Social distancing causes cyclists or triathlon athletes to find a method of training using an indoor bicycle, with two popular lines.

The turbo trainer (or roller in Vietnam) is becoming a trend in the cycling and triathlon world. Before the 2010s, only professional racing teams could afford to use these devices due to their high cost. But now, turbo trainers have become common and popular devices. In addition to the social distancing due to Covid-19, home cycling machines have become even more familiar.

In the article below, coach Pham Minh Quang, who is also the Director of BoiDapChay Club (Swim, Run, Run), who has experience in using many types of turbo trainers for the past six years, will introduce an overview of turbo trainers with prices. , advantages and disadvantages. BoiDapChay Club’s triathlon athletes almost 100% use turbo trainer for daily training

In general, on the market today, there are two main types of turbo trainers, including: Magnetic trainer and Smart trainer

Magnetic trainer

Called a magnetic trainer because the mechanism of this type of trainer uses magnets to create resistance when pedaling. The magnets with different poles are arranged in the roller side shaft as shown below. When pedaling, that shaft will rotate, and inside the magnets will cause resistance to pedal more force.

This type of turbo trainer is easy to identify because it usually comes with a long rope, one end is attached to a magnet blocking the wheel, one end is a knob to adjust the weight when pedaling.

Types of indoor cycling exercise machines

Typically, a machine of this type has five levels of weight (level 1 is the lightest, simulating a flat road; level 5 is very heavy pedal).

Plus mark:

– Cheap price, about 1.5 to 2 million VND.

– Light weight, easy to move

Minus point:

– High noise, annoying.

– Difficult to install: due to the design of the bicycle wheel to create resistance, you need to align to block the wheel just enough – not too light (slipped on the pedal) but not too heavy (won’t pedal). This is a very annoying detail if you are using the device for the first time.

– Difficult to use: the weight levels are not equal. Level 1 can be very light, but level 2 is quite heavy, level 3 may not be able to pedal after 10 seconds and level 4-5…haven’t dared to try.


This type of turbo trainer is not really useful. The noise is so loud and difficult to use that buying a turbo trainer is almost a waste of money, but not using it.

Trainer magnetic reality noise

Actual noise level of turbo trainer.

Smart trainer

Called smart trainer (smart exercise machine) because this type of bike can be synchronized with a phone or laptop via bluetooth or ANT + port. Users can customize the weight of the device through the manufacturer’s app, so the smart trainer is much more accurate than the above-mentioned magnet trainer.

Smart trainer is also the only device that integrates pedal force parameters (watts) when pedaling on the machine without the need to buy a separate dynamometer. Thanks to this parameter, users can know exactly what intensity they are pedaling at.

In addition, the number one advantage of smart trainers is the ability to sync with apps like Zwift or Rouvy by bluetooth. These apps allow you to simulate the exact same cycling route as the real thing. That means when using the app, if the track on the app goes uphill, the smart trainer will automatically increase the weight accordingly, creating the same feeling as pedaling on the street. Therefore, smart trainer devices are very popular, especially during the period of social distancing where people have to stay at home.

Virtual reality cycling with smart trainer

Cycling in virtual reality with a smart trainer.

Plus mark:

– The quietest of all trainers

– Realistic cycling best simulation

– Ability to synchronize with the app and automatically change the resistance

Minus point:

– Very heavy (about 15-20kg depending on the type)

– Expensive price, from 17 million or more

Note when choosing smart trainer

Players should choose smart trainer as Genuine distributor in Vietnam and has a warranty. Because of the high price, we need a good after-sales service after the purchase. Absolutely avoid buying online, avoid buying handmade goods and if possible, buy new products, not old ones.

These machines are very heavy, up to more than 20kg, so if there is a problem you will not be able to send it back to the overseas manufacturer for warranty. And if the machine breaks in the electronic part, if there is no warranty, then no electronics store in Vietnam can fix it for you. Therefore, the best option is to buy genuine, with a warranty in Vietnam. When going for warranty, users do not let the store open the machine arbitrarily to repair. Distributors guarantee that the product will be warranted in accordance with the procedures, may exchange the product if necessary, and opening the product to repair it arbitrarily may result in the disqualification of the warranty.

In the Vietnamese market, trainers of Tacx ensure the above criteria. Tacx is a Dutch trainer manufacturer, which has been around for more than 60 years (founded in 1957) and was specially acquired by Garmin since 2019. Therefore, in general, Tacx’s smart trainer inherits the distribution system. of Garmin in Vietnam as well as the same warranty and innovation as Garmin watches. This is an outstanding advantage that users need to keep in mind when buying high-value goods.

The second thing to keep in mind when buying a smart trainer is should choose Direct-drive type, which means attaching the car directly to the trainer (pictured below) instead of using the Wheel-on system (insert the wheel, like the level trainer). The direct drive system is more stable, easier to install, and offers a better overall experience than the wheel-on type. There are several manufacturers of smart trainers with wheel insertion systems to reduce product prices. However, this is not exactly correct. In Vietnam, in the lowest segment, Tacx Flux S (direct-drive system) and Kickr Snap (using wheel insert) have almost the same price, while the direct-drive system has outstanding advantages. dominant.

Types of indoor cycling exercise machines - 1

After choosing a product with a good after-sales service, using the direct-drive system as mentioned above, the last note is product line selection. Tacx has three main product lines, all of which are direct drives: Tacx Flux S, Tacx Flux 2 and Tacx Neo 2T. These products look quite similar in appearance, but have different prices. The Tacx Flux S, the cheapest, and the Tacx Neo 2T, which is more expensive, are the high-end models. Tacx Flux 2 is located in between the two above lines, is a mid-range product, with a price that is also in the mid-range.

Types of indoor cycling exercise machines - 2

This price difference lies in a few small advantages. For example, the top-of-the-line Tacx Neo 2T can simulate up to 2200W of pedal intensity and 25% slope while the Tacx Flux S – the entry-level model – can only simulate up to 1500W and 10% slope. But it must be added that usually only professional cyclists like Peter Sagan can generate 1500W pedal force when withdrawing, and for general users, we usually pedal about 500W at most. Therefore, this difference is not significant.


Smart trainer is an “expensive” type with outstanding advantages such as running smoothly, without noise, having the ability to calculate pedal force and integrating with apps to practice at home. The best option is a direct-drive smart trainer. In terms of price, if you are a general user, low- and mid-range types like Tacx Flux S and Tacx Flux 2 are enough to use. If you have a good budget, you can buy high-end product lines like Tacx Neo 2T and be assured of the quality.

Minh Quang

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