Four of the best turbo trainers 2014
A turbo trainer is an essential winter purchase for keeping your bike training alive when the night draw in and the mercury drops. We test four…
Price: £285 from www.paligap.cc
The Fluid2 has to be one of the smoothest turbo trainers out there. It has a superb feel that just flows without any of the jerky pedalling motion you can encounter on other models. The trouble is it’s almost too smooth. The resistance provided by the fluid unit may have been tuned to provide a real-world feel, but it’s almost non-existent at slow speeds when you find yourself spinning out or gearing up just to reach the required heart rate.
It’s also louder than others, registering an average of 23db during the warm-up section of the test workout. From there it only gets noisier and, as the effort increases, you quickly find yourself plugging in the headphones rather than making do with the stereo or TV speakers. Working hard generates the resistance you need, but you get plenty of noise as a by-product.
Verdict: Among the smoothest turbos out there… and also one of the loudest, 77%
Giant Cyclotron Mag II
Price: £165 from www.giant-bicycles.com
The budget option in this test is almost 100 quid cheaper than its nearest rival, the Tacx Booster. But while the Cyclotron Mag II may appear basic by comparison, it does just as good a job as its pricier rivals. The frame, clamp and resistance unit may look a little clunky, but they provide a sturdy and stable base upon which to work.
Noise levels begin with a reasonable 18db ‘thrumming’ and climb gradually to a louder, but not unacceptable, rumble as your effort increases. Resistance is provided by a magnetic unit with six settings, but shifting between them takes a bit of effort as the bar-mounted adjuster isn’t an easy shape to get a grip on and has a heavy action. The Cyclotron Mag II is a little rough around the edges, and just about holds the pace in terms of performance, but it’s way ahead on price.
Verdict: It’s the no-frills option, but it’s good enough that you won’t miss them, 81%
Tacx Booster T2500
Price: £259 from www.fisheroutdoor.co.uk
The Booster is a classy example of a turbo that does its job very well and with no fuss. Set-up is simple, with a quick-release clamp for your bike and a lever that precisely repositions the resistance unit against your rear wheel. It’s stable and holds your bike securely with no wobbling whatsoever.
During warm-up it whirrs along at a perfectly acceptable 17db – hardly enough to disturb anyone, and you can easily talk over it or listen to music without headphones. Resistance is provided magnetically, with 10 levels to choose from via a bar- mounted adjuster. The only niggle is that it doesn’t roll too smoothly at lower resistance settings, when you find yourself stabbing at the pedals to keep them turning. It’s only subtle, mind, but if you’ve previously been spoilt by a fluid unit you’ll notice it.
Verdict: Quiet, quick and easy to use, but the resistance is a little rough, 85%
Bkool Pro Trainer
Price: £429 from www.i-ride.co.uk
The Bkool Pro takes longer to set up than most turbos because it needs to be hooked up to the mains and the Internet. After that you’re still not ready because you need to log in to the Bkool website and choose from a vast selection of workouts, with either live-action video or CGI footage to animate your ride. The sessions are based on real routes and use GPS and elevation data to determine the turbo’s resistance, and there are the obligatory social media links to share your progress.
Sign up for Bkool’s premium membership (£6–£8) and you can create your own workouts (although a cheaper ‘offline’ turbo lets you do that for nothing). Noise levels start at a tolerable 19db, but the roller’s smoothness leaves a little to be desired, with a judder that even the video footage couldn’t distract from.
Verdict: Average turbo, but web connectivity allows the world to witness your efforts, 71%
And the winner is…
Tacx with their Booster T2500 – we loved the fact there’s no wobbling whatsoever, it’s nice and quiet, and does the job without fuss.
… and don’t forget to check out our other 2014 round-ups: best aerobars, best tri bikes, best tri bike shoes, best wetsuits, best lightweight run shoes, best trail shoes, best energy bars, best bike jackets, best bike helmets, best TT helmets, best recovery drinks and best tri-suits.