Whether you jumped on the indoor cycling train or watched it come and go over the last three years, of the many positives that the boom in popularity the stationary segment brought forth, it simply got more people spinning pedals in situations they otherwise couldn’t—and that’s a good thing. The structure, efficiency and safety that indoor riding provides have boosted the popularity of the historically overlooked segment. There’s no doubt that the mass popularity of indoor riding has calmed in these post-pandemic days, but there are still a number of innovations in the industry for those looking to begin or update their pain cave.

To get a good understanding of the latest indoor cycling trends, it can be helpful to look at how the evolution of outdoor riding has branched off into focused segments of race, gravel and endurance bikes. And now indoor tech has crept into its own form of segmentation focused around three main categories—trainers, smart bikes and stationary bikes. Cycling brands have remained in control of the first two segments of trainers and smart bikes, but longtime fitness brands have upgraded their stationary bike catalogs.


Peloton and other big-name fitness companies have capitalized on the general public’s interest in the indoor cycling trend with a variety of all-in-one stationary bikes. Bikes with a fixed gear flywheel plus 20-inch monitors that can stream live, instructor-led spin classes and log workouts are the standard for the high-end units. Weights and small exercise equipment can be added to create a full home gym. 

Smart bikes take cyclist-focused design cues and blend them with a stationary bike. A typical smart bike has a road bike-like handlebar with shifters. Like smart trainers, they can be connected to the internet via Wi-Fi or an ethernet cable and connect to various devices via Bluetooth and ANT+. Unlike stationary bikes, smart bikes use a freewheel that allows the rider to coast. 


Wahoo upgraded their Kickr bike in late 2022, making it the only Wi-Fi-compatible smart bike in the category. Thanks to its traditional handlebar and stem, Wahoo may have the most appealing indoor bike for roadies. Wahoo’s Kickr bike physically replicates outdoor riding with its 35 degrees of real-time-motion grade changes. The steep price tag comes with one of the most realistic road bike simulations, thanks to the Shimano-Di2-like shifters. The Wahoo Kickr bike is compatible with Wahoo SYSTM X for structured training and virtual riding, but, of course, can be linked to Zwift or other training apps like Trainerroad. Plus, additional built-in buttons on the hoods are compatible with Zwift steering, making it the only indoor bike with that ability. The 13-pound flywheel and motor can generate up to 2500 watts of resistance. With five points of adjustment, the Kickr bike offers one of the widest ranges of fit, ideal for riders that use size 46–60cm frames. 

Price: $3500


Better known to cyclists for power meters and GPS head units, Stages has been a commercial indoor bike manufacturer for over a decade. Building upon the release of their original smart bike, simply named the Stages Bike, the SB20 is developed around three power meters—two on the crankarms and one on the flywheel for superior accuracy. A standard 26mm handlebar is paired with Stages hoods. The cockpit features 10 shift buttons, with three on the inside of each hood and four that can be placed anywhere on the bars like on the inside of each side of the drops. Workouts can be tracked for free on the Stages Sync app, and the SB20 is compatible with Zwift, as well as all other major training apps. 

Price: $3150


Peloton’s top-of-the-line stationary bike, dubbed the Peloton Bike Plus, is available online and in person at Dick’s Sporting Goods. The Plus starts with essentially the same drivetrain as the original Peloton Bike, but features a handful of upgrades to enhance ride quality and immersive feel. The most useful update is the Auto Follow resistance feature, which allows automated changes of resistance during a workout class by the instructor. While the Peloton can be used without the subscription package, the wide array of off-the-bike exercises make the Peloton App and Bike Plus a complete home-workout package. Scenic rides on real roads and a variety of workout classes set the baseline for what to expect in a stationary workout bike.

Price: $2495


Outside of the general public, trainers have proven to be the most popular tool for indoor cycling. Trainers have been around for just about as long as bicycles have, and recently smart trainers have taken the lead in indoor riding tech. They are the most versatile piece of indoor tech equipment, as they typically weigh under 50 pounds, making them easy to move around. Direct-drive (wheel-off) smart trainers are a mainstay for brands like Wahoo, Elite and Zwift. What makes them smart is the built-in power meter and live resistance trackers, with the ability to connect to the internet and to sync to other devices via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and ANT+ connections.



A long missing piece of Zwift’s ecosystem has been a physical smart trainer for users to ride. The Hub is competitively priced and has many of the same specs as an $800 to $1000 smart trainer. We like the option to choose specific cassettes with the order rather than being stuck with an outdated 11-speed cog. The Hub is available direct to consumer via Zwift’s website. 

Price: $499


Wahoo added Wi-Fi compatibility to its flagship trainer last fall. The Kickr maintains the same 16-pound, 2200-watt capable flywheel as the previous version, but Wahoo has improved the accuracy of the power meter from +/- 2 percent to +/- 1 percent. To make the already quiet system even more silent, Wahoo added three sets of compression pads that reduce vibrations sent to the ground by pivoting independently. An 11-28 Shimano 11-speed cassette is included, but the Kickr can run 8-, 9-, 10- and 12-speed cassettes with the proper adapters.

Price: $1300


Elite has evolved its Direto line to an increased power capacity, up to 2300 watts with a +/- 1.5-percent power accuracy. Our favorite aspect of the Direto is that it comes pre-assembled; most trainers require assembly of the legs out of the box. Elite has enhanced the responsiveness of the flywheel for an impressively quiet and smooth ERG experience. The Elite XR is Bluetooth and ANT+ compatible. It is compatible with Q/R and 12x142mm thru-axles, but with the proper adapters can fit 12x148mm thru-axles, as well as 10-12x135mm axles. An 11-speed SunTour 11-28 cassette is installed, but Elite offers the XR-T without a cassette. Users can add 8–12-speed Campagnolo, Shimano and SRAM XD/XDR cassette bodies. 

Price: $950


Most trainers and smart bikes connect to training apps like the Stages Sync app to log workouts and activities for free. However, third-party software like Zwift adds an independent and immersive indoor riding experience. Whether you’re looking for structured training advice or a virtual distraction from the monotony of pedaling in place, there are a handful of options available to meet your needs. 


Wahoo is making a push to compete with Zwift after launching its own online SYSTM training program and its acquisition of up-and-coming virtual riding program RGT Cycling. SYSTM provides goal-specific training programs, while RGT has immersive races, group rides and famous roads like the classic Tour de France climb up Mont Ventoux and the Alpine Stelvio pass made famous in the Giro d’Italia. Most indoor setups are compatible with SYSTM. 

Price: $15 per month


Looking to boost your FTP or simply improve your endurance for your next event? Trainerroad has got you covered. Work with personalized, structured training plans to maximize your training time. Trainerroad uses exclusive ride-analysis tools to consistently measure your progress. With no fluffy animations or avatars, just numbers, Trainerroad just requires a trainer and a speed sensor or a power meter to get started, but smart trainers are ideal. Users can focus only on their efforts to maximize their efforts and minimize their indoor training time. Trainerroad offers a complete training plan that can be incorporated on outdoor rides to meet one’s goals. An indoor riding setup with a method of tracking power and heart rate will create the best results.   

Price: $20 per month


Peloton’s diverse library of live and on-demand workouts are available on the Peloton app, without the Peloton bike, for a fraction of the price. Experience nearly the full range of thousands of on-demand, instructor-led classes, including strength training, stretching and yoga workouts. However, leaderboards and live on-screen metrics will be absent from the app if you are using non-peloton equipment. While no equipment is necessary to use many of the features on the app, cycling workouts can be completed with any indoor bike or trainer setup. At $13 per month, the subscription service offers some value in terms of content, but the lack of live fitness tracking metrics for those without Peloton equipment is a downside, so we recommend a more cycling-specific app.

Price: $13 per month


Zwift is currently the leader in the virtual riding experience sector. The consistent software updates and immersive maps earned Zwift support from the UCI to host the inaugural E-Sports World Championships in 2020. Novel features like in-game steering require more levels of concentration and inch closer to mimicking the outdoor riding experience, although we still prefer the real thing. Workouts designed by WorldTour pros and event-specific training plans are ideal for beginners training for their next big ride or experienced riders trying to raise their FTP. Zwift’s catalog of maps has increased steadily year after year, and riders can now pedal across the Champs-Elysees or climb up the 21 switchbacks on Alpe du Zwift, a meter-for-meter replica of the famous road used in the Tour de France, the Alpe d’Huez. Zwift can be run from just the mobile app, but performs best on a laptop or Apple TV. Zwift requires a bike on a trainer with a speed sensor, a power meter or a smart trainer; select indoor bikes are compatible as well.

Price: $15 per month

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