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If you love cycling but live somewhere that’s not conducive to it for many days of the year, a bike trainer can fill in those blanks and help you stay fit on your bike even indoors. While a wind bike trainer is good for beginners and a fluid trainer is good for serious cyclists, a magnetic bike trainer is a good bet for everyone in between. The best magnetic bike trainer straddles the line between value for money and quiet and smooth performance.
A magnetic resistance trainer is not absolutely silent but it’s not as noisy as a wind trainer so it’s good for use at home even when there are other people around. There is very little maintenance required because there is no risk of fluid leakage or overheating at high resistance levels as in the case of fluid trainers. What you need to look out for when buying a magnetic indoor bike trainer is how smooth the ride is throughout, as some trainers don’t come with progressive resistance but require you to change between levels. The least expensive ones are not meant for giving you a realistic road experience and are only meant for logging miles, as they require you to manually set the resistance level before you get on the bike. For the most experienced cyclists and racers, it is important that the trainer power isn’t maxed out at your most challenging resistance levels.
As with any indoor trainer, the frame should be stable enough not to shake or tip over even when you stand to pedal fast. Very often, magnetic trainers are light and portable, with some even being portable. That’s why many models are good for pre-race warm ups.
Table of Contents
- 1 How Do Magnetic Bike Trainers Work?
- 2 Compare the Best Magnetic Bike Trainer Options
- 3 High End Trainers
- 4 Inexpensive Trainers
How Do Magnetic Bike Trainers Work?
There’s a flywheel that drives momentum to opposing magnets that create increasing resistance as they move farther apart. It’s a dependable mechanism that requires no maintenance. However, serious cyclists will have to look at higher end models so that they don’t max out the trainer at higher resistance levels. If the idea is to only get a workout by logging in miles, then there are a few inexpensive models you can consider. Our magnetic bike trainer reviews below give you three good options each. Also, read our trainer buyer’s guide for more information on magnetic trainers and how they differ from fluid and wind trainers.
Compare the Best Magnetic Bike Trainer Options
|Product||Rating (out of 5)||Resistance||Compatible wheels||Price|
|Kinetic by Kurt 2013 Bike Trainer||4.8||Progressive||22-29"||$$$|
|CycleOps Magnus Trainer||4.0||Progressive||650b, 700c, 26", 27", & 29"||$$$$|
|Blackburn Tech Mag 6 Magnetic Resistance Trainer||4.3||6 levels||any size||$$|
|Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer||4.3||Manual & with bike gears||26", 27" & 700c||$|
|FDW Magnet Steel Bike Trainer||3.8||5 levels||26", 27" & 700c||$|
|RAD Cycle Products Magnetic Bike Trainer||3.9||Manual & with bike gears||26" & 700c||$|
High End Trainers
Kinetic by Kurt 2013 Road Machine Indoor Bicycle Trainer
This best rated magnetic bike trainer comes in an eye-catching lime green and has several innovative features that replicate the experience of riding on the road. It is actually a combination of a magnetic drive with a thermodynamic sealed fluid resistance chamber. The fluid chamber of the Kinetic trainer is what automatically adjusts resistance, so riding becomes more challenging as you pedal faster. In fact, at a maximum of 3000 watts, there’s no chance of maxing out the power at the your highest resistance capability. The trainer’s flywheel is just over six pounds, and this creates a realistic road-like feel even when powering up, similar to what you’d find riding on the road.
The fluid chamber is leak-proof because it is sealed. This is because of the presence of the magnetic drive system.
The Kinetic trainer has a uniquely stable trapezoidal design for extra stability. The design keeps the bike from rocking back and forth, even when you stand in the pedals to ride. While many fluid trainers wear out quickly due to overheating from being used often, the Kinetic has special cooling fans to avoid this issue. While it does not come with a riser block for the front wheel, it does include a quick-release skewer. Users who want to mimic the feeling of road riding even more closely can buy a supplemental 12-pound flywheel to fit the trainer. It is compatible with 22″ to 29″ tires as is, but there is an optional adaptor available for smaller tires 16″ to 21″.
This trainer is a good choice for the serious rider who wants to replicate the feeling of the road as much as possible and wants the toughest resistance challenge that a magnetic trainer can give. Users have noted that this trainer, while not silent, is very quiet to use and has roughly the noise level of a ceiling fan. While the Kinetic is somewhat expensive as magnetic trainers for bikes go, it’s largely good value for the money because of its highly realistic feel, power and stability.
CycleOps Magnus Trainer
This high-end trainer from well-reputed brand CycleOps offers a unique “smart trainer” capability. This smart trainer is able to connect via ANT+ or Bluetooth with virtually any bike app, allowing riders to track their progress the way they want to. The resistance adjusts based on the user’s virtual ride technology, making it so the trainer mimics the feel of a real ride very closely. Even if you don’t use its smart features, resistance can be increased progressively as you pedal harder.
The Magnus is not just compatible with many types of technology – it is also compatible with a wide variety of bikes. It has an especially wide two-inch resistance roller that can work with most tire types(650b, 700c, 26″, 27″, & 29″), and can accommodate tires up to two inches wide. An easily adjustable “clutch knob” lets users quickly and easily adjust the tension of the roller on the tire. Compared to previous CycleOps trainers and to most other magnetic trainers, the resistance on the Magnus catches up very quickly to the rider’s speed, making sprint intervals more realistic and less frustrating.
While the smart capability can be a useful feature that makes riding very engaging, it does drive up the price significantly. As a result, this is one of the more expensive magnetic trainers available, but it is one of the best smart trainers available overall. If the smart features are not important to you, get the CycleOps Mag+ trainer instead.
Most buyers of the Magnus have stated that it integrates seamlessly with Zwift and other bicycle training apps, and that its smart capabilities make riding inside much more engaging. While the trainer is generally well-reviewed, some buyers have noted that its estimates of power output are not always accurate. This may not be an issue for everyone, but it may be a deal breaker for those who track power output on most rides. A few users have noted that occasional rear-wheel slipping has also caused them problems.
Blackburn Tech Mag 6 Magnetic Resistance Trainer
While the Kinetic trainer can be somewhat pricey, the more affordable Blackburn Tech Mag 6 is a good choice for those looking for a lightweight and portable trainer. This trainer does not offer automatic resistance adjustments as some higher-end models do, but it has a remote that allows users to choose one of six different levels of resistance. This remote attaches to the bars and is connected to the trainer itself.
The Mag 6 trainer is of adjustable height to fit multiple tire types, and it also has a trapezoidal stand design for maximum stability. It is also very quiet for a magnetic trainer – this is something many buyers have commented on. People who have purchased this trainer say that it is extremely portable (some have even brought it to races to warm up) as well. Many have purchased it as a first trainer. The 500 watt maximum power at the highest level is strong enough for most training.
One complaint is that this trainer seems to take a while to set up and adjust tension. Others have had issues with the braces that hold the bike in place coming loose while riding. Many of this trainer’s reviews are very positive, though, and given the affordability of the Mag 6, this trainer is fairly good value.
Conquer Indoor Bike Trainer Portable Exercise Bicycle Magnetic Stand
This very inexpensive magnetic trainer is ideal for those who want the flexibility of being able to ride indoors, but who don’t have the cash to spend on a higher-end trainer. However, the Conquer trainer works well, especially considering its low price tag. While you will need to adjust the resistance on the trainer prior to getting on your bike, like you would with most low end magnetic trainers, you can also increase resistance using the gears on your bike.
While this trainer does not have a remote or other way to alter the magnetic resistance while riding, it does have the accessories you need to get started, making it a good choice for beginners. It includes the quick-release skewer for mounting the bike, and it also includes a riser block. It is compatible with 26″, 27″, and 700c tires.
Most users of the Conquer indoor magnetic bike trainer comment on the fact that it is very high quality given its low price, and that it only takes a few minutes to mount the bike on the trainer. Many reviews also note that this trainer is somewhat loud, but that noise is expected given the low price. However, most people are able to tune out the noise with headphones. While a few users state that the resistance capabilities leave something to be desired, the consensus seems to be that this trainer is an excellent value for the money and a good bike trainer for beginners who are short on funds.
Magnet Steel Bike Bicycle Indoor Exercise Trainer Stand by FDW
Like the Conquer trainer above, the FDW trainer is incredibly affordable. It may be a good option for those who don’t have much money but who are looking for a magnetic trainer with adjustable resistance via a remote. This trainer has a handlebar remote that allows the rider to choose from five different resistance levels. This feature is convenient, as riders can achieve custom resistance without having to continually get off the bike to readjust.
Although it is small and inexpensive, the FDW trainer has a sturdy steel frame that can fold easily, making it so users can easily store or transport it. While it is designed to fit road or mountain bikes with 26″, 27″, or 700c tires, it does not come with a quick-release skewer. In order to use the trainer, users must find a skewer that is compatible with both their bikes and with the trainer.
Many reviews of the FDW trainer comment on how easy it is to assemble and to use, and most state that it is an excellent value for the quality. However, some reviewers have commented that the resistance feels somewhat jerky or bumpy, and not smooth as it is on some higher-end trainers. As is to be expected with less expensive trainers, this one has some noise issues, but most users state that the noise is not excessive.
RAD Cycle Products Indoor Portable Magnetic Work Out Bicycle Trainer
This trainer is one of the lightest ones on the list, and it folds easily, making it very suitable for use as a travel trainer. It does not have a remote to control resistance so you have to set resistance before you get on your bike, then you can use your gears for added resistance. It has a very sturdy frame, although the legs are arranged in a square pattern as opposed to the trapezoid shape more common with higher-end trainers.
The RAD trainer is also one of the more affordable trainers on the list, and it can fit 26″ mountain bike tires or 700c road bike tires. It isn’t as adjustable as some other models, but since 26″ and 700 are some of the most common tire sizes, it will fit most bikes. It offers manual resistance and users can also use bike gears for added resistance.
This trainer has been extensively reviewed, and one thing that many reviewers bring up is the fact that it can be difficult to tell the difference between the built-in resistance levels. Some also note that this trainer can be somewhat loud, and that it seems to be very hard on tires. This can be remedied by replacing the bike’s rear tire with a cheap trainer tire. However, most reviewers praise this trainer for how easy it is to assemble, and for its good price and overall value, especially for newer riders.