Whether you are a hobby cyclist, a tri-athlete, or anywhere in between, you probably have a desire to ride year-round. Sadly, some situations simply cannot be avoided and force you and your bike indoors.
If outdoor conditions aren't favorable, a bike trainer is the ideal piece of equipment to enable you to ride your bike indoors, while it remains stationary.
However, as with most mechanical products, bike trainers emit noise. If you're wearing headphones as you ride this will be of no concern to you.
However, grinding, humming, and whirring noises can be very annoying and off-putting to other members of your household and neighbors.
Different styles of trainers emit different noise levels due to their operating mechanisms; some are virtually silent. Let's explore some of the quietest bike trainers available.
The Quietest Bike Trainers
1. Tacx Neo Smart Direct Driver Trainer
When owning a bicycle trainer that operates quietly is a necessity, the Tacx Neo Smart Trainer is worthy of some serious consideration. With many impressive features, operational silence is paramount.
Aesthetically, this machine is pleasing. It looks powerful, maybe the satin black body, smooth lines, and solid build attribute to this. It is relatively compact and folds down, which makes for easier storage in places where space is at a premium.
Magnetic resistance is supplied via 32-magnets that rotate around 30-coils. This enables the motor to create 2000w of output and ensures minimum power loss whilst supplying maximum torque. It is this power that offers the rider realistic road feel. Even at lower speeds, you will get an accurate simulation of hill climbs.
Direct drive operation is used to maximum effect; with no rear wheel attached, the rider will experience zero slippage. The bike will have more resistance and have a faster, more accurate response time.
Included with the bike trainer is an impressive software package that is compatible with Apple and Android. Hook the system up to a smart screen and choose the course you wish to ride. The technology ensures you feel every vibration and sense each bump in the road, for an ultra-realistic experience. Smart technology analyses your movements, up to 1000 per second, and personally customizes your settings to complement your training regime and to provide greater challenges.
Once connected to your device via Bluetooth you can join with and compete against users from across the world.
This is an exceptionally impressive piece of training equipment with multiple adjustable speeds and powers. Direct drive machines need no calibration and require very little maintenance.
2. Elite Drivo Interactive Trainer
The Elite direct drive trainer provides a smooth and quiet home cycling experience with an additional wireless interactive software package. It has extreme +/-1% power accuracy, but more about that in a moment, let us first look at the trainer itself.
It is a solidly-built machine weighing around 15kg. Assembly is a pretty easy task although, like most home trainers, it isn't supplied with a cassette, you will need to get one. No skewer comes with this setup either.
It has integrated smart technology and comes with an ANT+ stick along with a Lifetime subscription to Elite's E-Training camp. There is also a free month trial of Zwift so you can sample and compare both protocols.
The large 6kg flywheel makes for exceptionally smooth pedaling and ensures that the machine responds quickly and accurately in gradient changes.
Overall this is an impressive direct drive machine that requires no electricity so it can be taken anywhere. It is one of the quietest trainers featured.
It is robust and easy to use. Once the rear wheel is removed and your bike is affixed, pair with the software, then get on your bike and ride!
3. Kinetic by Kurt Rock and Roll Smart 2
If you're new to the world of app-based power training then the Kinetic 2 trainer is a fine place to start.
The trainer comes with Kinetic in Ride 3 pre-installed and allows the rider to connect to multiple training opportunities via apps such as Kinetic fit. Everything needed is supplied with no expensive sensors or add-ons required, you will just need a power outlet, a level floor, and some stamina.
Compatible with Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ connectivity, rider's statistics and metrics are transmitted to a device of their choice. Detailed workout schedule and multiple virtual course options with varying degrees of difficulty are just some of the benefits available.
The app doesn't have any control over the power and fluid resistance of the bike trainer; they are dependant upon pedal speed and gear shift patterns. Speeding up and slowing down varies the amount of resistance with the maximum amount being 1400w at 35mph.
The frame employs a slight rocking motion. Unlike all other brands that find themselves fused in one static position, the Kinetic instead gently rocks from side to side to offer a more realistic ride feel.
The free-moving fluid combined with the 6.25lb flywheel combines to give a smooth and exceptionally quiet ride. The bike trainer is compact and portable, and as it requires no electricity it can be used anywhere, indoors or out.
4. Alpcour Bike Trainer Stand
This magnetic resistance bike trainer from Alpcour has a simplistic design and ease of use at its core. It is made of robust and durable stainless steel, and withstand the toughest regimes and most intense training sessions.
Set up is fast, simple, and requires no tools:
- Lock the sturdy stainless steel frame into place
- Remove the existing skewer from the rear tire of your bike and replace it with the supplied one.
- Secure the bike on the trainer by adjusting the nozzles until a tight grip has been achieved.
Disassembling is even quicker utilizing 2 fast-release clips. With fold-down construction and a sturdy carry bag, the Alpcour trainer stand is ready to take wherever you need it.
When the front tire is settled on the provided wheel riser block, you are good to go.
The frame has a wide stance that is relatively low which adds great balance, stability, and realism to your ride.
Resistance is provided by a small cable controlled meter that mounts on the handlebar. It supplies 6-levels of fixed resistance giving the rider total control over their riding conditions. The settings simulate various road surfaces, hills, and intervals. With a quick touch of the dial, you can adjust the gradient of the incline.
The advanced magnetic resistance system reduces friction on the bike's tires. With no unnecessary wear and tear, you can expect increased longevity from the whole tire, including the tube and tread.
Finally, the issue of noise, or lack of it. With its innovative noise reduction wheel, the Alpcour virtually eliminates any whirring sounds.
5. CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Trainer
The CycleOps Fluid2 bike trainer has sold more models worldwide than any other brand, and it is easy to see why. At first glance, it is a chunky machine, solidly-built, and sturdy.
The 2-inch tubular steel frame is made from 100% recyclable material that can comfortably hold a combined bike and rider weight of 300lbs.
Adjustable foot pads secure the trainer to give the rider a stable ride even on the most uneven surface. It is compatible with both road and mountain bikes, although we always recommend the use of a training tire. This not only protects your trainer but also your bike tire from any unnecessary wear and tear damage.
The large precision-balanced flywheel is dual purpose; it enables the rider a personalized ride with progressive resistance. Shifting through the gears gives the rider a very accurate simulation of an outdoor ride.
The second purpose of the flywheel is a self-cooling mechanism, it blows a constant stream of cool air across the fluid reservoir. With a steady temperature comes a consistent ride, no matter how far.
Few companies back a fluid resistance bike trainer with a Lifetime Warranty, but Saris does. Their faith in the longevity and reliability of their product should give any purchaser valid reason to invest.
Although this isn't a smart trainer per-say, there are no electronics involved, it is still compatible with many training apps, including Zwift. With the assistance of a smartwatch or similar device and some smooth gear-shifts, you can simulate climbing, speed work, and recovery.
Your legs will know they've had a high-quality training session and your neighbors won't have heard a thing.
What to Look for in a Quiet Bike Trainer
With such a variety of bike trainers available, it is difficult for novice and seasoned cyclists to decide on a model.
A rule of thumb is to use pricing as the initial guideline. Often, but not always, one should expect budget machines to be noisy and more prone to breakage.
Models that cost more often feature more superior noise reduction technology, provide a more realistic ride, and are most durable.
Try and match your trainer with your ability, targets, and fitness regime.
For a realistic experience, we would recommend either fluid or roller machines.
Rollers also help to improve core balance and form, however, they are notoriously difficult for novices to master.
Beginners, in our opinion, would be better served using wind or magnetic resistance bike trainer with added stability.
The bike stand should be robust and of solid construction. Frames with a wider stance provide more balance and decrease the probability of accident or injury.
Certain models have adjustable feet to ensure they remain level on uneven surfaces.
Direct drive bike trainers require the removal of the back wheel and attachment to the frame via the rear drops. They don't rely on tire friction and therefore create no life-shortening wear and tear.
Axle fixture is done with the wheel in place and relies on axle adaptors to keep the bike in place. Some models allow side to side movement via a pivoting attachment.
Always check your bike and tires compatibility with your prospective trainer.
High-end bike trainers often use interactive technology with wireless connectivity. This offers an immersive and realistic experience for the rider and an opportunity to connect with and compete against other cyclists.
Dual-band transmission not only allows the app to collect and collate training statistics from the rider but also to plan personalized fitness and training sessions.
Be aware that this will probably incur a monthly subscription charge to a 3rd party fitness app.
Cassettes, skewers, safety mats, and fronts blocks are sometimes included with bike trainer packages. They are necessities and may incur additional expenses.
Often the biggest and most difficult problem for an indoor cyclist to overcome. All bike trainers emit sound caused by vibration, some are exceptionally quieter than others.
Due to their design and functionality, wind resistance trainers tend to be the noisiest, whilst magnetic trainers are quieter. The quietest models of all often rely on fluid resistance.
Different models employ different techniques to combat noise issues, including noise reduction wheels and flywheels that react as cooling fans on fluid chambers. Anything that keeps fluid at equilibrium provides a quieter and smoother ride.
Different Types of Bike Trainers
As we have already alluded to, all bike trainers don't operate in the same manner. There are two main types:
Roller Bike Trainers
As the name suggests, this style of the trainer is a set of metal rollers in a sturdy frame. Mastering its use can take some time as there is nothing but the rider to steady the bike in a vertical position. Initially, it is beneficial to set the rollers up adjacent to something sturdy until you get your balance.
Once perfected, the rider is treated to a realistic riding experience as they will move their body and not sit statically.
To gain any resistance you need to shift through the gears, and roller trainers are only compatible with road and touring tires, not mountain bike tires.
With their simplicity comes an inexpensive price tag.
Mechanical Resistance Bike Trainers
This style of bike trainer is a frame to which you attach your bike via the rear axle.
One of the 3 following mechanisms supplies a form of resistance that prevents free-wheeling and instead replicates regular cycling conditions over various terrains.
Although you won't achieve the rocking motion that a roller trainer gives you don't have to worry about an initial breaking-in period. The bike will be stabilized in a vertical position ready for immediate use.
- Wind resistance occurs naturally as the pedal-power causes a circular fan to blow air across the wheel. Although this style of bike trainer is easy to operate and the less expensive model, it is also the type to offer the least resistance, and that makes the most noise.
- Magnetic resistance trainers use the propelling force of similar poles to create their resistance. Simply put, a magnet spins via pedal-power and passes a second one on a different part of the trainer. The power of their repulsion is what creates the resistance. The ability to adjust the resistance gives the rider a realistic experience.
- Fluid resistance bike trainers are popular among athletes who need intense, strength workouts. Employing a complex system involving liquid reserve chambers and magnetic power, fluid trainers provide the most realistic experience for the rider. Pedaling harder increases resistance exponentially.
Flywheel Resistance Trainers
This style provides a very accurate simulation of outdoor cycling as it supplies a smooth ride.
The flywheel is located on the front wheel of the bike and builds momentum as the rider pedals. This creates constant resistance which most effectively mimics uphill riding.
Otherwise known as Smart Trainers, these machines connect wirelessly using ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart protocols to give the rider an interactive indoor cycling experience.
Once connected to a 3rd party app such as Zwift, the app enables riders to compete, ride, and join in group training sessions, all virtually, via an Apple or Android device.
Conditions, terrains, and inclines are all simulated and can be tailored to a cyclist's specific targets.
Of the varieties discussed, roller bike trainers are more affordable but require more space as they are bulky. They are usually noisy with fewer quiet models available.
Mechanical resistance bike trainers vary from budget range through the top end of the market, depending on technicalities, construction, and design. They usually have a smaller footprint with a larger range of quiet models available.
Wind resistance and power are most often generated by the rider and gear shifts. Some bike trainers automatically increase the resistance the harder you pedal, others require the rider to manually adjust a dial. The pedaling motion is what powers a fan to supply the resistance.
Initially, resistance should be set to moderate and be comparable with cycling on a flat road.
Magnetic resistance isn't affected by pedal power, instead, it supplies fixed-resistance using magnetic force.
Fluid bike trainers provide progressive resistance, the faster you pedal the greater the resistance.
Intense resistance requires some serious exertion from the rider as it is equivalent to a severe uphill ride.
If your trainer doesn't have an integrated power meter it is a relatively small expense to buy one and measure exact resistance, accurately.
The best quiet bike trainers are commonplace alongside soccer pitches and in athletics stadium, providing the ideal warm-up and down function.
They are ideal for home use in inclement weather conditions or when it isn't possible to get outside.
Whatever has driven you inside you will want to keep the noise down and not annoy family members or neighbors.
Even the quietest running bike trainer can benefit from some basic soundproofing tips
- Use a rubber mat, not just for safety, but to absorb any noise, not just from the trainer but the bike train too
- Rubberized feet protect floors any absorb any sounds
- Wear headphones if you're running an interactive system, not everyone wants to hear the crowd cheer as you become King of the Mountain!
Indoor cycling is a simple way to stay in shape and to meet all of your fitness targets.
An old-fashioned, noisy bike training stands might not directly affect your ride but it will almost certainly have a negative effect on your enthusiasm.