Last trainer was terrible, looking for opinions on new trainer and bike!

When the third stage of the TDZ came out It seemed like something was horribly off and I felt slower than I had ever before. I had to stop 1/3 of the way in because it felt so awful. I come to see that the trainer (Bkool Smart Go) and the wall it was next to were coated in shreds of my tire. I have only used it for 13 hours total. I took it back and got a refund.

Now I’m ready to just dive fully in and get proper gear. I am no racer and I’m only looking to get a workout that feels realistic (I don’t have the time or locations to ride anymore). My tire is done for and I don’t want to purchase another, so I’m looking at direct drives. I just have no idea what one to get. I’m hoping to keep the trainer cost to under $1k. What are your suggestions?

Secondly my bike is a 9 years old mountain bike with a triple 7 speed thats been in a couple falls and dings here and there. From what I understand is that I need a 10 speed at minimum on a direct drive. So now I have the dilemma of getting a type of bike I have never used before. What suggestions for a basic road bike with a 10 speed should I get? I’m hopping to also keep this under $1k.

Thanks for any help or suggestions. I just want to get back into my favorite hobby again!

Regarding the trainer: Call around to local bike shops to see if they will let you try out their smart trainers. I know at least 1 local bike shop near me that sets up a smart trainer for customers to trial both Zwift and the trainer.

Regarding the bike: My Wahoo Kickr uses a Shimano/Sram 11 speed freehub, which means it could run anywhere from an 8 speed to 11 speed cassette. Which means it is compatible with pretty much any cheap bike you might find at Walmart or Dicks or second-hand on craigslist or ebay, along with high end super nice road bikes. Their website says that it’s also compatible with mountain bikes with the use of an adapter. So depending on what your goals are, you may not need to spend much money on the bike you plan to use with your trainer. And the mountain bike you already have just might work. Look around a bit to see if a shop will let you fit your bike to one of their trainers for a test spin.

Regarding my experience: I only have experience with my 1st gen Kickr. I bought it second-hand 3 months ago for far less than full retail and have been very pleased with it.

  1. Aaron’s advice is good

  2. Trainer choice: Ray Maker’s 2018 Smart Trainer Annual Recommendations Guide is one of the best places to get an overview of the trainers on the market.

  3. 7 Speed Bike on Wheel-off Trainers: Your seven speed bike will probably work on a modern direct drive trainer. There’s a YouTube video showing the concept and the adjustment that is needed for a seven speed cassette versus what’s needed for an eight, nine or ten speed cassette. Those 8, 9 and 10 speed cassettes will go straight onto the 11 speed direct drive trainer with a simple adapter. For 7 speed use, you need to add a second spacer, 4 or 4.5 MM, and file a couple of small indents in the aluminum spacer. Our local bike shop provided a 4mm spacer for a couple of dollars and we’ve been using a 7 speed triple from the 90s on a 2014 Wahoo KICKR for months.Here’s a video that helped me:

How To Install 7 Speed Cassette On 8/9/10 Speed Hub

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I have a tacx neo and can only offer advice on that particular trainer but when it comes to fitting, I can tell you that it works with a 9-speed cassette and triple ring setup on my hybrid. Tacx has a printout that you can use to physically compare frame widths for your back end to make sure that whatever bike you have fits the device properly before you buy. Just print it off and hold it up to your bike to either add it to the list of potential direct drive purchases or eliminate.

I would vote Wahoo Kickr Core. Best value. And any bike is fine. Don’t need anything specific here. Just the right gears and does it shift smoothly.

Wahoo Kickr Core ?

I could not recommend the Kickr core I had 3 of these all with problems,I have since returned the last one and gone to using the Tacx neo 2 which I am using with an Apple 4K tv with no problems at all , I picked up a giant defy bike of ebay and use that as a permanent fixture to the neo , there are still to many problems with the Kickr core

No the new Kickr 18.

For what it’s worth, don’t get hung up on the “it takes a 10 speed minimum” part. Just consider you have a 10-11sp Shimano cassette hub in front of you. I’ve installed a 7-sp Shimano cassette on my Flux S, it’s the same fluting but too narrow, so I added the amount of spacers required pad, and it works. Had to re-adjust my rear derailleur as my cassette is further outboard than it was, but it works.

Filing not needed in my case (it was a 7sp on an 8-sp cassette body to start with, these are different from the older 7sp - you can tell by the total rear wheel spacing). It’s approx 5mm spacer stack total.

Just adding a link here: Zwift Insider’s new Smart Trainer Index has the web’s largest database of smart trainer reviews, specs, and recommendations.

If you’re researching the purchase of a new smart trainer, you’ll find a wealth of info there!

For those wanting a quick answer, we’ve put together short lists of the very best trainers at three budget levels: