premium Steel Indoor Exercise Bike.
Its robust design features thick steel that can withstand torture for many years. The platform is pretty wide, and when that is added to the dual locking mounts, you get yourself an extremely stable indoor training kit. When fully folded, the trainer can comfortably accommodate 26-28-inch and 700c bikes only.
Yaheetech Premium Steel Indoor Exercise Bike provides progressive magnetic resistance. This happens when the wheel rolls against a non-corrosive roller. How much noise is produced? Nothing annoying when using a road bike. As for MTBs, you have to expect a little buzzing. Besides smooth tires, using the kit on a carpet can help to keep the noise down.
For easy installing, this trainer arrives with a front-wheel riser, rear-wheel skewer, and an instructional manual. At most, it should take around 10 minutes to get it up and to run. It does fold into a small package for easy storage and transportation.
Do you weigh a lot and are afraid of spending money on feeble bike trainers? If so, then there is a better option for you; Yaheetech Premium Steel Indoor Exercise Bike. This trainer is so strong and leaves nothing to chance.
It ramps up sufficient riding resistance that can help dieters, athletes, postoperative recovery, and cycling enthusiasts achieve their workout goals. Furthermore, it comes with a friendly price tag.
6. Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer Magnetic Stand
Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer is one of the most portable indoor training kits with a wider base. This colorful kit is perfect for those who frequent on vacations but can't afford to miss a bike workout.
With wider frames, you can enjoy better stability. This means you can ride while watching your favorite show or occasionally reaching for your phone and other essentials without toppling. The magnetic resistance generated is useful for form, stamina, and cadence endurance. You can also develop your core muscles courtesy of this bad boy.
Unfortunately, Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer doesn't work with all bikes. Instead, its restricted to 26, 27, and 700c mountain and road bikes. So anyone with the best mountain bike within those stats should not worry. In the case of skewer incompatibility, you can use the one that comes along with the package.
Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer is ideal for people who want an extremely portable unit that doesn't compromise on quality and functionality. This is a heavily bought unit with thousands of stellar reviews from previous buyers. So yes, there is nothing to worry about.
7. Graber Mag Indoor Bicycle Trainer
If you want to accomplish your indoor training without spending an insane amount of money, you better check out Graber Mag Indoor Bicycle Trainer. Pretty simple to operate with three levels of magnetic resistance.
It's well built with frames that can fold up nicely for storage. It comes with two knobs; one for fitting the bike via the skewer and the other one for adjusting resistance. This means you can fine-tune the intensity of your sessions, depending on what you want.
Graber Mag Indoor Bicycle Trainer works with 26 and 27 inch 700c bikes. Since the goal of this kit is to keep prices low without sacrificing performance, it doesn't come with skewers and risers like others. However, in case of a malfunction, you can rely on the one-year warranty to get it fixed at no cost.
If this is your first time to use indoor cycling trainers, Graber Mag Indoor Bicycle Trainer is the cheapest way to get started. It is modestly built to handle all the strain involved in riding and can accommodate most mountain and road bikes.
Types of Indoor Mountain Bike Trainers
Depending on the depth of your pockets, wallet or pouch, you will be able to buy any of the following mountain bike trainers:
Wind trainers come equipped with a fan that blows a gush of wind creating resistance. The harder you pedal, the faster the blades roll, generating sufficient resistance for a superb training session.
Such trainers are pretty basic in design and don't cost a lot. Some folks will say they are noisy, but it's not that much. However, the two things they lack are road-like experience and resistance adjustability.
This is a totally different kind of beast. While most trainers clamp onto a bike, thus providing balance and stability, rollers don't. Their mechanism consists of a plain platform with three drums. Now, this means you have to keep yourself stable while pedaling.
The centrifugal force generated will keep you going just like you it in on the road. But the problem comes in when you want to reach for something like a water bottle. Before you dismiss them, let's point out that they are ideal in training someone to focus and stay in control. Once in a while, you can throw in fork mounts for added stability.
Fluid trainers are known to be the quietest of all trainers in the market. They provide the most useful resistance both beginner and accomplished individuals could benefit from. The moment you start pedaling, the flywheel kicks in action, rotating the fluid inside. The harder you pedal, the hotter the fluid gets. This generates more resistance.
Unlike wind trainers whose resistance is linear, that of fluid rises gradually up to a point where you can no longer pedal faster. The beauty of such models is that they don't produce a lot of noise. Previous designs had flaws that permitted fluid leakage, but the issue was resolved.
Magnetic trainers work very well with the mountain bikes for beginners. Once the bike’s wheel starts to spin, the flywheel rotates, creating a drag that, in turn, increases the amount of work to be done.
You can use a handlebar or get off the bike to increase or decrease the amount of resistance created. The advantage of magnetic trainers over fluid trainers is that they are simple to operate. Furthermore, they are cheaper, and there is no possibility of leakage. On the flip side, they are pretty basic and thus ideal for logging in some miles.
When a trainer is sophisticated enough to offer ultimate experience, it falls into another category called an interactive trainer. Such trainers( usually magnetic, fluid, or flywheel) feature cool features like ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity. They are also compatible with training platforms such as ZWIFT, Rouvy, RoadTrainer, and many others. However, such trainers cost a lot.
Things to Consider While Shopping For Best Mountain Bike Indoor Trainers
From the review section, you've seen differences exist between the features and prices of mountain bike trainers. Some are pretty basic and only help you to get going in bad weather while others offer the ultimate riding experience.
In this section, we will comprehensively cover some of the things that you must pay attention to while shopping. And here they drop:
Not all of us own mansions or bigger houses with unlimited space. If that feels like you, then you might need to pay attention not only on performance but portability as well. A couple of MTB indoor trainers come with foldable parts that retract. This makes the package tiny for easier storage and transit.
You can never underestimate the importance of quiet indoor trainers. Imagine living in an apartment where your training room window faces your neighbor's bedroom window or is next to your kids' bedroom. Do you think they will fall asleep peacefully with the whirring sound of the trainer? No, they won't.
Silent trainers can be peaceful for you, your family, and your neighbors. While quieter units can be costly, some are still affordable. You just need to know where to look.
Indoor trainers, direct-drive, in particular, may force you to look into compatibility because of the through-axle attachment. Recent gadgets come with highly adaptable axles and additional adapters and other kits to accommodate many bike types.
It's unheard of for someone to fall off a trainer, but in some cases, you can topple if the base is not wide enough. So the broader the kit, the more stable it becomes. Advanced types come with a leveling feature that clears out uneven surfaces.
Ease of Use
Indoor bike trainers are not like a kickstand that you push back, and all is done. No, they are not. They require a few minutes adjustment before you hop on. Not that ease of use can also mean compromising on quality. We will expand on that in a few minutes.
The simplest bike trainers are those with a wheel-on mechanism. This means you don't need to take off the rear wheel. Rather, it pushes against a roller to provide some workout resistance. Such trainers are straightforward to use but will require you to have a high heat resistance wheel (or an extra wheel dedicated solely for indoor use).
Direct drive trainers will require you to detach the rear wheel of the bike before attaching it to their drive mechanism. This can be a complicated activity for some people-especially those whose bikes lack quick-release wheels.
The beauty of this arrangement is that you get more engagement, and you don't have to worry about your tire wearing off. On the flip side, you might spend more.
You must consider adjustability if you don't want to be restricted to the same resistance throughout. The best indoor mountain bike trainer should come with a knob and probably handlebar controls that let you adjust the resistance without having to get off the bike.
However, most of the affordable models come with a knob only. That means you'll have to get off the bike momentarily and adjust how hard the wheel presses on the roller. Higher-end models come with plenty of good features that aim at a smooth workout session.
This one is straightforward; you need to spend only what you can afford. No matter how fancy a $1000 trainer is, there is no point in stretching yourself too much.
After all, equipment is just but an accessory. How effective you put it to use is what matters. For instance, if you buy a $150 indoor bike trainer and put it to good use daily, you are way better than someone who has an expensive trainer that he has forgotten about.
Tips for Better Indoor Training
There are a few things you can do or get to make your indoor training practical and comfortable. The first thing you want to look into is the trainer mat. The best bike trainer for mountain bikes might pop around with one, but in most cases, you might have to do this on your own. Mats not only prevent the trainer from denting your floors, but they absorb some noise too.
The next thing you need to have is a sweat towel-yeah that goes without saying. High octane pedaling is bound to get you sweating like crazy. A clean towel will help stay comfortable. Does your room have adequate air circulation, if not, then you need a fan. Other important items to have are snacks, beverages, water, heart rate monitor headphones, and other accessories that you can ride without.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are a couple of frequently asked questions that will get you acquainted with indoor mountain trainers.
Q. What is the quietest mountain bike trainer?
A. Some of the quietest bike trainers include Yaheetech Premium Steel Indoor Bike Trainer, CycleOps Magneto Cycling trainer, Kinetic Road Machine Smart 2 Trainer, and Saris Cycleops Fluid2 Indoor Trainer. These models are affordable too.
Q. Can all mountain bikes fit on a trainer?
A. Yes, most of the mountain bikes on the market can fit on indoor trainers. This is because trainers strive to accommodate as many bike types as possible. So even if you have the mountain bikes under $300, there is nothing to worry about. But it's up to you to find out if the equipment you are about to buy work with your bike. in the event it fails, you might need to spend a few more bucks on adapters.
Q. How does an indoor bike trainer work?
A. MTB indoor trainers keep your legs spinning and your heart racing, even on rainy, winter, or sunny days. Like true bikes, these simulators provide you with a true road-like experience.
Trainers may slightly differ from each other, but they all do one thing; provide riding resistance. The dragging or friction force is now provided by a magnetic mechanism, fluid or a roller. Some smart trainers let you switch gears as the conditions change.
Q. Can I adjust the resistance to a bike trainer for a mountain bike?
A. Yes, it's possible. Most trainers come equipped with knobs that allow you to get the highest or least possible resistance. However, basic models (wind trainers, in particular) have no dedicated buttons to adjust resistance. You can only do that by either pedaling faster or slower.
Note that shifting to higher resistance could mean a lot of noise. Even quiet units will start buzzing a lot the moment you switch to higher speeds. The noise also becomes extrapolated when riding on knobby tires.
Q. Which is better between fluid and magnetic trainers?
A. While it depends on your preference and financial ability, fluid trainers are moderately quieter than magnetic trainers. Cost-wise, the latter is more affordable.
So if you are an apartment dweller and don't want to disturb your neighbors as they sleep, you better go for fluid trainers. Some of them make it easier to adjust the resistance without having to get off the bike. As for cheaper magnetic types, you will have to get off and adjust resistance. All in all, both of them can get your needs met.
Workouts are essential for general body fitness and strength development. If your training routine involves mountain bike riding, then it goes without saying that you have the best mountain bike trainer. Most of them work just fine with any bike, including the budget mountain bikes.
An indoor trainer does away with the excuses for bad weather. It keeps you committed to your goals, no matter what is happening outside. There are so many indoor training kits, and each has its own unique advantages. For those with slightly deeper pockets, don't limit yourself. The bigger you go, the better.
Top-level models come at a pretty penny because they are not only effective but easily adjustable. They can mimic the true road experience and leave you happier and healthier. Lower to mid-range trainers get the work done, albeit with a few manageable setbacks.
To make your work fairly easier, we have reviewed some of the best yet affordable choices that you can start with. Most of them are compatible with 26 and 29ers. This means that the chances of dealing with returns are very low. All the best.