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If you’re a biking enthusiast and want to continue your fitness or training program at home when the weather outside is bad, you should first consider a fluid cycle trainer ahead of any other type. This is because this type will give you the closest outdoor biking feel that you can get indoors. You get smooth progressive resistance the harder you pedal and you can do it almost completely silently. This type is the most common used in the new smart trainers that you find today where you can wirelessly connect to a bike app to help you train effectively. Our best fluid bike trainer reviews are intended to help you sort through the numerous models available and select from just the top few.
When deciding among the best fluid trainers, first look for bike wheel compatibility, as not all trainers work with all wheels. If you like to hit quite a high peak power during your sessions, ensure that you’ll get that range and peak level with the model you choose. If you want to use it to warm up before a race, then choose a portable design, preferably one that folds down. While a fluid resistance bike trainer is the quietest type there is, if noise is a factor then a few are completely silent. Lastly, durability is important because fluid trainers do tend to break down after some time. Online fluid turbo trainer reviews by existing customers and a good warranty should help you make your choice here, but we’ve done the research for you and picked just the best in every price bracket.
- 1 How Does a Fluid Bike Trainer Work?
- 2 Compare the Best Fluid Bike Trainers
- 3 CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Trainer
- 4 Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Fluid Trainer
- 5 Kinetic Road Machine Smart Trainer AND Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart Bike Trainer
- 6 Travel Trac Comp Fluid Bicycle Trainer
- 7 Elite Qubo Fluid Trainer with Riser Block and Sweat Net
How Does a Fluid Bike Trainer Work?
Perhaps the most complex of all bike trainers, a fluid indoor bike trainer comprises of a fluid-filled sealed chamber with a drive shaft blade system that moves through the fluid inside to create friction. As you pedal, the back wheel drive spins the chamber drive shaft and the resistance created against the fluid is transmitted back to the wheel drive.
What is great about the way a fluid trainer works is that as you pedal faster, the friction inside the chamber increases, and thus the resistance progressively increases. When you change your bike gear, this trainer makes the switch seamless and smooth. This is very close to how an outdoor cycle works on the road and the range of resistance is wide, so most bike enthusiasts will prefer this type of trainer.
Wind trainers also work progressively with resistance, but they are quite noisy, so fluid trainers are preferable. Pure magnetic trainers don’t give you progressive resistance but you can manually or remotely change resistance yourself and you’ll often feel at least a slight change in movement as you pedal.
The biggest drawback of a fluid trainer is that over time, intense use tends to overheat the chamber and cause it to expand, thereby causing leakage. For more detail and help to choose between the various types of bike trainers, read our buyer’s guide here.
Compare the Best Fluid Bike Trainers
|Product||Rating (out of 5)||Compatible wheels||Price|
|CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Trainer||4.4||650b, 700c, 26", 27", & 29"||$$|
|Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Fluid Trainer||4.7||22" - 29"||$$$|
|Kinetic Road Machine Smart Trainer||4.3||22" to 29", 700c||$$$$|
|Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart Bike Trainer||4.1||24" to 29", 700c||$$$$$|
|Travel Trac Comp Fluid Bicycle Trainer||4.4||24", 26", 27" & 700c||$|
|Elite Qubo Fluid Trainer||4.4||20 - 29" & 700c||$|
CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Trainer
This trainer comes from renowned trainer brand CycleOps. It features an easy knob adjustment for just the right contact between roller and tire. Optional package inclusions include a CycleOps rear quick-release skewer to ensure compatible mounting, or a riser block to keep the bike level when riding, or a mat to keep the trainer stable and protect your carpet or floor from sweat and bike grime.
As with all fluid trainers, this trainer automatically adjusts resistance to keep up with your pedaling speed, and you can also use the gears on the bike for custom resistance. This trainer has a trapezoidal leg design and foot levelers for maximal stability when riding. It also features a precision-balanced flywheel for an extremely smooth riding experience. This trainer can handle a consistent powerful workout with some sprints thrown into the mix. However, like with most fluid trainers, you may find it heating up at higher gears over time, in which case just switch to a lower gear for a little while.
This trainer is quieter than many fluid trainers, although some user reviews comment that it is somewhat loud for a trainer that is advertised as being incredibly quiet. Some users have complained of tire wear, although this is a concern with most trainers, fluid and otherwise. According to the manufacturer, the Fluid2 is the best-selling trainer on the market, and this may be because, even though it is slightly expensive, it is a high-quality trainer and an excellent value for the price. Some user reviews praise the company’s customer service and the lifetime warranty. For those who want a high-quality, long-lasting fluid trainer but don’t necessarily want to spend more for a smart trainer, the Fluid2 is a good choice.
Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Fluid Trainer
This trainer has an eye-catching green design, and it has high-quality specifications to match. Many fluid trainers eventually wear out and begin to leak because of the fluid overheating over time, but this trainer (along with all other Kinetic trainers) is fully leak-proof because it features magnetic coupling and silicone blades that don’t heat up. This design probably contributes to it being the current best fluid turbo trainer on the market.
This trainer is engineered to mimic the feel of riding on the road, and it adapts faster than many fluid trainers to your pedaling speed and intensity. This makes it a great choice for those who do regular interval training. It also coasts down much like a bike on the road would. Pair it with Kinetic’s inRide Watt Meter and Kinetic Fit app for accurate power training too.
The Road Machine 2.0 has a trapezoidal design for stability, and even with intense riding at high resistance, it will not wobble or rock back and forth. It also comes with an optional specialized quick-release skewer so you can ensure that your bike fits the trainer, or a mat for protecting your floor, or a riser ring to keep the front wheel level with the back.
Noise is a concern for many who purchase fluid trainers, but most users state that this trainer is incredibly quiet whether you’re doing light spinning or challenging yourself with maximum resistance. This trainer also fits mountain bike wheels up to 29″, which means it fits more tire sizes than many trainers do. This is a trainer that has been reviewed extremely well, with many users commenting on the quality of its build as well as how much it feels like riding on the road. It is somewhat expensive but you’re paying for the absence of overheating.
Kinetic Road Machine Smart Trainer AND Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart Bike Trainer
These two trainers are similar trainers made by Kinetic. Each one is a smart trainer, meaning a trainer that is compatible with Zwift and other cycling apps. These apps can help you track your workouts and progress, and some allow you to go on virtual “rides” with other people also on the app. Many of these apps also create an avatar of a person on a bike, so you can have a visual complete with moving scenery, just like you would in a video or arcade game.
The Kinetic Road Machine simplifies smart riding, so even if you have never used a smart trainer before, the learning curve is a simple one. The trainer has a built-in sensor for wireless workout tracking, and it is compatible with any Bluetooth-enabled device. This smart trainer also works with many cycling apps, including Kinetic Fit, Zwift, and TrainerRoad. It also comes with a free 1 month subscription to the Kinetic Fit app, so users who have not yet used a training app can find an introduction that way. Structurally and in terms of physical specifications, the trainer is the same as the Road Machine 2.0 Fluid Trainer, but with a smart capability.
The Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart Bike Trainer combines the app compatibility of the Road Machine Smart Trainer with an amazingly realistic road feel. While most Kinetic trainers mimic the feel of the road in terms of resistance and coast-down speed, the Rock and Roll Trainer offers a truly unique feature in the form of side-to-side movement capability. The trainer has a u-shaped base for stability, and the mechanism allowing the bike to tilt sideways is made of the same material used to make the shocks in high performance cars. This lets the rider stand in the pedals and ride as they would on the road, and it also provides a unique core workout specific to cycling. Like the Road Machine trainer, this one is compatible with most bike tires, whether they belong to road or mountain bikes.
While the Rock and Roll Trainer offers some incredible benefits over the more traditional Road Machine Trainer, it is significantly more expensive (though it does have a lifetime warranty). It is also much less portable due to the base, so this is not the best choice for those who want a traveling trainer. For those who have the funds and who value the side-to-side motion of the Rock and Roll trainer, it is likely a worthwhile investment, but if you can’t afford it or just don’t want to spend too much on a trainer, you can still get a great workout on the Road Machine.
Both of these models make our list of best smart bike trainers of the year.
Travel Trac Comp Fluid Bicycle Trainer
For those who want a small, portable, and easy to hide away trainer, the Travel Trac trainer is an excellent choice. This is one of the most affordable fluid trainers on the market, as it is priced similarly to many magnetic trainers. Some might argue that it’s better to go with a mid-range magnetic trainer than a less-expensive fluid trainer, but even budget-priced fluid trainers have the advantage of smooth progressive resistance. Since most magnetic trainers have resistance levels, moving between levels is often less smooth. While the price may throw off some would-be buyers, most users have commented that this is a very quiet trainer with smooth, natural-feeling resistance.
While it does not have a trapezoidal base, its wide-base design still provides stability even during vigorous rides. There is no assembly needed, and this trainer instantly folds for storage or travel. This trainer comes with a quick-release skewer, although it’s a good idea to also buy a riser block to go with it. Because the frame is very compact, traveling with it is easier than it would be with most trainers. Some users have noted that it takes a few minutes for the fluid to warm up and for resistance to adjust, although this is a typical feature of many fluid trainers.
Elite Qubo Fluid Trainer with Riser Block and Sweat Net
This trainer has an eye-catching red and black design, and it is ideal for those who want an all-in-one trainer kit as opposed to just the trainer. While it includes the trainer itself, this kit also includes a riser block and a sweat net and it all comes in at a very low price. Riser blocks are fairly essential for realistic riding, since they elevate the front wheel to the level of the back wheel. While not everyone uses a sweat net, riding on a trainer generally involves a good amount of sweat. A sweat net is a good alternative to a mat, as it catches sweat before it hits the floor. It is easily washable, making it a good choice for those who would rather not wipe down trainer mats after every use.
A nice feature on this trainer is the increased allowance for leaning from side to side to accommodate the natural cycling action you get when pedaling fast or while standing up. This means that it is very stable even during very vigorous workouts. It also has a second unique feature – while most fluid trainers require you to manually adjust the pressure of the roller on the rear tire, this trainer automatically adjusts using the rider’s weight. The trainer’s large flywheel allows for high resistance even at slow speeds, so it can work smoothly at any speed. As described in user reviews, the Elite Qubo trainer is also fairly quiet, especially for an affordable fluid trainer. However, it does not fold away, making it a non-ideal choice for travel. It is ideal as a bike trainer for beginners or as an all-inclusive package for cyclists on a budget.