If you're anything like me, you love getting in a good workout without leaving the comfort of your home. There are several options, including the treadmill, the elliptical, or my favorite, the mightly bicycle roller.
If you're new to this sort of thing, bicycle rollers are essentially stationary bikes with one rather glaring difference: you're required to balance your bike on a set of "rollers." Training on rollers feels a lot more realistic than using a stationary bike.
But with all the differing opinions on what type of bicycle rollers works best, which is most efficient, and which is just plain overpriced, it can be hard to know which product will work best for you. Below, we've compiled a list of the seven best roller bicycle products, as well as the different types of bike rollers, and what to be on the lookout for when you're buying.
What are the Best Bicycle Rollers?
Now that you know about all the different types of bike rollers, here are the best products for different types and applications.
Best Beginner Friendly: Feedback Sports Omnium
The Feedback Sports Omnium is a great choice for beginners because it utilizes hybrid roller technology and a patented, internal progressive resistance.
The lightweight design of this bike makes transportation and storage a breeze, and even includes a tote bag! Plus, no assembly is necessary, meaning you can hop right on and begin your journey with this indoor bike roller.
Best Compact: Tacx Antares
The Tacx Antares Indoor Retractable Bicycle Roller is a great choice for anyone looking for a small, relatively cheap bike roller. At a folded downsize of 31.5" x 18.5" x 5.31", storage and transportation is never an issue!
This conventional roller is best suited for you if you've used a bike roller before and fits bikes with 26" to 29" wheel diameter. It's also power and maintenance-free, making this a great purchase for someone not looking to spend hours fixing their bike roller.
Best For Resistance: Elite Arion Magnetic Roller
The Elite Arion Magnetic Roller is interesting, albeit unique, because of the use of magnets in the design; it offers three magnetic resistance levels allowing for shifting intensity during your workout. This product is also lightweight and easily foldable for storage and travel purposes.
WIth 4.6 out of 5 stars, this bike roller is a consumer favorite, and many say that it's the best bike roller purchase they've ever made. The magnet technology doesn't come cheap, so if you're looking for a budget purchase, this might not be the roller for you!
Best For Sprinting: Tacx Galaxia
Another entry from Tacx, the Tacx Galaxia, is a great pick for any riders looking to hone their track sprinting skills. With a front roller that spins equally for extra stability and speed tracking and conical rollers that are tapered inward to keep your wheels centered, it's hard to go wrong with this roller.
Some consumers have complained of a screeching noise while using this roller, so don't be alarmed if you hear this. Usually, if your roller is making this noise, Tacx will exchange the product, but if it's something you're worried about, maybe stay away from this product.
Most Realistic: Kreitler 3.0
The Kreitler 3.0 is a 100% USA made bike roller. The unique feature in this roller is the Killer Headwind Fan add-on that allows riders to feel undisturbed, cooling breezes while indoors.
The Killer Headwind Fan can be rotated a multitude of ways to offer high or low airflow, correctly simulating outdoor conditions. For a rider looking for the feel of the outdoor from the comfort of their living room, the Kreitler 3.0 is a great purchase.
Best Road Feel: Trutrainer Rollers
For those who are looking for the best bike roller, regardless of price, a TruTrainer Roller is likely going to be your best bet. The SmartLoad Power Roller from TruTrainer offers the most advanced indoor cycling experience, integrating 3rd party software to add road-like conditions to your workout.
While more expensive than most other rollers, TruTrainer Rollers do offer a unique, immersive riding experience. Plus, the SmartLoad Power Roller offers many add-on options, including a platform, a front roller bumper, and a front fork stand, giving you the power to customize your roller and your workout completely.
Best Smart Rollers: Elite Arion Digital Smart B+
The Elite Arion Digital Smart B+ roller is another great product from the Arion family of bike rollers. This smart roller features a magnetic resistance system that is electronically managed via Bluetooth, allowing significant intensity customization for your workout.
Furthermore, the Elite Arion Digital Smart B+ is adjustable, offering 10 different positions to fit the frame of your bike perfectly. Talk about compatibility!
Types Of Bike Rollers
To know what type of product you're looking to purchase, it's important to understand the different types of bike rollers. There are four types of bike rollers, conventional, resistance, hybrid, and smart.
Conventional rollers are considered the simplest and most basic model of roller, and they consist of two round drums situated at the front and one at the back. This type of roller is mostly used for training balance, meaning you'll have to adjust the gears on your bike in order to increase or decrease resistance.
The nicest thing about conventional rollers is that, due to their simplicity, they usually come pre-assembled. All you have to do is set the length for your bike and hop on!
Unlike conventional rollers, resistance rollers offer a bit more customization and, if you're feeling up to it, difficulty to your workout. Resistance rollers have two large drums in the front and one in the back, identical to conventional rollers except for a key difference: variable resistance.
Using this tool, you can set the level of resistance you want to feel while riding. The ability to select higher levels of resistance is revolutionary for some indoor bikers, as it can easily change the makeup of a workout.
As the name suggests, hybrid rollers are actually a mix between rollers and trainers; there are two round drums at the back, but the front wheel is fixed into position.
In order to use a hybrid roller, the front wheels of your bike must be removed, so if you're not comfortable doing this, the hybrid roller might not be for you! However, if you're uncomfortable balancing on the conventional rollers, this product is likely the stepping stone you need.
Hybrid rollers are also considered very portable and easily stored, due to the absence of the front drum! It might be prudent to consider this type of roller if you're looking to bring your roller to a variety of different locations.
These days there's smart everything: smartwatches, smart TVs, and now, there's smart rollers. These bicycle rollers connect to your smart devices, such as laptops or cellphones, via Bluetooth and give you power readings and finite control over your resistance settings.
Moreover, you can use your smart roller to completely immerse yourself in your bike ride from your home's comfort zone. Smart roller technology can make you feel like you're zooming down a hill or biking your way up the side of a mountain, all with the click of a button. With a smart roller, it's easy to forget that you're inside at all!
4 Things To Look Out For When Buying Bike Rollers
Now that you know all about the different types of bike rollers and the products that we recommend, here are some tips on what you should be looking out for when purchasing your next bike roller.
Drum Design and Material
As we talked about above, the different types of rollers offer different drum-type designs, but this can also be true of bike rollers of the same type. Drum shape and size play a significant role in the intensity of a workout: parabolic drums help keep the bike stable, whereas uniform drums do not. Furthermore, the larger the drum, the lower the resistance, and the easier it will be to speed the wheels.
Remember this key tip: smaller drums are for those who want to do interval or sprint type bike exercises, larger drums are for those who want to do longer, endurance-type biking.
Most rollers are simple enough to set up, but you'll have to consider if the roller you're buying will fit your bicycle. For the most part, well-constructed rollers will fit any size bike, but make sure you check the specs on the roller you're purchasing to make sure it will work with your bike's size.
When setting up your conventional trainer, you just adjust the front drum so it's slightly in front of the front hub. If you're using a hybrid roller, all you have to do is remove the front wheel of your bike and connect it to the built-in dropouts.
The quality of a bike roller's construction is an important consideration, as it would be with anything else you'd purchase. Most high-quality rollers are made of aluminum, although high-density polyethylene can work just as well, and are often quieter.
The most imperative thing your rollers must do is hold you and the weight of your bike up for extended periods. If they can do this, you should be safe.
Also double-check the durability of other components, including the belt and the frame. Most frames are made of either aluminum or steel but, once again, high-density polyethylene works just fine!
Storage and Packability
Although most bicycle rollers are relatively small and lightweight, this is still an important consideration when purchasing. Bike rollers being compact and easy to carry is essential, especially if they're going to be used for warm-up on race days.
Typically, rollers that are made out of hard plastic are more compact and make for easier storage. Other more conventional rollers, especially those made with a relatively solid construction, can be a nightmare to transport.
For this point, consider what you'll be using your roller for. If you're happy and content never moving it out of the corner of your garage, the packability of your roller doesn't really matter. On the other hand, if you plan on traveling with your roller, definitely consider a lighter weight, compact option. Often, this can mean going with a hybrid roller, as their lack of a front drum makes them more compact.
Overall, bike rollers can be an awesome way to hone your bicycle skills without leaving your house, especially if you're set on improving your balance. That said, it is important to consider what features you're looking for in a bike roller, and what you're willing to pay. Keeping these things in mind, I have no doubt you'll be able to find a bike roller to fit your needs and keep you happy, healthy, and fit for years to come!