Health

How to Turn Your Bike Into a Stationary Workout Bike (Plus, the Best Stands Money Can Buy)

Bringing Your Cycling Sesh Indoors Has Never Been Easier

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Stationary bikes and spin classes have been a part of the fitness world for several decades at this point, and if the recent success of indoor cycling giant Peloton is any indication, the workout trend shows no signs of slowing down.

But what if you don’t want to shell out the big bucks for a deluxe at-home exercise bike? Or you don’t want to have a bike permanently taking up precious space in your pad? Well, if you already have an outdoor bike, you’re in luck. With a few simple setup steps and a bike trainer or stationary stand, you can be well on your way to getting the best of both cycling worlds – without hurting your budget.

RELATED: Best Exercise Bikes for Home

To ensure your stationary setup goes off without a hitch, we caught up with some of our favorite cycling experts and aficionados to get their take on the best ways to set up your road bike inside and how to get the best cycling or spin class experience indoors.


What to Consider Before Bringing Your Bike Inside


You’ve bought your stand, you’ve brought your bicycle inside, now the big question is: where do you plan to put it? If you live somewhere with neighbors below you, you will want to make sure that the bike doesn’t cause a disruption. “The noise indoor cycling setups can make can be quite loud, especially vibrating from above,” says Pav Bryan, author of The Guide to Truly Effective Cycling and performance director at SPOKES.

He recommends picking up some sound dampening mat(s) to place on the floor. Not only will this help prevent too much sound from reaching neighbors – or even family members in your home – but it will also prevent your bike trainer from scuffing your floor.

Also, don’t forget that this will be a workout space, and you’re going to need a few essentials nearby to keep your body cool and your home dry. Bryan recommends keeping workout towels on hand since you don’t want sweat dripping all over your bicycle or your home. And if you don’t have A/C at home, you should consider getting a high-quality fan. “The fastest way to see drops in energy and performance will be from overheating, so this is a crucial element for your indoor setup,” Bryan adds.


RELATED: Product Face-Off: Peloton vs Soulcycle


Stationary Bike Setup


You will likely need to tweak your bike’s setup a bit when you bring it indoors for stationary cycling, having the right alignment will not only help with your performance, but it can prevent injury, too. “An incorrect [bike] position can cause problems,” says John Derae Laster fitness coach. “For example, a saddle that is too high tires the thigh muscles to follow the rotation of the pedals, causing muscle overload and premature fatigue, not to mention the loss of pedaling efficiency.”

Laster outlined a few rules to use as a guide when you’re setting up your bike inside.

  • Saddle height: Stand next to the bike, check that the saddle is at the intersection of the femur and hip, sit on the saddle, and place your heels on the pedals. Your feet should be able to do a full turn without losing contact with the pedal – even at its lowest point. Meanwhile, the leg should be straight but not fully extended (about 95 percent) on that lowest point.
  • Adjusting the handlebars: Having the handlebars set at the same height as your saddle is ideal. For beginners or people with physical limitations (backache, pregnancy) they can be raised slightly. Handlebars should allow a comfortable position (arms not fully extended), a firm grip in different positions, and result in a dynamic overall position.
  • Horizontal adjustment of the saddle: When pushing down, when the pedal is at 3 O’clock, make sure that the center axis of the pedal is aligned with the front of the knee.

Cycling Apps and Entertainment


Since you aren’t cycling outside, taking in the chaos of pedaling past city streets, or the serenity of riding in nature, you might want to consider adding some entertainment and tracking elements to your indoor cycling experience. “I’d recommend finding a way to ‘play’ and train online,” says Bryan.

RGT Cycling

RGT Cycling app open on tablet and smartphone

RGT is the world’s most realistic indoor cycling simulator. With the app, you can take your bike rides around the world – even to fantasy worlds, tackle structured workouts and training plans, and participate in real and virtual races, too. “RGT Cycling brings real-life cycling indoors with iconic climbs and beautiful visuals,” says Bryan. For this, you will need a screen in front of you – a laptop, iPad/tablet, or Apple TV works fine, and your phone will run the program.

Free or $9.99/month for premium (first 14 days free) at RGTcycling.com

Pillar

Pillar app open on smartphone

Bryan also recommends Pillar for those “who are getting more serious about their training.” Through this app, you will receive personalized coaching to help you meet your specific cycling goals and Pillar’s AI technology will create a custom training plan. You will also have access to coach-led webinars a community of dedicated cyclists. Pillar connects to Garmin or Strava devices for tracking, but you can also add info manually.

Find out more at Pillar-app.com

Zwift

Zwift app open on laptop and smartphone

This app is made with the outdoor bike setup indoors situation at top of mind. When cycling you’ll feel like you’re immersed in a video game of sorts, making workouts all the more enjoyable. Ridge Davis celebrity personal trainer and cycling coach at The Wall Fitness, is a big Zwift fan. “The Zwift indoor cycling app is a great app for riding and racing against others,” he says. “Also, there are a variety of courses around the world to give you the experience of riding around the globe.”

$14.99/month at Zwift.com

Peloton

Peloton app open on smartphone

Even if you don’t have a Peloton bike at home you can take full advantage of its live and on-demand workout class offerings via the Peloton app. You can connect to it via the TV (Apple TV, Roku, Fire, or Android) or use a stand with your smartphone, tablet, or iPad to see the screen from your bike. You won’t be able to track certain metrics as you would on the Peloton stationary exercise bike, but otherwise, you can get the full spin experience right at home – including seeing other members via the Here Now feature. And when you’re off your bike, you can hit up the other workout genres such as yoga and bootcamp.

$12.99/month (first 30 days free) at Peloton.com

Having a power meter will come in handy, as this will allow you to measure your output while cycling. And if you are looking for a way to monitor your ride – outside of personal fitness trackers or an Apple Watch – you can also look into adding a “cycling computer” to your bike for both indoor and outdoor sessions. Bryan recommends the Wahoo Fitness model.


RELATED: Best Spinning Apps


Best Bike Trainers + Stationary Stands


In shopping for a stationary bike stand, you want to make sure it has the features you are seeking – easily portable or app-integration? – and that it is the right size for your bicycle. “If you aren’t familiar with the spec of your bike, check out the manufacturer guide or website, or visit your local bike store, who will gladly help you,” says Bryan.

App-Integration

Kinetic by Kurt Road Machine Smart Bike Trainer

Tacx Antares Indoor Retractable Bicycle Rollers

If you’re hoping to cycle with the apps mentioned above, you can’t go wrong with this bike stand. Not only does it provide fluid resistance that increases and decreases with wheel speed, for a realistic – and quiet – biking experience, but it is compatible with apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy, Kinomap, The Sufferfest, FulGaz, and its own Kinetic Fit power-training app –  with purchase, you’ll a one-month subscription to that for free.

Note: With this model, it is recommended that you add a trainer tire on your back wheel.

Key Features:

  • The 6.2 lb. flywheel makes you feel like you’re riding outside.
  • Fluid trainer, rider controls the resistance – no electricity required – and a realistic feel.
  • Compatible with training apps: sends speed, cadence, power, and other data to training apps.

$409 at Amazon.com

All-Around Great Option

Saris CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Bike Trainer

Saris CycleOps Fluid2 Indoor Bike Trainer

Whether you have a road bike or a mountain bike, you’re sure to have a smooth, road-like cycling experience with this trainer. The progressive resistance offers a wide resistance range and keeps your spin sesh quiet, while the patented fan design on the large, precision-balanced flywheel ensures the unit will perform well for years to come. Don’t worry about missing out on apps, either. The included speed sensor allows you to easily hit up Zwift and other popular cycling apps.

Key features:

  • Provides outdoor cycling experience with a wide range of resistance options.
  • Compatible with Zwift and other cycling apps.
  • Fit for mountain bikes and road bikes.

$349.99 at Amazon.com

Stable and Solid

Sportneer Fluid Bike Trainer Stand

Sportneer Fluid Bike Trainer Stand

Providing a solid, stable base for your bike to rest upon, this trainer features a dual locking system, extra-wide frame, anti-slip rubber feet, and front-wheel riser to ensure your bike stays locked in place and never wobbles. Fit for bikes between 26-28 inches and compatible with 700C bikes, as well, this stand allows you to cycle with ease. If you’re worried about an annoying setup, you’ll be pleased to know this stand can be easily assembled without the need for extra tools. When you’re done, you can fold it up and tuck it aside until next time.

Key features:

  • Durable, stable design, means you and your bike are secure in place throughout your ride.
  • Easy to install and foldable frame, means you can travel with it and easily put it in storage when not in use.
  • Fluid resistance allows for a smooth and silent cycle.

$149.99 at Amazon.com

Smart Trainer

Saris CycleOps H3 Direct Drive Smart Bike Trainer

CycleOps H3 Direct Drive Smart Bike Trainer

This option is not ideal for those who are looking for an indoor trainer for the purpose of saving money, but if you’re hoping to get the ultimate riding experience indoors during the offseason, it’s sure to meet – and then go beyond – your expectations. In addition to being incredibly quiet, and offering precise training, this model doesn’t require any external sensors to track speed, cadence, and power, and it seamlessly connects with cycling apps – in fact, it is Zwift-certified and includes a one-month subscription to Rouvy virtual training app.

Key features:

  • Incredibly quiet design.
  • Tracks speed, cadence, and power without external sensors.
  • Effortlessly connects with cycling apps like Zwift.

$999.99 at Amazon.com

Built-in Resistance Settings

Alpcour Bike Trainer Stand

Alpcour Bike Trainer Stand

Featuring a handlebar-mounted resistance controller with six built-in settings, this magnetic trainer makes it quick and easy to replicate the intensity of riding up a steep hill or the effortlessness of cycling along on a flat trail right at home. The setup is intuitive and tools-free, with the final result serving as a secure base for your bike to rest upon. P.S. Thanks to its magnetic resistance mechanism, you can enjoy a seamless spin sesh without putting unnecessary strain on your bike’s tires and tread.

Key features:

  • Noise-reduction resistance wheel keeps things quiet while you ride.
  • Remote attaches to the handlebar, providing six precise resistance settings.
  • Magnetic setup keeps things stable, but also doesn’t wear on bike tires.

$219.95 at Amazon.com

Smart Trainer

Garmin TacX Neo 2T Smart Trainer

Garmin TacX Neo 2T Smart Trainer

While the NEO 2 was well-known for being one of the most powerful and quietest smart trainers on the market, the NEO 2T is even better, with even less noise, more power, and improved axle compatibility which allows it to fit with more bikes. Whether your devices use an iOS, Android, macOS, or Windows operating system, the pedal stroke analysis allows you to see your riding data on those devices and track your performance, too. This smart trainer works with a number of popular training apps such as TrainerRoad and Zwift, and when you connect to the TacX training software, you can get the experience of rushing down hills or speeding up cliffs, right at home. This certainly isn’t a budget-friendly pick, but if you’re looking for a top-notch experience and a wide range of features, it won’t disappoint.

Key features:

  • Incredibly quiet and powerful.
  • Functions with a wide range of operating systems and shares data and performance information.
  • Provides access to cycling apps and the TacX library to get realistic outdoor cycling experiences at home.

$1,349.99 at Amazon.com

Roller Experience

Tacx Antares Indoor Retractable Bicycle Rollers

Tacx Antares Indoor Retractable Bicycle Rollers

On top of helping you perfect your form and offering a killer workout, this roller trainer is incredibly easy to set up and tuck aside when not in use. While it might look a little scary to hop on at first, the heavy-duty conical rollers are tapered inward to keep your bike wheels centered and stable – even during sprints. Since your front and back wheels will spin at the same speed, you can do some stand-up-leg-stretched rides on this model, too.

Key features:

  • Roller bike trainer design helps to perfect form.
  • Offers a killer workout, since you need to stay in motion.
  • Setup is fast, bike can easily pop on and off.

$199.99 at Amazon.com

Budget-Friendly

SONGMICS Indoor Bike Trainer Stand

SONGMICS Indoor Bike Trainer Stand

If you only plan on taking your rides indoors sporadically, you probably don’t want to spend too much money on your stationary bike stand. Coming in at under $80, this option is not too pricey, and doesn’t sacrifice on quality, either. Compatible with road and mountain bikes (but quieter with road models), it includes five adjustable feet for a shake-free ride on any surface. With six adjustable magnetic resistance levels, you can effortlessly switch up the intensity as you spin.

Key features:

  • Quiet, especially with road bikes.
  • Easy to set up, and provides a stable, shake-free base.
  • Features six adjustable resistance levels.

$79.99 at Amazon.com

Wind and Rolling Feel

Feedback Sports Omnium Portable Trainer

Feedback Sports Omnium Portable Trainer

You won’t have to worry about wearing down your front wheel with this bicycle trainer – however, it will require a little more time for setup and take down. With a parabolic, progressive resistance curve (replicating the feeling you get from rolling down hills and feeling the wind in the great outdoors) and precision-machined rollers creating a smooth experience, this stand will serve you well for indoor workouts and pre-race training sessions, too.

Key features:

  • Great for race training.
  • The resistance curve creates the feeling of rolling and wind.
  • Won’t wear down your front wheel.

$3430 at Amazon.com


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