5 Best Smart Indoor Bikes With Virtual Gears Designed For Cyclists
Indoor training has continued to grow over the years, with the onset of COVID-19 being the final hurdle for so many people to fully embrace the trend of exercising at home with their own personal exercise equipment. Especially as technology has advanced, the ability of at-home equipment to fulfill all of the needs that people have has risen to the standard of public gyms all over. Some people use this technology and expertise through ellipticals or rowing machines. Others have found a new way. Enter the smart indoor bike.
These are smart spin bikes that make full use of modern technology in order to provide the maximum level of comfort, efficiency and ability to whoever chooses to partake in these brilliant pieces of machinery. These smart indoor cycling bikes are already a step above their normal compatriots, but we wanted to discover another level. Just who is the best of the best? In the ring of champions and advanced masters of the trade, who would come out to be the best smart spin bike? That is what we have looked at and attempted to rank.
We looked at a number of factors that you will see throughout the smart indoor bike reviews and that we will look at individually at the end of the article. Once that is done, we will look at some of the frequently asked questions that usually come along with these advanced machines that are named as exercise equipment. With all of that out of the way, let’s hop on and get cycling through our list of the best smart indoor bikes.
Best Smart Indoor Bikes Compared
|Stages SB20 Smart Indoor Bike||Watt (direct), RPM, speed, gear, & time||No||157MM||Virtually adjustable gears||Bluetooth & ANT+||4-Length Options||Electronic magnetic 2200 watts|
|Tacx NEO Smart Indoor Bike||Watt (direct), RPM, speed, gear, & time||No||147MM||Virtually adjustable gears||Bluetooth & ANT+||3-Length Options||Electronic magnetic 2200 watts|
|Wahoo KICKR Smart Indoor Bike||Watt (direct), RPM, speed, gear, & time||Yes||140MM||Virtually adjustable gears||Bluetooth & ANT+||5-Length Options||Electronic magnetic 2200 watts|
|Wattbike Atom Smart Indoor Bike||Watt (direct), RPM, speed, gear, & time||No||160MM||Virtually adjustable gears||Bluetooth & ANT+||1-Length Option||Electronic magnetic 2500 watts|
|ProForm TDF Pro 5 Indoor Bike||Watt (direct), RPM, speed, gear, & time||Yes||170MM||Virtually adjustable gears||Bluetooth & ANT+||1-Length Option||Electronic magnetic 2000 watts|
Overview of Top Smart Indoor Cycling Bikes:
- Stages SB20 Smart Indoor Bike
- Tacx NEO Smart Indoor Bike
- Wahoo KICKR Smart Indoor Bike
- Wattbike Atom Smart Indoor Bike
- ProForm TDF Bike Plus Smart Bike
Our Top 5 Picks of Smart Bikes:
1. Stages SB20 Smart Indoor Bike
Up first on our list of the best smart spin bikes is the Stages SB20. This is undoubtedly one of the best smart bikes on the market, as it offers so many features that are unique to its brand. The biggest aspect of the SB20 that needs to be confronted right off the back is how the SB20 lacks any sort of advanced console akin to one like the Stages Solo bike has. Now, people might think that this disqualifies it as a smart bike. However, this is not the case.
The aspect of the SB20 that makes it a smart bike is its ability to automatically control the resistance and gear settings, either through an app developed by the company or third party apps. After all, there are bikes out there that are worth less than $500 that can display some statistics on a console and send them to your phone. It seems wrong that they would also get the title of “smart bike”.
Speaking of connecting to third-party apps, this is where the SB20 stands out compared to other Stages bikes. This awesome spin bike offers full connectivity to popular cycling apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy, The Sufferfest, and more. All of the ones that allow the rider to change the resistance setting can do through the ANT+ and Bluetooth connection that the SB20 offers. One of the unique aspects about these control settings is that of the 4 different control modes that are offered. There is a Simulation mode that allows for apps to send variables that result in a realistic outdoor riding feel. There is an ERG mode, where controllers send a wattage value that the StagesBike will attempt to maintain as users pedal. There is a Level mode, which is basically a mode that is simply a way to control the resistance from an app. Finally, there is the Manual Mode. It is exactly what you think it is – the mode without virtual control.
The resistance settings on the SB20 can be adjusted both manually and through the third party apps, as we have already mentioned. One of the interesting things about the resistance settings of the Stages bikes is how they take a different approach to resistance than other bikes. Instead of having a set amount of resistance settings, it relies on the SprintShift system to mark how much resistance is actually being used. This means that one can manually adjust the resistance settings with just a flick of a switch rather than twisting a knob around multiple times in order to get the correct setting. It is a system that works, though it can take a while to get used to not having a set amount of resistance settings to track your workouts on.
In terms of the actual build and feel of the SB20, it will absolutely match up to just about any bike (indoor or outdoor) you would be able to find. Because of the adjustable seat and handlebars, it will comfortably fit just about anyone who could possibly decide to take a ride on it. The 138 lbs (62.6 kg) weight shines during intense workouts, as the SB20 will remain completely stable underneath the rider.
You might expect even the occasional shift or shake, but it just doesn’t happen that way. The open-frame design of the SB20 also allows for the user to avoid any risk of the legs rubbing up against the seat tube or top tube. For the price this is an excellent example of how the best smart indoor cycling bikes fro Zwift work.
The Stages SB20 weighs 138 lbs (62.6 kg) and has a max user weight of 350 lbs (163 kg). Its dimensions are 62 inches long and 22 inches wide. The height is strangely omitted from the bikes’ dimensions. It can hold any user in between the heights of 4’10” and 6’10”. The warranty on the frame of the SB20 is 10 years. The warranty on the carbon fibre belt is also 10 years, with the warranties on the power meter and other bike components falling at 2 years.
- One of the best parts of the Stages SB20 is the stability it offers.
- No matter how intense the workout is, it will remain a steady machine underneath you.
- The customization the bike offers is also impressive, allowing people of all sizes to enjoy it.
- It can connect with plenty of apps and has many little bonus features that make riding it an absolute joy.
- The lack of a dedicated console is a disappointment.
- It can be replaced by a tablet, but it seems like it would just be more convenient to have a console.
- The resistance settings on the SB20 is also a bit strange, as it can be vague and hard to keep track of the progress that you make.
2. Tacx NEO Smart Indoor Bike
Coming in second place is the Tacx NEO Smart Bike. This smart stationary bike seeks to simulate the types of riding that you can get outside and from all over the world without ever having to even consider leaving home. The most noticeable aspect of the Tacx NEO smart exercise bike is that it doesn’t have a physical flywheel. The flywheel is virtual, simulating the mass inertia instead of producing it with an actual flywheel. This makes for an incredibly quiet experience while also allowing you to maintain an extremely accurate feeling on being on the road. Because the flywheel is virtual, that also means that the drivetrain (or belt), which is typically made of some sort of carbon fibre, is also virtual.
Because of the technological focus of NEO smart stationary exercise bike, many of the features revolve around those aspects. For example, it contains the feature that makes the bike smart, as both the resistance and the incline settings can be adjusted with a simple push of the buttons on the handlebars. That incline is adjustable up to a maximum of 25%. As for the max power limit of the spin bike, it matches many others by having up to 2,200 watts as the limit. The average person most likely won’t hit this limit, as it is equivalent to 40 km/hr. Usually that can’t be done unless you are an extremely advanced rider or going down a hill. Of course, there are always exceptions.
Another of the most impressive pieces of the technology in place here is the ability of the NEO Smart Bike to simulate all types of roads. It automatically adjusts to make sure the rider feels like they are cycling across whatever road they entered. Even the bounce of cobblestones can be accurately simulated by the bounce it offers. There are few other bikes out there capable of simulating this sort of realistic feel and Tacx must be praised for this achievement.
The handlebars of the NEO smart gym bike are quite well done. The handles themselves can be replaced if you do not feel like using theirs or have your own preferred set. The handlebars are where many of the buttons are in order to control the resistance settings of the bike. This makes it nice and easy to switch the settings during the actual workout. Unfortunately, the seat of the smart bike is not the most comfortable. It is distinctly average in how comfortable it is, but the seat post is wide enough that one could rub their legs against it if they are positioned a certain way or have large thighs. The seat can be replaced, but the seat post is a design flaw that should be noted.
Unlike many other spin bikes, the NEO Smart Bike does not come fully assembled. Instead, one has to go through the process of actually putting the machine together. Fortunately, the manual on how to build it is pretty clear in its instructions and shouldn’t take more than thirty minutes. The only frustrating part of this experience could be the installation of the pedals, which reviews have noted as being one of the more difficult parts.
Once assembled, there shouldn’t be many more problems. The smart bike has an option of being self-powered when you exercise on it, though it is recommended that you plug it in to get the maximum experience. Overall, for this price, the Tacx NEO Smart Bike makes a very strong contender for the top spot, but just falls into second place.
The NEO Smart Bike weighs 110 lbs (50 kg) and has a max user weight of 275 lbs (125 kg). Its dimensions are 54.7 inches (139 cm) long, 29.5 inches (75 cm) wide and 46.1 inches (117 cm) tall. There is a blanket 2 year warranty for the NEO Smart Bike.
- The technological integration that the NEO Smart Bike uses is simply fantastic.
- It seems like something out of a cyberpunk universe, with the responsiveness of the buttons and settings, accuracy of the simulations, and virtual flywheel all contributing to this brilliant machine.
- While all the virtual elements are fantastic, some of the real elements are less than ideal.
- Both the seat post and the installation of the pedals leave something to be desired, though are not dealbreakers.
- However, the 2 year warranty is certainly a disappointment.
3. Wahoo KICKR Smart Indoor Bike
In third place we have the Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike. This smart stationary cycle seeks to simulate the world of bike riding by taking a somewhat unusual shape for indoor cycling bikes. The handlebars reach far out over the floor and the bike is somewhat industrial in its design. However, it does provide a solid ride to whoever decides to drop the cash on this smart bike.
The technological aspects of the KICKR are focused primarily on its ability to connect with other apps and devices. It is primarily meant for use with the Wahoo app, but will work just as well with a variety of different third party apps. These can be such ones like Zwift, TrainerRoad, Kinomap, The Sufferfest, FulGaz and others. Many of the functions and resistance settings are available to be set up and controlled during the ride through these apps.
In terms of its connection with other machines, the KICKR can connect to tablets, phones and PCs through either ANT+ or Bluetooth. In fact, it can do so with up to 3 different devices at the same time. When one isn’t using one of the apps to check on how the power usage is going, there is a small LED display that shows the current speed, distance, power, cadence and grade.
The actual design of the bike is solid as well, though it is a bit plain in terms of the look (as we mentioned). The handlebars and seat are both replaceable, which is good for anyone who has their own preferred pieces of equipment. The drivetrain that it comes with is a belt one, while the gear ratio can be customized to simulate just about any combination possible. There are also 5 different arm cranks, measuring from 165mm to 175mm in 2mm differences. That allows for another, extra level of customization, which is always good for the consumer. The Q-Factor of the bike is 140mm, which is quite comfortable.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the KICKR’s design is the flywheel and how it works. The flywheel weighs 13 lbs, but comes equipped with an extra engine in order to speed up or break for different resistance levels. It’s a pretty impressive break from the standard flywheels that are offered, as the bike is extremely quiet on just about every one of its 2200 watts power levels. With a maximum incline level of 20% and minimum incline level of -15%, you can really simulate going up and down hills on this smart workout bike.
Of course, it isn’t perfect. The biggest issue with the KICKR is the price. It costs $3,500. That is more expensive than both of our top picks. You also get significantly less features along with this bike. While it still offers a solid ride and deserves the name of “smart bike”, it would take a really convincing argument to pay that much more for some good app compatibility. However, the biggest problem might be the warranty. Wahoo offers a 1 year limited warranty for this bike. How are they going to justify offering an objectively bad warranty for over $500 more than one of their competitors (the NEO Smart Bike)?
The KICKR weighs 93 lbs (42 kg) and has a max user weight of 250 lbs (114 kg). Its dimensions are 48 inches (121 cm) long, 14 inches (35.6 cm) wide and 30 inches (76 cm) tall. There is a poor 1 year limited warranty that comes with the smart bike.
- The KICKR offers impressive compatibility and customization with both the Wahoo and third party apps.
- It also brings something new to the table in terms of its design and the flywheel, giving it a natural and quiet ride.
- This bike does not do enough to justify that large of a price.
- There is not enough here to justify being $500 more than its nearest competitor.
- The warranty is also an abomination and Wahoo should be ashamed of even thinking it is good enough.
4. Wattbike Atom Smart Indoor Bike
Rounding out our list of the best indoor smart bikes is the Wattbike Atom smart bike. While it might be last on our list, it still does a good job of offering the sort of solid riding experience that you would expect from a machine of this caliber.
The highlights of the smart training bike include such things like the Wahoo app, which serves a dual-purpose role in keeping the firmware of the smart bike up to date and allowing the user to select from a series of pre-programmed workouts. It is absolutely one of the best parts of the package that comes with the Atom. This app connectivity also extends to third party apps like Zwift and TrainerRoad. Admittedly, there is a slight problem with its connection to Zwift, as there is some lag when one tries to switch the resistance settings.
The stability and comfort of the ride is another highlight of the Atom. It might not match the NEO in terms of “real road simulation”, but generally does a good enough job of simulating the outside roads. More importantly, the general ride and feel of the workouts on just about any level are stable, smooth and comfortable. It’s rare to get this level of consistency in a spin bike and they should be praised for this.
The Atom isn’t a perfect bike. The resistance settings work through a couple of shift buttons on the bike. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, except that they are positioned in such a way as to make it extremely easy for you to accidentally press one of these resistance shifts. Of course, you can then switch it back, but this can become an annoyance during workouts, especially if it happens frequently.
Another thing to note is the length of the crank arms that come with the Atom. Whereas the other smart spin bikes on this list have some degree of customization in their crank arm lengths, the Atom solely has the length of 170mm. This might not be a big deal for some, but for those who know what sort of length that they prefer in the crank arms, and 170mm isn’t it, then that could be an issue for comfort.
The Atom is a solid smart indoor exercise bike that will suit many different users. It’s comparatively low price and solid warranty will give a good experience to just about anyone. The only question is whether there are enough features to make this indoor cycling bike with smart system worth it in terms of the value.
The Atom smart bike weighs 97 lbs (44 kg) and has a max user weight of 300 lbs (135 kg). Its dimensions are 39.4 inches (100 cm) long, 19.7 inches (50 cm) wide and 59 inches (150 cm) tall at full extension. It comes with a 2 year warranty and 30 day return policy.
- The feel of the workouts, the Wattbike app and the value for the money are all the largest highlights of the Atom.
- They turn what would otherwise be a disappointing attempt in this field into a valid choice for buyers.
- The fore/aft adjustment system on the bike isn’t the most convenient, as it requires wrenches to change.
- The shift buttons are also a bit too accessible, as they can accidentally be pressed and disrupt the flow of a workout.
- Finally, the non-perfect Zwift compatibility and the fact that the only crank arm is 170mm are also downsides.
- None of these are game-breakers but should be noted as downsides.
5. ProForm TDF Pro 5 Indoor Bike
Originally, I didn’t add the ProForm bike to the list of the smartest spin bikes in the market, simply because I didn’t believe the older model was smart enough. Then ProForm released the TDF Pro 0.5 which can compete in the smart indoor bike world.
When I first saw this bike, I thought it would be a gimmick trying to make a spin bike look like a road bike. When I got the chance to learn a little more about it, I realized they are doing the complete opposite.
They have made a training bike completely tailored to road cyclists, and all the little details have been added. I love the incline and decline features. I think it’s incredible and gives a great simulation of going up and down hills.
Changing the resistance on the road bike shifters is terrific. I love that it has a power meter and that they have even brought you some Tour De France stages to race.
If you want to spin indoors and use the iFit app to change the resistance, it is excellent. I want to compare this to a Peloton or an Echelon, but I can’t because it’s in a category of its own, and that’s what I love about this bike.
Buying Guide to Help You Pick the Best Smart Indoor Cycle:
That is it for our list. Now we’re going to go over some of the factors that one should keep in mind when looking for these types of indoor cycling bikes.
The price. A big one obviously. While none of these smart bikes are necessarily cheap, there are some* (one) that is significantly cheaper than the others. You’ll need to decide just how much this price accurately reflects the potential value you can see yourself getting out of the bike.
The feel of the ride. This one is a hard one to judge without actually getting the bike, but generally hands-on reviews will touch on how the bikes feel Ones that can accurately portray how “real bikes” feel on various roads are highly sought after, which makes the Tacx NEO smart exercise cycle particularly valuable in this area.
The technological add-ons. While all of these bikes fulfill the criteria of being able to change the resistance electronically, some of them have more luxury features that come with them. Whether that is more stable connections with apps like Zwift, more USB connections or tablet integration/holders, all of these bikes come with varying degrees of these features. Some can add quite a bit of value to the deal and some are underwhelming.
The warranty. Considering these bikes are all worth more than $2,000, you will want a degree of certainty that investment will last for a while. The SB20 particularly shines in this regard, while the KICKR is quite guilty of the opposite.
FAQs When You Buy Smart Spin Bikes:
A: As we have mentioned a couple of times, the one aspect that qualifies a bike as smart is the ability to change resistance settings electronically. Any other connections to apps, devices or other fancy technology bits do not solely qualify it as a “smart bike”.
A: Yes! Just about all of these smart bikes allow for the user to change out either the handlebars or the seat for their own preferred type. They also have the ability to switch out the pedals if users have their own preferred pair of those.
A: For the most part, yes. There are occasionally a few bits that do not come pre-assembled (like the pedals or a tablet holder), but for the most part they do come assembled. They also all come with clear instruction manuals that will help make sure any assembly process that is needed takes very little time.
There you have it. Our list of the best smart spin bikes that offer lots of value for the money. As always, keep in mind what sort of aspects you want in one of these machines and read our smart exercise bike reviews to really make sure it matches with what you expect and the resistance type suits your needs. Additionally, if you think there is a smart spin bike that should be listed in our best smart spin bike reviews, please leave your comment below with the suggested model/s. We will check it out and if it has the criteria, we will add it to our list. Now go get spinning friends!