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Where to buy a turbo trainer

A Groupama FDJ team staff looks at a dummy representing Groupama FDJ cyclist Thibaut Pinot, installed on a time trial bike during a press day at the Groupama FDJ performance center
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you've asked yourself the question of where to buy a turbo trainer, you're not alone. As winter quickly approaches in the Northern hemisphere, Strava feeds are becoming rife with rides around Watopia, and whether it's a fear of missing out or just the increased convenience, indoor cycling is an appealing prospect for many cyclists. 

A turbo trainer gives you the ability to ride indoors, and that in itself offers an enormous array of benefits. Firstly, for cyclists who wish to train and improve their fitness, it provides a safe, interruption-free environment to complete your sessions, no longer do you need to risk being among traffic or stop at intersections, you can complete your workout without any pauses or delays. But even the social cyclists among us can benefit, buying a turbo trainer opens up the virtual worlds of Zwift, RGT Cycling and various other indoor cycling apps that allow you to ride with others without leaving your home. 

Those platforms also offer competition in the form of races, sprints and King of the Mountain events to provide a competitive edge, and they are used to host various series of races such as the Zwift Racing League and the eSports World Championships

And one of the biggest drawcards is that you can do all of that in the comfort - or discomfort, depending how you look at it - of your own home, so you won't be left with a bike that's covered in grit and grime at the end of it, you'll never be left stranded at the side of the road with a mechanical, and you'll never have to worry about crashing. 

It's safe to say that we're pretty sold on the idea of buying a turbo trainer. We've been doing it for years, we've cycled (pun not intended) through all of the best turbo trainers, and we've bought them via various different sources, so if you want to know where to buy a turbo trainer, you're in the right place. 

Here is where to buy a turbo trainer, and why

Online

Pros

  • Abundance of choice
  • Competitive pricing
  • Easy and convenient
  • Delivery to your door

Cons

  • You'll need to do your own research to ensure you get the right one
  • It's an expensive thing to buy 'blind'

Unlike buying a bike, when you buy a turbo trainer online, you don't need to worry about things like sizing and comfort, so there's very little need to try before you buy. As long as you do your research, you can buy online with absolute confidence. 

When we talk about research, this mainly centres around ensuring that your bike will fit onto whichever turbo trainer you buy, and sadly there's no simple 'one size fits all' answer to this, as it depends on what bike you own, as well as checking the turbo trainer has the features you want. 

In terms of fitment, the first area to focus on is the rear axle. You'll need to know what sort of axle your bike currently has, and then check whether or not your turbo trainer comes with the necessary adaptor to fit your bike. For direct-drive turbo trainers (those that remove your rear wheel and mount your bike directly to a cassette fitted onto the trainer), you'll also need to consider the freehub body and cassette. If you're running a SRAM or Shimano 11-speed groupset, you're in luck as nearly all direct-drive turbo trainers come with an 11-speed Shimano-compatible freehub. Although not all of them come with the cassette itself, so factor that into the cost of purchase. If you're running 12-speed, you'll need to bear this in mind as you'll likely also need to factor in the cost of a replacement freehub and the compatible cassette so that your bike's groupset will fit and shift correctly when mounted. If you're planning on buying a wheel-on turbo trainer (which leaves your rear wheel on and places the tyre against a roller) then you'll need to double check the trainer will fit your wheel size. You can find your wheel size on the side of your tyre (it may be 26 inches, 27.5 inches (which is also known as 650B), 29 inches, or 700c. You may also need to factor in the cost of a new turbo-specific tyre, as turbo trainers can chew through typical road tyres. 

As for the features, not all turbo trainers can connect to Zwift, so if you want to head to Watopia or use any of the Zwift alternatives, you'll need to look for one with Bluetooth and/or ANT+ connectivity. 

Thankfully, nearly every online cycling retailer around the world sells turbo trainers, so for utmost convenience of purchase then shopping online is a great way to buy a turbo trainer. What's more, with the abundance of choice often comes a price war. Sadly, this isn't all too common with turbo trainers given their immense popularity, but with the Black Friday bike deals around the corner, we expect Black Friday turbo trainer deals will follow closely behind. 

And to put your mind at ease, if you do accidentally get it wrong, retailers are bound by law to offer a returns policy. The extent of this depends on your locality, but it's a good insurance policy on what is a particularly expensive purchase. 

Worldwide

Wiggle

Wiggle is one of the best known cycling retailers in the world, and despite also catering to running, swimming and various other outdoor sports and adventures, it manages to retain a strong cycling lineup, including turbo trainers, smart bikes and accessories from all the big brands.

Chain Reaction Cycles

Chain Reaction Cycles is partnered with Wiggle so its product offering is generally the same, but as the name suggests, there's a keener eye on cycling and there are often better discounts too. 

Decathlon

Decathlon has a presence worldwide with its own bike brand names. While it focusses more on the generalist end of the cycling spectrum, it still sells a range of turbo trainers from reputable brands. 

Amazon

Amazon is a website that will sell anything and everything in a super convenient way, and that doesn't stop at turbo trainers. However, steer clear of the unbranded, untested trainers and stick to the brands you've heard of, like Wahoo, Elite, Saris and Tacx.

Wahoo

Wahoo sells its own range of turbo trainers to the entire world via its own website. Wahoo isn't one to allow discounts on its products, but it does sell bundle deals and reconditioned units, and the Wahoo Black Friday sale is definitely worth keeping an eye on. 

USA only

Competitive Cyclist

Competitive Cyclist is one of the largest cycling retailers in the US, and stocks all of the major brands including Wahoo, Tacx, Saris and Elite. 

 

Jenson USA

Jenson USA is possibly the most well-known cycle retailer in the world. It's It will sell around the world, but it's most cost-effective for those based in the company's homeland. It also stocks all the major brands such as Tacx, Stages, Wahoo and Saris. 



REI

REI is predominantly classed as an outdoor retailer, rather than cycling-specific, but it still offers Wahoo, Tacx, Saris and more. 

Moosejaw

Moosejaw is an outdoor retailer too, so while it doesn't specialise in cycling, it still stocks trainers from Elite, Feedback Sports, tacx and more. 

Also, somewhat unrelated but the website is also a joy to browse, with each image on the homepage treated to a splash of comedy.

Backcountry

Backcountry is another outdoors retailer, and the company is actually tied to Competitive Cyclist, so many of the deals remain the same. However, the Backcountry Black Friday sale is definitely one to watch. 

Walmart

Walmart is about as far from a specific cycling retailer as you can get, but that doesn't mean the big W can't serve up the goods in your hunt for a turbo trainer. 

After all, a Wahoo Kickr is a Wahoo Kickr no matter where you buy it from, just don't get drawn in by the super-budget unbranded trainers that are for sale in their droves. 

UK only

Evans Cycles

Evans Cycles has been around for decades, and while the shops tend to hover between specialist and generalist, there's no denying that the brand stocks a good selection of turbo trainers. 

Tredz

Tredz offers a wide choice when shopping for turbo trainers, with everything from budget trainers to top-end smart bikes from Stages, Tacx, Wahoo, Elite, Saris and more. 

Rutland Cycling

Rutland Cycling has stores up and down the country as well as an established online presence. It stocks all the major brands and is a very reputable place to buy a turbo trainer. 

Tweeks Cycles

Tweeks Cycles is one of the smaller UK retailers, but it still offers a choice of trainers from Elite and Saris. 

Hargroves Cycles

Hargroves Cycles is another of the smaller retailers but it has a wide range of Tacx and Wahoo available, in a range that extends right up to the top-tier smart bikes. 

Leisure Lakes

Leisure Lakes is another retailer with stores dotted around the country and its range spans turbo trainers and smart bikes from Wahoo, Tacx, Elite and Stages. 

Halfords

Halfords is one of the biggest cycling retailers in the UK with a product base that keeps a keener eye on the everyday cyclist rather than specialist road or mountain bikers. With that said, it still sells turbo trainers from the big name brands so shouldn't be avoided if the price is right. 

Australia only

Pushys

Pushys is one of the largest bike retailers in Australia and its range of turbo trainers spans smart bikes from all the big brands, as well as bundle deals on turbo trainers and countless accessories too. 

An Evans Cycles shop floor complete with bikes and accessories

(Image credit: Evans Cycles)

Your local bike shop

Pros

  • Advice relating to your personal bike-and-trainer setup needs
  • Added trust that comes with a face to face purchase
  • Most will price-match online discounts
  • Some will have a 'try before you buy' turbo trainer 'station'
  • Support a local independent business

Cons

  • They're heavy and you'll have to get it home yourself
  • Less choice compared to shopping online
  • Quality of advice and service fluctuates between stores

Our other preferred place to buy a turbo trainer is via our local bike shop, as it offers a personal touch to the purchase. Bike shops are invariably staffed by people who like cycling, and not only does that mean you get to chat with likeminded folks, you'll most likely be able to get personalised advice to help you with the purchase. If you're unsure exactly what turbo trainer you need, or you don't know what size rear axle you need, or which adaptors you might need to include in the purchase, the staff in your local bike shop will have already answered that question a thousand times - not least for their own bikes but also for other customers - and will be happy to help you through the process. 

The downside to this is that the level of service and quality of advice is always going to fluctuate based on the store in question. Our advice is simple: find a bike shop you trust and stick to it, but don't be afraid to go home and fact check what you're told. After all, it's your money on the line. 

The other thing to beware of when buying in-store is that you'll usually get fewer options to choose from - rarely will a store stock all models from every brand. If there's a specific item you want, a bike shop will usually be happy to order it in for you. This comes with the obvious delay of waiting for them to receive it, and while you could just order it online more quickly at the same price, our next point explains why you might not want to. 

Buying anything in a local bike shop means that you're supporting that store. It may sound like we're preaching, but putting that big-ticket purchase of a turbo trainer into the till of your local store means that the staff are more likely to keep their jobs, and that's a good thing for cycling as an industry, as well as your local cycling community. 

Overall, we wouldn't necessarily say that buying online is better or worse than buying in store, as they both have their merits and the best option for you will ultimately depend on your circumstances.

Where not to buy a turbo trainer

A screengrab of facebook marketplace with various turbo trainer listings

(Image credit: Facebook)

Second hand

Pros

  • Best prices

Cons

  • No guarantees it will work as advertised
  • No warranty
  • Real risk of scams

If you were researching where to buy a bike, we'd be happy to recommend using the second hand market, as long as you understand the risks involved. And don't get us wrong, among the various places to buy a turbo trainer, there's definitely a place for the second hand market, but it relies on you having a very solid understanding of what you're buying, how it should work, look and feel, and the components that should come with it. Without that deep understanding, you open yourself up to a minefield of risks, and if you hand over your cash to later realise you've bought a dud, you generally have no rights or warranty protection. 

Of course, the same applies when buying a bike, but the electrical components found in a turbo trainer are generally much harder to analyse by eye - not least because they're hidden inside the case. Even if you were to get an up-close look at the turbo trainer before you handed over your cash, it's unlikely you'll spot an electrical fault or a software bug, and you probably won't get an extensive test ride that will give you the opportunity to flag up any faults or errors. 

For that reason, we'd say stick to buying new or reconditioned turbo trainers from reputable retailers. 

Unknown brands from unknown websites

Pros

  • We can't think of any that outweigh the risks

Cons

  • No guarantees it will work as advertised
  • Real risk of scams

Bear with us while we sound like a broken record for a moment: Indoor cycling has grown enormously in popularity over the last five years. Advancements in technology mean indoor cycling is no longer boring, but entertaining, motivating and immersive. Then when the pandemic hit, indoor cycling's popularity exploded. Lockdowns meant that people weren't allowed outside to exercise, and even many of those that were allowed chose to stay indoors for safety and moral reasons. Cyclists still wanted to get their fix, so many turned to the already popular turbo trainer. Demand was at an all-time high, yet pandemic-induced factory closures meant that supply was at an all-time low. 

Thank you for bearing with us, now here's our point: such an extreme environment of supply and demand is a breeding ground for opportunists to enter the ring and take advantage. Sure, some of those brands might genuinely be in it for the right reasons, and those that are will quickly see success and become a reputable brand sold via the reputable retailers we've listed above. 

More often though, buying an unknown brand from an unknown website - or even from a crowdfunding website - is a risk that could lead to receiving a turbo trainer that isn't actually all that good, or possibly even receiving nothing but a gaping hole in your bank balance. 

As the industry has started to recover from the pandemic induced shortage, turbo trainers have pretty much returned to a normal level anyway, so while buying 'unknown' might have once been your only option, you needn't take the risk anymore. 

But what if you're new to cycling and every brand is unknown? That's where we come in, read our reviews, check out our guide to the best turbo trainers, read our guide on how to get the cheapest Zwift setup. We've said it a few times and we'll say it again: turbo trainers aren't cheap, so play it safe with your money. When you're dropping us on Alpe du Zwift, you'll be glad you did. 

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Josh Croxton

Josh has been with us as Senior Tech Writer since the summer of 2019 and throughout that time he's covered everything from buyer's guides and deals to the latest tech news and reviews. On the bike, Josh has been riding and racing for over 15 years. He started out racing cross country in his teens back when 26-inch wheels and triple chainsets were still mainstream, but he found favour in road racing in his early 20s, racing at a local and national level for Team Tor 2000. He's always keen to get his hands on the newest tech, and while he enjoys a good long road race, he's much more at home in a local criterium.