Budget trainer advice

Hi all,

I have used zwift for running previously, but looking to get a bike set-up on a budget……initially at least as not too sure how much it will appeal, I’ve not been on a bike in over 20 years :grimacing: Injury has stopped my running so I believe a bikes probably my best bet to keep fit.

I was looking at the zwift hub initially but also last night came across the thinkrider x5 at around half the price.

I have no idea about this kit but looking at the specs they seem very similar on paper. Is there advantages to getting the zwift kit? I will be using an Apple TV 4K not sure if that makes a difference on what one would be best. If there’s not much in it I guess I’d go with the thinkrider.


Hi @Davie_Jack, where did you find the thinkrider at half the price? A quick google search for me lists it at around $450, but it doesn’t come with a cassette so you would also need to buy that.

I think the Zwift Hub is a better trainer, it has better features and a better firmware (auto-calibration, built in cadence, HR bridge which you will want for Apple TV use, etc.)

Just make sure the Zwift Hub is available in your area, they only ship to US, UK and EU markets I think.

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There are some comments about the Thinkrider X5 on this thread. If you do buy one, I hope you’ll come back and tell us about your experience with it. It’s not a popular trainer so you may not get a lot of advice about its quality or usability.

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A well respected reviewer of trainers. Slightly under reports power which is not great if you are looking to race but overall not a bad review, especially at the new low price.

As far as I’m aware there are no obvious software side benefits to purchasing the Zwift Hub but possibly others can add further info.

(Edit - I missed Mike’s comments above so take those HR and Cadence issues into consideration)

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The best I’ve seen, thank you

Hi Mike, I didn’t realise the thinkrider wouldn’t be popular but I guess it’s only this price in the UK its £225 at treads (with a 10% discount code) the zwift one ends up £469 after delivery although does include cassette as well as you say so it won’t quite be half price. Then I’d need to add a sensor for cadence as well thanks for pointing that out. so would start getting closer in price.

Is the HR bridge to get around using the companion App?

Annoyingly I see there was a discount code for the zwift hub that expired last week as that would have helped. Will have a look at all that’s been posted and make a decision.

Sort of, the Zwift Hub allows you to connect your HRM through the trainer, so that frees up an additional connection with your Apple TV. Apple TV is limited to 3 bluetooth connections, one of them is used by the remote, so you have two left. The trainer would be one, and then HRM a potential 2nd. The Zwift Hub allows you to free up that 2nd connection for other devices you may have or need in the future.

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I see with the X5 you can firmware update it to register cadence as it has an inbuilt sensor. I notice this is the v2 version so possibly that’s new or the reviews I’ve seen where before the firmware was released.

and the one on sale might not be the newest version… buyer beware

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I’ve recently bought the Thinkrider X5-2 from Tredz (had it about 3 weeks now) and I can confirm that mine is the latest model. You do need it update it to get the cadence to work as that is quite a recent update. I got mine for £225 - 10% on top of an alreay massively reduced price. Solid trainer. Going from a wheel on it has been a bit humbling as the power is constant and more accurate and there is no drift during a long session so it keeps you honest. I use it on the Apple TV 4k (not the latest but the previous) and works well. No dropouts. For the price its a no brainer.


Just as a word of warning - i ordered that trainer from them and had to return two faulty ones before getting a refund.

they were fine with returns and refunds so might be worth a punt but they are very cheap for a reason!

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I get the whole logic of “on a budget” but don’t forget the prover: If you buy cheap you buy twice…

There is a reason why some trainer cost $1k and others just $0.4k -which I won’t qualify not to offend anyone’s equipment . However, these days a quality power meter alone costs $1k!

Trainers get a lot of use and abuse, so you want quality tech support behind them: like Garmin and Wahoo. When my Kickr after 3 years failed (past warranty) Wahoo sent me a new Kickr -free of charge!. Last week, I bought a Rizer from Elite which wasn’t working, and the only way to contact customer support was via e-mail!!! with 24hr delayed replays from Italy. Of course, I sent it back!

If the appeal goes away, you got a secondary market to sell a quality trainer…