If you love cycling as much as I do, and you want to experience what racers and cyclists feel, then bike rollers will be a great option for you for the winter months. With them, you will be able to ride your bike in your living room just by adjusting it to fit the rollers. You will ride in its rhythm while keeping fit and enjoying the beautiful experience.
To do this, however, you need to identify the bike rollers that are ideal for you. As we already know, buying a good and reliable bike accessory is not an easy task. Many of the online stores sell cheap, low-quality bike rollers which are basically useless.
Elite Arion Digital Smart B+ Trainer – Our Pick!
Plan to invest around $600 on this highly-rated Smart Trainer, but you get plenty of bang for your buck if you add it to your gear inventory. The magnetic resistance unit at the heart of this trainer is electronically controlled so you adjust slope simulations up to 6-percent if you are “so inclined.” This trainer represents a major investment in your equipment library and it’s the priciest product on our list.
This Elite digital trainer offers a cyclist total interaction thanks to the integrated app, software and device interface with ANT+ (FE-C trainer) and Bluetooth Smart protocol. With this super-advanced system guiding your indoor workout, you can automatically change resistance periodically while you are using it, and you may not find another trainer of this ilk that’s as easy to use as this one.
This power-packed resistance trainer weighs around 32-pounds so it can be easily transported and stored without taking up much space. Get 3 different types of plug outlets to meet international standards so you can travel most places on Earth with this trainer and power it up.
Once in motion, this product delivers a plethora of data that include speed and cadence plus all of the benefits you enjoy thanks to compatible ANT+ and Bluetooth. Take advantage of the 12 months of Elite My Entraining app that comes free with this product.
- Mini-stands are high enough to allow the cyclist to operate trainer on carpeting
- Owners call this “a perfect companion for Zwift rides” and you may agree
- You can manually change the resistance
- Likely to up your calorie-burning numbers and make you work harder
- “Lips” on either side of the roller frame add a great safety feature.
- The frame is made of plastic which isn’t as sturdy as metal and could break
- Some owners claim the cadence isn’t accurate
- Rear rollers could feel choppy and trigger bounce during your session.
Kreitler Alloy Roller Set – Also Great!
Looks can be deceiving, say cyclists who opted for this roller set who see nothing simple in the design and engineering of this spartan-looking product. Retailing for between $500 and $565 (depending upon roller size), this Kreitler roller system is the ideal choice for those who buy only products made in America.
The option of having 3 all-aluminum drum diameters is a feature that attracts shoppers. While each roller is 15-inches wide, the 3.0-inch roller offers 40-percent more resistance than the 4.5-inch and the 2.25-inch rollers deliver 90-percent more resistance than the 4.5-inch roller does. All of this in concert allows cyclists to customize the ride, and as diameter decreases, resistance increases.
Even the endcaps are meticulously machined and balanced, so you wind up with the quietest, smoothest rollers on the market. Is this product comfortable? You bet. It comes with the “Killer Headwind” fan that could be the feature that earns your dollars and enthusiasm since you not only enjoy a breeze from the fan, but it can be rotated to aim the airflow at the part of your body that sweats up a storm. The belt is included. Maintenance? No brainer. Just check the drum fastening bolts infrequently so they don’t loosen over time.
- Take this system anywhere; it weighs less than 19 pounds
- Simple, solid design meets high-quality standards
- Raise your fitness levels big time, inside or outside
- Users say their pedal strokes and balance are markedly improved
- Fold the unit up, transport it easily and stow it in a small space.
- Make sure the frame is included! Some distributors sell only the rollers!!
- You may have to change your bike tires to accommodate this system
- Expect a learning curve if you’re new to rollers so you’re not injured.
You may ignore the fact that this Tacx Roller Galaxia was introduced in 2016 once you glimpse the price tag that is less than half that of the cost of $600 trainer at the top of this review list. Dutch-engineered, the Galaxia system sells for around $270. A bit more colorful and sexier than its cousins, this unit features conical rollers that taper inward so the wheels on your bike are given optimal stability.
Since no power is required to operate this manual roller system, you can stash it anywhere you like and not have to worry about being tethered to a wall plug. The Tacx system’s patented swing system delivers an authentic ride, rocking you back and forth, just as the road would under your cycle wheels. Further, the infrastructure absorbs acceleration and deceleration movement.
The front roller spins equally, which results in extra stability and speed tracking, and the Galaxia is literally maintenance-free. Crafted to fold down to a tidy 31.5- x 19.77- x 5.31-inches, you won’t believe how little space you need to store this gear, which rolls out to an impressive 53-inches long when you’re ready to ride.
- At just 18 pounds, you could lift this product with a finger
- Ideal for cyclists desirous of a non-motorized roller unit
- Well-made and meets standards advertised by Tacx
- Owners cite “noticeable improvements” in pedaling techniques
- This system won’t clean out your bank account.
- There are no “bumpers” to constrain bike tires
- You can’t increase tension; lack of resistance is apparent
- It could be hard to slide the bike in and out of the unit to stabilize it.
Talk about the basics! This Elite Arion Roller product is a sleek, no-nonsense product with an eminently affordable price of $250, so your budget won’t take a hit just because you want a way to hone and tone your body during daunting winters. This set comes in one color, the rollers are one size and for the hundreds of people who rave about this affordable equipment, who needs more?
This light but a deceivingly strong composite frame is in it for the long haul as are the parabolic-shaped rollers designed to give you a safe ride that’s perfectly balanced. If you aren’t the most graceful cyclist on the block, you will love the “easy rider mount and dismount” feature and folding the unit down for storage or transport can literally be accomplished in one move.
That stated, this manufacturer gets extraordinarily high marks from cycles who agree that “Arion Rollers don’t beat around the bush: they’re all business with no silly frills to disguise the fact that what you’re doing may not be fun, but you’re doing it, and that’s what counts.” Obviously, engineering and marketing are both on the same page at Arion and for athletes who just want an affordable way to keep their legs toned until spring, this is it.
- Weighs around 22 pounds so it’s easy to lift and move
- Next to no assembly required
- Quiet and stable, use it on carpet or hard surfaces
- Roller system comes assembled so you don’t need tools
- Delivers a dynamic workout that improves rider technique and balance.
- Returns to the manufacturer include cracked plastic rollers
- Roller noise could be distracting (wear your headset)
- Skilled cyclists may not like the fact that roller resistance can’t be adjusted.
We continue to take you from high to low on the roller price tag scale, so you won’t be surprised to learn that this Tacx model comes in at around $200. In return for this modest amount of cash, you get plenty of the perks usually found on pricier models, so if you belong to the “You get what you pay for” school of thought, it will pay you to take a look at this option.
Since the Antares is not motorized, you can install it anywhere you like to get your workout, and because the rollers are tapered, your bike tires will remain centered for optimal stability once you get the hang of riding on it. Before you buy, make sure your bike’s wheel diameter is between 26- and 29-inches because the Antares won’t accommodate a thicker tire.
Each roller’s diameter measures between 3.93- and 4.33-inches in diameter; in concert, they deliver a smooth, consistent experience. Like the Tacx Galaxia described above, the Antares’ footprint is a generous 53- x 18.5-inches when it is extended, folding down to 31.5- x 18.5- x 5.31-inches, so you enjoy limitless storage options, especially if you live in a fairly small space or your rollers live in your car.
- Conical rollers keep bike tires centered for a safer, easier ride
- Retracts to 31.5-inches; weighs less than 19 pounds
- Mild resistance helps build muscle memory
- You can stand up and stretch your legs while riding once engaged
- Frame is metal; rollers are crafted of hard poly material.
- You may experience a “humming” noise when you ride
- May not perform well if your bike has hybrid or gripped tires
- Rollers may be too flimsy to perform to your standard.
Admit it: This product looks nothing like the others on this list and of course, that’s intentional. First off, this Omnium costs around $400 so if you’re shopping for a more affordable model, this may not make your shortlist. In return for that amount, you enjoy a unique, popular, dynamic product that stands out from the crowd thanks to its unique elements and unusual look.
What sorts of benefits do you receive if you choose this portable trainer? The bearings are pre-greased and sealed so you can spend your spare time maintaining your bike, not your training system. The adjustable wheelbase and fork-mount height accommodate a range of bicycles (e.g., road; MTB; Cx) and the Omnium comes prepared to deliver on internal progressive magnetic resistance capability from the get-go.
What’s your axil size? Whether it’s standard QR; 12×100; 15×100 or 15×110 (boost) thru-axles, you’re covered, and since no tools are required to assemble this system right out of the box, what could be simpler? Given the company’s attention to detail, you won’t be surprised to learn that this particular trainer comes with its own carry bag, so feel free to set it up on the fly whenever time hands you an opportunity to ride, inside or out. That stated, test before you buy if you weigh more than 225 pounds.
- Great choice for cyclists with balance issues
- Impressive resistance despite lightweight and small cylinders
- Takes about 2 minutes to set up
- Fits easily into overhead airline bins if you travel
- Feels more natural than cycling on fixed rollers.
- No power meter, no Bluetooth or Ant+ connectivity; this is an analog trainer
- Won’t accommodate low RPM intervals (below 60RPM)
- Not as easy to mount as other products on this list.
This expandable quick-motion training product will set you back around $465, but you may not care once you consider the features and benefits you derive if you take this baby home. Among the things that set this system apart from competitors are the patented, realistic floating-system rollers designed to enhance a cyclist’s balance when he or she trains, plus 3-level integrated magnetic resistance with specific housing for the Misuro B+ sensor so you can send data readings to 3rd party apps.
This trainer’s drums feature a parabolic shape, so a rider enjoys more control during a session. The Elite Quick-Motion system adjusts to varying wheelbase sizes, so you don’t have to swap out your tires to accommodate your bike. In terms of storage and transport, it doesn’t get any more uniform than the integrated handle feature you won’t find on other trainers.
At just 22 pounds, this Quick-Motion training app meets the lift weight criteria of cyclists on the go and as you can imagine, storage is a breeze thanks to its uniform design and capacity to be downsized. But perhaps the factor that could weigh most heavily on your decision to choose this over another is the fact that this is not a smart trainer, so take that into consideration as you compare this product to others.
- Extremely easy to set up and fold down
- Attach the Misuro B+ Sensor for useable readings on smart devices
- Rollers get high marks for being quieter than competitor products
- Comes with My E Training videos to get riders up to speed quickly
- Expect long life/wear; one owner has surpassed 1200 miles.
- Cadence can be “a bit erratic”
- You may not find the ride to be as smooth as you prefer
- Complaints include a “rumbling” sound that won’t respond to bearing replacements.
Joe Lindsey is no referee, but when Bicycling.com asked him to compare rollers and trainers, he dug in. After researching both, he concluded that trainers are a better choice for beginners, but nothing beats rollers when it comes to affordability and better indoor cycling experience.
Lindsey says both promise durability and performance perks, so no matter which you choose—especially if space limits you to just rollers-you can’t go wrong with any of the following seven recommended choices profiled below.
Bike Trainers and Rollers Explained
What are conventional rollers?
There’s a reason conventional rollers are the simplest type of bike roller on the market: they are bare-bones units composed of two round drums at the back and a single roller at the front of the product.
Because they are basic, balancing yourself may not be as easy as the experience you have on a more sophisticated system. Don’t expect self-adjusting resistance either. You’re going to have to manually adjust conventional rollers by selecting easier or harder gears.
That said, get a resistance bounce based on drum size, but otherwise, conventional rollers are known for smooth operation that lets you use your bike gears to control the action. These usually come pre-assembled, so you can start cycling as soon as they’re out of the box.
What are the resistance rollers?
Resistance rollers help you optimize your efforts and while you may not be able to differentiate them from conventional rollers at first sight (they come with two round drums at the back and one at the front), you get this bonus: variable resistance.
Who chooses resistance rollers over conventional ones? Cyclists hungry for a more robust workout as a direct result of the higher resistance they experience. Must you trade simplicity for complexity? Hardly! These are as easy to use as conventional ones.
Your only install task will be adjusting for the length of your bike and determining your resistance preference at which point, you’re good to go. Don’t want to adjust resistance in mid-ride? Resistance rollers can do the job for you.
What are hybrid rollers?
Imagine a love child produced by basic rollers and trainers. While the two back rollers look like those of conventional models, that’s where the differences begin. The front one is fixed in place and can’t be moved.
Can the immobile drum make a difference in your ride? You bet—but you are going to have to remove your bike’s front wheel to use a hybrid roller product so the front fork can be attached.
Hybrids are quintessentially stable so anyone who can’t get the hang of balancing will notice the improvement. Typically lightweight and portable, hybrid rollers may cost a little more, but they are worth it.
What are smart rollers?
The smart part of these pricier roller systems is all about connectivity. Interface a smart roller product with your devices via ANT+ or Bluetooth and churn out enough “power readings” to keep you happy while you monitor your progress.
Not every smart roller product on the market interfaces with Zwift but if yours does, you get control over stats and your resistance settings, too.
Perhaps the best endorsement of smart rollers is that the smart roller experience is so satisfying, you could forget you’re not cycling outdoors. If you crave this experience, the price may not be a matter of concern when you shop.
Benefits of using bike rollers
When you use bike rollers, you don’t need to go out because you can use them indoors. As such, you will stay weatherproof, since you will be enjoying the warmth of your home even during severe weather conditions. You also do not have to put up with the traffic on the road or the smelly and hazardous fumes from automobiles.
Bike rollers are an efficient way to help improve your stamina, cadence, and endurance to physical fitness. This tool, therefore, offers an effective way to build your core strength. You can even enjoy your favorite training programs or music ( on Bluetooth headphones ) as you ride on a stable bike.
Another great benefit of using a bike roller or trainer is that you can easily recover from an injury. You can get back to your bike by making only small steps each day increasing the mileage slowly. In this case, I would prefer a bike trainer because the road bike is fixed to it preventing it from falling.
You can even read a book about cycling journeys of other people, and prepare for your own while training at home on your bike roller. This way you will get ready physically, and mentally.
What to consider when choosing a bike roller.
Construction and Materials
Materials used to make bike roller and trainer products include high-density polyethylene plastic, steel, aluminum or some combination. Given the evolution of plastics, both can be equally strong and durable, though some cyclists feel less secure if the rollers or frame are plastic.
The bottom line when weighing construction is the integrity of each of the elements that come together and function as a single unit. While the rollers are the most critical elements, if there’s an incompatibility between the frame and rollers, any product you buy won’t be around for the long haul.
Wheelbase and Size
Choose a well-rated biker roller or trainer product and just about any type of bicycle can be accommodated, no matter the wheelbase or size. That stated, some manufacturers post a maximum size/wheelbase on their sales and marketing materials, which is why you want to read the small print before you pick one product over others.
Having adjusted your rollers when you acquired your system, the unit will be ready to host your bike using this installation method: adjust the front drum so it sits slightly forward on the front hub, fasten things down and get moving.
Storage and Transportation
Who doesn’t love the ability to pack up rollers on the fly, throw them into a car or space that’s so small, even you can hardly believe you managed it? You may pay a little more to enjoy this mobility, but can you put a price on the time you save compacting your roller unit?
While the most common fold is in the middle between front and rear drums, you already know that some products “retract” to a size that’s so compact, even a child can fold it down. At the other end of the continuum, several trainers on this list are not made to be compacted, so you’d better have a carry bag capable of toting the entire unit as is and room enough to stash it when it’s not in use.