November 13, 2019 4 min read

There are so many options to choose from.  Hopefully, this will help you sort through them to find the best one for your needs.


New Products:  Interactive Smart Trainers

Here in Alberta, we spend a lot of time on our indoor trainers and the new Smart trainers can help us make the best use or all those trainer hours.

Smart trainers are those trainers that provide numeric feedback on multiple data fields (power, cadence, speed, distance & more) to help keep you engaged & on track.  New generation Smart Trainers have built-in BlueTooth & will help you connect & engage with others online utilizing online programs such as Zwift, TrainerRoad, or BKool.  


Direct Drive Smart Trainers

When our long winters send us indoors for all of our bike training for nearly half of the calendar year, riding the road to nowhere gets both physically & mentally taxing.  But when you have a Smart trainer, you have multiple virtual ride options that allow you to race & ride with other cyclists, whether they are somewhere else in the world, just down the street or in the same room with you. You can ride structured programs with your trainer & the trainer will automatically adjust resistance per the preset program. Or you can go online & ride actual courses worldwide.  Online programs Zwift, Trainer Road, Sufferfest, & BKool will become your best training partners.  

There are multiple options in the Smart trainer category, with the first generation of these trainers now in their 2nd, 3rd and 4th iterations.  The trainers at this level were introduced and still live in the premium price range.  This includes the Elite Drivo & the Tacx Neo Smart trainers.  These top-level, premium-priced trainers are extremely smooth and quiet and offer the most accurate power measurement in their lineup.  With these direct drive trainers, your bike is directly mounted to the trainer, taking the place of your rear wheel. This set up eliminates tire wear and the need for a dedicated trainer tire.  

Elite Drivo II - $1,699

Tacx Neo Smart - $1,899

Elite Drivo II - $1699

Tacx Neo Smart - $1899


New Direct Drive Smart Trainers - Lower Price Point (My Choice for Best Value) 

Elite Direto X   -  $1,199 

Tacx Flux 2  -  $1,199 

Tacx Flux S  -  $999 

Now that Smart trainers are more established, there are now richly featured models that offer most of us all the top end power and accuracy we need, but at about 2/3 of the cost. At this lower price, you lose a little top-end power and, perhaps, get a little less accuracy in power data but, for most of us, these trainers will work just fine.  Instead of having top-end power of 2200 watts, the Tacx trainers in this list will top out at 1500 watts.  The Direto got an update for 2019-2020 that bumps its top-end power up to 2000watts and it's accuracy to +/-1.5%.  Either way, these trainers offer more than enough power for most of us.  As an age group masters female athlete, I can sometimes hit 700 watts for a second on a sprint so a trainer that can manage 1400 or 1500 watts is more than enough for most age group athlete, either cyclist or triathlete.  


As of Fall 2020, there is a second, less expensive tier in this category and we are now seeing trainers under $1000.  These trainers typically offer top-end power of 1000 to 1400 watts.  Again, these trainers will meet the needs of many age-group athletes.  Offerings in this category are the Tacx Flux S and the Elite Suito.

Elite Suito - $999

Tacx Flux 2 - $1199


"Wheel-On" Smart Trainer Options

Elite Tacx offer a more traditional wheel-on version of the above Smart trainers which will give you the control, accuracy & connectivity of the Elite Drivo, Directo & the Tacx Neo Smart and Flux ower units.  These trainers offer notable savings from their direct mount counterparts but offer many of the features of their big brothers, as well as the connectivity to Online programs. 

Elite Qubo & Rampa - $499,  , Tacx Flor Smart - $599 

Elite Qubo Power Mag Smart B+ - $499


Tacx Flow Smart - $599

The Basics:  Mag Trainers - Elite Novo Force, Tacx Blue Motion

Mag trainers are the most affordable trainers in the market and they can definitely get the job done without a lot of bells & whistles.  These stand-alone trainers are wheel-on mount trainers with magnetic resistance units that offer variable resistance at the click of a switch to provide most of us with enough resistance for a workout that will keep you in shape over the winter season.  These are basic but tried and truly valuable trainer.  This was the standard trainer and one of the few options generally and widely available up until the last 10 or so years.  There's no doubt they will do the job and they may still be the trainer of choice for someone who wants something portable, inexpensive but can still help you get in a solid workout.


Elise Gaudet
Elise Gaudet

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