When you can’t use your bike outdoors there’s only one option, you need a turbo trainer. But which one? This Top 3 turbo trainer review for 2014 / 2015 will show you all you need to know.
Top 3 turbo trainers for 2014 / 2015
It’s tough to choose a best turbo trainer because there are so many available. There is a lot to take in to consideration including features and price. Training indoors is always the second choice when compared to being out on the open roads, but there are trainers that make the process that much more enjoyable. From the 2014 / 2015 range of turbo trainers our top 3 recommended trainers come from Tacx, CycleOps, and BKOOL. Each of these brands offer an interactive experience in the shape of software that lets you ride on films of real routes and automatically control the resistance of your back wheel as you power up an incline.
All three of these trainers offer an interactive experience where you can ride on films and the speed or the film changes depending on your pedaling speed, and the resistance of the braking unit automatically adjusts depending on the incline of the road. Training indoors can become very boring and it can be hard to get motivated to workout. This is where interactive training helps and elevates these three trainers above other indoor turbo trainers.
The Bkool Classic has been replaced in 2016 with the New Bkool ONE. Read our in-depth review of the Bkool ONE here.
Bkool also have a high-end PRO trainers that automatically controlled your trainers resistance. We have an in-depth review here of the Bkool PRO turbo trainer & software.
The BKOOL indoor trainers claims the #1 spot because of a combination of features and price. We’ll start with the latter. The BKOOL classic trainer is 2 to 3 times cheaper than the Tacx i-Genius and the CycleOps PowerBeam Pro, which is a significant factor. With an RRP of £429.99 and a best price of just £350 the BKOOL trainer is amazing value. This is a high-end trainer and a quality build. BKOOL only make 2 trainers, the Classic and a new Pro version for 2015. Both trainers are very similar except that the Pro version is quieter (one of the quietest out there) and has greater stability. This being said the Classic is still pretty quiet and stable.
New for 2014 / 2015 is the 3D World Simulator. Tacx used to be the only brand to offer a fully 3D computerized world to cycle through and to race on, but now BKOOL have entered the market. BKOOL have films of cycling routes and races that you can ride or compete against others on online, but if you want a fully immersive environment and see yourself powering past other riders then the 3D World Simulator is for you. Not only this but you can compete in specialist velodrome races to test your speed.
There is a large community to the BKOOL trainer where you can interact with others, post times and routes, and compete in races. Note that licenses are necessary to get all these features.
BKOOL in action.
Note that BKOOL are a Spanish company and therefore the videos are in Spanish. However, the BKOOL trainers are available to all and there are English races and competitors.
Tacx have always offered amazing trainers, and if it wasn’t for the price the i-Genius could well have claimed the top spot in this review. They have more experience in the world of indoor trainers and the i-Genius is at the pinnacle of their achievements. If you are willing to pay a higher price for a long time established brand then there is one reason why it would be worth it. Namely the most advanced resistance brake available – a motor brake.
The motor brake that comes with the i-Genius (and also the new for 2015 IRONMAN trainer) give you the most road-realistic experience you can get. While the BKOOL and CycleOps PowerBeam Pro simulate uphill routes (up to 20%) and make it harder for you to pedal, the motor brake of the i-Genius even simulates declines of up to 5%. This means when you are riding on one of the Tacx films or on one of their 3D computer routes you get the most realistic experience possible.
As touched on, Tacx have lots of films that you can ride where your speed and the gradient of the route is all synced. However, it is the 3D computer environments that are the feature that makes the i-Genius so great. They have a few years experience in this world and therefore the graphics, realism, and degree of details is immense. Also, if you have the special BlackTrack steering frame (not standard with the i-Genius – comes with a Skyliner front wheel support) you can steer through the virtual worlds, again adding to the realism.
You can also get the i-Genius multiplayer that comes with a multiplayer license and the BlackTrack steering frame and lets you race against real life opponents (including friends). You can order this multiplayer license at a later date if you do not buy the i-Genius multiplayer trainer as a bundle. The i-Genius (standard version) comes with the Tacx Advanced software 4 that gives you all the films and VR environments.
The i-Genius has an RRP of around £1000, but it can be picked up for around £800.
Tacx trainer and software in action.
The CycleOps PowerBeam Pro may come in #3 in our top 3 best turbo trainers list, but it is still a fantastic indoor trainer. CycleOps are one of the oldest and most trusted brands out there with a solid pedigree for all things cycling. There offer many different cycle trainers covering all technologies, from wind, magnetic, and fluid resistance types. It is however the PowerBeam Pro with its electro-magnetic resistance unit that is the top of the CycleOps range.
The PowerBeam Pro links up to their Virtual Training software to allow you to plan rides and to train on real route films. The training experience is excellent and the software that lets you control and monitor power outputs and performance gets excellent reviews. However, unlike the BKOOL and Tacx trainers the CycleOps trainer does not support 3D immersive virtual reality environments. This means you can not race against other 3D riders in 3D worlds. This being said the films are excellent and smooth as shown in the video below.
The CycleOps PowerBeam Pro has an RRP of around £900, but is available for approximately £650.
CycleOps PowerBeam Pro in action.
All three trainers discussed here are superb, and if price was not on the adgenda then the Tacx i-Genius (probably the multiplayer version) would take the top spot. But the amazing value and features of the BKOOL turbo trainer claims the top spot here for the best turbo trainer for 2014 / 2015.